Friday, May 13, 2011

Lower the Flag

We ran it up the flag pole... but it just didn't fly.

Neither Michael5000 nor Cartophiliac have been able to generate enough interest in this topic to hold our interest in maintaining a blog just about flags... March Madness was fun, but what are we going to do the rest of the year?

Therefore we are closing up shop. We may leave the blog up for a little while but it will eventually be deleted.

Meanwhile, Michael5000 will likely continue with his occasional Flag Friday ranking of the nation's flags, so continue to read The Life and Times of Michael5000 for your flag fix.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Flag Friday XXVII

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: "It's probably lucky for Nicaragua that the vile choice of colours in this flag prevents me from seeing what's written on it."  He dislikes the "Writing," the "Bad Colours," the "Bad Shape" (?), and the "Graven Images," and gives it a "D", 40/100.

Michael5000: I've seen the Nicaraguan flag criticized somewhere for not only including the country's name, but it's address -- the text that Parsons could see reads "Republica de Nicaragua - America Central."  I tend to think of the flag of consisting of a blue-white-blue tricolor ("vile choice of colours"?) with a hoop of gold text surrounding a central triangle.  It's when you get into the triangle that things get fussy, pictorial, and strange, with a radiant "cap of freedom" hovering over a mountain range and under a volcano.  Trippy, and pretty much a total fail on the Betsy Ross front.

Grade: C-


Parsons: "Good Shape."   A "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: I always likes it when a flag pops up that combines very simple elements in an unusual way, and Niger's circle-in-a-tricolor scheme is a great example.  It's only too bad that the colors are so close to those of India, which has a circle-like figure within its own tricolor.  Officially, Niger's flag has a 6:7 ratio, which is just about as bad a shape as you can get without giving up the rectangle.  Since no one, including the government of Niger (as opposed to the Nigerian government, which is interestingly something completely different) actually uses the almost-square layout, though, we can reasonably ignore it.

Grade: B+


Parsons: Calling it a "Bad Tricolour," Parsons nevertheless gives it a "B," 70/100.

Michael5000: Using common colors in a distinctive scheme that is immediately distinguishable from any other world flag, this is an excellent tricolor.  It's not incredibly exciting, but it embodies the important flaggy virtues.  Technically it's got the 1:2 ratio that we discovered last year is characteristic of former British colonies, but the online evidence suggests that it usually reverts to the 3:5 de facto standard.

Grade: A-

North Korea

Parsons: "The star is very well placed with regard to the shape of the whole flag," writes Parsons, "but the overall design is just somehow lacking in zest." Yet its "Good Shape" must count for something, because he gives it an "A-", 80/100.

Michael5000:  It's hard to find much to like about the DPRK, but their flag is pretty good.  Of course, I'm a sucker for white striplets.  The star-in-circle logo says "Texaco" to me, but I agree that having it offset inward is a nice touch.  And this is a rare occasion that I think 1:2 is a good choice of ratio.

Grade: A-


Parsons: Without comment, it gets a "B", 74/100.

Michael5000: The flag of Norway is more or less the opposite of the flag of Iceland.  And both of them are awesome.

Grade: A

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Flag Friday XXVI

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: Without comment, the good doctor gives it a "B+", 75/100.

Michael5000: Namibia didn't manage to shake off of South Africa until 1990, so this is one of the more contemporary flags going in Africa.  I like it.  It's got all three primaries and green, which is pretty much an honorary primary, in a memorable and somehow friendly-seeming arrangement.  I guess it's the circle-and-triangles sun that makes it seem upbeat.  I bet some people will call it juvenile, but I think it stays on the dignified side of that line.  And everybody knows I'm a sucker for white stripelets.

Grade: A-


Parsons: Disliking a "Corporate Logo" look but feeling that it has a "good shape" (?), the good doctor gives it a "C+", 60/100.

Michael5000: Parsons must not have realized that we're looking at a map here.  Aren't we?  Yes, I just checked, and that's the map of an island that lies just south of the Equator.  Since I don't share Parsons' dislike of maps on flags, that almost makes me want to like it.  Not going to happen, though.  Putting the dominant visual element in the bottom half of a flag, even though I understand the reason, raises my design hackles.  And it really does have a very Corporate Logo look.  This should be the banner of Nauru Airlines, not Nauru.

Grade: C-


Parsons: With a "Bad Shape" but "Original," it ties with Nauru with a "C+", 60/100.

Michael5000: I have an absolutely terrific picture of some kids I work with, kids who grew up in refugee camps in Nepal, clustered around the Nepalese flag in the Hall of Flags on the Oregon State University campus, amazed to see such a familiar thing in such an unexpected context.  I'm not going to stick it online, for obvious reasons.  But, it's extremely cute.  

Yet even while I was taking the picture, I was wondering if it's really quite.... fair for Nepal to be quite so Bohemian (so to speak) in its flag design.  I mean, is that even properly a flag?  Innit more of a pendant?  Couldn't that design just been attached to a white field to make a still very distinct, but properly flag-shaped, national banner?

Hmm, I guess not.  It was worth a try, though.

Grade (for the real "flag"): C+


Parsons: No comments -- only a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000:   Back when we talked about Luxembourg, in addition making an embarrassing gaffe, I gave that little country's flag -- nearly identical to Netherland's -- a B-.  However, Luxembourg was getting graded down for creating a modern flag so easily confused with the very long-standing flag of a neighbor.  Very long-standing.  Very, very longstanding.  1572 longstanding.  This is, in fact, the original horizontal tricolor.  So where Luxembourg was derivative, the Netherlands is rocking an innovative design, and obviously one that has turned out to have some enduring appeal.  Got to respect that.

Grade: A

New Zealand

Parsons: Dr. Parsons can't be said to be too partial to the home team.  He dislikes the "Colonial Nonsense" of his own country's flag, and gives it only a "C", 55/100.

Michael5000: See Australia.  Mitigated by fewer and nicer stars.

Grade: C+

Monday, April 18, 2011

Patriotic Vexillophilia, c. 1915

"The Allied Flags"
Raphael Tuck & Sons' "Oilette" Postcard No. 8729

Friday, April 15, 2011

Well, Not Everyone is a Maps & Flags Person....

Image randomly encountered on internet, February 2011.