Flip Flop Flying


with 30 comments

I’ve been meaning to write about flags for ages, cos they are things that I’ve been very interested in since I was a kid.
But now seems like the right time. I’m sure the US was awash with them yesterday. Germany was, too (and still is). On the three minute walk to the supermarket yesterday I saw 32 flags. All but three were German flags (the others: two Brazilian, one American), hanging out of windows and attached to plastic poles on cars.

It also coincides with what I’m working on at the moment. There’s not been much on FFF lately cos I’m concentrating on writing and writing and writing stuff for the FFF Pictorial Atlas. Fingers crossed, touching wood, etc. it might end up being a book. So, I’ve come across lots of stuff about flags.

Here’s my problem, though. Flag desceration. If someone wants to burn a flag, I see nothing wrong with that. It’s kind of a futile gesture, so why get worked up about it? Someone’s burning a bit of cloth. Woo, big deal. It’s not like they’re actually burning the ideals of a nation or any of its citizens. The recent attempt by Bush and his increasingly Pravda-like chums in the press to make it an issue is so transparently a diversion from real issues it borders on comedy.

Not as transparent, though, as the shitty-quality flags all over the place. Honestly, if they’re proud of their nation and/or flag, why do so many people have flags made of material that, if it were any cheaper and thinner, would have the consistency of cigarette smoke? And why do so many people let them get so dirty and raggedy? Flag burning, to me, seems far less of a disrespectful act as letting the flag you are supposedly proud of get in such a shabby state.

I found the above German flag lying on the floor a couple of days ago. Look at the state of it! Those bands of colour aren’t of equal width! And it’s not as if it’s a complex flag to make! Red ink, yep; black ink, yep; yellow, yep. Cool, now make three equal stripes. For someone to make a flag of such poor quality is one thing, but for a presumably patriotic person to buy it and display it…
(And you may think this photo is taken from a slight angle, thus the slight appearance of perspective to its shape; but no! it really is that bad an attempt at a rectangle!)

I’m meandering somewhere without really having an end point, but maybe this as good as any:
Apparently, Danish law says that burning any nation’s flag is against the law. Except for the Danish flag itself. That, Denmark, is a truly beautiful and incredibly noble law.

Written by Craig

July 5th, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

30 Responses to 'Flags'

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  1. That indeed is very noble Denmark!

    I hope they win the World Cup.

    I love the Maastricht flag Craig, you should wiki it…


    5 Jul 06 at 16:14

  2. That is a nice flag.
    A lot better than my home county’s horrible new flag.


    5 Jul 06 at 16:18

  3. That IS nasty… I hope the colors on wiki are a bit brighter than in reality…

    The Maastricht red is burgundy in reality…


    5 Jul 06 at 16:21

  4. I’ve not seen a real flag, so I can’t be sure of the colours.


    5 Jul 06 at 16:23

  5. Those would be the same Danes that got into sooooo much trouble with their Islam caricatures… (ridiculous and scary as that was) interesting – mabye they should stay with burning their own flag?
    It’s the law!

    The trouble with “your” german flag specimen is likely that it was dyed and cut out by some blind kid in a third world country. So most people are not disrespectful, but cheap (and that may be disrespectful on second thought…)




    5 Jul 06 at 16:39

  6. They seem to have put the sun motif from King Crimson’s “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic” LP cover in the middle of Argentina’s national flag. Are there any other flags with progressive rock connections?

    I recall ELP were banned from playing at the Albert Hall for burning the Stars and Stripes – but this was because they were considered a fire hazard not because they were disrespectful to our transatlantic cousins.

    Lee Farmie

    5 Jul 06 at 17:45

  7. That I agree with: burning flags should be banned in petrol stations and firework factories, too.


    5 Jul 06 at 17:47

  8. Here’s a nice little piece on what website flags might look like:


    Matt Sephton

    5 Jul 06 at 20:05

  9. Regarding the pictorial atlas:
    Have you considered “Tristan da Cunha” as a possible candidate? Although it might fall under territories of Great Britain or something. Recently I found an old book about infectious diseases and how isolated populations suffer from introduction to new ailments. When Tristan had some volcanic activity in 1961, the residents came to London, and contracted a few colds. Then after a few years they decided to move back.

    But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.


    5 Jul 06 at 21:26

  10. Go Denmark!

    The U.S. is always awash with flags, but yesterday I saw a man on bicycle with a flag sticking out of his helmet. Very patriotic.

    As asinine as the flag burning “debate” in the U.S. is, it’s actually something of a relief to have the diversionary tactic of the moment be something relatively benign, as opposed to extra-super-double-banning gay marriage (aka “no healthcare for you, sinners!”).

    Sad to say that the state where I currently live has one of the more complex, bizarre, and violent flags (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Virginia). I’m from Texas originally, whose flag every first grader can draw from memory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_flag


    5 Jul 06 at 21:40

  11. Every nation is gonna be in the atlas eventually, inc. TdC.
    I’m gonna try and include as much as possible, inc. all those territories governed or overseen by the UK, US, Portugal, France, etc.
    It may be an atlas full of lies and jokes, but it’ll be a comprehensive atlas full of lies and jokes.


    5 Jul 06 at 21:58

  12. Ooh, Virginia’s flag is nasty! I’m not a fan of flags with too much stuff going on.


    5 Jul 06 at 22:12

  13. Virginia? Nasty? It’s symbolic. Congratulations Texas, the prize for “Almost Mistaken For Cuba” goes to you again.


    6 Jul 06 at 07:44

  14. I think the burning and using cheap flags prove the same point — a flag is just a flag. I almost considered flying the Stars and Stripes during the WM and, had I, it would have been a cheap version that probably would have had 12 stripes and 51 stars.

    I would have just wanted to make a small point, not spend a fortune.

    And, more than likely, I would have burned it afterward, just to make a small point.



    6 Jul 06 at 09:28

  15. Max, it may well be symbolic, but it’s a mess. What’s the point of having detail on a flag that can’t be seen from a moderate distance? I think a flag should be something that you can see 100 metres away on top of a flagpole, and recognise every element within the flag.


    6 Jul 06 at 12:40

  16. Growing up in a country that seemed to have buried all flag waving traditions in the ashes of WWII (for good reason), having funny feelings watching the French holding military parades on their national holiday july 14th with the same earnestness as in countries led by communist leaders or other dictators, or how the American anthem would always turn into a somewhat theatrical event, the national anthem was a thing of medal ceremonies at the olympics (and there were not too many occasions celebrating gold medals, for the former GDR made sure they got a whole bunch more of them) and flags on state buildings seemed to be only up there to be lowered in case something tragic happens or a high-ranked personality would die.

    That was of course until reunification. Then the nation drowned briefly in a wave of mutilation (hehe… just kiddying), in a wave of flags and euphoria, but the hangover afterwards couldn’t be any bigger. in fact “the blues” continued until last month.

    Now hosting the world cup 2006 and with the unexpected well performance of the german national team everything is different. before that the only person driving around with a black-red-gold piece of fabric on a car was the head of state, and any person having any flag on his property next to his picket fence, whether it’s a state flag (like the Bavarian one, whose blue and white design can be found in biergartens and drinking halls alike) or the colours of your fav football club, would be considered a total moron, or at least slightly strange person. and now it’s black-red-gold all over the place and people having a good time in a techno “love parade” kind of way. which is odd, no matter how you look at it.

    but there sure will be a hangover this time too, but that’s not when the road sweepers come along and the world cup ends. it will be this fall when people come to realise the effects of tax laws and stuff the government passed while everyone here was drinking and partying with “die welt zu gast bei freunden”. so don’t be surprised if everything will be back to normal again and our german fellows will return to… old (grumpy) form in a few months time ;)

    kleiner freund

    6 Jul 06 at 14:12

  17. sorry for ending up with such long monologue.

    i was just wondering the other day… are there any other than english and french supporters chanting the national anthem while the teams are actually playing? i can’t think of any… but then again, there are such few battles to be fought and won these days in the real world

    kleiner freund

    6 Jul 06 at 14:31

  18. chanting? CHANTING?

    Anyway back a posting or two:

    Not being familiar with the flag of Virginia, I felt compelled to look it up on Google Images. Is not the centrally placed upright gentleman in rather disturbing state of tumescence?

    A flag best seen from distance I should say, Mr Robinson.

    Lee Farmie

    6 Jul 06 at 14:35

  19. oh yeah.. you’re right! chanting is probably not the right word to describe the amount of fervour displayed by British footfall fans when it comes to supporting their team…

    kleiner freund

    6 Jul 06 at 14:49

  20. As a French person I disagree with the idea of a national anthem. The French one is particularly old-fashioned and horrible, all about war and killing enemies and that kinda things. It should be banned. A nice pop song (by Air?) would be much better.


    6 Jul 06 at 15:47

  21. Bill Hicks on flag-burning: “Hey, my daddy died for that flag” – “Really? I bought mine.”. Gotta love him.

    The best flag: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Jolly-roger.svg I really like this illustration as well – little guy looks really cheery.

    All national anthems should be replaced by something more genuinely symbolic of the national character: Waltzing Matilda for Australia, Vindaloo for England.


    6 Jul 06 at 18:11

  22. I’m continually perplexed by poeple’s claims that they’re “proud to be …insert nationality here…”.

    You might as well be proud to have 2 legs or brown eyes.

    “I’m dead proud of the shape of my elbows, me. Brilliant aren’t they?”

    A peron’s birth nationality is utterly random and like being blonde, it’s something one will rarely have done anything to achieve (unless you can now buy your nationality at Boots the chemist and apply it in the privacy of your bathroom).



    6 Jul 06 at 20:36

  23. Couldn’t agree more, Jim.
    I can’t really think of anything that the UK (or England, if I’m being more specific) has done as a nation that I’m proud of.
    I’m quite proud that certain individuals did things that have advanced our species or entertained us or made us look at the world in a different way, but that goes just as much for certain Germans, French people, Italians, Spaniards, Americans, Mexicans, too.
    Although I do quite enjoy that Isaac Newton was from Lincolnshire, cos no-one famous is ever from Lincolnshire!


    6 Jul 06 at 20:47

  24. What about that fella Craig Robinson?

    He’s famous!



    6 Jul 06 at 22:59

  25. Bernie Taupin, Margaret Thatcher, Nicholas Parsons, King Henry IV and Geoff Capes. All from Lincolnshire.

    You do your home county a disservice, sir.

    Or perhaps not.

    Lee Farmie

    7 Jul 06 at 10:06

  26. Bernie Taupin’s a good one.
    Rod Temperton, the guy who wrote the Michael Jackson songs Rock With You and Thriller, too.
    Lord Tennyson, Tony Jacklin and Jim Broadbent as well.
    In fact, Lincs is the centre of the world.


    7 Jul 06 at 10:16

  27. Perhaps that is why it’s called ‘Lincs’ for short…..

    Magic Door

    10 Jul 06 at 13:48

  28. Dude, design some new, exciting, less serious flags for the world, for each country and one for the world itself, in case any of us want to be citizens of the world and not just one country… obviously, I can’t pay you for this commission, but we’ll all pay you in kindness and repeated hits on your lovely site.

    Mr Sneeze

    13 Jul 06 at 17:09

  29. Oh, please do. Can you possibly have a more boring flag than ours, the Swedish? Give us a new one – I beg you!


    15 Jul 06 at 11:23

  30. the REALLY funny thing is that germany’s flag ISN’T black-red-yellow, but black-red-gold. most cheap plastic flags were using yellow…


    20 Jul 06 at 23:11

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