Yesterday, I did a post and wee graphic about proportions of flags, and how when designers need to use a lot of flags (like next to World Cup games and tables), the designers, understandably, standardise the flag proportions. This inevitably creates a wrong Switzerland flag.
After putting the post up, Twitter user @AMR_MN made a good point:
@flipflopflying I'm surprised none of those countries are that close to the Golden Ratio. 5:8 would be very close.
— AMR (@AMR_MN) June 11, 2014
Here’s that graphic again, with the golden ratio marked as a black line:
This got me thinking. At the World Cup, the closest flag ratios to the golden ratio (1:1.618) are those of Costa Rica, England, and Germany which have a 1:1.666 ratio. The only nation’s flag that has the golden 1:1.618 ratio is the flag of Togo.
So I decided to re-jig some flags to be golden rectangles. First thing to note was it was a thoroughly absorbing exercise. It’s great to look at flag design and see how changing the ratio is a big step, cos you are messing with things that the original designers deemed important. So at this point I should note this is not me trying to improve on flag design. I’m just tweaking the flags so they are golden rectangles.
I didn’t look at every flag. I looked at a selection that cover most of the basic flag designs. A few tribands, vertical and horizontal, a Scandanavian cross, and some others. I wanted to not just look at the easy-to-manipulate flags. In that sense, the most difficult ones were the British, Australian, and American flags. In reality, unless you’ve got an extensive knowledge of flags, you probably wouldn’t even notice that the tweaks had occurred.
Some flags were a lot easier than others. Germany, for example, was easy. It’s close already, only being 0.048 away. Sweden, too, which is 1:1.6.
Others, it was just a matter of keeping the proportions of the flag parts as close as possible. Here, the Canada flag and Mexico flags, vertical tribands with a thingy in the middle, I kept the triband proportions the same, and re-sized the centre bits so they were the same proportional size horizontally. Same with the rhombus on Brazil’s flag. Israel and Switzerland were relatively simple, too: just adding space at the edges and extending the colours. The Switzerland flag now feels wrong. The Swiss flag’s squareness seems such a huge part of the flag.
Portugal wasn’t too hard. The green bit is two-fifths of the width in the actual flag. I kept that proportion and re-sized the coat of arms and centred it where the green and red meet. With the United States flag, there’s a few more changes that are needed. The blue starry bit is two-fifths of the width and seven red and white stripes deep. Not rocket surgery, but when you do that re-jiggery, you need to re-space the stars within the blue canton. Such stuff makes me nervous. You are messing with things that people view as important. But, the US flag has changed so many times over the country’s history, if such a thing as a golden rectangle re-design were to happen, it’s an issue that would need addressing. So, USA, I’ve dang well gone and addressed it.
With flags that have diagonal elements, you have to fundamentally alter the flag. The flag of Trinidad and Tobago has a band where the top left of the band begins in the top left corner, and the bottom right edge of the band ends in the bottom right corner. The angle of the band only changes by a couple of degrees, but a couple of degrees is a couple of degrees. Flags with chevrons, like Cuba, change too. The triangle-y bit has a shorter peak bit poking out into the bands. Of all the golden triangle re-designs, this is the style of flag that suffers the most, I think.
Just a couple more, both of which feature the UK’s Union Flag: the United Kingdom, obvs, and Australia. Leaving aside the discussion of whether Australia should get rid of their Britty flag and have a properly Australian one, these re-jigs were by far the trickiest. And kinda the most fun to get my head around. I don’t wanna underestimate your flag knowledge, but just in case you don’t know, the UK’s flag is kind of a composite of three flags, an English one, a Scottish one, and a Northern Irish one. The Welsh, you ask? Well, the flag overlords of the UK deemed them fuck-off-able. Changing the British flag from a ratio of 1:2 to 1:1.618 means changing angles like with the Cuba chevron. Not too tough with the English part (the red symmetrical cross), but tougher with the Scottish (a blue and white saltire) and Northern Irish (a white and red saltire) bits. To have the Northern Irish red diagonal stripes correctly touching the corners of the flag, I had to approximate the proportions. On the real flag, the white and red diagonal parts are split into six equal imaginary stripes. In the top left quarter, for example, going from left to right, it’s one-sixth white, two-sixths red, and three more sixths white. Mine isn’t perfectly correct. But it’s close-ish.
The Australian flag has the British flag taking up the whole of the upper hoist quarter, so that’s that sorted. The rest of it messes up a bit. I kept the proportional size of the stars the same and the proportional placement the same, but their placement ends up looking different in the fly half of the flag. Because of the thinner horizontal size of the flag, those stars all look a bit more squished. I imagine, should a golden rectangle version of this flag ever be done, the size of the stars may be altered so that the relatively placement of the stars is the same as the current flag.
Anyway, that was a fun way to kill a couple of hours.
And while we’re on the topic of flags, Scotland is voting on independence on September 18th this year. Should they leave the United Kingdom, I think we, the British, should have a new flag. It’d be wrong to keep the Scottish part if they are not a part of the UK. Plus, now’s a good chance to give Wales some flag presence. This is what I’d do: simply swap the blue for green. It’d be fun to have a new colour in there. Plus, y’know, red, white, and blue… yawn. 26 countries have red, white, and blue flags; only nine have red, white, and green flags. Come on, Queenie, you know it makes sense. (More post-Scotland flag designs here.)
More flag factz:
88 sovereign states have flags with a 2:3 ratio. 54 states have a 1:2 ratio flags. That’s 142 of the 195 countries. Kinda nuts. In my opinion, 1:2 is an ugly ratio.
Aside from Switzerland, Vatican City is the only other 1:1 flag.
Nepal’s flag is bonkers. Two triangles on top of each other, with a 0.820 ratio.
The only flag with a ratio longer that 1:2 is Qatar’s, a mammoth 1:2.545. Bully for them, eh? Let’s hope they get stripped of their World Cup and have to take solace in having a fancy flag.
All original flags from Wikipedia.
More finger painting here.
Probs won’t mean owt to you if you don’t follow baseball and other American sports, but here’s an animated GIF I did for NotGraphs called “Summer 2014″
Group A: Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Greece
Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica
Group E: France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Iran
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States
Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria
Round of 16:
Brazil v Netherlands
Colombia v England
Spain v Mexico
Uruguay v Côte d’Ivoire
France v Benson and Hedges
Germany v Russia
Argentina v Switzerland
Belgium v Portugal
Brazil v England
Spain v Uruguay
France v Germany
Argentina v Belgium
Brazil v Germany
Uruguay v Argentina
Brazil v Argentina
Argentina wins, Brazilian people explode.
Whenever a big sporting event comes around, every (EVERY!) Web site has to have lots of graphics of little flags. It’s kinda nice. I like flags. But, because of the way things are designed, lots of times, the flags are wrong, proportionally. The best, most obvious, example is Switzerland’s flag. It is a square not a rectangle, (although I guess a square is a rectangle). It got me thinking. And because I can’t think without drawing, here’s the proportions of all the flags of teams in the World Cup.
Yesterday, I was a passenger in a car on the autopista coming back from a nice small town called Huauchinango in the state of Puebla. We were behind a big lorry which, in that particular light, was just this white rectangle with a shadow underneath. I couldn’t see the wheels moving. It got me thinking, and I was trying to imagine vehicles as just blocks of flat colour. So I Photoshopped out the cars in an old photo (of the German autobahn) and drew blocks of colour where the cars had been.
Bigger here: http://flipflopflyin.com/motorwayblocks/index.html
Here’s a chart looking a Liverpool players who played at World Cups and how they got on: http://flipflopflyin.com/flipflopflyball/other-lfcwc.html
Every morning, I wake up around dawn.
I get out of bed, go to the kitchen, fill the kettle with water and turn it on.
I get a mug out of the cupboard and put coffee in the cafetière.
I go to the bathroom and then turn on my computer and check email.
When I hear the kettle click, I go and fill the cafetière and wait for a bit.
Some times longer than other times.
I’m never really sure how long I should wait.
Normally it’s two or three minutes.
I pour a cup of coffee.
And she is there.
She is there.
Hair pulled back into a ponytail.
White sports bra top thing (I don’t know the actual word, sorry).
Grey sporty trousers.
She looks at me and melts my heart.
A slight smile.
She smiles while I drink coffee.
She knows I should probably go to the gym with her, but she never says anything.
She knows I like to drink coffee, stare out of the window as the sun comes up, she knows that those first couple of hours are the most creative hours I have in my day.
She’s not a cow in a field.
She’s not text.
She’s not an illustration.
She’s not an industrial farming process.
She sees me at my worst and she doesn’t judge me.
Then I put her back in the fridge.
New drawings for NotGraphs of vendors at Foro Sol, the Diablos Rojos’ ballpark in Mexico City. There’s nine more and some captions here: http://www.fangraphs.com/not/tacos-guero
More finger painting here.
Last year, I went to this thing called the Feria de las Culturas Amigas. It was on the big main avenue in the centre of Mexico City with lots of stalls from different countries. There was food, crafts, other stuff. It was a nice way to see and taste things that you might not ever get to see or taste. This year, it was at the Zócalo—formally Plaza de la Constitución—the huge empty square downtown which has some federal buildings, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Palacio Nacional on three of its sides. The other side has some shops and people selling stuff, and yesterday, a terrible saxophonist busking.
It was a far better location for such a thing, not having to walk along the packed pavement by a big road. Just like last year, the food was good. We had a nice wee brie sandwich from France, bacalhau from Portugal, a big fat white sausage and mustard from Switzerland (the queue for the German sausage, like last year, was big, so we gave their neighbours a go: it was tasty), mate cocido from Paraguay, and pão de queijo from Brazil.
We boycotted the Russia stand. I tried some North Korean food last time. It was greasy and grim. This year, there was no food at the North Korea stand. The USA stand sold hot dogs and popcorn. Exotic food which many Mexicans have never tried before, obviously. There were a few gringos stood chatting behind some books about jazz, comic art, and a few great novels. It was like they were a little bit too desperate for people to know that there is culture in the US. The UK stand was possibly even worse. They had a red telephone box, cutouts of the future king and his wife, and the Beatles. And you could buy Strongbow, Weetabix, and One Direction t-shirts. So proud of my home country.
At the Argentina stand, they were selling tickets for a football game. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate at Estadio Azteca. How had we not heard that this was happening? Argentina’s superclásico in this city. So we bought tickets and come Saturday evening, took a couple of peseros down to the Azteca. Peseros, as I’m sure I must’ve mentioned before, are cheap small buses. They have about 20 seats, and with standing passengers, can easily carry double that. Mostly because they are death traps and the drivers care more about getting an extra few pesos than not killing people in a horrific accident. It’s easy to joke about these buses, but, really, it’s not that funny. Every time I take one, I realise that I’m in the hands of someone who isn’t a good driver. But, they exist, and they cover parts of the city where taking the subway isn’t possible or would be a long convoluted route.
Estadio Azteca is a wonderful place. I like stadiums in general, but this one is huge. I’ve been to four or five games there, and each time I’m impressed by its size. It’s the seventh largest stadium in the world. But that’s not the impressivest thing for me. First, there’s a big Alexander Calder sculpture at the entrance. Second, it’s where Maradona beat England in 1986. Every time I’m there, I look at the goal at that end of the ground and can see both goals happening in my head.
Stood around the Calder sculpture were lots of people in Boca and River jerseys singing and chanting. Touts asked if we wanted tickets and stalls sold bootleg jerseys, t-shirts, scarves, bags, pins, earrings, whatever. They had Boca stuff, River stuff, and stuff from other Argentine teams. Club America, Pumas, and Cruz Azul stuff (those are the three teams in Mexico City). World Cup jerseys from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany.
Going through the turnstiles, a security guy indicated for me to turn around and hold my arms out. He frisked me. He told me I couldn’t take my lighter in, so I lobbed it into a nearby bin. A few yards later, there was a line of policemen. One of them asked me to stop. He did the same frisking. We walked around the side of the stadium to the gate where we were supposed to enter. Our tickets were scanned again, and another line of coppers was frisking everyone. Up the giant concrete ramps to the top of the stadium. We looked at our tickets to see which entrance we needed and walked around to the right. Again a bunch of police there, frisking.
We went in, and realised that the section where our tickets were was right in the middle of where the hardcore fans were, behind one of the goals. When we bought the tickets, they asked if we wanted the Boca or River section, I said Boca because I’d been to see a game at their stadium in Buenos Aires. Girlfriend, who had lived in Buenos Aires for a while, confessed after we’d got the tickets that she preferred River. What we didn’t bank on, though, was our tickets being right there amongst the people who were the most passionate. Jumping up and down, constantly singing, aping what happens at games in Buenos Aires. We decided to look for seats elsewhere, and one section over, there wasn’t riot police around the edges of the section, and other people seemed a lot calmer.
The other end was where the River fans were. Not as many as in the Boca end. Along the sides seemed to be neutral. Down in the lower level of the stadium, the expensive seats were all wet. The roof only covers the top tier, and it was raining. Most of those seats were empty. And actually, most seats in general were empty. Of the 105,000 seats in the Azteca, according to Marca.com, only 25,000 were occupied.
The teams came out to much cheering and chanting. Then they both lined up next to each other and unfurled a banner which read “VAMOS ARGENTINA.” The cheering turned to boos. The game kicked off, and to be frank, it wasn’t all that much of a superclásico. River took the lead in the 36th minute. Boca equalised in the 70th. At the end of the game, because of some fake trophy being given away by the sponsors they had a penalty shootout. Boca missed their first two, and River won 4-2. So far in 2014, the two teams have played one league match and four friendlies. Four! River won the league game and the last three friendlies.
All in all, it was a tad disappointing, but then, I don’t know why I expected one country’s biggest game to have the same intensity as it would in their own city. It was, though, good to see them playing each other, if only for the fact that aesthetically it’s one of the world’s most beautiful sports fixtures. Blue with a yellow band vs white with a red sash. Magic.
(Apologies for the crappy photos. My camera is bust and I kinda have to just use my iPod, which has a shitty camera. Thanks, Apple.)
First: one about the companies that made the kits worn by teams in the World Cup.
Second: an entirely untimely one about the Premier League relegation battle on the last day of the 2010-11 season.
Not an infographic, rather an animation that uses data.
Basically, since the 1958-59 season, English football has had four top tiers. Prior to that, there were the first two divisions and two third divisions: a north division, and a south division. Since that season, of the 92 teams in those four divisions, between 11 and 14 of them have always been London-based teams.
This animation uses the places of those teams within the four tiers and the colours of those teams to create an animation. The longer a team is in a specific division, the closer to the edge of the circle that team is.
It’s the car park of Suburbia on Avenida 20 de Noviembre, just south of Zócalo.
More finger painting here.
More Mexico City stuff here. When I say “more,” I mean one-other-thing-that-I-did-last-year-but-I-intend-to-actually-do-a-lot-more-of-this-stuff.
Stupid Spanish language word play…
More finger painting here.