A huge thank you!

Well, I successfully completed my flag challenge! I managed to name all 80 flags that were put before at the most recent Ignite Liverpool. Hopefully the video will be available soon if you need some proof!

Of course, it’s not too late to donate, so if you are suitably impressed with my efforts and would like to donate to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, you can do so at my Just Giving page.

I had set a target of £500, and thanks to your donations the total currently stands at over £800! It would be absolutely fantastic if that could go past £1,000. Thank you all so much!


Raising money for the Liverpool Women’s Hospital with the Ignite Flag Challenge!

As you may know, our daughter Rosalind was born 10 weeks early on March 11th 2015. Everyone at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital did an absolutely fantastic job and she is now safely home. The least I can do is try and raise some money for the hospital, so to donate to my “Ignite Liverpool Flag Challenge” please follow the link below!

Ignite Liverpool Flag Challenge

Update: thanks to everyone who has donated so far. As some have already noted, 20 falgs would be a bit too easy so it’s been upped to 80, so I’ve got to identify one flag every 3.75 seconds!

Allow me to explain: I’m a passionate amateur vexillologist. I run a campaign to find a new flag for Liverpool, I’ve given a talk about the flags of the former Soviet Union to the Flag Institute, and I’ve done several talks on flags for Ignite Liverpool. So, for my next Ignite “talk” I will be given 5 minutes to identify 2080 flags of the world, and I’m being sponsored for each one I get right! If you want proof that I’ve completed the challenge there will be a live stream of the event, a YouTube video, or of course if you are in Liverpool you could turn up to Leaf on July 15th 2015 and watch it live!

You will be able to donate at any time before, during, or after the event, so please visit the Just Giving page and donate what you can! Thanks!

I think Rosalind will thank you for it! :)

happy rosalind

Manchester Union Flag fail is Union Whack

As you may know, I’m a bit of a flag fan. An amateur vexillologist, if you will. Therefore I’m always on the look out for any flag stories, and an absolute cracker occured recently in Manchester. The BBC reports that on Remembrance Sunday, Manchester City Council managed to fly a Union Flag, that was, well, just slightly unusual. They had somehow managed to get the diagonal stripes the wrong way round, giving the appearance of a psychadelic TIE fighter. I’ve replicated the flag below.


Always ahead of the curve, my Skeptic Canary Show cohost David James became a bit of a fan of the design, and got a T-shirt printed featuring the flag in question. He took us all by surprise by revealing the shirt live on the latest show!

David has shown an entrepenaurial streak. He’s christened the design “Union Whack” (I love the name!) and made it available on both Zazzle and Cafe Press. Enjoy!

The Union Whack T-shirt on Zazzle

The Union Whack on Cafe Press


Flag controversy on the first day of the Olympic games

Day one of the London 2012 Olympics. A chance for the UK to show itself off to the world. All eyes watching. You’d hope that for the games these three words would be the mantra of everyone involved:

Don’t screw up.

So, what happens on the first day? In the women’s football, North Korea play Columbia at Hampden Park, Glasgow. The North Korean players are shown one by one on the big screen, complete with the full name of the country, Korea DPR (Democratic People’s Republic). There is just one embarrassing, glaringly obvious problem. There is a flag on the screen. The flag of SOUTH Korea.

korea wrong flag

Hampden Park shows the wrong flag of Korea at the Olympics

This is a big deal. The two Koreas went to war in 1950, and to this day North and South Korea are divided between communist and capitalist ideals. To confuse the two flags is just really stupid, as you can see they look nothing like each other.

Flag of North Korea

Flag of North Korea

Flag of South Korea

Flag of South Korea

If this sort of blunder is going to happen on the very first day, I worry for the rest of the Olmypics.

My flag talk at Ignite Liverpool 7

Last week, I gave a talk on flags at Ignite Liverpool 7. It’s an exciting format, with each speaker given 5 minutes and 20 slides to talk about whatever they want. The slides progress automatically every fifteen seconds, so you don’t have control and it’s very easy to lose your place. I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is interested in public speaking, and I’m already planning for Ignite Liverpool 8 in December. But anyway, here’s my talk which opened Thursday evening. Enjoy!

The World Has a New National Flag: Burma/Myanmar

The unveiling of a new national flag often signifies a dramatic change in world politics. It could relate to the birth of a new country (such as the recently independent Montenegro), or a country looking to move on from it’s dark past, for example Rwanda.

Sadly, the recently adopted flag of Myanmar (Burma) appears to be in no way positive. Burma is currently ruled by a military junta that has been in power since the 8888 revolution of 1988. The military government has placed severe restrictions on personal liberties, and the leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi has been under almost constant house arrest since the NLD won elections in the country in 1990.

As part of the government’s wide-ranging constitutional changes, the new flag was ordered to be flown nationwide on October 21st 2010, and the old flags were ordered to be burned, in an attempt to further cement and symbolize the power of the government. The flag itself is three horizontal yellow, green and red stripes, with a large white five pointed star in the center. The colors are supposed to represent (amongst other things) peace and prosperity, but they are in fact the colours of Burma’s flag during the Japanese occupation of World War 2. The star is supposed to represent the unity of the country, but it bears a close resemblance to the stars seen on communist flags, particularly that of Vietnam. The new flag is not to be confused with that of Lithuania.

New flag of Myanmar

The new flag of Myanmar/Burma

Of course, it is my hope that the military government of Burma will eventually make way for a democratically elected government. Once that happens this new flag will most likely be consigned to history, a sign of brutal dictatorship. I can only hope that this day will come soon.