The Dim-Post

March 5, 2016

Notes on Spotlight

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:05 am
  • We saw this last night at the Penthouse and liked it a lot. It’s not very cinematic though. There’s nothing in there that wouldn’t have been in an HBO series dealing with the same material. I wonder if US television is now, artistically the dominant medium and its sensibilities are influencing film instead of the other way around. It’s not as if they didn’t have enough money – Pierre Omidyar was one of the executive producers.
  • It’s probably routine to point out that the very important deep investigative journalism depicted in this movie doesn’t happen much any more because the business model for it collapsed. What I wondered about, watching it, is how the model ever worked in the first place. People in the late 2000s didn’t suddenly lose interest in important journalism because they preferred celebrity stories and pictures of cats. Probably, mostly we always did.
  • I wonder if people bought newspapers with serious stories in them because it reflected the way we wanted to think about ourselves and be seen on the train, or at the desk in the office, or wherever. Whereas people who now read the news on their devices look at what they actually want to look at. And the papers that we still pay for and are seen, publicly to read still have some real stories and many psuedo-stories based on turning around press releases etc.
  • Also, I thought a bit about the debate in the comments of the previous thread about the flag and design experts, in which various commentators disagreed with me arguing that there is such a profession as designer, and its a body of knowledge about the principles of design, and they’ve become experts in it and can make informed objective judgements about whether flag designs are good or bad based on adherence to those principles.
  • Specifically, I kept thinking that there are also, in screen-writing – and every other creative area – basic principles which you learn and which helps screen-writers write good scripts. ‘Show don’t tell’, is one, and there are principles of structure and character and plot. And Spotlight breaks just about every one of those principles yet is still -I think – a good movie. We see this in every other creative medium: talented artists make intuitive choices about when to break the rules in the hope that the outcome is something new and interesting. And we see it in flags, like the Welsh flag or the Albanian Flag, which break some or all of the principles of good design that the so-called experts claim can never be broken, but are awesome, especially the Albanian one.
  • Aesthetic principles are useful, especially for newcomers to a medium, but they are not canonical and judgements made based on them are not definitive, and I think that any expert who claims they are knows a lot less about creativity and art than they think they do.
  • Spoiler alert about Spotlight: it is ultimately a movie about journalistic self-censorship. All through the film we’re told how powerful the church is: they control the judges and everything else; the public will turn against the paper and storm it with protesters, the journalists constantly warn each other. But the judge decides against the church. There is no public protest. The church doesn’t even fight or comment on the story. And the heroes had everything they needed to run the story for years, but didn’t. The moral, I guess, is that speaking truth to power can be easier than you think

138 Comments »

  1. we see it in flags, like the Welsh flag or the Albanian Flag, which break some or all of the principles of good design that the so-called experts claim can never be broken, but are awesome, especially the Albanian one.

    The Albanian flag is a pretty simple design, which I would’ve thought was a useful starting point for a flag. The background colour is the same throughout, the same as NZ’s current flag. The Lockwood design features large dollops of blue, white and black and more than just one symbol, so it’s not as simple as it could be.

    The number 1 rule of good flag design is “keep it simple”.

    http://www.ausflag.com.au/assets/images/Good-Flag-Bad-Flag.pdf

    Comment by Ross — March 5, 2016 @ 10:31 am

  2. The worst part about saying professionals shouldnt be consulted about flag design was the claim that Kyle Lockwood was a ‘designer’ anyway. I hope you did know he was a ‘house designer’ but not at the level of an architect.
    Even the bills that companies send out to customers are hugely improved by using professional designers.

    Regarding not liking the flag because its John Keys baby, its worth remembering one oh his reasons for a new flag is that he admires the flag worship in the US and feels we should be more patriotic in their silly jingoistic way, the new flag is part of his process for that to occur.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — March 5, 2016 @ 11:24 am

  3. The story of South Africa’s 6 coloured flag is an interesting one – its creator knew a thing or two about how to design flags. Ironically, the task was originally given to a committee but it couldn’t come up with an acceptable alternative. Fred Brownell had a short time to find that alternative.

    http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/democracy/3878-fred-brownell-and-the-creation-of-the-south-african-flag

    Comment by Ross — March 5, 2016 @ 11:53 am

  4. The number 1 rule of good flag design is “keep it simple”.

    Okay. According to your link the rule is that a flag should be so simple a child can draw it from memory. Which, pretty much no kid could do with the Albanian flag. Also, I think that maple leaf on the canadian flag would actually be pretty tricky to get right, and that, we keep being told, is the most awesome flag.

    Rule 2 is use meaningful symbols. And the fern is far MORE meaningful than red peak, which the design community assured us was brilliant.

    Rule 3. Use 2-3 basic colours. The Lockwood has three basic colours along with some red stars. Guess how many colours Red Peak has? Red. White. Blue . . . and black! Four colours!

    Rule 4. No lettering or seals. I note that ISIS does not follow this rule, but Lockwood does.

    Rule 5. Be distinctive or be related. The Lockwood flag is distinctive, but the design community has decided not to vote for it but to support, rather, the current flag which is indistinguishable from the Australian flag.

    So it seems to me that the Lockwood design follows ‘the rules’ just fine – far more so that the design communities preferred option of Red Peak! Now, I still LIKE Red Peak more than the Lockwood flag, but what this all tells me is that the deference to and authority of ‘the rules of good design’ is bullshit.

    Comment by danylmc — March 5, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

  5. I hate to join in the derailing so I will quickly say that I saw and enjoyed Spotlight but reading Danyl’s insights added a lot for me, and made me think about aspects I’d missed. The last point especially. So thanks.

    But I really love Danyl’s myth-puncturing comment 4 above (Danyl is rapidly becoming my blogging hero – all hail Danyl). I had a look at Ross’ good flag / bad flag pdf above and it is absolutely clear that on these criteria the Lockwood flag is a good flag. Just go through the examples one by one and tell me with a straight face that the Lockwood flag has more in common with the ‘bad’ flag.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 5, 2016 @ 2:33 pm

  6. Yes, I went through the rules as well and couldn’t see how the Lockwood flag failed any of them.

    The counter argument would be I’m not a designer. But the actual rules seem to have a high subjectivity content – what is “simple”?

    Are their s set of deign rules which define this?

    Is a repeating pattern simple?

    Comment by NeilM — March 5, 2016 @ 2:38 pm

  7. It’s been proposed that s more appropriate time to change the flag would be when we have a discussion about our identity.

    But has this not been a discussion about our identity?

    The use of cultural icons as terms of insult – tea towels, weetbix. The argument about public taste vs that of experts. Some arguing that we need an educated process, a proper process.

    All of this suggests to me deep cultural divisions within NZ society and what’s gone on is what any discussion about our identity will look like.

    Comment by NeilM — March 5, 2016 @ 2:55 pm

  8. Which, pretty much no kid could do with the Albanian flag.

    You miss the point that the Albanian flag is simple – one background colour and one symbol. The South African flag is more complex because it has six colours. But its redeeming feature is that it features no symbols or writing. Imagine the two headed eagle or red dragon or maple leaf plonked in the middle of the SA flag. I imagine it would look hideous.

    Comment by Ross — March 5, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

  9. the Lockwood design follows ‘the rules’ just fine

    As does the current flag. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

    Comment by Ross — March 5, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

  10. Just go through the examples one by one and tell me with a straight face that the Lockwood flag has more in common with the ‘bad’ flag.

    Well, the Lockwood design has three primary colours when one would suffice just fine. Then there’s the silver fern which isn’t silver at all…and might be mistaken for a feather. Lockwood might not be a ‘bad’ flag; it also might not be an improvement on what we’ve got.

    Comment by Ross — March 5, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

  11. I’ve got to say, Danyl, that you seem pretty determined to keep stuffing straw into this particular argument. If you’d read through to the end of that flag design “set of rules” you’d have seen this qualifier:

    all rules have exceptions. Colorado’s “C” is a stunning graphic element. Maryland’s complicated
    heraldic quarters produce a memorable and distinctive flag. But depart from these five principles only with caution and purpose.

    So, guess what … Albania’s flag works! Wales’ flag works! Sometimes breaking “the rules” works! Which hardly ties in with your whole “flag designers stipulate iron-clad, timeless rules that allow for no deviation whatsoever”. The point about Lockwood’s (alleged) departure from the principles of good flag design is that he does so and it fails to work in anything like the same way Albania’s or Wales’ does. I don’t know if you’re so painted into your rhetorical corner that you’re now going to say that you think Lockwood’s flag is “just as good” as those examples, but yeah … nah.

    (The comparison with Red Peak is then instructive. Yes, it too seems to break with some of the “5 rules” … but when it is explained why it does so (what the ascribed meaning is for the shapes/colours/etc used) it begins to “work” in a way that Lockwood’s just doesn’t – much as the apparently needlessly complicated 50-stars on the US flag “work” once you know they stand for the various states.)

    Also, you’re being a bit silly when you say “The Lockwood flag is distinctive, but the design community has decided not to vote for it but to support, rather, the current flag which is indistinguishable from the Australian flag.” I’ll bet (virtually) no-one in the “design community” supports the existing flag due to its inherent design qualities. Rather, they think that keeping it now increases the chances of getting another, better one later.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 5, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

  12. …no-one in the “design community” supports the existing flag due to its inherent design qualities. Rather, they think that keeping it now increases the chances of getting another, better one later.

    And not just the “design community,” unless most of my family are honorary members…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 5, 2016 @ 6:50 pm

  13. “I wonder if people bought newspapers with serious stories in them because it reflected the way we wanted to think about ourselves and be seen on the train, or at the desk in the office, or wherever. Whereas people who now read the news on their devices look at what they actually want to look at.”

    Given most newspapers were the only ones in their community the reasons for buying a paper were as various as the full range of stories and ads they contained. A newspaper pre internet was a “bundled” product just like Sky is now. I never watch the History Channel but it’s part of the package. That was the only business model supporting investigative journalism. Once it became possible to identify through clicks what people actually read investigative journalism probably identifies as having a loyal but very small readership which places it relatively low in the priorities of a modern news editor because the resources to readership ratio doesn’t stack up.

    Keep up the good work on the design community and the Emperor’s news clothes project.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 5, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

  14. The point about Lockwood’s (alleged) departure from the principles of good flag design is that he does so and it fails to work in anything like the same way Albania’s or Wales’ does.

    Who says it fails to work?

    Middle class liberals who sneer at popular taste.

    Comment by NeilM — March 5, 2016 @ 11:11 pm

  15. Yep, the Albanian flag is a beauty but, as Ross has argued, it’s also very simple and symmetrical , with one central icon – just what designers would advocate.

    And how about the Bosnia/Herzegovina Flag for a stunner ?

    Not to mention those of Barbados, Cambodia, Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, both Koreas, Liechtenstein, Martinique, Nauru, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, St Lucia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tokelau and Uruguay to name but a few.

    Most of them both striking and simple (not that I’m against breaking the rules and experimenting with a little complexity)

    One of the key problems with the Lockwood alternative is its fundamental lack of balance. The huge triangle of empty space at centre-bottom (which is partly why I’ve always seen the design as essentially two separate flags stitched together). The contrasting Black background in the upper left/canton section of the hoist area, which seems to both unbalance the design and make it look a bit cheap and undignified.

    Comment by swordfish — March 6, 2016 @ 2:09 am

  16. Hopefully It’ll work this time, Albanian Flag …

    Comment by swordfish — March 6, 2016 @ 2:12 am

  17. Andrew Geddis – March 5, 2016 @ 5:20 pm:

    “[T]they think that keeping [the old flag] now increases the chances of getting another, better one later.”

    If that is so, then they don’t know anything about politics. Do you think a National-led government will initiate such a process again in the next 50 years? Do you think a Labour-led government could achieve a flag change in the face of hostility from the National opposition? How do you think a defeated National opposition would respond to an initiative by a new Labour-led government to change the flag using whatever it defines as a “proper” process? Do you think a new Labour-led government wouldn’t understand this? Think through these questions politically, and the only conclusion I think is that politicians will run a mile from this issue for at least two generations.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — March 6, 2016 @ 6:29 am

  18. I agree with most of what you wrote, Andrew, but I don’t think my argument is a strawman. I’ll try to articulate it again.

    1. We have a chance to change our flag. We have a potential new one that’s been picked by the people via the referendum process, and which the polling also tells us is the most popular alternative with the public.
    2. Changing the flag seems like a left wing, progressive thing to do.
    3. But just about the entire left seems to be voting to keep the current flag (as well as a sizable cohort of older conservative right-wing voters).
    4. What’s up with that? Well, changing the flag is Key’s project and he likes the alternative and the left really hates him, and so it kinda seems like the inconsistency there might be down to partisan politics. Which is fine, I think. It’s a political issue.
    5. But pretty much everyone on the left insists they are NOT being political. They just really genuinely HATE the Lockwood flag. It’s so horrible it HURTS their EYES!
    6. Maybe, people like Matthew Hooton have suggested, they’re just saying that. After all, the rest of the country preferred it when polled on a range of new flag options, so how bad can it really be?
    7. Really, really bad, most of the left would say. Like, the ugliest thing in the world and they’re not just saying that to justify voting against Key. Design experts have agreed that the flag is just objectively bad. There are rules for flag design and the Lockwood flag breaks them therefore it is a bad flag. People who think it is a good flag are wrong. Design experts say so.
    8. But, I then say, these rules cited by design experts seem less like rules and more like very vague guidelines that flags which are recognised as great and iconic break, and which the Lockwood mostly adheres to. And you’ve argued that those flags that break the rules ‘work’ and the Lockwood flag ‘doesn’t’. Which I pretty much agree with you on, but it’s taken us away from a point of the argument (7) in which there are objective reasons to dislike the Lockwood because there are rules which it breaks. Now we’re just making subjective judgements about what ‘works’, ie what we do and don’t like. And, given the intensity with which the left loathes this rather popular flag and the lack of substance behind the supposedly objective basis for that dislike, can we really be sure we’re making an apolitical judgement about it?

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 7:32 am

  19. How the fuck can anyone even begin to pretend the flag debate isn’t first and foremost a political issue? The flag is a symbol of a political entity, a nation state FFS. It is the most political thing you could imagine. That’s why the left is voting the way it is. The Lockwood design is a visual political statement of John Key’s right wing government and his establishment cheerleaders. Danyl seems incapable of grasping this axiomatic aspect of what a flag is. It is first, second and third a visual representation of a political idea. That is why so many flags play fast and loose with design. The design isnt that important. It is the political statement that is important, and a whole lot of New Zealanders don’t like the message of the new flag. Danyl’s seeming intellectual inability to understand that this is not about the prettiest pattern fluttering in tne breeze is a neat QED of the intellectual philistinism which to me defines this entire ill-starred and sorry episode.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 6, 2016 @ 8:47 am

  20. Commenting on you articulation.

    #2 is an assumption on your part, that I can’t see supported through history. The arguments is made weaker by the fact that objectively NZ’s progressive left, is neither progressive nor left. I use the word objectively here because there are disciplines such as history, political science, and political anthropology that study these things.

    “most of the left” seems to equates to the people you see on twitter. How about you leave Aro Valley and head to the closest part of the Labour heartland and talk to some working class people. Maybe the Naenae Hotel. Should be an experience for you; talking to people other than white people from Christchurch.

    Perhaps if you don’t like Andrew accusing you of creating strawmen, you could stop your little game wit the word “designer”. If you are meaning “graphic designer” say graphic designer. As I stated in your previous post, anyone who studied an Applied Science or a Commercial Arts subject with carry out design, and will have learned design principles and techniques. This includes (but is not limited to) Architects, Engineers, Horticulturists, Product and Industrial Designers, anyone in ICT with an actual Computer Science or Electrical Engineering background, Commercial artists and photographers.

    Also as you think “designer” seems to relate to web sites, perhaps you should survey all these “designers” you know and find out what they trained in. At a guess the majority of them won’t have studied graphic design or computer\information science.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 6, 2016 @ 8:58 am

  21. “2. Changing the flag seems like a left wing, progressive thing to do.”

    Care to expand on this?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 6, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  22. 5. But pretty much everyone on the left insists they are NOT being political. They just really genuinely HATE the Lockwood flag. It’s so horrible it HURTS their EYES!

    Don’t assume they’re bullshitting when they say that. Yes, most left-wingers would like a different flag, but they’re thinking of a different flag like the Hundertwasser one, or the Maori Sovereignty one. Show them the sort of different flag that can appeal to right-wingers, or uneducated plebs, just the general “hell is other people” NZ citizenry (both Lockwood designs, or the All-Blacks-logo flag, for example), and they’re going to throw up a little in their mouths and suddenly find the current flag nowhere near as ugly as they thought.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 6, 2016 @ 9:21 am

  23. Some other thoughts. The flag debate has degenerated to a seemingly superficial and trivial amateur hour aesthetics slanging match because in New Zealand’s atmosphere of stifling anti-intellectualism and carping provincialism it is strictly verboten to discuss what exactly the New Zealand political nation state is, its political organisation, what its values are and most importantly who it – and who it doesn’t – work for. The debate is we should change the flag because Ritchie McCaw is too stupid to know the difference between our flag and that of Australia, or we need something prettier, or something. That our media, liberal, and political elites are deeply uncomfortable with talking about New Zealand as it is, and prefer instead to engage in a febrile debate about design values, points says something about NZ 2016 that isn’t very flattering.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 6, 2016 @ 9:47 am

  24. @ Matthew Hooten,

    There Is No Alternative, huh? I guess you and your compadres will have your chance at payback when some Labour/Green Government tries to move to a republic and then “The Left” can moan all over Twitter about your selling out your principles for partisan reasons. Which you’ll then blame the existing PM for. And we can have this dance all over again.

    @ Danyl,

    I dunno. Here’s my reckons (which may or may not be reflective of mushy liberal lefty experience in general).

    (1) I’m in principle in favour of changing the flag, just as I am in favour of becoming a republic and dumping knight/dames and all that jazz. But I don’t really care all that much about it – they are comparatively low valence issues for me.

    (2) That means I’m not a “committed to change at all costs” kinda guy. In particular, it is not the case that *any* other flag is better than our current one – just as replacing the Queen with a “President” appointed at the sole-discretion of the serving PM would not be a desirable step.

    (3) My reaction to the Lockwood flags then was negative – they just “don’t look right” to me. In fact, they look so bad that I just can’t take them very seriously (a view that I held well prior to the announcement of the 4-strong short list). Why is that, I wondered? What is “wrong” with them?

    (4) So when I see flag designers advocating KISS principles, or cautioning against including more than one “meaningful” symbol on a flag, or read things like this (http://stoppress.co.nz/news/peaks-and-troughs-questionable-creative-processes-south-african-experience-and-why-nz-should-support-underdog-flag-design), they provide me with a useful explanatory framework for my subjective reaction. Turns out that people who spend a lot of time thinking about and working in the field of design have guiding principles (“rules”) that, when I see them applied in the context of the Lockwood flag, enable me to better conceptualise my personal experience.Those “rules” are useful to me (“objective”) for the purpose at hand.

    (5) But hey – maybe I’m just lying to myself! Maybe it’s all a matter of self-deception and I’m constructing an ex-post facto rationale for what is a purely partisan political judgment reflecting deep-seated KDS! Maybe if Helen Clark had been promoting flag change I (and maybe the design community generally?) would consider Lockwood’s flag a triumphant celebration of our quintessential national identity! Here’s the thing – I don’t really know! I’ve some reason to hope that is not the case – I know folks who really, really like John Key but still think the Lockwood flag looks terrible, which means at least some people are capable of divorcing aesthetic conclusions from partisan politics. But maybe I’m so entrapped in my lefty hate bubble that I’m divorced from “real New Zealand” and its tastes … after all, if I am so entrapped, how would I be able to tell?

    (6) So to avoid having to worry any more about an issue that is, really, very low valence, I asked my kids what they liked better. They then split their vote. So I tossed a coin. Not quite as satisfying as spiting a random stranger on the internet because you disagree with their theory of design, but hey … it’s just a bit of cloth.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 6, 2016 @ 10:05 am

  25. To our gracious host @18

    1. “Picked” is a misnomer. 2.5 designs were selected by committee (3 options had the same fern design – all the stated preference of the PM, and promoted by one of the committee members – 2 of those were minor variations thereof) and presented as the options. The Red Peak uprising was, I think, in partial response to the distinct lack of choice presented. The 1st referendum was being told “Any colour you like, so long as it is fern”.

    2,3,4. The proposed alternative Lockwood, as pointed out by others (Keith Ng most specifically), is not a progressive option. It appears to be a product of mono-cultural “Kiwi New Zealander of European Descent”, as adopted by Plunket, Farrar, Key et al – with the latter stating his preference for the winning design before the whole official process began!

    5. I don’t like the Lockwood design as it currently stands. But it may represent a *starting* point rather than the final design. Toby Morris’ version of the Lockwood is so much better to my eye, but still maintains the same theme (fern, southern cross), without seeming like a pastiche (“Kiwis like ferns, lets stick a big fern over the current flag!”). I would have voted for the Morris version over the current flag, but not the Lockwood version.

    To be honest, the whole thing feels like the typical NZ worship of the “Process”. We followed the process, so the result must be good! But the process was bad: There was no basis for a change, other than the whim of the PM: That’s where the budget came from, DPMC managed the process, no doubt to try and satisfy their minister as is the want of public service departments. And in a process with long reaching consequences, there was no skilled or knowledgeable input on the design/art aspect at the selection stage. It was brand selection to appease the boss, not flag selection for the future of a nation, which are different things.

    FM

    Comment by Fooman — March 6, 2016 @ 10:09 am

  26. Care to expand on this?

    You want me to explain why taking the British flag off our flag is progressive?

    The Labour Party – now opposing flag change – campaigned for flag change in the last election and the Greens supported it. So I feel pretty comfortable saying it’s a left-wing/progressive thing. Let’s imagine what would have happened if Labour won.

    1. The process would have included a designer but:
    2. The Lockwood designs – easily the most popular as determined OBJECTIVELY by the pre-referendum polls and the actual referendum would have won anyway.
    3. The right would have gone nuts. ‘Our boys died fighting for our flag and the new one is hideous!’
    4. People like Sanctuary, currently complaining that the Lockwood is a visual statement of John Key’s politics would have registered the right’s hatred for it and decide that actually the Lockwood flag was a bold and true statement about New Zealand and the only flag for us.

    Thinking a bit about the strategy of anti-Key flag voting, I wonder if voting to change the flag is actually the tactical thing for the left. The Lockwood is not actually that popular with the majority of voters, so if it wins then we’ll have an unpopular flag which the Prime Minister is closely associated with, which will probably hurt him more than a defeat. Some conservative voters will probably switch to New Zealand First; Peters will probably promise to change the flag post-election to encourage this.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  27. “You want me to explain why taking the British flag off our flag is progressive?

    The Labour Party – now opposing flag change – campaigned for flag change in the last election and the Greens supported it.”

    If your belief is that anything that the Greens and Labour agree on is by defintion left wing, then sure, I guess changing the flag is left wing. But I admit I was hoping for something that got at your ideas about what it means, on a fundamental political/philosophical level, to be a progressive/a leftist.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 6, 2016 @ 10:36 am

  28. Andrew, I agree with all of your reckons! Also, my wife has pointed out that since I, also, despite everything have basically just never much liked the Lockwood – for whatever reason – voting for it to spite a stranger on the internet is awesomely petty and childish, even for me. So I might not actually do that. All I’m really saying is that I take issue with the ‘design expert’ argument. It’s an old bugbear of mine: I’ve always hated the tendency for cultural elites to tell the masses that whatever is popular actually sucks.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 10:48 am

  29. But I admit I was hoping for something that got at your ideas about what it means, on a fundamental political/philosophical level, to be a progressive/a leftist.

    That seems like it’d be even more than a waste of my time than the flag debate

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 10:50 am

  30. @Andrew

    I don’t mind the Lockwoid flag, I didn’t particularly like the Red Peak.

    That’s just my personal taste. I’m not going to elevate that personal opinion to the status of some objective principle.

    And I’m not inclined to insult other people’s tastes by calling their preference an insult to our visual heritage or a rag or a beach towel etc. (It’s hilarious and tragic to see people think calling it a beach towel is an insult.)

    There aren’t rules for personal taste. This no I’ve set of design principles for anything unless you think a preference Baroque over Bauhaus could ever be an objective truth.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 10:50 am

  31. “…Thinking a bit about the strategy of anti-Key flag voting, I wonder if voting to change the flag is actually the tactical thing for the left. The Lockwood is not actually that popular with the majority of voters, so if it wins then we’ll have an unpopular flag which the Prime Minister is closely associated with, which will probably hurt him more than a defeat…”

    Jesus, and you accuse Labour voters of being petty and partisan? That is sort of breathtakingly cynical politics that has spawned Donald Trump.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 6, 2016 @ 10:54 am

  32. That is sort of breathtakingly cynical politics that has spawned Donald Trump.

    *steeples fingers*

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 10:55 am

  33. “Aesthetic principles are useful, especially for newcomers to a medium, but they are not canonical and judgements made based on them are not definitive, and I think that any expert who claims they are knows a lot less about creativity and art than they think they do.”

    Everyone in the humanities has found this completely obvious basically forever, but it makes little difference. Just because the experts are wrong some of the time doesn’t mean that they are wrong most of the time, and thus it is still good practice to defer to expert judgement (nobody thinks that doctors are right all of the time, but we would be fools not to listen to medical advice). It’s just a mistake to think that aesthetic (and probably moral) principles are strict rules. Human life just doesn’t work like that. Even breaking normal aesthetic rules isn’t usually going to work. You have to be really good, like Stravinsky or Rothko, to make it work.

    Some people are just better than others when making judgements about aesthetics and design. They’re just better than the average person at picking designs that stand the test of time. Of course they won’t always get it right, and the experts won’t agree, but the reason we ought to defer to experts is that they have a higher probability of success. Anyone who’s tried to decorate their own home knows this – you have a vague idea of how you want it to look, but you will almost always be better off telling an expert roughly what you want and letting them produce a few design options for you to pick from. If you try to do it yourself, you’ll likely make a mess.

    Comment by L — March 6, 2016 @ 10:56 am

  34. I’ve always hated the tendency for cultural elites to tell the masses that whatever is popular actually sucks.

    I think it’s a broader issue than just the flag debate. The liberal left haven’t been able to get much traction recently and that somewhat superior attitude might have something to do with it.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 11:01 am

  35. “That seems like it’d be even more than a waste of my time than the flag debate”

    Well don’t get me wrong I wasn’t under the impression we were going to definitively answer the question. But the idea that there’s something innately left wing about changing the flag seems to be core to your argument, but not something that is widely agreed upon. So I thought expanding on it might be interesting.

    I admit I’m a bit surprised because your definition of how it’s leftist is less philosophical and more material than I’d thought. I won’t say it’s wrong, but from my perspective it weakens your argument, especially from the perspective of leftists who don’t support Labour or the Greens. Not a large group, admittedly, but hardly an insignificant one either.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 6, 2016 @ 11:02 am

  36. Just because the experts are wrong some of the time doesn’t mean that they are wrong most of the time, and thus it is still good practice to defer to expert judgement

    I would say that we should defer to experts based on the strength of their arguments, and that most of the time actual experts will be able to make really good arguments. But sometimes they don’t.

    Like, arguably the most famous literary critic in the world is a guy called Harold Bloom, who is a professor at Yale and wrote ‘The Western Canon’ etc. Bloom really hates the Harry Potter books and thinks no one – children included – should read them. And I think that if people deferred to him because we should generally defer to experts, and he is most definitely an expert, then that’d be a bad thing. But if we look at his arguments against those books they’re incredibly weak. J K Rowling uses adverbs and cliches is, basically the substance of it. I’d argue that we’re seeing the same thing here. The expert arguments against the Lockwood design seem weak to me.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 11:10 am

  37. the reason we ought to defer to experts is that they have a higher probability of success

    The experts think I have poor taste and lack an understanding of design. But that doesn’t change my preference. I don’t see why one should defer. I’ve wandered around Rome being amazed by Caravaggio, I’ve spent a lot of time behind cameras, I’ve spent a great deal of time analysing the technique of great cinematographers.

    I’m not incline to accept that some one with a list of arbitrary rules can determine what good taste should be.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 11:11 am

  38. I was wandering down the street in Seville the other day when a very large and loud demonstration went past. As far as I could tell, they were against austerity in general and LOMCE in particular. The crowd were waving plenty of flags of the second republic and there was even, bless them, a FAI/CNT flag. Now, I don’t think the crowd thought to wave the second republic flag because they thought it a nicer design than the current Spanish flag, and in turn I doubt the defenders of the second republic had time for a design competition for their flag. The second republic’s flag is a potent warning to those in charge that things can change.

    I am not sure your CAN design a new flag. A flag happens. It is the banner the revolutionaries plant on top on the palace proclaimiing a new ruling order, or the battleflag of the heroic defenders who against all odds restored independence to the homeland. I think we will change our flag when the political order changes and the new government ordains we change to a flag that clearly represents that change.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 6, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  39. @Danyl,

    I’ve always hated the tendency for cultural elites to tell the masses that whatever is popular actually sucks.

    Is the Lockwood flag actually that “popular”? As I say, my very limited engagement with “middle New Zealand” tells me that it thinks the design isn’t very attractive and that they’d pretty much agree with the “elite expert” view. But you know, we all hear what we want to hear … .

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 6, 2016 @ 11:19 am

  40. Is the Lockwood flag actually that “popular”?

    Well it did win the first referendum. And all the pre-referendum polls. But will probably lose the second. So it’s not universally popular but more popular than any of the other alternatives.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 11:25 am

  41. “The experts think I have poor taste and lack an understanding of design. But that doesn’t change my preference. I don’t see why one should defer.”

    Preferences aren’t set in stone – discussion and critical views of aesthetic merit are how we often change them. The fact that you are out of step with the experts should give you pause – it is much more likely (but not certain) that you are missing something and that they are not. So you’ve essentially answered your own question.

    This wouldn’t matter so much if you were decorating your own house, but a flag is something that all of us have to live with. The rational thing to do would have been to replace the flag consideration panel with designers and vexillologists instead of “prominent New Zealanders”. In any case, those people were picked because they supposedly had some greater insight into “New Zealandness” than the rest of us, so the argument is really about whether those people were better qualified to make a judgement about a flag than NZ’s best designers and vexillologists. If they wanted a panel representative of the population, they should have randomly picked people out of the phone book.

    Comment by L — March 6, 2016 @ 11:32 am

  42. Apparently the turnout for the first referendum was 48.78 percent, with Option E getting 41.64%. So by popular you’re saying a minority of a minority of New Zealanders preferred it.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 6, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

  43. @Danyl,

    While we’re talking, this disappoints me:

    Also, my wife has pointed out that since I, also, despite everything have basically just never much liked the Lockwood – for whatever reason – voting for it to spite a stranger on the internet is awesomely petty and childish, even for me. So I might not actually do that.

    I mean, ask yourself – What Would Larry David Do? And would he allow Cheryl to divert him from his path?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 6, 2016 @ 12:28 pm

  44. Yeah Danyl, how could you hold your head up as a proud lefty reactionary if you listened to the old ball and strife. Marx wasn’t talking about the plight of women you know.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 6, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  45. Nothing to do with politics, Robert. More to do with the level of awesomely petty and childish behaviour that we 40-something men aspire to.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 6, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

  46. “more popular than any of the other alternatives” – only the ones let through by the ninnies on that panel. Who knows against some of these submissions? http://www.carolgreen.net/writing/conversations-on-the-long-list-of-40-nz-flag-designs/

    Comment by Sacha — March 6, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

  47. @ Danyl

    Lockwood popularity among the New Zealand public:

    Part One: First Referendum

    Lockwood Black/Blue: First Preference as % enrolled voters = 17.6%
    as % all First Referendum votes cast = 36.2%

    Lockwood Black/Blue: Final Preference (after all preferences redistributed) as % of enrolled voters = 21.2%
    as % all First Referendum votes cast = 43.4%

    I’ll get around to the Polls later on …

    Comment by swordfish — March 6, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

  48. I still think there should been ‘design experts’ on the panel. But, as Matthew Hooton pointed out to me when I made all these anti-Lockwwod arguments to him about a week ago, before i reconsidered, the Lockwood designs were the most popular when UMR polled on the long list prior to the first referendum. And the design expert favourites like Red Peak were quite unpopular.

    So what, exactly, would have been different if the design experts were on the panel? Would they have refused to let the public vote on the options they liked the most? How would that have played out? They could have given the public a choice and forced a ‘good design’ – like Red Peak – onto the ballot to let the public choose good design. But that happened anyway, and they didn’t.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 2:01 pm

  49. I posted a link to what the so called flag design experts chose as their own flag and I shudder to think of what they would have come up for our flag.

    Matthew Hooten has backed up what I said on the earlier post, this will be our only chance to change the flag for a very long time, voting against it because you don’t like John Key or because you believe a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory you read on facebook is an incredibly selfish and foolish thing to do.Imagine the conversation with your grandchildren
    How come our flag is the same as Australia?
    We had a chance to change it but the pm was a jerk so me and a whole bunch of other people voted to keep this one to make him look stupid.
    ……..um ok…….
    he pulled a waitresses ponytail!!
    …..oh …right…..um…….did he?
    [folds arms across chest] we had to take a stand against the tory bastard.
    mum, can we go home now?

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 6, 2016 @ 2:35 pm

  50. “Would they have refused to let the public vote on the options they liked the most? ”

    Sure, although I think that the plain silver fern on a black background would likely have made the cut (it doesn’t break any obvious rules and it wouldn’t look out of place on a tea towel of the world’s national flags).

    I don’t see what the problem is. The public only got to pick from 4 designs chosen by 12 other people anyway. Might as well have 12 people with some clue about flags, as opposed to one specialist and 11 drones. The rest of the panel wouldn’t have appeared out of place in your father’s most notorious book (of which I have a copy somewhere BTW – hope he’s doing OK these days).

    Comment by L — March 6, 2016 @ 3:37 pm

  51. @Cliff Clavin,

    But if I vote to change the flag, what do I then tell my grandchildren when they ask me why our national flag looks so shit?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 6, 2016 @ 3:47 pm

  52. “But if I vote to change the flag, what do I then tell my grandchildren when they ask me why our national flag looks so shit?”

    They’ll be too busy asking you why President Trump started WW3 to worry about flags.

    Comment by L — March 6, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

  53. If its anything like the Canadian flag you’ll probably learn to love it by then because they said pretty much the exact same things about the maple leaf. Its not like the one we have now is anything to write home about anyway.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 6, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

  54. In the October 2015 UMR Poll, of the 5 shortlisted designs, the Lockwood Black/Blue received just 33% of First Preferences.

    And when asked to choose between the Lockwood Black/Blue and the current flag, respondents split 65/35 in favour of the current ensign (precisely the same split was recorded in the latest two (Early / Late February 2016) UMR polls).

    43% of those whose First Preference was the Lockwood Black/Blue would still have voted for the Current Flag (along with the overwhelming majority of everyone else).

    (Red Peak was strongly disliked by everyone except Green voters and (to a lesser extent) the under 30s. Confirming my long-held feeling that it was the (until recently, highly-bearded) Urban Hipster option. Had Red Peak made it to the Second Referendum, the Greens would have been pretty evenly split).

    In UMR’s Nov 2015 Update, the Lockwood Black/Blue once again received just a third of First Preferences among the 5 finalists.

    And, you know, as I’ve said before, when the February 2016 Reid Research poll asked about the quality of the Lockwood alternative: 60% said Not Good / 35% Good.

    Over the last 8 or so polls on the matter, once you exclude the Don’t Knows, you’re consistently getting around 65% preferring the Current flag.

    All of which raises questions about just how “popular” the Lockwood alternative really is, don’t ya think ?

    Comment by swordfish — March 6, 2016 @ 4:04 pm

  55. The Lockwoid flag was considerable more popular than Red Peak which supposedly had all the right design features.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 4:45 pm

  56. On the popularity of Lockwood etc, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that it is popular because it’s pretty close to the old flag. So it *could* have gotten support from people who don’t actually want to chnge the flag, ie people who think something like “I don’t want to change the flag but if we are going to change it then I pick the one that’s least different to the old one”.

    Not saying that’s all of its support, but some. Also, the design is almost put together to get support from people who feel that way. ‘I don’t really want to change it, and this flag still gives me the southern cross, and it gets rid of the jack for the people who really want to do that, and it has a Fern for the people who really wanted the classic ‘fern on black’ flag’.

    It’s a compromise of various designs so it’s not really surprising that many people see it as such, as something that is trying hard to be something for everyone and ends up being a bit of mess. Other people see it as great of course, for pretty much the same reasons.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 6, 2016 @ 4:53 pm

  57. Cliff. What about the argument I saw made in the paper by someone who doesn’t like the Lockwood and doesn’t think we should change, but will be voting to change in spite of those beliefs because they think ‘if Lockwood loses then ‘the left’ will shove some designer made flag down our throats at some point in the future, like the Canadian government did’?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 6, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

  58. Pascals bookie, do you have a link to that? I’m not doubting you I’d like to have a look.
    Thats a pretty twisted sort of reasoning , I doubt anyone is ever going to touch the flag with a bargepole after this. What odds will you give me that that person refers to our former pm as “Hulun Klark” in the kiwiblog comments section?

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 6, 2016 @ 5:04 pm

  59. @Cliff Claven,

    If its anything like the Canadian flag …

    But it’s not, is it? It looks awful in a way the Canadian flag doesn’t. Which is why I won’t vote for it. That and the fact that I read on the internet that Richie McCaw likes it, and he’s just the worst person.

    Incidentally, most of the Canadian public quite liked the maple leaf design when it was adopted. It was MPs that had a problem with it.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 6, 2016 @ 5:09 pm

  60. Funnily enough I did see it on kwiblog, but it was in a post not the comments, and it’s been 404’d

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2016/02/liam_hehir_on_why_he_is_voting_against_his_instincts_for_change.html

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 6, 2016 @ 5:14 pm

  61. @ NeilM

    Lockwood Black/Blue = Very Unpopular
    Red Peak = Extremely Unpopular

    Not sure why you’re consistently calling it the “Lockwoid” flag. Any reason ?

    But I do like your Dickensian-sounding grammar: “was considerable more popular than Red Peak…”
    Sounds very 1846, don’t ya’know ? Like you’ve just made an appointment to transact some business down the old fish market with a Mr Bumble a day or two previous by the two-penny post. Least ways, that’s how Is sees it.

    Comment by swordfish — March 6, 2016 @ 5:18 pm

  62. @Pascal’s bookie,

    You saw that mystery vanishing post too, huh? The source article never appeared on Stuff’s website, so my thinking is that Hehir submitted it as his regular piece (and sent it to DPF, who often co-publishes them) … but that the editor balked at running yet another of his rants on the subject and so it got hauled down off Kiwiblog, too.

    What I found so funny is the way Hehir did a complete 180 turn on his original views on the flag just because those damn lefties were being so terrible – see here for what he thought back in May 2015: http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/68235057/multiple-reasons-not-to-change-the-flag

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 6, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

  63. I saw it in print, so it got published. And yeah, Hehir is odd, even by odd fish standards.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 6, 2016 @ 5:36 pm

  64. Not sure why you’re consistently calling it the “Lockwoid” flag. Any reason ?

    If there weren’t spelling mistakes people wouldn’t know it was me.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 5:57 pm

  65. Least ways, that’s how Is sees it.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 6:06 pm

  66. Hehir is odd, even by odd fish standards.

    Yeah – like this gem from that year-old column:

    In the meantime, however, you have to take your allies (or co-belligerents) where you find them. If Key’s enemies want to help protect the flag because they don’t want him to get the credit then I welcome them to the conservative side of the debate.

    Apparently that welcome ran its course sometime in the last fortnight … .

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 6, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

  67. My process has been; 1) Would it be a good idea to have a new flag? Yes for any number of obvious reasons. 2) Is the proposed new flag acceptable? Yes I think it looks great. But any decent new flag would likely satisfy me as an update to the current anachronism. Eg, Red Peak, fine it looks great too.

    That’s it. I don’t care which side of the political fence the change is coming from. If it was coming from Labour and/or the Greens I’d still support it because it’s a good idea. I like and respect politicians who support “the other side” when they propose good ideas. I really really really hate it when politicians decide to discard a good idea because the wrong side is proposing it – Labour and the Greens I’m looking at you.

    I have respected people who wanted to keep the flag on the basis that they’re innately conservative. Fair enough, disappointing attitude but at least it’s genuine. But my attitude to the wailing progressives declaring their eyes were bleeding etc. Surely they jest? They’re as bad as the Labour leadership on this issue (i.e. venal hypocrites – to the max).

    But I’ve softened somewhat. The more I read discussions like this, learn about Canadian and South African experience etc., the more I understand that for some people (many people, perhaps *most* people), they really hate this kind of change unless every detail suits them and it’s impossible for them to move towards consensus. They want *exactly* what the want and absolutely nothing else. It’s a bloody shame and it means we’re likely stuck with this flag for the rest of my lifetime and more. Thankfully it’s only a flag and there are about 157,263 more important things in my life!

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 6, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

  68. “I really really really hate it when politicians decide to discard a good idea because the wrong side is proposing it – Labour and the Greens I’m looking at you.”

    I really really hate when people ignore all the things people say about why they are doing something in favour of just attributing malice, so here we are I guess.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 6, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

  69. If someone offers to play a game with you in which a coin is tossed, heads you win a hundred dollars, tails you lose a hundred dollars, most people will choose not to play, even if they can afford to lose the money. Psychologists call this loss aversion, and its a major motivator in politics. Most people are more worried about losing something they already have than gaining something they don’t have. Never underestimate the power of loss aversion – especially in your own decision making – or the power of the brain to fabricate elaborate post-facto intellectual explanations for decisions made on the basis of loss aversion or other cognitive biases. Most of politics and political debate probably consists of choices made based on unconscious bias and then rationalised. It certainly seems to be how my brain rolls.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

  70. What Would Larry David Do? And would he allow Cheryl to divert him from his path?

    Actually I stole your idea and let my daughter choose. I think Larry would have wanted it that way.

    Comment by danylmc — March 6, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

  71. If someone offers to play a game with you in which a coin is tossed, heads you win a hundred dollars, tails you lose a hundred dollars, most people will choose not to play, even if they can afford to lose the money.

    Because that’s a really stupid game! Your expected gain is precisely zero!!

    What you mean is that “If someone offers to play a game with you in which a coin is tossed, heads you win a hundred-and-one dollars, tails you lose a hundred dollars, most people will choose not to play, even if they can afford to lose the money.”

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 6, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

  72. “Might as well have 12 people with some clue about flags, as opposed to one specialist and 11 drones.”

    That’s pretty harsh. A lot of people on the panel had non-design areas of expertise that seemed relevant. Are we really going to say that we should be chucking out experts on NZ history or Maori culture in order to add more designers?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 6, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

  73. Actually I stole your idea and let my daughter choose. I think Larry would have wanted it that way.

    Larry David having to interact with a child in order to decide which flag to vote for is one of the great as-yet unwritten episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 6, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

  74. Pascal’s Bookie @68 > I really really hate when people ignore all the things people say about why they are doing something in favour of just attributing malice, so here we are I guess.

    This would be a valid point if Labour had said anything sensible about why they were doing something. They didn’t.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 6, 2016 @ 6:53 pm

  75. Most of politics and political debate probably consists of choices made based on unconscious bias and then rationalised.

    Language is a prison but we need it to try and get along with the other inmates.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 7:17 pm

  76. Actually strike my 74 above. That’s just descending into the usual boring tit for tat and what’s the point. I was taking my lead from Anthony Hubbard in yesterday’s Dom-Post http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/77546901/anthony-hubbard-get-rid-of-our-embarrassing-relic-of-a-flag and I figured if a left leaner like him could attack Labour like that it was okay for me. But really with 67 I was trying to sign off on a reasonably concilliatory note.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 6, 2016 @ 7:23 pm

  77. So, to sum up, a very large-to-overwhelming majority of New Zealanders (including more than half of Nat voters) dislike the Lockwood design (they always did), prefer the current flag and will vote for it. This represents an unprecedented personal defeat for John Key (only Northland comes close). The less socially-conservative, more Neo-Liberal sector of National’s electoral constituency are deeply upset at the prospect of this imminent political rejection of their erstwhile hero, as are their chums in the media (aided by one or two bearded Green Hipsters). And so it’s lash-out time. Time for indiscriminate reprisals. Make those bastards pay for what they’ve done to John !!!.

    There’ll be tears before bedtime.

    Comment by swordfish — March 6, 2016 @ 8:22 pm

  78. The more I think about it, the more I think the best symbol for contemporary NZ would be a flying pink dildo on a blue background.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 6, 2016 @ 8:31 pm

  79. In summation: the Lockwood design looks good – on toilet paper, hankies, doormats, underwear, dildos, tampons…

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 6, 2016 @ 9:21 pm

  80. the power of the brain to fabricate elaborate post-facto intellectual explanations for decisions made on the basis of loss aversion or other cognitive biases.

    I’ve lowered my expectations of reasoned debate to if no one gets killed then we’re ahead.

    It’s been an eye opener, conservatives can’t claim any monopoly on earnestly arguing black is white. And appeals to authority – cook up some rules and watch people argue they’re God-given.

    Comment by NeilM — March 6, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

  81. There’s a thing John Cleese was quoting on his book tour for his (first part of) biography. And its something like that in order to judge how good you are at a chosen field, you have to be an expert & completely accomplished in it. If you aren’t actually very good at it, then you don’t have the framework to make a rational & objective judgement about whether or not you are good at it. Every time you’ve railed against ‘design experts’ or made a comment such as ‘The expert arguments against the Lockwood design seem weak to me.’ I’ve been reminded of it.

    I think its very easy for people to laugh off the expertise of designers or architects or whatever when its applied to its chosen field; because for whatever reason we tend to undervalue their ability, or overestimate our own. As someone else noted above, we don’t tend to do it when the expert is medical; but you could probably make an argument that the debates about global warming see a similar thing happening for scientific experts.

    Anyway, whilst I realise this is only my interpretation of your argument & the context for it; you basically seem to have been arguing that there is no such thing as a design expert, or their expertise is no greater than any other person and that that is why their points & arguments about the design merits of any given flag can be ignored.

    But I worry that that attitude is the sort of thing that leads us to going cheap & cheerful on things that need to stand for decades or centuries, and when we do we tend to end up with with ugly monstrosities. That is what the Lockwood flag is to me, its got nothing to do with John Key or the National Party, only that I think its funny that they are so keen to change to something so horrid just for the expedience of doing so.

    Comment by Jimmy — March 7, 2016 @ 6:34 am

  82. All I’m really saying is that I take issue with the ‘design expert’ argument. It’s an old bugbear of mine: I’ve always hated the tendency for cultural elites to tell the masses that whatever is popular actually sucks.

    I take your point and largely agree with it.

    However, the same criticism you level at the Left (they intend to vote no to spite the PM) could be levelled at you – you’re voting yes (if that’s your intention) just to spite the experts. There’s a touch of hypocrisy there.

    IMO this whole process has been a bit like re-inventing the wheel. There are many good flag designs from around the world. Surely we can rip off and duplicate one of these and tweak it? The alternative to the current flag seems like something a school kid could have dreamt up in five minutes.

    Criticise the experts all you want, but ultimately a vote for the alternative will be a vote for mediocrity. This was a lost opportunity.

    Comment by Ross — March 7, 2016 @ 6:58 am

  83. I think its very easy for people to laugh off the expertise of designers or architects or whatever when its applied to its chosen field

    I’m a scientist. I’m a big believer in the expertise of experts. This just seems like kind of a dumb thing to be citing one’s expertise over. It’s like a master baker claiming that one cake is more delicious than another. I mean, they know a lot more about baking than me, but are they an expert in what I personally like to eat? Do I just defer to them? Especially if their rules about what tastes good (‘Circular cakes taste the best. That’s why I’m endorsing this triangular cake’) sound like bullshit?

    And I’m sure someone will say – a master baker could tell you if the cake will make you sick. Well, so could most non-master bakers. And what is the extension of that analogy to the flag? What actual practical problems are the design experts pointing out about it? None that I can see. They just don’t think it’s delicious.

    Comment by danylmc — March 7, 2016 @ 7:01 am

  84. Some scientist! It’s like neuroscience was never invented.

    ‘big believer’? … ‘sounds like bullshit’?

    That Galileo geyser would have had a whale of time with you!

    Love your work.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 7, 2016 @ 7:29 am

  85. I’ve always hated the tendency for cultural elites to tell the masses that whatever is popular actually sucks.

    Ah, “elites”, that favourite insult of the right. Defined as “don’t make me feel ashamed for being stupid.”

    Comment by James — March 7, 2016 @ 9:14 am

  86. Ah, “elites”, that favourite insult of the right.

    Ha ha ha ha ha

    Comment by danylmc — March 7, 2016 @ 9:17 am

  87. you basically seem to have been arguing that there is no such thing as a design expert, or their expertise is no greater than any other person and that that is why their points & arguments about the design merits of any given flag can be ignored.

    I’ve looked at what design experts have said and disagree. I’ve looked at flags they’ve designed and not liked them.

    I haven’t ignored them, I simply disagree. And I do that on the basis of a reasonably developed visual sense.

    Many eyesores were designed by experts and many great images were the result of popular taste.

    Comment by NeilM — March 7, 2016 @ 9:26 am

  88. In summation: the Lockwood design looks good – on toilet paper, hankies, doormats, underwear, dildos, tampons…

    I have seen both the American and Canadian flags on all of these things.

    Comment by Phil — March 7, 2016 @ 9:32 am

  89. 86 – I don’t understand this elites line – the flag change project is a project of business and political elites that seems to have bombed with the general public, and the Lockwood flag’s main boosters are wealthy white men like Key, Hooton, and Lewis Holden. There’s no clear public groundswell for changing to the Lockwood flag, or even changing the flag at all.

    In fact, I’d suggest that the “design elites” are on the side of the general public when it comes to this part of the referendum, even if perhaps they differed over Red Peak, while it’s a coalition of business, political and journalistic elites that are going around telling “the public” they are wrong and petty/childish/obstinate etc etc – see Jono Milne this weekend for a classic example.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — March 7, 2016 @ 9:35 am

  90. the flag change project is a project of business and political elites

    It WAS Labour’s policy at the last election. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/policies/10451013/Labour-backs-national-flag-review

    That’s what makes all of this seem kind of stupid to me. The pro-republic, anti-colonialism progressive left that originally wanted to change the flag is now campaigning en masse to keep the old flag with the union jack on it and pretending that by doing so we’re fighting against ‘business and corporate elites’. Doesn’t that seem kind of stupid to anyone else?

    Comment by danylmc — March 7, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  91. Danyl @ 69,

    Most of politics and political debate probably consists of choices made based on unconscious bias and then rationalised. It certainly seems to be how my brain rolls.

    If this is the case, then why are you complaining about people who are really voting against the Lockwood flag because John Key but say it’s because of the “objective” design qualities of the flag? Isn’t that just the way the world is? Do you also get angry at rain for falling from the sky?

    Danyl @ 83,

    It’s like a master baker claiming that one cake is more delicious than another. I mean, they know a lot more about baking than me, but are they an expert in what I personally like to eat? Do I just defer to them?

    But isn’t a master baker (1) more likely to come up with a “delicious” cake than I (or other non-master baker) am, and (2) better able to explain to me why one cake tastes the way it does (combination of ingredients, cooking methods, etc) than I can to someone else? Of course, given the vast diversity of human taste, there can never be a 100% correlation between a master baker’s choice of “better/more delicious” and any given individual’s. But on the whole, over the long term, in most cases, their judgments are more likely to be representative of some sort of majority consensus on the “better/more delicious” issue. Which is about as good as you can get in the messy and complex world which we inhabit.

    And then note what Swordfish said at 54 above – “a February 2016 Reid Research poll asked about the quality of the Lockwood alternative: 60% said Not Good / 35% Good.” So doesn’t it look like those designers with all their rules and stuff actually are more in synch with the general public’s views than are those who say the Lockwood flag is a “good symbol” for us as a nation?

    Also, if you are saying that master bakers are no better at judging a “good” cake than anyone else, does this mean that NZ’s Hottest Home Baker was bullshit? Sarah Asher will hunt you down and gut you with a spoon!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 7, 2016 @ 10:15 am

  92. It WAS Labour’s policy at the last election

    I’m reasonably familiar with Labour’s policy offer in this area from the last election yes. But Labour are part of the political elite, surely? Trevor Mallard isn’t some kind of horny-handed son of toil, he’s a senior MP and former minister…

    I’m not saying that I disagree with the political argument for changing the flag. I’m saying that the general public doesn’t seem to buy the change arguments at all. I personally think we should change the flag because the current flag is clunky and imperialist, and I also think the Lockwood is mindbogglingly ugly. The two things can both be true.

    How you resolve that into a vote is trickier, but it doesn’t seem absurd to me to make the move that people like Hamish Keith and Russell Brown have of voting no to keep the option of doing it properly again open, or perhaps Keith Ng’s argument that the Lockwood isn’t really much of an improvement from a political perspective either swings it for you. I don’t know, that sort of decision is pretty difficult and I took ages to decide how I’d vote, let alone anyone else.

    And yes the whole “KOF” sub-winston stuff is stupid. But, you know, so’s the “this will make it easier to spot Kiwi lamb in Waitrose” stuff.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — March 7, 2016 @ 10:17 am

  93. Do you also get angry at rain for falling from the sky?

    I feel like all my years of blogging have accomplished nothing, if it is not totally obvious that I do actually do this.

    Comment by danylmc — March 7, 2016 @ 10:18 am

  94. “I’m a scientist. I’m a big believer in the expertise of experts. This just seems like kind of a dumb thing to be citing one’s expertise over. It’s like a master baker claiming that one cake is more delicious than another.”

    I know you’re a scientist, but it seems as though you’re choosing what sorts of experts to trust in based on their field of expertise. I mean, I get that there is probably a hierarchy of importance in terms of expertise in terms of what humanity need – Doctors are more important than Landscape Gardeners maybe – but I don’t think you can so easily deny that there is expertise in those fields that has relevance to that particular field. ie, your perspective that design experts are irrelevant is kinda elitist in a way😉 (ie, anyone can design).

    But, take your point about a baker, I think the thought is that a master baker will be able to tell you precisely why your cake will rise, or not. Whether it will be moist, or not. Whether the flavour balances are likely to work well, or not. All of that adds up to whether a cake (in as much as it can be) is objectively delicious, and thus will influence whether it is subjectively perceived to be delicious.

    I dont think the majority of these ‘design experts’ are saying that you can’t like the Lockwood designs if they work for you, but I think they’re trying to say that in terms of norms etc about what makes good design it doesn’t work & thus for most people (globally) won’t look good. Given the polling referred to above shows maybe 21-22% support from all of NZ for the Lockwood maybe they have a point?

    Comment by Jimmy — March 7, 2016 @ 10:20 am

  95. God, i’ve just noticed how poorly my thoughts read above. And sorry I don’t know how to do the quote thing! Need more coffee & air conditioning so thoughts translate to words & sentences better.

    Comment by Jimmy — March 7, 2016 @ 10:22 am

  96. “So doesn’t it look like those designers with all their rules and stuff actually are more in synch with the general public’s views than are those who say the Lockwood flag is a “good symbol” for us as a nation?”

    Kind of, but bear in mind that the flag that did line up with their design principles, Red Peak, was even less popular.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 7, 2016 @ 10:43 am

  97. Jesus this must be exhausting for you Danyl, You continue to try and engage with an audience that just hammers away at their partisan bullet points, and completely ignores your attempts to stand back a little and apply logic and first principles. It looks as if questioning the party line just a little bit is completely unacceptable. Presumably that’s one of the consequences of ever increasing tribalism.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 7, 2016 @ 10:47 am

  98. that people like Hamish Keith and Russell Brown have of voting no to keep the option of doing it properly again open, or perhaps Keith Ng’s…

    They’re also calming that the Lockwood flag is objectively bad and insulting the tastes of any one one thinks differently.

    M problem with waiting for a more opportune moment is why should a time arrive when there is a consensus on it being opportune?

    Labour and the Greens started squabbling over the referendum, the Left spins into melt down over any identity issue. What’s the chances of any future govt having a “better” process?

    Comment by NeilM — March 7, 2016 @ 10:53 am

  99. @danyl

    “I’m a scientist.”

    Yes, I think that’s a large part of the problem. The arts don’t work in quite that way. Attempts to reduce one to the other usually fail.

    “I’m a big believer in the expertise of experts. This just seems like kind of a dumb thing to be citing one’s expertise over. It’s like a master baker claiming that one cake is more delicious than another. I mean, they know a lot more about baking than me, but are they an expert in what I personally like to eat.”

    That’s a poor comparison, because food criticism isn’t quite like aesthetics. You’re just assuming that your subjective judgements of taste are infallible. That is not how it works in real life. Alerting open minded people to new features of the discerned object or new ways of appreciating it or inconsistencies with their other aesthetic judgements can and often does result in people revising their beliefs. Some people are just a lot better at doing this than others in the sense that people who listen to them tend more often to think that they are better off by having done so. None of this has anything to do with arcane worries about the metaphysics of beauty: this is just what people do when they discuss artistic merit. The view that artistic tastes cannot be disputed fails against the fact that people always have disputed them and have found value in doing so. It’s a discourse that obviously serves a purpose (or perhaps more than one) in human life. There doesn’t have to be some objective truth to the matter to backstop the discourse: as long as people find it improves their lives in some way, there is a point to discussing the merits of artworks.

    Yes, obviously everyone has a view about what they like right now, when they haven’t really thought about it or considered other options, but you would be a fool to think that the end of the matter. There are just some people who are better than the average when it comes to discerning what will stand the test of time. When it comes to matters of public design it is sheer closed mindedness not to defer to them. If you insist on decorating your own house, you’ll likely end up with something inferior than if you got an interior designer to help you.

    Comment by L — March 7, 2016 @ 12:20 pm

  100. But, take your point about a baker, I think the thought is that a master baker will be able to tell you precisely why your cake will rise, or not. Whether it will be moist, or not. Whether the flavour balances are likely to work well, or not. All of that adds up to whether a cake (in as much as it can be) is objectively delicious, and thus will influence whether it is subjectively perceived to be delicious.

    I think your argument broadly makes sense, but doesn’t work in practice for flags.

    The baker will be able to tell me whether or not my cake is any good, but how much importance should I place on their opinion of whether or not I’ve added too much garlic to the meatballs I’m making?
    Equally, my local GP knows a lot more about neuroscience than I do, but I’m not going to be comfortable if they’re the one cutting into my brain to remove a tumor.

    Flag design is a pretty specific and narrow form of expertise. I am automatically dubious of anyone claiming to be a ‘design expert’ because it’s a much wider field than any one person can realistically be expected to gain expertise in. How much weight should we put on the opinion of architects, or fashion designers, or art critics, when it comes to choosing a flag? It seems to me the answer is greater than zero, but less than what the experts want.

    Comment by Phil — March 7, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

  101. “Flag design is a pretty specific and narrow form of expertise.”

    I can agree with the gist of this Phil – I guess when other designers are weighing it is on the basis of their experience with iconography, posters, etc etc – skills that translate to a degree no doubt, but not completely overlapping.

    But then I guess that begs the question; where was the expertise informing the discussion, choices & shortlists amongst this entire process?!

    Comment by Jimmy — March 7, 2016 @ 12:33 pm

  102. where was the expertise informing the discussion, choices & shortlists amongst this entire process?!

    People went along to the public meetings and expressed their opinions. I think that informed the process.

    Comment by NeilM — March 7, 2016 @ 12:43 pm

  103. People went along to the public meetings and expressed their opinions.

    679 people went to the public meetings, an average of 28 at each. I think that sums up the process.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 7, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

  104. Surely there is a spectrum of credibility when it comes to expertise. There is no way I would listen to a non expert on the subject of heart surgery or oncology nor would I expect anything other than a disaster if an amateur embarked on a project in either area. Ditto for most forms of engineering, though amateurs have made impressive achievements in both civil and mechanical engineering. Nor would I represent myself in the Courts though I would expect to be fully consulted on tactics and options. If I commissioned an architect to design a house I would not have any reservations in rejecting the design in whole or part. Ditto if I commissioned an artist to design glass panels or a sculpture for a particular space. I would also acknowledge that most houses in NZ are built without the benefit of an architect and the owners are happy with the result and if at a later date my architect designed house was judged a classic there would be no objective difference in the standard of living of my family and the family living in a house of a similar size that was not designed by an architect. And while I would acknowledge a master baker’s skills there is no way the cakes they bake could match those of my mother or various aunts and in-laws.

    in 2014 I visited a company that makes a well known NZ food product. The factory and offices were largely made by the founder who was still running the company on his late 70s although he had no formal qualifications in any of the skills required to build (in both senses) or run his business. I had always admired the design of the packaging – now almost 50 years old – and asked him who had been the designer. It was, he said, the first and last design commission undertaken by his brother in law.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 7, 2016 @ 1:22 pm

  105. Surely there is a spectrum of credibility when it comes to expertise

    There’s also a big difference, often, between experts on the internet and actual experts. Someone said earlier that the notion of subjectivity was grasped by pretty much everyone who studies the humanities, ever. Which is true, and says something about all the self-proclaimed design experts popping up who don’t actually grasp this.

    Comment by danylmc — March 7, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

  106. Construction of expertise was a topic covered in one of my 300 level Social Anthropology papers, many many moons ago. Mostly it’s the use of jargon🙂

    And yes I do feel dirty admitting one of the things I studied was SocAnthro, but parts of it are quite handy when considering reputational systems.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 7, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

  107. What is the evidence for a broad consensus amongst design experts and vexillologists that the Lockwood design is a fail? Also is vexillology a real thing, with serious bona fide practitioners? Or is it actually a casual hobby, flag fanciers as opposed to cat fanciers or train spotters. I have a vague feeling people might be laughing at NZ for conjuring up an imaginary profession.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 7, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

  108. @Bill you really aren’t getting into the spirit of this discussion. Would you stop it with is evidence based approach and logic.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 7, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

  109. Yeah good point sorry.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 7, 2016 @ 4:42 pm

  110. @Bill you really aren’t getting into the spirit of this discussion. Would you stop it with is evidence based approach and logic.

    Don’t be so elitist, or Danyl will shout at you. Why should “evidence” and “logic” enjoy any sort of privileged position in a blogpost comments thread?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 7, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

  111. 679 people went to the public meetings, an average of 28 at each. I think that sums up the process.

    The option was there for people to engage in a constructive manner, to present their views and to listen to others.

    If one chose not to then it doesn’t make much sense to then complain about the process and the lack of representation ones design preferences on the short list.

    It was possible to engage with other people on a personal level to hear what they had to say. You could then still vote no change but have at least participated.

    Comment by NeilM — March 7, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

  112. If one chose not to then it doesn’t make much sense to then complain about the process
    You must have enjoyed the bit in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when Arthur Dent finds out about the earth’s impeding demolition by the Vogons, in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass. All the proper notification processes had been followed!

    Comment by McNulty — March 7, 2016 @ 6:16 pm

  113. Jimmy #81: the exterior design of Te Papa comes to mind. It *still* looks like it’s in desperate need of a facelift nearly 20 years since its opening.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 7, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

  114. @danyl

    “There’s also a big difference, often, between experts on the internet and actual experts. Someone said earlier that the notion of subjectivity was grasped by pretty much everyone who studies the humanities, ever. Which is true, and says something about all the self-proclaimed design experts popping up who don’t actually grasp this.”

    It says something about your inability to understand that accepting a subjectivist account of aesthetic judgements does not logically entail that there can’t be experts or can’t be meaningful debate about artistic quality. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t follow.

    Sure, it changes our account of what “expert” means in this context, but the core meaning of “someone who is better than the average person at judging the quality of artworks” remains. In this case it refers to those people whose insights on average change and improve the aesthetic experiences of those they inform in the long run. These people serve a valuable social function, as do disputes about artistic quality, even if the basis of artistic valuation is the subjective experience of viewers. Other people can and do help us to have better subjective aesthetic experiences.

    Comment by L — March 7, 2016 @ 7:23 pm

  115. Bill,
    What is the evidence for a broad consensus amongst design experts and vexillologists that the Lockwood design is a fail? Also is vexillology a real thing, with serious bona fide practitioners? Or is it actually a casual hobby, flag fanciers as opposed to cat fanciers or train spotters. I have a vague feeling people might be laughing at NZ for conjuring up an imaginary profession.

    Not sure if you’re checked out their website but train spotters who spend their life indoors seems a good comparison, also their taste in flags if their own one is anything to go by suggests they aren’t the people you go to to ask what makes a great flag.
    http://www.icv26.com.au/ that alternate aussie flag is just appalling , but thats just my opinion of course and I have no background or qualifications in design etc etc etc

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 7, 2016 @ 8:49 pm

  116. I have a vague feeling people might be laughing at NZ for conjuring up an imaginary profession.

    The process seems to have been:

    – I’m not going to public meetings to talk with people about their ideas and and get an understand their tastes and perspective

    – I’m going to invent a profession and make up rules which I will argue are objective fact

    – from which I can make the claim that my choice is objectively good and others just need some firm direction from experts

    Comment by NeilM — March 7, 2016 @ 11:14 pm

  117. This whole debate seems like a pointless bickering undergrad argument,

    Based on polling, it looks like the new flag is going down. How about just banking that as a small but significant win over John Key’s National and moving on to the next issue?

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — March 8, 2016 @ 12:48 am

  118. I have a vague feeling people might be laughing at NZ for conjuring up an imaginary profession.

    There ain’t nothing imaginary about it. The International Federation of Vexillological Associations has been around since the late 60s.

    “Vexillology is the scientific study of flags and related emblems. It is concerned with research into flags of all kinds, both modern and historical, the creation of a body of practice for flag design and usage, and of a body of theory of flag development. Vexillology seeks to understand and explain the important part played by flags in the modern world.”

    http://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/about-us/about-vexillology/

    Comment by Ross — March 8, 2016 @ 6:52 am

  119. @Ross: Not really comparable to a field which produces academic research, though. As far as I know nowhere in the world are there classes, departments, chairs or research grants in vexillology.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 8, 2016 @ 7:30 am

  120. @OS,

    Here you go! http://www.uniovi.es/en/-/experto-en-protocolo-ceremonial-heraldica-y-vexilologia

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 8, 2016 @ 7:42 am

  121. So what’d everyone think of Spotlight?

    Comment by danylmc — March 8, 2016 @ 8:51 am

  122. Once the Vatican put out the word to stay away from that topic and concentrate on the flag you were never going to get a discussion on Spotlight started.

    “679 people went to the public meetings, an average of 28 at each. I think that sums up the process.”

    Yeah, but 678 were experts from the NZ design community. The other one was a Professor of Political Vexiloligy on her sabbatical from the Sorbonne

    Comment by Tinakori — March 8, 2016 @ 9:31 am

  123. So what’d everyone think of Spotlight?

    Two points:

    (1) I don’t watch movies anymore, as expert critical opinion tells me that TV series are superior.

    (2) Don’t try to derail this thread with irrelevant tangents.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 8, 2016 @ 10:03 am

  124. I watch movies, but I avoid any Danyl blogs about because I don’t want to become elitist.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 8, 2016 @ 11:01 am

  125. I thought Spotlight was brill. Agree with the main message being the tendency to self-censorship. Do I have to discuss flags, design experts etc?

    Comment by Leopold — March 8, 2016 @ 11:20 am

  126. Jesus Danyl, you’ve spent the last week or so agreeing with the Dim Post’s inhouse troll (surely this should ring alarm bells?) – if I didn’t think academics were already over-vacationed (sorry AG) i’d say you needed a holiday – the flag panel was chosen to bring about a desired outcome – this is the significant detail (IMHO) – I’m off to spotlight

    Comment by rodaigh — March 8, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

  127. … if I didn’t think academics were already over-vacationed (sorry AG) i’d say you needed a holiday

    This comment is disgusting and a travesty. I demand that you unreservedly apologise to me and publish it both in print and online. This requirement is non-negotiable.

    That’s how we in the Universities roll when someone says something about us we don’t like.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 8, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

  128. “So what’d everyone think of Spotlight?”

    Good range, OK prices. Bit of an inconvenient location.

    Comment by Fooman — March 8, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

  129. I see what you did there @Fooman, nice reference back to the Lockwood looking like Spotlight’s branding.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 8, 2016 @ 12:59 pm

  130. @Andrew trolling Chancellors, that’s ballsey given how venal academics are. 🙂

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 8, 2016 @ 1:07 pm

  131. ….That’s how we in the Universities roll when someone says something about us we don’t like

    C’mon Andrew, with all due respect – if we’re talking NZ Universities – don’t you mean roll over

    Comment by rodaigh — March 8, 2016 @ 1:13 pm

  132. @Flashing Light 120. As proof that Vexillology is a real academic subject you link to a four week course at a Spanish University. The subject matter of the course seems to be “Protocol”, Although the page you link to is supposed to be in real English (as opposed to a machine translation) the actual nature of this subject is hard to discern. Perhaps some kind of formal bureaucratic procedure in Spanish local government? The word “vexillology” (misspelled) comes up just the once in the paragraph about “Extra Subjects”. This is a grab-bag as follows;

    Heraldry and nobility. Vexilollogy. Sociology. Music. Safety. Logistics, routes and caravans. Sport and globalization. The mass media. Graphic techniques. Computing in the service of the Departments for protocol. National, international and foreig ceremonial decorations and badges. Usages and forms of address. Etiquette and official and business receptions. Budget and financial control.

    How much coverage would vexillology actually get in this four week course? Two minutes sandwiched between sociology and “routes & caravans” perhaps?

    My skepticism is increasing.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 8, 2016 @ 3:48 pm

  133. @ Bill,

    You failed the laugh test.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 8, 2016 @ 4:44 pm

  134. Bugger, I hate it when that happens. Sorry.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 8, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

  135. Flags are important. They are also a vexing issue. By getting vexed over the flag you are proving that it is important. As soon as you get vexed the flag has won.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 9, 2016 @ 8:09 am

  136. So what’d everyone think of Spotlight?

    I’m looking forward to seeing it🙂

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — March 9, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

  137. You can’t just waltz on into a blog-site and start demanding people discuss the actual thread Graeme.

    What kind of twisted game are you playing?

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 10, 2016 @ 7:34 am

  138. On Spotlight: One thing that impressed me was the craft involved in making this a period piece. Which is weird, because it was 2000 and 2001. But it looked and felt like quite a different time. Sort of halfway to a Mad Men kind of vibe.

    On Vexillology: Last night on TV2 Dr Sheldon Cooper, the world’s most eminent vexilloligist, came out in favour of the new flag.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 10, 2016 @ 10:06 am


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