Saturday, September 27, 2008

Too Easy, Libya

Not too long ago, it seems like the major problems facing us were the never-ending war in Iraq and the imminent global environmental collapse. Those problems are still with is, and they're just as important as ever, but they've taken a back seat to the latest problem, which is the impending worldwide economic disaster.

Last week, the big news was the $85 billion bail-out of AIG. That seemed like a big deal at the time, but this week $85 billion seems like nothing, compared to the proposed $700 billion we're being asked to fork over so our government can buy more worthless mortgage-based securities from Wall St. investment firms at a price many times greater than what they're actually worth.

But enough of all that. Things are bad and they're going to get worse, but if we live long enough, we might see them get better again. So on that optimistic note, let's move on to today's topic.

A few months ago, a colleague of mine pointed out that the flag of the United States is not an easy one to draw, particularly for children, because of all the stars. His presumption was that at some point in their academic careers, all elementary school children in this country are given the assignment of drawing the United States flag.

To be honest, my elementary school education took place so long ago that I barely remember anything about it. Specifically, I don't remember ever having been asked to draw the flag of the United States as part of any classroom assignment. I do have the vague sense that I've drawn a few United States flags in my childhood, however, and I can verify that drawing those stars is what makes the task so difficult. It's not that drawing a star is particularly difficult, although creating a white star on a blue background requires that the background be drawn everywhere except where a star should be. This is not an easy task, particularly for a child. For anyone, regardless of age, it is a tedious chore. The proper arrangement of the 50 stars in alternating rows of five and six stars is also rather complicated, but most children don't concern themselves with this level of accuracy.

So drawing the United States flag is far from easy, but on the other hand, it's much easier to draw than many other flags. Consider, for example, the flags of Afghanistan, Albania, and American Samoa. Or for that matter, Belize, Bhutan, and Cambodia. I'm not going to go through the whole list, but flags with a coat of arms, like Moldova and Guatemala, or flags that contain writing, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq, seem especially difficult to draw, and by comparison make drawing the United States flag seem like child's play.

I think there are quite a few flags that would present a challenge to the average elementary school child, but they aren't so difficult that they would cause the child to give up in exasperation. I'm referring to the flags of countries like South Korea, Macedonia, Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Suriname.

There are also a lot of flags that I think wouldn't be challenging enough for the typical school child. Any of the Scandinavian flags would probably fall into this category, with the possible exception of Norway, as would all of the flags that simply consist of two or three color fields, such as Gabon, Germany, Hungary, Colombia, Indonesia, and France.

And finally, there is the flag of Libya, which consists of nothing but a solid green rectangle. The only challenge facing the child who is asked to draw the Libyan flag is to ensure that the entire flag can be drawn without running out of green crayons. There's no frustrating arrangement of stars or coat of arms to draw. There aren't even any lines to draw. Most children wouldn't even waste their time, because the Libyan flag presents absolutely no technical or artistic challenges. It's just too easy.

Anyway, remember a little while ago when I told you I had an idea for this blog but I didn't think it was interesting enough to actually write about? Well, this was it, and I apologize for not warning you in advance. I realize you probably would have been better off reading another of my recent posts, such as this one or this one. Or maybe you would have enjoyed one of my older posts, such as this one. Today's post isn't nearly as interesting, but I never promised that everything I write is going to be a work of literary genius.