Top 50 New Zealand flag proposals (according to me)


Note: This post features my own judgement on the best flag designs. For the proposals that are most popular with the general public, see this post.

Now that the New Zealand government has closed submissions for a new flag, I decided to go through and pick out the best. That’s right, I looked through all 10,293 of them. Don’t worry, it only took me 48 minutes to evaluate (about 0.28 seconds per flag; thank god for learning scanning techniques).

It probably helped that the whole gallery was a beautiful testament to Sturgeon’s Law (in this case more like 99% though), Poe’s Law and the futility of crowdsourcing design, making it easy to mentally filter out the crud and parodies. You wouldn’t believe the Nazi, apartheid, North Korea, IsraelPRC, Imperial Germany, Quebec (of all places), meme and My Little Pony based parodies that got through their filters. Seriously, the name “Moswald Osley” didn’t ring any alarms? Well done to the Lautaro joke for subtlety and this thing for sheer insanity though. All in all, an experience I would not recommend.

I automatically dismissed any jokes, offensive statements, political statements and anything too similar to another national flag, no matter how well designed or New Zealand-y it was. I hope the judging panel can do that, but since it has no vexillologists (flag experts) I don’t have a lot of faith.

Anyway, here are the best I picked out, emulating the judges’ process of picking an initial list of 50-75 best designs. There were a lot of duplicates and near-duplicates so it’s hard to know exactly how to count and credit them (I’m sure I’ve missed a few credits, sorry!), but it should be around 50 some way or another.

This list is in no particular order.

[ABERIL FOOLS] Zandbergen’s Deceit: A Complete and Holistic Explanation of the Voynich Manuscript

Voynich Manuscript


This article was my April Fools joke for 2015, kept here for personal history and amusement. No, I don’t believe that René Zandbergen forged the Voynich Manuscript. And don’t worry, I’m still sane!


In 2008 I became interested in the Voynich Manuscript and have been reading about it ever since. Over time I read many theories and went through different theories of my own, but one thing always got in the way – it just didn’t make sense. Like the mythical hydra, solving one issue would just raise more. Basically: the more you know, the more you don’t know. How could we possibly explain this artifact where no theory covers everything and the facts can contradict? Every now and again I felt a nagging gut feeling that something just didn’t add up. Something is just fundamentally wrong about the situation that I can’t put my finger on. It’s something that everyone here is thinking but nobody wants to say. We aren’t just on the wrong track, we are in completely the wrong field.

Eventually I gave in to these intuitions and started afresh with a blank slate. I cleared away all speculation, binned my previous work, disregarded the big names and ignored any assumptions and preconceptions that were holding me back. It was time for the bare facts, and the facts only. I built these basic truths into a new explanation without trying to prove any theory, trying to gratify myself, or considering what theories were popular. The result surprised and disappointed me. But the truth is the truth, it just is what it is, and it doesn’t change to comfort anyone. If you can’t face opposing viewpoints and prefer to hide within your own comfortable theories, I warn you not to read further.

I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it doesn’t even matter. In short: The Voynich Manuscript is a modern forgery by René Zandbergen.

Welcome to the personal website of Brian Cham

(vexillologist, cryptographer, software engineer, screenwriter and graphic designer)

I am an award-winning Vexillologist (flag expert): I love how flags can symbolise so much meaning and bring people together.
🌟 I’m the YouTube Co-ordinator for NAVA (North American Vexillological Association), the largest flag organisation in the world
🌟 I gave a presentation about flag design and the NZ flag referendum at NAVA’s 55th annual conference, winning an Honorable Mention for the Driver Award
🌟 I’ve been the finalist for some official flags
🌟 I’ve been a judge for some official flags
🌟 I was commissioned to design the flags for the fictional nations in the NeuroSpasta role-playing game
🌟 My Earth flag design was featured in NAVA’s newsletter
🌟 My Australian flag redesign was voted the third best Australian flag proposal of all time in a public poll
🌟 My Louisiana flag redesign was voted the best Louisiana flag proposal of all time in a public poll
🌟 My Massachusetts flag redesign was voted the best Massachusetts flag proposal of all time in a public poll
🔗 Feel free to browse and share my designs or see my NAVA profile!

I am a Cryptographer (code breaker): I love solving puzzles, analysing patterns and breaking secret codes.
🌟 At the University of Auckland, I made apps to teach cryptography and steganography to students in a fun way. These were used as teaching tools in the University of Auckland and the Museum of Transport and Technology.
🌟 I analyse the Voynich Manuscript, a 500 year old book that nobody has been able to decipher. My Voynich Manuscript work has been cited in academic papers.
🔗 Feel free to read my Voynich Manuscript articles or see my Voynich Ninja profile!

I am a Software Engineer: I love the power of software to deliver revolutionary benefits.
🌟 I work at Southern Cross, the largest health insurance provider in New Zealand
🌟 I used to work at Vista, the multi-national company that makes the software that runs most of the world’s cinemas
🌟 I have two Microsoft Certifications: Azure Fundamentals and Azure Developer Associate
🌟 I have a Professional Certificate in Data Science from Harvard University
🌟 I have a Degree in Software Engineering from the University of Auckland
🌟 At the University of Auckland, my Part IV Engineering Project was an educational tool that taught model-driven development in an interactive way. It was accepted at an international conference, ranked as a top paper and published in the International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering
🔗 Feel free to see my software projects or see my LinkedIn profile!

I am a Cinephile (film lover): I love the power of film to bring us into another world and inspire the human soul.
🌟 I also work as a screenwriter for Psych2Go, an animated series bringing awareness of psychology and mental health to a general audience
🌟 I have over 1500 film reviews and 31 achievement badges on IMDb
🌟 I have a Degree in Film, Television and Media Studies from the University of Auckland
🌟 I was a finalist in an international film competition run by the United Nations
🌟 I got First in Course for FTVMS300 (New Zealand Film) at the University of Auckland
🌟 I got First in Course for FTVMS327 (Comics and Visual Narrative) at the University of Auckland
🌟 I got First in Course for FTVMS212 (Video Game Studies) at the University of Auckland
🌟 I got First in Media Studies 301 and the Best Director award at Massey High School
🔗 Feel free to see my full filmography, see my IMDb filmography profile or see my IMDb user profile!

I am a Bookworm: I love learning new things and exploring new ideas.
🌟 I was the #1 top book reviewer in New Zealand for All Time on GoodReads
🔗 Feel free to see my GoodReads profile!

I am a Designer
🌟 I used to be a freelance graphic designer
🔗 Feel free to browse my designs!


Minerva mysteries

Voynich Manuscript

Recently on the Voynich Manuscript mailing list there has been a kerfuffle over a supposed Athanasius Kircher booklet find in Minerva Auctions’ catalogue. You can find the details summarised here in Ellie Velinska’s blog (don’t worry, the April Fools’ joke at the bottom is on her part, not Minerva’s). I’ll continue with what I’ve dug up.

Hidden numbers and letters on f71r

Voynich Manuscript

Here is Bunny’s find of possible hidden numbers and letters in the tree on f71r of the Voynich Manuscript (link goes to original image). It is reproduced on my site with permission (by request, in fact).

Possible hidden letters and numbers in the tree in f71r.

Possible hidden letters and numbers in the tree in f71r.

Adjustments in the image: “changed contrast brightness, gamma, colour then made b/w.  attempting to remove green from tree and clarify what left, no adjustments made to actual lines of image.”

Countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition


I was in a statistical geography mood so I made this map based on Wikimedia statistics. It shows the most popular Wikipedia language edition for each countries and territories that had hits in 2014 Q1. If the majority of hits from a place are for a single language, I marked that language’s colour. If there was no majority language, I marked the top two in a gradient.

I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

Map of countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition (2014 Q1). Click on image for full size.

Map of countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition (2014 Q1). Click on image for full size.

Interesting points:

  • Out of ~6000 languages in the world, only 32 (0.5%) account for most popular Wikipedia edition in every country and territory in the world that tried to access it. All of these languages are from Eurasia, which really says something about the power structures over history and the digital divide.
  • Language geography corresponds well with European imperial holdings with some exceptions. Who would have guessed that Puerto Rico, Suriname and East Timor would have English as their preferred Wikipedia language? Regionalisation is also a factor.
  • English has more popularity than the rest of the languages combined.
  • Regions with no single majority language include North Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Baltics. Other such places include Belgium (French and Dutch), Norway (English and Norwegian), Greenland (English and Danish), Israel (English and Hebrew) and South Korea (English and Korean).

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Cod. Sang. 754 and the Voynich Manuscript

Voynich Manuscript

Every now and again we uncover manuscripts with possible direct or indirect links to the Voynich Manuscript. They might contain a similar glyph, a similar illustration, or perhaps a similar diagram. A good example was Cod. Sang. 839 (discovered by Thomas Sauvaget) with the same quire number style.

Cod. Sang. 754 is perhaps special in how many similarities there are.

All credit to the discovery goes to Job (from the Voynichese project); I am simply documenting it for him. I will avoid making any bold claims and simply lay out all the similarities and let you make your own decision. I’ll also not bore you with the details of the manuscript until the end.

1. The illustration

The first thing Job noticed was the style of the illustration on page 164.

Page 164 of Cod. Sang 754.

Page 164 of Cod. Sang 754.

It should speak for itself.

(it’s the only full plant illustration in the manuscript so don’t bother looking for others)