Dangerous ways to celebrate

The BBC just answered a question I often find myself asking: how dangerous is firing a gun into the air? The answer, apparently, is “fairly dangerous”. It seems obvious that if you fire a bullet into the air it will come down to land somewhere. And research from 1962, quoted by the BBC, shows falling bullets can reach a terminal velocity of 300 feet per second, 100 feet per second more than is required to penetrate a human skull. In populous areas where a lot of this celebratory gun-firing seems to take place, the chances of falling munitions hitting the unsuspecting must be quite real and often presumably fatal.
The BBC cites a number of cases of known deaths; for example, these:

When the Iraqi football team defeated Vietnam in 2007’s Asia Cup, three people were killed in Baghdad amid widespread gunshots as fans celebrated. Celebratory gunfire in Kuwait after the end of the Gulf War in 1991 was blamed for 20 deaths.

So now I know and it doesn’t make watching the celebrations in Tripoli any easier. I just watched BBC footage of a man firing off anti-aircraft rounds into the air to mark the liberation of the city (the firing happens at about 2.02 minutes in). Someone somewhere probably regrets that he chose to show his enthusiasm in quite that way.

Update: Another article in today’s Guardian has more on the subject. If you are shot in a regular way your chance of death is between 2% and 6%, according to the article. If a falling bullet lands on you it is closer to one third. There you go.

Time to get back to blogging again

Blogging has been pushed into the background lately owing to the enormous popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Google + et al, but I’ve noticed a bit of a reappraisal going on. The latest example was Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void who put his decision to cut out Twitter and Facebook to refocus on his blog thus:

Why? Because Facebook and Twitter are too easy. Keeping up a decent blog that people actually want to take the time to read, that’s much harder. And it’s the hard stuff that pays off in the end.

Besides, even if they’re very good at hiding the fact, over on Twitter and Facebook, it’s not your content, it’s their content.

The content on your blog, however, belongs to you, and you alone. People come to your online home, to hear what you have to say, not to hear what everybody else has to say. This sense of personal sovereignty is important.

I am having similar feelings. I realise I first started blogging on August 11th 2005 which means there is a lot of me invested in my blog. But for the past year I’ve barely blogged at all, keeping up with what is going on through Twitter, Google + and, to a lesser extent, Facebook. That, I sense, is about to change a bit.