Boing Boing 

Why not to shoot a gun into the air for fun on New Year's Eve

Over at Bill Gurstelle's new and excellent blog, Notes from the Technology Underground, there's an entry about the foolish practice of "celebratory firing," that is, shooting rounds of ammunition straight up in the air for fun.
...the terminal velocity of your typical bullet coming back down varies a lot but is normally more than 200 feet per second.

And, other writers on the subject (there have been quite a few) say that tests on cadavers show that skin is punctured and underlying organs messed up (my words, not theirs) at bullet velocities that exceed 180 feet per second. And, since falling bullets typically strike people in the head or shoulders, this appears to me to be a very dangerous practice.


Reader comment: David says: "I worked my way through much of my higher education as a night clerk in ER's, and every year at Xmas and the 4th of July there'd be a few falling gunshot wounds. I'd like to reiterate that the bullets are going more than fast enough to kill people when they hit the ground--there have been cases where a bullet punched through a car roof and hit someone inside. Moreover, the falling trajectory gives the bullet a much longer path through the human body than a flat trajectory, making the wounds much more gruesome than a typical gunshot, even if they don't hit the head or shoulders.

"Speaking as someone who's seen the results I can honestly say that shooting in the air is a Really Bad Thing. Really--don't."

Reader comment: Jamie of Slashdot says: "In their answers to the questions our Slashdot readers sent them, the Mythbusters team recently promised an interesting report on the 'bullets fired straight up' question...

What is your favorite Busted Myth and your favorite Confirmed one? ADAM SAVAGE -- I've always been partial to the Penny Drop myth, i.e. will a penny dropped from the Empire State Building kill you when it hits the ground? To me, that was one of the most elegant and simple applications of science to a question that we've done. Until last week. We just worked on a myth called "bullets fired up" -- i.e., will a bullet fired directly vertically kill you when it comes back down. We did tons of research on it, and in the end, added significantly to the body of knowledge that's out there on the subject. I won't give away the ending, but we nailed this one.

Reader comment: Ben says: "Despite every attempt to do so, I couldn't find an archived news story of the following very real tale (sorry). I know this might ring of a FOAF urban legend, but it's not! Trust me!

"In my hometown of Erie, PA, about 10-12 years ago, there was an incident just as described in your post. An adolescent girl was struck in the head with a falling bullet as she watched New Year's Eve fireworks...the irony of the situation was that she was attending on of those 'alcohol-free, family-friendly' New Year's Eve events, whereas the guy who shot the gun (who, incredibly, was eventually caught) was at a party a few blocks away.

"In the relatively crime-free location of Erie, where shootings are rare, this story was huge, and the criminal trial (as well as the girl's recovery) was followed by the media for weeks to come."

Google founders Brin and Page to finance indie film

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page will make their first foray into film finance as co-executive producers of Broken Arrows.

Set for release in late 2006, Reid Gershbein's sub-$1M feature tells the tale of "a man who loses his pregnant wife in a terrorist attack and then takes a job as a hit man."

Link to SF Chronicle story, and here's the movie website. No, wait, it's a movie blog. A mlog, 'cause we're truncated like that, yo.
(via Defamer, where there's more)

Professor blasts colleagues on DHS/Little Red Book hoax

Snip from Boston Globe story:
The head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale.

Following the student's admission Friday that it was a hoax, Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department, said UMass should punish the student and faculty members, in particular two history professors who repeated the unsubstantiated assertion of the history student to a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter.

(...) ''It's unbelievable that this student is not being suspended for a semester," wrote Barrow, who said he does not know the student's identity. ''It's even more unbelievable that the faculty who jumped the gun on this story and actively promoted it on campus, the Internet, and blogs will walk away from their misconduct without any consequences."

Link to story, and here is previous Boing Boing coverage.

As one eloquent BB buddy put it earlier this week, "There's already enough weird stuff going on in America right now -- it's not like anyone needs to make shit up."

16-year-old studies journalism, then runs away to Iraq alone

Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old high school student from Florida, took a class on "immersion journalism" and was inspired to run away to Baghdad without telling his parents. Link (Thanks, Martin)

"Bloody Mary" resurrected: censored South Park hits P2P

The South Park episode killed by Comedy Central this week after Catholic groups complained has ascended to BitTorrent heaven: Link. (Thanks, Cody).

Defamer has more on the story: Link.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Comedy Central downs "Bloody Mary": South Park episode yanked

Reader comment: Todd Jackson says,

Comedy Central does take comments from viewers. If you disagree with the Catholic League, you might want to write in: Link.
Reader comment: Todd Jackson says,
Here's the Catholic League gloating about the recent South Park pulling, commending Comedy Central for pulling the episode and then calling the creators of the episode "bigots." Link.

And now, we pause for a Bladerunner origami unicorn moment

There's been entirely too much talk of goatse on Boing Boing lately. Here's an eBay auction to cleanse the palate: Link to "Blade Runner UNICORN ORIGAMI."

(Disclaimer: this blog post is not an endorsement for said auction. If you drop Hamiltons on it, you do so at your own peril).
(Thanks, Jason)

Xeni on NPR: 2005 Tech News Hall of Shame

On today's edition of the NPR News program "Day to Day," I spoke with host Farai Chideya about the most shameful moments in technology news this past year.

Many of those low points will be familar to Boing Boing readers: Yahoo's role in the imprisonment of Chinese journalist Shi Tao, the Sony rootkit debacle extended dance remix, and Apple versus bloggers, to name but three.

Link to segment details and archived audio, Link to Day to Day website. Previous "Xeni Tech" segments on NPR here.

See also Kevin Poulsen's terrific year-end roundup for Wired News, "Worst Tech Moments of 2005." Link.

Excellent TiVo practical joke

Thomas Hawk says: "Google Video has a homemade video up done by a bunch of guys who played a practical joke on their friend. They basically TiVo'd the Texas lottery show and then bought a lottery ticket for their friend the next day and played it back like it was live. The guy goes nuts thinking that he just won the Texas lottery and screams and yells and jumps up and down and hugs everyone. Hey, if not to give you the high of winning the lottery at least once in your life, what are good friends for anyway?" Link (Caution -- lots of swear words are uttered in the video.)

FAA releases space tourism regulations

Ladies and gentlemen, you are now free to float around the cabin. Snip from AP story:
More than 120 pages of proposed rules, released by the government Thursday, regulate the future of space tourism. This don't-forget list touches on everything from passenger medical standards to preflight training for the crew.

Before taking a trip that literally is out of this world, companies would be required to inform the "space flight participant" – known in more earthly settings as simply a passenger – of the risks. Passengers also would be required to provide written consent before boarding a vehicle for takeoff.

Legislation signed a year ago by President Bush and designed to help the space industry flourish prohibits the Federal Aviation Administration from issuing safety regulations for passengers and crew for eight years, unless specific design features or operating practices cause a serious or fatal injury.

Link to full text of news story. The document released by the FAA today includes a mandate that physical exams be recommended but not required, and a requirement that all passengers receive emergency training. Here's a PDF link, and a final set of regulations is expected in late June, 2006. (Thanks, Jeff)

Toilet bowl cleaner looks like a windsurfer

 Uploaded Images Wc-Frisch-Alessi-Toilet-729813Owners of toilets in Germany have cause to celebrate -- they can go to the store and buy a little guy who rides the circular waves of their commode, spreading good smells to all who enter the bathroom.

"22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11"

Wall Street Journal has a story on a recent Harris poll revealing that "about 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11." And 41% believe "Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda." It would have been interesting to ask these people if they think the sun goes around the earth and compare their answers to people who think Hussein didn't have strong links to Al Qaeda.

Carousel Goatse

Picture 3-36This is probably unintentional, but it brings to mind the most famous disgusting photo on the net.
Link (more recent Goatse here) (thanks, Tom!)

ObelixReader comment: Hamish Grant says: "That character on the amusement park carousel is Obelix, best friend of Asterix, the beloved cartoon character from Belgium, drawn by Goscinny & Uderzo.

"Obelix is typically seen carrying a large menhir stone (thus his name = Obelisk), which he manufactures and sells from his quarry near the village of invincible Gauls.

"The pose the carousel character is in suggests Obelix's typical presentation and I guess the intent was to have the riders be 'carried' by Obelix in place of his menhir. We have been conditioned by goatse to see something different!"

Reader comment: Andy says: "Yes I know there is far, far more important stuff in the world to worry about than this, but Obelix is French, not Belgian. Not only that, but Asterix, Obelix, their druid Getafix (I kid you not), Chief Vitalstatistix et al are such beloved symbols of French nationalism that you translocate them at your peril."

"Tin Tin is Belgian (written and illustrated by Herge), and indeed 'Asterix in Belgium' is easily one of the best of the Gallic warrior's excursions round Europe, but the chap himself is as French as they come.

"Oh, and thanks but no thanks for reminding me about that picture again. If I could edit one thing out of my memory..."

When opened, iPod box contains slab of meat

Here's an infuriatingly-sparse-on-details story about a woman in Hawaii who bought an iPod for her son for Christmas. When the boy opened the box, it did not contain an iPod as expected, but a piece of "mystery meat." Link (thanks, Consumatron!)

"Outlandish" Tacoma, WA house due for demolition

A county judge in Tacoma, WA has declared Vladmimir Deriugin Jr.'s crazy-looking house to be a danger, and has ordered it to be repaired or demolished. (More photos here.)
Picture 2-39The late-1880s-era house, which Deriugin dreamed of encasing in concrete and using as the core for a 500-foot office and condominium tower, will be torn down within the next couple of months, Deriugin said.

“I’m not going to get my cost out of it,” he said.

Deriugin, 52, estimates he’s invested $2 million worth of time in “research and development” over the years.

Link (thanks, Kevin!)

NSA stops using web cookies on after privacy protests

Snip from AP story:
The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.

The files, known as cookies, disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the agency, which is on the defensive over reports of an eavesdropping program.

"Considering the surveillance power the N.S.A. has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."

Until Tuesday, the N.S.A. site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035. Don Weber, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday that the use of the so-called persistent cookies resulted from a recent software upgrade.


Previously on Boing Boing

Eyeing web tracking bugs at