Monday, July 4, 2016

Thoughts on fireworks

  1. Fireworks are a hilariously martial tradition, being essentially cartoon artillery barrages. The US love of simulated combat situations is surely related to our having never been devastated by a home invasion in recent centuries. I am reminded of this excellent piece by Tyler Cowen.

  2. Drone technology has enabled an entirely novel way of experiencing (recorded) fireworks (see here). This is the most interesting thing I have seen drone photography do yet: making 3d what was previously a 2d experience. Hopefully it will inspire other similarly-creative uses in film.

  3. Fireworks are an intensely human example of intellectual domination over biology. People like fireworks for the same reason they like roller coasters and haunted houses: they prompt an evolved emotional response (lound sound, bright colors) within the intellectual context of total safety.

  4. An interesting research question would be to investigate whether there is more or better sex on the 4th of July compared to similar community festivals. Many contemporary theories of sexual fitness signalling emphasize risky behavior among young men (drug use, fast-moving stunts, etc.), and the many fingers currently being blown off paired with survey data about sex should provide a rich data set.

  5. The tiny Cabbagetown neighborhood in Atlanta, GA deployed a genuinely unique (in my experience) fireworks spectacle: instead of a single continuous presentation, it opted for a long-duration event (well over one hour) of single-shot munitions at roughly 15-30 second intervals, with multiple periodic surges typical of other cities' events. These people really love America. The long duration combined with lax open-container enforcement meant social clusters at the park became more cohesive while also enabling more mixing of random people. Also, many late-arrivals and early-leavers created an incredible spontaneous pedestrian takeover of the neighborhood's narrow and densely-packed streets. The neighborhood's porch-centric architectural style dramatically amplified the street-life and social energy.

  6. New York City still has the best fireworks in my experience, and despite Atlanta's surprising-vibrant street life (beating out at least Minneapolis, Philly and DC), Brooklyn's energy on this night is unmatched by a wide margin (though less explicitly nationalistic in its celebration vs. Atlanta).
Happy Independence Day

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