Saturday, 31 December 2011

siss boom bah!

Around here, people are really keen on heralding the new year with explosive volleys of private fireworks displays, and H and I are looking forward to doing the same at midnight. It is a wild and lawless moment in the year, but it does not happen completely in a regulatory vacuum as the noisy and colourful celebrations might suggest. Like the officious vestments of the Carnival Kings and Queens, there is an agency that oversees the safe and orderly execution of these neighbourhood rallies, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und prüfung (kurz BAM). Despite the wide and potent variety of Silvester fireworks available at any grocery store, there is still a market for smuggling in even bigger and more powerful (and unsafe) explosives from eastern Europe. The BAM, under its new safety campaign "Kein Boom! ohne BAM!" (No boom without BAM!), has intercepted some particularly dangerous sounding cargo: rockets that shoot up to forty metres in the sky with a battery to power the second stage, which can launch the fireworks another forty metres.
Aside from the risk it could pose at such heights to aircraft, apparently the second-stage ignition is unreliable and as likely to fire off the rocket another forty metres horizontally or straight back into the ground. Though such revelry is tolerated only at New Year’s, maybe the practice ought to be expanded, as a way to keep the middle-distance of the sky free of the coming aerial drone race, when corporations and law-enforcement, encouraged by drone-manufacturers, get in on the patrolling, and there are traffic-control drones, meter-maid drones, news reporter drones, ambulance-chasing drones, etc. I hope such patrols don’t come with the new year,  but maybe the booms, bangs and bams can chase away those bad portents too. In the meantime, we’ll celebrate and have some fun. Happy New Year! PfRC wünscht allen ein besonders frohes neues Jahr und guten Rutsch!