Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In case you’re wondering why more folks are being fatally gored during bull-running

Hey, I could be whiling away the hours checking my IRA to see how much it’s down (or – hah! – up) in the latest rollercoaster ride. Or I could do an immense public service and report why so many more folks are dying in the interest of checking off one more item on their bucket list.

I have a few things on my bucket list – see Venice, see Pittsburgh (seriously) – but running the bulls in Pamplona, or in any of the other 16,000 or so Spanish festivals that will include bull-running, is not among them.

I have no desire to appear anywhere in white pants. I haven’t worn a red bandana since the days when I mostly wore a blue bandana. Espadrilles are bad for the feet. And I don’t want to have something on my bullet list be the death of me before I have a chance to check it off.

I suppose that I could fall out of gondola and drown in Venice. After all, see Venice and die!

Although I will likely see Venice, and I will definitely die at some point, I don’t imagine that the two will be closely connected. They could be, but that’s not the plan.

I suppose I could get conked on the head by a home run ball while strolling outside PNC Park, where the Pirates play. But I can also do my Pittsburgh run in the off season.

The running of the bulls – or doing anything else in emulation of Hemingway -  however, is pretty much asking for it. So far this “season” alone, 10 young men have died by being trampled and/or gored.

Some are speculating that the increase in deaths is due to drinking. But I’m guessing that, even back in the day of Ernesto Hemingway, a lot of the human participants had had a wee – or not so wee – drop of the creature before hitting the cobblestones.

Maybe it’s that there are a lot more festivals that include bull-running than ever before. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and with the Spanish economy still in desperado mode, the number of towns deciding to host a bull run increased by 2,000 in just the past year.

It could be that, with bull fighting on the wane, the toros on the runs are more fierce than they might have been in the past, when the really macho bulls went into the ring to go up against a matador. Now they’re coursing through the narrow streets of small towns wondering where all these idiots in white pants and red bandanas came from all of a sudden.

But, no.

As it turns out, the most likely culprit is the bull-runners taking selfies – still or video – while trying to stay an inch or two ahead of a sharply pointed horn and set of thundering hooves.

I know, I know. Nothing really happens unless you’ve taken a picture of yourself doing it. But have people lost all sense of the difference between virtual reality and the actual reality of a heavy, angry and rip-snorting bull bearing down on you? There’s dumb, I guess. And then there’s dumber.

Here’s an idea: If you really do need to have your run with the bulls recorded, why not get yourself a couple of GoPros. Attach one to the back of your head to film all those rampaging bulls (and rampaging a-holes). Tape a stick to your head and attach another backward-facing GoPro to the stick, so that it can record the look on your face as you do your run.

Do I have to think of everything?

Sorry, not on my bucket list.

Sources: The Economist,

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