Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Having Your Wits Around You

Having your wits around you.....wise words passed by a guy making an observation over the recent deaths in Spain with the bull running scheme.

Years ago (probably into the early 1980s), I had this fascination with the Spanish event held yearly....mostly in Pamplona but also in other cities across Spain.

The Running of the Bulls is a eight day event and it usually heats up just after lunch each day where six of the bulls are herded up into one area of a cobble-stoned street.....then turned loose on a number of guys who get to run down the street and hope they don't get trampled or gored.  At the end of this end, the bulls end up in the local stadium, where they will be used for the bull fights of the day.  One should note.....the complex of the entire day will be all six bulls being taken down, and sent off to some local butcher.

The history behind this?  Well, it's an odd piece of Spanish history.  Going back into the 1400s, Spanish cattlemen were kinda like the cowboys of the American west.  They were young and looking for some thrills.  So they'd eventually get to Pamplona where the bulls would be herded down the narrow streets to the local butcher area.  The Spanish cowboys got the idea to run the herd a bit faster and turn this into a show of sorts for the locals.....which meant a couple of guys were at the back to push the herd forward, and a couple of fast guys were in the front to show off their courage and charisma.  No one says much if guys got trampled or gored in those days.....my hunch would be they did but it wasn't recorded into history.

If you follow the bulls runs.....you'd note that this year has been a bit different.  Currently, if you count all bull runs in 2015.....there's been ten folks killed so far.  The Spanish media doesn't talk much over the wounded or severely injured.....just the death count.  Ten is considered awful high and getting a fair amount of discussion.

The chief cause of the ten deaths?  Well.....social media.

What folks say is that guys have shown up with smart-phones and they want to get into the run.....video-taping their situation as they run, and they aren't paying attention to the bull and the general escape path.  They are looking a good bit at the smart-phone screen and trying to get better pictures of the bull chasing them.  It's a multi-task situation which humans aren't capable of performing well.

A local mayor in the region analyzed everything, looking over the deaths, and then kinda noted in commentary to the reporter over the article.....you need to have your wits around you.  It's wise words....something that a farmer in Bama would say or some NCAA football coach would say in practice.

Two years ago, I noted that some California guys were discussing the idea of bull runs to be held there.  There was to be some animal cruelty folks who were going to use the court to hinder them and possibly stop this episode.  It's hard to imagine that it'd happen in the US.....too many lawyers would be involved and you'd have to charge folks a thousand dollars for the privilege of running with the bulls.  Then you'd have to do alcohol checks to ensure everyone was sober, and probably some mental test to ensure they weren't crazy (like those Spanish folks).  There'd probably be some age requirement, and a gun/knife check at the starting point to ensure it was a fair race.

For these ten guys who've passed on in Spain because of the bull run this year.....I'm guessing all of them figured they had a ninety-nine percent chance of survival....otherwise, they wouldn't have been this stupid.  The problem is....when dealing with a 1,500 pound steer....you can't be sure of their view of the situation, and when he stops for a second and does a 180-degree turn....you might be standing there in a bit of shock that your bull run strategy didn't consider this possible change in the scenario.  Your wits?  Well, at that point, you are maxing out to one-thousand-percent of your wits.....trying to think of the reason why you did this stupid race and realizing you've got two seconds before this bull gores you.