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Tag: fourth of july

Fireworks silenced after complaints they were too loud — in a video game

A temporary Independence Day fireworks celebration in the online game Watch Dogs 2 was silenced on July 4 due to concerns that they were too loud.

At least one player said they were scaring their dog.

The fireworks had been added to the game as part of a temporary update that was scheduled to stay in effect from June 29 through July 10.

But the bangs were turned off on July 4 after the company caved in to complaints that they were annoying.

Too bad we can’t do that in real life.

This story — reported in Kotaku.com — has several layers of absurdity. We’ll just point out a few of them.

First, as you might be asking yourself, if the game noises are so bothersome, why don’t players just mute their devices?

Or why don’t they just not play, as in turning off the whole game? The answer to that one is probably that they are so hopelessly addicted to it that the idea doesn’t even occur to them.

Beyond that, though, there’s something weird about people launching a campaign to silence the turn-off-able fireworks in a virtual game when, in real life, there has never been much of a sustained effort to silence the non turn-off-able ones.

Could it be that some of us have become more concerned about the quality of their virtual lives than the quality of their real ones?

In any event, the protesting gamers took to Twitter, where they described the sounds of the fireworks as “completely obnoxious,” “f—ing annoying” and scary to dogs.

WD2Ubisoft, the maker of Watch Dogs 2, initially defended the fireworks, stating on a Reddit forum thread that “While you may find them loud in-game, they are really loud in real life too! The sound carries over the water and you can hear them all over the Bay!”

On the Fourth, though, Ubisoft announced it was silencing the fireworks.

“The people have spoken and we have carried out their will! There was an annoying bug that snuck into our Independence Day Event that made the sound effects from the fireworks noticeable from everywhere on the map. They have been turned off as to avoid any further noise complaints,” a company representative noted on Reddit.

(We’d suggest watching no more than the first two minutes of the video above, which is plenty of time to get the idea.)

” … When you’re playing the game at night for hours and can’t escape the popping no matter where you are, that’s not a positive experience for the player,” a representative admitted. “It’s not possible to rush a fix for this so we made a tough choice to remove them. The heart says no but the ear drums say yes.”

If only the promoters of real fireworks could get that message. Dogs everywhere — and more than a few real life humans — would appreciate it.

New gel promises to make the 4th of July a less anxiety-filled time for dogs

sileo

A new medication that claims to soothe dogs who are frightened by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, will be available to veterinarians in the U.S. within a week — in plenty of time to help make the 4th of July less traumatic.

Sileo (not a very serious sounding name, is it?) comes in a gel form and is the first prescription medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises in canines– a widespread problem that leads to property destruction, running away and life-threatening injuries.

Its U.S. maker, Zoetis of Florham Park, New Jersey, says Sileo (pronounced SILL-lee-oh) works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety.

It is applied to a dog’s gums via a pre-filled, needle-less syringe.

Zoetis says the medication will give owners of the estimated third of the 70 million dogs in the U.S. who have problems with loud noises an alternative to human anti-anxiety pills, like Xanax, that sedate dogs for many hours.

Sileo takes effect within 30 minutes to an hour.

The pre-filled applicator costs $30, and contains enough for two doses for a dog of 80 to 100 pounds, four doses for a 40-pound dog, or six doses for a small dog.

Dogs can be re-dosed every two hours, up to five times during each noise event, Zoetis said in a press release.

Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with the medication’s developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.

In testing on 182 pet beagles conducted on New Year’s Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent. Side effects were rare and minor, the company says.

(Photo: Provided by Zoetis)

Fireworks: Do we really need the bang?

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There are only two possible explanations for this stand I am about to take:

One, I have come around to my dog’s way of thinking on the matter of fireworks, which is that they are to be feared, freaked out by, and avoided at all costs, even if it means hiding in the bathtub.

Two, I have become a certifiable old fart.

Oh wait, there’s a third possibility: Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

I am speaking here of the entire gamut of fireworks, from big sanctioned municipal events to small backyard displays to solo performances by those who feel the need to mindlessly fire a gun into the air while intoxicated.

With New Year’s behind us, and the Fourth of July ahead, I pose the question: Do we really need any of it? And, if so, is it possible to have the spectacle without the noise?

There’s a town in Italy, called Collecchio, that has reportedly introduced legislation requiring people to use “silent fireworks” out of respect to animals, for whom the noise causes some serious stress.

That’s an idea worth importing.

Other than a reference on a travel website, I couldn’t find a lot of information about the proposal on the Internet. Then again, on the Internet, good and quiet ideas tend to get buried by loud, stupid and flashy ones.

Nor could I find any truly “silent” fireworks. There are a few videos on YouTube that claim to feature “silent” or “quiet” fireworks, but the companies behind them seem to be promising more than they are delivering.

In the UK, this past November, Birmingham Botanical Gardens offered a silent fireworks show they promised would be “ideal for the little ones,” but it was followed by complaints from parents who said they were forced to leave because the loud noises frightened their children, according to a BBC report.

Why is it society has been able to come up with the technology to put silencers on guns, but not on fireworks?

Fireworks have been an American tradition for more than 200 years, and any voice calling for putting a muzzle on them — much like any voice calling for gun control — is likely to be blasted as unpatriotic.

For dogs, they are more than just annoying. They confuse and stress out many dogs, often leading them to run away, sometimes getting hit by cars in the process. They have negative effects on birds and other animals, too, not to mention air quality and all the injuries to humans the do-it-yourself variety cause.

But the spectacle, and the tenuous link to patriotism, somehow rate as more important than all that.

Even in an age of heightened fears over terrorists, we still feel the need to see and hear the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air. We need to see and hear what is, in effect, a re-creation of war.

Fireworks displays are like Donald Trump — big and loud and in your face, full of bangs, booms and bombast, a spewing spectacle that prides itself in being outrageous and pushing the limits.

I would not mind in the least if they both went away. But neither is likely to, even though there are quieter, saner alternatives.

Laser light shows are one, but they don’t seem to have wowed us like traditional fireworks displays.

When an air pollution control district in California offered three towns $10,000 to call off their fireworks shows and replace them with laser light shows in 2012, none of the towns accepted the offer.

“You can’t have a Fourth of July show with just light beams,” one fair official said. “It would have been two minutes and the kids would have been done and gone.”

Another California town, Morro Bay, tried a light show in 2009 — due to predictions of a foggy night — but says it won’t do it again.

“It was like a bad Pink Floyd concert,” one official said.

I’m not sure there is such a thing as silent fireworks or, for that matter, such a thing as a bad Pink Floyd concert. But both my dog and I — while not being so brash as to suggest celebrating peace instead of war — cast a vote for quieter celebrations.

Here’s a not entirely quiet example, from a company that provides “quiet” fireworks for weddings and other events:

(Photo: Freestockphotos.biz)

“Teen Mom” lets her dog play with fireworks

In her defense, forethought and consequences are concepts that may not be fully understood by Jenelle Evans.

That would explain, among other things, why the star of this season’s “Teen Mom 2” on MTV let her dog play with lit fireworks, videotaped it, posted it on social media and says she would do it again — except maybe for the posting on social media part.

The homemade video, which she has since deleted, showed the reality TV star tossing a lit firework into her yard as a voice seems to encourage her dog, Jax, to fetch it.

Some reports say the voice is that of her son, Jace, who Evans gave birth to at age 16.

After she posted the video, animal lovers gave Evans a richly deserved verbal pounding, and she took it down.

A snippet of the video aired on TMZ, along with an interview with Evans, who defended her actions by saying she has seen similar footage of animals playing with fireworks on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

That, she said, makes it acceptable.

She told TMZ she was not encouraging the dog to go after the firework, and that the incident has been blown out of proportion.

“Anything I do is going to be so such a big deal to everyone else, because I’m on TV. If I wasn’t on TV you guys wouldn’t give a shit right now.”

“Teen Mom” is a spin-off of the MTV documentary series “16 & Pregnant.”

It follows the stories of four girls from the first season of 16 & Pregnant who are “navigating the bumpy terrain of adolescence, growing pains, and coming of age — all while facing the responsibility of being a young mother.”

Doggie fun on 4th: Visionary Pets on Parade

Baltimore’s wackiest opportunity to show off your dog (or other pet) — the American Visionary Arts Museum’s “Pets on Parade” — starts 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The event includes a pet talent show. To enter, show up and register at 9:30 at AVAM, located near the Inner Harbor at 800 Key Highway, at the foot of Federal Hill Park.

In past years, museum officials say, the pet talent show has featured a memorable range of acts, from singing dogs to hermit crabs re-enacting Revolutionary War battles.

In addition to the parade and talent contest, there will be a round of musical chairs and a chance (for pets) to cool off in pools.

Trophies will be awarded for Best Costume, Most Patriotic, Owner & Pet Look-alikes, Least Likely to Succeed as a Pet, and the esteemed Most Visionary Pet Award. Dressing up pets is encouraged but all animals must be leashed or carried.

Prepare your dog for a not so silent night

Whether you plan to revel or spend a quiet (yeah, right) evening at home, don’t forget that there are some steps you can take to help your dog get through tonight’s fireworks.

New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July always see a surge in lost animals, many of whom run off because they are so stressed by the noise. (Some say the smell of fireworks — their noses, like their ears, being far more sensitve than ours — bothers dogs as well.)

Some last-minute tips:

  • Unless your dog has been gradually desensitized to the point that he can handle fireworks — and maybe even if he has — it’s best to leave him at home. Don’t take him to fireworks displays, or even outside during periods of peak boomage.
  • Make sure — right now — that your dog is wearing his collar, and that his ID tags are on it.
  • Find a quiet, secure place for him to hang out indoors. If your dog has a crate, make sure he has access to it, and to some toys that can occupy his attention. Close the curtains, turn up the radio or TV.
  • Don’t leave your dog outside — even in a fenced yard. Fireworks could stress him out to the point that he might leap over or tunnel under what he normally wouldn’t. Remember that, even inside, the noise may lead to uncharacteristic behavior.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in a car, especially tonight.
  • If you’re going out, make sure there’s nothing he can get into, tear up, or hurt himself on. 
  • If you’re staying home, fight the temptation to cuddle your frightened dog for the duration, as it only reinforces wimpy behavior. It’s OK to pet him, but it’s better to distract him with a physical activity than to spend hours cooing poor baby to him on your lap.
  • Don’t scold him for his nervous reaction, as that will only confuse him. It helps if you act unbothered by the noise.

OK, now you can revel.

(Image courtesy of North Shore Animal League)