Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: Boson's Own Sunset Cannon

Monday, October 25, 2004

Boson's Own Sunset Cannon

Ah, sunset in the North End. You always know when it happens, as every day the USS Constitution marks this event by firing a cannon from its deck. I'll be sitting here doing work, reading, or maybe watching TV, and all of a sudden a thunderous blast echos across the harbor and into my apartment.

'Old Ironsides' as the ship was affectionately dubbed by her crew, repeats daily an age-old tradition of shooting in vain at our good old solar beacon. I have no idea why it started, or why they still do it. Perhaps the crew was angry at the inevitable transition to nighttime that befell them every twenty-four hours. Perhaps they believed it would build character, to ritually participate in such a fruitless attempt of marksmanship. Perhaps they just liked blowing things up.

One thing's for sure: I don't think we're ever going to hit the sun with a 19th Century naval deck gun.

But this does not deter our brave members of the Charlestown Historical Society, who go through each day wearing uncomfortable period clothing just hoping, waiting, and dreaming of finally nailing that ol' star right in the ass with ten pounds of iron. Or maybe grapeshot.

For the rest of us civilians, the sunset cannon is simply a helpful reminder that it is...sunset. It's a good thing we have that reminder, too, because without it we might slide right into evening and then eventually night without realizing that it was once day. I for one sure am grateful to have a startling explosion reverberate through our quaint neighborhood to keep us all in line, and to make us grateful that no matter how far we advance as a society, we can still tell time by detonating things.