If you've watched any World Cup matches at all (and statistically, if you have not, you are not reading this article) you have been aware of an omnipresent drone in the background - and you might believe it is the biggest swarm of mutant bees you ever imagined or perhaps South Africa's revenge for Apartheid-based boycotts in the 1980s.  

Instead, it is a horn South African fans like to use.  They call it a vuvuzela - I call it a B flat plastic trumpet from hell.   And I am not alone.   

But if you're watching the matches on TV, the networks are using noise cancellation to block a lot of that vuvuzela sound out.   That's right, the sheer volume of its sound you are hearing is reduced thanks to the magic of post-processing.  

A kindly South African engineer named Cecilia tired quickly of my rants on Twitter and so offered to send me a vuvu so that I might be seduced by its charms(1) and when I receive it I will do a "Physics of the Vuvuzela" article and discuss why it annoys the way it does, but until then here are some pics I took during a match today so you can see fan reaction in real time.   Like anything crowd-based, vuvu love happens in waves so here is what I saw during the US-Slovenia game today.  Take a look at the lady on the left of the screen as the next wave starts:

She knows it is about to happen - again.  Her earplugs are bigger than my fingers so this is not her first 2010 match ...

... but she won't be in time, I fear.  "Find a safe place, find a safe place" ...

She is getting the full force of it now and the look of horror on her face is what it must be like if someone has their ear canal removed with a spoon.  If the guys at Abu-Ghairab had only known about the vuvuzela, this whole Iraq business would have been finished long ago.


(1) It can happen.  The sound of cowbells has to be maddening to the rest of the NBA, and when the team was doing well a few years back the decibel level had to be louder than a Who concert, but it is still charming.  I just wear earplugs.