Lessons From a Misspent Youth

According to the Times, the Times Square bomb was made up of a couple of propane tanks and five-gallon tanks of gas, and some “consumer-grade” M-88’s that fizzled and started the car upholstery on fire, thus alerting bystanders. (CNN also says that there was some “non-explosive fertilizer”.)

A “M-88” is a wanna-be M-80. Because I was a useless little shit as a kid, I’ve lit many M-80s, as well as a huge number of various wanna-bes, all of which were smuggled across the Mexican border in my and my brothers’ pockets. The M-80 has a thick fuse, is hard to light, sparks a lot after it is lit, and it tends to fizzle right at the base where the fuse enters the body of the firecracker. We’d often put the fizzled M-80 in a pool of gasoline in an overturned metal garbage can lid, and light that gas on fire. Even then, it would take a few minutes for the M80 to go off.

The reason that my brothers and I still have our limbs isn’t just dumb luck. The M-80 made a big boom, but it was remarkably weak. The most damage I’ve ever seen one do is to take a little bit off the top of an antpile. The “consumer grade” M-88 (we called them “M-100’s”) have roughly the same amount of explosive as a standard “Black Cat” firecracker.

As for the real explosive in this mix, propane, there’s a reason why we don’t hear about explosions at backyard cookouts — those cylinders are well-engineered. Mythbusters just aired an episode where they attempted to make a propane cylinder explode in a fire. It’s essentially impossible, since propane cylinders have pressure-relief valves, which vent the propane rather than allowing an explosion. Even after disabling this device, which involved some skill with metalworking tools, the Mythbusters crew had to heat the tank for some minutes over an extremely powerful gas burner to get it to explode. I can’t imagine a scenario where a burning car in the middle of Times Square wouldn’t be extinguished before even a properly modified propane cylinder would explode.

So, let’s review the bidding. Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit. And they must not get basic cable, otherwise they would have put a hell of a lot more gas in that car to get those tanks to explode quicker. But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

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133 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ says:

    Still, they represent an existential threat.

  2. 2
    dmsilev says:

    If the Bush administration were still in charge, we’d already be launching airstrikes against Iran.

    dms

  3. 3
    dr. bloor says:

    So, let’s review the bidding. Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit. And they must not get basic cable, otherwise they would have put a hell of a lot more gas in that car to get those tanks to explode quicker. But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

    Yeah, you forgot the part about “and still managed to park it all in Times Square.” I have a lot of near and dear to me that traverse that intersection with great regularity. So, thank whatever God you might pray to for their ineptitude, and think through what you post the next time, fucktard.

  4. 4
    jeff says:

    What’s pissing me off is that it gives the lazy assed CNN, MSNBC etc an excuse not to cover the most serious issue in years: the oil in the Gulf. What the fuck are they thinking? I LIVE right next to where the truck did NOT explode, and I don’t give a shit about it. I care about the Gulf of Mexico. I want info.

  5. 5
    Brachiator says:

    So, let’s review the bidding. Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit. And they must not get basic cable, otherwise they would have put a hell of a lot more gas in that car to get those tanks to explode quicker. But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see these asshats actually, you know, arrested, before the snark and condescension is unleashed.

  6. 6
    DougJ says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Now people can’t point out the ineptitude of would be terrorists without insulting the entire city of New York?

  7. 7
    mistermix says:

    @dr. bloor: I am fully aware that a vehicle containing the right stuff, parked in the right place, could kill a bunch of people.

    This vehicle wasn’t it.

    Why does pointing that out get me called a “fucktard”?

  8. 8
    Mike in NC says:

    . Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit. And they must not get basic cable, otherwise they would have put a hell of a lot more gas in that car to get those tanks to explode quicker. But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

    Congress will funnel billions of dollars to corrupt defense contractors to take care of this, pronto. Sleep well, America.

  9. 9
    Mike Kay says:

    “I think it’s been pretty well established, Tim, that the Times Square bomber met with Iraqi intelligence in Praque.”

  10. 10
    dr. bloor says:

    @DougJ:

    No, but you can’t discount the danger posed by lunatics just because these particular lunatics fucked up.

    I was on staff at St. Vincent’s in the early 90’s when the guys who “fucked up” on bringing the WTC down still managed to send a tsunami of casualities to our ER. So fuck you to. You want to assess level of threat, get out of Rochester some time.

  11. 11
    dr. bloor says:

    @mistermix:

    Because the whole tone of your smarmy post says “no big fucking deal.”

  12. 12
    Chris Dowd says:

    I can’t think of a better indictment of the big three cable news channels than what is going on right now in our media tonight. Watching talking heads, in a studio, or in Time Square- talking about the three facts they have on a failed crude bombing attempt over and over- while endlessly speculating on shit back and forth – while the potentially biggest environmental disaster the world has ever seen may be unfolding.

    This is a media defining moment right here.

  13. 13
    andrewtna says:

    Man, you guys give mistermix a lot of shit. I could be confused with a progressive Rahmbo hater, but I think some of you may have some sand in your vagina(s).

  14. 14
    BR says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Um, it wasn’t a big deal. If something had actually happened, then it would have been. Bruce Schneier has written for years that the only thing about terrorism that does anything is the reaction to terrorism. Ridiculing and ignoring those who perpetrate it is the right response as he argues.

    OT: We need more of this:

    http://i873.photobucket.com/al.....RUINA2.jpg

  15. 15
    jeff says:

    @Chris Dowd:

    Goddamned right, Mr. Dowd. This is unfucking believable. I DO take the threat to NYC very seriously, but we have an almost preternaturally horrifying and all-too-real catastrophe happening right now, and there’s no indication of it ending, or even it’s extent. I would really, really, like to know more. They mention in a cut-away that 20 sea turtles are on the beach in Gulfport, but then it’s back to the same damned shit for the rest of the hour.

  16. 16
    dr. bloor says:

    @andrewtna:

    It’s because mrmixmaster and DougJ, both of whom I routinely enjoy reading and agree with more often than not, have a tendency to post before engaging their brains. I will get on them like white on rice every time they do it, thank you very much.

  17. 17
    JBerardi says:

    @dr. bloor:

    No, but you can’t discount the danger posed by lunatics just because these particular lunatics fucked up.

    We can, however, discount the danger posed by these particular lunatics. Hell, I’m discounting it right now. Wanna fight about it?

  18. 18
    dr. bloor says:

    @BR:

    I’m not advocating implementing a police state in NYC or anywhere else for that matter, and there’s nothing in my comments to suggest as much. I’m pleased and not surprised that NYers are taking this with a business-as-usual attitude. However, I reserve the right to call out morons who think that no-harm-no-foul is an okey-dokey reaction to what happened.

  19. 19
    Martin says:

    Growing up in NY, where all fireworks are illegal, even the lame-ass little sparklers, getting decent fireworks was, of course, a snap. Hell, getting anything illegal in NY was a snap.

    But every summer you could get your share of fireworks – bottle rockets, roman candles, M-80s, you name it, from the ice cream man. He toodled around every neighborhood with his jaunty tune, with 2 coolers full of bomb pops, and ice cream sandwiches and 50-50 bars, and 2 coolers full of explosives. I never ran across an ice cream truck that wasn’t set up this way. The profit margins on the fireworks were no doubt higher, plus you didn’t need to pay to run the freezer.

    I never worked out the wholesale distribution channel, but my theory was the Greyhound guy hauling blue-hairs down to Florida was stopping in NC on the way back and filling up the luggage bays with the stuff and selling it out of the back of the Port Authority.

  20. 20
    Mike Kay says:

    @jeff: dude, just be thankful there’s no missing white girl on the police blotter or a premature dead celebrity or florida shark attacks. And if Jon Benet Ramsey’s killer surfaces, then the ball game is over.

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Rochester has three times the murder rate of New York. Grow up. This IT IS SO DANGEROUS IN THE CITY stuff is childish, and beneath you, whose comment are generally high quality.

    (EDIT: I get that this happened near you and that that’s unnerving, I understand. But the get out of the sticks stuff doesn’t endear NYCers to upstaters.)

  22. 22
    JD Rhoades says:

    @dr. bloor:

    And the tone of your says “hysteria and pants-wetting fear are the only valid response to even a ridiculously botched terrorist attack.”

    You have a great future in the media.

  23. 23
    MikeJ says:

    Please, nobody make fun of would be terrorists or you might hurt somebody’s feelings.

  24. 24
    El Cid says:

    Yeah, but M-60’s would blow up under water. You could tie a rock to them, light them, and drop them in a pond to watch a mini depth-charge.

  25. 25
    JGabriel says:

    Mistermix:

    Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit.

    Sounds like some winger doofus tried to put together a car bomb based on half-remembered bits from The Anarchist’s Cookbook and a mistaken belief that an M-80 (or M-88) is a Quarter Stick of TNT.

    .

  26. 26

    @dr. bloor:

    Word up. We ignore dipshit angry white guys at our peril.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    I can not begin to describe the amount of damage myself and others have done with m-80s.
    In fact, there’s a high degree of likelihood the Obama admin will end up prosecuting us before they get to Cheney et al.

  28. 28
    Violet says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Because the whole tone of your smarmy post says “no big fucking deal.”

    It’s not a big fucking deal. It’s a poorly designed attempt to explode a vehicle. It failed. The most it did was disrupt a bunch of people on a Saturday night.

    Making a huge deal out of it and quaking in fear is how you act when you are terrorized. Nothing significant happened here that should make you do either of those things. Pointing and laughing at the people who did this is a very appropriate response.

    The police and other authorities are doing their job. We should pay attention when they have more information of note. Otherwise, this is no longer news.

  29. 29
    jeff says:

    Breaking: i’m just blocks away from teh earlier non exploding car and right now I’m seeing a subaru–also not exploding. I filed an i-report at cnn. There are also a lot of muslims driving yellow cars. I’ve visited Brooklyn, so I’m not one to be easily frightened…still.

    Too bad about the apocalypse to our south, but I hear that the Lion King will go on as planned, thank god. Besides, most of our seafood is actually flown in from the magical east of asia for pennies on the pound, so it will only affect those ugly people down there.

    OMG I saw Ezra Klein at the afterparty last night!

  30. 30
    andrewtna says:

    @dr. bloor:

    I hear you, I just remember the reaction to mistermix’s church fucking boys line and think he could use some support. I don’t think this post was out of line.

  31. 31
    jrg says:

    The wingnuts on the CNN board have convinced me that Bill Ayers is involved somehow.

    One thing’s for sure, it’s either a librul who hates America, or a conservative that loves America a whole, whole lot.

  32. 32
    JGabriel says:

    @dr. bloor:

    So, thank whatever God you might pray to for their ineptitude …

    I do. I live less than 20 blocks away from Times Square.

    And I’m still gonna mock the assholes who did it. Mix has nothing to apologize for.

    .

  33. 33
    El Cid says:

    We should tell the NRA crowd that this attempt means that Obama will come for our propane tanks next.

  34. 34
    mistermix says:

    @dr. bloor: As a Rochesterian, I’m obviously far too provincial and unsophisticated to understand the full ramifications of this terrorist attempt, but even a bumpkin like me knows that there are few effective defenses against someone parking a real car bomb in Times Square.

    But you obviously know a lot more than me. So enlighten us — what should we do in response to this completely ineffective dud?

  35. 35
    Glenn says:

    Roger that, Chris Dowd and Jeff…

    It defies credulity. Could it be that this is an engineered Security State sleight of hand, a little smoke and the mirror of media? Some conspiracies are real, after all.

    Aren’t they?

    I hear the media is now claiming the Taliban did it.

    Gimme a break.

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    YOU CAN PRY MY GRILL PROPANE FROM MY COLD DEAD BRATS

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    @jeff:
    Lolz.

    BREAKING! I’m sitting on the sofa in front of my laptop. I’m drinking water! From the tap!

  38. 38
    El Cid says:

    @Glenn: The Pakistani Taliban should be fucking embarrassed that somebody would claim this in their name.

    I mean, it’s one thing to be Islamic extremists prone to terrorist attacks, it’s another thing to be completely incompetent gooftards.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dr. bloor: It seems like whoever tried to blow this thing up was incompetent. It also seems to me like mistermix was pointing this out. No one should get too excited, just like no one should have have gotten too excited over the underwear bomber.

    This does not diminish the threat that someone may do something horrific and do it successfully. But this guy did not.

  40. 40
    mistermix says:

    @Corner Stone: Some of those M-80s came home in checked baggage on a commercial airline flight. Luckily, this was the 70’s and 80’s, so we didn’t end up in Gitmo.

  41. 41
    jeff says:

    @Mike Kay:

    Mike, I don’t think I’d survive the aneurysm that would cause me. I try to be jokey, but I’m just not believing the magnitude of this disaster. I’m from down there, and I can tell you nobody down there can understand–partly because of the shabby reporting–what this means, or what the scale of it is. Or whether there will still be a job and so on. And there’s no fucking reporting to help out.

  42. 42
    ajr22 says:

    This guys PR skills won’t help him very much when he is sent to federal found you in the ass prison.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    This does not diminish the threat that someone may do something horrific and so it successfully. But this guy did not.

    Exactly. And we should all pay attention to what’s going on around us, like the street vendor did when he saw the car and alerted the police. But the people who did this were inept and their attempt failed. Pointing and laughing is the right thing to do.

    If you worry about what might happen, you’ll spend your whole life being terrified.

  44. 44
    Glenn says:

    This just in….

    Police detoured the final segment of the race after a small microwave oven was discovered near the finish line.

    Read more: http://www.postgazette.com/#ixzz0mpU5b7dH

    Run Away! Run Away!

  45. 45
    Martin says:

    @Violet: Violet, have you ever seen the Taliban drink a glass of water?

  46. 46
    R. Porrofatto says:

    As a New Yorker who can recognize legitimate (and I’d say fairly accurate) opinion please accept my apologies for the knee-jerk faux outrage of “dr. bloor.” Some people get off on assuming personal affront no matter what – usually a wingnut trait but you never know. It’s too late for this knee-jerk to spare us his/her “I was there, fucktard” cred but it really is embarrassing, so he/she/it should stop.

  47. 47
    MikeJ says:

    @Violet: Of course the street vendor didn’t do any good. Had it been a credible threat, he would have changed the dead people from pedestrians to firefighters. And the firefighters would have been far more likely to be killed, since they were right up against the car when the firecrackers went off.

  48. 48
    jharp says:

    I too, lit off many M-80’s. In the mid 70’s in northeast Ohio.

    I remember blowing up fish with them. They would explode underwater. But you had to time it so they exploded on the initial descent into the creek because they also floated.

    Anyone else remember anything like that?

  49. 49

    Life is the number one cause of death. And fear will kill you before you’re time is up. It doesn’t hurt to pay attention though.

  50. 50
    Violet says:

    @Martin:
    Not personally, but sources say….

    @MikeJ:

    Of course the street vendor didn’t do any good. Had it been a credible threat, he would have changed the dead people from pedestrians to firefighters. And the firefighters would have been far more likely to be killed, since they were right up against the car when the firecrackers went off.

    Are you saying that people shouldn’t notice and report things like cars abandoned in no parking zones?

  51. 51
    GregB says:

    I made a comment to one of my winger friends.

    I said: I thought we wouldn’t have to fight them over here if we fought them over there.

    He said that President Obama announced the continued pull out in Iraq so the terrorists are back to attacking America on our mainland.

    Hoofah.

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    There is no particular reason why terrorists haven’t been shooting up shopping malls or banks, or setting frequent fires, or tossing sticks of dynamite into hospitals, or driving trucks into pedestrians. And, no, I don’t mean once in a while, I mean every couple of days. There’s nothing preventing them. The fact that they aren’t is significant.

  53. 53
    Wordsmith says:

    Sounds like something the CIA or Rush Limbaugh would pull off to get some shit started. Take yer pick.

  54. 54
    MattR says:

    @El Cid: I was just thinking something very similar to this and I agree it is significant but I don’t know what conclusions to draw.

  55. 55
    rootless-e says:

    OH MY GOD! THE TERRORISTS ARE AFTER THE LION KING!
    AND THEY TOOK THE LAST PARKING SPACE IN NYC

  56. 56

    @El Cid: I could be wrong about this. But from what I’ve read over the years, the only group of Islamist’s that have numbers of sympathizers in this country that could wreak sustained havoc like you describe is Hizbollah. And they are focused on Israel, both militarily and politically. And AQ has few if any hard core members here, and they have not been interested in carrying out small attacks anyway. The only way I see them doing that now days with people paying attention after 9-11, is through our shipping yards somehow, a dirty bomb or something, and I think dems have increased security there in the past three or four years. And we still don’t know if the Ny bomb attempt was homegrown, and possibly done by the right wingers.

  57. 57
    jeff says:

    @Glenn:

    You know, it really does beggar belief. What ARE they thinking in this silly total media immersion in the Lion King (non)attack? I mean, I think what’s happening in the Gulf is as important as anything that’s occurred since 9/11–

    MSNBC is doing a rerun of their mass-murder porno series. CNN is reporting over and OVER again the exact same shit. Is FOX covering it? PBS newshour on Friday did a good job…but that’s it for TV journalism.

  58. 58
    Nylund says:

    I used to blow up lotsa crap as a kid! I got quite good at it too. Heck, 8th grade chemistry taught my friends and I how to make some pretty decent bombs out of things we found in our dad’s tool sheds.

    As for this event. Anyone could blow up or shoot up any place, any time without much difficulty. It happens every now and then. I think a previous comment hits the nail on the head. The fact that it doesn’t happen very often is telling, and the fact that when it does, its usually some high school kid or some lone loon really does say quite a bit about how serious this “existential” threat is.

    We all roll the dice every day we get out of bed. Our untimely demise might come from a mad gunman or a bad driver, but we live with those risks and to spend so much time, money, and effort on these things is really probably not the best use of our resources. Education, crumbling infrastructure, etc. are probably vastly more beneficial uses of our money, time, and brain power.

  59. 59
    Hob says:

    @dr. bloor: If you want to start playing the “I was in New York, so you can’t understand” card, I’m not the only one who will be happy to play it right back and ask you what the fuck your point is. I was there in ’93 too, and I didn’t work at St. V’s then but I did work there during 9/11 and many of my co-workers had been there in ’93. Yes, that bombing was really fucking dangerous and scary and it killed people. It might be described as a “fuckup” in that no buildings fell down, but no one, including mistermix, has ever denied that it was a huge fucking explosion that caused death and mayhem– it blew a hole through five stories of the building! In other words, the current thing has no resemblance to it at all, except for the ill intent. Based on what’s been reported so far, these guys were only slightly more skilled than the bozos who wanted to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. Do you go around pissing at people who make fun of that plot, too?

    There was nothing “smarmy” about anything mistermix said. He pointed out that some totally inept terrorists have managed to scare people way out of proportion to their ability to hurt anyone, and this is true. He wasn’t making fun of New Yorkers for being scared of bombs, and your attempt to claim outrage on behalf of all New Yorkers is laughable.

  60. 60
    BeccaM says:

    I just look at all those misspelled signs held up by yahoos and morons who don’t know what socialism really means and yell about the government keeping its hands off Medicare — and somehow a crude, inept bomb stuck in the back of a Nissan Pathfinder SUV comes as no surprise.

  61. 61
    madmommy says:

    @El Cid:

    As long as we are tossing away treasure (money as well as soldier’s lives) hand over fist in Iraq and Afghanistan, why should they make the effort to come here to commit terroristic acts? These wars are well on their way to bankrupting the US, much the same way that the old Soviet Union was helped on it’s way to collapse by their Afghan war. The logistics in an attack inside the USA are a nightmare, the chance of getting caught is quite high, and there’s really no need. Sure, there’s always the possibility of some rogue operative making an attempt, but I just don’t think it’s all that likely.

  62. 62
    dr. bloor says:

    @DougJ:

    Yeah, and all those murders are demographically distributed in a random, even manner, so your life is in constant peril. Nick Tahoe’s after dark wasn’t ever really risky, Doug.

  63. 63
    El Cid says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: You’re saying the obvious. I think we’re all pretty aware that there hasn’t been news of frequent, major operations by Hizbullah or Al Qa’ida operations.

    First, you don’t need any organized terrorist group with international coordination to carry out the types of operations I suggested.

    Remember, we were inculcated with propaganda after 9/11 that it wasn’t just major organized group operations, but that we had thousands of potential sleeper cells in the nation.

    The point is that these easy sorts of operations, open to any individual at all, not needing any significant planning or resources at all – except perhaps in the example of the dynamite — are not happening and have not been happening.

    They could be happening, right now, if there were the sorts of numbers of individual, self-motivated terrorist types in this country.

    They’re not.

    You don’t need Hizbullah to train you how to shoot up a bank. You don’t need Al Qa’ida funding to set fires in dangerous areas.

    Al Qa’ida, of course, wouldn’t want to follow 9/11/2001, the most virtuoso performance of terrorism in all history, with some penny ante shit.

    But none of these individual-capable terrorist attacks have been happening. The right has been screaming at us that the Arabs and Muslims permeating our society have been waiting to do all this — but they just haven’t.

  64. 64
    El Cid says:

    @madmommy: Good lord — did people think I was warning them of the possibility? I was pointing out that this sort of stuff was not happening.

  65. 65
    El Cid says:

    Maybe this guy was just really, really sick of the Lion King.

  66. 66
    kay says:

    while the potentially biggest environmental disaster the world has ever seen may be unfolding.

    I don’t know why they’re not doing the usual “could this have been prevented?” analysis on the BP disaster.
    It’s what they do. Event, then “could this have been prevented?”
    I’ve gotten so used to it. One follows the other. It can be an entirely random event and they will FIND a responsible party.
    So why not here, with BP?
    is it because a huge multinational energy concern is the responsible party, rather than, say, an individual?

  67. 67
    Violet says:

    @dr. bloor:
    Your life wasn’t in peril from this most recent non-event, either. No one’s was, as it turns out, because the people that did it were inept and did a very poor job.

  68. 68
    dr. bloor says:

    @Hob:

    He wasn’t making fun of New Yorkers for being scared of bombs, and your attempt to claim outrage on behalf of all New Yorkers is laughable.

    Go ahead and find the words where I claimed to be speaking for all New Yorkers. Indeed, I made mention of the city’s measured response to it, and that I wasn’t surprised by it. My response was to yet another attempt on the part of mixmaster to be too clever by half. T

    And 9/11 at SVH was nothing compared to 93 because there were no casualties.

  69. 69
    Whispers says:

    “But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.”

    That’s their intent. And, sadly, the media have decided that it’s in their best interest to overplay any possible “terror threat”.

    Sad, really.

  70. 70

    @El Cid:

    You’re saying the obvious. I think we’re all pretty aware that there hasn’t been news of frequent, major operations by Hizbullah.

    I was only speaking about having the numbers to if they wanted to. Way to miss my point.

    I am well aware that the right has demagogued a non existent threat since 9-11 for their own electoral based reasons of scaring people into voting for them. You are stating the obvious.

  71. 71
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Other than the New York Times… which, since it’s in New York, has a pretty good reason… the coverage of the incident seems pretty minimal and totally rational IMHO. I haven’t really seen much fear mongering to be honest… which probably is largely due to the fact that we don’t know who to blame yet.

  72. 72
    madmommy says:

    @El Cid:

    Oh no, not at all. I just remember all the hue and cry after 9/11. Terrorist sleeper cells could be anywhere, shopping malls in danger, large sporting events, national holidays, etc. There was all this hoopla about potential horrific events that never materialized. It just seems logical to me that these sorts of things aren’t happening, for the reasons I mentioned, and probably some others I haven’t thought of.

    I remember the media being all fear, all the time. It almost seems like they need these sorts of “near misses” to remind everyone to cower in fear under the bed. But then the media is librul, so I could be completely off base here.

  73. 73
  74. 74
    carlos the dwarf says:

    @Martin:

    South Carolina is WHERE ITS AT for fireworks. Just inside the North Carolina and the Georgia borders are walmart-sized fireworks stores. That’s not even counting the camp-ass shitshow that is South of the Border.

  75. 75
    jwb says:

    @jeff: The media has been looking desperately for anything to cover except the Gulf disaster so it’s really no surprise that they are falling over one another covering this ant hill of a story. Hell, the conspiracy theorist in me tells me that oil money, or maybe even the Supreme Dick, Dark Lord Cheney himself ordered the NYC incident to divert attention—I don’t actually believe that, of course, but it would certainly be irresponsible not to speculate.

  76. 76
    Bnut says:

    @madmommy:

    Which is exactly why I’m not scared. It would be so easy for someone to walk into a mall and unload an AK. Or put together a small bomb. The fact that it’s not happening doesn’t mean it’s going to eventually. Terrorists are weak and pathetic. If they were truly so big and bad we WOULD be fighting them in the streets of Kansas City instead of Helmand.

  77. 77

    […] The average ten-year-old boy could have made a better bomb. Spotlight 25 […]

  78. 78
    jeff says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Do you own a television? Good for you, if you don’t…but I have to wonder, given your comment. It’s been nonstop, with tiny breaks to a guy in Louisiana who doesn’t know anything, because he didn’t ask.

  79. 79
    jeff says:

    @jwb:

    Yeah, well perhaps. I’m waiting for a Republican representative to claim this is all a lot of crying over spilled milk, and that it ain’t so bad–nothing a real american cannot deal with in exchange for ???–sorry I don’t know what we’re getting in exchange. Plutocracy, maybe.

  80. 80
    GregB says:

    Breaking News on the failed Times Square bomb.

    “The surveillance video shows an unidentified white man apparently in his 40s slipping down an alley and taking off a shirt, revealing another underneath. In the same clip, he’s seen looking back in the direction of the smoking vehicle and furtively putting the first shirt in a bag, Kelly said.”

    I say let the racial profiling begin.

  81. 81
    DougJ says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Bloor — we’re at a lot more risk driving than we are from any of this stuff, let’s be honest, okay?

  82. 82
    MattR says:

    @GregB: Great. This is gonna make it much harder when I go into Manhattan to buy pot.

  83. 83
    jimbob says:

    @dr. bloor: Bleeding-Heart-Liberal much? Geez, lighten up. Nothing came of it, and there are bigger threats approaching like the oily defenestration* of the Gulf. Save some of your righteous indignation for that.

    *Got a better way to express what’s coming?

  84. 84
    Glen Tomkins says:

    A pattern

    What we know of the Underpants Bomber is also not compatible with his attempt having any chance of succeeding.

    You simply can’t detonate PETN by setting it on fire, not even theoretically. The presence of a syringe has been used to suggest that there was some attempt to concoct, right there on the plane, some other high explosive out of PETN and other indgredients, and this other hypothetical high explosive could theoretically be detonated with the cigarrette lighter the bomber used. But even if such a high explosive exists, why would they not have concocted it on the ground, well in advance of the attempt, so that they could test samples thereof to make sure that they would work, and then, having confirmed that it would work, have smuggled that already-concocted explosive onto the plane?

    Look, this goes beyond a mere mistake, a blunder that even marginally competent people who were actually trying to blow up an airplane would make. The folks who sent the Underpants Bomber are either not even marginally competent, or they aren’t really trying to blow things up.

    The Shoe Bomber, and Jose Padilla, and now these Times Square bombers, have this in common with the Underpants Bomber, that they weren’t engaged in serious attempts, attempts that had any chance of doing any harm except to themselves.

    Well, no harm except the continuing spread of fear and terror. Insofar as these folks have had the backing of potentially serious terrorist organizations, I think we have to assume that these organizations send them as a way to get rid of mentally unbalanced, or just plain stupid, volunteers for martyrdom, volunteers who are too unbalanced or stupid to be trusted with serious attempts. At least they milk some terrorization out of their inevitable failures.

    The big question is why we cooperate in being terrorized.

    There obviously isn’t some vast government conspiracy to treat these things as serious attempts when they obviously aren’t, because the public is told stories about them that make their lack of seriousness quite clear. A decently competent govenment conspiracy would concoct better cover stories.

    My best guess is that the gummint, under Republicans or Democrats, is simply too timid to dare to not take with utmost seriousness every idiot or crazy person who thinks he is engaged in some terrorist act. I could threaten to melt the Empire State Building with mind waves, and I wonder if that would be treated as a serious attempt.

    If you don’t hear back from me, assume I’ve been picked up by DHS people with nothing better to do. See you in Gitmo!

  85. 85
    Yutsano says:

    @GregB: Hell, now that it was shown to be a white guy I’d half-expect this to fade quietly into the news background. Of course that means they’d have to stop ignoring what’s happening in the Gulf so…

  86. 86
    MattR says:

    @Yutsano:

    Hell, now that it was shown to be a white guy I’d half-expect this to fade quietly into the news background. Of course that means they’d have to stop ignoring what’s happening in the Gulf so…

    I haven’t heard from Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears or Lindsey Lohan lately.

  87. 87
    Keith G says:

    @GregB:

    The surveillance video shows an unidentified white man apparently in his 40s

    When the low tech ineptitude of this event was made clear, I told my co-workers that this had to be an older white guy. It was just so pathetic. So I will be watching with interest.

  88. 88
    Michael says:

    @dr. bloor:

    So, thank whatever God you might pray to for their ineptitude, and think through what you post the next time, fucktard.

    Fuck you, chickenshit.

  89. 89
    jwb says:

    @jeff: much better to divert attention than have to defend the ridiculous claim that this is just so much spilt milk. That’s essentially the strategy that got Bush into trouble with Katrina.

    No, I think the goopers fully recognize that they desperately need a change of subject. Arizona and the Gulf did not make for a good week in gooperland. The NYC bomb is a Godsend from that perspective. Coincidence? It did seem oddly incompetent– unless there are details that have not gotten out. On the other hand I’ll actually be more suspicious if the bomber managed to wipe all the VINs, prints and other physical evidence from the car. That would really suggest professional competence completely out of keeping with the bomb itself. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy myself. Personally I think it was just some nut job, strung out on Beck and desperate for attention. But I’m just following the media rule here that it’s irresponsible not to speculate.

  90. 90
    Yutsano says:

    @MattR:

    I haven’t heard from Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears or Lindsey Lohan lately.

    Stop teasing me dude.

  91. 91
    El Cid says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: You stated the obvious worse. Poopyhead.

  92. 92

    @El Cid:

    Poopyhead.

    LOL and Touche!

  93. 93
    Bnut says:

    @MattR:

    I haven’t heard from Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears or Lindsey Lohan lately.

    They’re still train wrecks. Now, sobriety and chastity, that would be news. And wearing underwear.

  94. 94
    New Yorker says:

    @Keith G:

    That’s what I thought. Ramzi Yousef this guy ain’t. He needs to take lessons on blowing up theaters from Franz Liebkind.

    Also, I will continue to laugh about this laughably inept attempt at terrorism and continue to remind myself that I’m far more likely to be killed by a gypsy cab driver on his cell phone than by terrorists, al Qaeda or otherwise.

    Thank you.

  95. 95
    Sloegin says:

    Weapon of existential destruction? Or a reverse-psychology boobie-bomb to lull us into letting our guard down?

    Sounds like national ID cards are just the cure for this sort of thing.

  96. 96
    El Cid says:

    @New Yorker: If you’re killed by a gypsy cab driver, aren’t you cursed to live in a carnival fun-house mirror forever?

  97. 97
    MattR says:

    @Sloegin: And of course, this is good news for John McCain.

  98. 98

    Also Sunday, Kelly said an NYPD bomb squad blew open a large gun locker found in the Pathfinder,

    Which begs the question. What type of person would have a “gun locker” in their vehicle in this country? Not a trick question.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    I can’t remember, did dr. bloor come in and lecture us all for making fun of the underpants bomber setting his balls on fire because it was a very serious incident that we all needed to take very seriously because people could have gotten hurt if the guy had actually succeeded in bringing the plane down?

  100. 100

    Update: The NYPD is now denying that they’re investigating any links to the threats against Comedy Central.

    While I am aware of the South Park thingy. When I came across this blurb from Allahpundit, it just struck me the mad irony of our crazy world that police would need to deny investigating links to threats against Comedy Central, of all places.

    Time for bed. What a nutty day.

  101. 101
    MattR says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: The Viacom building was right by where the vehicle was parked. I saw that (possible) connection mentioned a couple places.

    (EDIT: I think I read your comment a bit too seriously at first so I gave you the actual reason instead of commenting on the irony. Defiinitely a sign it is time for bed)

  102. 102
    Citizen_X says:

    @carlos the dwarf: I am so borrowing “camp-ass shitshow.”

    And this Pathfinder-bomber guy: white guy, 40s, has a gun locker in his vehicle…he wasn’t by any chance wearing a tricorn hat and carrying a misspelled sign, was he?

  103. 103
    Joey Maloney says:

    Piling on @dr. bloor: Perhaps that’s because it is no big fucking deal.

    Yes, if whoever did this hadn’t been ludicrously incompetent it would’ve been awful. If my aunt had wheels she’d be a tea-cart.

    Parking a car in Times Square and running away: not hard.
    Making a car bomb: hard.

    So our would-be bomber performed as expected, succeeding at the easy part and failing at the hard part. Dog bites man. Why should this be news?

    @ajr22: Oh, good, rape jokes. Misspelled rape jokes to boot. The perfect capper for this thread.

  104. 104
    LanceThruster says:

    Why in my day, my generation knew how to blow the f*ck out of stuff.

    There was a guy in high school that built his own pipe bomb and set it off in the cross town rival school’s locker room during the big football face-off. He somehow secured the area so that the place was empty when it went off. He had it on a timed fuse but one that was plainly visible so that someone would not just innocently walk up to it unaware. It created a hell of a boom (great acoustics in those cinder block buildings), blew the crap out of the can he placed over it, and rattled more than a few nerves and windows.

    He probably would have gotten away with it but he told too many people before the deed. He was worried that someone would slip up making the penalty more severe so a day or two later, he turned himself in. He wound up on some permanent watch list for bombers. I wonder if they searched/raided his home because he was also into herpetology and had an illegal rattlesnake.

    I would think that the rocket scientists that planned this daring counterstrike might have made a miscalculation or two, like when on a Mars lander mission, NASA failed to convert to metric properly (see – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....ial_mix-up ) These NYC tarrists could have done more damage letting the car roll down a hill or turned it into a bio-weapon with a few soiled diapers left in the package tray.

  105. 105

    @jeff: No reporting on the oil leak.

    If you have access to a computer, nola.com carries pretty good updates on what is happening. [The Times-Picayune]

    But if you must rely on TV, I don’t know.

  106. 106
    burnspbesq says:

    @Violet:

    If you worry about what might happen, you’ll spend your whole life being terrified.

    Yes, of course. And if you do that, the terrorists win. Hell, they’ve already won – we tore up most of the Bill of Rights, and have less than nothing to show for it.

    Democracies are supposed to fight terrorism with one hand tied behind their backs.

  107. 107
    bago says:

    Ironic that blowing shit up is what rocket scientists are paid to do.

  108. 108
    Mr Furious says:

    Look, jackasses. It’s one thing (and perfectly acceptable) to make fun of these would-be gas grill and firecracker bombers as well as the underpants bomber, but it’s another to repeat over and over that nothing happened and no one was in any danger.

    What the fuck?

    Should that NYPD bomb squad guy diffuse this thing in Bermuda shorts because this thing turned out to be a dud/these guys are clowns?

    Somebody parked an explosives-packed SUV in Times Square meaning to kill people, and walked away undetected. Just because it didn’t blow up doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    No, it doesn’t deserve wall-to-wall coverage—especially in light of Chernobyl-on-the-Gulf, but it’s not a non-story.

    Bloor’s got a perfectly valid viewpoint here in my opinion. I think he took Mix a bit too seriously, but those jumping all over him are just as off-base.

  109. 109
    eco2geek says:

    You could see this argument coming. It was implied in the NYT coverage:

    “Kevin B. Barry, a former supervisor in the New York Police Department bomb squad, said that if the device had functioned, “it would be more of an incendiary event” than an explosion.”

    vs.

    ” ‘We are very lucky,’ Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15 a.m. press conference. ‘We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.’ “

  110. 110
    lenn23 says:

    @Mr Furious: Excuse me, but you are a jackass.

  111. 111

    @carlos the dwarf:

    South Carolina. Fuck that, Washington state, and the beauty is that you don’t even have to go to the rez to get the good stuff, you can get it pretty much anywhere outside of the Seattle City Limits (although the reservation stores over in Kitsap County open up in late December after Christmas to supply the New Year’s fireworks market, damn nice of them working out in the cold and rain like that).

    The first summer I lived in my house, which is located down in Burien by White Center (which many Seattleites laughingly consider to be “the hood”) I was surprised to see a couple of big fireworks stands in the parking lot of the Safeway I go to on Roxbury Ave SW. It turns out that Roxbury is the Seattle city line, once you’ve crossed it you’re outside of the city limits and fireworks are legal as houses, and we’re not just talking about candy-assed stuff like sparklers, those black snaky things or Piccolo Petes (which, disappointingly, have been modified so that you can’t make them explode by crimping them with a pair of pliers). Hell no, we’re talking about full on fireworks kits with mortars and multi-burst star shells and industrial strength smoke bombs that rival Army smoke grenades in terms of output. You can’t get M80s, but who fucking cares? M80s are boring and plebeian after you’ve been in the army and played with artillery simulators and Hoffman devices.

    What a difference 100 feet can make. I don’t even go to watch the fireworks show at Elliott Bay any more, I just sit out on my deck with a beer and enjoy watching my neighbors put on a show that lasts from twilight until well into early in the morning of July 5th.

  112. 112
    Laertes says:

    Lighten up, Francis.

  113. 113
    fucen tarmal says:

    LATE BREAKING NEWS UPDATE:

    a source on the internet confirms that the presence of unweaponized, nonpurified fertilizer has caused the downgrade of this incident from terrorism to performance art.

  114. 114

    @dr. bloor:

    Yeah, you forgot the part about “and still managed to park it all in Times Square.” I have a lot of near and dear to me that traverse that intersection with great regularity. So, thank whatever God you might pray to for their ineptitude, and think through what you post the next time, fucktard.

    So, does that make you less of a whiny, useless, cowardly, attention seeking little shit than you already are? Newsflash fucktard. The folks near and dear to you who traverse that intersection with great regularity are more likely to get killed by someone driving a car through it than they are by someone planting a bomb there, especially someone as incompetent as this jackass was. Do you live in indignant, pants-shitting fear about that possibility and post all over the internet about that?

    I could write more about what a useless, cowardly drama queen you are and how people like you are ruining America. But I think that John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey replied to worthless, cowardly weaklings like you better than I ever could.

  115. 115

    @Mr Furious:

    Look, jackasses. It’s one thing (and perfectly acceptable) to make fun of these would-be gas grill and firecracker bombers as well as the underpants bomber, but it’s another to repeat over and over that nothing happened and no one was in any danger.

    Look, you chickenshit punk. Nothing happened and no one was in any danger because the morons who put this together didn’t know what the fuck they were doing. Yes, if these guys hadn’t been morons and if they’d had real explosives and if they’d known how to build a car bomb this could have been bad. And if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.

    You and Bloor are a couple of cowardly little shits who get off on scaring yourselves into a pants shitting frenzy over hypotheticals. Shit, if you pussies are going to do that then why don’t you go all out? Instead of pretending that this was a dangerous car bomb (which it wasn’t) why not pretend that it was a nooookular weapon and that instead of being defused by the NYPD it was defused by Jack Bauer, and only at the last minute because he got the evil brown terrorists to tell him where it was by crushing their balls with a pair of ViceGrip™ pliers? Come on, if you pussies are going to have your little “Oh my god, we narrowly escaped a catastrophe” wet-dream then dream big, jerk yourselves into a complete frenzy.

  116. 116

    @bago:

    Ironic that blowing shit up is what rocket scientists are paid to do.

    Well yes, but the good ones are the ones who manage to blow shit up that’s far away from them. If you’re a rocket scientist but the only things that you manage to blow up are your launch facilities or things in your own country then you might want to consider a change in careers, perhaps to designing deep sea oil rigs or investment banking.

  117. 117
    Calouste says:

    @El Cid:

    There is no particular reason why terrorists haven’t been shooting up shopping malls or banks, or setting frequent fires, or tossing sticks of dynamite into hospitals, or driving trucks into pedestrians. And, no, I don’t mean once in a while, I mean every couple of days. There’s nothing preventing them. The fact that they aren’t is significant.

    That’s what basically happened in the 70s and 80s in Europe during campaigns from IRA and the Red Brigades, and what happened in the last two decades in Spain with ETA. 2-3 bombings/shootings every week for the best part of a year. Happening in Iraq now. Happened in Peru when Shining Path was active. Not happening in the US.

  118. 118
    BradWS says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:
    Actually, rocket scientists probably only get paid (on a continuing basis) for NOT blowing things up.

  119. 119
    PurpleGirl says:

    @El Cid: Or maybe the bomber is tired of tourists and wants to scare them away. If so, he’ll ruin the City’s economy because we need those tourists. (Although I understand wanting to scare away tourists… some of them are a real PIA.)

  120. 120
    PurpleGirl says:

    One word/name: Unabomber.

  121. 121
    Hypnos says:

    @Calouste: just to give some perspective, these are the major bombings during Italy’s so called “Lead Years” (kind of like The Troubles). This is 8 large scale bombings in 11 years. Shootings and kidnappings were also taking place almost daily.

    December 12th 1969: Massacre of piazza Fontana a Milano, 105 casualties (17 dead)

    July 22nd 1970: Massacre of Gioia Tauro, 72 casualties (6 dead)

    May 31st 1972: Massacre of Peteano a Gorizia, 5 casualties (3 dead)

    May 17th 1973: Massacre of Questura di Milano, 56 casualties (4 dead)

    May 28th 1974: Massacre of Piazza della Loggia a Brescia, 102 casualties (8 dead)

    August 4th 1974: Massacre of Roma-Brennero (Italicus), 56 casualties (12 dead)

    March 16th 1978: Massacre of via Fani, a Roma, 5 casualties, all dead. The leader of the Democratic Christian party, Italy’s biggest, was also kidnapped and ultimately killed.

    August 2nd 1980: Massacre of stazione di Bologna, 285 casualties (80 dead)

  122. 122
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    Thanks for that.

    CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We’ll be in the pub, flipping you off. I’m slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I’m sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

    Perfect.

  123. 123
    El Cid says:

    @Calouste: Well, in the German and Italian cases, at least, a number of the major terrorist attacks were carried out by right wingers intending to appear as left wingers so as to favor election results, possibly with assistance and facilitation by U.S. intelligence agencies.

    But, hey, who cares about this ‘blowback’ stuff any way? We know what we’re doing here.

    In the Peruvian case, though the Sendero Luminoso knuckleheads really set up the nation for rolling back democracy, actually in the end all it took was massive bribery from intelligence and assassination leader Vladimiro Montesinos.

  124. 124
    DPirate says:

    So, let’s review the bidding….

    Or, its a complete cock-up meant to fail in prep for the next round of liberty-gutting. Curious to see the rhetoric coming out about this.

  125. 125
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

    Not to worry. As soon as an arrest is made, and it is revealed this is an act of home-grown terrorism by a right wing white male (or males), with possible links to Tea Party wing of corporate America, and an avid reader of “The Turner Diaries”, all reporting on this event will disappear from the mainstream media and TV like a short snowfall on the 4th of July in Nebraska.

  126. 126
    LanceThruster says:

    @BradWS:

    Actually, isn’t your basic rocket fuel mixture just a very controlled explosion (or “burn”)?

    “The word unblowupable is thrown around a lot these days”
    -Homer Simpson

  127. 127

    […] Over on the right, a typical reaction was this: http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/05/02/lessons-from-a-misspent-youth/ […]

  128. 128
    LT says:

    You had different M-80s than we had in Buffalo in the 70s. I turned more than a few male boxes into flat pieces of metal blown off their wooden floors. Takes a pretty lot of force to do that.

  129. 129
    Peter says:

    @dr. bloor: That’s because it IS no big fucking deal. Could it have been a big deal? Sure. But nobody was hurt, because these guys are about as competent as Tom Cruise on a bad day.

    I really hate to be the IF WE DO THIS THE TERRORISTS WIN guy, but…in this case, it’s literal. The goal of terrorism isn’t to kill people. Sure, that’s a bonus, and they’ll take it, but it isn’t the primary goal. The primary goal is to influence the public discourse, and thus public policy, through fear and intimidation.

    If we all shit our pants and start freaking out over this, as you think is the only appropriate response, then yeah, the terrorists DO win. They get everything they wanted, even though their plot was a total bust.

  130. 130
    DougW says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Temper temper, bitch.

  131. 131
    DougW says:

    @dr. bloor:

    More like brown on rice…

  132. 132
    Comrade Kevin says:

    If anyone is actually interested in what happened with the violence in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s and 80’s, there is a great website about it at the University of Ulster.

  133. 133
    Hob says:

    @dr. bloor: It’s probably a waste of time responding to you since you seem to be reading everything everyone says for opportunities to be further outraged, rather than for content, but…

    1. No, you didn’t literally say you were speaking on behalf of all New Yorkers. You just insulted mistermix because, by not pretending that this crappy non-exploding bomb was just as bad as a real horrible exploding bomb, he somehow disrespected all the potential victims of the former, who are New Yorkers. And then you insulted DougJ because he was just from Rochester and hadn’t seen shit like you had, and you dropped in a total non sequitur reference to 1993 as an example of this. So, as a 13-year former resident of NYC who knows exactly what you’re referring to, and who still has plenty of loved ones walking through Times Square, I feel a certain responsibility to tell you to stuff your Danger Man attitude up your ass.

    2. OK, I guess I could’ve spelled out the part about 2001 vs. 1993 a little more explicitly for people with rage-induced reading comprehension problems. Here’s a clue: I didn’t say a single thing about what I saw at St. Vincent’s or the number of injuries received from 9/11/01 (about which, by the way, you are plain wrong; most of the trauma cases went to Bellevue rather than St. V’s, and there weren’t many compared to ’93, but they did exist). What I said was that, when I worked there, many of my co-workers were people who had been working there in ’93 and were intimately familiar with the carnage you mentioned. And yet somehow neither they nor anyone else I know there has adopted your bizarre position that if you fail to overreact to every maniac who fails to do something, you’re a non-thinking “fucktard” who doesn’t understand threat levels.

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  1. […] Over on the right, a typical reaction was this: http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/05/02/lessons-from-a-misspent-youth/ […]

  2. […] The average ten-year-old boy could have made a better bomb. Spotlight 25 […]

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