Thursday, May 9, 2013

QoTD Plus Fresh Diatribe

The best quote I've seen is actually from yesterday, but Og, Neanderpundit wrote about Rachel Lucas commenting about the controversy over why no one wants to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  Rachel wrote: 
"So I just want to understand why this guy’s corpse is so different from the corpses of other mass murderers, even other terrorists. Where do we usually bury murderers in the U.S.? Why is it such a big deal with this particular one?"
Which Og hits out of the park.  I'll only lift one paragraph; go RTWT:
He was wrong to not be an angry tea partying caucasion. This robbed them of the opportunity to use this to point out how those hateful and spiteful and stupid red state hickbillies are always the ones responsible for violence of every kind.
Over the intervening few weeks since the Boston Marathon bombing, I've heard talking heads mention a couple of terms that make my ears almost swivel like the cat's ears:  "WMD" and "mass murder".  Let me start out with a simple question:


Since when does a home made bomb in a pressure cooker qualify as a Weapon of Mass Destruction?  I haven't seen estimates of its yield, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was about as powerful as hand grenade or two at once, and I'd love some input for guys who have seen real bombs from a respectful distance.  Any bomb techs drop by?  I'd die of surprise if it was a powerful as a  1 or 2000lb bomb, and we drop those like confetti in Afghanistan.  I can imagine some hungry federal prosecutor liking the idea of calling it a WMD, but, with all due respect, Mr. Fed Prosecutor, do you really want to tell the people in East Douchbagistan that we've been dropping WMDs on them since 2003?

(A group of infantrymen in the crater from a single 1000 pound bomb, Viet Nam, 1967)

And "mass murder"?  A few months ago, we were all talking about a story in Mother Jones or something because they analyzed mass murders and decided no armed civilian had ever stopped one.  Crazy right?, but embedded in there was the idea that a mass murder was defined as over four deaths and in the cases where civilians had interdicted, the killers never made it as high as four killed.  The death toll at Boston stands at 3; at least I've not found more.

As awful as it was, Boston was neither mass murder nor a WMD. 


  1. An interesting aside The Texas Ammonium Nitrate explosion was 1/2 million lb. of AN. that left a 90FOOT dia. crater. The Oklahoma City bombing was said by the FBI to be 2000 to 5000lb. of AN. with a booster, that left a 300X100 foot crater.(The same size as a 2000lb RDX or TNT bomb) --The Boston "WMD" were so LOW velocity that they didn't break the windows 12 FEET from the P.O.D. In order for the blast to have been that SMALL the Pressure cooker would have to have had under 4lb of black powder in it. The capacity of the pressure cooker shown on TV ,by the FBI, was 10-20lb of black powder. The type of wounds shone on TV WERE NOT consistent with a black powder IED, made with a small amount of BP , loose packed , in a large container. The overpressure was to low to shred flesh and blow off limbs 25ft from the P.O.D. ALL of the "information" given out by the FBI was BULLSHIT.

  2. My side is successfully making themselves look silly with the "WMD" stuff.

    In this case, it is a term of art and is defined in the U.S. Code.

    Laws are about things. In order to legislate a thing, you must first define exactly what the thing is you wish to legislate against. This is why the copy of Indiana Criminal Code at my elbow contains definitions of everything from "store" ("a place of business where property or service with respect to property is displayed, rented, sold, or offered for sale") to "sexually violent predator defendant" (see IC 35-33-8-3.5(b))
    (Note that these are Indiana's definitions, and "store" might mean something completely different in your state of residence or to the federal government.)

    This is how, just to give some examples, for the purposes of a law, a piece of sheet metal the size of your pinkie nail is a "machine gun", an aluminum forging with holes broached in it a "firearm", and a semiautomatic rifle an "assault weapon".

    1. +1. It seems the law in question far predates the cultural understanding of WMD that emerged (as far as I can tell) in the early Bush years with the run up to Iraq. Apparently federal law counts fairly small explosive devices as WMDs.

      For what it's worth, a few months ago a US national was arrested for a similar crime, to wit: using an RPG while fighting alongside the rebels in Syria.

    2. This is freaking amazing. Just the kind of legalese that's killing this country. You can feel the irony in Popehat's If you're thinking that seems to mean the feds can charge anyone with use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction based on the use of anything that can be described as a "bomb," you'd be right. However, as an American, I live in confidence that the government would never exaggerate the existence of WMDs.

      Makes as much sense as saying 2+2=5, for sufficiently large values of "2". Excuse me? It makes no sense, and neither does saying " missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce," constitutes a WMD. Talk about setting a low bar!


  3. From what I've read and heard on the radio (I rarely watch TV anymore), the pressure cooker was filled with explosive material from fireworks, and not black powder.

    This also goes along with what one of his "friends" (the guy who took and tossed the laptop) said about seeing a lot of fireworks in his home.

    I think this is correct, as the video of the device going off didn't show much smoke, and wouldn't a large charge of black powder produce quite a cloud of white smoke?

    1. drjim,

      ISTR there was a pretty good sized cloud of white smoke, but I've slept since the 15th.

  4. Hmmmm...maybe the video I saw was edited. I only recall seeing a fireball erupt out of the building, and it looked like a "clean" explosion.

    But then edited video from the lamestream media wouldn't be anything new, would it.....

  5. ALL fireworks use "fireworks grade black powder" buffers and color additives. Had the Boston bombers used fireworks the fireball would have been vividly multicolored. The smoke signature indicated about 1-3lb of powder in the first blast, and slightly more in the second. Both devices were far to small to have produced the injuries seen after the event.

    1. Really? For aerial shells I've seen used the lift charge wasn't at all colorful - Regular old BP smoke and a bit of an orange flash. It would have been easy to separate from the rest and doesn't need to look like anything much as long as it made stuff move.

    2. Yes ,BUT that's not what the FBI displayed on TV ,was it? Also it would have taken around a thousand dollars to get enough powder for even a modest IED. UNLESS you added the salvage powder from the shells too. That's where 70% of the gunpowder is in an aerial shell. I can't believe that even stoners would fail to grasp that. Anyone with a knowledge of black powder can tell the FBI is lieing, Why? I don't know, Maybe just so other bad guys can't figger out a better bomb. Maybe something darker. Fact is we will never know.

  6. Ok, thanks for clearing that up.

    I'm not an explosives expert, and I thought fireworks used something more like "flash powder", which I don't think generates much smoke.

  7. WMD is the intent not the result. nuclear weapons underground; no one was killed or injured, does that mean by your logic they are NOT WMD's??? The intent was to kill as many people as possible. By chance only 3 were killed and a 100 or so were injured. I am happy these nuts were not more successful but it was indeed their intent to be more successful. If they had placed these bombs more carefully they would have been more successful.

    The bomb in OK city is a problem for anyone who knows explosives. The problems with the official explanation are so many I will only mention a few:
    1. An AMFO bomb is not powerful enough; high velocity explosion "enough" to sever a 5' thick reinforced concrete support column 40 feet away. So either this was NOT an AMFO explosion which means this was a much bigger conspiracy with foriegn supplied high explosives OR the concrete column was pre-set with explosives to bring the building down which also means a much larger conspiracy.
    2. Mixing AMFO to the correct consistency is about like mixing concrete, i.e. very difficult and physically demanding. Imagine mixing 2 tons of concrete and placing this mixture in 50 gallon drums by yourself. In other words Timothy didn't do this all by himself in some camping spot without heavy equipment so this was a much larger conspiracy then we thought. OR the explosive was commercial/military grade and this was a larger conspiracy then claimed and involved foriegn sources. (No local or U.S. high grade explosives were missing or stolen so if AMFO was not the explosive used it had to come from a foriegn source.)

    So which is it? Tim was a superman and able to build this massive AMFO bomb by himself and AMFO is simply not strong enough to sever a concrete column so that part is just a mystery the FBI wasn't interested in OR Tim was a scapegoat used by some foriegn terrorists but the FBI choose to keep all evidence of this from the American public??????

    1. "WMD is the intent not the result..." Srsly? This is the kind of legalese bullshit that's killing this country.

      Personally, I'd be happy to say nukes tested underground are not WMDs (results) as long as I don't have to say some looney with a pea shooter who intended to kill a million people with it isn't considered to have a WMD. Nukes tested underground are WMDs. Pea shooters and pressure cooker bombs are not. I know the terms "common sense" and "lawyer" are mutually exclusive but there has to be some common sense in my world.

      As for how explosive ANFO is, I don't have a clue. In my line of work, when things blow up, there's either no visible sign or just a slight pop. I've seen it mixed on a video and it didn't look terribly hard, but a gazillion horsepower mixer might have been off camera. Once mixed, it seemed fairly stable, though, so I can imagine one guy doing it.

      Not that there's nothing about the Oklahoma City bombing that doesn't seem a bit strange to me.

    2. So what would you call a bomb that if set off in a crowd could have killed a hundred people; A WOJALD (weapon of just a little destruction)? I think you are picking nits. Sure it wasn't a nuke or sarin gas but where is the threshold? A thousand deaths? two hundred deaths? What, exactly, meets your criteria of a WMD?

    3. "WMD is the intent not the result."

      No, WMD is 18 U.S.C. 2332a, not "intent" or "result".

      In the room where the person in the black robe sits behind the big wooden box up front and the twelve people in their Sunday best sit in the box to one side, words have very specific meanings, and not necessarily the ones you think they have or the ones in your dog-eared Webster's.

      And it's "ANFO", for Shiva's sake.

    4. "what would you call a bomb that if set off in a crowd could have killed a hundred people; A WOJALD (weapon of just a little destruction)?", no, I would call that a bomb.

      I haven't thought about the definition of "mass destruction", but at first blush, would say "thousands". I'm not sure if the border is over 1000, over 5 over 10 or what. But only people who philosophize over things like how many reindeer are required in a Christmas display such that it's secular and not religious (three, by the way) worry about such things. I don't see why it's not sufficient to just charge people with one count of murder for every victim. What's wrong with three death (or life in prison) sentences? Why do we need a whole special category for using an ill-defined device? Make an already illegal act, murder, more illegaler?

      Like hate crime legislation: you're going to add a special charge for the emotion? The act is already illegal, but we need to make it more illegal because of hate? Sorry, but that makes zero sense to me. Isn't giving someone the death penalty enough? We can't really bring them back from the dead and execute them more than once.

    5. "one count of murder for every victim"
      I'd deny them even that. I say terrorists should be prosecuted normally, in state court, for the murder of the single least boastworthy victim. So, if someone blows up a building and kills 5 Navy SEALs, 2 FBI agents, 24 IRS auditors, a janitor, and the janitor's 3-year-old daughter: try him and execute him for murdering the little girl.

    6. SiGraybeard,

      The intent is to ensure that terrorist bombings on US soil, no matter how small and incompetent, are federal crimes which can then be investigated and prosecuted by the feds.

      As Ken (and you and I) knows and pointed out with a wink and a nudge, the statute, like RICO, is ripe for overreach and mission creep.

    7. I should add that "...just charge people with one count of murder for every victim" doesn't take into account that "murder" is not a federal crime except under certain circumstances... like, for instance, using a "weapon of mass destruction".

    8. Yeah - the whole thing is overreach and mission creep. 18 U.S.C. 2332a really seems to be a ball of suck. Another fly paper law designed to be able to charge whomever they want whenever they want. In that sense, anon's interpretation that it's "intent not results" doesn't seems like an unreasonable interpretation. If the law is so broad it's up to prosecutorial discretion, that's intent.

      The whole "murder" is not a federal crime except under certain circumstances. makes me queasy. I'm not sure why there needs to be a federal murder crime at all - except maybe to help in the event of a killer that skips from state to state. Keep everything in one court instead of several. Creating a federal murder charge just seems to be creep of federal power.

    9. So hypothetical foreign national attacking US citizens on US soil is a matter for the state government on whose soil the attack was carried out?

      (My inner wookie says "Sure!" but I get the feeling I'm probably in a tiny minority on that one.)

    10. Yeah it opens up that whole "acts of war vs. crime" can of worms. My inner wookie is open to the idea of it being a crime, but I suppose it comes back to the order of magnitude. A few vs. a few thousand.

      9/11, because of the involvement of several states and thousands of people is more like an act of war; Boston is more like crime. How about when the Egyptian crazy shot up the El Al counter area in LAX (yeah... I know... which time?)? The last March, a few weeks before Boston, killed three people. Terrorism or crime or does it matter?

      What if nobody was actually killed at Boston? Would it still be WMDs and terrorism?

    11. Terrorism goes entirely to motive. Act of war? No, war is a game played by states, and these guys weren't acting at the behest of a state. I can see the argument for it being federal, whether they succeeded in killing anybody or not (would Major Whatshisface still be a jihadi if everybody he shot pulled through?)

      This is... I dunno... If I were Goddess-Empress of the Universe, this would be handled like a modern equivalent of 17th Century piracy. An out law, a wolf in holy places, and every man's hand would be freely raised against them...

    12. Isn't that a relatively modern idea; that war is a game between states? A few hundred years ago, didn't wars involve groups who self-identified and self-organized? And yeah, Major Nidal would be a jihadi if everybody survived - why should attempted murder have less penalty than the real thing? We give a discount for incompetency? ISTM that in murder, it's the thought that counts. At the root, terrorism is defined by the motive like you say. Terrorism is intent to terrify for political aims, right? Different from intent to terrify just because, which is a psychosis of some sort.

      I don't recall who wrote the little SF short story, but you might. The basic plot was a kid playing with his home DNA splicing kit (from Blammo - who brought you Log and Log for Girls!) accidentally developed a virus that wipes out humanity. A possible future.

  8. Wow.

    First, it's "Anfo". And yes, it is powerful enough, and anfo, like concrete, is relatively simple to mix.

    if you know explosives.

  9. AMFO

    Commercial grade AMFO used in mining and construction is about as good as AMFO gets. It's pretty good stuff but it is NOT a high speed explosive. It must be "contained" (as in buried in a bore hole drilled in rock) to be effective. Because it isn't a high speed explosive it does not create a shock wave that can crush/crumble concrete or cut through steel. It simply cannot cut through a 5' thick reinforced concrete column. But the story gets worse; In the open all that AMFO does is "expand". It will throw shit around and make a lot of smoke and a fireball if you have enough of it but it has very little power just a few feet away. The Rental truck was parked outside the building and the concrete column was inside 40 feet away. Between the truck and the concrete was the front wall but other then that mostly open space. This situation is simply not conducive to cutting through that concrete column. And THAT is the point. Even 5 tons of AMFO wouldn't have done it. A shitload of C4 in the truck would have. A few pounds of C4 strapped to the column would do it.

    The thing about mixing the AMFO that is tricky is this; If the fuel oil a thoroughly mixed so that all of the ammonium nitrate is wet with fuel oil you get a complete explosion where 95% of the AMFO explodes at the same time. If the mixture is sloppy with some of the Ammonium nitrate wet and some of it dry and puddles of fuel oil as little as 50% of the mixture might explode and the explosion may well be streteched out over a second or two thus diminishing the effect. To get a good mix the two compounds must be thoroughly "stirred". You could do it in a cement mixer. A man could easily mix up 20 lbs or so in a bucket but to mix 2 tons by hand to the consistency required is physically impossible for one man. Something is very wrong with the official story.

    What probably happened is Little Tim was recruited by some extremists to drive the truck. The extremist had some powerful explosives they smuggled into the country but needed a bigger bang so they got Tim to buy the stuff but they mixed it and placed it in the truck along with the good stuff and a suitable detonator and one of them went with tim to make sure he did the job. Once they got away from the truck Tim set it off and the other guy went one way and Tim went the other way. This scenario still doesn't fully explain the destruction of the concrete column but that is just one of the mysteries the FBI didn't bother with.

    1. Yes, who to believe - a random website or the many explosives experts I know on and off line?

    2. Xenocles - don't go away, my friend. You and your friends are exactly the people I want here.

      Now, being a numbers-oriented guy when someone tells me "you can't mix it by hand without pockets that aren't mixed", I think "so you just mix more". If you have 55 gallon drum and one gallon doesn't mix well, I don't think it spoils the whole 55, I think you just have the equivalent of a 54 gallon bomb. My college chemistry was in the 1970s, but I recall very few reactions were so critical about quantity that they couldn't handle an excess of one reagent.

      Now if it's so unstable that it starts decomposing quickly and puts a strong time limit on you, you need help, but I saw a mining show (hey, it was on TV, it must be true!) where they were pumping ANFO out of a tanker. It must be stable enough to hold on to for days.

    3. "It must be stable enough to hold on to for days. "
      Well, hours. There aren't many places where you could experiment yourself but you can watch it in use at any of the quarries in the area. Some even give tours. Once you see it done with your own eyes you can go directly to walgreens, purchase everything you need in adequate purity and sufficient quantity. A tiny bit of knowledge is all that is required to focus a ludicrously small amount of material to do a great deal of damage. For this reason, storage of energetic compounds is done in a way that directs it's blast in as harmless a manner as possible.

      ANFO is what's written on the sides of the trucks that dispense the compounds. I'm not sure what Warcrafter came up with AMFO, but it's pretty clear he had not left his basement and gone out into the sunlight to actually see it in use. (No offense, Tam, as I know you actually go out in the sunlight)

      Graybeard: the nature of Ammonium Nitrate is that it readily adsorbs. Any kid who passed high school chemistry will understand how it's done. Anyone with a reasonable mechanical aptitude can manufacture a mechanism that will automatically mix with high accuracy. Xenocles, indeed, stick around. Anything to increase the sanity to goofball ratio.

      Truthers and conspiracy theorists tend to pick and choose the pieces of math and science that support their aberration. Don't confuse them with facts, that's just crazy talk.

    4. Oh, don't worry. I'm like a bad penny; I keep turning up.

  10. AMFO/ANFO is stable for hours to days. If it is well mixed it doesn't separate very quickly. The problem is mixing it. Indeed any kid could develop a mechanism which would mix it. But the "mechanism" would be evidence. The FBI searched Nichols farm to see if he had used any of his equipment to mix it and found nothing. The claim was that McVeigh pulled into a rest/camp spot and mixed it up in the back of the truck. Very unlikely. How did he get rid of any equipment used to mix it?

    As for mixing it with high accuracy that's not so easy. Anyone can make a mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil that "will" explode but that isn't the same as the commercial grade of AMFO. The thing is an AMFO bomb placed in an open truck parked outside a building weighing under two tons could not have done the damage we saw. It certainly could not have severed the 5' thick reinforced concrete column. Something is missing in the story. At firt the bomb was estimated to be many tons, 5-10 even. But that story made it even more impossible for McVeigh to have acted alone. So to make THAT part of the story make some sense they reduced the estimate of the bomb to 1 ton. But even pro-government pundits objected to that since 1 ton of amfo simply cannot create the destruction we saw. So the FBI upped the estimate to two tons. And quickly tore down the building so people would stop staring at the massive damage. The simple fact is McVeigh as a lone actor didn't do this. 1 or 2 tons of AMFO didn't do this. This was a conspiracy, someone mixed the AMFO (a team of people with commercial mixing equipment) and someone set up additional explosives on at least one critical concrete support column. The real mystery is why the FBI and Janet Reno needed to create a different story. Just like Benghazi, the administration lied to cover up something important enough that even though the lie would be exposed it was still preferable to the truth being known. What was it that Clinton and Janet Reno wanted to hide from the American people?

  11. What color is the sky where you live, Anonymous?

    1. Og,

      Find out what color the sky is over #OCCUPY_WHATEVER and then trace your finger across the color wheel to its direct opposite. ;)

  12. hmmm hey other anon just a few things you are missing here..

    McVeigh did not mix alone he had help, he and Nichols mixed it in a state park using buckets and scales. and left al the equipment in the truck.

    also it was not a just a ANFO bomb but also a ANNM -uses Nitro Methane vs fuel oil (better explosive) also use 350 pounds of Torvex explosives- 13 barrels in truck 9 were ANNM- 4 were ANFO made from fertilizer + he also had 17 bags of mix commercial ANFO that were in the truck also

    Also used additional bags of AN fertilizer to Tamp one side of the truck along with the barrel arrangement to get form a shaped charge.

    if you go here you can see what 500grams of ANNM does to a medium size tree, scale that up to 9 500 pound barrels of ANNM and 4 500 pound barrels of ANFO (that's 3.25 tons BTW)and I have no trouble believing the damage.

    If you are going to make assertions of conspiracy please atleast get the basic facts correct like:
    how many mixed
    what they used
    how much they used

    1. I suggest you get the facts yourself. Nichols never said he helped McVeigh mix the bomb and he was not charged with that. If he had helped you can bet your ass the FBI would have gladly charged him.

      Second, the FBI has no idea how much explosive was used, neither McVeigh or Nichols have ever stated how much was used. To speculate as to the exact size of the bomb either means you have facts and are keeping that secret or you are making wild ass guesses.

      McVeigh did indeed try to purchase nitro methane but the dealer refused to sell it to him.

      Think about 13 500 lb barrels... Who mixed them. This is difficult not something even two people could do. He used buckets and scales??? Might work to set the correct mix ration but does not do the very difficult job of actually mixing. In what state park exactly??? Again the FBI doesn't know but you do???

      You have no problem believing the damage which means you do not know AMFO. It is a low speed explosive and cannot and will not sever a 5' thick reinforced concrete column over 40 feet away in open air. AMFO must be restricted to develop full power.

      The famous shaped charge. Never used before or since. Does it work??? Even the FBI didn't test that theory.

      Please get your basic facts correct.

    2. How many years you been a structural engineer?

  13. " In my line of work, when things blow up, there's either no visible sign or just a slight pop."

    Never seen a 500,000 microfarad capacitor go off have you?

    1. No, I haven't. The biggest caps I work around are 20,000-ish, and never seen one of them go. Even the kilowatt amplifiers aren't dramatic. Maybe a flash, rarely that little audible pop.

      I may not have said, but I'm a receiver designer. A milliwatt is a big signal to me!

    2. Yep.

      They make quite a mess, too.

      But you don't notice that until after your ears stop ringing............

      One place I worked used six big stud-mounted diodes in a 480 3-phase full-wave bridge.

      We also used big stud-mounted diodes in an identical package that were rated 50 PIV.

      Guess what happened when one of the assemblers but the wrong diodes in the heat sink, and the 480 breaker got closed the first time..........