Epic can't wait to see this one :)
Glad no one was hurt.
If non-US readers have ever wondered how far the Alameda County bomb disposal range (beloved of Discovery Channel show Mythbusters) is from homes, it seems it’s at least close enough for a misdirected cannonball to hit a house. And then another house, a hill and a car. Mythbusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are red- …
"Is it just this one, or are all US houses constructed from chicken wire, bin bags and hair clippings?"
Outside of the big cities it does seem that not many americans or canadians have ever heard of that new fangled invention called a "brick". So they build their houses out of plywood and other cheap rubbish and then look all bemused when they get blown down in a strong wind or burnt to the ground from one spark in a forest fire. The fact that the chimney is always left standing should give them a clue to how to rebuild but it never does.
Most people in the US AREN'T bemused when their plywood and spit house gets burnt down by a firest fire or blown away by a hurricane/tornado.
In large swaths of the US it's not IF you property could be caust in the local natural disaster of choice but WHEN. As such when it happens most Americans are just happy they only had to pay the insurance for/cost fo rebuilding a plywood and spit house, not the cost of insuring and rebuilding a brick one.
In the UK people don't really understand what a hurricane (for example) is. Hell, many people in the South East of England still think Michael Fish was wrong in 1987 when he said there wasn't a hurricane coming but he wasn't. There WASN'T a hurricane, it was just a bit windy with some gusts at hurricane force on the Beaufort scale. That's quite different from a hurricane where it's not the gusts that are hurricane force but the whole thing.
"In large swaths of the US it's not IF you property could be caust in the local natural disaster of choice but WHEN"
Hmm , I wonder if that has something to do with what its built of? Perhaps if built of something non flammable and strong it might not burn/blow down. You never know!
"In the UK people don't really understand what a hurricane (for example) is."
Tell that to the people in the hebrides where winds can consistently top 100mph for hours at a time
in a winter storm. And guess what - they don't build their houses from plywood. Perhaps because they've got a brain.
There are areas where brick is impractical to use (or any other heavy material) due to the composition of the ground. You can lay a foundation down, but when you're close to an underground water system and have sand for a lawn, you make due in order to live in that area. I live in South Carolina and it's usually sand or clay. We also have people living in flood zones because they decided it was a good idea to build on swampland. There was a reason it was swampland, much like there is a reason that the Misssissippi hasn't maintained the same channel over time. Really no different than when I lived in Hawaii. The colonial houses had small windows and low ceilings like their northern U.S. counterparts. It was one big heat trap. My favorite was a book on how to put out a burning woman (Victorian style clothing while cooking in said homes by a big fireplace) at one of the mission house tours.
Recall seeing photos and movie clips of american disasters where tornadoes have hit neighbourhoods and nothing but wooden scraps are left :( they rebuild in wood and get blown down in a few years or burnt in a fire.
Have seen the aftermath of a tornado in the uk, might be a couple of roof structures blown to pits, the rest of the houses maybe a few roof tiles and not a lot else
Was not aware that the californian towns where they have skyscrapers were all made from wood, technology exists to make modern structures earthquake resistant :)
Jay, the strongest tornado recorded in the UK was no more than an F0. That's the smallest they bother to record. Typically we'll get one or two a year at most.
A minor F0 will do a little bit of damage. Suck off a few tiles, blow over a wall maybe.not much more.
Now, think about how many tornadoes the US gets in a year. Most of those will be greater than F1, and a good (and dangerous) number will be F5, the quarter-mile wide monsters that destroy everything in their path. An F5 would turn a brick terrace into a neat pile of rubble on the other side of the street, turn every tree on the road upside down and pile all the cars on top of each other just for fun.
Compare like with like.
Now, as for why we use brick, I'll tell you: weather and resources. We're a wet country and we have lots and lots of clay, whereas the south-western united states is a dry country that has lots of timber. In cool, wet environment the most appropriate materials are those that keep out moisture, require little maintenance to avoid rain damage, and which still provide decent insulation. Brick fulfils all three requirements very well.
Having experienced tornados twice in my life in the southern US, I assure you that not all tornados are created equal. Only an underground bunker could possibly have survived the F5 that went through Birmingham, Alabama. After all, it isn't the wind speed in excess of 350 km/h so much as the minivan striking the house at 150 km/h.
Appropriate technology for appropriate local conditions.
Brick construction is slow and expensive, and in the Bay area, inappropriate. That's earthquake country, which is a disaster for brick homes. Unless you LIKE having to rebuild major portions of your house every few years..? Most folks don't.
Frame homes go up fast, are generally resistant to most minor quakes, and any damage from same is usuallty easily patched. If a major quake comes along, a frame house is much less likely to crush the occumants to death when it comes down - indeed, it's less likely to come all the way down at all. Brick, on the other hand, can be *counted* on to come down and kill a few folks.
Also: with the cost of housing - and the need for rapid expansion of housing - in the Bay area, brick is doubly a bad idea. Those homes are owned by average wage earners, not Vanderbilts.
The chickenwire is the anchor matrix for the plaster stucco - any home builder or normally experienced person would recognize it, and stucco is a *very* appropriate technology for the area - cheap, effective, and easily repaired. Indeed, look at how *little* damage was done by a 30lb cannonball: small holes, easily patched by anyone with basic carpentry skills. No splintering, no structural damage, just a small neat hole. Brick, ont the other hand, would have shattered, and cast fragments and projectiles all about, greatly increasing the risk of injury, and have required an extensive rebuild by skilled (and expensive) tradesmen.
IOW, you have NO bloody idea what you're talking about.
"Brick construction is slow and expensive, and in the Bay area, inappropriate. That's earthquake country, which is a disaster for brick homes."
Is it? How come the non prefab concrete city centre isn't levelled every time there's a tremor then?
"Also: with the cost of housing - and the need for rapid expansion of housing - in the Bay area, brick is doubly a bad idea. Those homes are owned by average wage earners, not Vanderbilts"
Average wage earners in europe manage to afford brick. Are you lot so hard up in the US that you can only afford cheap plywood? Do your cars have Flintstone style holes in the floor to put your feet through as well?
"Brick, ont the other hand, would have shattered, and cast fragments and projectiles all about, greatly increasing the risk of injury, and have required an extensive rebuild by skilled (and expensive) tradesmen."
So your killer argument against brick houses is the danger of shrapnel from someone firing a cannonball at it is it? Following that line of argument I might argue that brick is probably more pirate cutlass proof than wood.
"IOW, you have NO bloody idea what you're talking about."
Don't I? Oh well, you carry on enjoying living in your medieval construction method home. Meanwhile I'll enjoy the benefit of a double brick wall and proper insulation.
Which I am. Turns out that in the US, sky-scrapers are built out of steel and the masonry is cladding. Steel flexes nicely and withstands quakes. In downtown Seattle in the pissy little 6.8 Nisqually quake, all of the old brick buildings rained their bricks down on the streets. They don't build those anymore.
Smaller buildings might be reinforced concrete, but never brick, except as cladding.
Now it's still a puzzle to me why Floridians build with wood. That's just economics. You used all your wood to build ships to form an empire.... thanks for that BTW as one of the remnants.
What are you on about?
You've forgotten (or never heard of) the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The city was built almost entirely of brick, and the earthquake transformed it into a huge heap of rubble.
Current large buildings on San Francisco are NOT simply concrete... They have massive steel internal reinforcement and rest on foundations composed of metal springs, or on rollers to permit the building to withstand earthquakes of as much as 8 on Richter's scale. As you might imagine, this is very expensive and not practicable for houses.
Indeed wood frame houses are as safe as , well, houses in a actively seismic area. Construction of houses in California requires the use of plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB) sheathing with specific metal reinforcement as stiffening for the frame. The State studies the effects of major earthquakes on various construction methods, and the cannonballed house's construction was no doubt appropriate for the regulations in effect at the time of construction.
Pray your massive brick walls never encounter a good shake test!
Check out Central Christchurch (NZ) for what happens when you have a lot of unreinforced masonry around. Half our central city has been or is being demolished so it doesn't kill anyone else.
In EQ zones, I would far rather live in a timber framed house. It won't fall down and kill you in your bed when a mag 7.2 EQ hits at 4:35am.
Brick buildings came down all over Chch on Feb 22 and caused a lot of the deaths and injuries here that day. Mortar doesn't hold bricks together very well when it is subjected to a lot of seismic shaking. Additonal reinforcing is required to add strength to all types of masonry and concrete structures.
How about, before criticising what you don't understand, you should accept that building methods differ around the world because the local conditions differ too.
What is obvious and useful in the UK may not be so useful in other places!
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Hmmmm, outside of the UK, there are these not-so-newfangled natural disasters called "earthquakes", and a brick building is the worst thing you can possibly be inside of or around in a quake. So people build their houses out of cheap rubbish like plywood that flexes in an earthquake instead of literally shaking apart at the seams like brick and mortar does. The fact that an disproportionately high number of residential earthquake deaths occur because brick chimneys collapse and fall through the roof onto occupants or onto people standing outside should give you a clue on how to build in an earthquake zone, but it probably won't.
(This is especially true considering that the Alameda County test range is probably 5 miles from the Hayward fault and about 25-30 miles from the San Andreas fault.)
Anyone who knows ANYTHING about smoothbore cannon knows that solid spherical projectiles WILL skip and bounce - Waterbarrels are not enough - you need a trap, like the afore-mentioned sand - to prevent just this kind of thing from happening. Clearly, the Myth-busting crew did NOT do their homework.
If you'd done your homework (or even have read the article) you'd have noticed that they were a) testing the velocity they could get from a home made cannon, b) had water barrels *and* an earth berm behind them.
What appears to have gone wrong is that the velocity was much greater than they had anticipated, consequently the trajectory of the cannonball was too high, going over the water barrels and then skipping off the berm, causing it to be lofted towards the houses.
It's easy with hindsight to think that they should have aimed it with a lower trajectory etc, but given that the officials at the Alameda County Bomb Range let them fire it (which I doubt very much they'd have done if they thought this could happen) this is clearly just an unfortunate series of events rather than a lack of "homework".
ballistics is a simple, ancient and refined art. Chamber pressures for given amounts of any type of commercial powder are all published and available. Bore size, powder charge, barrel length, projectile area and projectile mass were all known and critical to both understanding whether the breech would explode and will tell you almost exactly how fast the ball will be going when it exits the muzzle.
Once you know the muzzle velocity, barrel angle and the mass of the projectile, it's simple high school math to plot trajectory and initial impact point, minus an inch or two out because of ball friction and to the left or right depending on wind speed and time aloft. Hell, the bigger the ball the closer to mathematical ideal it gets!
A given size charge, in a given size breech, of a given powder type and set cannon dimensions will give you very similar results every time. It's not rocket science :P
hell that's what the first computers were used for, generating artillery tables. Any first year physics student should have done labs on this.
Scrapheap Challenge (Junkyard Wars) even did this-homemade cannons where points were awarded on accuracy and knockdown results to a cinderblock wall.
Rifling & miniballs were invented because of the nasty tendency for smoothbores to not fly in the direction that the gun or cannon was aimed in. Even a 1 deg error in firing angle makes a huge difference past 100m.
But they wouldn't have taught you that in your first year physics classes.
my 1" smoothbore cannon can throw a 1 inch lead ball for over a mile and it definitely "bounces" rather than stick in dirt at anything resembling a shallow angle. It'll skip off of water at less than 45 degrees. Even Hollywood gets the bounce right every now and then. Gibson's "The Patriot" wasn't too far off with the effects of cannon on ranked infantry.
Anonymous because, even tho it's a smoothbore muzzleloader and technically legal in 50 states, California legislators are probably working on a ban right now because of this. "Don't let a tragedy go to waste".
Here they're made of wood*, covered with a layer of styrofoam insulation then protected with plastic siding. Older roofs are tiled, but now commonly they're made of aluminum**.
* This is the Pine Tree State and they weren't kidding when they gave it that nickname.
** When in Rome, you know. Well mostly not Rome, since that's just a small town with less than 1,000 people.
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The day after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I drove through a neighborhood 10 or so miles from the epicenter, with lots of houses made of "chicken wire", basically the same construction as the house in question.
They all withstood the quake nicely, except that many of them had piles of reddish-pink dust next to them that used to be their brick chimneys.
I can say my house is made of brick, along with 90% of the buildings I've seen traveling through the city so its not all ;)
As others have said brick is nice vs high winds, and such but very BAD to earthquakes. Few years back we had a very minor earthquake (2nd I can remember in 30 years). It was so minor I mentioned that it felt like we had an earthquake, and generally they said I was nuts till they turned the news on a little later where it was said we had one....
Afterwards we found out the house had well over $8,000 in damage to the brick work from it shifting that wasn't covered by insurance cause it wasn't immediately noticed till we noticed leaks when it was raining.
"Is it just this one, or are all US houses constructed from chicken wire, bin bags and hair clippings?"
I spent most of my adult life in southwest Florida, where (for hurricane reasons) houses are built from cinder blocks that are strapped down to the ground quite tightly. Not only are they proof against hurricanes, they tend to hold up quite nicely to just about anything else you can throw at them. Fire, tanks, zombie apocalypse...
When I moved to Oregon two years ago, I was horrified and appalled to see houses made of plywood and, I don't know, old newspapers or something. My girlfriend's been mocking me relentlessly about it, but every time I walk upstairs I can't help but feel if I lean against the wall the whole damn house will fall down. (Wood? Really? Who builds houses out of WOOD?)
She did, however, make one valid point: Rigid brick or cinder block houses don't fare well in earthquakes, which we get in Oregon in place of hurricanes. Brick or block houses tend to fracture, or so I'm told, whereas wood houses are flexible enough that they just kinda sway a bit.
Personally, I still feel safer in a house that isn't made of wood.
In areas prone to earthquakes, such as most of California, brick construction is generally not used because the bricks tend to separate when the walls are shaken sufficiently strongly. Building codes in CA do allow brick, but it has to be tied together with rebar or other metal devices to keep the bricks from separating. The owners of many old structures which were built of brick or stone are being required to retroactively reinforce the walls (can be VERY expensive) to prevent them from falling down, or if the walls cannot be reinforced, they owners may be required to tear the building down... The law applies to buildings with historical significance as well...
In the last relatively significant earthquake in California's Napa Valley, entire neighborhoods saw their brick or "slumpstone" (looks like adobe bricks but made of cement) chimneys badly damaged or destroyed because they weren't reinforced.
Many houses, maybe the majority, are built with plywood shear walls, then the plywood is covered with chicken wire and then the wire is covered with stucco... That's probably what Chris is seeing.
Beer, cause it's the closest icon available to a wine glass.
Was a less populated region unavailable? How much intelligence does it take to do this in an area devoid of civilian population with an radius, AT A MINIMUM, of the firing distance? I'm surprised they weren't arrested for reckless endagerment or destruction of property, but they're a commercial enterprise, so the laws are applied differently. They're just extremely lucky they didn't kill or injure anyone.
In fairness, a civilian bomb range probably wasn't the spot to do cannon testing. The Dahlgren Proving Grounds comes to mind for somewhere that is properly setup to handle cannon testing. There probably is a closer Army or Naval facility that is setup to handle cannon testing of the type they were doing.
When you get right down to it, mombs don't send fragments all that far. The range is well-designed - as a BOMB RANGE. As an artillery range, it's *entirely* inadequate.
The problem, from the production crew's perspective, is, real artillery ranges are 1) far away, 2) hard to gain access, and 3) expensive to operate. So they cut corners massively, instead. The proper techinque, in the case of using the bomb range, would have been to built a shot-trap - a virtual cage of sand or other dense, soft material that could stop any concievable projectile at any concievable angle the cannon could fire. But that costs money, too - Again, corners were cut.
The Mythbusting crew suffered from arrogance and ignorance - Arrogance that they think they have enough knowledge and smarts to defeat random chance, and ignorance of artillery - They didn't bother to consult *real* experts in smoothbore artillery, or if they did, they disregarded their advice.
A six-pound cannon of Napoleonic or American Civil War vintage has a MAXIMUM range of approximately 4000 yards - just a bit less than 4 kilometers. Their 30-pounder..? Who would know, without some serious testing? Which, of course, they didn't do properly - nor did they employ the right kind of people to DO that testing.
There are not very many "less populated" areas within a reasonable driving distance of the Mythbusters office, and the ones that are nearby are generally unsuitable for other reasons, such as tidal marshes, wetlands or other problems with the neighborhood. To actually get to a sufficiently unpopulated area, they would probably have to drive to somewhere in Nevada or Utah... say the Bonneville Salt Flats, over five hundred miles.
Beer, cause it's the closest thing to a glass of wine.
It sounds as though they tried this in totally the wrong place, but I'm not sure what the right place would be. A smoothbore cannon firing a 30-pound shot was seriously heavy artillery, the sort of weapon used by the heaviest ships of the line. Any firing range has a "danger-space" behind the targets, and this incident shows why.
...it was only a couple of years back when they banned .338 being used there.
Because someone worked out you could reach the housing estate that was built other the other side of the safety area.
They almost banned .308win about a year after that, because if you had the right bullet weight and shot it precisely at an elevation of (guessing here) 32.253 degress it could just reach them.
I mainly remember this as it was about two weeks after I spent a grand on a new 308, and was getting very P'ed off with the NRA.
A lot of people consider this to be very funny but I think some authorities might want to double check on how the rules were applied and followed up here. Because I don't think its much fun if you're sleeping at home (perhaps with a new born?) and end up having to move with the whole family to a hotel because your house needs to be repaired.
The reason why I consider this an epic fail will show very clearly when you check up with Google maps on the scenery. It becomes horribly obvious that the crew has ignored the very basic rule of firing a weapon; don't aim the weapon in the direction of a residential area, no matter how far it is away.
Check the maps; a simple quarter turn would have made sure that this wouldn't have happened.
A bomb disposal range? I know they used that location many times, but what was the logic behind it? A bomb will be the center of an explosion thus the force of the explosion will divided over all sides; minimizing the risk that the shockwave will eventually find its way outside the perimeters.
Firing a weapon on the other hand is totally different; you send an object with a massive force behind it hurtling into one /single/ direction, thus no division of power.
Can't be that hard to conclude that the idea to fire a very potentially high powered weapon on a terrain made for bomb explosions isn't the best idea? Why not talk with the military and use firing ranges for this kind of stuff; a tank firing range for example?
I know its easy to talk after the facts, but since they claim to do things professionally I think we have every right to be critical here.
As a professional shooter of long-range rifles, I heartily agree with NEARLY everything you say above. A very good summary of the situation, and their poor planning. The range where I fire at 1000 yard targets has MILES of uninhabited forests as a safety range, and is totally closed to any human access (it's been a military firing area for decades).
But I fear that you lost me when you said "perhaps with a new born?". It is totally correct that baby's hearing is more easily damaged by loud noises that an adults, and thus are more vulnerable to even a near miss. But frankly, one more use of "think of the children!" we really didn't need...
every time they use the range, and always discuss in detail with same the nature of what they are going to do at the range, don't you think maybe someone there should have thought of that as well?
They have been responsible about manning up after the fact, which is a lot more than I will say for many people.
"It becomes horribly obvious that the crew has ignored the very basic rule of firing a weapon; don't aim the weapon in the direction of a residential area, no matter how far it is away."
Well, that's practically impossible.unless you shoot everything up into the air which is probably more dangerous. Also don't use semi-colons, ever.
if you are worried about the hearing of your children you shouldn't buy a house next door to a bomb range.
It's not as if the bomb range just came down with a shower of raine one day.
As for explosions I was near hit by a railway tie when the local signal cabin was blowen up and that was well over half a mile away.
If you are going to blame anybody blame the safety experts employed by both the show and the police dept who own the bomb range
... I don't agree with you. The key point here is that *no-one was hurt*. This means that everyone involved (programme makers, cops, safety bods) get the chance to think very hard about whether they are taking this sort of thing seriously enough, and how to improve their planning. There is absolutely no reason to be dragging in officialdom.
Mistakes are what makes progress possible - the person who never made a mistake never made anything (except a lie).
Disclaimer: I haven't watched MythBusters for years, because the stupidity of the males rapidly overcame my interest in Kari Byron ...
bit of a mythstake there, by those mythguided mythfits
are they gonna be charged with a mythdemeanor?
the cannon must have been mythaimed or mythaligned
or there was some sort of mythunderstanding with the range of the mythille
wonder if they were mythadvised.
what a mythadventure!
>crawls back under rock ashamed
Ahh, Mythbusters, and their decreasingly rigorous testing of decreasingly mythical myths. It was good once upon a time, but they're really scraping the barrel these days in therms of the "myths" they take on. At least putting lives in danger adds a bit of an edge of excitement to things, so I hope this isn't the last time they do it. Explosions and Kari in a tight t-shirt are the only reason to watch that show now.
If it happened to your average home experimenter, it would be followed by a swift visit by the police.
You wouldn't have time to call your insurance company and arrange compensation, you'd be busy finding out what it's like to wear shoes with no shoelaces and how bad tea in the nick can taste.
Followed by an appearance in front of the magistrates and your probity and mental balance questioned by the red top newspapers.
Alameda County Sheriff's Department spokesman J.D. Nelson said:
"It missed the target and took kind of an oddball bounce, It was almost like skipping a rock on a lake. Instead of burying it into the hill it just went skyward."
But he's not the first Nelson to realise that a cannon ball will do more damage if it 'bounces' first.
When I first heard about this from a co-worker, I found it hard to belive that they could have srewed up like this. I've been watching the show for years and just couldn't picture Adam or Jamie messing up so badly. Now I see it was the other ones and it makes more sense. I'll bet that Tony figured heavily in this...
True, they are still subject to civil liabilities, but they're already taking care of those without so much as an angry word being cast in their direction, let alone having to be dragged kicking and screaming through the courts. All in all I think they're handling their civil responsibilties in this instance far better than the police would have.
The article says that they are making good on their civil liabilities; they are paying for repairs and hotels. If the Toyota was totaled it will be replaced and they will probably provide a rental car. The production company has insurance to pay for this sort of damage. Maybe they can get Jamie and Adam to autograph a piece of rubble from the damage. The affected people might even get Mythbusters t-shirts.
... but the cannon was in the Alameda County Bomb Range. And that bomb range is clearly in a hollow, so I can understand why nobody expected anything to get hit.
The Mythbusters team also rely heavily on the services of *professionals*, including a retired explosives expert. They don't just rock up with a home-made cannon and aim it at some random hillside. Nobody *likes* paying insurance, so the Mythbusters team are hardly unique in complaining about it. They're required to use consultants and abide by the laws and regulations governing such procedures.
If their *paid* consultants were happy with the setup, *those consultants* need to explain what went wrong, not the presenters, whose job is primarily to look good on TV and remember the script. There's a whole production team behind each show, not just a bunch of guys farting about in a warehouse full of random special effects gear.
Finally, the experiment was being conducted expressly under the supervision of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. So calling in the police would be kind of redundant as they were the ones *in charge* of this!
The behavior of spherical solid shot is very well-known to real experts and even laypersons: At low angles of incidence, the shot bounces. ANY casual perusal of written material on the subject makes that abundantly clear. So, why didn't *they* know that..? I don't understand their failure to employ basic safeguards, such as a building a shot trap.
What it sounds like to me, taking the sheriff's official statement into consideration, is that the cannonball bounced in an unpredictable way instead of burying itself in the backstop the way everyone expected it to. Likely it was pointed in a direction that was uninhabited until the bounce. The Mythbusters do take safety very seriously, despite their propensity towards high explosives, after all, plus there were cops on hand to make sure they took all the proper precautions.
Really other that the fact that they were working with a very dangerous weapon for entertainment it doesn't sound like they did anything wrong.
The disclaimer... "We're professions", yes they are.. if that means they get paid to play with dangerous stuff. They usually bring in "Experts" to oversee their work when they do the really dangerous things like explode cement trucks.. which btw is still my favorite explosion from their show.
Here's a hint, kiddies: If you haven't spent time on both sides of ThePond[tm], kindly refrain from demonstrating your lack of understanding of the Universal Building Code on either side. Housing is built with both available materials, and according to conditions, in pretty much all Western countries. Here in the SF Bay Area, Earthquakes are kind of an important thing to think about. We build accordingly. See:
Hint 2: The Sheriff in question clearly stated it was a "misfire". This happens. It's rare, thankfully, but it happens. What that means, roughly, is that the cannon went off when it wasn't in the designated operating state. We don't know the details yet, but clearly it was an accident and not malicious.
Hint 3: Brits, please stop commenting on guns. You're not qualified. Yanks, stop needling the Brits over same; until you've been there, you can't grasp their politically enhanced needless paranoia of unknown tools.
Hint 4: Brits, the US is a very big place. As a result, it has a huge quantity of micro-climates. Tornado Ally is not New England is not the Great North Wet is not the Desert South West is not Alaska is not Florida is not Hawai'i ... Here in Central California alone, I have snow-skied at sunrise in the Sierra (24F), water skied on the Delta at noon (88F), and surfed in the rain at Davenport Landing at sunset (65F). All on the same day. I drove home through heavy fog over the Golden Gate Bridge later in the evening.
Hint 5: A Hurricane != Hurricane force winds. One is a massive low pressure region, the other is an air pressure gradient.
 My stats: ~73% US soil, ~22% UK soil, ~5% elsewhere on this dampish rock (I was a global network troubleshooter in my late 20s & early 30s).
 Trailer Parks in Tornado Alley being an obvious anomaly ... there are others.
... "Brits, please stop commenting on guns. You're not qualified." Sadly, that is all too true. I watched the clip of Mr Boothroyd at the end of the recent article on the new "Q" (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/25/bond_q/), and realised how backward we in the UK have become since only 50 years due to our spineless government refusing to treat us as adults.
They had a suitable trap. From all accounts, the first two shots were successfully contained. The third shot went off in a manor that was unexpected. It was an accident.
It happens occasionally, and will always happen occasionally, when humans are in the loop. We're not perfect. We make mistakes. Even experts.
Personally, I've always said they should use the quarry in Calaveras County for this kind of thing ... See 38.023737,-120.505085 for details ;-)
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