Washington, DC: 1861

By invitation of a well-known official, I visited the Navy-Yard yesterday, and witnessed the trial of some newly-invented rifled cannon. The trial was of short duration, and the jury brought in a verdict of “innocent of any intent to kill.”

The first gun tried was similar to those used in the Revolution, except that it had a larger touch-hole, and the carriage was painted green, instead of blue. This novel and ingenious weapon was pointed at a target about sixty yards distant. It didn’t hit it, and as nobody saw any ball, there was much perplexity expressed. A midshipman did say that he thought the ball must have run out of the touch-hole when they loaded up, for which he was instantly expelled from the service. After a long search without finding the ball, there was some thought of summoning the Naval Retiring Board to decide on the matter, when somebody happened to look into the mouth of the cannon, and discovered that the ball hadn’t gone out at all. The inventor said this would happen sometimes, especially if you didn’t put a brick over the touch-hole when you fired the gun. The, Government was so pleased with this explanation, that it ordered forty of the guns on the spot, at two hundred thousand dollars apiece. The guns to be furnished as soon as the war is over.

The next weapon tried was Jink’s double back-action revolving cannon for ferry-boats. It consists of a heavy bronze tube, revolving on a pivot, with both ends open, and a touch-hole in the middle. While one gunner puts a load in at one end, another puts in a load at the other end, and one touch-hole serves for both. Upon applying the match, the gun is whirled swiftly round on a pivot, and both balls fly out in circles, causing great slaughter on both sides. This terrible engine was aimed at the target with great accuracy; but as the gunner has a large family dependent. on him for support, he refused to apply the match. The Government was satisfied without firing, and ordered six of the guns at a million of dollars apiece. The guns to be furnished in time for our next war.

The last weapon subjected to trial was a mountain howitzer of a new pattern. The inventor explained that its great advantage was, that it required no powder. In battle it is placed on the top of a high mountain, and a ball slipped loosely into it. As the enemy passes the foot of the mountain, the gunner in charge tips over the howitzer, and the ball rolls down the side of the mountain into the midst of the doomed foe. The range of this terrible weapon depends greatly on the height of the mountain and the distance to its base. The Government ordered forty of these mountain howitzers at a hundred thousand dollars apiece, to be planted on the first mountains discovered in the enemy’s country.

These are great times for gunsmiths, my boy; and if you find any old cannon around the junk-shops, just send them along.

There is much sensation in nautical circles arising from the immoral conduct of the rebel privateers; but public feeling has been somewhat easier since the invention of a craft for capturing the pirates, by an ingenious Connecticut chap. Yesterday he exhibited a small model of it at a cabinet meeting, and explained it thus:

“You will perceive,” says he to the President, “that the machine itself will only be four times the size of the Great Eastern, and need not cost over a few millions of dollars. I have only got to discover one thing before I can make it perfect. You will observe that it has a steam-engine on board. This engine works a pair of immense iron clamps, which are let, down into the water from the extreme end of a very lengthy horizontal spar. Upon approaching the pirate, the captain orders the engineer to put on steam. Instantly the clamps descend from the end of the spar and clutch the privateer athwartships. Then the engine is reversed, the privateer is lifted bodily out of the water, the spar swings around over the deck, and the pirate ship is let down into the hold by the run. Then shut your hatches, and you have ship and pirates safe and sound.”

The President’s gothic features lighted up beautifully at the words of the great inventor; but in a moment they assumed an expression of doubt, and says he:

“But how are you going to manage, if the privateer fires upon you while you are doing this?”

“My dear sir,” says the inventor, “I told you I had only one thing to discover before I could make the machine perfect, and that’s it.”

So you see, my boy, there’s a prospect of our doing something on the ocean next century, and there’s only one thing in the way of our taking in pirates by the cargo.

Last evening a new brigadier-general, aged ninety-four years, made a speech to Regiment Five, Mackerel Brigade, and then furnished each man with a lead-pencil. He said that, as the Government was disappointed about receiving some provisions it had ordered for the troops, those pencils were intended to enable them to draw their rations as usual; I got a very big pencil, my boy, and have lived on a sheet of paper ever since.

Yours, pensively,


It’s a mallomar, i guess that’s what i’m describing

Where the worlds of pants-filling terror and head-throbbing annoyance meet: ACTION MOVIE MARKETING:

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “Mission: Impossible III” got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the “Mission: Impossible” theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers…


As several people have pointed out, there ain’t no such thing as an accidental shooting. If you shoot someone, the best you can hope for is a verdict of negligence. The first law of firearms is: Yes, the gun is loaded.1 You keep your finger off the trigger, you don’t point at your friends, you don’t point at things behind which you have friends.

If you give your hunting buddy a birdshot facial, you broke some of those rules.

He should be forced to do embarrassing public service announcements about the topic.

Maybe dressed up in a fairy suit. “Hi there. I’m Dick Cheney, and I’m dressed up as one of the Ammo Fairies to make a point. You know, the Ammo Fairies? They go around putting ammunition in unloaded guns when no one is looking. That means you should always assume a gun is loaded! Some folks may think the Ammo Fairies don’t really exist, but people who believe in them live longer than people who don’t! Ho, ho, ho! Time for me to buzz off! Just remember: follow the rules, and you won’t end up on national TV in a god-damned fairy suit!”

1This is parallel to the First Law of Chemistry which states: Yes, the Glass is Hot

Does Humor Belong in the News?

1:04 : ignatzmous : al’Powar-point: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/print?id=1537040
1:06 : zeb : I wonder if it says “al’Qaeda Confidential – Do Not Distribute” at the bottom of every slide
1:07 : ignatzmous : In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, here is my presentation entitled: Communicating Bad News
1:07 : You couldn’t use “confused guy” clip art because it’s an entire stick figure dude, either
1:08 : “Here I illustrate the necessity for the total destruction of the Great Satan with an amusing cartoon, in which all the heads have been removed.”
1:08 : zeb : “This is the roadmap for 2006-7, as you can see many exciting developments coming in the jihad, and this is only what is disclosable, and Allah knows best”
1:10 : And it is Allah’s law that whole-page wipes are halal, and the clockwise wipe is haram, and the dissolve is mukrooh, and so it shall not be done, says Allah (His Name Be Praised)
1:12 : ignatzmous : Insh’allah, the details of implementation and the timeline for rollout and most of all the pricing shall be revealed, but not in this day or this time, and certainly not by the the humble servant of Allah who brings only this presentation.