Burro Canyon KABOOM!

Had a fine time shooting at the Burro Canyon range up in San Gabriel Canyon near Azusa. Apart from screwing up and shooting a rifle on the pistol range, I did fine. I shoot high and to the right.

As we were all banging away the range officer called an emergency cease fire, and everyone on all the ranges stopped and stepped back per orders. A helicopter was coming to land. WTF?

In a few minutes the LASD rescue helicopter roared on in and landed a hundred yards south of us, and then left in a few minutes.

The story I heard was that someone on a private range was shooting a modified .50 caliber machine gun (!?) that only shot semiautomatic, and somehow it fired with the bolt partially open. This isn’t good, because then the hot gas from the propellant goes sideways as well as forwards, and one gets a faceful of fire and possibly chunks of stuff. Off he went to the hospital.

The story may be somewhat different, but this was from a range officer who should know.

This kind of accident is very, very rare. It’s possible that the guy loaded his own ammunition and made a mistake, or that the gun itself had been modified poorly in some way. But it’s also possible that it just broke. Scary stuff.

In any case I had a good time with my own unmodified, normal-powered stuff.

QOTD, public safety radio

Someone backhoed a natural gas main around here today and there was the usual excitement. Quote from OC Fire Authority on scene:

“Appears that a backhoe severed a gas main here. Area is cleared, and we’re just going to stand by until the Gas Company pinches this one off.”

80s Flashback Block Party: Son of SDI


I found that Twain bit during a long web search for something I couldn’t find: a satire on new weapons technology from the 1860s that is anthologized in The Sub-Treasury of American Humor. I can’t find that book in my house yet either; the search continues. It’s a lovely bit of writing and entirely appropriate today.

The whole search was sparked by this hilarious/horrible article on the return of the discredited, stupid, and entirely evil “Brilliant Pebbles” weapons project, part of the Reagan era Strategic Defense Initiative that was popularly known as the “Star Wars” system.

This is courtesy of Lowell Wood, our current living Strangelove. A disciple of Teller, he believed in every mad science approach to strategic defense: killer satellites, nuclear explosions in space, throwing rocks really fast at missiles, and X-ray lasers. The last one is a beauty: nuclear bombs in satellites would be detonated and their radiation focused into laser beams.

Wood’s still at it. His entire career and ego are attached to the scheme.