a) the had firing experts on hand
b) the fire/police departments were notified ahead of time and probably had someone on site. They also probably had veto power and input on how it was staged.
(* I don't know this for a fact. I'm basing this on every other Mythbusters episode I've ever seen)
My favorite line: "his elderly mother thought the sky was falling." Makes her sound like a simple nutcase. The son then says, "Yeah, she thought it might be a tree falling on the house or a meteorite."
A few months ago my brother and some friends went on an epic multiday hike. The previous year, someone attempted it and was never seen again.
They were all experienced and were very prepared. In the end they found themselves in a situation where they had to have search and rescue pull them out -- going forward or back wasn't an option. They had a locator beacon (part of being prepared) and decided to pull it. The other option was to head back, miss their return date and have S&R come looking for them anyway.
The local news portrayed them as inexperienced idiots who were totally unprepared. They misinterpreted or manipulated quotes. They didn't actually understand anything -- just regurgitated facts with their uneducated and biased tones and extrapolations.
In conclusion, TV news should be ended in all forms. Reporters aren't experts in the subject matter they report. Even though they should be trained to know better, modern news programs make no effort to disguise their bias.
The riff on TV news though, that goes a bit over the top. I talked with the guy who ran the KRON news division way back when it was relevant (we were at a fundraiser and making small talk) and I commented on the challenge of making TV news accurate. His response was that the pressure to 'be first' put negative pressure on 'be accurate' and likened it to software bugs in video games as I had mentioned I was a programmer. His take was that the speed to getting the story out was primary, vetted only by confirmation by one reliable or some number of unreliable and unrelated sources, but accuracy developed over the life of the story. Each update was a bit more accurate than the previous one.
I suggested that seemed like it didn't serve the news consumer well, but he made the argument that they defined 'serving the consumer well' by measuring market share.
I came away as a much more critical viewer of news from that conversation.
That being said, Discovery is going to make bank when this episode is on TV. If I know how a lot of people are with respect to TV (and my experience is from being on Battlebots) then they send a film crew out to video the damage with a waiver that says "sign away any future claim against discovery and we'll pay to fix your house and PUT YOU ON TV!" and they will totally go for it. Maybe Jamie coming by and doing his "over the top amazed" kind of thing looking at the hole etc etc and talking with the 'regular' folks. It will be a highly rated show and draw lots of viewers. They will make some public service announcement about not trying this stuff in what is left of your home, and everyone will be happy. The folks with a hole in their house and car will have their 15 minutes of fame, the show will get a big ratings boost (look for the episode to air during sweeps week) and become another story for the mythbusters crew.
Certainly not for every type of story (where accuracy counts more, say medical information or a lost child) but for a story like this it's more like entertainment. I mean does it really matter other than being interesting that this even happened at all?
Side: Agree highly with your PR angle. And even if rights weren't signed away even a good litigator knows what they can or can't get in damages from a case like this. It's not an automatic win with high dollars. You need to prove damages. The physical damage is easily remedied. The psychological damage is hard to prove. And ultimately the lawyer would do better to take his 33% of a quick settlement than to drag this out.
I'm not sure if the same term is used in the U.S., but few British journalists have spoken out about what you've mentioned - the race to get the story out first without applying strict fact-checking standards, all happening in an industry where resources are being cut all over the place and making matters worse.
They are selling sensationalist fear. There is very very little "news" any longer - everything is an emotional product.
They understand psychology and believe that the only way to manipulate the viewerships response is through their emotions - which is far easier to do than through critical thought. They are a self-fulfilling prophecy on the stupidity of their viewership: market emotionalism and do a poor job on actual substance because the viewers only understand emotionalism and cannot critically think for themselves -- or IF they do critically think - then the resultant opinion will be different than the opnion we are trying to sell which is fear.
It seems that if a section of the news media defines itself that way then they have defined themselves as just another consumer product.
That is not necessarily a bad thing per se. But it does seem to undercut arguments that the news media should be treated differently from others when it comes to questions like protecting sources, standards for slander/libel, public support, and access to information.
I know I've heard of cities doing similar when land is sold near quarries. For instance, I can call a noise complaint on my neighbor any time of the day for making too much noise, but I can't call a noise complaint on a quarry operating from 7am to 7pm.
Wow. I agree there's a lot of misinformation and poor reporting on TV news, but that's like saying the Internet should be ended because of the poor quality of slashdot comments.
Every single time, the news, as reported, contained glaring factual errors or lies by implication that were introduced to make more of a story. In many cases it wasn't an issue of a reporter misunderstanding the story, but rather an issue of "let's take these facts and meld them into a more compelling story."
That kind of blatant disregard for truth and pandering for ratings has no place on public airwaves.
It wasn't even an issue of bias, or making the story more compelling. It was simply slap-dash, string any-old list of crap together, run it, and move on to the next item.
It was an eye-opening experience for me.
I have no clue why, I think it might be because you can find police dispatch feeds for every neighboring city except ours. That's the only thing I can think of as I live in a very affluent area and the most we've ever got was the local paper covering a drive by shooting (I live in Canada so it's virtually unheard of, especially in my area - first in 15 years or something)
Iyengar, S. 1991. Is Anyone Responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues.
Chicago : The University of Chicago Press.
Iyengar, S. et Kinder, D. R. 1987. News That Matters: Television and American
Opinion. Chicago : The University of Chicago Press.
The New Videomalaise : Effects of Televised Incivility on Political Trust
DC Mutz - American Political Science Review, 2005 - Cambridge Univ Press
My M.Sc. in PolSci was useful after all... A third of my master thesis is on that very subject, but it's in french...
I had friends in high school who had post-middle-age parents who were absolutely insane politically. Magnets covering their fridge, signs in their yard, on their walls; their house was just full of propaganda. And they would sit there after school watching the fucking news and getting outraged every time they were supposed to. It's clockwork for these news channels.
The site will permit one to reply after a bit of time. If it is delaying you, it's probably best to use that time to improve your comment by citing sources or editing it to be clearer and more concise, rather than using the cheat to post straightaway.
While I believe that and I like the conclusion, my inner rationalist screams:
Not saying those channels are perfect, but not all TV is created equal.
I think only part of the problem with mainstream TV news is inherent in the medium. There's a lot of effort put into making it infotainment.
The medium is not the same thing as the type of content.
True, it's a generalization, but it's a useful generalization if majority of content specific to a given medium seems to have the same properties.
PBS is one of the few organization that still broadcasts real journalism in the US and it is under constant attack by brain-dead politicians, cable news blowhards and some portion of the population whose minds have been dulled by television news.
 look reporters, ND does not have wandering buffalo herds everywhere, you can stop using the same stock footage anytime.
The reason they didn't show the town is probably because it is totally ugly. Do you have a link to the episode online? I can't find it.
// as a UND graduate I find NDSU's choices to be poor :)
Even though it sounds a bit broad, I'll second the idea behind it as I understand it.
> Wow. I agree there's a lot of misinformation and poor reporting on TV news, but that's like saying the Internet should be ended because of the poor quality of slashdot comments.
There's too many misinformation and poor reporting on TV and no way to distinguish truth from falsehood. You wouldn't trust a person who verifiably lied to you 70% of the time. That's why you don't trust YouTube comments. It's a waste of brain resources to even try.
The same thing happened with newspapers and major news station. Even most news from news sites that end up on HN get debunked in comments after few hours by people who actually know the domain.
I personally don't know who to believe now - everyone on "popular news" seems to try either to steal attention, or to advertise something. And the truth suffers.
Stratfor and KGS both offer free access to a limited set of their analysis.[2,3]
But most importantly, I want to touch on the following point: "Reporters aren't experts in the subject matter they report." Of course they're not! Journalism itself is not something that everybody can do. The problem you're citing is not because journalists aren't experts in whatever they're reporting (which is a ludicrous notion--news spans so many different subject areas that it would be nigh impossible to house an expert reporter on every subject). The problem is driven by falling ratings and a need for more gripping and sensational stories. Years ago, Ellen DeGeneres even had the joke that she was eating dinner and the local news came on to say, "What you're eating right now can kill you. Film at eleven."
You're totally correct with most of the above.
One of the crazy (and sometimes fun) parts of the job of being a local television reporter is trying to be an expert in something new every day.
Really what it comes down to is having to try to figure out how to distill down a huge amount of information into a one minute, thirty second chunk of video - when you do that, by nature, only the 'sensational' stuff makes the cut.
Then it gets cut again by someone who has no idea about any of the stuff you left out of the story when they write a promotion about it, which is how you end up with teases like "What you're eating right now can kill you".
I think the Internet has shown otherwise
On the internet, you have the chance to look for the better material. On TV, the circumstances behind the business model drive it to CNN headline news quality.
I think the Internet revealed that the common denominator is not where you work (a newsroom, your bedroom) but that you're good at your job. That's all.
The dwindling great news organizations are like a good university -- you have amazing resources at your disposal, you are surrounded by peers who hold you to a very high standard -- so by that measure traditional journalists lucky enough to work at a place which still provides that infrastructure have a leg up. Internet journalism at its best has proven that that what those institutions offer at their height are merely great tools to get the job done, but they don't at all define what the job is. The medium, and even the resources available, don't make a good journalist. They can help, sure, but what makes a good journalist is being a good journalist.
Its a lame and simple point to be making, but it was a direct reply to the parent post.
To really get dicey... The parent post argued that the Internet has shown that everybody can be a journalist. I really strongly disagree, but I guess that's because it boils down to an argument about "what is a journalist." If "journalism" to you is "telling someone what you saw," then yes we are all journalists, Tweeting about our sandwiches! Imparting information concisely to your audience, fact checking, treating the information you're handed not as the end of the job --as information to be straight-up regurgitated-- but instead as the beginning --facts to confirm, stories to investigate, quotes to react to-- is the stuff that matters to me when the word "journalist" is applied to someone. That is a real, complicated thing that few want to do, and even fewer are good at, let alone "everybody."
Anybody can copy and paste a press release, anybody can provide a tip on what's happening around them spatially, but not everybody can be bothered to follow it up and make sense of it. Journalism is taking a ton of information, coupling it with original research, and synthesizing it down to something people can understand. You don't need a newsroom for that, nor does being on the Internet magically make you better at it. That's all I'm saying!
Think of it from the perspective of local news / journalism. Most local papers are going under and their competition is Patch (traditional journalist with a new medium) and their friends on Facebook / Twitter.
From this perspective, which is not a small segment of the world of journalism, yes anyone can be a journalist now.
That said, the internet also has a high noise-to-signal ratio. Yes, searching helps, but there is a type of in-depth reporting that you simply can't do unless it's your full-time job and you're able to travel when necessary. That's the value that news organizations can provide.
A random blogger who happens to be talented and financially independent could do great reporting. One who only has a few hours a week and no budget to devote to the task is severely hindered.
As a very experienced and avid hiker myself, I'm extremely curious about this. Can you provide more details? Did anyone that was on-site blog about it?
Injury is the only thing I can think of...
You could probably get the same amount of content from reading news story summaries for 5 minutes as you get from an hour of local TV news.
But take comfort in the fact that tomorrow, TV news will have new happenings to blabber about, and yesterday's crap will be forgotten. People who care will read the full story weeks later and get something resembling truth.
When combined with other biases, this is why polls routinely show many people still believe some story that was reported even after it has been widely discredited.
It sort is along the lines that if the person wasn't made available for comment then they'd have no story at all. That way the person gets to say whether the information provided is factual or bias or an alternative.
This experiment was performed at a facility designed for such experiments under the supervision of people who are trained to handle such experiments.
The result, while upsetting, was a freak accident. It could not realistically have been predicted. It is not necessarily anyone's fault, even if human error played a role.
Life is risky.
Sometimes surgeons slip and kill patients. Sometimes food producers slip and ship contaminated products which kill people. Sometimes parents turn around for 1 second and their kids drown.
All of these are caused by human error, but there has to be a point where you can say that reasonable precaution was taken so no blame is warranted. Because the alternative, only doing things that are 100% certain to be safe, means never doing anything at all.
There is no way to guarantee 100% safety. The building you are sitting in has been checked for safety. But something could have been missed, leading it to spontaneously collapse.
And here is the most important point of this entire post:
This will be true regardless how thoroughly you check the building.
This statement is just as ignorant as any accusing MB of sloppiness. We know almost nothing right now. To say it a freak accident that couldn't have been predicted is premature.
There needs to be an investigation then a conclusion.
Either way, what I was really trying to address was the attitude in this post ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3324444 ), among others, that accidents like this should never happen. I was trying to say that not every accident is caused by negligence. Even if this one was, the main point stands.
I also realize that sounds like a cop out, which is not my intent. You are absolutely right. My conclusion is really just a theory right now, and I should have presented it as such.
Is it licensed in a certain way, or are all firing ranges used by the military reasonable to use for cannons, or what?
Should the party at fault have to pay exactly the damages actually caused to make those injured whole (in other words, actual damages?)
Should the party pay a portion of the damages caused so as to partially compensate others while not being ruinous to a party that behaved with reasonable, but insufficient, precautions (a large part of the justification for "proximate cause "is to achieve this, see for isntance "Wagon Mound (No. 1)" and "Wagon Mount (No. 2)", and contributory negligence also plays a similar role)?
Or should the party at fault pay far more than damage caused to discourage improper behaviour (in other words, punitive damages)?
These are decisions best made on a case by case basis, but the doctrines we lay out for deciding which case falls where affect how willing to take or not takes risks a society becomes. And most of the biggest advancements in human society came through enormous risk, so I for one think we should not encourage society to be too risk adverse.
Here, I think the grandparent post makes a good argument that there should be consequences, but they should be exactly actual damages and nothing more.
On a case by case basis, we invariably decide who to blame by determing who accepted responsibility, perhaps implicitly. We don't place blame on individuals for the betterment of society because we know intuitively that that is unfair. So, we may decide e.g. to make cannons illegal, but we wouldn't decide to make Bob's cannon illegal, and throw Bob in jail after the fact. Likewise, we wouldn't decide to let Bob off the hook for blowing holes in people's houses because we like cannons and want to see more of them around.
(And I'm aware that we routinely fail to adhere to this principle, no need for examples, but it is what we strive for).
In torts, the courts generally try to ascertain fault and try to do justice. But that is a general principle that they will intentionally and consciously break away from when they think they are serving a higher purpose. They will absolve liability or limit liability to just certain victims through the doctrine of proximate cause. Part of the development of that doctrine was openly to protect businesses from unending liability (and particularly railroads) to make sure they stayed in business. On the flip side, we will apply strict liability for certain activities, even if the injured party was 100% the one at fault. This had numerous reasons, but one of them was to limit use of those activities.
And criminally, we won’t make Bob’s cannon illegal, but we will happily make it illegal for Bob to have a cannon while letting Sally have one. We don’t allow convicted felons to own guns for instance. And we don’t allow the blind to have a driver’s license.
Shit happens. If you punish people for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they'll never be in that place at all.
If you sell food called "Peanut Butter OR Poison" then you can't be blamed if some people get sick, but if it's called "Peanut Butter" and it's something else, heads need to roll. If they didn't, then we would go hungry, or at least the smart people would.
As a cannon safety inspector, you are taking personal responsibility every time you tick "yes, this cannon is safe". If not enough people are willing to do that, others will assume part of the risk, for a price. And if nobody wants to do that, then nobody gets to play with cannons.
When a stray cannonball blows a hole in someone's house, somebody is going to suffer no matter what, and it shouldn't be the home owner.
Yes, risks are often worth taking. But we need to make sure that the person choosing to take the risk is the one who suffers the consequences. Then they can decide if it's worth it to them.
Eventually, if peanut butter remains popular, someone will be killed by poisonous peanut butter. The argument I'm trying to make is that this doesn't necessary mean heads should roll when it happens. 99.99999999% certainty of poison-free peanut butter is good enough. And it remains good enough even when the 0.00000001% comes up and someone dies.
That doesn't make the death any less tragic. But it does mean the peanut butter producer isn't liable just because it happened.
And if the risk is really so small, then Skippy should have no problem assuming it. It's either them or little Timmy.
Wouldn't it be more like a ballistic missile?
Now they could have said "like a nuclear warhead" or a "dirty bomb" to invoke that easily accessible pre-programmed fear of terrorism as well.
Also I think they should emphasize the word "blasted" more times. I feel 4 times wasn't enough. Maybe another 12 times would really demonstrate how dangerous science can be.
I'd doubt a spinning cannonball would actually manage that, but it probably only takes a curve of 90° or even just 45° for some sensationalist journalist to exaggerate that into "spiraling back".
Fired out of a cannon.
A cannonball is not like a cruise missile.
There's a lot to be said for teaching experimentation and the scientific method, but I'm worried they're teaching a whole generation of kids that science is inherently dangerous.
I understand why they do this. However, for a show whose theme is supposed to be discovering truth by questioning, this attitude of "we know best, and you can trust us to do it right" seems wrong. And for me, it spoils the whole show.
Hmm, I don't know about you, but I would like kids to practice 'dangerous science' and grow up to be scientists, rather than to grow up and enter the financial sector to play with billions of dollars that aren't theirs and end up crippling the economy for everyone else.
Having the mindset of 'minimizing harm to self and others' is mostly expected in dangerous science, but unfortunately it seems to be optional in the financial sector.
I used to work at NASA on space shuttle launches. If I told you that some of the appeal did not come from the fact that one in 50 of those things was likely to go off like a firework, I'd be a liar.
I guarantee any teenager with a legitimate interest in science would consider some amount of danger the most exciting part.
Inherently dangerous can be inherently awesome.
I wouldn't even say 'dangerous', I would say 'real'. Exploding things are real. Making rocket fuel from sugar and fertilizer is real. Computing the angle of a falling ball is NOT real unless you happen to fire that ball from potato gun. Computing velocity of a block sliding from a wedge is not real, is terribly and utterly boring.
Our education suffers from total detachment from reality. Physics lessons are boring, and it's right that kids point it out.
... and if you think you do, spend some time on the much-referenced "fan site".
And furthermore, there is nothing unscientific or wrong about testing our most well-tested theories. The entire point of science is that even then, the theories will still work, not that you should never test them again.
I'd also further observe that for all the drama happening here, those swinging gun sequences aren't that unsafe. It may look unsafe but the actual set of things that can plausibly go wrong was less than your intuition may be claiming. It's not like there was a way they were going to shoot themselves with a particularly higher probability than usual. (And remember that if you start constructing far-out implausible scenarios under which that might happen you must be willing to worry about equally improbably things all the time; one rapidly gets to the point where things like simply driving to work must be considered too unsafe to do if one starts spending too much improbability on the constructed scenario.)
That’s what Mythbusters is all about. It’s not about rigorous mathematical demonstrations of why something can or cannot be true, it’s about figuring stuff out in a way that actually makes it possible to see the result (and not necessarily as the result of a calculation).
That’s a less powerful and much more tedious approach than our usual methods of gaining knowledge but it is a lot more accessible and just good entertainment. Since Mythbusters is less about gaining knowledge and more about entertainment it’s also the appropriate approach for the show.
They tested on a dry, flat surface without any hint of ice or snow. As snow plows are not used in summer, this was a pretty bad error. A runway is flat, a road is not. I assume they were going for local location for cost and just wanted the big crash at the end as opposed to showing how dangerous a snow plow is. Coefficient of friction is an amazing thing.
Kids love dangerous things. (Works best if you tell adults to back off and let them have fun)
It went through the front door, bounced around the home, UP to the second floor, THROUGH the back wall...
And enough energy still remained to send it across a road 50 yards, UP again to a roof, and finally smashing through a van window.
I wish they could have captured this with high-speed cameras from multiple angles, like they do with experiments that go as planned.
It's also surprising that it could bounce so high (at least once) after hitting a floor.
Keep in mind these are American houses, flimsy paper cardboard and this bits of wood things.
I enjoyed watching them try to come up with "How in the heck are we going to make this thing", along with calling car-lots, and the other stuff that they have the budget to avoid, or the producers do off-scene.
It reminded me a lot of Junkyard wars, when I first started watching it, but more authentic, since they weren't using a stocked field ;)
Stuck with Hackett still has a building things aesthetic, but it hasn't quite clicked with me.
There were some really awful myths this year (I hated the Green Hornet show and that other show where they promoted some other stupid show on the Discovery Channel, also the Obama episode) but recent episodes have been pretty good and my subjective impression is that they have done a lot of low key myths in a big way. Also, the myths that are actually about explosions have become more sophisticated.
The myths are gone, all that's left are busters, or rather blasters.
And the Obama episode? Really, the best they could think of was Archimedes death ray because it wasnt "tested thoroughly enough"??? Come on......
That death ray was less lethal and less effective (and less spectacular) than all of those. I just don't see it.
I drove past the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center outside of 29 Palms a few months ago. You could shoot a cannon ball several miles in any direction out there without hitting anything of value.
The same is true for Fort Irwin just north of there, or the Naval Weapons Center China Lake just off the 395 on the way up to Mammoth. Of course, all those pale in comparison to the vast emptyness of the 1,300+ square mile Nevada Test Range. If it's good enough to test Nuclear armaments, it's probably good enough to handle the occasional wayward cannonball. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada_National_Security_Site
Sure, none of these are as convenient to Mythbuster's HQ - but I'm sure they can fit it in their travel budget - and if one of their experiments went wayward and actually killed someone, I'm sure it'd be the end of the show.
This isn't the first time one of their tests has accidentally damaged property, there was an explosion a year ago in a lake bed that was stronger than expected that ended up blowing windows in a nearby town.
Actually the biggest surprise were the walls of the house shown (mostly the exterior wall): Is this a brick and mortar house/wall? Or is this wood/insulation mostly?
Edit: In fullscreen that looks to be a wall made of concrete, with a network of iron/steel to support it? Even if it's a ~thin~ wall by some standards, this is a lot stronger than I initially guessed.
(It appears you may have used the 12 inch circumference from your softball regulations as the radius of the ball)
Are you referring to the hosts or the general public that the hosts enjoy educating?
I dont have any firm numbers but i'm pretty sure that more space debris and meteorites fall from space every year than mishaps from Mythbusters.
* I've no idea if there have been any more serious accidents, but this seems to have been the first since the news story didnt mention precedent.
A direct comparison may be misleading b/c since you could model meteorite impacts with a probability distribution over latitude/longitude, whereas Mythbusters presumably uses the same testing site(s). Also note that the Google answer's 3 cases of meteors causing injury or damaging property all lie in the US.
They do seem to take safety seriously, it is unfortunate that in this case that did not translate into choosing a more isolated location (which at least limits the consequences of a misfire to active participants).
2) i rather suspect that they were pointing it exactly where they were told to point it by the officials and experts, as has been the case with pretty much everything they do on that range.
it sucks that this happened, everyone's lucky that no one was hurt. but i largely suspect they weren't shooting from the hip about it. the firing range must've had officials to oversee it. their insurance company regularly oversees all stunts. and the crew of the show are straight up experienced professionals, regardless of how it comes off on tv.
your point seems to be moot as this military explosives test ground and firing range happens to be located pretty much in the back yard of these homes.
>when i'm sure more dangerous things are regularly tested there.
either dumb luck or much better trained and/or smarter professionals doing the testing. (btw, i lived close to 2 military shooting ranges [ one for guns like AK-47 and another is the tank range ] and there is a world of difference between how military and civilians handle the weapons, i mean skill-wise, though even military do have mishaps )
I'm stunned at the level of apology going on here ("it sucks that this happened [...] but" -- seriously?). I like the show too, but people: they put a deadly projectile through someone's house. That's just not acceptable under any circumstances, no matter how many rules were followed nor precautions taken.
Someone screwed up badly here. That stunt should never have happened where it did. Does anyone seriously disagree?
yep, they really should have picked a better location, like a military firing range ....
"You seriously disagree?"
Yes, stop asking.
Yes, a cannonball going through some houses should not happen. No, that does not automatically mean that somebody "screwed up badly".
In the context of filming a television program, that seems like a big mistake.
The failure in the stunt was that the cannon fired at an unexpected angle and the ball did not embed in the berm as they expected. If they had chosen a location where a ball fired at maximum velocity and at the worst case angle could not hit a person, that failure would have any negative consequences. So (I think) it was reckless to try to manage the trajectories at a less safe location.
Screwing up doesn't mean you did it on purpose, but that you failed in your responsibilities. Like here.
Shit happens, and real life has a metric shitton of fuzz factors. The idea that for every accident or mishap there must be somebody responsible is outdated and just plain wrong.
I guess, then, by your logic, if no-one was responsible, there will be no compensation, right? After all, not their fault that a cannonball just happened to rip through someone's house. What an outdated idea, indeed.
(Though of course, in reality, the production company / insurer will probably pay for all damage and some compensation while trying to make the homeowner sign a document stating that they accept no responsibility or liability and that it's a goodwill gesture).
The fact that an accident occurred is not sufficient evidence that there was a high probability of an accident occurring. I'd even go so far as to state that the Mythbusters' safety record over the history of their show, combined with the inherent danger of some of the experiments they've conducted, is sufficient evidence to say exactly the opposite.
On top of this, even given the incident with the cannonball, there was not a "high probability" of a person being hurt. The population density per cubic meter of your average suburb just isn't that high. You could likely fire a hundred cannonballs randomly into a suburb without injuring a single person.
As I mentioned in another post on this page, this isn't the first time that stuff happening on this range has had an effect on the town that surrounds it. This is just the first one to have potentially serious consequences [that has involved the Mythbusters].
Shit happens. Life is not safe. Get used to it.
This was a cannonball stunt. Surely that changes the calculus about "worthwhile" risk a little, no?
(And in any case, even looking objectively at the risk of mishaps of the few thousand Mythbusters vs. uncounted millions of airplane flights, I know which party I'd trust to do better risk analysis.)
I have never been accused of being too reckless, however. Developers I've worked with would be happy to relate what a pain in the ass I was about thorough testing and documentation of behavior and risks.
The owners will be compensated, and I'm sure there will be measures taken to avoid future incidents of this sort, but your blanket and aggressive condemnation of the actions of the crew are grossly out of touch with reality. Nothing short of absolute safety would satisfy you, and that is simply not possible in real life.
Honestly, you're the one with the half baked, off-the-cuff remark that needs defending. How do you square "shit happens" with "measure will be taken to avoid future incidents of this sort". The latter sounds a lot like you are backpedaling to me.
It happened on a military firing range, in the presence of experts. Demanding more is requiring of them essentially perfect foresight. This is equivalent to requiring them to guarantee accidents are impossible.
I do disagree that it "should never have happened where it did", because I reject the notion that causality can be reversed like that. They performed the experiment in a reasonable location for what they knew at the time.
I do think the range screwed up the most, I'm sure they knew the maximum range of the cannon and took steps to limit the possible trajectories of the cannon. But when I say they were reckless, I'm looking at what actually happened, not at their intent.
I said intent because noodle listed all the things they did do to be safe and ignored the part of my comment where I point out that they (apparently) did not choose a particularly isolated location (if the range is near where Google maps shows Camp Parks, it is a few thousand feet from neighborhoods).
Where would you have suggested they fire the cannon, and why do you feel your choice is better than the choice of 3 layers of experts, especially considering this is about the 10th cannon-based episode they've done at this location?
Is someone at fault? Maybe. They likely won't use this range anymore. But its really hard to look at what they've done and say it was reckless when its what they've been doing for years with layers of experts greenlighting things every step of the way without any dangerous problems.
As far as the location, I don't think I have to think I am smarter than the experts in order to take the position that they shouldn't be hitting houses with cannonballs. It may not end up being a consensus in a world where people want to shoot cannons, but it is a defensible position.
When I consider that they have repeatedly shot the cannon at this location, I end up thinking that 1/10 is still a pretty high rate of hitting houses.
I'm just pointing out that its easy to point fingers and say that something was stupid idea after the fact, even with all the experts in the world working on something. Before it went wrong, I'm sure they were certain they were being as safe as they could be.
I guess we probably don't need to keep going back and forth on it though.
I realise this is an unfortunate accident and people may ask hard or even unfair questions about how prepared the crew were, but blaming the people minding their own business in their home for "building a house in the firing line of a military shooting range" is just ridiculous.
I have to admit, the only reason I think this is because of seeing an episode of that awful house makeover show. I believe the walls they used there were all wood/something similar.
1: Extreme makeover, house edition
Where are you from and what are homes built with there?
Wooden constructions are definitely very rare and more a fashion thing than anything else – definitely not a default choice.
† With those bricks: http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Datei:Lochziegel.j...
I assume we don't go for the easier-to-rebuild because we don't have any strong types of nature force affecting us. There's no earthquakes, tropical storms, tornados etc here. Our summers are "cool" (going over 30C is pretty rare), our winters are "warm" (5 cm snow already feels like a lot to me). In short, we have a pretty moderate climate.
Edit: Pretty much the same as ugh said in the other comment.
Do you have a lot of available forests? We have millions of acres of timber available and that makes framing houses with wood much cheaper. Especially when you consider how much airspace/insulation modern houses have.
The decorative/weatherproof finish outside of the plywood is increasingly made with concrete products, which can be made to look like stucco, brick, or even wooden planks or shingles.
The advantages of this sort of construction are that it's inexpensive (wood, after all, grows on trees, which we have plenty of around here), fast (particularly when using nail guns), and doesn't require a great deal of experience or training at the laborer level. It also has good seismic performance and is easy to remodel.
The downsides are that the structure is vulnerable to fire, water, insects, and stray cannonballs.
But in most cases the short lifespan is a good fit for the rapidly changing geography and demographics we have in North America.
Most (non-mobile) homes in the US & Canada are either brick veneer over wooden frame, or double-brick construction where the bricks bear the structural weight to the foundation.
California is VERY earthquake prone. The state is a giant fault zone. Bricks and stones make bad building materials in that region because they fall on people and kill them in an earthquake.
I live in the Southeast US where earthquakes basically do not happen. Houses are often at least partially built with bricks here (especially older homes). My 80 year old home is built out of bricks on a dirt foundation with plaster on the interior walls.
Newer houses here are often built with pine frames, poured concrete basements and various types of siding (including brick).
Picture of stucco: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stucco_wall.jpg
Picture of typical California suburban home:
http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-11376808/stock-photo-shot-of... (The stone is non-structural)
Picture of typical Southeastern US home (circa 1950):
http://hwandn.com/respics/IMG_0713_1.jpg (Bricks are structural)
Picuture of 1930's Southeastern US home (not mine):
http://www.redfin.com/homes-for-sale#!lat=33.78267975865834&... Brick, and not updated, brick is structural.
They take it for granted, but for someone used to houses being built of bricks and mortar and concrete, it's odd.
I really don't know how they're called, but they're vastly different. Someone with at least passable knowledge of building can clarify :)
Most homes are built on top of cinderblock basements, but some areas have a simple slab or a crawl space depending on ground water table height.
It has a lot of advantages over all brick construction. The spaces between the studs make running piping and electrical trivial. Sheetrock is easy to repair and install compared to plaster. The wooden frame is renewable.
A lot of commercial work is done in a similar fashion but with aluminum studs instead of wood, I think it is a fire safety thing.
I also believe wooden frame homes are safer in earthquakes, but truthfully the reason for their use is low cost.
Block foundations have been replaced in new construction with poured concrete in general (in the midwest, at least). The solid walls are less prone to settling, cracking, and most importantly leaking.
> A lot of commercial work is done in a similar fashion but with aluminum studs instead of wood
Steel, actually. Fire safety is one aspect but it also saves weight and can be lower-cost.
If I recall correctly, they're much safer than unreinforced (no rebar) masonry but not as good as bricks with rebar.
I have no idea of building, but I can concur that running cabling and piping through our style of building is a lot more difficult (I've networked some rooms a few times).
I should look up the typical Uruguayan house building style, but I know it involves a lot of Portland cement (for mortar and pillars), bricks, rebars, and stuff. No plywood or plaster, usually. Internal walls are, as a result, A LOT more solid than the usual US walls, and I'd like one of those "home improvement" teams to try tackling a redesign of one of our houses !!!
Also how amazing is it that the canonball burst through a front door and then went UP the stairs and out the back through the wall on the second floor?! Seriously. I didn't know canon balls would bounce/ react in that way... Kinda reminds me why I love Mythbusters...
They did fire this in a "big military shooting range". The problem is that it didn't stay confined to the range.
Actually I'd say the range is at least partly responsible for this. They shouldn't have allowed a cannon to be fired that had the energy to go beyond the confines of the range.
If they indeed were several kilometers from anyone else, then they have miscalculated the ballistic trajectores so gravely that it's completely mindboggling to think of how these guys were allowed to play with explosives in the first place.
While I do like some of the MB Episodes, I'm not a fan of blowing up things with oversized explosions in general. Please note that explosives are dangerous. Leave it to professional use. Playing with fire will eventually get you burnt.
Accidents do happen, no one is infallible, but one should really go to the utmost of efforts when it comes to blowing stuff up or launching heavy projectiles into the air at great speed. At least if accidents happen because explosives were used for something useful, say, construction, then one could at least think that the damage or bodily harm was for a greater good, even though that is by all means a meagre comfort. However, when these sort of things happen for the entertainment (and the profits of the show, mind you!) of others, then something is really really wrong.
If your range is situated so close to populated areas that you can fire a projectile from a makeshift cannon out of the bounds of the range, then get a bigger range. Or a smaller gun. I have no idea how big their range is. However, it was apparently not big enough.
I don't know if the ball hit the hill or the sky or a bird on the way or anything else that might have happened. I weren't there. I also obviously understand that they didn't plan for the ball to go though those houses. However intentions does not change facts. Neither do regulations nor safety procedures, nor requirements.
If you cause an accident then you havent gone to the utmost of efforts in preventing it. The utmost of efforts might also include not doing it at all.
> The utmost of efforts might also include not doing it at all.
So, I should never drive again lest I have a car accident? I understand that you're saying that the reward for this is zero so they shouldn't take any risks at all. But you're extrapolating the risk from a sample size of one and exaggerating it.
I'm sure you wouldn't blame someone for driving to the movies, even if that caused a car accident. And one could just as easily said that they should've stayed home because the drive was unnecessary and cars are, in fact, dangerous.
The article only mentions it went 'over' the foothills. It presumably could have bounced off, but that doesn't seem to be corroborated.
At the end of the day, whatever precautions were in place were clearly not sufficient. You don't shoot cannonballs into residential neighborhoods and go "oops".
They changed the date in the URL.
For all any of you know, there was a bad mix of powder. Or a mislabeled measuring cup. Or a rusty screw that broke loose at the exact wrong moment and allowed an unexpected pivot in the cannon. Those are nonsense reasons of course - we simply don't know yet what actually went wrong at the firing range.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be held accountable for the outcome of their actions or anything. Of course they should. And they should be expected to learn something from this incident that will prevent something like this from happening again. But there's absolutely no point in crucifying them over this.
_I certainly hope that their celebrity status won't impede justice in this case._
"Justice" in this case would be paying for the damage they caused. I'd be highly surprised if that doesn't happen. I mean, surely they have insurance to cover things like this???