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December 9, 2006 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Fancy high-tech crowd control beams? Nah. Silly String is what our troops really need.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (20 comments total)

 
This has been appearing all over the net the last couple of days, but I know it came out at least a year ago. I've also read commentary by experienced and verified SOF, and conventional troops that silly string was investigated and rejected as a tool. What's the deal? Is some woman just snagging some publicity or has this technique been reevaluated and now being used?
posted by Science! at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2006


Course it was rejected , you couldn't pay $500 for a can of it, while a can of MineRator 2000 , approved by Army and studied by a barrel of engineers (who complained they were just changing the labels, but hey wanna work ? hush slave or I'll go india!) and after a serious of rigorous tests in Hawaii, Hotel PussyLoah.

I mean the russians did use stencils during their space boom age ? Did it work ? Yes. It the US superpencil better ? Yes, but they both worked long enough to satisfy demand, the first costing $0.1 the second $100
posted by elpapacito at 12:22 PM on December 9, 2006


Wait are you bitching about the space pen? You do know that those pens were developed by a private company using no governments funds and then sold to NASA at a reasonable price when they were found to be useful.
posted by Science! at 12:25 PM on December 9, 2006


I don't exactly get why people think this is so 'dumb', I mean I presume soldiers would only be issued it if they had to go on missions where there was a high probability of tripping trip wires.

Would you rather have U.S. soldiers killed then use something with the word "silly" in it?
posted by delmoi at 12:26 PM on December 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


So what ? I said

It the US superpencil better ? Yes

Unarguably so and any extra cost is worth spending to prevent more expensive incidents, expecially when human welfare is involved. But that doesn't change the fact pencil did work for russian (or for anybody else) and with a little more attention it probably wasn't that big a risk multiplier.

Point being, safe is better, but less expensive and with more potential sources is good as well (at least for the taxpayer) as opposed to just not providing a decent tools because there still isn't a kids-idiots-edible version, used primarily to cover a protectionist or exploitation scheme.
posted by elpapacito at 12:38 PM on December 9, 2006


The old methods to detect trip wires — sweeping the space with a metal grappling hook or getting close enough for a visual inspection — just aren't as safe, Marines discovered.

Not to be a jerk, but I could have told them that.
posted by Alex404 at 12:55 PM on December 9, 2006


Not sure if this tread is about silly string or space pencils, but, ironic punchlines aside, weren't pencils found to be less than ideal in spacecraft since the fine particles of wood and graphite float around and get inhaled?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:09 PM on December 9, 2006


I don't know where I first saw it mentioned, but heard that Special Ops used silly string years ago, well before the Iraq war.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:09 PM on December 9, 2006


Thread Derail: Nathan Caswell, you have the name of the man that founded my family in Canada 7 generations ago, as well as my grandfather. Are we related?
posted by tehloki at 1:16 PM on December 9, 2006


Burhanistan: Yes, a pencil is not a good idea in a spacecraft.

But that old space pen vs. pencil metaphor has such a ring of perfect truthiness that it is best just to ignore that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:47 PM on December 9, 2006


I understand "Old School" Silly String was quite flammable. My guess would be that the propellant may have been butane. At least I remember seeing a pre-Internet home video on TV about 15 to 20 years ago in which a child sprays the stuff on a birthday cake full of burning candles to disasterous effect. Sadly, I never discovered this novel characteristic when I had some in the 1970's....
posted by Tube at 2:03 PM on December 9, 2006


Burhanistan : "weren't pencils found to be less than ideal in spacecraft since the fine particles of wood and graphite float around and get inhaled?"

That's the problem with an all-powerful, limitlessly-budgeted, techno-bureaucracies: "less than ideal" becomes "completely inadequate" in less than 5.39121 × 10-44 seconds (all-powerful, limitlessly-budgeted, techno-bureaucracies are also not subjected to normal space physics).
posted by nkyad at 2:08 PM on December 9, 2006


Silly String for bomb detection, Silly Putty for body armor.
posted by Anything at 2:26 PM on December 9, 2006


I thought that they used grease pencils(which are fun to unravel) instead of actual graphite pencils.
posted by captaincrouton at 2:33 PM on December 9, 2006


Silly Putty for body armor.

That's awesome.
posted by effwerd at 2:39 PM on December 9, 2006


We used to just hang some nylon or hessian from the front of our rifles, worked fine. I can't see the practicality of shooting silly string every ten paces, let alone the economics of it.
posted by furtive at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2006


If we had used silly string in the original Shock-And-Awe campaign, I think we would have been showered with flowers and candy.
posted by Balisong at 3:56 PM on December 9, 2006


"I can't see the practicality of shooting silly string every ten paces, let alone the economics of it."

You just answered your question right there, vs. putting string on the end of a rifle. Silly string goes further - say, 5 meters vs. less than 2?. It may be useful to be able to detect tripwires from cover.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:22 PM on December 9, 2006


let alone the economics of it.

Economics have never been a consideration.
posted by Balisong at 7:41 PM on December 9, 2006


Economics? Compared to most military ordinance, which is overpriced beyond any reasonable expectation, and manufactured on no-bid contracts by profiteering companies, silly string is dirt. fucking. cheap.
posted by tehloki at 7:43 PM on December 9, 2006


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