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I've been quiet due to (a) recovering from delivering the hopefully-final draft of "Dark State" (the first book in the "Empire Games" trilogy, due from Tor next April), (b) visiting relatives, (c) having a nasty head-cold, and (d) having the page proofs of "The Annihilation Score" (July's Laundry Files novel) land on my desk. Normal service will, as they say, resume as soon as possible.

My current plan is to tackle the aforementioned page proofs, work on the next book, then head for Dysprosium, the British eastercon, over the Easter bank holiday weekend. And before I go I really ought to fit in time to catch up with the last Jim Butcher book that I haven't read yet, because he's one of the two guests of honour at Dysprosium and I'm on program to interview him. (If you've been reading the Laundry Files you might have noticed a tip of the hat in his general direction.)

Finally, here is an extremely dangerous toy (probably illegal in all sane jurisdictions).



Certainly more fun looking than the rather weedy flame thrower we had when I was young.

I suspect that ownership, and use on private property, is fine. There are sensible uses for flame throwers, just as there are for backpack sprayers full of noxious chemicals and for axes. Just don't wander round in public with one with no good reason.

(IANAL - yeah, don't see that much anymore)


"Finally, here is an extremely dangerous toy (probably illegal in all sane jurisdictions)"

". . . and the Gas Board said, 'this is nothing to do with us'".

Seriously like, the US army stopped using flamethrowers in the late 70s, having decided that there were less stupid ways to "kill people and break their stuff".

And I am of course reminded of the line "look at those people over there: I sure wish I could set them on fire" - though I cannot for the life of me remember which stand-up comic said it.


EASY AND FUN Simple to use, endless possibilities for entertainment and utility. Start your bonfire from across the yard, or kill the weeds between your cracks in style.

Kill the weeds!?!?


"I suspect that ownership, and use on private property, is fine."

Unless you're of a Muslim persuasion or the anti-terrorist squad have some other reason to suspect you, in which case it's possession of material of use to terrorists.

"IANAL - yeah, don't see that much anymore"

Presumably because these days everyone knows lawyers would never give out free advice.


The Russian army, of course, still has a hard-on for flame throwers, although the 21st century variety is a terrifying upgrade over the old backpack-portable (or even tank-mounted) kind.


Aw, sweet! They promise elegance along with power!

But I fear you're right about my jurisdiction's view on personal ownership of a flamethrower... European levels of population density would result in about 100 calls to the police if I let this thing off in my living room.

And that would be before ("If", says the hopeful side of me) the city sends the fire department.


That was my thought. Certainly deal with the couch grass in the rockery.


About that stupid cold...If you got the same one that was going around here about a month ago, it'll evolve into an annoyingly persistent dry cough that lasts for weeks and gives you laryngitis. The best solution we found for the cough is to fill most of a liter bottle with water, top it off with about a cup of orange juice, and drink the whole damn thing. Yes, you'll pee quite a lot, and you'll also go through a lot of orange juice. It's the mildly acidic solution that seems to do the trick.

Hopefully someone came up with something better. Hot tea and cough drops didn't really work at all. And even more hopefully, you've got something different that will clear up faster.


Not to mention the man-portable thermobarics such as RPO-A / RPO-Z (frankly, rather scary).

Of course, the UK and US have steered clear of those nasty, cruel, fuel-air and thermobaric weapons. No, we use "metal augmented", "novel explosive", or "enhanced blast" warheads...


Hot whiskey and plenty of it.

You'll still have a cold, but you'll be too drunk to care.


Of course, the UK and US have steered clear of those nasty, cruel, fuel-air and thermobaric weapons.

Not entirely true: see Daisy Cutters and MOABs.


It's only a war crime if the other side does it.


Kill the weeds!?!?

Once upon a time, it was enough to just kick sand in their faces.


Trouble is you'd never have it handy when the politicians or Jehovah's Witnesses called, it'd be tucked away somewhere or out of fuel, and that would defeat the whole object of owning it.


Kill the weeds!?!?

It is common way to control weeds. Of course you want to avoid it in dry weather. :)


Hmm, Wikipedia alleges that the Firearms Act 1968 bans them. On the other hand, I don't see anywhere in the text of that act anything preventing them ... oh wait: "any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing "

So it depends on which fuel you use? Propane or butane fine, napalm not?

And there are plenty of small flame throwers used as weed burners in gardens around the country.


Nah, it works best in dry weather! You can de-weed thousands of hectares for mere pennies.


Well, I'd note that the US bombs aren't officially for anti-personnel use, but for clearing vegetation and psychological effect.


I have a design in my head for a rapid-fire (3000 rounds per minute) large-calibre (30mm is easily achievable) high-velocity (600 m/s plus) machine gun which is not a firearm under the 1968 Act. Hmmm...


The .50 BMG machine-gun round is not for antipersonnel use, it is an anti-materiel round for attacking light armoured vehicles, fortifications etc. according to the Geneva Conventions. It just goes through any people standing in the way quite nicely when it's fired at light armour or fortifications.

Both the US and the UK have a class of weaponry prohibited to civilians, "Destructive Devices", anything that explodes such as cannonshells, grenades, pipe bombs and the like. Solid shot fired from cannons do not count as destructive devices hence the small but enthusiastic groups who collect and operate larger-bore weapons like muzzle-loading and breechloading cannons. Fireworks are a special case as they're not intended to destroy anything when they are set off unlike, say, artillery shells.


Of course if your intent was only 100s....

Way back when I was in my teens one of the idiot neighborhood kids decides to send a sparkler up a kite line. Most of the neighborhood was still empty lots. August. Very dry. We almost lost the fire. (We being all the neighbors who saw it and ran over.) As it was it only burned about 1 to 1 1/2 acre. Luckily it was mowed and only about 8" to 12" of old pasture grass. It burned fast but in an an expanding circle so we could beat it out. Two sides were streets which helped. Another 100 or so feet in one direction and it would have been a very major event.

I suspect the kite flyer had trouble sitting for a bit.


I did consider making a replica Greek fire engine a few years ago, but reckoned that it would probably fall under various regulations regarding offensive weapons and so I'd open myself up to prosecution.


The late and lamented George Carlin it was who had this to say about flamethrowers.


If you want some seriously anti-social toys try this:

Not sure how legit it is. The recoil looks real and it can certainly be done.


Buy you a drink for the lurgi @ Dysprosium?


I made some respectable flame throwers in the long-gone days of my nerdy early adolescence. Probably ill-advised, but fun. The ants didn't like it.

However, veering away from such devices, CRISPR is currently much in the news. As is a derivative technique called "mutagenic chain reaction."

I'd like to see some discussion of where this stuff could go. Obviously in another thread.


The answer to where CRISPR could go is, obviously, "everywhere". There is no point in requesting it in another thread, as it will eventaully take over all threads.


In the seventies, young folk would sometimes sneak pocket cans of WD-40 (a spray lube) into concerts, lights out was saluted by jets of flame as they sprayed across lighter flames. A flamethrower, on the cheap.


Hairspray was good and required less explanation if found in a purse.

Hairspray was good and required less explanation if found in a purse.

Hence the rise of the man-bag?


I'll be there too; default alignments between program items I want to go to are barwards and games room.


We'll be there too. Turns out we are printing the badges after all, though for once they're not going to be our usual folded (to make them two-sided) laminated style.

Yeah, I know what we're doing this evening.


Apparently legal in most of the US. :)


And on another totally off-topic subject:

It's "Accelerando" territory again, maybe? What are people's thoughts on this one? If Wozniack, Musk, Hawking, Gates are all bothered by this, are they correct?


I was at an AI meeting with a number of experts in the field. When the question was posed: "Do you think Humanity will seriously regret creating AI" the panel was evenly split. Anyway, it's not a matter of "if" but "when". More and more money is being pumped into the field because after decades it is finally paying off.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 20, 2015 11:19 AM.

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