by Matt Inman of The Oatmeal
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[Librarian's Comment: So are Americans completely schizophrenic when they hate bombs/love bombs, or just a bunch of hypocrites? When is the FBI going to put Matt Inman on their bomb threat list, like they did this guy DJ? And when are they going to put Matt Inman in prison like they did Terry Nichols for making and possessing small bombs? Why is Matt Inman allowed to FLAUNT it (and make money off of it), while everyone else has to apologize for it?]
Excerpt from Why I Didn't Like Riding the Bus As A Kid, by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal
Explosions and Fire
AAbout mid-way through its route our bus passed along an explosives factory which produced dynamite for removing tree stumps and other small demolition projects. When this factory caught fire, they had to evacuate an area a few square miles around our route because the resulting explosion was supposed to be on par with a poor man's nuclear bomb -- one or two kilotons. When normal people are informed that there's a very real possibility that everything they've ever known and loved will be burned alive, their typical reaction is fear or sorrow. When they announced it to the kids on our bus, however, everyone began cheering and throwing their backpacks into the air. It seemed appropriate that these soulless little shitheads would erupt in celebration upon learning that our little Idahoan middle-earth was going to be engulfed in an all consuming fireball.
It's the end of times ... SO BRIGHT ... SO BEAUTIFUL
The end of days for Hayden Lake, Idaho
The fire was put out, however, and no one died. Years later, however, my brother and I took an interest in building explosives ourselves and we began building bombs using supplies purchased from a local sporting goods store. You had to be 18 to buy a gun, but you could buy smokeless black powder and waterproof cannon fuses without getting carded. We'd spend our summers creating new and exciting pipe bombs and detonating them in the woods. We weren't hurting anybody, we just liked creating craters where old trees used to be and producing massive fireballs and brain-trauma-inducing concussive shockwaves. Shrapnel was a problem too, but most of the time we'd just stand near a tree or crouch down a little to avoid the bits of metal that whizzed by our heads.
[Man] When it detonates you're gonna want to squat down a bit that way the shrapnel doesn't hit you. Don't squat down too far though or you won't be able to see the awesome explosion. Just squat a little -- yeah, just like that. PERFECT! **
** Author's note: These were the actual instructions we gave our friend for avoiding shrapnel wounds.
Shrapnel safety 101 with the Inman brothers
We eventually decided to teach one of our friends how to build bombs so he could also take part in our fun blow-shit-up-to-smithereens adventures. He'd come over and we'd all build bombs together and then go find an old shed or dead animal to splatter into unrecognizable bits. One particularly popular type of bomb we'd make is what we called a "crater maker," which involved filling an empty CO2 cartridge with black powder and sealing it with a fuse. One Christmas this friend of ours decided it would be a good idea to give these to his friends as gifts so they could take them home and have fun blowing things up like we did. He wrapped them in adorably festive Christmas wrapping paper and applied an equally adorable Christmas bow. He then handed them out to all his buddies as they boarded the school bus. He specifically instructed them NOT to open them until they got home from school, and I clearly remember one kid shaking the box next to his head and saying "What's inside? I can hear it rattling."
[Boy] Oh boy. I wonder what it is!
SHAKE SHAKE RATTLE RATTLE
[Boy 2] You'll just have to wait until Christmas! :):)
Explosives for Christmas
[Michael Moore] What do you grow here?
[James Nichols] Right now, there's tofu beans. Soybeans.
[Michael Moore] You're a tofu farmer.
[James Nichols] Yeah. Yeah, food farmer. I'm a food farmer. I grow food ...
for people to eat. No herbicides, no pesticides on that stuff.
[Michael Moore] Right. All natural.
[James Nichols] Right.
[Michael Moore] Yeah. Better.
[James Nichols] Certified organic.
[Michael Moore] Uh-huh. Healthier.
[James Nichols] Yeah.
[Michael Moore] Basically, yeah.
This is James Nichols, the brother of Terry Nichols.
James graduated from high school the same year I did ...
in the district next to mine.
On this farm in Decker, Michigan ...
McVeigh and the Nichols brothers made practice bombs, before Oklahoma City.
Terry and James were both arrested in connection to the bombing.
[Newscaster] U.S. attorneys formally linked the Nichols brothers of Michigan ...
with Oklahoma bomb suspect Timothy McVeigh.
Officials charged James, who was at the hearing, and Terry, who was not ...
with conspiring to make and possess small bombs.
[Michael Moore] Terry Nichols was convicted and received a life sentence.
Timothy McVeigh was executed.
But the feds didn't have the goods on James, so the charges were dropped.
[James Nichols] I'm just glad to be out and free, so I can get on with my life.
[Michael Moore] Did Timothy McVeigh ever stay here?
[James Nichols] Yes. Yes.
He stayed here several times. For the longest period, about three months or so. I don't know With the --
But he was a nice guy.
[Michael Moore] Decent guy.
[James Nichols] Oh, yeah.
[Michael Moore] So they didn't find anything on this farm?
[James Nichols] As to what, bomb-making material?
[Michael Moore] Any kind of explosives.
[James Nichols] Uh, yeah, I had blasting caps, dynamite blasting caps ...
dynamite fuse, black powder, you know, for muzzleloaders ...
And sure, diesel fuel, fertilizer ... but that is normal farm stuff.
That is in no way connected in any way whatsoever ...
to the Oklahoma City bombing, or bomb making.
Them people, law enforcement, if you want to call them that ...
were here, and they were shaking in their shoes.
They were physically shaking.
Scared to death.
[Michael Moore] Of?
[James Nichols] Because they thought this was going to be another Waco.
Because certain people...
namely my ex-wife and other people ...
said I'm a radical. I'm a wild man.
I got a gun under every arm, down every leg ...
in every shoe, every corner of the house.
You say anything to me, I'll shoot you.
If the people find out how they've been ripped off ...
and enslaved in this country by the government ...
by the powers-to-be...
they will revolt with anger ...
with merciless anger. There will be blood running in the streets.
When a government turns tyrannical, it is your duty to overthrow it.
[Michael Moore] Well, why not use Gandhi's way?
He didn't have any guns, and he beat the British empire.
[James Nichols] I'm not familiar with that.
[Brent] Oscoda has a bad habit of raising psychos.
A bad habit of it.
[Michael Moore] This is Brent, and this is his buddy DJ.
They live in Oscoda, Michigan, across the bay from the Nichols' farm.
Eric Harris, who would later go on to commit the massacre ...
at Columbine High School in Colorado, spent part of his childhood here.
[UNITED STATES AIR FORCE STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, WURTSMITH AF BASE
8TH AF; 40 AD; 379 BW]
Eric lived on the Air Force base in Oscoda ...
where his dad flew planes during the Gulf War.
Twenty percent of all the bombs dropped in that war ...
were from planes that took off from Oscoda.
I asked Brent if he remembered anything about Eric.
[Brent] I never knew him, but I knew of him. He left here before I got here.
I've only lived here about seven years, off and on.
[Michael Moore] He was about the same age as you, so you must have people in your class --
[Brent] Yeah. Like a friend of mine, he knows him. He was in class with him. He's lived up here all of his life.
[DJ] I went to school with him, and it shocked me to hear it on the news ...
you know that especially a kid from here would be doing that.
[Brent] I didn't last too long in this high school, up here. I got kicked out. I got expelled.
[Michael Moore] Why was that?
[Brent] I had a run-in with a kid one time...
and I pulled a weapon on him, I pulled a gun on him.
[Michael Moore] A gun?
[Michael Moore] What kind of gun?
[Brent] 9 mm. I could have made a mess out of that situation.
[Michael Moore] Could've been worse.
[Brent] It could have been a lot worse.
[Michael Moore] You could have been Eric Harris.
[Brent] I could have been.
[Michael Moore] So they kicked you out of school?
[Brent] Yeah, they kicked me out for 380 days ...
or 165 days, whatever a full school year is.
[DJ] A matter of fact, for the longest time that's what my plan was, was to move out to Colorado.
[Michael Moore] Colorado?
[DJ] Because I've got family out there.
And as a matter of fact, one of my uncles is a janitor for Columbine School.
[Michael Moore] Really?
[Michael Moore] Well, after Columbine, what was it like here in Oscoda?
[DJ] My name was second-highest on the bomb list ...
because of the reputation you get in this town.
[Michael Moore] Why? Why was your name ... You mean they did a list of --
[DJ] Of suspects.
[Michael Moore] Of students who potentially --
[Michael Moore] would call in a bomb threat after Columbine?
[Michael Moore] And you were number two on the list?
[DJ] I was pretty much like second or third on the list, yeah.
[Michael Moore] Why is that?
[DJ] Because the whole fact is, like I said, this town really gets people down.
[Michael Moore] Yeah, but why did they single you out?
[DJ] Because I was a troubled kid and --
[Michael Moore] Were you in trouble in school?
[DJ] Oh, yeah.
[Michael Moore] But why did they put you at number two on their list after Columbine ...
of the students that could be a threat?
[DJ] [Shrugs his shoulders]
[Michael Moore] There must -- come on, there must be a reason.
[DJ] Well, okay. The thing is, I have a thing, it's called the "Anarchist Cookbook."
It shows you how to make bombs and stuff like that in it.
If there's anything that went wrong, they are gonna come to me first.
And I don't need that.
[Michael Moore] Just 'cause you owned a copy of the book?
[DJ] Just because I own a copy --
[Michael Moore] You never made a bomb yourself?
I've made 'em.
It was nothing big. It wasn't even as big as a pipe bomb.
It was just... maybe like a little tennis-ball bomb, or something like that.
Out of the "Anarchist Cookbook," the latest thing I built...
I think, would have to be, I think I made it, like, about a good five-gallon drum of napalm.
You know, homemade napalm.
[Michael Moore] Kids knew that you were doing this?
[Michael Moore] So you were number two, then, on the list.
[Michael Moore] Who was number one?
[DJ] I don't know. They never told me that name, which kind of made me mad.
[Michael Moore] Because you didn't make it to number one?
[DJ] Because I didn't make it to number one. I know it's kind of silly ...
I guess it had been kind of like an ego thing there
knowing that I was number one at something in Oscoda ...
even if, you know, it was the bomb-threat list.
-- Bowling for Columbine, directed by Michael Moore
Nowadays when I see a school bus I don't think of homework, pencils, academia, or the children of today being responsible for the future of tomorrow. I think of fascism, rage, and the moral compass we all have which can bend completely backwards when packed into a sweaty, motorized box full of Nazis and overly-caffeinated, puberty-stricken howler monkeys.
A CARD GAME
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTO KITTENS AND EXPLOSIONS AND LASER BEAMS AND SOMETIMES GOATS
CREATED BY: ELAN LEE + THE OATMEAL + SHANE SMALL