Kate Baker

They Blew Up My Little Pony, Mommy!

You know you are losing the imaginary war when a toy pony brings law enforcement to their knees.

The bomb squad sent a robot to investigate the toy pony.

Robot: Dude, are you a bomb?

Pony: No, my forgetful human left me here when the bell rang. She even left the brush she uses to comb my glittery tail. See, glitter. I look fabulous! She’s coming back, right?

Robot: Sucks to be you, man.

Pony: Why is that?

Robot: My “all clear” sensor was sent in for repair yesterday.


Some little girl is weeping now in Orlando. Can’t you hear her pitiful cries?

52 replies on “They Blew Up My Little Pony, Mommy!”

I’m pretty sure that Bomb Squads just like blowing up shit. Have you noticed how they never declare anything “non-suspicious” until after they blow it up?

And I’m with Gilmoure — $350?! WTF?

Sure in retrospect it looks like police are overeacting…

but if it HAD been a bomb would the police response have seemed silly to you?

It not like hiding IEDs in kids toys is something which has never happened before.

I’m still unclear on one thing: why on earth did anyone think it was a bomb? It’s pretty obviously a toy; it doesn’t sound like it has batteries or wires, so why would A) anyone call it in, and B) the PD decide the best course of action was ka-blouey?

Nathan@5: “I’m pretty sure that Bomb Squads just like blowing up shit.”

The younger brother of a former co-worker was ordered to spend a day with the county bomb squad after he blew a row of lockers off the wall at his high school with a home-made firecracker. School adminstrators thought he’d be scared straight by seeing how these brave officers put their lives on the line to keep us safe; in reality they gave him some pointers on how to get better yield from his DIY munitions.

Also, since Central Ohio wasn’t exactly a hotbed of terrorist activity in the middle 1970s, the bomb squad didn’t have a lot to do most days so they passed the time by throwing firecrackers under each others’ chairs.

There’s a small part of me that wonders how much of the BOOM was from the placed charge, and how much from the explosives in the pony. But it’s a very small part. Doesn’t seem to have been the most effective long-term solution to the problem of potentially dangerous ponys.

MichaelC @7

Thanks for the link. Did you notice that 55% of people who buy one $350 splodey-pony spring for a second one? I would have questioned that decision, but clearly it’s a good idea to keep a spare on hand.

This weekend the TSA yanked me out of the line for possession of a small jar of raspberry jam, then forced me to check my suitcase at a cost of $20. When I retrieved my suitcase and deadly jam, I discovered that it had been searched again and my (cotton, ordinary) underwear had been stolen.

When I went to Target to replace them, I found that TSA had neglected to notice my straight edge (folding razor, genuinely lethal and resembling a box cutter) which I had forgotten was in my purse and had taken aboard the plane.

In short, security in the USA has absolutely nothing to do with actual security.

Rachel, they wouldn’t have known that your underwear was not nitro-cotton without blowing it up.

Pretty soon we are going to have cute robots that can be used as homing bombers. Train your Sparkly Dance Unicorn ® to follow your voice, image or smell. When he finds you and touches you with his magic horn watch his eyes light up with joy at meeting you! Rumours that the sparkles had been specially designed for stealth capering will be denied.

I can imagine what it looked like, exploding. puffs of burning stuffing flying everywhere.

Reminds me of years and years ago, we held a ‘Barney Hunt’ with a 3 foot tall stuffed Barney. It was the low speed balls from the black powder muskets that did the most damage, and set it afire. Ammunition from newer guns just passed through the toy.

And bomb squads do prefer to blow stuff up. Most of them are former military EOD types, (I used to be married to one of those) and.. if you blow it up, you’re damn sure it’s safe.

I just had to laugh when one of the guys supposedly yelled Fire in the hole. While blowing up a $350 pony. You just can’t make this stuff up. From the picture, it does look suspicious.

Ker Blooey! Hehe.
LOL@ #22’s wifes comment.
Seriously though, how big of a bomb would fit in that thing?
If you are going to attack something with a bomb would the middle of a cul-de-sac in Florida really be your first choice of targets?
Bomb squads have to err on the side of caution. But still.
Now if it was in front of the church of the moron that wants to burn Qurans I could see blowing it up.
Department of Homeland Security equals a false sense of security.


“My wife’s comment was, “That’ll teach you to put your toys away!””

When I was a kid that lesson would have exploded my head. I was incredibly OCD with my toys and I’m not sure I could have handled the destruction.

On the other hand, if you leave your toys sometimes the police come and set off explosives. AWESOME! [drool]

I’m with TW @6.

It is easy as pie to ridicule something like this. However, imagine what your posts would be like if the police had not taken this seriously, but it had been a real bomb:

“Don’t these morons know that anything abandoned with wires and stuff should be investigated?”

“Don’t these fools realize that an elementary school neighborhood is just the sort of place that real terrorists would love to hit?”

The only appropriate approach for law enforcement to take in a situation like this is a conservative one. That will result in some false positives (a non-threat being identified incorrectly as a threat). However, that is a great deal better than a false negative (a true threat being identified incorrectly as a non-threat).

Just because something is easy to ridicule does not mean we should go for it.

@Rachel#16: You chose to bring something that the TSA guidelines state you must not bring; you shouldn’t be surprised that the TSA would take issue with that choice.

A lot of nasty chemicals can be made to look like jam. As far as your razor being missed: Welcome to the land of false negatives, probably the biggest problem involving TSA luggage screening. When the threat involved is relatively rare, detecting a real threat in a pile of distraction (everyone else’s luggage) becomes a real challenge, as anyone with a background in human factors psychology could tell you.

What gives me the right to an opinion here? Things I’ve picked up here and there.

“What gives me the right to an opinion here?”

You opinion is not even consistent with your paper that you’re advertising.

“However, that is a great deal better than a false negative.”

You are assuming that the cost of false positives is low and the cost of false negatives is high, a fact which is not in evidence.

bomb squad people are not the most intelligent people on the planet. That is why they have the job they have. No thinking required just blow stuff up, any uneducated fool can do that.

“However, imagine what your posts would be like if the police had not taken this seriously, but it had been a real bomb…”

The problem, Dr Rivera, is that you can always use that argument. You can use it to support things like torture (“What if that person HAD been bosom buddies with Bin Laden and HAD known about a nuke in LA??”). I think you have to evaluate the risk of action vs inaction and, in this case, action was fine. After all, blowing up this pony didn’t cost that much probably and if it was just a toy nothing truly valuable was being destroyed. Inaction would have been fine too… but the cost of inaction if the threat was real would be high. So they did fine. But blowing up a glittery pony is still FUNNY.

PS: ON the TSA – most of what they do is reactive security theater. NOW they search shows. NOW they worry about underwear bombs. But they aren’t doing anything to anticipate what a terrorist might do knowing that we’re screening for those things and they aren’t picking up things like straight razors – without the latter, the former is just show.

PPS: Um… terrorists like to target elementary schools? Really? I’m somewhat doubtful that they’ll start leaving bombs near random Florida schools vs, say, in a place like Times Square.

@29 Huey: Your “scary brown people” comment is simply dismissive and besides the point. Terrorist violence is real.

I flew to attend a conference in New Orleans just an hour or two before the 2006 translatlantic aircraft plot was discovered; on the return trip, I had to throw out all the toiletries I’d brought from home, but I understood that this was the small price one had to pay for a reasonable amount of security. Of course, this incident was the origin of the restriction on certain liquid or semi-liquid materials from being brought aboard in carry-on luggage; containers of what looks like jam may actually carry explosive materials.

Last Mayday evening, my wife and I were strolling about the neighborhood when we noticed a great police presence a few blocks away, in Times Square. Of course, this was the Times Square car bombing attempt, which, although clumsy, was intended to be lethal.

Neither of these incidents was imaginary. Prudence in security is not simple racism. There are people who wish to murder and cause mayhem in the name of their political or religious cause (and that includes certain varieties of Christianity, and many a White American). Straightforward measures to protect our security are justified.

@30 Matthew Ernest: My bad for not being clear. When I said I have picked up some things “here,” referencing the paper, I was being too subtle in indicating the two locations on the first page: (1) a conference on anti-terrorism at NATO, and (2) the human factors psychology laboratory at the University of Central Florida. An acquaintance with the literature reveals that the terrorist threat is quite real. Behind-the-scenes discussions at conferences and so forth reveal that the terrorism risk is quite disturbingly real.

As far as what you have to say about the relative cost of false positives versus false negatives, let’s take as the false positive the incident under discussion: the pony non-bomb. This cost the time of a number of professionals, and the toy.

Now imagine the false negative situation I mentioned above, where there was no intervention, but the pony really was a bomb. The cost of the false negative could have been the lives of several people (including, perhaps, children from the nearby school).

These are the hypotheticals that law enforcement has to deal with every day, somewhere in the United States. It deserves more serious consideration than the fashionably snarky humor that I’ve read here today.

@32RickG: The idea that one has to balance the costs of action versus inaction is precisely my point. The issue of violation of civil liberties to which you allude was not relevant to either the pony non-bomb nor Ms. Brown’s jam.

And, incidentally, a certain class of terrorists would love to bomb schoolchildren. The fact that they have not yet done so here (aside from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, where a kindergarten was collateral damage) is a testimony to the fact that schools are actually harder targets to approach these days than many other places. However, it would be foolish to overlook the threat to schools. Keep in mind that Timothy McVeigh, the man convicted of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, specifically chose his target because he “decided that his message would be better received if many people were killed in the bombing.”

The terrorist threat is to hit as many people as possible. Case in point: in the summer of 1997, I was thrown off my subway (the R train in Brooklyn) with all the other passengers during the morning rush hour, and taken on a long detour by bus to avoid a particular station. This was because of the discovery of a plot to detonate enhanced pipe bombs in a Brooklyn subway station, a major transit nexus. Had the plot worked, a lot of morning commuters–including schoolchildren, and possibly including myself–would have been killed or seriously injured.

This incident had a great effect on security in New York City, four years before the attacks of 9/11. It was because of measures put in place subsequently that you have not seen many more bombing incidents in the subways in NYC.

“As far as what you have to say about the relative cost of false positives versus false negatives, let’s take as the false positive the incident under discussion: the pony non-bomb. This cost the time of a number of professionals, and the toy.”

You’re forgetting the multiplication factor of the hundreds of false positives per day through out the country. Every flyer that has to spend extra time in secondary screening due to a false positive is cost, especially the ones who end up missing their flights. Heck, just the fact that we have to wait in line to get through airport security is a running deficit of false positive costs.

I bet the city gets sued for damages. $350 is a pretty expensive toy.

I put the following review of the toy on Amazon. We’ll see if they let it go through.

***** It Blows Up Real Good

Apparently, to the Orlando Police Department, this toy looks like a bomb. They blew one up that a kid had left outside a school.

Regarding my ratings: 5 for fun; the bomb squad had fun blowing it up. 5 for educational value; it teaches kids that adults are nuts. 5 for durability; it took a lot of explosives to blow it up.

Here’s the problem with sending My Little Pony to the great hereafter in pieces- the objective of terrorism is to keep the target flustered and wasting time and effort to assuage his terror.
If you (as a society) are totally apathetic to whether there’s a bomb in Teddy Ruxpin or whatever, the terrorists will eventually stop when they notice you don’t really care.
Giving a damn is just giving potential terrorists what they want.

If society is so scared of terrorists that they’re blowing up abandoned children’s toys and confiscating jam, I’d say the War on Terror is over – and the terrorists won.

I notice that there was also a green plastic playground frog nearby. And a garbage can!!! These should also have been blown up as they could conceal bombs. And, there were nearby buildings!!! Buildings can hide bombs–blow ’em up.
The problem with blowing up everything that looks like it could hide a bomb is that everything can hide a bomb. Fortunately, almost nothing really does hide a bomb.
–Now, if it had been a winged unicorn kitten, that would be an entirely different kettle of fish.

@41, etc…

However, this particular toy *did* have wires and a battery visible. And it’s rather large, i.e. not the typical “Oh some kid forgot his toy” kind of toy. So, while the odds were very much against it being any real threat, it wasn’t as out of bounds as, say, an abandoned Barbie.

The problem is that we don’t have a way to casually investigate these threats. Yeah, probably everyone knew the odds were tiny that this was really a bomb… but once you say “well, we should probably check it out just to be safe” you have to assume it *might* be a bomb… and that means the full on bomb squad thing. You can’t really say “Hey, Jim, we think that might be a bomb… go check it out.”

Dr Rivera – A subway station in NYC is still quite different from a random school in FLA. The problem is that we DO need some way to draw the line that doesn’t have us so paranoid that we sanction living in a authoritarian security state. The viewpoint that terrorists would love to bomb schools is… um… a bit paranoid. After all, if they wanted to bomb schools or malls, they could. It’s really not so hard to get close to either that they couldn’t have done so many times by now. The issue is that bombing a random school doesn’t make the political point that bombing the World Trade Towers or the Federal building in OK City does. Those are symbols of US authority. Bombing a school just makes a terrorist look (even more) like a pathetic monster since you can’t say “I struck at a symbol of US oppression.”

Did anyone notice that the bomb squad guy’s hands were uncovered when he set up the explosives?

If they were really concerned it was an actual threat, he would have been in full gear.

I reiterate that some little kid is crying.

>>Did anyone notice that the bomb squad guy’s hands were uncovered when he set up the explosives?

If they were really concerned it was an actual threat, he would have been in full gear. <<

Dont know much about EOD, do you…

Kate and anybody else wondering about the gloves thing, This article on EOD occasioned by Hurt Locker winning the Oscar talks about the suit and mentions that it does include gloves, but mostly no one wears them. Basically they wouldn’t do all that much to save your hands if something goes wrong so wearing them isn’t really worth the lost sensitivity.

Comments are closed.

Exit mobile version