Anachronist's Cookbook March 30, 2007 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I was wondering if Metafilter had a MacGuyver Rule.
posted by EatTheWeak to Etiquette/Policy at 5:33 PM (34 comments total)

Earlier today, I considered posting a question to the green about what ingredients went into medieval gunpowder. Then I got to thinking that this might not make for a kosher post. I'm only curious because I'm a nerd, but I don't know how much talk of bomb-making it takes nowadays to get a site on all the wrong lists.

I checked the FAQ and the guidelines, but didn't see anything directly related to this matter. I searched past posts, but didn't turn up anything directly concerned with homebrew gunpowder. So it seems such subjects are at least seldom discussed. But is that due to an official fiat, or just murky Meta-mores?

Later, I found at least the start of what I was looking for with a couple web searches. But I'm still curious about this matter of Metafilter policy. Where is the line for both blue and green posts when it comes to threads about Do-It-Yourself danger?
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:34 PM on March 30, 2007


If it's pretty clear you're not planning to commit some crime and you're asking about something that is easy to track down and not inapprorpiate to post online generally, it's totally fine. On the other hand, it really depends how you phrase the question. "I am making a movie and want to know how hard it is going to be to make up some medeival gunpowder that acts realistically" is totally different from "I like to blow things up, how can I make my own gunpowder!" While both would probably be acceptable questions, the second would get a lot more OMG responses and be more of a hassle for the OP. We have questions about guns, hypothetical crime (though those are often more borderline) and certainly drug use.

If you're really curious and worried about losing your question for a fortnight, you can run it by one of us for a thumbs up/down beforehand.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:38 PM on March 30, 2007


I like your title.
posted by chinston at 5:38 PM on March 30, 2007


Remember the episode of the Transformers (original cartoon) when they were transported back in time to the middle ages? They made gunpowder from coal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate (extracted from seagull droppings)? That's one way...
posted by Burhanistan at 5:43 PM on March 30, 2007


MacGuyver Rule: "Mefites must be able to foil evil plots with a cup of potting soil, a breath mint, and a lighter. All while pulling off the mullet look."?
posted by CKmtl at 5:47 PM on March 30, 2007


In Blood Meridian (I know, 19th century) they use their pee as part of the process to make some gunpowder in a pinch.

And that's one to grow on.
posted by bardic at 6:17 PM on March 30, 2007


While this is an intriguing and valid question, I was really looking forward to something really, really cool when I saw "MacGyver Rule."

I saw a Jeep the other day with a "MCGYVER" license plate and had a nearly irresistible urge to hang a dripping paint can on its bumper and follow the trail it left.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:19 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


We have a macguyver rule, but that's not it.

Also, where these things are concerned always remember askme's golden rule:

Everything is ok so long as you start you're question off by saying "I'm writing a book and..."
posted by shmegegge at 6:20 PM on March 30, 2007


I'm writing a book and I was wondering if Metafilter had a MacGyver Rule.
posted by grouse at 6:29 PM on March 30, 2007


jessamyn - Duly noted. Many thanks.

shmegegge - does that also apply if the question concerns my McGuyver Fanfic?
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:18 PM on March 30, 2007


Wrong show. Not MacGuyver. Star Trek.
posted by googly at 7:20 PM on March 30, 2007


Sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal.
Equal parts, ground extra fine.
posted by Balisong at 7:34 PM on March 30, 2007


"In Blood Meridian (I know, 19th century) they use their pee as part of the process to make some gunpowder in a pinch."

That goes as far back as the 1500s, and is one of history's shittiest jobs, turning pee into, what, salt peter? I think it was potassium nitrate, though I know you can make ammonia from pee too.
posted by klangklangston at 7:35 PM on March 30, 2007


That goes as far back as the 1500s

Farther than that, even; in BC era Rome, centurions were known to sneak up on Christians in the dead of night and actually pee on them while shouting <<bang, bang>>*.

*Translated from Latin. —crossreferencin' cortex
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:43 PM on March 30, 2007


Metafilter: I like your title.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2007


MacGuyver Rule: "Mefites must be able to foil evil plots with a cup of potting soil, a breath mint, and a lighter. All while pulling off the mullet look."?

You forgot a paper clip.
posted by amyms at 7:55 PM on March 30, 2007


in BC era Rome, centurions were known to sneak up on Christians

BC era christians were way ahead of their time.
posted by logicpunk at 8:35 PM on March 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


We made some rudimentary gunpowder out of charcoal - water and a pestle and mortar - let it set and then grind it again, and again, etc. pack it in cardboard with a wick. You'll not bring down any governments, but you'll get a nice volcano firework.

The most amazing blast however, was even simpler - a small water bottle, 50% dry ice and 30% water - put the lid on and throw it a long way away.
posted by strawberryviagra at 8:38 PM on March 30, 2007


Actually, with dry ice bombs you can modulate the amout of water you add for a crude timed delay effect.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 PM on March 30, 2007


If you're really curious and worried about losing your question for a fortnight, you can run it by one of us for a thumbs up/down beforehand.

A next door neighbor asks
Can a pimp be pimped out or is that just for cars and cribs ?

If one is filming a documentary on starting a meth lab, what sort of props and paraphenalia are needed for proper versimilitude ?

Where can one get one's pictures of the neighbor's kid doing her gymnastic routine naked discreetly developed ?

If one is filming a documentary on smoking crack, where and how can one buy some crack on a Friday evening in Seattle ?

How does one convincingly convert one's AR 15 to full auto for a spoof training film ?

If one is filming a documentary on smoking DMT and talking to the elves at the ventral control board of the Universe, where and how can one buy some smokable DMT on a Friday evening in Seattle ?
OKthxbye
posted by y2karl at 9:15 PM on March 30, 2007


central control board, thank you--the ventral one was located long ago
posted by y2karl at 9:16 PM on March 30, 2007


That elf is no fun to talk to....
posted by y2karl at 9:17 PM on March 30, 2007


There is nothing illegal about bomb making instructions in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 PM on March 30, 2007


Where can one get one's pictures of the neighbor's kid doing her gymnastic routine naked discreetly developed ?

I call a hoax, surely the modern voyeur would be using a digital camera hidden in a ventilation duct? I mean, that's what I've heard.
posted by maxwelton at 9:50 PM on March 30, 2007


Macgyver Rules?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:12 PM on March 30, 2007


No no, Balisong, you don't want equal parts. It's more like 85% nitre, 10% lampblack, 5% brimstone.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:13 PM on March 30, 2007


It is interesting, though, when shows like Mythbusters will blur out a key ingredient to something like thermite, but Wikipedia and thousands of other web sites have no problem sharing.
posted by knave at 10:13 PM on March 30, 2007


MacGuver is an exceptionally retarded idiot. He carries some shit-ass American Swiss Army knife around like it's some kind of SOG or Leatherman or some shit. Did you know he has to buy one of those fucking things like every 3 weeks? Hey, you jackass of a court jester of jury-rigging! A knife is not a fucking screwdriver, you asshole! I once watched him spend nine and a half hours trying to pick a 4 tumbler luggage lock with a toothpick and a rolled up piece of gum wrapper. If he would have just asked me I would have lent him my practice picks and wrench, but then if he'd give in and carry a proper multitool he could have just crushed the fucking tin plated thing like a bug. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by loquacious at 10:29 PM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, you jackass of a court jester of jury-rigging!

Murdock, you old bastard! I thought you were dead!
posted by ormondsacker at 11:38 PM on March 30, 2007


lent him my practice picks and wrench

I read that as "practice prick and wench" and began to have some insight into my wife's interest in the show. Now I'm clueless again.
posted by maxwelton at 12:14 AM on March 31, 2007


MacGyver rule: There's no U in MacGyver.

Ikkyu's proportions are the ones usually used. You can extract the saltpeter from bat guano (but you'd have to be batshitinsane to do that much work.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:46 AM on March 31, 2007


"We made some rudimentary gunpowder out of charcoal - water and a pestle and mortar - let it set and then grind it again, and again, etc. pack it in cardboard with a wick. You'll not bring down any governments, but you'll get a nice volcano firework."

That's how you make snakes, when you pack it into pellets.

You can also make a two-liter bomb with drano and aluminum, or (and this was about the coolest one I saw) by partially (about a half liter) filling the bottle with gasoline, then using a pressure valve and a bicycle pump to give the bottle all it's worth (and they can take a fuckload of pressure), then using one of those "showers of sparks" type fireworks as a pseudo-wick (as soon as a couple sparks burn through the plastic, it's kablooey).

Of course, there's always the fertilizer and fuel oil stump-blasting concoction, tragically used in Oklahoma City.
posted by klangklangston at 6:43 AM on March 31, 2007


Potash (potassium chlorate) and powdered (icing) sugar. Add sulphur if you want it to detonate on hammerblow impact. Wear safety goggles.
posted by isopraxis at 12:13 PM on March 31, 2007


MacGyver was so much cooler when he became Jack O'Niell.
posted by quin at 12:17 PM on March 31, 2007


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