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Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch Provokes Bomb Scare 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-does-it-um-how-does-it-work dept.
Bomb disposal teams were called in and a nearby pub evacuated after water company engineers mistook a Monty Python film prop for a hand grenade. After nearly an hour of examination by bomb experts, they counted to three. No more. No less. Three was the number they counted, and the number they counted was three. Four they did not count, nor two, except to proceed to three. Five was right out. Once the number three had been reached, being the third number, they declared that the grenade was actually a copy of the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch" used in the film Monty Python And The Holy Grail. A police spokeswoman confirmed that the device was a toy and that it had been no danger to the public.

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Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch Provokes Bomb Scare

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  • Whiny bastards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <`gro.oc-onpt' `ta' `ydenneks'> on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:41PM (#27274991) Homepage
    Local businesses criticised the police for taking so long to realise there was no threat. Alberto Romanelli, owner of the Windmill put that was evacuated, said: "I lost a good hour's worth of business."

    What a bunch of whiny little bitches. I bet they'd have been whining pretty loudly if the cops were faster but didn't a thorough job of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by retchdog (1319261)

      It's not whining, it's a statement of damages. The world would be a better place, if the aggregate of costs like this were counted in policing decisions.

      Fat chance, though; here in the US, stomping black teens to death and shooting mothers; grandmothers; kids; and even the mayor's dogs, is just a day in the life of a SWAT Drug Warrior.

      • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Metasquares (555685) <slashdot.metasquared@com> on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:58PM (#27275643) Homepage
        When weighed against a possible loss of lives, the cost of an hour's business at a Windmill is insignificant.
        • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:12PM (#27276661)
          When weighed against a possible loss of lives, the cost of an hour's business at a Windmill is insignificant.

          This argument can be used to justify anything the police decide to do, even if as in this case, there was NO RISK AT ALL. As in the even sillier case of the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" hysteria in Boston. Even if the frontline staff know, or should have known, that there was no danger at all, the response by ass-covering bureaucrats is to declare a full terror alert.

          And all the airline security measures, the idiotic restrictions on liquids because of a fantasy threat that could never have been carried out are the same. NO ONE IS SAFER because of this security theatre.

          • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:4, Interesting)

            by palegray.net (1195047) <philip...paradis@@@palegray...net> on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:35PM (#27276781) Homepage Journal

            the idiotic restrictions on liquids because of a fantasy threat that could never have been carried out

            I think the airline restrictions are pretty stupid myself, but mainly for reasons you probably haven't thought of. However, having a military background, I can assure you that your belief that small volumes of fluids can't be used to cause catastrophic damage is sorely in need of a reality check.

            • by 1u3hr (530656)
              I think the airline restrictions are pretty stupid myself, but mainly for reasons you probably haven't thought of. However, having a military background, I can assure you that your belief that small volumes of fluids can't be used to cause catastrophic damage is sorely in need of a reality check.

              Suicide bombers on planes are very rare, and usually pretty dumb. None of those who've tried have had any chance of carrying it off. And if there were a competent suicide bomber, he'd have no trouble circumventing

              • by Shipwack (684009)
                Not to mention that they don't prohibit lighter or matches on airplanes, which he was using to attempt to "detonate" the shoe bomb.

                Why are matches allowed, but a can of soda is a security threat? Because the cigarette industry whined that the 2 minutes that a person couldn't smoke upon leaving a plane was costing them money, so an item that actually was used in an attempted terrorist attack is effectively unrestricted.
            • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:4, Insightful)

              by gabebear (251933) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @12:22AM (#27276977) Homepage Journal
              The point wasn't that small volumes of liquid aren't dangerous, but that banning them is idiotic. For one, there is no way to actually stop people from having liquids on a plane. Secondly, you can use anything to bring down a plane; the 911 highjackers used boxcutters.

              To get back to retchdog's point; banning liquids has cost several hundreds of millions of dollars. What have we gotten for that money? Has banning liquids made it any harder for you to bring down a plane?
              • No it hasn't made it any harder to bring down a plane, especially anyone with a military background or a decent amount of training. Evil people could still easily accomplish the task. Again, I don't take any issue with the view that banning certain volumes of fluids on airlines is idiotic.
                • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:4, Informative)

                  by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @02:52AM (#27277289) Homepage

                  It hasn't been made impossible, but it has been made harder. But not because of anything being done by the TSA.

                  Bruce Schneier correctly named the two post-9/11 changes that matter. The first is reinforced, locking doors to the cockpit. The second is the change in passenger behavior. These two elements make the task for a would-be terrorist all the more difficult. Everything else is theater.

                  • by zoney_ie (740061)

                    Have the probabilities been weighed up of locked cockpit doors theoretically hindering help in an emergency, versus theoretically hindering attacks? Has anyone done any study or reasoning on this at all?

                    Maybe it's for the best, but I do not feel reassured that it has been a calmly considered rational decision.

                    As for the change in passenger behaviour - the changes in people's behaviour are exactly what extremists want. It is *not* a positive development even if people's paranoia means they will theoretically

                • by Kabuthunk (972557)

                  Simple reason they ban liquids at security.

                  So you're forced to buy drinks on the plane, or from the snack bar past security.

                  It's all about the $.

                  • by JRIsidore (524392)
                    Yeah, it really makes sense that I cannot take my shampoo or toothpaste with me because they want me to buy drinks on the plane. Not everything is about money.
            • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:4, Insightful)

              by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Saturday March 21, 2009 @01:04AM (#27277115)

              Does the amount of human life saved by such security measures exceed the amount of human life lost due to extra security (in the form of waiting in line)?

            • by jamstar7 (694492)

              However, having a military background, I can assure you that your belief that small volumes of fluids can't be used to cause catastrophic damage is sorely in need of a reality check.

              Agreed. And explosives are fairly easy to improvise from stuff under the kitchen sink if you've had the training to do it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Shipwack (684009)
              Having been in the military, and actually involved in real security duty, I can assure you that almost all of the TSA restrictions are theatrics to show they are "doing something", and counter-productive at worst, including the liquid restrictions. Small volumes of liquids can't cause catastrophic damage, outside of a movie or TV show. While there are liquid explosives, they are neither easily obtainable, or easily made outside a laboratory. But... let's say this magic substance existed, and that it was
              • by dwillden (521345)
                Absolutely correct, let me add to your knowledgebase my being in the military and with my duties including being actually involved in assesing of threat vulnerabilities (Identifying weaknesses in security and how to fix them.), you hit the nail on the head.

                But you did forget the easiest way to circumvent the 3 oz rule. Slap a prescription label on it and they'll wave it right through.
            • by zoney_ie (740061)

              Well, one point is that you can still bring small volumes of liquid on board an aircraft, albeit in 100 ml containers in a plastic bag. And indeed larger containers of liquid are not always detected going through X-ray if left in hand luggage. There is no repercussion whatsoever if you are caught trying to bring a large container of liquid through (except that it's taken off you and disposed of haphazardly). How does this magically stop any theoretical liquid plot? Answer - it doesn't, anyone wishing to do

          • And all the airline security measures, the idiotic restrictions on liquids because of a fantasy threat that could never have been carried out are the same.

            Actually the liquid bomb threat was real though you should question why it took 10 years for security to crack down on it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Airlines_Flight_434 [wikipedia.org]

            • by 1u3hr (530656)
              Actually the liquid bomb threat was real though you should question why it took 10 years for security to crack down on it.

              No, the liquid bomb threat wasn't real. Not the way those losers supposedly tried it anyway. And have you heard there are explosive solids? Should we then ban all solids from flights? If not, how is it different?

              The link you gave says that bomb was nitroglycerin. Well, that should be detected in any case, if they're using chemical or dog sniffers.

          • We have been bombed by the Irish quite a lot for 40 years, so we take bomb threats seriously. In this case there was no problem at all, and an hour seems very quick (you don't rush when you think you have a bomb, just in case it is one). It's a funny story because it wasn't a bomb it was a prop, but it could have been different it's safer not to take a chance. But then I feel safer with British police around, I really didn't when I was in New York on the subway with 20 cops in the same car.
        • by wjsteele (255130)

          [FIXED]the cost of an hour's business at a Windmill is insignificant... next to the power of the force!

          I hate it when someone doesn't finish a good quote!!! :-)

          Bill

        • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shellbeach (610559) on Saturday March 21, 2009 @05:10AM (#27277579)

          When weighed against a possible loss of lives, the cost of an hour's business at a Windmill is insignificant.

          To take that argument to its logical absurdity, the safest way for us to live our lives would be for us all to stay in our houses and never go anywhere. Not only would that stop the terrorists, but it would eliminate the road toll, prevent mass murders and the worst anyone would ever have to fear would be cutting themselves on the cheese grater.

          But we don't do that, because we accept that there will always be an element of risk in our lives, and that the compensation is a life that's happy, interesting and entertaining. Yes, it sucks if you're the one knocked down by a bus as you cross the road; but the chances of that happening are so small that we just accept the remote possibility and move on, safe in the knowledge that it's highly unlikely to happen to us. Considering that the chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are even less than being hit by a bus [reason.com], why should we view it in any other way than as an incredibly remote, and therefore acceptable, risk? If we start jumping at shadows for things such as the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, then we've got problems ...

          (Thankfully, the global financial crisis has pretty much shoved terrorism into the background where it belongs. Nobody cares about Osama anymore, when they've got more immediate worries like mortgages to deal with ...)

          • The police don't realize that it's a plush prop from a Monty Python skit, though. They get a call that says "There's a bomb". I'm sure most of these turn out to be nothing, but I'd prefer they come running rather than debate whether it's worth their time to come down there. It models how they'd respond if the bomb were real.
    • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle@COLAgmail.com minus caffeine> on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:50PM (#27275077) Homepage Journal

      Hmmm. From TFA:

      Water company engineers spotted the object when they lifted up a fire hydrant cover during work on a street in Shoreditch, east London.

      If it's the mass-produced replica pictured - does the goddamn thing look like an explosive device? Do you think maybe the word GRENADE on it had almost everything to do with this?

      "spotted a cheap piece of crap and kicked it away as they got to work" would have been the events of the day, had that placard not been on it, i betcha. So some genius thought a bright gold beanbag with a silver cross and a plastic gem on it was a bomb, because it said HOLY BOMB on it.

      Add to that years of pandering to public idiocy and paranoia, and you wonder if a city couldn't be shut down overnight by putting little post-its with the word BOMB on it all over the place. "Well, we can't take the chance! We have to assume it is!"

      Bah, i'm not explaining this as clearly as i'd like. And maybe TFA doesn't fully explain the context, i grant you. Bottom line, i believe the only reason this happened is this very un-bomb-like object had the word GRENADE on it. -shudder-

      • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by grasshoppa (657393) <`gro.oc-onpt' `ta' `ydenneks'> on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:55PM (#27275139) Homepage

        Once the bomb squad's involved, they must treat it like it's a real explosive until they can determine otherwise. Were I a criminal with a grudge against cops, I would do something exactly like this in the hopes they dismissed it as a toy. Then, when they got close because it's just a toy, I'd blow it.

        Can you imagine cops not taking it seriously, and having it hurt the public?

        Talk about a lose lose situation.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:14PM (#27275339)

          If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.

          • by Jurily (900488)

            If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.

            If you're in a war, and you're close enough to throw a grenade at them, you're doing it wrong. In the Land Of The Free, you sit home and bitch about the government while watching the news.

            • by Sperbels (1008585) on Friday March 20, 2009 @09:27PM (#27276143)
              Woosh
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dotancohen (1015143)

              If you're in a war, and you're close enough to throw a grenade at them, you're doing it wrong. In the Land Of The Free, you sit home and bitch about the government while watching the news.

              Not at all! The only way to "get the terrorists" and not hurt their brother or sister is to go in there and pull him out manually. I'm sorry, but the US-style of just bombing everyone and everything is murder. A soldier's job is first and foremost to protect civilians, whether those civilians be your own people or the other guy's. Yes, soldiers daily risk their own lives to protect the "other side"'s civilians. That is exactly what the job is about.

              • by Raffaello (230287)

                A soldier's job is first and foremost to protect civilians, whether those civilians be your own people or the other guy's.

                I don't know what makes you think this is how wars are fought. Despite romantic notions of chivalry, wars have never been fought this way.

                The sad reality of history is that wars are fought to accomplish the political and economic ends of those in control of military force. It has always been the norm for civilians to be harmed in the course of warfare. People who believe that war is a le

          • You jest, but I once threw a stun grenade at some idiot because I didn't have a flak grenade (or what ever you call them in English) on me. The genius lowered his rifle and _picked_it_up_! I saw it blow up in his hand, but I didn't get to see what happened to him because we were a bit busy in the other direction as well. I wonder what he thought it was, as stun grenades are bright orange and don't look like flak grenades. I wonder if, had I thrown a flak grenade, the end result would have been as effective.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by speedtux (1307149)

          I'm sorry, but the thought of a terrorist hiding a real bomb in a replica of the Holy Handgrenade of Antioch is just totally bizarre.

          I mean, as this story shows, you shouldn't pick something that causes head scratching, but instead pick something that even the most uneducated would consider harmless: a dead gerbil, a water soaked book, a breadbox, whatever.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So some genius thought a bright gold beanbag with a silver cross and a plastic gem on it was a bomb, because it said HOLY BOMB on it.

        "Genius" must've been undead. Not like anyone else is going to be overly concerned about holy damage.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:58PM (#27275183)

        If I were a terrorist, which I assure you I'm not, then I would disguise my weapons as toy weapons. And I would put blinking LEDs on it, and perhaps make the toy-bomb-like objects tick. Of course, if I were a terrorist, I would assure you that, even though I have thought about ways to hide weapons, I am in fact not a terrorist. Wait, there's someone at the door...

        • If I were a terrorist waiting for orders, which I assure you I'm not, I would disguise my weapons as instructed. Muhammad Al'Hasini and I agree the LEDs are a good idea and will get to work, if we were terrorists, which we assure you we are not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gat0r30y (957941)
        Do you ever suspect that stories like this are out there - this, the whole adult swim guerrilla marketing fiasco, and so on- to get us to stop pandering to public idiocy and paranoia then when nobody is paranoid anymore they come for us?
        Also, I need a new tinfoil hat, this one has lost its pizazz.
      • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:07PM (#27275277)

        Add to that years of pandering to public idiocy and paranoia, and you wonder if a city couldn't be shut down overnight by putting little post-its with the word BOMB on it all over the place. "Well, we can't take the chance! We have to assume it is!"

        Like this guy with a picture of a gun on his shirt [bbc.co.uk].

        • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:42PM (#27275527)

          A BAA spokesman said there was no record of the incident and no "formal complaint" had been made.

          "If a T-shirt had a rude word or a bomb on it, for example, a passenger may be asked to remove it," he said.

          "We are investigating what happened to see if it came under this category.

          "If it's offensive, we don't want other passengers upset."

          So, if it had been a realistic picture of a Beretta, or a rapper or a cowboy holding a pistol, everyone would have nodded at their "wise decision" and the incident wouldn't have even warranted an article? If it's a cartoon robot holding the gun, then it's a gray area and they need to think about it?

          Where are the adults in Britain and what are they doing?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            As a guess, I'd say probably hiding from all the cameras.

      • Re:Whiny bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by guruevi (827432) <evi @ s m o k i n g c u be.be> on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:07PM (#27275279) Homepage

        Maybe somebody wanted to go home early?

      • Maybe it's different in Great Britain. Over here in the States though either it's an emergency and they're busting much ass or the rest of the utility crew are standing around watching one guy work. I'm pretty sure passing up a perfectly good chance to dick off is against union rules.
      • by Zero_DgZ (1047348)

        The implication of this is that some mad bomber could make a real bomb and just put some damn fool marking on it, causing people to cheerfully ignore it because it doesn't look like something they saw on TV or in a cartoon. Leave out the blinky lights and stenciled "explosive" markings (not to mention pins and sparkly fuses) but instead put it in a box labeled "water pump equipment" or "1 doz. Acme paving stones." Hell, if you put the thing in a burlap sack with a dollar sign on it some moron would probably

      • little post-its with the word BOMB on it

        I prepared explosive runes this morning.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Adrian Lopez (2615)

      "I bet they'd have been whining pretty loudly if the cops were faster but didn't a thorough job of it."

      I can imagine. Just think of all the lives they'd have put at risk by not taking every precaution necessary in disabling a toy grenade.

      • by mikael (484)


        Robin: Holy bat boxes Batman, I think the Joker has placed bombs in the bat box.

        Batman: Your right, we can't take the chance, we must inform the mayor and the bomb squad immediately.

        Bat defences pierced by bomb panic [theregister.co.uk]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dotancohen (1015143)

        I can imagine. Just think of all the lives they'd have put at risk by not taking every precaution necessary in disabling a potential grenade.

        There, fixed that for you.

  • next to the den of a rabbit with big scary teeth?
  • Run Away!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Elitist_Phoenix (808424) on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:45PM (#27275027)

    Run away!!

  • I have an albatross for sale...
  • Worms (Score:2, Informative)

    by jack2000 (1178961)
    I liked how Worms had the holy hand grenade with the "hallelujah" chanting right before it explodes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Congraultions, UK, you just made Boston [laughingsquid.com]'s cops look like a paragon of sanity!
  • And ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by krou (1027572) on Friday March 20, 2009 @06:55PM (#27275141)

    ... the Lord did grin.

    Of course no-one was in danger. No-one took out the Holy Pin.

    • by Goalie_Ca (584234)
      And count to three. Four is no good and neither is two unless you proceed directly to three after and five is right out of the question.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    sadly they missed the animator at the end of the bar who died from a heart attack

  • wonder what they'll do when they a bunny
  • Jack Handy (Score:2, Redundant)

    by nfk (570056)

    "If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them."

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday March 20, 2009 @07:43PM (#27275541) Journal

    It's a good thing the bartender didn't bring out the Chambord Liqueur [google.com].

    They'd have decided he had an arsenal and he'd still be closed.

  • So much for my plan to make a real bomb in one of those toys...

  • We live in fear.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VinylRecords (1292374) on Friday March 20, 2009 @08:21PM (#27275787)

    This past September they had to evacuate a Philadelphia Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park because someone confused a fucking hot dog wrapper for a bomb.

    Our government, schools, media, and society as a whole train us to be paranoid and live in fear, to dumb us down. Not to sound like a conspiracy nut but this is the world that we occupy.
    http://cbs3.com/topstories/Philadelphia.Phillies.Citizens.2.824722.html [cbs3.com]
    http://www.nj.com/phillies/index.ssf/2008/09/hot_dogs_create_bomb_scare_at.html [nj.com]
    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Hot-dogs-cause-a-delicious-bomb-scare-before-Phi?urn=mlb,110486 [yahoo.com]

    • This past September they had to evacuate a Philadelphia Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park because someone confused a fucking hot dog wrapper for a bomb.

      And this, my friends, is why they should cut you off after six beers at baseball games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      someone confused a fucking hot dog wrapper for a bomb.

      Why would someone do that with a hot dog wrapper? Did he not read the instructions correctly? Wrong wiener!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by penguinchris (1020961)

      I agree it's stupid, but it's not as bad as you made it out to be. They were not confused by a hot dog wrapper - the hot dogs were apparently wrapped in white packaging and taped up with duct tape, according to your second link. I certainly wouldn't have assumed it was bombs, as someone apparently did, but I wouldn't have thought it was just a bunch of hot dogs either.

      Your choice of wording leads one to think that you're saying there was a hot dog wrapper, as in the thing that is wrapped around the hot dog

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:31PM (#27276507) Journal
    It had no RED blinky numbers on it counting down the seconds.

    We all know that Red Blinky numbers are the favourite of terrorists the world over.

    RS

  • . . . the Spanish Inquisition!

    "Our two main weapons are fear surprise, and the Holy Hand Grenade . . . oh, wait . . ."

  • Actually, the HHG0A was ideal. Sucker the bomb squad in, make them think it's a false alarm and then kill them as they stand around the HHGOA laughing.

    Years ago, there was a mass casualty drill at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Near the end of the drill, someone put a large bag in the decon area. I don't know if this was something the Feds did as part of the drill or if someone just left a bag in the wrong place.

    Someone attempted to declare an emergency and cordon off the area. By that point, most people wer

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