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[ NNSquad ] The MythBusters Near Disastrous Misfired Cannonball Cover-Up

        The MythBusters Near Disastrous Misfired Cannonball Cover-Up


There was a time when I was a semi-regular viewer of MythBusters.
Especially early on, it had some fine segments.  But as the series
progressed, many of their experiments became more self-referential and
often silly, and the team (increasingly "full of themselves" -- one
might observe) seemed to be playing fast and loose with the relevant
science in many cases.  Most of all, the shows seemed to more often
than not to have become basically an excuse for blowing things up --
which has a certain appeal in some circumstances, but carries
significant risks if anyone messes up.  A friend of mine who worked
years ago on major demolition projects once noted to me regarding
MythBusters, "It's only a matter of time before somebody is likely to
get really seriously hurt or killed during the taping of that show."

That day very nearly came yesterday, when a MythBusters cannon misfire
sent a cannonball careening into a Dublin, California residential
neighborhood, where the projectile plowed through one occupied house,
damaged others, and ended up smashing into a parked car that had been
occupied only minutes before.  ( http://j.mp/rxwGJv [SFGate] ) - 
( http://j.mp/rr4TFo [ Video - YouTube ] )

MythBusters is extremely fortunate that nobody was injured or killed,
and that insurance payouts and Discovery Channel moola should be able
to render repairs and compensation -- this time.

And one suspects that the authorities who have (up to now) permitted
MythBusters to use various facilities for such experiments may be
rethinking those decisions.

But what's of particular interest from the Internet standpoint is
MythBusters' reaction to the accident.  A relevant Tweet from team
member Grant Imahara about "working with heavy artillery today" (which
was retweeted on the main MythBusters Twitter account) was reportedly
quickly deleted from both Twitter timelines.

Of course, the Tweet itself was still preserved by various systems and
users ( http://j.mp/usd01c [Lauren's Blog] ), along with referenced 
"hanging around the cannons" photos that were still available with a bit of
digging ( http://j.mp/u6rZZd [LaslowNet] ).

For the supposedly Web-savvy MythBusters to forget one of the basic
technology truths of the 21st century -- "The Internet Doesn't
Forget!" -- is puzzling indeed.

If the Tweet and photos had been left in full view, they would have
been noted to be sure, but there would have been no implication of
someone trying to cover-up those postings after the fact by
"disappearing" them.

Panic?  "CYA"?  Something else?

We don't know at this point.  But by their actions in this regard,
MythBusters has elevated the attempted removal of publicly posted
information, into a significant part of the story.

MythBusters lucked out yesterday when their errant experiment -- by
sheer chance -- barely missed causing a disaster that money couldn't

Perhaps in a future episode they might wish to consider busting the
myth that it's possible to effectively delete widely viewed public
Internet postings after a royal screw-up.  But we already know what
the finale of that experiment would reveal.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com 
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com