07/05/21 – That Clampy Thing

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, July 5, 2021.




Not blowing oneself up is often the easy part.


  1. Coyoty

    “They’re NOT gipplebits! They’re FLIGGLEFLOPPERS.”
    “Sorry, my mistake.”
    “All right, then.”
    “(They smell like gipplebits.)”
    “I heard that!”

  2. Onyavar

    Hi, long-time fan here!
    As in, reading this decade-old webcomic from start to current for long hours all the last five nights and days when I was sick and needed something to cheer me up! Woohoo, you’re awesome, with great storycrafting, relatable characters, and neat jokes that are NOT awful puns in each strip.
    Thanks a lot, I’ll continue to consume this great work!

  3. Pete Rogan

    Oh, no no no no no! Not blowing yourself up is the HARDEST part, not least because you have to detect and defuse any triggering agent first, even without knowing what gets set off. Explosive, gas, anthrax, something else unpleasant and fast-acting.

    During the Vietnam War, people forget, a good many bombs were placed and set off in Saigon and other population centers to demoralize and terrify the population. The US Army demolition squads got a very good education on bomb-making and, by frightfully delicate extension, bomb disassembly.

    One device in a public place they detected was a doozy. They quickly determined that its seams and angles all had a detonation circuit through them — cut the box open in any way, and the bomb would go off. They then found that the bomb had at least one mercury switch in it, meaning that any attempt to tilt the box to get some idea of how it was balanced, or come in through the bottom, would also cause detonation. There were no openings, no markings, no way to determine what other actions might cause detonation. Yet they defused it safely.


    That information is still classified.

    So I hope Choan is well-versed on booby-trap disarmament. Otherwise the result could be unfortunate.

      1. Pete Rogan

        There’s also susceptibility to water damage, which can short out detonation circuitry or render the explosive inert — as can happen with gunpowder, not much of a boomer but it makes a lot of smoke. But if the Army soaked the thing, they aren’t saying. Much the same could be true for the use of an inert gas, like nitrogen, to annul explosive or detonation circuits, but they’d have to be uniquely made to be vulnerable to such.

        Science fiction writer E. E. “Doc” Smith once postulated a bomb made of pentavalent nitrogen. It had to be cold when formulated, but was forbiddenly destructive when set off. He never described how to safely dispose of such a bomb himself anyway. Just as well. Breaking nitrogen bonds is SO high-energy.

    1. Muzhik

      Reminds me of one of the opening scenes in the movie “The Rock” where we’re introduced to Nicolas Cage’s character. As they were opening up a suspected booby-trapped box for refugees, he had JUST finished warning his apprentice about not taking anything for granted. After finding an obvious bomb and setting it aside for later, the apprentice removes a small doll from the box and says, “Lookee here! Hello!”, and starts waving the doll’s arm. This triggers the release of a chemical gas that is very poisonous. I can’t remember how the apprentice is saved, meaning I’ll have to dig up the video and watch it AGAIN.

      Good thing I like Sean Connery.

  4. Muzhik

    You know, Choan in the first panel said, “We put sensors and trackers on ALL our major clients…” Now, Choan has some familiarity with Stribs, I mean, she knows who they are, and may even have done business with them.

    In the strip for https://www.baldwinpage.com/spacetrawler/2021/06/21/062121-issued-warning/, a crewmate says they found THE tracker. What if what they found wasn’t Stangor’s tracker but Choan’s?

    It’s like in the last episode of the third “Sherlock” series on the BBC, where Sherlock proved who the bad guy was because the bad guy stopped looking after finding the third bug. Sherlock said something about, “There’s something about the number 3 that people stop looking after that.” Sure enough, the 4th listening device caught the bad guy’s confession!

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