Bomber enraged by spelling error can't blow up sign because his bomb instructions were riddled with typos

A 50-year-old man was upset that the sign in front of the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission read "Oregon Teacher Standards an Practices Commission" (the D had fallen off the sign or been worn away), so he resolved to explode it with a pressure-cooker bomb. But the bomb didn't work, an outcome the man blamed on the spelling errors and typos in the bomb-making instructions he'd downloaded from the Internet. So he took his bomb into the Oregon Teacher Standards an Practices Commission and gave them a piece of his mind, vis-a-vis bombs, standards, and education. And practices.

"He walked quite confidently into our office as though he had a mission," she said, "and I think that was what alarmed me right off the bat." (Because no one who wants to be a teacher comes in with a good attitude? My guess is that the pressure cooker with wires sticking out of it might have also played a role in her alarm.) The man explained that he was upset with their misspelled sign and had just tried to blow it up for that reason. Didn't work, and you know what else?

After discussing his failed attempt to detonate his bomb, the man complained that the instructions he downloaded to make the bomb also had misspellings. [According to the director, he] implied that [she] and her employees should be concerned about the level of education children receive, given that his [bomb-making] instructions were rife with errors.

I think that only follows, though, if these were official State of Oregon bomb-making instructions that he'd gotten hold of. Then it would be fair to worry that our children are not getting the kind of training in literacy and improvised explosive devices that they will need to be successful in today's competitive economy. But if these were just any old bomb-making instructions, then the state's not to blame. You always have to be careful with what you find on the internet.

Man Tries to Blow Up Misspelled Sign, Criticizes Misspelled Bomb Instructions [Lowering the Bar]


  1. When his children told him he should find a nice hobby…

    Am I the only one who, while reading this, kept expecting him to reveal some deep Colbert-esque situationist meta-humor? I mean, sure, there are crazy and stupid dumb-asses, but this is a more a like a character designed to elicit maximum WTF?!

    1. I think it’s one more piece of evidence for the theory that Onion news stories have become sentient.

  2. The man is insane, he should have used a standard red marker and corrected the signage using grammar correction marks.

  3. Because the first instinct a well-educated, literate individual has toward misspelled signage is to blow it up?

    1. I bet that’s part of what sent Kaczynski so far over the edge. 

      “Goddammit! How the hell did the media settle on ‘Unabomber’ for my nickname? Did I ever send an explosive device to a Unaversity? DID I!?!?

    1. You mean “very well”. Be careful! There are grammar-nazis out there with pressure cookers.

      1. I’ve yet to meet the stew that, when asked how it’s been, would reply, “Very well, thank you.”  As a result, I never compliment Mom on her well stew.

        That said, I hasten to add that I don’t actually own a pressure cooker.  Crock Pot’s the best I can do.

  4. Good point and good counterpoint. But Oregon does educate students who interact with non-Oregonians on the Internet. And if Oregon’s teacher standards were high enough, maybe Oregon students would go out and correct all the types in bomb-making instructions on the Internet.

    1. If I was going to set off bombs over bad grammar I would’ve blown up the internet a long time ago.

      1. At least I didn’t say…

        This could have all been avoided if that dude would have just taken a few more hits off his pressure cooker.

  5. If he had spent some time among internet commenters he would have learned that grammar nazis are a low form of wack-job and would have been both more tolerant of typos and more ambitious in his targeting. A modest level of tenacity would have him spraying comparisons to Hitler on every surface in town and another level of goal seeking would see our hero explaining every natural disaster as the work of the local police in cahoots with big-oil and tax-accountants from the middle-east. Exposure to the internet gives one grand ideas.

  6. You’re all laughing now but you won’t be laughing when we all seem to die that much sooner from having to wait forever for boiled potatoes or beans and rice because clearly the only solution to this madness is to restrict the use of pressure cookers or ban them altogether!

  7. I actually find this fascinating.

    I will grant this is pretty hilarious (though it may not have seemed to the participants at the time.)  But the depth of this example of human folly is so extreme, I really want to know more about the bomber’s mindset.

    * What did he expect to happen next?  (The likely outcome of his actions is very strongly at odds with his stated goal.)
    * How much thought went into the bomb itself?  Why not just use a can of white spray paint?
    * Were the typographical errors really so bad as to make the bomb’s assembly impossible?  (A wrong number can be a much more serious impediment than a misspelled word.  Did he try corroborating with other sources?)
    * Why this specific error?  (There are much worse ones around.)  

    I’m not sure what the bomber’s answers would be; I think he might even have difficulty answering the questions. 

  8. Police arrested Burdek in his van around 10 a.m. after employees called back to say they spotted him in a van nearby. Lt. Dave Okada said the pressure cooker did not turn out to be a bomb. He was charged with disorderly conduct.

    Just a crackpot with his cracked pot.

  9. “I think that only follows, though, if these were official State of Oregon bomb-making instructions that he’d gotten hold of.”

    This sentence was ended with a preposition. WHERE MY BOMB AT

  10. I had to read this a few times to convince myself it wasn’t an Onion article.


  11. I have spent 5 minutes trying to write something that can express how thoroughly mind-f’d this story makes me feel.   The best I can come with is that I feel like I’m in England in some comedy of manners.   Oh, forget it, maybe this is just one of those things better said with a pressure cooker. 

  12. It’s unfortunate all round. Here’s somebody who saw a problem. Specifically, a stupid problem. And he tried to dramatize it. Sadly, he just wasn’t that good at it.

    Here’s how it was supposed to go down. He’d go in, show his pressure cooker, they’re realize the high absurdity of it all, have a good chuckle, and go out and fix the sign, chatting amongst themselves about what a witty bit of street theatre it all was.

    So he went in and made his spiel. They looked at his pressure cooker. He went to his emergency quip, about how typos and bad grammar had kept it from going off. And still, the stone faces.

    I’m not on the scene, so I don’t know. Perhaps this man is still trying to get through it with a straight face, without ever uttering the safe words, “It was a JOKE.”

    It reminds me of this classic Kurtzman cartoon.

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