The government tells children what to read, how much and when to exercise, how often to go to the bathroom

Saturday, July 15th, 2023

Alex Tabarrok is struck by how conservative and homogeneous schools are, regardless of their public or private status — which is exactly what struck me, too:

Private schools, despite having the autonomy, have not pioneered novel teaching methods. Montessori was innovative but that was a hundred years ago. A few private schools have adopted Direct Instruction, but how many offer lessons in memory palaces, mental arithmetic or increasing creativity?

I am enthusiastic about developments coming out of Elon Musk’s school and Minerva but it’s still remarkable how similar almost all private schools are to almost all public schools. The global adoption of a nearly identical education model is also disturbing, as I harbor significant skepticism that we’ve reached an optimum.

He agrees with Richard Hanania’d point that public education involves an extreme restriction of liberty beyond anything we usually accept:

The only substantial populations of individuals who have their lives structured according to time-place mandates in a free society like ours are prisoners, members of the military, and children. The mandates for children have gotten less strict over the years now that all states allow homeschooling, but opponents of school choice for all practical purposes want to do what they can to shape the incentive structures of parents so that they all use public schools (liberal reformers tend to like vouchers that can be used at charter schools, but not ESAs, which give parents complete control). Of course, children don’t have the freedom of adults, and so others are by default in control of how they spend most of their time. But it’s usually parents, not the government, that we trust in this role. Given the unusual degree to which public education infringes on individual liberty and family autonomy, the burden of proof has to be on those in favor of maintaining such an extreme institution.

This brings us back to the point of proponents of public education having to think that government is really a lot better than parents at deciding how children should spend their time. Is there a good reason to believe this is the case? Yglesias points to data showing that the evidence on whether school voucher programs achieve better educational outcomes is mixed. But there’s a lot more to childhood than maximizing test scores. In a free market system, parents would likely base their decision of where to send a child on a countless number of other factors: cost, safety, the pleasantness of the experience, the values that a school teaches, distance from home, which hours a school operates, extracurricular activities, etc. Parents who take their children out of public schools often cite a variety of reasons beyond likely impact on educational outcomes as measured by tests.

The more complicated and multi-faceted a decision is, and the more state control involves an infringement on individual liberty, the less we trust government to make it and the more we trust private parties. An American child spends almost 9,000 hours in educational establishments before graduating junior high. That’s more than what an individual would spend working at a full-time job for over four years. In the process, the government tells children what to read, how much and when to exercise, how often to go to the bathroom. This needs to be kept in mind when analyzing arguments and data.


To me, the true promise of the school choice movement isn’t that it might simply save a bit of money or avoid the worst excesses of public education. Rather, it presents an opportunity to rethink childhood. Ultimately, this can work against many of the pathologies that have emerged in American society over the last several decades, including delayed adulthood, high real estate costs, negative-sum credentialism that robs young people of their best years, and culture wars that are exacerbated by the fact that the children of people with radically different values are forced into the same institutions.

On what basis did we as a society decide that the ideal way to spend a childhood was to attend government institutions 5 days a week, 7 hours a day, 9 months a year, for 12 years? That most of that time should be spent sitting at a desk, with say one hour for lunch and one for recess?


I’m convinced the main reason we accept public education is the status quo bias. If someone proposed that any other population be placed in government buildings at set times organized by neighborhood and told what to do and think, people would recognize this as totalitarian. If told this was for their own good, citizens would demand extremely strong evidence for this claim and still likely oppose the program even if they found any evidence provided convincing.

The girl’s father beat the beaver to death

Friday, July 14th, 2023

A rabid beaver bit a young girl while she was swimming in a northeast Georgia lake:

Kevin Beucker, field supervisor for Hall County Animal Control, told WDUN-AM that the beaver bit the girl on Saturday while she was swimming off private property in the northern end of Lake Lanier near Gainesville.

The girl’s father beat the beaver to death, Beucker said.

Don McGowan, supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, told WSB-TV that a game warden who responded described the animal as “the biggest beaver he’s ever seen.” The warden estimated it at 50 or 55 pounds (23 or 25 kilograms), McGowan said.

The beaver later tested positive for rabies at a state lab.


State wildlife biologists said beaver attacks are rare. They said the last one they remember in Lake Lanier was 13 years ago.

That’s not nearly as rare as I would have expected.

The prisoner population consisted of four forgers, three madmen, and another

Friday, July 14th, 2023

Back in 2004, Jerry Pournelle described the original Bastille Day:

On July 14, 1789, the Paris mob aided by units of the National Guard stormed the Bastille Fortress which stood in what had been the Royal area of France before the Louvre and Tuilleries took over that function. The Bastille was a bit like the Tower of London, a fortress prison under direct control of the Monarchy. It was used to house unusual prisoners, all aristocrats, in rather comfortable durance. The garrison consisted of soldiers invalided out of service and some older soldiers who didn’t want to retire; it was considered an honor to be posted there, and the garrison took turns acting as valets to the aristocratic prisoners kept there by Royal order (not convicted by any court).

On July 14, 1789, the prisoner population consisted of four forgers, three madmen, and another.  The forgers were aristocrats and were locked away in the Bastille rather than be sentenced by the regular courts. The madmen were kept in the Bastille in preference to the asylums: they were unmanageable at home, and needed to be locked away. The servants/warders were bribed to treat them well. The Bastille was stormed; the garrison was slaughtered to a man, some being stamped to death; their heads were displayed on pikes; and the prisoners were freed. The forgers vanished into the general population. The madmen were sent to the general madhouse.  The last person freed was a young man who had challenged the best swordsman in Paris to a duel, and who had been locked up at his father’s insistence lest he be killed. This worthy joined the mob and took on the name of Citizen Egalité. He was active in revolutionary politics until Robespierre had him beheaded in The Terror.

The national holidays of the US, Mexico, and France all celebrate rather different events…

(This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned thus.)

Japanese researchers find a simple and affordable way to store ammonia

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS) in Japan have found a simple and affordable way to store ammonia :

For its current use, ammonia is stored in pressure-resistant containers after liquefying it at temperatures of -27 Fahrenheit (-33 degrees Celsius).


Kawamoto’s team found that the perovskite ethyl ammonium lead iodide (EAPbI3) reacts with ammonia at room temperature and pressure to make lead iodide hydroxide, or Pb(OH)I. Ethyl ammonium lead iodide has a one-dimensional columnar structure but, after reacting with ammonia, forms a two-dimensional layered structure.

Ammonia is a highly corrosive gas, but the chemical reaction with the perovskite allows for its safe storage that does not need any special equipment to store it either. The retrieval process is also very straightforward. Under vacuum, ethyl ammonium lead iodide can be heated to 122 Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) to release ammonia gas.


The perovskite-ammonia reaction is fully reversible, and the perovskite can be reused to store ammonia again after retrieval is completed. Interestingly, the perovskite also changes color to white when it stores ammonia and returns to its original yellow after ammonia is retrieved. Scientists can exploit this feature to make color-based sensors to determine the amount of ammonia stored in the perovskite.

He had not absorbed Raeder’s strategic insight

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

In 1940, the German high command sent a panzer expert, Major General Wilhelm von Thoma, to North Africa to find out whether German forces should help the Italians, Bevin Alexander explains (in How Hitler Could Have Won World War II) — and also, unofficially, to look over the Italian army in action (or rather inaction):

Thoma reported back that four German armored divisions could be maintained in Africa and these would be all the force necessary to drive the British out of Egypt and the Suez and open the Middle East to conquest. At the time Germany possessed twenty panzer divisions, none being used.

Hitler called Thoma in to discuss the matter. He told Thoma he could spare only one panzer division, whereupon Thoma replied that it would be better to give up the whole idea. Thoma’s comment angered Hitler. He said his concept of sending German forces to Africa was narrowly political, designed to keep Mussolini from changing sides.

Hitler’s comments to Thoma reveal he didn’t see the road to victory through Suez that Raeder had pointed out to him. If he had, he would have insisted on committing German troops.

Hitler’s interest was focused on keeping Mussolini happy and on wild schemes like assaulting Gibraltar. He had not absorbed Raeder’s strategic insight. His mind remained fixed on Russia. He was hoarding his tanks to use there. That’s why he couldn’t spare more than a single panzer division for Africa.

Notorious Russian sub commander assassinated on his morning jog

Tuesday, July 11th, 2023

A Russian submarine commander blamed for atrocities in Ukraine was gunned down on his morning jog in Krasnodar:

Stanislav Rzhitsky, a commander of a submarine in Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and the deputy head of mobilization efforts in Krasnodar, was shot four times in the back and chest in broad daylight on Monday morning, according to local media reports.


The Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate on Tuesday confirmed Rzhitsky’s murder but did not claim responsibility for it, noting only that he had commanded a Russian submarine “involved in missile attacks on Ukraine.” They said he’d been shot seven times with a Makarov pistol.


The Krasnodar submarine, equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles, was blamed by Ukrainian media for an attack on Vinnytsia last year that killed 27 people. Rzhitsky was also listed in a Ukrainian database that names and shames all those accused of involvement in war crimes.

But Ukrainian authorities say Rzhitsky had also made enemies in the Russian military after refusing to carry out any more missile strikes on Ukraine due to the risks to the civilian population. In a statement, the Department of Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed Rzhitsky was “eliminated by his own for refusing to further carry out the command’s combat orders.”


But it appears he may have inadvertently made it quite easy for his killer or killers to find him: Rzhitsky regularly posted his running routes on the popular exercise app Strava, and he usually stuck to the same route, according to Baza.

There are clandestine rules of the road

Monday, July 10th, 2023

One of the biggest secrets of the Ukraine war, William Arkin says, is how much the CIA doesn’t know:

The Agency is as uncertain about Volodymyr Zelensky’s thinking and intentions as it is about Vladimir Putin’s. And as the Russian leader faces his biggest challenge in the aftermath of a failed mutiny, the Agency is straining to understand what the two sides will do—because President Joe Biden has determined that the United States (and Kyiv) will not undertake any actions that might threaten Russia itself or the survival of the Russian state, lest Putin escalate the conflict and engulf all of Europe in a new World War. In exchange, it expects that the Kremlin won’t escalate the war beyond Ukraine or resort to the use of nuclear weapons.


“There is a clandestine war, with clandestine rules, underlying all of what is going on in Ukraine,” says a Biden administration senior intelligence official who also spoke with Newsweek. The official, who is directly involved in Ukraine policy planning, requested anonymity to discuss highly classified matters. The official (and numerous other national security officials who spoke to Newsweek) say that Washington and Moscow have decades of experience crafting these clandestine rules, necessitating that the CIA play an outsize role: as primary spy, as negotiator, as supplier of intelligence, as logistician, as wrangler of a network of sensitive NATO relations and perhaps most important of all, as the agency trying to ensure the war does not further spin out of control.

“Don’t underestimate the Biden administration’s priority to keep Americans out of harm’s way and reassure Russia that it doesn’t need to escalate,” the senior intelligence officer says. “Is the CIA on the ground inside Ukraine?” he asks rhetorically. “Yes, but it’s also not nefarious.”


Neither the CIA nor the White House would give specific responses for confirmation, but they asked that Newsweek not reveal the specific locations of CIA operations inside Ukraine or Poland, that it not name other countries involved in the clandestine CIA efforts and that it not name the air service that is supporting the clandestine U.S. logistics effort.


Intelligence experts say this war is unique in that the United States is aligned with Ukraine, yet the two countries are not allies. And though the United States is helping Ukraine against Russia, it is not formally at war with that country. Thus, much of what Washington does to aid Ukraine is kept secret – and much of what is normally in the realm of the U.S. military is being carried out by the Agency.


“The view advanced by many that the CIA is central to the fighting — say, for instance, in killing Russian generals on the battlefield or in important strikes outside Ukraine, such as the sinking of the Moskva flagship – doesn’t play well in Kyiv,” says one retired senior military intelligence official granted anonymity to speak with Newsweek. “If we want Kyiv to listen to us, we need to remind ourselves that the Ukrainians are winning the war, not us.”


“There are clandestine rules of the road,” says the senior defense intelligence official, “even if they are not codified on paper, particularly when one isn’t engaged in a war of annihilation.” This includes staying within day-to-day boundaries of spying, not crossing certain borders and not attacking each other’s leadership or diplomats. “Generally the Russians have respected these global red lines, even if those lines are invisible,” the official says.


“The CIA has been operating inside Ukraine, under strict rules, and with a cap on how many personnel can be in country at any one time,” says another senior military intelligence official.


Newsweek was unable to establish the exact number of CIA personnel in Ukraine, but sources suggest it is less than 100 at any one time.


Now, more than a year after the invasion, the United States sustains two massive networks, one public and the other clandestine. Ships deliver goods to ports in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland, and those supplies are moved by truck, train and air to Ukraine. Clandestinely though, a fleet of commercial aircraft (the “grey fleet”) crisscrosses Central and Eastern Europe, moving arms and supporting CIA operations.


Russian intelligence is very active in Ukraine, intelligence experts say, and almost anything the U.S. shares with Ukraine is assumed to also make it to Russian intelligence. Other Eastern European countries are equally riddled with Russian spies and sympathizers, particularly the frontline countries.


As billions of dollars worth of arms started flowing through Eastern Europe, another issue that the CIA is working on is the task of fighting corruption, which turned out to be a major problem. This involves not only accounting for where weapons are going but also quashing the pilfering and kickbacks involved in the movement of so much materiel to Ukraine.


From Poland, CIA case officers are able to connect with their many agents, including Ukrainian and Russian spies. CIA ground branch personnel of the Special Activities Center handle security and interact with their Ukrainian partners and the special operations forces of 20 nations, almost all of whom also operate from Polish bases. CIA cyber operators work closely with their Polish partners.

The QueSST produces a sonic thump, rather than a boom

Sunday, July 9th, 2023

Lockheed Martin’s experimental X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, or QueSST, built by the company‘s Skunk Works for NASA, provides no traditional forward visibility to its pilot:

Ultimately, it’s planned that the X-59 will achieve supersonic speeds over land that create no more than a sonic ‘thump’ — rather than the ‘boom’ associated with previous supersonic transports. That could convince U.S. and international regulators to change the laws governing supersonic commercial aviation.


This is all part of an overall design that’s specifically intended to reduce the kinds of sonic booms that have long been an obstacle in the way of commercial supersonic flight over land. With such a long snout ahead of them, the X-59’s pilot instead relies upon the eXternal Vision System (XVS) and an array of forward-facing high-resolution cameras. An aperture for the 4K camera used in the XVS can be seen in these new photos, located atop the nose, broadly above where the canard foreplanes are located.

Burrola was fired from his job for supposedly violating the store’s policies against chasing after thieves or intervening in a theft

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

A King Soopers employee in Colorado was fired after he filmed three men stealing $500 worth of laundry detergent:

Santino Burrola, a former military police officer, filmed the three shoplifters stealing the items on Father’s Day June 18 around 6:40 p.m.

The video shows three men in a parking lot hastily transferring laundry detergent into a vehicle. Burrola approaches the vehicle with his phone recording, playfully taunting the thieves.

“Look at them stealing,” he says off-camera. “Really bro? You gotta resort to this? Economy’s not that bad.”

The shoplifters hop in the car and start to drive away. Burrola manages to pull off the aluminum foil covering the license plate. At no point does Burrola physically engage with the shoppers.

The now-viral video has been shared by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and rapper Snoop Dogg, who has more than 80 million followers on Instagram.

Burrola was fired from his job for supposedly violating the store’s policies against chasing after thieves or intervening in a theft.

Emitting jamming beams discloses a jammer’s location

Friday, July 7th, 2023

Britain’s Royal United Services Institute and the US’s Pentagon have acknowledged that Russian electronic warfare is reducing the accuracy of American guided weapons, including JDAMs and HIMARS rockets:

In particular, Withington pointed to the Russian Army’s R-330Zh Zhitel, a mobile truck-mounted jamming system specifically designed to disrupt GPS and satellite communications in the 100 MHz to 2 GHz wavebands. “Signals from the U.S. GPS satellites which JDAM kits use are transmitted on wavebands from 1.164 GHz to 1.575 GHz,” according to Worthington. “These fall squarely within the R-330Zh’s catchment area.”

Worthington claims to have seen official documents that put the R-330Zh range at 18.6 miles, with a 10kW-strong jamming signal. This is “notably stronger than the strength of the GPS signal arriving from space,” he noted. “Moreover, the closer the GPS receiver is to the R-330Zh’s jamming antenna, the stronger the jamming signal becomes.”

In theory, the Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module upgrade to JDAM in the early 2000s should ensure that JDAM will only respond to authorized M-Code encrypted military GPS signals. However, Russian jammers may still be able to disrupt the signals through “sheer brute force” jamming beams, Withington said.

Russia could also intercept M-Code signals and retransmit them with slight alterations to a JDAM, causing the bomb to miss. Efforts to bypassing Russian interference by using signals from multiple GPS satellites could in turn be countered by employing multiple jammers.

Russia’s counter-GPS efforts are part of a massive electronic-warfare campaign that has also disrupted Ukrainian radio communications and drone operations.

Russian forces “now employ approximately one major EW system per 10 kilometers [6.2 miles] of frontage, usually situated approximately 7 kilometers [4.3 miles] from the frontline,” according a recent RUSI report on Russian tactics. This jamming has contributed to a Ukrainian drone loss rate that RUSI estimates to be as high as 10,000 UAVs per month.


Nonetheless, Russian electronic warfare has limitations. Emitting jamming beams discloses a jammer’s location, and Ukraine appears to have located and destroyed Russian systems such as the R-330Zh. Ironically, smothering the airwaves with powerful jamming beams may also be disrupting Russian GPS and radio communications.

The American republic has quietly, steadily acquired a military caste

Thursday, July 6th, 2023

Since the end of the draft, the American republic has quietly, steadily acquired a military caste:

A declining societal ethos of service, coupled to the tendency of mission-focused military recruiters to “fish where the fish are” by focusing on high-yield geographic areas, has made multigenerational military families the norm. In 2019, nearly 80 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who had served. For almost 30 percent, that person was a parent.


A 2021 survey by the Military Family Advisory Network found that just 62.9 percent of military and veteran families would recommend military life, down from 74.5 percent two years before.


The other structural challenge facing the AVF is that it is still based on the career and family norms of the 1950s. In an era of increased career mobility and dual-income households, the military is still designed for a world of single-income families with the civilian spouse playing the role of supportive camp follower.


With more women than men completing college and pursuing professional careers, the pool of families willing to take on the burden of military service under this model is steadily dwindling.

The military career model also assumes that senior leaders will be with the same organization for 30 years or more, making the institution an extreme outlier among large employers. This limits the talent pool to those who find such a commitment palatable. In a world where drones and artificial intelligence will likely dominate future conflicts, the isolated and heavily bureaucratic professional-development models of the military will struggle to keep up with the pace of innovation. Congress has authorized lateral entry measures—enlisting those with needed skills at far higher initial rank and pay—to break open this closed labor market, but cultural resistance from the services has prevented these policies from making much impact.

Only Erich Raeder, the German navy commander, saw the danger clearly enough to press repeatedly and with great conviction for another way to gain Germany’s goals

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

When Hitler announced his “resolve to bring about the destruction of the vitality of Russia in the spring of 1941,” Bevin Alexander explains (in How Hitler Could Have Won World War II), his top army generals, along with their staffs, amassed arguments to convince him to neutralize Britain before turning on Russia:

Only Erich Raeder, the German navy commander, saw the danger clearly enough to press repeatedly and with great conviction for another way to gain Germany’s goals.


Major General Alfred Jodl, chief of operations for the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW), or armed forces supreme command, felt the same way, though less openly and less forcefully. In a June 30, 1940, memorandum Jodl wrote that if the strike across the Channel did not come off, the Mediterranean offered the best arena to defeat Britain. His recommendation was to seize Egypt and the Suez Canal. Maybe the Italians could do it alone. If not, the Germans could help.

At the time the British had only 36,000 men in Egypt, including a single incomplete armored division under the command of General Sir Archibald Wavell. Moreover, Italy’s entry into the war had closed off Britain’s supply line through the Mediterranean except by means of heavily guarded convoys. The main British route now had to go 12,000 miles around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and up through the Red Sea.

Even if Britain devoted all its strength to building a strong army in Egypt, it would take months, perhaps a year, to do so. And Britain was not going to undertake such a task because it had to concentrate most of its efforts on defense of the homeland.

Italy, aided by Germany, could get superior forces to Italy’s colony of Libya far more quickly. At this stage, it would be relatively easy to use Luftwaffe bombers to neutralize Malta, a British possession only sixty miles south of Sicily, where aircraft, ships, and submarines constituted a major danger to Italian supply ships and reinforcements moving between Italy and Tripoli in Libya.

Hitler in his July 31 meeting did not wholly exclude a “peripheral strategy” in the Mediterranean, and Generals Walther von Brauchitsch, commander in chief of the army, and Franz Halder, chief of staff in the army high command, Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), proposed sending panzer forces (an “expeditionary corps”) and aircraft to Libya to help the Italians, who were planning an offensive into Egypt.


But Raeder’s main argument was that the Axis should capture the Suez Canal. After Suez, German panzers could advance quickly through Palestine and Syria as far as Turkey.

“If we reach that point, Turkey will be in our power,” Raeder emphasized. “The Russian problem will then appear in a different light. It is doubtful whether an advance against Russia from the north [that is, Poland and Romania] will be necessary.”

No one realized this truth better than Winston Churchill. In a message to President Roosevelt a few months later, he asserted that if Egypt and the Middle East were lost, continuation of the war “would be a hard, long, and bleak proposition,” even if the United States entered.


Once Axis forces overran Egypt and the Suez Canal, they would close the eastern Mediterranean to the Royal Navy. The British fleet would immediately retreat into the Red Sea, because it could not be adequately supplied by convoys through the western Mediterranean. Whether or not the Germans seized Gibraltar, Britain would be strategically paralyzed.


In possession of the Middle East, all of North and West Africa, and Europe west of Russia, its armed forces virtually intact, its economy able to exploit the resources of three continents, Germany would be virtually invincible. Britain’s defiance on the periphery of Europe would become increasingly irrelevant. Germany would not have to inaugurate an all-out U-boat war against its shipping.

Where Barbies rule and Kens are an underclass

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Greta Gerwig, the brain behind the new Barbie movie, considers herself a feminist, but…

But this movie is also dealing with [the idea that] any kind of hierarchical power structure that moves in any direction isn’t so great. You go to Mattel and it is really like, “Oh, Barbie has been president since 1991. Barbie had gone to the moon before women could get credit cards.” We kind of extrapolated out from that that Barbieland is this reversed world [where Barbies rule and Kens are an underclass]. The reverse structure of whatever Barbieland is, is almost like Planet of the Apes. You can see how unfair this is for the Kens because it’s totally unsustainable.

Secession Day comes once a year!

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Once again, happy Secession Day:

An M-80 contains 80 grains of flash powder

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

When I was a kid, every red-blooded American boy wanted to get his hands on some M-80s this time of year:

M-80s were originally made in the mid 20th century for the U.S. military to simulate explosives or artillery fire; later, M-80s were manufactured as fireworks. Traditionally, M-80s were made from a small cardboard tube, often red, approximately 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) long and 9/16 inch (1.4 cm) inside diameter, with a fuse coming out of the side; this type of fuse is commonly known as cannon fuse or Visco fuse, after a company responsible for standardizing the product. The tubes usually hold approximately 3 grams of pyrotechnic flash powder. The “M” is designated by a U.S. military convention for “standard” equipment and “80″ is for the 80 grains (5 grams) of flash powder within it.

They’re not quite legal:

Because an M-80 is a pyrotechnic device containing a charge in excess of 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic flash powder, civilian use requires a license issued by federal authorities. This is the result of the Child Protection Act of 1966 and regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, with the purpose of limiting the potential property damage and bodily harm M-80s can cause. This law also covers cherry bombs.

In 1975, federal regulations were passed to limit all consumer-grade fireworks available for general sale to the public in the United States to a maximum of 50 milligrams flash powder, down from a previous maximum of 200 milligrams. However, firecrackers mounted onto a rocket stick, or other aerial firework devices, such as rockets, Roman candles, and the larger version of M-80s (M-1000 etc.), may still have significantly more, up to 130 mg, or more, depending on device and classification, and can be legally purchased by any American civilian citizen, except where prohibited by state law.

A person with a federal explosives license, issued by the ATF, may be allowed to purchase M-80s. Federal and state officials sometimes distribute them to farmers to scare away wildlife damaging their crops.

M-84-Flash-Bang-GrenadeAn M84 flash-bang grenade contains 4.5 grams of magnesium and ammonium nitrate, by comparison:

Upon detonation, it emits an intensely loud “bang” of 170–180 decibels and a blinding flash of more than one million candela within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of initiation, sufficient to cause immediate flash blindness, deafness, tinnitus, and inner ear disturbance.