First there was a Greenbrier graduate injured at Georgia Tech while trying to make a backyard explosive.
Then there were the two Augusta teens burned with chemicals last week while trying to detonate a homemade bomb.
All of the young pyrotechnicians were treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital. All will presumably be in a bit of trouble, especially last week's bomb-makers.
And thanks to the Internet, we can expect to see a whole lot more of this sort of mischief in the future.
Just spend a few minutes with Google, or searching around on YouTube. The information genie is out of the bottle, and enterprising kids are putting it to use.
Potato guns, like the one seized from one of the Augusta boy's homes, have been around a long time - though rarely in the howitzer-size they'd created. Pipe bombs have been around even longer.
The chlorine bomb that injured the two teens last week is a little newer, and obviously far more dangerous than just dropping Mentos into a Diet Coke bottle. But it's all nothing more than the result of natural curiosity rising to the level that it crosses the line into destructiveness, pushed exponentially by the information age.
Back when I was in high school, one of my classmates showed off a simple but ingenious explosive device he'd made. It had an impact detonator, and the grenade-like device could be attached to an arrow or stick and either thrown or shot from a bow, with enough power to blow a foot-wide hole in pavement.
One of our classmates, intrigued by the concept, tried to make one of the bombs in his basement. Unfortunately for him, he was smoking a cigarette while he collected the black powder from shotgun shells.
He's lucky that the resulting explosion only took off one of his fingers.
This story isn't an anomaly, either. Just about every male who has ever been a teenager has a similar story of themselves or a friend who made something go boom. But back then we didn't see Web videos of other kids doing it, and have 24-hour access to bombmaking manuals.
Does any of that excuse these boys' mischief? Absolutely not. But I'm guessing being seriously injured by chlorine exposure, followed by the humiliation of standing in a restaurant parking lot, buck naked, being hosed off by Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue firefighters, is probably worse than any punishment the courts are likely to throw at them.
If it were up to me, the thing I'd really like the courts to throw at these boys has nothing to do with bombs: They should have to work off every single penny they cost Wife Saver.
Think about it: The cops said these teens were driving back home after having accidently set off their device prematurely in a remote field in McCormick County.
Contaminated with chlorine, they scooted up Furys Ferry Road and stopped at the first publicly accessible restroom they came to, which meant the Wife Saver at North Belair Road. It just so happened they ran in right at the beginning of the dinnertime rush.
The restaurant was evacuated only briefly as a precaution, but the entire property was cordoned off from customers for nearly two hours. By the time the fire trucks left and the police tape came down, most of the hungry had gone elsewhere.
That's a lot of lost business, and these boys should have to make up for every penny of it.
I suspect they've had enough of bombmaking already. If it were up to me, they'd soon be so sick of chicken-frying that they'd turn vegetarian.
And while we're at it, we should make them post a video from their parking lot cold-water decontamination shower on YouTube. It might not stop any other dumb kid from making a bomb, but it'll give the rest of us something to laugh at while we worry about it.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail barry.paschal@newstimes online.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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