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Prisoners' Inventions: MacGuyver meets the prison system

07:34 PM ET (US)
i need plans to make a shank out of a plasic barbie doll
07:33 PM ET (US)
i love prisoners
DopPerson was signed in when posted
04:24 PM ET (US)
I've always thought one of the greatest bits of prisoner ingenuity was the glider being constructed by the prisoners of war at Colditz, out of pilfered wood and bedsheets.
The war ended and they were released before the glider flew, but recently a replica was made which flew very well, showing the escape would have worked.
@lph@m@lePerson was signed in when posted
01:08 PM ET (US)
don't get me wrong - 6 ways to light a cigarette when you are cigarette-lighter-less is pretty cool in a boy's own annual kind of way-
but where are the home made tattoo guns and flame throwers made out of coke cans and wiresnips put together from toothpicks and belt buckles? Thats the kind of stuff we're gonna need when the RIAA gets its own police force.
strawberryPerson was signed in when posted
08:06 PM ET (US)
By the way, the NPR show "This American Life" (a great one-hour show every week) just did something on this back on August 15th. I haven't listened to it yet, but plan to...

hop on over to to listen to the episode... (click on the "03" to get to it as it's listed under the 2003 episodes... their site is done with frames, but I think you can use this link -- -- to hop right to the episode... just click on the RA icon to start a RealAudio stream...)


A run-down of the episode follows:

Episode 244

In real life, we usually never get to invent ingenious solutions, like the guy in the old TV series "MacGyver." Today, four real stories in which real people invent amazingly clever solutions to their problems.

Prologue. Ira reminds the audience about the old TV series "MacGyver," about the guy who stops bad guys without a gun. He uses science and sheer ingenuity to invent solutions. Then Ira interviews This American Life contributing editor Sarah Vowell, who lives in New York, about how, even in the middle of the biggest power failure in the history of the U.S., it's hard for an average citizen to exercise MacGyveresque ingenuity. (4 minutes)

Act One. Bolt of Lightning, Pro and Con. Chuck Klosterman talks about the time he MacGyvered his way out of one of the worst situations a boyfriend can find himself in. Klosterman is the author of the book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. (6 minutes)

Act Two. Files in Cakes, Ha! There's a book called Prisoners' Inventions, by a California inmate who publishes under the pseudonym Angelo. He describes (and draws intricate drawings of) the ingenious devices prisoners build out of the rudimentary materials at hand. Actor Felix Solis reads excerpts. Our story was produced with help from Jonathan Menjivar; thanks also to Temporary Services. The book is available on the website (4 minutes)

Act Three. So Crazy It Just Might Work. The story of an FBI sting that involves gangsters, g-men, and lots and lots of people who want to work in the movies. It's adapted from an article by Elizabeth Gilbert that first appeared in GQ magazine. (25 minutes)

Act Four. A Girl's Guide to Mending the Unmendable. Susan Burton tells the story of how she used a clever scheme to get over a broken heart. (17 minutes)"
Edited 08-29-2003 08:10 PM
erniePerson was signed in when posted
05:27 PM ET (US)
A dude once told me when he was in the jug he could make a dead guy out of a steel shank and a live guy.
Edited 08-29-2003 05:27 PM
DeleonPerson was signed in when posted
03:17 PM ET (US)
What... no wifi?
Adam BtlerPerson was signed in when posted
12:50 PM ET (US)
Can you spell pedant?
Adam ButlerPerson was signed in when posted
09:13 AM ET (US)
This must be noted -- the show and the man were named "MacGyver" with no "U" mixed in. MacGyver was my childhood hero, I can't bear to see his name sullied by indifference...

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