75-year-old woman detained for 2 hours in urine-soaked pants for trying to sell moon rock shard

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/17/75-year-old-woman-detained-for.html


The really fucked up thing about this story is that it’s the “trying to sell a paperweight” and not the “trying to sell firearms” bit that landed her in trouble.

Remember folks: guns don’t kill people, tiny slivers of moonrock embedded in glass do!


Well I’m sure the Federal agent will feel very bad, having been called a jerk on the internet. I wonder if there will be any other consequences?


ya know - most folks from her generation? only think of firearms as used for hunting, target shooting, etc.

consider the perspective of a 75yr old widow.

Kindness - we all need a little more kindness.


Ah yeh, don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t casting aspersions on her behaviour at all.

It just strikes me as a little weird that in an advanced society, it should be the paperweight that gets her arrested rather than the firearms. I don’t think she’s at fault here but as an outsider, I do think the US legal system has some odd priorities…


I’m not casting aspersions on her behavior, but on the behavior of the rando buying the guns from her.

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There it is in writing folks: the United States of America OWNS the fucking moon!



At no point was she informed that all lunar material is the property of the federal government and that possession was a crime, the court said.

Yeah, I knew this. Shouldn’t that be the first words out of the guys mouth? WTF is the point of a sting of investigation? It’s a waste of everyone’s time and money.

Though there are a handful of moon rocks in private circulation from gifts to world leaders and a few others. All the others are supposed to be gov. property, though it sounds like a few have snuck out here and there.

You CAN get a lunar rock that fell as a meteorite.Not really the same thing though as having one brought back from Apollo.


They only lay claim to the samples they brought back. The Russians have a few grams from probes brought back.


Good thing it wasn’t coral. :anguished:


Hmm. I read elsewhere that is is in fact NOT illegal to possess bits of moon rock and that NASA is out of line in trying to claim otherwise:


What good would it do to go after this woman? Great, buddy, you made sure that the rules were enforced. Good for you. Just make sure you drive 55mph on the highway… not, 56, not 55 and a half, but 55.


So that special agent Norman Conley can feel like his life has a purpose :question:





A few microscopic bits of material returned from the moon ended up in private people’s hands legitimately. There is a semi-notorious story about a photographer, some Scotch Tape, and some moon dust:

Occasionally you have some yoyo try to steal a lunar sample and sell it on ebay or elsewhere, but those are few and far between.

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knowing this crazy world, she can probably get more for the urine soaked pants on ebay then the moon rock paperweight or firearms.


Widows sell gun collections all the time. Quite a few of my guns have come from such collections, or from the husband who wants to make sure that his collection brings in what it is worth when he knows he is getting older, and is thinking of those he will leave behind.
That being said, the moon rock sting seems to be about going after easy prey. If they go after a violent criminal, it could be dangerous, or the criminal might escape.

Edit- Sort of OT, but I think the method my Dad taught me is worth noting. Someone calls him about a gun collection that they are selling. He will go over, take inventory and photos. Then, he would get offers on each gun by two or more reputable dealers. He would show the offers and photos to me, in case I wanted to top the dealer’s offer on some of them. Then he would take the written offers to the owner, along with any offers he wanted to make.
What happens is that the widow or veteran gets a reasonable price for their collection, so they are happy. Dad and I get first crack at collections that may be rare and have never been on the market. Also, since the owner is happy, they tell all the other ladies at the bridge club. So we get lots of calls. Sometimes it is someone who is just uncomfortable with guns in the house, because the boyfriend moved out or grandpa is going senile.
As a bonus, we know the gun laws here, and always follow them and provide documentation.

We also get some aviation and space collections. No moon rocks, yet.


She contacted NASA and was clearly unfamiliar with the law about selling or possessing this material. She was forthcoming and obviously in no danger of harming anyone. 75-year-old woman, 23-year-old guy, whatever. Maybe a fine and a lecture would have been in order?

Have we finally run out of criminals to apprehend?


A prosecutor may be able to prove that the fragment came from the moon, by destroying it. But that won’t prove that it was transported to Earth by Apollo. Maybe its not moon rock after all.

At the end of his book Carrying the Fire, Michael Collins describes a table covered with lunar rocks where the crew casually swept dust from the rocks onto the floor, to the horror of NASA officials.

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Lock her up and throw away the key.