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Boston officials officially stupid

2007-02-01 19:00:16.677783+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

Yesterday, apparently Boston officials went completely bonkers over some Cartoon Network promotional devices. Favorite quote: reported in Gizmodo and the Boston Globe:

"It had a very sinister appearance," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters. "It had a battery behind it, and wires."

My god. Batteries *and* wires? As s388 (910768) said in the /. thread:

The police apparently learned what bombs look like from hollywood movies and comic books.

The MPAA should definitely foot the bill.

While I'm not a fan of littering, which this promotion clearly was, I think one of the perpetrators puts it in perspective:

"I find it kind of ridiculous that they're making these statements on TV that we must not be safe from terrorism, because they were up there for three weeks and no one noticed. It's pretty commonsensical to look at them and say this is a piece of art and installation," he said.

Or, as Jay said: "It's over. The terrorists have won." Good $DEITIES, people, can't we expect just a little bit of basic intelligence and awareness of the world from our law enforcement and public officials? I'd hope that various public offices today are flooded with calls calling for the resignation of the aforementioned Ms. Coakley and the members of the Boston police force who screwed this up so badly, but, alas, I know better.

[ related topics: Technology and Culture moron Law Enforcement Television ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-01 19:22:04.515772+00 by: warkitty

I saw that "batteries and wires" comment and about fell out laughing. Good Gods man, by that logic the cute little mini xmas lights I got to wrap around my bike for the Xmas parade is a bomb. Its got batteries (4 AA) an wires! OMG call the police!

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-02 00:56:34.828109+00 by: meuon

GoodVibes.Com must be full of rabid terrorists.. They even have things with blinking lights, numeric displays and make buzzing noises, as well as batteries and wires.

And while I'd like to think people were smarter than they are.. I did some tech support to B.S. Degree'd professionals today and I know better.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-02 01:14:29.071964+00 by: other_todd

Hmm. I should like to think that my perspective is untainted by the fact that I live in the area in question, but let's just enter that into evidence anyhow.

Fact of the matter is, while I agree that upon closer inspection it was obvious these devices were benign, it was still a damned stupid publicity stunt. The whole thing would be a non-issue right now if the nice people at the network had made ONE phone call in advance. "By the by, we're gonna be doing this, it's harmless, don't panic." Why they did not do this baffles me.

My primary concern was that the young gents who were paid to install the things - who are, to my mind, innocent parties in this mess - not go to jail. They're out on bail now and the judge admits there ain't much of a case, so I'm no longer worried about that.

Now the way is clear for the mayor to try to extort a hell of a lot of damage money out of the network, and frankly, I hope he succeeds. Boneheadedness all around, in sum, but the first and foremost bonehead was the guy who didn't drop a dime to the mayor's office before deploying.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-02 04:12:19.046744+00 by: topspin [edit history]

As it's emerging that this MIGHT be an ad campaign.... a call to the mayor's office would've gotten them nowhere as I'm sure they would've been told "Absolutely not."

As it stands, I think the judge has said the D.A. needs to prove "intent" to create a panic for them to face any serious charges or liability. Good luck with that.

And these guys have done their job: any publicity is good publicity.

Boneheaded? Hardly.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-02 04:26:48.910565+00 by: baylink

Well, an assertion was made, and I'll buy it sight unseen, that the BPD *KNEW* those devices were benign, having opened up the first one, *and permitted the feds to start the fracas anyway*.

#Comment Re: All too common a mentality made: 2007-02-02 15:59:04.105864+00 by: m

I would actually think more of the human mind if such hysteria were limited to "terrorist" threats. But as a species, we permanently live with such insanity.

Reminds me of a medical waste scare that struck the NJ-NY shoreline 10 or so years ago. Police and ambulance technicians were identifying all sorts of normal beach litter as surgical remains. Chicken bones were "positively" from human fingers, some kind of kids summer ices in a long tube were identified as surgical tube, etc. When all was said and done, the final output of identified medical waste from the 100 miles of shore line, including bandaids and similar items, was about 6 shopping bags full over a four week time span. This I know to be true because I worked in a lab where the "speciemens" were brought in for examination. But the fallout from this craze was incredible. Small business's related to the shore closed. Areas where a couple of hundred thousand people would normally go swimming were also closed.

Another squirrelly fad was (is) over the flesh eating bacteria scare. Necrotizing fasciitis is reported about 1500 times a year to the CDC. The incidence of the disease did not change over the course of this fad, only the perception of its existence. Slow news days seem to cause a frequent lowgrade resurgence of the fear mongering on this one.

Like the poor, fear mongering fads are always with us. Humans seem to have a need to be afraid of something, perhaps anything. I suspect that this behavior is a result of a pretty much unused fight or flight system that was integral to our ancestors. Most of us don't have much to fear on a physical basis any more. Bears, large cats, etc are not much of a problem these days. But the adrenalin response system is there, quite eager to be put into use.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-03 01:00:00.010184+00 by: Dan Lyke

So in nine other cities officials saw it exactly for what it was: here's Seattle's response.

Bruce Schneier on the whole fiasco, and Making Light has more, including stuff on why Boston police and officials were idiots in previous incidents and this is only one more example of institutionalized stupidity.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-03 16:50:39.201647+00 by: Dan Lyke

Something Positive on the situation:

Oh sure, we're safe from lite brites, but what'll happen when the Lego people of Connectitron-S attack?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-02-07 23:51:53.016051+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ben Williams writes a letter to Mayor Menino, and over in Columbine's comments Trinker says "we should fight back".