This city is insane

Mooninite LED board

I am so embarrassed for Boston.

I keep alternating between wanting to laugh and wanting to punch someone. I want to laugh when I think about all this fuss over some litebrite aliens. I want to punch someone when some old man make a statement about how this is all very serious, or when I hear news organizations reporting on this without any sense of how ludicrous it is. Then I want to laugh again when I think about all the other cities that didn’t freak–Boston is my second-favourite American city, but this just makes them look silly.

I mean, if your Attorney General can stand up and say “It had a very sinister appearance. It had a battery behind it, and wires.” in front of reported with a straight face, we’ve clearly entered the comedy zone. It’s enough to make a person lose their faith (except, of course, that it’s illegal to do that here.)

Guys who got paid to put up signs might be going to jail because the signs look like a cartoon character, and apparently that is a clear sign of their terrorist intent. Too bad they didn’t just put up a sign with a corporate logo on it–no one would have freaked out over that. I guess the lesson for the terrorists is that if you want to put up bombs, don’t put a LED pixel cartoon character on them, instead put up an LED pixel Nike swoosh or something. Sigh.

Oh, and another thing: I am really tired of hearing this referred to as a “hoax”. That language implies that the intent was for people to think these were bombs, and it was a planned hoax. Anyone who looks at a Lite Brite space invader and thinks “it’s clearly a bomb” is nuts. The intent was clearly to make people curious, and lead to interest in the show.

I did have a moment of happiness though, while discussing this with a clerk at Newbury Comics. He made a comment along the lines of “well, man, you can’t expect those over-30s types to get it. It’s a generation gap thing.” I was happy, of course, because he clearly was putting me on the same side of 30 as him, when I’m actually over that hill by a few years now.

Some links:

LED ad campaign ignites terrorism scare in Boston
Boston Moonimite installer arrested
Arrest Made In Boston’s Hoax Device Incident

The only sane viewpoint I’ve seen in the major press: Many young Bostonians think city overreacted (Of course the article goes on to quote more insane defense of the over reaction.)

Oh, and here’s Schneier on the topic, full of links and his usual sense: Non-Terrorist Embarrassment in Boston

Of course, other cities didn’t have this problem: Devices Found In Seattle Did Not Cause Concern

I did kind of like the way the two guys just refused to take their court appearance seriously. I suspect that’s the only sane reaction to being arrested in these circumstances. You can see some video linked at Reason.

Also funny: new services that think this is a terribly serious story, but can’t even show photos of the object.

I guess I’m going to have to buy one of these t-shirts:

Mooninite Is The Bomb shirt

After all, I do want to express my amusement and contempt, and I don’t have the thousands of dollars it would take to get one of the signs on eBay.

Making Light had a nice page of links & comments on this too, but either they are down, or else the ISPs in Boston are blocking them at the moment. If I can see them again later, I’ll put the link in here. (Update: I can see the Making Light post on this now.)

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This work by Chris McLaren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada.