Friday, September 21, 2007

A tutorial for the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police

This is a bomb: This is not a bomb: This is a bomb: This is not a bomb: This is a bomb: This is not a bomb. So, uhm, could you guys, like, quit threatening to kill people who are, like, carrying around the "not a bomb" stuff? It's, like, totally uncalled for. Thank you!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin


  1. Gotta disagree. Given the previous experience of the Boston Police and the airport, she should have known what the response would be. To try and excuse it as "art" simply shows her as a self indulgent twit. Even the noted jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes would not condone crying fire in a crowded theater or teasing the Boston Police with blinking lights more than once.

  2. Uhm, it was morning, she'd been wearing this jacket for days and apparently just picked it out of the pile at random or because she wanted to show it off to her boyfriend ("dude, look! The LED's form a STAR and my name is STAR!"), and the Boston Police were supposed to have figured out after the Lite Brite incident that LED's on a circuit board are not a bomb. Frankly, if I were a 19 year old kid again I probably wouldn't have thought about it either. Not that I was anywhere as cool and geeky as this kid when I was 19.

    I suggest that you need to go look at my "bomb" and "not a bomb" pictures again, dude. Hint: If it's a circuit board with LED's, it's NOT A BOMB. GAH! How simple can it get?!

    - Badtux the Electronics Penguin

  3. State Police at the airport not the BPD. Get your facts straight before your wry comments about airport bombings.

  4. Hmm. You're right, it was the state police. But since they'd also been responders to the whole Lite Brite fiasco, they should have known better too. Real bombs don't look like a circuit board with LED's in the shape of a cartoon character (or a star). Hmm, let me add to the above title...

  5. Yes, but she had a wad of Play-Doh with her...which looks nothing at all like plastique and was probably being used for "mouse wrist" rather than the absurdly expensive wad of Play-Doh inside a plastic bag that my Mother's doctor "prescribed".

    Wait a minute, they always have a countdown timer on bombs in the movies, maybe that star was a cleverly disguised clock that only terrorists know about...or just another bad geek joke.

  6. I'm not so sure that this wasn't handled correctly. Unfortunately, not all bombs say "BOMB" on them in big bold letters. Some surprisingly innocent looking devices can be bombs. And, not all detonators look like Wile E. Coyote's red plunger box. Sometimes, they're fabricated on prototype boards by crazed suicide nuts (since they usually don't go into mass production on etched PC boards).

    Unfortunately, it's hard for the police, even educated police, to be able to recognize the difference at a glance. About all they can be expected to do is to look for things out of the ordinary. And, a gal in a hoodie with a circuit board attached to her jacket, and a lump of plastic explosive looking material in her hand is a bit out of the ordinary.

    After an incident like this, I think we're all wondering "What was she thinking?".


    P.S. I'm not in law enforcement, but I do a lot of work with emergency management people, so I have had some limited experience with things like this.

  7. God forbid that these cops ever wander onto the MIT campus by mistake, then. They'd have multiple heart attacks and end up calling in the National Guard because of all the obvious "bombs" walking around. Geek art is about as "out of the ordinary" as the Nike swoosh around there. And after the last time they made themselves look like jackasses, they should have figured out that (duh) circuit boards with cartoon characters (or LED's in the shape of a star) displayed proudly in a public place (as vs. hidden) ARE NOT A BOMB. (And play-doh does NOT look like plastique, for cryin' out loud, and even if it did, plastique without a detonator and wire to detonate it is utterly harmless).

    The fact of the matter is that these cops are dolts. The whole situation could have been handled by one cop, gun holstered, going up to the girl and saying, "excuse me, I need to know what that is on your chest," and then when she answered "it's art", say "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to take this for now because it's making people nervous" and take it. No charges required. No bomb scare. No muss. No fuss. I mean, I can expect an airline reservations lady to not know the difference between geek art and a bomb. A cop in one of the most high-tech savvy cities in America, on the other hand, has no excuse.

    - Badtux the Geeky Penguin


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.