Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cry, My Belovéd Boston

"There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!"

- Patrick Henry

I have been alternately laughing and cringing since the cartoon characters vs. the keystone kops & the idiot officials of Boston began. I must, however, state for the record that while I am no big fan of the eastern part of this country and big cities in general I maintain a lingering fondness for Boston. I have some wonderful memories of the time I spent there. We owe the citizens of Boston a debt for the remaining liberties we have. They fought our revolution the soonest and paid enormous prices fighting doggedly alone for the three years it took the other colonies to join in. I have no wish or desire to see Boston become an "only a memory" like New Orleans.

While the talking heads of the news were chattering merrily away to feed the cameras, one of them started in on how "this is a hoax by college kids" or "they might have been left behind by careless students" and then, wrapped it all up by saying "these are all Federal Crimes."

I starting thinking to myself "Is it a federal crime to forget your backpack on the subway now?"

I don't think there was a crime at all. If they must, it would be littering or some other such bullshit. According to Arlo Guthrie littering's not all that bad a beef to have them hang on you. It might be enough to keep the two lads out of the draft when it is reinstated. I also don't think that the little press conference where they talked about hairstyles was all that out of line. The charges are that ludicrous. They don't deserve a serious response. The less seriously we take this farce the sooner it will all go away.

The fear they are so outraged about having been laid over the city was caused first, by the over reactions of the police. I mean, sweet holy saints and flowers, these were cardboard litebright signs. They didn't look like bombs, they weren't placed like bombs. The idiots that "detonated" them should have known that instantly. Then to have the streets shut down, the rivers cleared, all of that big hoorah was an extreme overplaying of the response. It's like calling a six alarm fire because someone had their TV playing that Yule Log loop in a model house open for demo.

Now, they want to throw a couple of kids in jail because they feel like fools and idiots? All that will do is make them look like freedom hating fools and idiots with a mean streak.

What would happen if people, just on their own, not in any organized fashion just started to "forget" their backpacks when walking around the city? There are four college campuses and numerous highschools in my immediate vicinity. Lots of students, lots of backpacks. Are they prepared to bring the city to a grinding halt every time some kid is forgetful? Even if it's done on purpose the kid's saying "oops, silly, silly me" holds more water than the vice president's claims of innocence in the Valerie Plame outing.

The city officials of Boston need to remember their history of loving freedom and standing up to tyranny. They need to start protecting the rights of their citizens instead of trying to cover their own asses.

They need to remember that there are lots of little backpacks that could just be left lying around. I hope we really don't live in a country where forgetting your backpack or posting a stupid little sign is now a federal crime.



Blogger Alex said...

Here is my favorite post about the brouhaha:

BoingBoing also has a lot of stuff about it:

Sadly, this has come about in large part because this government has gone out of its way to generate fear, and then exploit that fear. Sigh.

Not that the guerrilla marketing thing is all that great, either. But, seriously, they were just lite-brites! Sheesh!

9:05 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

What gets lost in all this bullshit is that Boston was one of what, 10(?) cities these things were in, and only the Boston police overreacted like this. How many light brights do you have to look at before you figure out that what you're looking at are light brights?

9:52 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the crux of the issue that i see is that the police and the city government were acting like idiots and fools, then when everybody noticed that they were idiots and fools they became embarrased. now somebody must pay. sheesh.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Yeah, that's it in a nutshell.

11:00 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Just imagine if it had been Speak'n'Spells rather than Lite-Brites. The hostage negotiation team woulda been probably called in to talk down the bomb!

- BT

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you go back and check where they were placed in Boston, you'll see that they were placed in wonderful places - perfect places really - if you were intending to paralyze the city's transportation network.

Before you jump to conclusions about how this was all a lot of nothing, it would behoove you to learn more details.

Very few of the other cities had any of these placed under bridges or at subway stations, let alone major ones....

- oddjob (I don't have a problem with a farce, I have a huge problem with a farce that is easily misinterpreted by those not connected to a channel of cartoons)

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, have you changed your email address, Minstrel Boy? I tried sending an Op-ed column link to you earlier this evening and it wouldn't go through.

- oddjob

9:55 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Look, Oddjob, I saw the pictures of the panels as they were being pulled off. It was obvious just from those pictures that we're talking about magnetic lightboards, not bombs. There was no *volume* to these things. They were *boards*. Literally. Too skinny to have any more explosive than a large fire-cracker in them. The only "lump" to them was the battery pack and it was obviously full of batteries, not explosives. There was no "there" there. The things just physically were incapable of being bombs. They had no freakin' volume. They were BOARDS!

Only a moron would have thought these were bombs. But that is what we're ruled by. Morons. If someone had left a Speak-n-spell on a subway train, they probably would have called a hostage negotiator in to talk it down. Morons. Feh.

As for where to leave advertisements of this nature, you leave them in public places where there's lots of people walking or driving by. Like subway stations. Or the undersides of bridges where people driving by at night will see them blinking. You know, places where people go? Duh?

Sorry, I don't buy the "they looked like bombs!" defense of the City of Boston's idiot rulers. Because the only thing they looked like was what they were -- light boards. Lite-Brites. Duh.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When called in they weren't lit up. Obviously a passerby didn't notice anything to do with "Lite Brites". I'm just barely young enough that I even know what those were, and at 47 there are plenty of people older than me who have no interest in the internet and no interest in Lite Brites, either.

They easily could have found other places, as they did in other cities, where less concern would have been raised.

You weren't here during 9/11, were you?


- oddjob

10:29 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

email's the same. but my service was down for a while this afternoon. they're building a stucco yuppie holding pen about a mile down the road and sometimes they backhoe the wrong pole over.

look, i'm all for security. shit i live behind a cactus fence (prickly pear has the added attraction of being a great jam and syrup producer too) have several big ass dogs and a grip of guns. but this was a hobo clusterfuck. as tux pointed out, of course they put them where traffic would see them. that's what you do with ads. the more traffic, the more valuable the time in place. but the whole taking down flat, narrow, steady light patterns that don't look like much beyond the cardboard and the little l.e.d. thingies is beyond over reaction. in the handling it took to take them down and detonate under armor anybody with half a fucking brain would realize that it was not any shape, size or capable of functioning as a bomb.

also, friend oddjob, the 911 citation doesn't fly on this one. it would have been closer to madrid or london had it been an actual plot.

my very own blood ran cold when i thought of something like old north church, jacob wirth's, or even a stupid brigham's coffee shop just off the common going up in flames and rubble. or the uss constitution, or fenway, or k-k-k-katie's in cambridge (although it's probably a fucking fern bar by now, it used to be full of cliffies and m.i.t. babes).

the over reaction and the subsequent ass covering and vengefull actions against people who were just acting like playfull capitalists does not make me rest any easier. if these guys can be so fucking stupid on a falst alarm the real thing will literally blow them the fuck away.

10:50 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

I'm sorry I dumped a bit, it occurs to me that some of you haven't actually seen one of these things up close, all you've heard is whatever talking heads have said. Check it out. Doesn't look like much of a bomb, does it? It's a circuit board with LED's. For more pictures, see Todd Vanderlin's photostream, he took one down a couple of weeks ago and took pictures of it (note the dates on the uploaded pictures -- TWO WEEKS AGO!).

There's no "there" there. The closest part to looking like a bomb is the plastic battery case, which is sorta tubular (it got cut off the bottom of this picture), but not big enough to blow a hole in anything even if it wasn't obviously just a battery case to power the circuit board. This isn't television. You can't blow up a bridge with a round plastic tube the size of a small flashlight. Reality just doesn't work like that. Even if it were packed with steel shot, a plastic tube with explosives in it would make a big bang and that's pretty much it. I realize that not everybody had a depraved childhood taking the gunpowder and shot out of old shotgun shells and making the result go boom (or fizzle, for the most part -- it's *hard* to make things go boom), but hysteria has no place in civil society, and anybody looking at this thing and saying "bomb" is just being a hysterical ninny. I'm sorry. Go look at the pictures yourself. Go. I'll wait for you.

- BT

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my favorite take on it.

This one is good, too.

- oddjob

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


- oddjob (who also points out that whether one makes the link to 9/11, or to Madrid/London, the emotional effect is the same if you're on the receiving end)

8:12 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

yeah, there's blame enough to go around. the second link (oops!) is outstanding. yes, indeed, i believe turner needs to pay. hell yes, they had enough money that they could have played by the rules. the kids, rude, sophomoric, all of that, but there was a fierce truth about the way they picked an obscure, meaningless subject. they weren't thumbing their noses to the public. they were thumbing their noses to the authorities and their media flacks. if they had wanted to capitalize on things, they could have responded only by plugging the cartoon show. the end result is that the authorities ended up looking like fools, turner got a lot of free press, and a couple of cash money kids got their moment in the lights.

above all, i am grateful that nothing in boston got blown up.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Wha? You mean it's safe to come out of the bunker now?

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

above all, i am grateful that nothing in boston got blown up.


OT: The latest idiocy down in New Haven.....

- oddjob

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I just paid attention to the conservative twit's surname. He's most certainly not living up to it!

- oddjob

10:49 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Well, Oddjob, what can I say. The things are obviously not a bomb if you know how explosives work, and bomb squads are supposed to know how explosives work. I mean, it's not like they're some redneck who spent his childhood blowing shit up with stuff found around the household and thus learned "bomb" and "not-a-bomb" via experience, they're supposed to, like, have actual TRAINING in this shit. Saying the lite-brites had "components consistent with an IED" makes sense except for only one thing -- THERE'S NO FUCKING PLACE FOR THE "EXPLOSIVE" PART OF "IED"! They had "I" They had "D". But if you ain't got no "E", you ain't got no "IED"! What you got is "ID". As in, if you are a bomb squad dude who thinks this is a bomb, IDiot.

I don't blame the poor slob who called in the first one, all he knows is TV show shit, where you got blinking lights and something that looks like a stick of dynamite (real bombs capable of doing damage don't look like that, there are some fundamental laws of physics involved here). I don't blame the newsies for going batshit, they know no more than any average slob on the street, though you'd think they'd open their Yellow Pages, look under "Explosives", and, like, actually get a real explosives expert on the line, who coulda told them in 10 microseconds "not a bomb"? But hey, that'd be REPORTING, and that'd be WORK, and TV reporting is about hysteria, not work, so obviously too much to expect. I don't blame whatever Boston cop first saw the thing for calling out the bomb squad, shit, he knows no more about how a bomb works and thus what it must look like than OddJob or the average TV-watching slob. But the moment the bomb squad saw that thing, they should have said "Not a bomb", pulled it down, tossed it in the back of their truck, and gone home, and Mayor Mumbles should have held a press conference and said "No, not a bomb, it was an advertising sign" and that would have been that. Total incident, total disruption to Boston commuting, 30 minutes top. Instead, what we got was hysterical. In all senses of the word. Just hours and hours of sheer, utter stupidity. It was as if someone had left a Speak'n'Spell on the subway, and the city called in a hostage team to negotiate with it. GAH!

You know, it occurs to me that Mayor Mumbles and Time-Warner may both have gotten what they wanted out of this. Mayor Mumbles is a camera hog who jumps on any excuse to get on camera. If he'd just said "Not a bomb", well, he would have had 10 seconds on the evening news and that's that. But making it into some big incident, he got lots of press time out of it, as did Time-Warner for their non-aquatic talking fast food cartoon. Mayor Mumbles got the face time he wanted, Time-Warner got the face-time they wanted, and the people (including the two dudes who whacked'em up) got the shaft. As usual.

11:27 AM  

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