Thursday, February 1, 2007

Governmental Idiocy

In an advertising stunt for a cartoon, a firm put up little light displays throughout Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. It was basically a board with a bunch of LEDs in the shape of a cartoon character, powered by a few batteries. Here's a picture of one. Here's one up close, not illuminated. Here's a video of some of the installation. You can see the scale. They're Lite-Bright's, basically.

A student who saw one of the devices in Boston said:
It's so not threatening --- it's a Lite-Brite. I don't understand how they could be terrified. I would if it was a bunch of circuits blinking, but it wasn't.

A policeman in Portland said
At this point we wouldn't even begin an investigation, because there's no reason to believe a crime has occurred.

A police spokesman in Seattle said
We haven't had any calls to 911 regarding this.

However, in New York, they shut down a bridge for a short period of time. Seems prudent enough. They didn't know what it was. It was weird. They had to be safe.

And that'd be the end of the very boring story if not for Boston.... They shut down bridges; they shut down harbor traffic. They sent bomb squads all over the city, and brought traffic to a standstill. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.... Even if you think that they responded appropriately, they did it much too late. The devices had been up for 3 weeks. If they really had been bombs...

But I doubt you think they responded appropriately. Overreacting at non-threats really does nothing for security. If you were a terrorist, and for your nefarious purposes needed a distraction, or wanted to shut down a city, now you know that you should go to Boston. If you can so easily manipulate them into wasting time and energy and frustrating traffic, hey, what else do you need?

What's worse is that they have the chutzpah to charge the advertisers and ask that the TV company reimburse them for their unneeded bomb-chasing efforts. Why can't I ever find someone to pay me for running around and chasing my own tail? Why do they get to do pointless, ineffective things and not have to pay for them? Fortunately it seems the Judge is sane, and the charges don't apply (no criminal intent) so at least the advertisers won't go to jail simply because the local Boston government is too proud to admit their (pretty egregious) mistake.