Boston meets the Mooninites

More evidence that fear does not make people smarter. For folks who are not up on this latest Keystone Kops incident, yesterday the Boston PD, local and state government, and the media went ape after someone reported a suspicious device (one of which is pictured above). Additional devices were found around town – they’d been there for, apparently, three weeks. Look like a bomb to you? Not to me – I’m well past the twenty-something demographic, but I recognized the moon guys instantly. If I wanted to blow something up I might use a NEMA enclosure with some conduit coming out of it to hide my device; a high tech Lite-Brite – not so much.
Now, of course, the powers-that-be are embarrassed and are going to get even – starting with the 2 poor schmucks who put the nefarious devices up. Go ahead, fine ’em for violating a ‘post no bills’ law – write ’em a ticket, but anything more? Come on.
This is, as far as I’m concerned, a kind of Type II error – evaluate the hypothesis as true (OMG, we must treat those things as IEDs) when it is in fact false – the kind of error that is far more likely when dealing with terrorism (because there are so few terrorists and so much random real life going on) than a Type I: ‘that’s nothing to be concerned about’, pause, !boom!. It would seem to me that public safety folks might want to examine why they committed such a large and long mistake and do so in a public way so everyone can learn from the fiasco, rather than concentrating on whuppin’ on a couple of Lite-Brite hangers. I know, I know – I’m living in a fantasy world, but seriously – we need to start holding folks, government and media both, to account. Panic, overreaction and constant fear are no way to run a city, state or nation. In the absence of any real ‘learn from our mistakes’ effort, I suggest mockery.
A little later – Speaking of mockery… My favorite comment:
Seventy-five-hundred-thousand dollars for emergency response services, a cool three-quarters of a million bucks, according to May-yah Mumbles (aka The Honorable T. Menino), and over the course of their busy workday they still only found 10 or 11 of the original 38 “performance pieces”. Of course, most of the missing 20-odd were probably pried loose and are now adorning dorm walls, or eBay auctions. But, yeah, at least one local bloviator (Jon Keller) thinks that the poor schmuck responsible should be punished, “they should throw the thickest book possible at him”, not least because of the “vulgar hand signal” part. Because nothing says “Al Queda Pwned Amurka!!1!” like a frowny icon flipping us the Lite-Brite bird.Pants-Pisher Nation. We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Even later – I just did my little truth-table – if the null hypothesis (presumed state of nature) is ‘no bomb’, I believe I’m OK describing this as a type II error. If I’ve boogered up the type number (I or II), my point remains…

2 thoughts on “Boston meets the Mooninites

  1. i guess the poor guy that put them up was a massart student looking for a little spending money from an advertising company and not to mention its pretty cool. and i guess the mooninites were found in ten different cities and the company sent out memos to those ten cities including boston (they were found in denver and other various places across the counry). did boston choose to ignore the memo so that they would appear safer? and you would think after detonating one they would figure out it isnt a bomb and wouldnt have to blow up all the rest. but i guess man loves fire, blowing up shit is cool.

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