Technology
Updated: Boston Mooninite installers arrested

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Update: Here’s a press conference video with the artists – folks, you can’t make this stuff up – Link.

A follow up to yesterday’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force LED art shuts down Boston” coverage – Two of the artists who put magnetic lights up as part of an ad campaign were arrested, based on the city’s current “post 9-11” stance it’s likely they will each get the death penalty, or perhaps worse.

CNN sent me an email and I talked to them briefly – a few blinky magnetic signs aren’t “hoax devices” and unfortunately what was demonstrated is best summed up by a MAKE reader “…anyone can cripple a city with little or no expense. Real bomb not even needed. All that’s necessary is pathetic paranoia.”

From CNN:

“Authorities have arrested two men in connection with electronic light boards depicting a middle-finger-waving moon man that triggered repeated bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday and prompted the closure of bridges and a stretch of the Charles River.

Peter Berdovsky, 27, a freelance video artist from Arlington, Massachusetts, and Sean Stevens, 28, were facing charges of placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic, as well as one count of disorderly conduct, said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The hoax charge is a felony, she said. Both men were arrested Wednesday evening.

Authorities believe Berdovsky was “in the employ of other individuals” as part of the marketing campaign, Coakley said. “How exactly this was executed, we are still investigating.” Berdovsky is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Thursday in Charlestown District Court.”

Pictured here, Ignignokt by lunarbull. Image created by Fark user Toonz.

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Men accused of hoax plead not guilty

The artists shuffled into Boston Municipal Court in handcuffs. Stevens was particularly animated, grinning at the gallery of about 40 supporters and raising his cuffed hand to give a low wave.

Judge Paul K. Leary seemed skeptical of the state’s case, telling Grossman that the law requires that people must intend to create a panic to be charged with placing hoax devices. This case, the judge said, seemed to involve two men who relatives say were paid to place unorthodox advertisements throughout the city.

More:

  • Artist arrested for planting marketing figures – Link.
  • TV Network Takes Responsibility For ‘Hoax Devices’ – Link.
  • Suspicious Devices in Boston Turn Out to Be Ad Campaign for Cartoon – Link.
  • Who Hates Guerilla Marketing in Boston? – Link.
  • Two held after ad campaign triggers Boston bomb scare – Link.
  • Statement from Turner Broadcasting Co. – Link.
  • Peter Berdovsky’s site – Link.

A couple MAKE readers who found one of the artworks sent us in some close up photos –

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132 thoughts on “Updated: Boston Mooninite installers arrested

  1. ‘Mkay, a signal has been made. Pun intended.

    But, putting people on the death penalty for putting up something funny (fun is in the eye of the beholder too)…..

    If they only could get a warning or being sentenced on probation. But maybe getting put to dead just for something like this.

    Don’t get me wrong, interpreting this fun as being a threat is correct. People are scared (since 9/11) and with this fear comes great responsibility. There has to be acted upon. Won’t be scared again.

    I think this is a signal not lightly to forget.

    – Unomi –

  2. see the thing is, is the poster above me being funny by alluding that they really will get the death penalty? is he being funny? is the joke on me now?
    I don’t know.
    (l) chris

  3. I wrote it with emphasis wich is not placed around some part of the text I wrote. I’m sorry for that.

    I agree that a death penalty is to much. But the thing is, that (unwillingly maybe) they’ve put the city in danger by scaring the folks. One side they should be paranoid, other side fun comes with logic / intelligence.

    I see the humor in this all, but the police and the people arrested will not forget this by dawn. So, I feel sorry for your system of justice, since it is ridiculous.

    The real hero is the figure being put there hanging for two weeks unnoticed. Then suddenly…. everything is in danger and he gets rescued.

    – Unomi –

  4. Clearly, the LED Mooninites need to be produced in greater numbers and put on sale, proceeds going towards the defense fund.

  5. I read they they are charged for creating a hoax that causes panic. How about pressing charges against the people who created a political atmosphere where a city-wide panic about a cartoon characters is possible?

    Also, to the people who think the led characters are cute: they are nothing but illegal advertising. Illegal advertising is never acceptable. Or where would you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable illegal advertising? Does your definition hold up in front of a jury?

  6. they are in the employ of a huge media corporation, im sure the defense budget is covered…

    can you for graffiti art and against illegal corporate advertising?

  7. So in recorded history, have there ever been any bombs, explosive devices, or terrorist IEDs that had blinking lights on them? What turned these devices into bombs? Was it the several weeks they were in place before somebody got annoyed with them? I’m positive that no bomb squad considered them to be anything even remotely able to explode. More than likely they responded as a civil defense exercise (those guys don’t get out much).

  8. To be honest, that it would go so far disgusts me.

    It’s a very sad state of affairs when people start panicking whenever they see a capacitor or LED. There is so much fear being pumped into people these days, combine that with a general lack of education, and you have a very deadly mix.

    Seriously “hoax devices”? Don’t get me wrong, gorilla marketing ticks me off as much as the next guy, but you have to wonder what’s wrong when so much money goes into dealing with some (clearly) harmless LED signs.

  9. First of all I have no idea where Phillip got the information that this offence carries the death penalty and I have to debunk that right now – no offense Phil, just trying to get the facts straight. I have read the “hoax device” law and the maximum penalty is 2 to 5 years in prison, also I can’t believe no one has pointed out that Massachusetts doesn’t have the death penalty. Let’s not cloud an already over-blown issue with more FUD.
    Also, according to the law, a “hoax device” must be a device that is used intentionally cause fear, panic or unease and that a reasonable person would construe to be an infernal device. This is paraphrasing the law but using the key terms that it defines. So these charges really better not stick because A) there was no intention for anyone to contrue this as a bomb, and B) a reasonable person would think this was just a lighted sign (and must have since they were in place for over two weeks!)
    As a resident just outside of Boston what I find appalling is the city’s response during and after this event. While the first, and perhaps second uses of the bomb squad were warranted when the device was unkown – the 3rd through 10th times that they stopped all traffic and set up a crime scene to remove what they already knew at that point to be harmless LED signs was a totaly overreaction – now who’s creating fear Mr Mayor?? Also they are claiming this exercise demonstrates the city is safe in the event of a real threat – except that these have been in place for two weeks while glowing! What this tells me is that a true terrorist could place bombs on bridges in highly visible areas, make them glow neon pink, and post videos of themselves doing it on the internet, and then still have a half a month to detonate them at will. Yes, I feel so much safer. If the artists responsible are prosecuted for anything other than minor charges then a travesty of justice and freedom has occurred.

  10. Did someone really think the comment about the death penalty was something else than a joke? I would say that the “or perhaps worse”-part immediately after the death penalty comment was particularly revealing.

  11. Considering that our government has claimed the ability to deem people (including citizens) as “enemy combatants” and suspend Habeas Corpus then ship them off to military prisons or other countries where they may be tortured, then yes, there are potentially ‘worse things’ since at least a death penalty sentence can be appealed, unlike being disappeared. Plus there’s the problem that people are already overreacting to the issue and playing an adult game of telephone where the facts get more and more mangled with each iteration. When someone adds “death penalty” into the mix it starts to really get out of hand. I can take a joke, and I figured Phil was joking but it looks like some other people may have missed that, I was hoping to clarify for some who may not have realized he wasn’t serious. And who knows, maybe Phil was told by some reporter that the death penalty was on the table?

  12. What I want to know is, how many other cities were these characters put up in? And WHY is Boston the only one to go nuclear with their response? WTF?
    Is THIS the kind of world we live in today?
    Where’s the headline, “City crippled by attacking Lite-Brites”? (I know they aren’t really lite-brites…)

  13. As a commuter that rides ~90 mi of light rail every day in the most congested part of the country (NE corridor) I am reassured that ANYTHING that appears out of the ordinary on a bridge that my train may cross will be scrutinized and/or removed by trained professionals.

    As a pedestrian that walks under a handful of dilapidated train trestles every day, I’m thankful that none of these things fell on anyone or through anyone’s windshield.

    As an engineer I am delighted by creative uses of technology. I’d like it even better if these things flashed and there were buttons to push and switches to flip and knobs to twirl. Make it beep and chirp and sing a song, and now we’re talking. Give ’em wifi connectivity on some citywide network so people across the globe could control what they do (and maybe some RGB LEDs). That might possibly be pretty friggin awesome.

    As someone with a half ounce of common sense I’m saddened by the fact that these artists are being prosecuted by a society that likes to look for people to blame.

    I am also wondering what the outcome would have been if these advertisements were affixed to private property with the owners consent. What if they didn’t have black solder masks over the PCB? What if they were lacking that pack of D cells wrapped in black electrical tape? What if they were lit 24 hours a day, in a shaded location where they could be seen? When the *intent* is clear, sheeple have less of a reason to fall back on their *interpretation* of the situation.

    How long is it going to be before an artist feels that a LED countdown timer and a couple of flashing lights stuck back in the shadows is necessary to provoke some sort of thought or reaction? I mean, come on. We’ve all [hopefully] watched 1980s TV. We KNOW what bombs are supposed to look like!

  14. It’s ridiculous that these guys are going to be charged for setting hoax bombs. Obviously what they did is probably illegal, and they should be charged for graffitti or defacement or illegal marketing or whatever it is that it actually should fall under.

    Also, to anyone who took the death sentence comment seriously, I also am pretty sure that it was a joke, as I don’t really see any of the blog editors really believing someone could get the death penalty for this.

  15. What’s really sad, and should get MAKErs really concerned is that most people out there can’t tell the difference between technology and a terrorist device. Should a battery with some wires behind it automatically trigger a city-wide lockdown?

  16. A message to anyone who saw this “art” and was worried it was a bomb:

    “You are profoundly and tragically stupid. You are polluting the gene pool. Do NOT breed. Try to have as little interaction with the rest of the world as possible. Consider killing yourself for the good of humanity. Stop ruining the world for the rest of us.”

  17. This spawns an interesting bit of what I’ll call “Maker Ethics”. If you have the power to combine bits of technology in new and creative ways, then you also have the responsibility to ensure those creations cannot and do not cause undue harm or panic to fellow citizens or the environment.

    In this case, the guy arrested wasn’t acting as a “Maker” in this escapade, he was just some poor guy paid to put up advertisements. However, I personally feel that alone would violate part of the “Maker Ethics” list: don’t contribute to more corporate-logo’d advertising distribution. Basically it seems to me the Time Warner took a lame and useless concept (LED Throwies) and extrapolated it out to something that was even more lame and useless. I know I’ll probably get a lot of flak for this, but IMO the world does not need more forms of corporate advertising and/or “graffiti”. Left-over electronics aren’t exactly good for the environment, and the LED signs and stuff don’t really do anything to enhance the beauty or value of the public spaces they are affixed to.

    Summary: If Makers think and act appropriately we won’t have these sorts of incidents, and everyone will be better off.

  18. /me flicks off the people charging these guys with “planting hoax devices to create panic”

    “I hope they can see this, I’m doing it as hard as I can.”

  19. A message to anyone who saw this “art” and was worried it was a bomb:

    “You are profoundly and tragically stupid. You are polluting the gene pool. Do NOT breed. Try to have as little interaction with the rest of the world as possible. Consider killing yourself for the good of humanity. Stop ruining the world for the rest of us.

    A message to anyone who deployed this “art”:

    “You are profoundly and tragically stupid. You are polluting the environment. Do NOT breed. Try to have as little interaction with the rest of the world as possible. Consider killing yourself for the good of humanity. Stop ruining the world for the rest of us.

  20. From Dante’s Divine Comedy.

    “Through me you pass into the city of woe:
    Through me you pass into eternal pain:
    Through me among the people lost for aye.

    Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
    To rear me was the task of power divine,
    Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

    Before me things create were none, save things
    Eternal, and eternal I endure.
    All hope abandon ye who enter here.

    Such characters in colour dim I mark’d
    Over a portal’s lofty arch inscrib’d:
    Whereat I thus: Master, these words import.”

    *Update*…..

    All subscribers to MAKE:, Nuts&Volts, Servo, or any other publication that educates about the black art of electronics will be known as instruments of terror. Any who practice such dark magic will be punished to the full extent of the law. All LED sales will be subject to a background check and 5 day waiting period.

    However, all armed illegals shot while carring loads of narcotics or Imams praying loudly before a commercial flights will receive apologies because the US does not condone the use of profiling…….

    The creation of an H.G. Wells award for ‘disruption through technology’ is well overdue.

  21. You’re kidding right? I think it’s pretty clear that any extra electronic device attached to the support structure of a bridge should be considered a dangerous item. I think the initial response of the Boston police was valid. It was irresponsible for the artist to do this.

    With that said, I think the the charges should be dropped to vandalism. Obviously, I don’t know the details, but I think Turner Media played a large role in this campaign and should be charged for costs and damages.

  22. What’s really sad, and should get MAKErs really concerned is that most people out there can’t tell the difference between technology and a terrorist device. Should a battery with some wires behind it automatically trigger a city-wide lockdown?

    I agree with you. Taken one step further, we now live in a technology-driven society. It is the responsibility of educators and society at large to establish familiarity with these basic technology concepts so that they can be leveraged to strengthen, not weaken, our society as a whole.

    Not everyone needs to know how to calculate the proper resistor value to setup a 20ma current through a blue LED from a 9V battery. But, you should at least recognize an LED, and other basic technology components, and be able to establish a rough level of a “threat index” appropriately.

  23. Actually, I’d like to see Make shoot an e-mail off to Time-Warner to get their story on this. (PT, are you reading this? Pretty please?)

    I’m pretty sure, being a big-name company, they weren’t just going to leave these things to rot. That would make for bad publicity. They probably had a plan to remove them in a week or two after those D Cells dried up. At least I hope so.

    Also, if you’re reading this PT, please be kind enough to put a “sarcasm alert” note on your posts so the sarcasm-impaired members of the Maker community don’t go off posting knee-jerk reactions like some of the posts above. They make us look silly. Thanks.

  24. When first I heard… The news said “box’s around Boston that were chaned down. Believed to be bombs turned out to be…” I thought bad marketing. What were you thinking chainning down unmarked boxs. Then I saw it on TV “it’s not a box!”

    Today I thought about what a bomber would make a bomb look like too. Pre-9/11 the police in my town detonated a lawers breafecase b/c it looked suspicious. The lawer forgot it in the lobby of the court house. They (police) were critisized for it but at least that makes sence. b/c Bombers tend to make bombs look like every day objects! Not big blinking signs!

    Thinking about the other advertising that I have seen advertising that would fit the Boston Polices criteria for a bomb… And you know it’s every whare you just don’t think about it.

    Solder of Fortune magazine had a article on bombs just before the UnaBomber was caught. It showed what bombs might look like. Sorry I dont have the date for this. If someone does please post.

  25. LOL, just got done watching some of the coverage on Fox “News”. They were doing a live interview with the “perpetrators”. His Lawyer kept butting in to say “my client cannot comment on blahblahblah…” so one of the “suspects” busts out with “I would like to take this opportunity to direct this interview towards the topic of haircuts in the ’70s.” then started going on about his natty dreads, and was very persistent about it. Outstanding way to screw with the media, man. He was frustrating the hell out of all the sensationalist media types trying to milk him for some kind of quote to take out of context and turn into an incriminating headline.

    His lawyer was switching rapidly back and forth between smirking and squirming like a worm on a hot sidewalk. I do not envy their legal team. If they keep this up, the proceedings should make for one heck of a show.

  26. In a world where bombs have killed hundreds on trains and subways in England, Spain, and elsewhere, and where terrorists have blown up buildings here in the US on numerous occasions, this is not about “paranoia”; it’s about the stupidity of those who placed the boxes. They should know better.

    Geocachers have recognized their responsibility, and now place caches in clear Tupperware instead of plastic pipes and other enclosures that could look like bombs to someone.

    As to those who are sure they know what a bomb looks like- you’re idiots. A bomb can look like anything- a cell phone, a book, a child’s toy, a package wrapped in brown paper. All these have killed people.

    In places where bombs are common, police and alert citizens are taught to look for things that are out of place- abandoned luggage and packages, and yes, boxes affixed to buildings. That’s what a bomb looks like: Something that wasn’t there before, and doesn’t look like it should be there.

    If you’re lucky.

  27. What’s sadly ironic about this is that Boston is pronouncing how professional and prepared they are to react to any “terrorism” related threat. However as most of us here know, if any technically competant DIY’er wanted to make a WMD, the authorities wouldn’t see it, they wouldn’t find it, and they couldn’t disarm it.

    I’ve often said that we, as a society, are truely lucky that for the most part people of criminal bents or violent motivations are generally fairly stipid.

  28. Geocachers have recognized their responsibility, and now place caches in clear Tupperware instead of plastic pipes and other enclosures that could look like bombs to someone.

    Yah, and these “devices” were in plain view, you could see the entire object.. It wasn’t even inside some clear tupperware. There’s a great picture here to see exactly what they were dealing with.

    Basically now, if you put anything, anywhere, you can get arrested because somebody, somewhere, might think it’s a bomb.

  29. Mmmmkay. Now, how many bombs have had a little blinking guy giving the finger to the world on the outside? Seems like the blinking lights would give away that it’s NOT a hidden bomb, since the objective of being hidden is to, well, be hidden.

    Kinda like when I was a kid playing “Spy” and I made a badge I wore that said “SPY” in big letters – I was totally unclear on the concept.

  30. What I’d like to see, is THE SCHEMATIC!!

    185 large, fairly high-power LEDs, running (guessing) 12 hours a day, and they run for weeks on a fairly small battery pack? Even allowing for multiplexing the LEDs, that’s pretty impressive.

  31. Whether you Agree or Disagree you can voice your opinion:

    Generic comment supporting my side of the argument:
    I would like to voice my concern about the response to the Turner marketing campaign. Overreaction by overnment officials and law enforcement fueled the isconceptions and distortion of the intentions of the ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ ads. This added to the false argument that this was a hoax and the implication that the goal was to scare the public. This was not a ‘hoax’ and should not be treated as one. This is another sad incident in a world where everyone is under
    suspicion and every package is treated like a threat. Please reconsider the severity of the crime (graffiti) when calculating the punishment Thank you.

    Who to contact:
    Attorney General Martha Coakley
    ago@ago.state.ma.us

    Mayor Thomas M. Meninov
    Mayor@cityofboston.gov

    Governor Duval Patrick:
    http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=gov3terminal&L=2&L0=Home&L1=Civic+Engagement&sid=Agov3&b=terminalcontent&f=Agov3_get_involved1&csid=Agov3

  32. What is possibly (to me at least) the most disturbing piece of information right now is that the statement from Turner Broadcasting claims that:

    “They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.”

    And yet, suddenly yesterday one gets noticed and the authorities freak out?

    Anyone who thinks that the authorities’ reaction was justified needs to also question what would have happened if the devices were bombs that had gone unnoticed for several weeks.

  33. @ BrK

    If you have the power to combine bits of technology in new and creative ways, then you also have the responsibility to ensure those creations cannot and do not cause undue harm or panic to fellow citizens or the environment.

    So now every piece of art and technology that will be publicly displayed must be vetted to make sure nobody, anywhere, ever, will mistake it for a threat? Ridiculous. If every Maker sat around and asked themselves if some ninny would find their new project threatening, nothing would ever get made. You’re always going to offend or, these days, scare somebody.
    And so what if you do? The real problem is when an entire city freaks out over what is obviously a lighted sign. In this case it was the city’s responsibility to protect its citizens from their own ignorance of a bit of technology, which they failed to do. Citizen X calls in a suspicious item on a bridge? Great, glad he’s on the lookout. But when the authorities assess the situation and instead of calming the people they fan the flames, the blame sits squarely with them.

  34. So now every piece of art and technology that will be publicly displayed must be vetted

    No. “publicly displayed” means (to me) something much different than “left out at random in public”.

    A “public display” seems to imply it is either sanctioned or escorted in such a way that people are not left to form their own conclusions about the item. IE: if people saw this exact same pseudo-moonie-bomb in a museum, or at the Maker Faire, the way it was presented and surrounding context would convey that it was not a threat.

  35. Welcome to slippery-slopesville.

    To may Christians, the work of Andres Serrano is a “threat”.

    To many black americans, an antique lawn jockey is a threat.

    To environmentalists Cristo’s work is a threat.

    And in my opinion, no one with more than 4 or 5 braincells would have viewed these signs as a threat.

  36. …undue harm or panic.” ???

    That implies there could be creations that cause APPROPRIATE harm and panic.

    Now THERE’S an art show I wanna’ see. :-)

  37. Here is what a wrote to the Massachusetts officials. It is basically a slight rewrite of christopherpepe’s (good job!) above for spelling and a little grammatical reworking, feel free to use it to contact the officials stated in the previous comment:

    I would like to voice my concern about the response to the Turner marketing campaign. I feel that overreaction by government officials and law enforcement fueled the misconceptions and distorted the intentions of the ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’ ads. This led to a false assertion that this was a hoax and the implication that the goal was to scare the public. This was not a ‘hoax’ and should certainly not be treated as one. This is another sad incident in a world where everyone is under suspicion and every package is treated like a threat. Please reconsider the severity of the crime (graffiti) when calculating the punishment.

  38. A “public display” seems to imply it is either sanctioned or escorted in such a way that people are not left to form their own conclusions about the item. IE: if people saw this exact same pseudo-moonie-bomb in a museum, or at the Maker Faire, the way it was presented and surrounding context would convey that it was not a threat.

    Wow… I for one hope that our society doesn’t fall back that far culturally. Art comes in many forms — most of which involve no red tape or sanctioning. It will be a sad day for everyone when art can only be displayed in venue’s sanctioned for it.

    Perhaps this has already happened and we’re just late on the call…

    Does anyone see the irony when you type “public display” into wikipedia? It goes straight to archaic forms of execution…

  39. …sanctioned or escorted in such a way that people are not left to form their own conclusions about the item.

    The whole damn point of an art installation, whether “publicly displayed” or or just plain left out in public for display, is for people to form their own conclusions. Granted, technology of the day makes it possible to create and show objects that even a few years ago would have been too expensive or complicated for the average joe. Does that mean they should be sanctioned or pre-approved? Good lord, I hope not.

  40. The whole damn point of an art installation, whether “publicly displayed” or or just plain left out in public for display, is for people to form their own conclusions.

    Allow me to clarify the point I was trying to make. I’m not suggesting that all art should go through some sort of approval board. I *AM* saying that if you go about sticking certain kinds of art in the wrong places (ie: randomly stuck to a bridge) it is very possible that the “art” can be misinterpreted. A giant stick of dynamite with a US and Iraqi flag draped over it, inside of an art gallery sends a message about the artists’ view of the current war situation. The same piece left out at random in the middle of Boston Common *might* lead some folks to believe it is a real bomb with a political message attached. Hopefully most sane people would NOT assume it’s a bomb, but with no other surrounding “context” people are left to form their own conclusions, and those conclusions are unlikely to be 100% rational.

  41. Those who can make you belive absurdities can make you commit atrocities – Voltaire.

    It’s utterly ludicrous to contemplate that an actual bomber would make a bomb which was specifically meant to draw attention to itself and then place it in a location of extremely high visibility for a period of several weeks.

    The central tactic with a bomb, particularly an IED, is to make it as inconspicuous as possible, and place it in as inconspicuous a position as possible within the constraints of the target involved and detonate it as soon as feasible. While many IEDs may have secondary bombs which are intended to detonate after drawing a crowd from the first detonation, such devices are themselves camouflaged. In addition, any domestic bomb squad is automatically going to assume that a device is booby trapped.

    An actual bomb would much more likely consist of a deliberately inconspicuous item probably refuse, or within the current threat environment, consist of a suicide bomber eliminating the suspicion associated with unattended bags, and allowing for the bomber to optimize the damage inflicted.

    To use the pathetic excuse that a bomb could look like anything, (basically equivalent to the trope that serial killers could be anyone) would assume that the 9/11 highjackers would have unfurled giant banners behind their aircraft announcing their attentions or McVeigh would have added loudspeakers on top of his Ryder truck announcing “this is a bomb”.

  42. Cool — thanks for quoting me, Phillip! Anyone know if a legal defense fun has been set up for Sean and Peter?

    A predition, btw: the idiots of Boston are going to be hit and hit hard by all kinds of “hoaxes.” That’s what happens when you show how easily frightened you are ….

  43. Hopefully most sane people would NOT assume it’s a bomb, but with no other surrounding “context” people are left to form their own conclusions, and those conclusions are unlikely to be 100% rational.

    So what you’re saying is…. we need to take responsibility for ignorant actions of insane people?

    In some way or another, someone is going to be offended (and in some-to-many cases, rationally). I’ve been hearing reports that the response yesterday was “good.” What’s absolutely terrifying is that if these were bombs… it took a helluva long time to find time.

  44. If this is what you get for making a glowing LED sign, then for you own safety do not handle a red candlestick. The authorities and their paranoia will mistake it for a dynamite.

  45. I like the Douglas Adam’s idea “Don’t Panic” and would like to elaborate on that. How about a LED sign that says “Mostly Harmless”. I’d gladly go to court for that just for the stinging irony.

  46. So, BRK, should my friend Erika go to jail for her tree sweater? By your definition, it could be a bomb, and it certainly wasn’t “sanctioned”. Of course, it’s far more likely that it’s not a bomb at all, but something intended to make your day just a little brighter for having seen it.

    I can see your basic point– an artist should take some care that his art won’t be misinterpretted as a threat by a reasonable person. In this case, I suppose that I can understand the -initial- reaction to these devices. While the threat here is pretty absurd, it was reasonable to call in the bomb squad just to be safe. However once the first one had been examined and it was observed to be -clearly- not a bomb (even if you assume that a bomb might have a blinking character flipping you the bird, it would likely also have some sort of explosive! This was nothing but a PCB, some LED’s and 4 D cells.), any remaining panic rest squarely on the city officials shoulders, not on the artists. Given the spectrum of likely possibilities, authorities should have used just a touch of common sense when approaching the situation.

    In this case, the artists probably are guilty of a crime. Graffiti, trespassing, maybe littering. If anyone is guilty of “perpetrating a hoax intended to create public panic”, it’s the Boston police department.

  47. I should also point out that if the installers are convicted of any crime, their bosses at the ad agency and at TBS should also be convicted of the same crime. If the installers are in jail tonight, then the president of TBS and anyone else who involved in this ad campaign should be as well.

  48. Knew this would be an inspiring comment list!

    After scrolling back to find SwarmMasters post, I cant speak as to his sense of humor, but indeed the “worse than death ” point was well taken, aside from the myopic presentation of the idea ( like its a new idea…)

    Got the impression from FOX news at 1pm eastern standard that the two *might* have been the ones who ‘alerted’ police via phone calls. I see no further support for this since, and hope that was a theory. The posting of the signs itself is no more than graffitti, albeit sposored. Maybe littering, and public nusance (sp?) violations carrying a fine. The calling however…hope that was just news hounds sniffing. Read from other souces later that is was a commuter that called.

    On the reaction: Easy to judge looking back, but if people in charge of guarding us err on the extreme side of caution, in a time of development, I feel that is proper. (’til its my a** in a room somewhere, right?) The worst thing is the lesson those who would kill us have learned- sow confusion and build tolerance with cheap, fake props. Watch for it.

    Thought this was a posted item some time back on MAKE, complete with ‘salute’. Wonder if that was a marketing effort that slipped in…..

  49. Whats the bet that we start to see stories of old PC motherboards and similar tech refuse being hung from bridges and walls thruout Boston in some form of rebellious protest over how these guys have being treated?

  50. quote:

    Whats the bet that we start to see stories of old PC motherboards and similar tech refuse being hung from bridges and walls thruout Boston in some form of rebellious protest over how these guys have being treated?

    Posted by: richms on February 01, 2007 at 06:53 PM

    Yes… let’s throw a Boston LED Party!

  51. This is really silly. Why are WE so frightened all the time. I think it’s time WE get over the FEAR that has been pushed on US by the media. Everything is a FEAR, a SCARE… That’s what the media pushes on us until no one can do anything without being suspect for terrorist actions. The arrest of these men is pitiful. It’s time for AMERICANS to grow some b@lls and stop acting like frightened sheep.

  52. When will the kit for these signs be available @ the MAKE store? Or will we just sit back and wait till the cheap knockoffs from China show up.

  53. “Don’t get me wrong, interpreting this fun as being a threat is correct.”

    This was clearly a false positive. I work in the computer security industry, and when we trigger false positives (e.g. somebody’s legitimate email gets flagged as spam) we get a huge amount of guff for it. It’s a shame that nobody is asking how we might reduce costly false positives in the detection of threats against municipal security.

  54. I think the perps should be tried and sentenced to the cruelest punishment imaginable: Make them live in Boston with all the booger-eating morons for the rest of their lives. Are ALL Bos-stone-ians as stupid as the police, the mayor, and the idiot who called this in? Sadly, yes.

    Furthermore, anything that could conceal a bomb should be immediately outlawed in Boston. This includes backpacks, lunchboxes, hats, purses, coats, pants, and any kind of underwear. Boston will only be safe when everyone living there is buck naked!

  55. HELLO MAKErs!

    Whay happened to this story? Did I miss the memo not to think about it?

    PT sees all. He will answer.

    All hail our jiggly overlords! (‘member that post?…)

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