A Little Something for the Hackers in Boston

I spent 10 good years in Boston while I attended MIT, and I carried around plenty of devices that could be classified as “suspicious looking” by Coakley’s standards, such as the “nerd kits” that we used to build our electronics labs.

So, for the hackers, students, and artists in Boston, here’s a little something for you. Give the Boston authorities a clue, because it seems like they need one:

These stickers are now prizes that you can choose if you win Name That Ware. If you are interested in getting one for yourself and not playing the game, you can buy these stickers by clicking on the respective images above [cafepress.com]. Let’s hope no terrorists buys one of these and sticks them on a real bomb, and hide them in plain sight–complete with blinking lights, loose wires, batteries, and the bird!

Only you can cure the American Autoimmune Disease!

112 Responses to “A Little Something for the Hackers in Boston”

  1. Sam says:

    Totally sweet, I’m gonna stick these on some bombs.

    Seriously though, I wish people could just use common sense.

  2. Chet says:

    With the bushbots driving force of fear we have a serious shortage of common sense in our country.

  3. michael says:

    Perhaps if there were room for contact information it would actually be sarcastic AND useful at the same time.

  4. grey says:

    w3rd.

    Perhaps some of these in LED format, blanketing the city. ;)

    Tim Newsham tells me that part of the problem, is that in the Boston Fixed Font, instead of lowercase 1, l, and I all looking similar, it’s actually capital L and I that look the same, hence “LED” looks the same as “IED”, d’oh!

  5. Jon Evans says:

    A well-placed tear by someone a bit malicious could change the message somewhat :-)

    PANIC!

    A BOMB

    BE AFRAID.

    CALL THE POLICE.

    THE TERRORISTS WIN.

  6. Humm…I am struggling with seeing this issue as some intersection between art and reality. The authorities discover a series of electronic thingees in places where, were they bombs, they might cause real damage, and the mainstream media crudely picks up the story and runs with it until told otherwise. So everybody is sort of dumb, and the media are really dumb, but how is art a viable response? ‘The terrorists’ don’t win by making us scared; they win by killing us, and vigilance is a reasonable survival tool. I’m waiting for the next performance artist to wear a bulky trenchcoat, act erratically, and barge into a crowded restaurant next summer…and get wrestled to the ground, only to reveal water balloons wrapped around his waist. Will we laugh at all the people who might be terrified, or praise the people who tackled the guy? And just for good measure, didn’t the hijackers of the 9/11 planes tell their victims not to be afraid, and that they were not going to be hurt? Perhaps if they’d used your stickers, people would have been comforted? Like I said, I’m struggling with this one.

  7. Sean Gibson says:

    “‘The terrorists’ don’t win by making us scared; they win by killing us,”

    Didn’t really think that sentence through, did you?

  8. Er, yes i did. Fear is a tactic, not an objective. Terrorism furthers political goals and is not an end unto itself. Terrorists win by destroying us, not simply by making us uncomfortable, or act stupidly, or overreact, etc. I think maybe you avoid the bigger issue by trying to make a smart point?

  9. [...] So, in that vein, here is a little something for the folks in Boston. [...]

  10. [...] So, in that vein, here is a little something for the folks in Boston. [...]

  11. Hqm says:

    The terrorists win by terrorizing, which is done by a few small but spectacular acts of violence, which is supposed to then make their enemy afraid and change their policy. So in fact yes, they do win when we freak out all over the place, confiscate tweezers, and put people in jail for putting up blinky lights which contain, gasp, CIRCUIT BOARDS.

    ‘Vigilance’ is not particularly effective against terrorism, and almost always takes the form of shutting th e barn door after the horse is out. The billions of dollars being spent hiring apes to check everyone’s socks could be better spent actually fighting terrorism at it’s root instead of at the symptoms.

    How much would it cost, for example, to bring back a convincing replica of Mohammed, who would tell the Islamo-wieners to go plant pumpkins instead of killing everyone? For $20 billion, I bet we could develop a meme that would wreak a lot more havoc in the Muslim terrorist world than we are now. What if twenty prophets came back? They could all get their factions to kill each other and forget about us. Oh hey, maybe that’s what we’re doing now, hard to tell….

  12. [...] Labels for YOUR street art project thanks to Boing Boing [...]

  13. Sean Gibson says:

    “Terrorism furthers political goals and is not an end unto itself, Terrorists win by destroying us…”

    I think “political goals” can be a bit more subtle than “destruction”. I think a majority of terrorists are quite intelligent and don’t harbor a belief that they could “destroy” or overthrow a first world country, but every security checkpoint, “war on liquid” , and reduction in constitutional rights is a victory for them, increasing their power.

  14. Again, we can debate terrorism all day, but the fact is that ‘vigilance’ is actually the best and only defense against getting blown up. However ugly and crude it is, it’s what keeps suicide bombers from walking into restaurants in Israel,. And ‘changing policy’ is not the goal of terrorists, unless you consider us agreeing to live under Sharia or getting beheaded ‘a policy.’

    But I’d far rather explore the intersection of art, communication and reality, and I think your idea about memes is truly brilliant. I’ve never understood why we’re not spending lots of money and creativity to use communications/art/Philip K. Dick replica talking heads/whatever to fight the very foundations upon which terrorism is based. Shouldn’t it be worth as much or more than what our dear gov is spending on anti-terrorism ‘barnyard door’ prohibitions? Our propaganda is run by that hack who ran Bush’s election campaign; to think that all we can do is buy articles in Iraqi newspapers touting our achievements, and host ‘listening sessions’ for Muslim women to talk about their lives. It’s embarrassingly inept and ineffective.

    Our ‘policy’ should be to utterly confuse and/or dumbfound the nutcases who want to kill in order to get their hands on a bevy of virgins in heaven. And you’re right, maybe we’re already doing it.

    Your replica resurrection idea is right on…

  15. Sean Gibson says:

    … “what keeps suicide bombers from walking into restaurants in Israel…”

    Oh, I see the issue now… You are referring to the ongoing conflict in Israel, and I (and the person who created the sticker) are referencing the events that occurred in Boston.

    I would never use this sticker anywhere in the Middle East.

  16. Alan says:

    Funny – I wonder how much Bostonians, Americans and Libyans contributed to the IRA coffers and stockpiles over the years. You’d think they’d know a bomb when they saw one…

  17. Mantari Damacy says:

    There are three problems with the sticker:

    1. A clever law enforcement officer would deduce that this would be exactly the kind of sticker used by a terrorist to help conceal a bomb.

    2. It gives law enforcement something to say to the media, and to lend credibility to outrageous actions against a normal (non-threatening) piece of art. “We found a suspicious device that made reference to a bomb and terrorism.” If the media presses for details, they’ll simply respond, “We cannot get into the specifics of the message at this time.”

    3. Should legal action be taken against the owner after the fact, such a sticker may come back to haunt you. It indicates that you had reason to believe that the item in question could have been interpreted as a dangerous device.

  18. Sean, sorry, I’m really not trying to bicker with you. The point Hqm made was that vigilance didn’t really work, and I suggested a way/place that it did, however imperfectly. My broader point is to debate how artists/communicators react and contribute to the experience of terrorism in our world. I think and hope I understand your point in creating the sticker, and I’m suggesting that there are other, maybe more complicated, facets of the debate to which artists can react. I think art has a VITAL role to play in understanding what’s going on. But the context matters in which we live/we create it and consume it, and in the instance of the LED stunt, I’m not sure that mocking the cluelessness of the authorities is the most important take-away. But it’s certainly one of them, and I don’t mean to say or imply that it’s not a valid response. I was hoping to just blab about art and it’s role in society, etc.

  19. Frank Rizzo says:

    Sweet, I’m going to stick one on my laptop before I go through airport security. That’ll show ‘em!

  20. fciron says:

    OK, there are several issues at play here.

    Yes, vigilance is necessary to keep from getting blown up.

    Not being blown up is not the same as defeating terrorism.

    Arresting people because the Boston authorities have egg on their faces after nine other cities ignored these toys does not prove anything good about their homeland security. Shutting the city down for 12 hours because the police department does not have even one nerd who can identify this unknown object is pathetic.

    I think that most of the Homeland Security actions that have been taken in the US are sound and fury signifying nothing. The policy seems to be to inconvenience as many ordinary people as possible so that they will see that things are getting done.

    Every time some one gets harrassed for asking a reasonable question or loses their lipstick or their coffee we lose another potential source of human intelligence. Shutting down a city for a full day over a toy is a disincentive for people to report suspicious objects. (‘If I report that lost back-pack in the station I’ll miss my train and so will everyone else. I’ll just ignore it.’)

    We need a real plan, the hoax is homeland security itself.

  21. Brian says:

    The thing I can’t figure out is how the creators expected their marketing campaign to actually reach a large number of people without widespread public alarm. The vast majority of people hadn’t ever heard of Aqua Teen Hunger Force until yesterday, so without the huge publicity that comes with an alert, how was this campaign going to be effective?

    I love the show myself, and publicity, done right, would be great. But what’s wrong with sticking up a few Meatwad stickers? It’s just as obscure and nobody’s afraid of a sticker on a bridge support. Plus Meatwad is just cooler.

    Now, to address Sean Gibson, you say, “…every security checkpoint, “war on liquid” , and reduction in constitutional rights is a victory for them, increasing their power.”

    Not really. Those things aren’t what they’re after. Do the things you listed increase the power of the salafist jihadis in Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, or Egypt? In case you haven’t read their numerous manifestos and fatwas, what they’re really after is control of the Middle East and the reestablishment of the Islamic caliphate, governed by a harsh interpretation of Shari’a. The US is a tangential target which they attack in the hope of reducing its support for current Middle East governments, thus weakening those governments and making them vulnerable to overthrow. But the United States is not the main target, and what we do at home isn’t what matters to them.

  22. Glenn Olson says:

    “‘The terrorists’ don’t win by making us scared; they win by killing us,” – I have yet to see a dead person in terror.

    You don’t need to damage anything to cause terror. Many people are in terror over Iran’s possible “nukes” yet they there’s no evidence that they are building any. The Bush Administration is causing all the terror, without any physical destruction.

  23. [...] Do I need one for the back of my laptop? Filed under: [...]

  24. Mike says:

    Those things looked like litebright for god’s sake. I see plenty of things every day that are way more bomb looking than that.

    I’ll never forget though when I was 8 years old trying to get my Nintendo with the Light gun through airport security. They had to call three people over to look at it. None of them understood what it was or why I was carrying it.

  25. Matt R says:

    Hi. I’d just like to share an anecdote. When my brother was 6 years old, he was carrying a wooden samurai sword through Narita Airport in Tokyo on the way home. He was jumped by scary guards in full battle regalia (which included breastplates and even samurai-looking helmets ironically) and the sword was wrestled from him as if he was a terrorist.

    This was 30 years ago, when land owners were using guerilla tactics (the media would call it “terrorism” today I guess) to fight the airport and these cops were shall we say sensitized. They had a series of real incidents to keep them aware that guerillas could come to the door. Anyway we were all freaked and hey this is a child! etc. The sword was painted black and grey, and shaped so it might hurt if you got stabbed with it but anybody could see what it was.

    What I’d like you to think about is that these officers, trained undoubtedly in jujitsu, kendo, bomb and sword identification, and your average police antiterrorist portfolio, got triggered. I expect it is kind of like turning yourself into a robot, half-willingly and half by way of reinforcement of habit, that can watches for certain characteristics – a shape, color, threat level, ozone level… – that in combination exceed a given threshold.

    They willfully ignored the size of the human, the material of the object, the family scene (including four children), though perhaps they may have partway through restrained themselves from breaking any bones.

    What this means is that the stickers are pointless. They and the sarcasm will have no effect except to further sensitize and roboticize people. They will not be appreciated by the people who are supposed to be investigating suspicious boxes on bridges and defusing them. I think most people who read the Boston story and know what was going on think the artist was a real jerk. The next terrorist now just has to use a lightbrite and slap a sticker on right?

    So while I am on the other side of the world from Boston (though a native of not too far away), the mention of lite brite, etc. in the Boston incident is really not too smart. If it was like a picture I saw, and you see a threatening image on a bridge, with or without arabic writing, you worry. Because the media has already reported many foiled plans including to blow up IIRC the Golden Gate Bridge. Heck there are probably a lot more people who’d like to do that who are U.S. citizens and not connected to the Middle East.

    However I totally understand where you are coming as far as building nerd boxes, etc. Heck I caused several strained moments when I couldn’t turn on a laptop in an airport due to a dead battery.

    So I respectfully submit that fellow geeks would be best served by toning down the irony and in your face design, and using a design that expresses honesty and business sense. Take a Fedex airbill as an example maybe. You need to put the person’s name, phone, email, and website on there. Make a document they can edit themselves and print themselves, and if you really want to make a buck why not offer to print up a few hundred personalized stickers for them?

    The reality is that people, especially the ones with guns and tasers, are real sensitive to security right now, and the administration and media just keep on fanning it for their own reasons, with a few publicized incidents. There may be a place for art that does not in fact cause an alert, but if you are interested in keeping geeks from getting slapped around like my brother maybe you can make some recommendations about how to make unthreatening boxes (no arabic or machine guns on them is good), where not to put them (bridges,…), and what to do before running the gauntlet of a checkpoint or field experiment (use a honest-looking sticker, have an explanation with contact info printed up to hand out, call in advance, etc.).

    The point is either you are trying to change society with your art, or you want to help geeks not get clobbered by a very unfriendly society. So I hope you can redesign the sticker to help people desensitize themselves peacefully, deroboticize their heads for a moment and not jump to snap conclusions, and quickly contact the developer from the contact info on it before continuing to sensitize people even more.

    Well, sorry this was so long, but thanks for the stickers and looking forward to version 2.0. If you ask around you may also find someone willing to write a perl program to build the sticker image based on form input, maybe with the Gimp, latex, or even OpenOffice automatically, that would be real neat.

    Respectfully,

    Matt

  26. Jimm says:

    Off subject. Wow, a long comment thread with disagreement but no one going nutso. I haven’t seen one of those in a while.

    On subject (hopefully.) As someone who was paid from the coffers of Homeland Security for a while, I can say that terrorists tactics are asymmetric, that is, they get you in a way that you cannot directly counteract easily. Planting a dozen bombs in a couple of major cities, with timers set to go off simultaneously would be a good example (if a lot harder to pull off than you might think.) Planting a dozen bombs that flip you off in places where everybody can see them is not a good example, if for no other reason that it’s hard to put up such a sign without a number of people noticing.

    As to art’s place in this, that is a very interesting thought. I hope some of you better versed in the subject will keep it going.

    I also think I’m going to get a couple of those stickers to put on my amateur rockets. You’d be surprised at the look on a policeman’s face when he first sees a four foot long missile in the back of your minivan. So far though, no problems.

    Jimm

  27. jb says:

    With the bushbots driving force of fear [...]

    Bushbots… In Boston… That’s rich.

  28. [...] First up, Bunnie has made up some stickers: [...]

  29. plabs says:

    this kind of thing is not so uncommon, in terms of the police wanting to exploit the situation.. they can get away with it, so they do it.

    1. police dept screws something up, or blow something out of proportion.

    2. pad the bill so they can make money on their fuck up.

    3. they get to turn any kind of ineptitude into an opportunity to look like heroes.

    typical..

    history repeats.. police departments don’t need accountants.

    you might have to notify someone if any of your arts include energy, motors. lights.. etc.

    otherwise you could be the subject of exploitation by the police.

  30. Fred says:

    I’ve spent my entire life in the Boston area. I enjoy a good laugh at the expense the goings on in the local and state government but your stickers don’t sit well with me.
    (I also enjoyed blowing things up as an aspiring engineer….)
    I have been in Boston long enough to remember when in 1991 Jeremiah Hurley of the BPD Bomb squad was investigating a “suspicious package” and it blew killing him and injuring his partner. I remember a when a “suspicious” package was removed from the Cambridge Post Office and later detonated injuring another officer.

    I can’t do the things i used to with firecrackers and gunpowder. That’s life today.

    Based on the time line of events

    Early AM: England arrests several terror suspects.

    At 6:53 a.m. Washington D.C. Metro station closed ; a suspicious package.

    At 8:18 a.m. Boston The first “suspicious device” found attached to a Bridge support on an interstate highway located on top of a train station.

    At 8:52 a.m. New York City 4 people were being treated at a post office after being overcome by fumes emanating from a package at a post office in New York City.

    At 9 a.m. The Boston Police Bomb investigates first device. Highway closed.

    At 12:54 p.m. the Boston Police Bomb squad called in for second device

    1:08 p.m. Pipe Bomb found at New England Medical Center
    Suspect flees scene stating” Today is going to be a bad day.”

    from 1-3 pm more Aquateen ads found.

    1:25 p.m. Berdovsky e-mailed several friends and said the advertising firm had told him to keep quiet.

    4:30 p.m. Boston Police Department notified by advertising firm about devices

    So why did the Ad firm take 3 hours to contact local authorities?

    The BPD is tied into a DHS network providing instant communication on potential terrorist threats. A metro station in DC and a train station in Boston within 1hr of each other are potential links until proven otherwise.

    If another ” suspicious device ” is found in Boston. It isn’t the elected officials who will answer the call and see the “stickers” it will be a member of the BPD bomb squad……
    Thanks for letting me vent.
    Great Blog.
    Fred

  31. Brian says:

    My myspace blog pertaining to what happened.

    Isn’t there any one on the whole Boston police force who recognized this
    guy!? Don’t any of them have teenage kids? are they who do soooo oblivious to what their kids watch!? This is a great example of how “disconneted” the so called responsible adult comunity is from the youth of this country! Thank GOD I am not so responsible…..ATHF is #1!

  32. Brian says:

    My myspace blog pertaining to what happened.

    Isn’t there any one on the whole Boston police force who recognized this
    guy!? Don’t any of them have teenage kids? are they who do soooo oblivious to what their kids watch!? This is a great example of how “disconneted” the so called responsible adult comunity is from the youth of this country! Thank GOD I am not so responsible…..ATHF is #1!

    Html removed by filter….

  33. Mark Warner says:

    Two points: The goal of the terrorists was to take away your freedoms. They have done so – ergo, they have won.

    The best way to prevent future stupidity of this type is for device owners to clearly post their name and contact information on their devices so that if anyone is suspicious, they need only call to discover what the purpose of the device is.

    I lied – third point. The guys who thought this up have a very lucrative career in marketing ahead of them. Probably hundreds of millions in free advertising – must be the most successful viral campaign ever.

  34. Dave from Austin says:

    Quiz:

    1) How many of you have had a friend killed by a terrorist?
    2) How many of you have had a friend killed by a drunk driver?
    3) How many of you have had a friend killed by cancer?

    Q: What happens if you wear a tee shirt saying “this is not a bomb” or even “this is not a weapon” into a court house or airport?
    A: You learn what the First Amendment is worth. But you also gain an opportunity. Take off the shirt and put on one saying ” Gay Nazis Against Airport Screening”

    So maybe we have to start acting like Eastern Europeans in 1980-90; point out the absurdities directly, in simple, logical language and force the authorities to start dealing with simple- absurd- questions. In other words become like V. Havel. For example, can you board an airplane wearing a shirt that says “This is not a Bomb”? What abour “B_mb”? or quoting from the federal statute about making jokes at a security checkpoint? It will be awefully hard for the government to say you can’t wear a shirt quoting a law.

  35. Randy says:

    The nice people in enforcement are not known for their sense of humor in such matters. Sense of irony? Um, no.

    If there are to be stickers, they need to show that a responsible person is available to answer questions about whatever the widget is.

    THIS IS ART
    It depicts _____ using ______
    and is intended to _entertain _enlighten _provoke thought _whatever
    Contact the artist: _______________________ if this display causes any concerns.

    Edgy? No. Fitting the times? Yeah.

    If an ad agency was involved, and failed to get the needed permits for signage, did not take the time to speak to the PD – ‘we’re putting these up, it’s an ad campaign, here’s what it looks like, OK with you?’ – then the agency should be dealt with based on the statues violated.

  36. bunnie says:

    This is to address the thoughtful comments people have posted in particular about tagging home-made (“improvised”) devices with personal contact information.

    You observe correctly that the point of the stickers above is sarcasm and social commentary, and that they are actually not really “useful” in a law enforcement sense. I had pondered making a sticker where you can fill in your contact info myself, but these are basically my thoughts about it.

    The fundamental problem is that society in migrating toward a system where we don’t trust ourselves. Effective terrorism causes a society to have essentially an allergic reaction to itself–an autoimmune response that attacks healthy cells because the invading cells have managed to disguise themselves beyond the point of discrimination by the immune system. Like an antibiotic course that you didn’t finish, today’s homeland security implementation has done nothing but breed more effective terrorists (and I would argue that by this analogy the only effective treatments would be like chemotherapy plus radiation therapy–you basically kill the cancer by killing the patient, and hope that the cancer cells die first–not a risk I think we should take with our culture).

    Do you not agree that a good terrorist would figure out that the best way to scare people is to disguise very dangerous things as perfectly normal items? The point at which we question every garbage can, roadside cable service box, and piece of street art as a potential threat is the point at which the terrorists have utterly destroyed our culture–which is their goal in the end. It’s a war on our culture, not on our people.

    Note that I didn’t mention substation transformers in the above list. That’s because they are potential bombs, whether you like it or not. Number of substation transformer explosions in 2002: 200 [warning: links to a PowerPoint presentation]. And really, click this link and watch the video all the way through if you think these aren’t potential bombs. Are we looking in the right places for risk in our lives?

    Given this, suppose I made a sticker where you can identify yourself by writing on it. What would prevent a terrorist from buying the sticker and putting your name on it? People would see it, say “oh, I know Phil, he’s a good guy”, ignore the object, and then “boom”. OK, so now society realizes that there’s an authentication issue with self-identification. What’s the solution to that? Ah! Let’s make holographically protected, government-bonded stickers that Makers can put on all of their stuff. And the Makers all need to be licensed to make their dangerous-looking stuff.

    …And then, we find out that a terrorist simply registered as a Maker–or perhaps a Maker went insane and became a terrorist–and put these holographically protected stickers on their bombs. So now all people who “might” have a “reasonable cause” to build anything “out of the ordinary” has to undergo a psychological panel to insure that they are “sound in mind” and not terrorists…

    This sounds far-fetched, but the idea of Mooninites shutting down Boston is pretty surreal as well. The real problem is that the American auto-immune reaction has started and we are identifying anything we don’t immediately agree with or understand as the product of “sickos”.

    The real problem is you can never know where a bomb is. You truly can hide one anywhere. Maybe the best defense is to just stop being a target. In China, many rich people’s homes look like run-down shacks on the outside, but when you go inside you know they clearly could afford to remodel the outside. Why? Because it reduces the chance that you are burglarized. But I digress. I am not an expert in foreign policy.

    I think it’s important that people are educated about the silliness of the situation, and that we learn that we have to just move on with life and conduct business as usual, living in a free country trusting each other.

    However, ideals aside, I do acknowledge that a sticker with identifying information is more comforting to the casual observer and it could facilitate the process of officials trying to deal with such a situation. Thus, if you wish to voluntarily divulge your private information to the world, I offer you this:

    (Click the image to buy). The astute reader will notice that I’m actually not selling these–it’s Cafepress that is selling them. I just send them my artwork. The neat thing about Cafepress is that it costs nothing to start a store, or to design your own stickers (even without a store)–you just pay for the actual products that are delivered to your home. So actually, if you would like to make your own, I encourage you to do so. It’s very easy and fun to do!

  37. jd says:

    How many Bostonians does it take to screw in blinking LEDs?

  38. member says:

    It’s easy to see why this sticker seemed like a good idea, and now not so after such discussion.

    But better yet, Peter and Sean should of used a sticker describing what the device actually is.

    Something like:

    This is the character Err from the show ATHF on Cartoon Network.

    Then athorities could have tracked down the source quicker.

  39. Sam Kenyon says:

    Hi Bunnie! I saw this sticker on BoingBoing and immediately thought–that would be great for ORCA!

    Whenever I have robotics and test equipment in a hotel room (this happens a lot) somebody says it looks like a bomb.

    I’m not sure why wires and LEDs equate to bombs in the minds of these people–where did this meme come from? They must be thinking of the detonators and forgetting that there’s no actual explosive material. Any bomb sniffing robot or dog or large African rat worth its salt would confirm.

  40. Shane T says:

    I’m sure your stickers were not a fully serious idea but it’s interesting reading the comments here that there does seem to be a necessity to denote what things are bombs and what aren’t. There’s one option you haven’t discussed of course, which is telling the police in advance (which would have prevented this whole debacle) – airsoft players and paintballers using replica guns have to do this all the time (although you can see why people would actually be worried there). It might not be possible or advisable if you’re leaving something lying around as guerrilla artwork or trespassing to put it there in the first place. Perhaps you could leave an anonymous phone message on the order of…

    “I have left a device…on the bridge…it’s not a bomb, don’t bother checking.”

    Okay, maybe not. But there is actually a sensible way of dealing with this type of hysteria.

    I’m not from the US but the cops here tend do to blow things up if they’re not sure as well, albeit only in airports and the like, and it’s usually something like a holy book on a bag or something threatening in an inoccuous way. My bag is always bursting with circuit boards, sometimes for no reason, and it’s never been exploded. Go figure.

  41. Balto says:

    So, what would happen in Boston if someone dropped a couple of old AT hard drives with cable and driver card attached on the streets of that town. After all, it’s a sophisticated electronic device with some sort of box and wires attached.

  42. lol…i love the idea that we can resist terrorists simply by ignoring them or, better yet, mocking them. “Terrorist” is a label we put on people who are trying to make us live under Sharia, or kill us if we won’t. Full stop. They ‘win’ nothing if we are uncomfortable, or act silly ourselves. Anyone who thinks otherwise is confusing the messenger for the message.

    This was a great thread, tho.

  43. Lolo says:

    Actually, fear is a goal in itself. Saying that terrorism has nothing to do with terror is missing the very idea of “frightening many by harming — or threatening to harm — a random few”. Just made the definition up, so forget the quotes.

    Yes, whoever is behind terrorism may have a final goal; but regardless of the agenda, if it’s terrorism, then that backer is trying to get to this goal via terror. And terror works by cowing people up.

    So I find the idea of the stickers fun and apropiate; laughing at paranoid “security” may be an effective way of defusing paranoia. And we need a lot of trust, humor and common sense to get out of this one.

  44. c$$$ says:

    Someone should make some exploding pro-war ribbon magnets and stick them on random SUVs. That would show ‘em.

  45. True. As long as we don’t laugh ourselves into getting killed, I’m all for it. And I think art has an important role in helping us understand our environment, as well as in helping us deal with it.

  46. [...] A Little Something for the Hackers in Boston “Don’t Panic! This is NOT A BOMB!” stickers for your geek gear. (tags: funny humor culture boston hacking shopping) [...]

  47. Sam Kenyon says:

    >>So, what would happen in Boston if someone dropped a couple of old AT hard drives with cable and driver card attached on the streets of that town. After all, it’s a sophisticated electronic device with some sort of box and wires attached.
    >>

    Well, certainly there a lots of devices deposited on the streets. Whenever semesters change the streets (where I live anyway) fill up with old CRTs, PCs, printers, speakers, etc. Even if circuit boards and wires are exposed, being located in the trash zone (i.e., the sidewalk) means the device is not suspicious.

  48. hairless says:

    There’s another one

  49. Michael says:

    To help out, you need to make a little sticker that says “this is not a bomb” that people can put on *everything*–chairs, lightposts, etc., since apparently the police are too dumb to know. it would be a public service!

  50. Sam Kenyon says:

    In the movie version of this event, Peter Sellers will posthumously play the role of the Mayer, as well as the Chief of Police and the Dreadlocks Kid. It will be titled, Dr. Weird: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mooninite Bomb.

  51. [...] A Little Something for the Hackers in Boston (bunnie) [...]

  52. grrrr says:

    “The terrorists’ don’t win by making us scared; they win by killing us, and vigilance is a reasonable survival tool”

    That is not true at all the number of people killed by terrorist is extremely small and survival is not really an issue at all just compare the numbers with other causers of death even for example in Israel this is true.

  53. Karin says:

    What is with these comments that have quotes surrounded by [...] characters? Are they spam?

    Anyway, it seems like the content of the stickers has already been discussed to death, but I just wanted to note that many bombs ARE “improvised devices”, and seeing those words would probably make me nervous, personally.

    Loved Michael’s comment.

  54. bunnie says:

    The [...] comments are track-backs to other compatible blogs that directly reference this post. WordPress automatically inserts them. I leave them in because often if you click on the title link you can read another person’s perspective or commentary on the subject, which is valuable.

  55. Amjad says:

    If you are sitting next to someone who irritates you on a plane or train..

    1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.

    2. Remove your laptop.

    3. Turn it on.

    4. Make sure the guy who won’t leave you alone can see the screen.

    5. Then hit this link: http://www.thecleverest.com/countdown.swf

    6. Close your eyes and tilt your head up to the sky.

    Imagine the reaction that would case in the states. Big question for me is would they charge you with some alien law?

  56. Laptops are routinely confiscated at airports around the country with no probable cause. By the time you get it back it is a museum piece. I would recommend not testing the sense of humor of the minimum-wage earning airport inspectors. Mere making a joke about a bomb in that situation IS a federal crime in itself.

    Welcome to the land of the blind sheep.

  57. Samh says:

    Had to laugh at this article from the Wooster Collective regarding the Boston incident … http://www.woostercollective.com/2007/02/some_thoughts_on_last_week_in_boston.html

  58. Antibush says:

    Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? What is he doing to us, and what is he doing to the world?
    What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

  59. Drhaggis says:

    “but how is art a viable response”

    Art is always a viable response.

  60. slbeauty says:

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  61. morganusvitus says:

    The site looks great ! Thanks for all your help ( past, present and future !)

  62. Operion says:

    wow, geez, seems like almost everyone in here is anti stickers and led lights. And when did stickers become art? haha. I’d love to meet someone in person who refered to his sticker as being art. : ) or even his lightbrite for that matter.
    nice comment by plabs. Awesome links amjad and samh. I didnt know the 2 guys responsible for puttin up the led’s were so funny. If lights on the street corners and stickers on our bumbers are too much for society to handle, then terrorism HAS won. And seems like most of u guys sure cant handle the sticker, hehe. But as for me, im sure not gonna hide in my room cancel the kids soccer practice and hug my teddy bear cuz

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  100. Tactical Tim says:

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  103. my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.