MIT student arrested for entering Boston airport with "fake bomb"

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223 Responses to “MIT student arrested for entering Boston airport with "fake bomb"”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “They’re showing the hoodie on CNN right now, looks like the “improvised electronic device” consisted of a circuit board and a common battery that may have caused her hooded t-shirt (which had painted writing on it) to light up.”

    Hey! I had a t-shirt (kinda) like that when I was a kid. No big circuit board though, so just static light show, in my case. It came from a toy store in Charlotte Amalie. There was an iron-on transfer of a snarling leopard, and there were little lights stuck through the design, with wiring on the inside of the shirt, and it was all powered by a 9 volt battery.

    It was boss! No idea up to now that it would also make me a terrorist hoaxer. Hn… maybe I’ll recreate it in memoriam of all our salad days of personal freedom.

    ~cabrilla

  2. Dillenger69 says:

    When did it become illegal to carry homebrew electronics into an airport?
    These people need to lighten the fuck up.

    I believe it’s time for a line of clothing that has random electronics embedded into it.

  3. Kaiser says:

    From the first paragraph of the AP story…

    “BOSTON – An MIT student wearing what turned out to be a fake bomb was arrested at gunpoint Friday at Logan International Airport and later claimed it was artwork, officials said.”

    What turned out to be a “fake bomb”? They call this reporting? Shouldn’t it read “what turned out to be wearable homemade electronics”.

    A fake bomb would be what they found in the hospital during the Mooninite scare, which wasn’t related to the Mooninite ad campaign. I don’t have a link but maybe someone remembers this.

    Oh here, from Wikipedia…

    “According to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, phony pipe bombs were also discovered that day, one inside Tufts-New England Medical Center.”

  4. swanlakers says:

    face it, a bomb can look like just about anything.

    That being so we will be safer if people with guns pull them out and threaten anyone with anything.

    Especially if it blinks.

  5. rchsod says:

    monkey bombs..some guy stuffs a live monkey under his hat… put a piece of lighted plastic on … ..well we know the rest

  6. Cpt. Tim says:

    i’d be afraid to go outside in boston anything other than naked. who knows what they could label as a bomb next.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Uhhh.. “Electronic device strapped to her chest” That’s a quote from the police folks. It wasn’t an “electronic device strapped to her chest”. It was a light-up nametag. Today is career fair day at MIT (and she’s one of the most enthusiastic engineers I’ve ever met).

    She also had a can of play-doh. It wasn’t ‘connected’ to the device in any way. So… she had something that lit up and a childrens’ toy.

    Oh, and she’s ‘a little dark skinned’.

    So by all means, whip out the machine guns. She’s obviously a threat.

    As for learning a lesson from the whole ATHF episode in January, I would have hoped is was the City of Boston that had learned a lesson as they were the fools in that affair.

    I weep for my country. I’m embarrassed by by home city.

    Monty

  8. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    [Boring moderation notice: Sorry about the holes that just appeared in this conversation. The commenter who posted here as "CantStopTheSignal" is actually another user who's been temporarily suspended for misbehavior in another thread. CantStopTheSignal's comments, here and elsewhere, have been unpublished because he's the sockpuppet of a suspended user. For the record, this had nothing to do with the content of his comments. -tnh]

  9. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t this imbecile remember how his city was the laughing stock of the nation over the ATHF incident?
    —–

    No, in my non-insulated world, everyone blamed the marketing corporation for that one, not Boston.

  10. Richard Wymarc says:

    >80 Tensegrity:

    Before Microsoft and Google were huge state-sanctioned corporations, they were a few individuals with good ideas hunched over their PCs.

    Also Apple, Ford … This country used to be ABOUT innovation.


    The problem arises from the basic axioms of our country’s security policies:
    1) fear is the best strategy
    2) distrust your own citizens
    2a) state/corporate = safe
    2b) independent/uncontrolled/unmonitored = dangerous
    3) security concerns trump *all* legitimate civilian activity

    Imagine a world where the response was:

    1) The only thing we have to fear is fear itself
    2) Trust your neighbors. We are in this together
    3) Security is not worth the price of freedom.

    “Land of the free, Home of the brave” I want my country back.

  11. smonkey says:

    Personally my biggest worry is she didn’t even go through security. How far out are these powers going to extend. The roads around the airports? The city around the roads? wtf?

    As Iraq proves you’re not going to stop suicide bombers even with road blocks, house to house searches and torture. Random checks in airports have stopped how may terrorist attacks? I’m betting zero, zip, nada.

    just in case any of you are bored at defcon next year you can fire one of those mp5s (the submachine gun used to threaten “deadly force”) (though a non-silenced version) just outside the Vegas city limmits and any one of the “shooting ranges” listed in the phone book. Just look for “automatic weapons/machine guns”.

  12. stevew says:

    #14 posted by Christovir
    Great point. I saw US soldiers with M-16s in airports right after 9/11 and in Frankfurt, DE there are 19 year olds wandering around in uniform with machine guns. Great theater, but really stupid. One full-auto burst from a machine gun would probably kill and injure as many people as a small bomb. Not the right tool to prevent harming innocent bystanders, unless they’re up to the “Kill them all and let God sort them out” point.

  13. rrsafety says:

    NOTE TO BOING BOING:

    News media is reporting that the picture you are showing is of the OUTSIDE of the sweatshirt not the inside of the sweatshirt as you say in your “UPDATE: 3″.

    It looks to me that you can see pockets on the sweatshirt, so that makes it likely to be the outside…

  14. Merc says:

    #68 posted by bricology , September 21, 2007 10:57 AM:

    Oh — and anyone who claims “it doesn’t even look anything like a bomb!” has their head up their ass. I assure you, it looks EXACTLY like what a bomb could look like.

    Are you actually an expert on bombs, or do you just watch a lot of TV?

  15. Tensegrity says:

    Also, for now I guess not so much with the wearable computing.

    Maybe our government’s technophobia is a logical extension of the fact that the only uses they can imagine for wearable computers (and technology in general) is better ways to kill people.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Force_Warrior

  16. Merc says:

    #82 posted by bricology , September 21, 2007 11:30 AM:

    As we all know, women never wear IEDs on the outside of their clothing:

    http://tinyurl.com/27tyda

    Was that picture taken as the girl was about to sneak into a crowd of people to blow them up, or was the bomb worn on the outside of the clothing at a rally because if it were worn normally (i.e. hidden on the inside of the clothing) it wouldn’t make for an interesting image / statement?

  17. Rob Cockerham says:

    I can’t believe NBC is promoting Bionic Woman like this. What a terrible idea.

  18. Xeni Jardin says:

    @rrsafety, thanks I’ve corrected the post. When I saw this demonstrated on TV, it looked like the gizmo was on the inside, but I must have been wrong.

  19. JackCastile says:

    She’s cute(with hair), though.

  20. Nicholas Weaver says:

    It was shown on CNN, does ANYONE have a screen capture…

    I have a feeling a nice photo of the hoodie & wiring will easily say to 90% of the people either “she’s lucky she’s not dead” or “gah, what an overreaction”.

    But until we SEE the device, we can’t say one way or the other.

  21. swanlakers says:

    face it, a bomb can look like just about anything.

    That being so we will be safer if people with guns pull them out and threaten anyone with anything.

    Especially if it blinks.

  22. Sinthea says:

    She had her first and almost final 15 minutes of fame! Scary stuff!

  23. Bryant says:

    Why didn’t anyone ask the $64,000 question?
    “What is that you’re wearing, ma’am?”

    They did. See this article:

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/city_region/breaking_news/2007/09/mit_student_arr.html

    Star Simpson, 19, was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and approached an airport employee in Terminal C at 8 a.m. to inquire about an incoming flight from Oakland, according to Major Scott Pare of the State Police. She was holding a lump of what looked like putty in her hands. The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.

  24. JacobDavis says:

    Sometimes I think that the fearmongering that occurs in my country is due not only to those in power who stand to profit off of it (whether monetarily or politically), but also by those people who insist that it has to be ok to just do whatever the hell we want without regard for the way we are perceived by society at large.

    I will readily concede that there are too many extreme examples of overly-tightened security, and my heart goes out to those folks like the man who was turned away for his so-called “I.E.D”. But seriously, someone comes into an airport with electronics strapped to her chest and some of us here think that everyone should have just looked at her and said, “Oh! An artist!”

    BS.

    If you’re into DIY electronics, frankly, you’re in a small niche compared to the rest of the nation. It’s unreasonable to expect everyone else to see homebrew electronics on someone’s shirt and deduce immediately at a glance that it’s a novelty device or “art.”

    As much as airport security can sometimes go overboard, I’m glad to see that they can respond immediately to what could have been an actual threat by someone a little off-kilter.

    I’m glad she’s alright; she is lucky.

  25. phasor3000 says:

    or was the bomb worn on the outside of the clothing at a rally because if it were worn normally (i.e. hidden on the inside of the clothing) it wouldn’t make for an interesting image / statement?

    Merc, the “interesting statement” that is being made by that photo is “I want to blow up a bunch of Jews.” Interesting!

  26. Anonymous says:

    What annoys me the most is yet again, the initial reports sound really bad, and are completely false.

    “She has a lump of putty or playdoh connected to a wire and a battery”! Well, of course we can all understand how stupid that would be.

    Then subsequent reports remove the putty, and then the playdoh, and we’re left with a goofy looking light-bright sweatshirt.

    Anyone remember the TSA reports of terrorists testing security using cell phones wired to blocks of cheese to simulate bombs? Turned out to be one case of a woman who had both of those items in her bag. She was a grandmother and a citizen, and was completely cleared of any suspicion AT THE TIME! Yet they still cited that case in their public reports of terrorist testing our security.

    It’s all deliberate lies and hysteria, of a kind that hasn’t been seen since Nazi Germany.

  27. fry says:

    Its not that shes from MIT its that shes from hpa. That’s why she’s crazzzzzy.

  28. Monty Montgomery says:

    Saw the device. It’s a standard-issue MIT solderless breadboard. You can buy them at RadioShack. It has ten or so green LEDs on it (also probably from RadioShack), and a nine-volt battery (funny, those come from RadioShack too). It get negative style points, but yeah, it *is* the kind of thing you would see MIT students wearing around campus.

  29. dainel says:

    I’ve never seen a real bomb in my life. Nevertheless, I’m confident it does not consist of flashing LEDs on a circuit board, with dangling wires. Despite what we see on TV everyday, where the wires’ sole reason for existence is to be cut, so that the hero can disable it. Why would a real bomb have LEDs? So that it’ll attract attention? So that it’ll be harder to hide?

    OTOH a battery can be used to trigger a bomb. Or a lighter, or a match. So what they should do is search for and arrest everybody who turns up in an airport with a battery, or a lighter, or a match. Now, of course that will be stupid and unreasonable, but just a little bit less so than searching for LEDs on a circuit board.

    PS: a handphone makes a nice trigger for a bomb. Not only can you use the built in alarm clock, if you want to trigger the bomb earlier, you can also call the number from a payphone, or send it an SMS. So they should probably arrest everybody who carries a handphone as well.

  30. jere7my says:

    A point that may have been overlooked: she wasn’t trying to pass through security and get on a plane. She was there to meet someone on an arriving plane, and asked someone at the info desk for information. The machine guns came out while she was waiting on a traffic island outside the airport.

  31. Chris Tucker says:

    Dear Lord, I wish someone would put together a kit of parts and the PCB for this.

    http://web.jfet.org/ignignokt/

    Imagine a few hundred people going about their lawful occasions at Logan, each one wearing their own personal Ignignokt, graphically displaying how they feel about the terror theater taking place every day there.

  32. Znodis says:

    The Fark.com thread has some images of the sweatshirt.

    link to thread, post is at (2007-09-21 12:14:01 PM) by tomlennon
    http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=3083934

    link to pic
    http://multimedia.heraldinteractive.com/images/cfa4827569_20070921device3.jpg
    http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/mit2_070921_ms.jpg

  33. Anonymous says:

    airports are such a sad, unpleasant place to be now.

    i really feel for star.

    you know, the real terrorists tend to wear the bombs on the inside of their clothing.

  34. ckd says:

    There are some pictures of the device here.

  35. baddog993 says:

    Look no offense to anyone here but this women was lucky she was not killed. You dont take what looks like a bomb strap it on your chest and head for the airport. Try this get a toy gun and wear it on a holster and drive down to a airport, see how that turns it out. Sound silly? Yes, will it likely get you killed for having a toy gun at a airport? YES. Moral of the story dont wear a what looks like a bomb attached to your chest. I cant believe we have to explain this to people.

  36. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    We already knew that Boston police and security personnel can’t tell a bomb from a breadboard. The Great Mooninites Scare wasn’t the first instance like this, and the panic over Star Simpson’s ornament won’t be the last.

  37. Dan Tentler says:

    I love it.

    The folks at the airport clearly dont hold any kind of mastery for 1) the english language or 2) current events.

    I understand they think by saying “Improvised electronic Device” they’re trying to say IED – which means “Improvised EXPLOSIVE device”

    Every time I read “improvised electronic device” I think of someone who drew a wiring schematic on a napkin.. “AH AH! IT LOOKS LIKE ELECTRONICS! IT MUST BE A BOMB!”

    or someone who paints up some twigs to resemble capacitors and resistors and has some wires/vines leading into some dirt clods.

  38. Dan Tentler says:

    I love it.

    The folks at the airport clearly dont hold any kind of mastery for 1) the english language or 2) current events.

    I understand they think by saying “Improvised electronic Device” they’re trying to say IED – which means “Improvised EXPLOSIVE device”

    Every time I read “improvised electronic device” I think of someone who drew a wiring schematic on a napkin.. “AH AH! IT LOOKS LIKE ELECTRONICS! IT MUST BE A BOMB!”

    or someone who paints up some twigs to resemble capacitors and resistors and has some wires/vines leading into some dirt clods.

  39. edgore says:

    “Personally my biggest worry is she didn’t even go through security. How far out are these powers going to extend. The roads around the airports? The city around the roads? wtf?”

    Actually, if I were a terrorist just about the only interesting airline related target these days is the line going into security. You have hundreds of people closely packed together, and you, obviously, don’t need to go through security to get to it.

    Ever sicne they sealed up the cockpits of airplanes and people became aware of the possibility to suicide hijackers actulayyu oding anything on an airplane became much less attractive.

    Airport screening is fighting yesterdays battle.

    There is NO WAY to protect against a determined suicide bomber who just wants to blow him/herself up in the middle of a lot of people. Protect the airports and malls become a target, protect the malls and sporting events become a target.

    Everything you go through at the airport is just theater that accomplishes nothing.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I’ve given up. Really, I gave up several incidents before this one. If I wasn’t disabled with serious medical problems, I’d have taken my family and moved away from the U.S. a couple of years ago. Alas, the good countries all have universal healthcare, which means they don’t accept immigrants who will need $50k a year in medical support (paid for here by private insurance, not Social Security, incidentally). And I can’t blame them for that.

    The U.S. is working hard on all fronts to piss away all the technological advantage we had, and either crush or chase away its bright, creative people. The goal is clearly to reduce everyone to sheep…short attention spans and no ability to think critically. Not to mention lazy, all you “so tell me what a bomb looks like” folks.

    Maybe I can’t leave, but at least my son will escape. He’s agreed to leave the country, after college. I bet Ms. Simpson leaves now, too :)

  41. malevolentjelly says:

    I just saw the device on CNN – it’s really obviously an electronics project. She apparently wanted to “stand out for Career day”. She seems really pro-active and the shirt seems to be the kind of geek showmanship that would usually get posted on BB.

    I guess this follows with the conventional knowledge that ALL CIRKIT BOARDS EXPLOAD OKAY? Boston has basically been batting zero with this whole “anti-terrorism” thing.

    Remember, people: don’t express yourselves through technology. Drop those home-made gadgets and toss an ipod around your neck.

  42. phasor3000 says:

    Can we nominate her for a Darwin Award, even though she survived?

  43. karamcnair says:

    So.. am I the only one who finds the use of the term ‘coed’ to refer to a female university student in 2007 to be a bit bizarre?

    I mean, really, how long has it been since the public universities were segregated by gender?

  44. cavalier says:

    Put yourself in the airport worker’s shoes.

    Girl with some “weird board” attached to her chest with some sort of bulge, blinking lights, some kind of… what is that… putty? explosive? stuff on her and her hands, asks about a flight, then doesn’t respond to a “WTF is that on your chest?”

    I’m no republican bed wetter. There are still things you don’t fuckin’ do in a crowded theater. Like yelling fire.

    As much as we keyboard warriors want to demonize “the bureaucratic security institution”, WE, the keyboard elite, are just as much to blame when we do nothing but pigeonhole them when they do nothing and harangue them when they attempt to do what they have trained for. It’s so easy to Monday morning quarterback it and say “HAW HAW! You goons! It was a nerd, not a terrorist!”, but how are they going to know that pre-investigating? They are not omniscient. They are risking their lives every day in an attempt to save lives.

    Bah. I’m not usually “RAH RAH The System”, but I have met the people busting their ass to save the rest of us. For every power hungry pig, there are fifteen boy scouts that want to put their life down to protect others. I just wish we could keep this in some sort of perspective…

  45. Mashit says:

    In response to JimmyM:

    The “Mooninite Terrorists” who were charged under the “hoax device” statute got off with no criminal charges. Just some small fines and community service.

    How quickly people forgot about them after all the hysteria. As their case went on, it became clear that they had committed no crime. I suspect the only reason why they had to do community service was so the AG could save face. I also suspect the same thing will happen in this new case.

    The frightening thing about all of this is the way that the media and many of the citizens react. So quick to accuse, and condemn without knowing all the facts.

  46. Josh Hallett says:

    A ‘hoax device’ hmmm, by that definition a real bomb could be a:

    - hoax ‘hoax device’
    - a failed ‘hoax device’

  47. Chris S says:

    hmmm…there’s just a fine line between clever and stupid.

  48. JacobDavis says:

    Just curious… Can anyone who is protesting her treatment state exactly what a bomb is supposed to look like, even it were worn on the outside of some idiot “martyr’s” shirt?

  49. chris says:

    First off, she should be aware of the state of airport security and the lack of understanding that non-technical people have regarding electronics. This is common sense, which unfortunately is not required to be an engineering student. I saw the ‘device’ in question and it looks like she just has nerd pride and wanted to show off her love of electronics.
    I am glad that she wasn’t shot, but if she was would that surprise anybody?
    Now she will face charges, which I hope are dropped. It seems that she was just ignorant of the situation and made a mistake. I mean look at it… its a freaking breadboard with LED’s!

  50. surlyben says:

    Sounds to me like the cops in Boston just need training on what DIY electronics projects look like. Perhaps a local maker or DIY club should contact the police and offer their expertise for a training course.

  51. Monty Montgomery says:

    I… have done the only thing I know how to do in this situation:

    http://www.printfection.com/xiphmont/Engineer-extra-inflammatory-blackdark-T-Shirt/_p_1465827

    And no, I’m not making any commission from it. There are a few versions.

    Monty

  52. Adam Rakunas says:

    And it’s Rob Cockerham @29 for the the thread win!

  53. Ryan says:

    I used Google cache to try and look at her MIT website and found a picture gallery from her and some friends at an MIT workshop. It was interesting to see her and her friends from an unfiltered perspective.

  54. Anonymous says:

    A few months ago my dad bought some shoes on sale at Wal-Mart for $9 or something ridiculously low like that. What he didn’t realize was that these shoes had LEDs like the kind kids might have on their shoes that blink whenever they take a step. Now, he loves showing this off to people whenever he’s had a few drinks.

    He goes to the airport (not Boston) and forgets about this feature when he puts his shoes in the x-ray machine. Security totally goes into Super Panic Mode or whatever and starts asking my dad all kinds of questions about his shoes. Eventually he realizes what’s up and tells them to press the button that activates them. The lights start flashing and the TSA lady cracks up.

    The moral is, if you’re gonna have a fake bomb, make sure it’s as hilarious as a 54-year-old man with LED shoes. Also make sure you are not in Boston.

    You can bet that on the return trip the shoes were in checked baggage instead.

  55. pepsi_max2k says:

    oh ffs, another led bomb is it? are there any sane people in the boston pd?

    have to say though…
    http://www.thebostonchannel.com/slideshow/news/14173047/detail.html
    3rd pic, tut tut, i’d have expected much more from an mit student, that thing looks a right mess :oP

  56. Anonymous says:

    Is it just me, or could ANYTHING from a piece of gum, to a water bottle be considered a ‘hoax device’ if a person was that paranoid?

  57. Betsy says:

    Karamcnair, I thought the same thing. Honestly, I didn’t think the noun “coed” had been used un-ironically since Animal House.

  58. Fuzzy Bo says:

    So let me get this straight… They arrested her because she didn’t have a bomb?
    Heads they win, tails she loses!

  59. GXT says:

    “I’m surprised so many people are siding with someone who wears a circuit board and wires into an airport.”

    Because real “bombs” look just like the random circuitboards, multicolored wiring and countdown timers of cheesy-ass 20 year old TV shows.

  60. smegginhell says:

    If you can find a decent picture of the circuit board she used you can clearly see how ridiculous this “fake bomb” crap is.

    I’ve played with those boards in my computer science classes, they’re the equivalent of Legos to an engineering student, completely harmless. This whole thing is nothing more than blatant ignorance on the side of the Airport employee who called the police and the police themselves. Yet despite the fact that this poor girl did nothing wrong (she’s worn this shirt in public many times according to her own words) they’re trying to charge her with a serious crime.

    The City of Boston has once again overreacted, but they are unwilling to admit they’re the ones at fault here. It’s sad to see the air of infallibility that seems to be circulating around all levels of the US government. No one likes to admit that the messed up. Better to crucify this poor girl than to say “sorry, we overreated, but hey, can you blame us”. No instead they’re trumping up bogus “hoax device” charges. It should be thrown out of court, but with the incredibly negative and biased way the media is covering this (every head line says something to the effect of “girl arrested for bringing fake bomb to airport”, I hope she can get a fair trial. Luckily most judges can exercise more common sense. I bet once the jugde presiding over her case sees the actual shirt, he throws all the charges out.

  61. travelwell says:

    We poor Americans. We have been so traumatized by the so called “war against terror” we are now tramautizing ourselves.

    Better leave your laptop, cellphone, garage door opener, cigarette lighter, nail clippers, matches, and any clothing with writing of any sort on it at home before going into any public place. And be sure to never carry batteries with you. Never.

    Oh yeah. Better not carry a ham sandwich in a ziplock plastic bag either. A sniper may take you out as you hungrily unzip what looks through sniper sights to be a sinister device.

    How long can this madness go on?

  62. Frazier3456 says:

    Yes its a geeky device. But if your mother or child, or wife/girlfriend was in that airport and someone came up to the counter and had something with wires and a battery hanging off it with play doh or something that could look like explosives in their hands would you want the police to do nothing? Heck the guys ran a SUV in to the terminal building in London did not want to get past security. According to the story “Simpson walked away from the desk when the airport employee asked her about the device.”

    Hey if there is something that has the possibility of kill or a loved one and if I am with in 100 ft. I would want the police to react like they did. If she would have answered the employee that it was an art project and showed her what it was it probably would not have been as big of a deal. Its called verbal communication. Its just like you can not say you have a bomb when going through security at the airport or make a bomb threat to get out of a class. Heck now terrorist can use bread boards to hold the electronics to make their IED with nice green LED lights on the outside of them, with wires to explosives underneath and we should not stop them if they try to get past security or enter a public building? Yes they could make an apple computer bomb, but that is why there is x-rays of laptops, DVD players, gaming devices. But think about were you work or we you go to school and you did not know what a bread board was, and they came in with something like this, and did not answer the receptionist or teachers question on what it was and kept walking past. Would you want them to call security or the police? I would.

  63. jtg says:

    Despite what people are saying here not everyone knows what a beadboard is when the see one. From the pictures I’ve seen it’s easy to interprete as a chunk of explosives, or a housing for explosives. And those of you who are calling the police idiots, what would you have preferred they do? Ignore her? #33 has it dead right, and made his point much more eloquently than I, I might add.

  64. shirtsonaplane says:

    phasor3000, are you kidding me? I don’t even have the balls to recommend that OTHERS wear the shirts to an airport!

    Though I agree that the body cavity search design would be a nice choice. But the “I’m With Osama” is my favorite.

    Cheers!

  65. Bob W. says:

    Teresa (167):

    There are some fairly nasty substances with strong ‘splodey tendencies which can be synthesized in a few minutes in an airplane bathroom, some can even be made from the proverbial ingredients which can be found in the corner drugstore. I don’t know why we don’t see more about these on YouTube.

    For example, acetone peroxide synthesis requires hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and sulfuric acid; also ice if you want to avoid blowing yourself up, not necessarily a problem if making it in the airplane lav. HMTD is another nasty little item that can be synthesized in a hurry, but one of the ingredients, Hexamine, is likely to be detectable by explosives detectors. Synthesis instructions for substances like these generally include a step of drying out a filtered or precipitated solid, but if you made enough of it you could probably get a decent wet bang before a transatlantic flight landed.

    I found a fair range of recipes at the “Ka-Fucking-Boom” section of the http://www.totse.com pages while refreshing my memory. I got interested when a past announcement of the defeat of terrorists at the hands of the TSA mentioned that the substances involved could be made with drug store items, and with more time and inclination for a search I found a few other “Anarchist Cookbook” sites. The synthesis processes look plausible and more likely to result in pyrotechnic incontinence than explosive impotence.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the risk of terrorist attacks grew significantly worse on 11 September, 2001, and most of the purported countermeasures seem like security theatre to me. I don’t think that the liquids restriction is all that helpful — I think that Schneier has noted that there are devices for smuggling liquids like beer into stadiums that could equally be put to use smuggling explosive components onto airplanes. But there really are common liquids which can be combined to synthesize explosives during an airplane flight, and it would be better not to have arguments against bogus “protective” measures derailed by asserting that there are not.

    It might be hard to stage an effective use of in-flight-synthesized acetone peroxide, but getting to that point of opinion because of losing the point of fact would be unfortunate for one’s argument.

  66. bnewbold says:

    Maybe she couldn’t help herself: http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Tetsuo_The_Iron_Man/1034205?trkid=201094

    How many readers have actually complained or lodged protest against security paranoia? If we don’t maintain this system it’s going to deteriorate even faster, which would be a horrible waste of a beautiful society.

    Star is an amazing person and i’m sure she just hasn’t been spending enough time alone in the dark worrying about how to be a better citizen; she’s been out there doing it.

  67. proxient says:

    My question is, do the airport police really need SILENCED sub machine guns?

    http://news.yahoo.com/photo/070921/photos_ts_afp/0598f9ff58394b4ea8d23cd1edc6402d

    Is there really any reason for law enforcement to be using silencers?

    Also, well done whoever wrote the caption for that image, it is H&K not “HNK”

  68. jere7my says:

    Jacob Davis: That’s exactly the point. If a bomb can look like a laptop or an electronic art project or a pair of shoes, why single out this particular bit of electronics? Wouldn’t a real terrorist, say, wear the blinking electronics under the hoodie? And not ask a question at the information desk before leaving the airport?

    It might be possible to point at any single instance and say, “Okay, sure, that’s a legitimate mistake.” But TSA has a history of this, and the ratio of false alarms to real threats is skyrocketing. Is “Ack, it blinks!” really a good enough reason to point a machine gun at a nineteen-year-old girl? At what point do we start examining their methods? At what point does the disconnect between “youthful misjudgment about a pretty bit of soldering” and “armed response” merit a reaction? Does a college kid need to be gunned down before we say, “Oh, hey, wait, hold on”?

    You can tell me, “That guy’s got some mean dogs in the park, and they’re not on a chain. Don’t go in there carrying meat, or if you’ve recently been working with meat, or really with any food at all.” And maybe it would indeed be unwise to go into the park holding a ham sandwich. But that shouldn’t stop us from asking, “Why are the dogs so mean? Why aren’t they on a leash? Why am I in danger when I’m not doing anything wrong?”

    It’s possible for more than one person to be wrong in a situation. In this situation, one side has the authority and the guns.

    To BoingBoing in general: I’m in Boston. Is there any way I can help this girl out, or show my support?

  69. Stephen Samuel says:

    Newest Boston Air-Wear
    If you dress like this the next time you go to fly from (or to) Boston, I doubt that even Boston security can accuse you of carrying a weapon.

    It also has the pleasant side effect of making strip-searches quick, and easy.
    I’m sure that authorities there will love it.

  70. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    In case anyone missed it, the reason Xeni said “again with the hoax devices” is that Boston has a long dishonorable history of overreacting to unfamiliar objects, then claiming they were “hoax devices,” which are illegal under Massachusetts law. This is nonsense. A hoax bomb is something that a reasonable person could believe was a bomb, and which its owner claims is a real bomb in order to scare or coerce people in its vicinity.

    Boston police pulled this same stunt with Joe Previtera, a nonviolent protester, in 2006. He was doing a silent imitation of the famous photo of the hooded guy standing on a box from Abu Ghraib. The police arrested him — as far as anyone can tell, because they disliked his politics — and claimed that the speaker wires hanging from his wrists constituted a “hoax device.”

    They did it again in January and February of this year — [1], [2], [3], [4], [6], [7] — after their maxed-out overreaction to lite-brite Mooninite images left the rest of the country snickering at them. The best quote on that one was from Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, on the obviously suspicious nature of the Mooninites: “[The device] had a very sinister appearance. It had a battery behind it, and wires.”

    (Just a month after the Great Mooninite Scare, the Boston Bomb Squad managed to come up with an encore: they blew up a traffic measuring device that had been put in place by the Boston Transportation Department.)

    Judging from their record, charging someone with possession of a hoax device is Boston’s way of announcing that they’ve once again mistaken some harmless bit of electronic gear for a bomb.

  71. IvyMike says:

    It is not okay to do whatever you want, wherever you want, just because you happen to think it’s cool. You cannot shout “fire” in a theater just because it amuses you, even if it’s an art project, and you can’t wear a circuit board into an airport for the exact same reason.

    You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater because that act, by itself, causes harm:

    The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

    It’s hard to argue that it’s a clear and present danger when she wore the breadboard, clearly displayed, all over the streets of Boston, through the airport, at schoool, etc, without causing a panic.

    And while we’re at it, I can do whatever the hell I want, whenever I want, even stupid shit, as long as it doesn’t cause a panic, because that’s what freedom means. Which side of the “Live Free Or Die” equation are you on, anyway?

  72. Marshall says:

    What’s annoying about this is the media’s ongoing description of the device as a “fake bomb.” It’s not a “fake bomb” it was mistaken for a real bomb by security.

    What’s up with the whole submachinegun statement? Are they trying to tell us that they have a policy of shooting things (or people in possession of said things) on sight if they don’t know what they are?

  73. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    CKD (37), thank you for the photos of the device.

    Anybody here want to volunteer that they, too, would have thought that thing was a bomb? To me, that thing looks like a little piece of board, a few blinkylights, and a battery, and is pretty obviously intended as an ornament.

    Apparently Boston still hasn’t taught their people that all electronic devices are not bombs. This one wasn’t even hooked up to a container of hair gel.

  74. Bob W. says:

    Note to self: stay out of Logan Airport if wearing a chocolate-frosted donut on my shirt. Especially since, the way I eat, it will pretty clearly be a fragmentation donut.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I think the most salient point here is that she was not about to fly, she was just picking someone up at the airport. She was probably wearing what she happened to be wearing that day. How many of us consciously ask ourselves “is something I’m wearing mistakable for a bomb?” Yes, absolutely, security should have checked her out, as they should with anything suspicious. It will be a gross waste of tax money if she is prosecuted. We have become a nation of cowards. The terrorists have won.

  76. V says:

    Just because she may be smart doesn’t necessarily mean that she has any common sense.

  77. edgore says:

    @shirtsonaplane

    I dunno, I think my favorite is the “all I got was this stupid t-shirt” one, though I think I would to it as “and all I got was this stupid explosives belt” and have an image of a dynamite belt around the waist.

    It must be hard being in a business where all of your customers are shot on sight, preventing repeat business.

  78. indigoskye says:

    I hope these police never visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World. They’ll have to arrest everyone in the light parade.

    What’s next? Are they going to arrest people with those light up visors or t-shirts?

  79. Eduardo Padoan says:

    Schneier: “Definitely stupid police overreaction.”
    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/09/woman_arrested.html

  80. jtg says:

    Being that this took place at Logan Airport I doubt the Boston Police had anything to do with it. More likely it was the Massachusetts State Police that did the gun pointing. Certainly the guy holding up the sweatshirt in the pictures is a statey. But hey, it’s more fun to recall all BPDs mistakes. By the way, do people here believe that police in any other airport in the country would have reacted differently?

  81. shirtsonaplane says:

    >>It must be hard being in a business where all of your customers are shot on sight, preventing repeat business.<<

    It’s OK… I make it up on volume!

    :-)

  82. TwoShort says:

    @33 – “It’s unreasonable to expect everyone else to see homebrew electronics on someone’s shirt and deduce immediately at a glance that it’s a novelty device or ‘art’.”

    Having now seen the “device”, any security person who cannot tell that is not a bomb at a glance, should be fired immediately.

    There is absolutely no reason a bomb needs exposed wires and lights. Identifying bombs by looking for wires and lights is insane. A bomb needs space to carry the explosives: any piece of luggage should be more suspicious than anything stitched to your chest.

    If the police should not ignore this, anyone carrying a briefcase should be shot on site.

  83. jere7my says:

    JTG: What’s wrong with, “Excuse me miss, could you show me what that blinking thing is?” You know — the way they respond to laptops.

    [Edit: My last post should have read "Mass police have a history [...],” not TSA. I don’t think TSA was at all involved here.]

  84. Flajann Marcus says:

    I recently had a problem with Logan airport. They are super-crazy there, and clueless.

    Security types are especially problematic. They sit around day after day, week after week, year after year, see thousands of people, and not one little bomb. They are anxious to spring into action.

    The young woman probably didn’t realize anyone would make an issue. Not everyone is aware of the panic and senseless fear that has gripped many people in this country, especially if you are a brilliant academic hanging around other brilliant academics almost exclusively.

    Nope, I never use Logan for anything anymore, having dodged a nasty incident myself not too far back. Over equally stupid issues.

    And in all honesty, with the security types we have at Logan and many other airports these days, why bother with terrorists? They are far more terrifying to me than any would-be terrorist.

  85. Ebright says:

    I am just asking, is this ThinkGeek t-shirt a “threat” then?

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts/generic/8a5b/

  86. Stephen Samuel says:

    Just a few quick points:

    1) the breadboard, itself, is small enough that it’s unlikely to create an explosion that would do much more than give the wearer heartburn.

    2) “she had some PlayDough™ in her hand…. Note the lack of wires running to it.
    (Image of boston police killing a 6-year old stupid enough to use his toys in public)

    3) Boston authorities are essentially accuing her of looking like a suicide bomber . Do you really think that you’re going to stop a suicide bomber from carrying out their mission by threatening to kill her

    4) I hope that she shows up in court wearing a Bikini — claiming that it’s for personal security reasons.

  87. Antinous says:

    Comments on these airport security posts frequently have the same theme: The security people should be able to tell the difference between a fill-in-the-blank homemade device and a bomb. I’m not saying that the TSA isn’t awful, because it is. But if you were trying to secure the airport and somebody walked up with a homemade electronic device that you couldn’t identify, what would you do?

    I worked in a hospital during the Unibomber period. If we got an unexpected package, we called the bomb squad. We had to. People were actually getting blown up. Even if we had the smartest, nicest airport security people that you could imagine, this woman would still have had a gun pointed at her head.

  88. Cpt. Tim says:

    airport security handled this wonderfully.

    they recieved a call they had to act on. when you get the call you have to deal with it as a life threatening situation. just like if a cop was checking out whether a guy just had a fake gun or not.

    you go in with guns drawn and you give instructions.

    No one was maced, no one had to yell “don’t tase me bro” and unlike other devices in boston, they figured out it wasn’t a bomb without blowing it up. The only misstep i can see her is charging her. It was a huge failure of intelligence on her part, but shitting her pants over a bunch of machine guns pointed at her should be punishment enough.

  89. jeffbell says:

    Any news on the hearing?

  90. Anonymous says:

    “Jacob Davis: That’s exactly the point. If a bomb can look like a laptop or an electronic art project or a pair of shoes, why single out this particular bit of electronics? Wouldn’t a real terrorist, say, wear the blinking electronics under the hoodie? And not ask a question at the information desk before leaving the airport?”

    More to the point why would a IED have to have anything flashing at all. The thing that people should be most worried about is that the Troopers either don’t know this or disregard the fact.

    Unfortunately there seems to be an over-abundance of authority figures through out the western world (not just the u.s.) who believe that all “terrorists” are mindless drones been directed by some moron with a lower IQ than a farmyard animal.

  91. cherot says:

    It’s probably a good thing that the Mass State Police were so vigilant, but once they realized the device was benign they should have let her go. The statute under which she is being charged says “Whoever possesses, transports, uses or places or causes another to knowingly or unknowingly possess, transport, use or place any hoax device or hoax substance with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

    They can’t just claim she was clueless. They have to prove she intended to scare people. I haven’t heard anything that would suggest that is the case.

  92. Rainne says:

    I’m sorry, I have to agree with the authorities on this one. She IS lucky not to be dead.

    All of you technophiles need to stop being ridiculous, and face the fact that we are currently living in a fascist police state.

    Since we are in fact living in a fascist police state (FPS), and most people in said FPS do not wander around with electronic devices strapped to their chests, and the ones that we DO see with electronic devices strapped to their chests are all suicide bombers on CNN, I think it’s fairly logical for an onlooker unfamiliar with electronics and/or internal computer circuitry are going to assume the worst when they see someone wearing something like this.

    Let’s be honest, people, the majority of TSA employees wouldn’t know the difference between a circuit board and a chocolate-frosted doughnut without biting each one.

    So you’re walking through an airport in post-9/11 terrorist-frenzy Fascist Amerika. You see some funny-looking chick walking around in an obviously home-painted sweatshirt with an undecipherable slogan written on it, and she’s got something that looks electronic with blinky lights stuck to her shirt. What are YOU going to think?

    And before you start with the “common knowledge about MIT’s courses going by number” business – I have never been to Boston, and know nothing about MIT. I attend Middle Tennessee State University, where, when someone asks you what your major is, you respond in actual English words. I fancy myself to be intermediately-knowledgeable with computers; that is, I can replace a hard drive or a video card, but I would be afraid to poke the motherboard. If *I* had seen this chick, I would have been one of the FIRST people screaming BOMB, okay? Get over it.

  93. Xeni Jardin says:

    @jeffbell, from her website: “My trial date has been changed to July. Email me if you want to be on a mailing list of these announcements.”

  94. mdhatter says:

    @89 “To prevent them, law enforcement is taking the obvious next step: we have criminalized the act of confusing a police officer!”

    all that media showed up… we just had to have a party.

  95. Simon Peter Alciere says:

    Yes,I would like to be protected from terrorists, if possible. But who is going to protect me from from the police?

  96. Anonymous says:

    Is it really asking too much to have airport security actually educated about explosive devices? It sure doesn’t take an expert to recognize that a 9volt battery won’t blow up a plane.

    Sheer incompetence and fascism.

    -ian, Ramapo College NJ

  97. Patrick Austin says:

    WRT to the submachine gun vs. a handgun being more dangerous to bystanders: That gun is more accurate than a 9mm handgun, which translates to _fewer_ dead bystanders not more. And they don’t use these things on full-auto like you see in the movies.

    And yes, of course, most of it is just to make us feel less afraid and more afraid at the same time.

  98. Anonymous says:

    Really, stop arguin about whether or not it looks like a bomb or if she should’ve worn it into an airport. TRAIN AIRPORT SECURITY TO RECOGNISE A [i]REAL[/i] BOMB. NOT JUST ‘SUSPICIOUS-LOOKING DEVICES’. Based on what their perception of bomb is, they would’ve just watched some copies of Air Force One.

  99. Kyle Armbruster says:

    I am happy police were called to investigate. There’s no harm in checking it out, as long as they are professional and courteous (which isn’t common among American police officers, because they are, with few exceptions, bad people–but I digress).

    What is stupid is arresting and charging her. Having ascertained that 1) it was not a bomb, and 2) she did not mean to cause alarm, all that was necessary was a “please don’t wear something like that to the airport; it really freaks us out.”

    When the legal system, from the cops to the courts, treats the rest of the citizenry as neighbors for whom they are performing a service (which is ostensibly what they are doing), problems like this don’t happen. When they set themselves up as an adversary, people (especially Americans, who have a deep distrust of authority, for better or worse) push back. So the legal system tightens up to deal with the “attitude problem.” And people push back. Ad infinitum.

    On the one hand, we could be more human and understanding with the legal system, but on the other… We pay these people. They should be more human and understanding with their employers, who just happen to be their fellow citizens and compatriots. We’ve all done really stupid things that didn’t seem stupid until someone explained the situation from their viewpoint, and that’s all that needed to happen here.

    The US could be a much nicer place to live if cops and prosecutors learned some manners. I have no problem complying with the police here in Japan. They’re still police, which means you mustn’t trust them too much, since their job is to put people in jail, but at least they are polite. When they ask you to do something, it feels like the request of a service person who just needs help doing his job, not an order from a buzzcut thug with a belt full of implements of torture.

    I can totally see a 20-year-old version of myself doing something like this, without even the first inkling of malice or treachery. It would be cruel and unnecessary to treat me as a criminal, just as it is with this poor, silly, girl.

  100. scissorfighter says:

    I hope this woman isn’t the best MIT has to offer.

  101. Kaiser says:

    Thanks Snappergrass for #139. Boo indeed.

  102. Takuan says:

    “My trial”. How two simple words can raise the blood before my eyes. They are PUTTING HER ON TRIAL.

  103. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    Snappergrass (139), that’s Bricology you want. He’s the one who volunteered that he would honestly have thought it was a bomb and been scared.

  104. Kevitivity says:

    You know, if she had make it through airport security and to a plane, it would be just as big a story for the left.

  105. bricology says:

    “She said that it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day,” Pare said at a news conference. “She claims that it was just art, and that she was proud of the art and she wanted to display it.”

    Well, the critics have spoken: her “art” sucks. And if I saw someone in a hoodie with some homemade electronic/putty gizmo strapped to it, I’d report her to the authorities in a heartbeat. This woman is an idiot and does not deserve to fly with the rest of us who are just trying to be left alone and get from A to B. I doubt BoingBoing would be so sympathetic if her shenanigans had caused them to miss their overseas flight.

  106. Tenn says:

    Hear hear, Taku-san. How are her court fees getting paid? How would we set up a BB fund?

  107. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little says:

    You know, I’m getting pretty damn sick of people getting punished for other people’s inappropriate reactions. Not just by the police, but by a whole bunch of people who weren’t even there. Oh, she should have known! That law enforcement would be criminally undereducated in the field they’re supposed to specialize in! (Yeah, bro, I don’t care whether your grandmother or your dad would have mistaken this for an explosive. Your grandmother and your dad aren’t the ones hired specifically for the task of assessing these things and handed guns to act on their assessment.) She should have carefully thought through every possible and uncontrollable way, both under her control and not, that other people’s brains could misconstrue her appearance, and then if someone else’s potential stupidity didn’t occur to her as a possible outcome, she should be punished! Severely! Chastised! And told that she’s lucky to be alive!

    Sure, she’s lucky to be alive. The same way I’m lucky to be alive after the schmuck driving through that stop sign nearly hits me and my bicycle. That doesn’t mean that if I got hit it would be because it was stupid of me to bike across a road where I had right of way.

    Sheesh. Next thing, you’ll be telling a rape victim she should have known not to be walking in a park after dark while being female.

    Oh, wait.

    (And what does rape have to do with overactive airport security? Well, I don’t know; maybe you should talk to the poster (above) who wished anal cavity searches on ShirtsOnAPlane.)

  108. snappergrass says:

    Gosh, reading the comments here it looks like people are seriously paranoid about explosives in airports. I read the story and thought these security people have lost their minds, but now it looks like everybody else has too.

    Who needs real terrorists or bombs when we’ll completely unravel just thinking about scary bearded boogie men who chant in funny sounding languages, and goofy looking college kids with shirts that light up. Boo!

  109. John A Arkansawyer says:

    The story has a not wonderful ending:

    Instead of going to trial, Simpson accepted the pretrial probation offer on Monday, June 2. If Simpson performs the community service and does not re-offend in the next year, the charge of disorderly conduct will be dropped.

    I’m glad this will go off her record, but I’m embarrassed for her that she had to apologize. I’m even more sorry this bogus charge didn’t get beaten in court.

  110. OM says:

    …Gee, makes one wonder how long it’ll be before they arrest some poor sod for having attached to his gut what turns out to be an insulin pump.

  111. Takuan says:

    this keeps coming up. Is there not someone who knows how to organize such a thing in an honourable way and with complete probity? Can BoingBoing take on the heavy administrative burden of collecting for defense funds for those being thrown into the fiery belly furnace of the fascist Moloch? I constantly read of these outrages and become even more enraged at my impotence to DO anything about it.

  112. Alessandro Cima says:

    What I find interesting about these ‘hoax’ device arrests is the fact that it seems to require exposure of the component parts of an electronic device to set off the panic reactions by authorities. What is it about exposed batteries and wires or circuits that sets these people off? After all, what truly inspired airplane bomber would actually show up at an airport with exposed circuits and batteries? Probably not a single one. They’d conceal their explosives inside perfectly ordinary looking radios or CD players or curling irons.

    But for some reason, if you show a battery that is connected by wire to something else you run a high risk of throwing uniformed machine-gunners at airports into a frenzy. Would they react the same way if you carried those exact same electrical components into an airport in the form of a flashlight?

    Perhaps we should all wind a short length of electrical wire around our forearm and simply carry a single AA battery into airport security areas when we travel to show these slightly under-trained security folks how fashion follows technology.

    Good for this girl. I think if she has the time to go through all this, then more power to her. She helps to expose the simple fact that complete imbeciles go into security jobs at airports every single day.

  113. bricology says:

    “Sounds to me like the cops in Boston just need training on what DIY electronics projects look like. Perhaps a local maker or DIY club should contact the police and offer their expertise for a training course.”

    Yeah — that’s a great use of time. Ask security officials to waste their time and attention to learn what “wearable DiY electronics” look like, so the next time they see someone wearing them, they’ll know not to overreact. By the law of averages, that next time should be sometime in the 24th century.

    And we probably should also train them to know what human skull horn implants look like too, so they don’t presume that 1 person in 10 million who comes into their field of operations isn’t really a demon.

    Of course, we could instead just expect DiY people who are about to enter an airport to have a lick of sense.

  114. IvyMike says:

    I could easily see that girl getting in line, having someone see the breadboard and quite reasonably shout, “Holy crap it’s a bomb”. In the ensuing panic, 2 people are trampled to death.

    See, I’ve had jobs where I had to work with, and transport, crappily-made breadboard projects, all over the time. I could easily imagine, say, the flat-earther from “The View” thinking these were bomb parts and freaking out, when in fact, they were Engineering 101 kits. I do not want to put my freedom and my life in the hands of people who do not bother to distinguish “homemade electronics” from “bomb”.

    I’m pretty sure that if I were in Boston, and got stopped by the police with the Engineering 101 project kits in my car, I’m pretty sure the headlines would read “HOAX CAR BOMBER CAPTURED”. And there would be tons of people jumping up and down with glee that yet another freedom had been taken away, without a care at all about what we had lost.

  115. Chris Tucker says:

    Just for the record, Boston really IS full of morons. And these morons give other morons badges and guns.

    I’ve lived here for 15 years or so. Teh Stupid: IT BURNS!

    You would think that Teh Smart from all the colelges and universities and Harvard and MIT would rub off on the locals.

    You would be wrong.

    Merc, put down that copy of Soldier of Fortune magazine.

    In the real world, nobody puts LEDs on chunks of C-4 or Semtex, or artillery shells or suicide vests, nor do they have countdown timers on any of those things, either.

    STOP conflating what you see in the movies and on TV with the way things are in Real Life!

    kthxbai!

  116. Drew from Zhrodague says:

    I wonder if I miss living in Boston.

    When I volunteered in the wearable department at the media lab, someone told me a story about bringing the MIThril wearable through the airport. The guy told a story about being tackled after going through the security line, and having to explain the wearable in great detail — long before 9/11. He said that when he does travel with the device, he puts it into a suitcase, and includes a big stack of documentation, so there will not be any doubt of what the device is. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine that any of these trigger-happy underpaid and clueless security-theatre employees can tell the difference between an iPod, feats of hackery, or an actual bomb.

    This is why I make the 10.5 hour drive when I go to Boston, which is actually a shorter time door-to-door. That, and I can bring a wide range of fluids.

    As others have mentioned, wouldn’t an actual bomb be better packaged, and less obvious?

    Wasn’t there a movie about terrorists implanting bombs inside their bodies to escape detection?

  117. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    Furthermore, I have faith that if it were possible to quickly and cleanly manufacture an explosive by combining a few ounces each of a couple of different liquids or gels which could otherwise pass for toiletries, there would be videos on YouTube of people doing it.

    There aren’t.

  118. Anonymous says:

    Again with the flashing lights…

    Funny how you don’t hear this kind of overreaction in New York City. sure, Boston has a high academic population while New York is filled with bankers and businessmen, so there’s a different mentality permeating the respective cities, but this is ridiculous. I mean, New York was the city that got attacked, not Boston. And if anything, Boston’s big claim to fame was as the aggressor.

    It’s just like the people who weren’t there to be the ones going overboard about it…

    I sometimes wonder, if they’re looking for the wrong signs of a terrorist attack, whether or not they’ll actually be effective in preventing an actual attack.

  119. Gag Halfrunt says:

    The student’s personal website isn’t responding; I suppose that too many people are trying to view it. The project wiki says “Please set up the wiki first.”, so has someone deleted it or is it just overwhelmed as well?

  120. Anonymous says:

    What kind of braindead moron thinks a breadboard with a coupla leds on it is a bomb?!?!? They should be sent off to clean the latrines for a coupla months. Of course, if it had been wrapped to look like a laptop, if she’d power-dressed and wiggled and giggled and flirted, security would have waved her through. I hope she stands on her first amendment rights – she was arrested for her clothing, nothing she did or said. We need smart irreverent people like her. Come out to Silicon Valley and find some sanity.

  121. Anonymous says:

    @Bricology: What you’ve seen is the inside of the sweatshirt. The other side has light-up paint which this circuit board powers. She also had no intention of flying, just picking someone up.

    MIT students hardly care about what they wear, especially in the odd hours of the morning. This student made this sweatshirt a long time ago and wears it regularly around campus. She wore it to the MIT Career Fair today to stand out, as she set it up herself. She just so happened to also wear it to the airport, probably without even a second thought.

    Honestly, who would have caused the overseas flight delay? The girl wearing a sweatshirt, or the overreacting police force marching in with submachineguns when a single airport manager could have asked and received a demonstration of what essentially is a lite-brite on a sweatshirt? If I had missed my flight, I’d sure as hell have blamed the airport for their blatant stupidity as opposed to the girl for her ignorance of other peoples’ stupidity.

  122. Anonymous says:

    How can police be so stupid? If it wasn’t apparent when they showed up they have had ample opportunity after the initial incident to conclude the device was not a bomb, not a hoax, and that she was not a threat. Just because you have never seen or don’t understand something doesn’t make it illegal, a threat, or a bomb. She has committed no crime- but in our world having any intelligence at all is a crime and those who don’t have it seem to think those that do lack common sense. Society has no sense to begin with is the real problem. This shows the arrogance of our authoritarian over reactive paranoid government and society.

  123. bricology says:

    “Are you actually an expert on bombs, or do you just watch a lot of TV?”

    1. I don’t own a TV.

    2. I’ve been making “improvised electronic devices” for about 25 years. I’ve also made more than a few explosive devices — for my own entertainment — and exploded them on private property.

    3. I have no sympathy for anyone who doesn’t think through the potential consequences of their actions before entering public spaces, especially ones where there is a much higher risk of inconveniencing others, or worse.

    Any further questions?

  124. JacobDavis says:

    Any charge filed against her not being dropped = fearful jerks in power trying to make an example of an innocent woman.

    On another note, to everyone saying, “It’s obviously not a bomb, they should have known better!” : that’s really condescending. My mother doesn’t know what a breadboard is. My neighbors don’t. Several of my friends don’t. I’d wager the great majority of the US doesn’t know, for better or worse. Don’t pretend that everyone else knows what you know, especially when you are judging circumstances after being given all the facts at once in hindsight.

    Be honest, please, how would any of you just know a bomb when you see it?

    @jere7my

    I agree with almost everything you stated, except for your characterization of this incident as a mistake by the airport security.

  125. Anonymous says:

    “Walking into an airport with an electronic device strapped to her chest ….. a very stupid action.” Er, ever hear of a thing called an iPod?

  126. Anonymous says:

    This is the inevitable result of tightened security. You will arrest/interdict the wrong person. In fact, if you never make mistakes and stop the wrong person, your airport security is not tight enough. What concerns me here is not that the police overreacted — I think we all agree that investigating something that looks like an explosive at the airport is a good thing. But, when you discover that it’s a false positive, you need to admit it.

    In fact, the tighter/better the security, the more willing you have to be to admit false positives – this person was no threat and had no intention to cause a commotion. We should not put people in jail for obliviousness, only for malice.

    I can’t accept that her behavior was so unreasonable as to rise to the level of a crime. It was also reasonable for airport security to respond. What’s not reasonable is to insist that because security forces reacted, she committed a crime.

    Seriously — tighter security MUST be accompanied by a more effective error-correction process.

  127. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    Ill Lich (78):

    OK, before you guys go overboard with the anti-Boston screeds you perfected back during the mooninite fiasco, I suggest you try to walk into ANY airport in the US with a similar device strapped on your clothing, and see what transpires.

    Sure. Got a preference? I can give you JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark.

    What I have to do is go inside and ask someone a question at the info desk, then walk back to a traffic island outside. If nobody jumps me, I’ll know I’m not in Boston.

    Furthermore, as for the whole mooninite-thing from last year, perhaps Boston is some unique backwater where this was bound to happen, OR perhaps it was just dumb luck that they attracted attention from confused cops in Boston first– given enough time I suspect any of the other cities might have over-reacted like Boston IF Boston hadn’t done so first.

    I have to disagree. Mooninites had been up for days in a bunch of cities. They’d been noticed. They were fine. Boston’s the only city that declared an emergency and shut half their streets down.

    It is specious reasoning to point to that incident and claim it somehow proves something specific to Boston, authorities in any large municipality tend to over-react when confronted with the unknown (especially post-9/11).

    *Ahem*

    Funny you should mention 9/11 while defending Boston airport security.

    But back to the specific issue at hand. Lots of cities got Mooninites. Boston’s the one that panicked. Lots of cities’ departments of transportation set up traffic counting devices. Boston’s the city that called out the bomb squad to blow theirs up — just one month after the Great Mooninite Scare. Lots of cities get antiwar protesters, and some arrest them on bogus charges. To the best of my knowledge, Boston is the only city where the arresting officers tried to argue that the unconnected lengths of speaker wire tied to the protester’s wrists constituted a hoax explosive device. And lord knows lots of cities have clueless officials; but it was the Massachusetts Attorney General who thought it was sufficient to say “it had wires, and a battery” to establish that a device was sinister-looking.

    Now, congratulations to you, you’ve managed to arrest a little blinkylight-wearing female MIT student who was heading away from the terminal.

    Does this strongly suggest to me that Boston’s police and security forces need to take an adult education course in how bombs work and what they tend to look like? It surely does.

    You’ll note that the other cities removed the mooninite-devices after the Boston scare, even though they knew full well that they were NOT bombs.

    Sure. Because anything they didn’t collect would have turned up on eBay within the week.

    I personally think that it is mostly dumb-luck to blame for these two event happening in Boston

    Your police and security forces don’t know how to check for bombs.

    (I note that other smaller but similar “hoaxes”

    Hold it. What are you, an astroturfer for the Boston municipal government? None of these incidents have been hoaxes.

    have happened in other cities,

    You mean the Great Ravenna Coin Box Scare, where five cheerful teenage girls made big Super Mario coin boxes and hung them around their town on April Fool’s Day? Their town also called out the bomb squad, such as it was.

    Or was there some other incident you had in mind?

    but haven’t garnered as much attention).

    The screwups of major American cities do tend to get more airtime than kerfluffles in tiny Ohio towns.

  128. Teresa Nielsen Hayden/Moderator says:

    Alessandro Cima (166):

    What I find interesting about these ‘hoax’ device arrests is the fact that it seems to require exposure of the component parts of an electronic device to set off the panic reactions by authorities. What is it about exposed batteries and wires or circuits that sets these people off? After all, what truly inspired airplane bomber would actually show up at an airport with exposed circuits and batteries? Probably not a single one. They’d conceal their explosives inside perfectly ordinary looking radios or CD players or curling irons.

    But for some reason, if you show a battery that is connected by wire to something else you run a high risk of throwing uniformed machine-gunners at airports into a frenzy.

    I can answer this one; I was a fiction editor for many years. Daniel (163) has already mentioned the syndrome that causes that reaction.

    The reason some police and security officers panic when they see exposed wires, batteries, and LEDs is that movie and TV bombs always have them.

    The LED readout is to establish that the action plot has to be resolved within the stated amount of time.

    The wires are so that the hero can defuse the bomb by cutting the right one.

    The batteries are to tell viewers that the triggering system is electrical in nature, so that they’ll understand that cutting one of the wires will disable the bomb.

    Concealing your explosives, detonators, and trigger inside normal-looking personal appliances wouldn’t work nearly as well. You’d have to have a scene where the bomb maker explained to someone else that that’s what they’d done.

    If your character rigged the bomb to go off at a certain altitude or speed or time, but didn’t attach a countdown device that displayed how close the bomb was to blowing up, the audience would have to hold the triggering information in their heads: a much less satisfactory plot device.

    In short, it’s got nothing to do with electrical engineering, or improvised explosives, or real security. It’s all about movies.

  129. bricology says:

    Oh — and anyone who claims “it doesn’t even look anything like a bomb!” has their head up their ass. I assure you, it looks EXACTLY like what a bomb could look like. And to the poster who claimed it was (or looked like) “jewelry” — not to 99.9% of civilians or law enforcement, it doesn’t.

    A 9-volt battery, a circuit board with a few capacitors to store up the electrical charge, a couple of wires to take that charge to a couple of small lumps of C-4 (which looks just like Silly Putty), and hey presto! — a bomb powerful enough to kill a few dozen people — or blow a hole in the side of an airplane.

  130. K. A. Scott says:

    All the comments to the effect of Ms. Star “has no common sense” or that she was just “yelling fire in a theater”, or that she “should have known better” really make me worried. What they are implying is that there is no room in our society for people who are a couple of standard deviations outside of the personality norm. Sure we begrudgingly accept Muslims and Homosexuals now, but there is no space for those who may dress or a act a little different. Any unusual items or behaviors are first identified as a sign of terrorism. Is that how brainwashed we have become?

    Furthermore why did the officer choose to react with deadly force first? Couldn’t he have simply grabbed her on the shoulder and talked to her? I understand there is a need for officer safety, but how many suicide bombers have there been in the U.S.A. in the past seven years? These officers are heroes right, but they are too afraid to stop and talk to a female college student who spooked a clerk? Is this how paranoid we have become?

  131. Tom Heydt-Benjamin says:

    I have sometimes had to fly out of Boston with various home made (made in my lab really) gadgets. I have never had a problem because I follow the advice of a friend who has much experience with this situation. Here are his main tips as I remember them:

    1: Always travel with the power disconnected.
    2: Do not place prototypes inside anything that will be opaque to the X-ray machine unless absolutely necessary.
    3: Tape your business card showing that you are a research scientist to the outside of carry on items holding prototypes, and to each prototype inside.
    4: Approach the security checkpoint with a friendly smile, and say something like “Hey there! I’m a scientist and I am traveling with some equipment. Is there anything special you need me to do?”

    I have NO idea why the business cards work, but in my experience they do. If you are, for argument’s sake, a hacker or maker without an Institution, why not make up your own nice looking business cards? Or make up your own Institution? I maintain an Institutional affiliation that has nothing to do with my employers for those moments when I need to do something that my employers wouldn’t like.

    I am afraid that this advice may not extend to artists, but for the scientists out there I hope it helps.

  132. phasor3000 says:

    ivymike, I’ve had to take electronic prototypes on a plane with me, and it’s very simple — you put them in checked baggage, typically with a bunch of other gear like multimeters, scopes, probes, etc. I’ve never had a problem. If you insist on taking blue-wire prototypes in your carryon luggage, much less strapped to your chest, you’re asking for trouble. It’s an easily avoided situation, and I don’t consider it an incursion on some vital civil liberty that I have to put that stuff into checked bags. If the cops start busting into the office and taking me to jail because I have a waveform generator, then that’s another story.

  133. dougrogers says:

    A fake bomb, or hoax bomb device must include the intent to defraud or cause alarm.

  134. Anonymous says:

    I suggest that hundreds of MIT students go visit Logan Airport with blinking LEDs and circuit boards strapped to their outer clothing. Apparently the local thugs need an education in “innocent until proven guilty”. When the community never holds cops accountable for murdering innocent citizens, what incentive do they have to avoid threatening immanent lawless murder of innocent teenage girls?

    Perhaps merely removing the plastic covers over their cellphones and laptops would suffice to get the point across. Put them in ziploc bags — marked “Kip Hawley is an Idiot”.

  135. Oak Island lady says:

    Bit more information from Logan:

    Star had asked about a flight that had already arrived. She then started pacing back and forth in the termal (most likely trying to decide what she was going to do since she arrived late to pick up her bf) – But I can not be sure since I am not in her head.

    TSA personal went to talk to her, and asked her if she had a problem, and what the item on her shirt was. She did not answer, and just turned away from the woman who spoke to her. – The conversation was not threatening.

    She then went outside and resumed pacing

    Career week had ended on Thursday.

  136. George William Herbert says:

    In #120, Merc writes:

    Of all the people here who is saying “it looks like what a suicide bomber wears”, how many have you have actually seen a suicide bomber wearing a bomb… and no, I don’t mean in a movie or on some show like 24, I mean a real-life suicide bomber? If all you’ve seen is TV shows are you sure you’re qualified to judge. Do you also believe that getting shot makes you sail backwards through the air? Do you believe that tires make a screeching sound when someone skids on a dirt road? Do you believe that high explosives create big orange fireballs?

    Get a grip.

    I haven’t had the experience firsthand of seeing a suicide bomber, no. I’ve seen quite a lot of photos and videos of them. It’s not like nobody’s ever documented what they were doing.

    In a small portion of the cases, there was something obvious and visible before the detonation, and people start reacting to it before the bomber is set off.

    In Israel, they went from being poorly concealed to reasonably well concealed after security forces spotted and shot several would-be bombers. But there have been exceptions in other locations, and there have been non-terrorist crazy people bombers in the US and Europe and…

    No, you don’t fly backwards after being shot; most people go “Huh?”, or “Ow”, or simply fall down where they’re standing, more often forwards than backwards. I kept on running.

    No, skidding tires on dirt roads sound like a … well, it’s a low pitch VRRP more than a high pitch SCREEE you get on pavement. Really uncomfortable feeling as the driver, too.

    Yes, explosions do make big orange fireballs, but usually that’s only for a few tens or low hundreds of milliseconds and then you get a big black cloud as the gases cool down. If they stay bright and orange, it’s either hollywood, or some SOB blew up a gasoline tanker on purpose or by accident (watched one of those happen from about a mile away up on a hill, in the US, on the 4th of July a few years ago… freeway offramp accident, tanker full of gasoline… large fireball rising out of the flatland below us, all of us going “Uh…”).

  137. jere7my says:

    Again, it is important for us (particularly Bricology) to remember that she was not attempting to fly — she had stepped into the airport to ask a question at the info desk. She was there to collect an arriving friend, and was threatened when she was outside the airport on a traffic island.

    If she was not attempting to fly, why was she any more dangerous in the airport than she was on the subway? Or should we have pointed guns at her there, too?

  138. mikelotus says:

    My freedom is sacrificed. Bin Laden has won. I remember after 9/11 we said, they will not change whom we are. They did. We spend billions and billions now. What is the ROI? He who defends everything, defends nothing. The only answer was and is, to take out Bin Laden and the other leaders. That is our biggest failure in security. That is why this president is a complete and total failure.

  139. mikelotus says:

    Those outside of the norm must be re-educated K. A. Scott. Our society can no longer accept deviant behavior. We must do like Singapore — cane and re-educate.

  140. mdhatter says:

    I love us up here in Boston. This is way funnier than the Mooninites.

    But seriously, if a redheaded freckled kid walked in with this thing….

  141. atteSmythe says:

    That’s clearly the outside of the hoodie. Seams are rightside out, the draw string is visible, and (most telling) the pouch in the front would not be inside the garment.

  142. Hamish Grant says:

    Sheesh. That’s like walking up to a customs agent and saying, “I have a bomb.” What an idiot.

  143. edgore says:

    Electronics. Strapped outside the hoody. Of an MIT Student.

    I call shenanigans (on security). My guess is it’s some sort of harmless project.

  144. minnie says:

    Frankly, I think she deserved what she got. Had it been a bomb, and police not acted, guess who would be raked over the coals for being sloppy?

  145. Anonymous says:

    How come nobody has commented on how lame this so-called career day art project is ?? Come on! A breadboard with a few blinking LEDs ? And this is from a “brilliant” MIT undergrad ? Putting the whole question of questionable judgment and airport security, the object in question looks like an embaressment to any bright high school level nerd…

  146. Brian Damage says:

    Hi, Jack!

  147. Nicholas Weaver says:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15012105/ is the current press information

    http://stars.mit.edu/me.html is apparently the suspect’s home page.

    We need to see a photo of the device before we pass judgement

  148. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe it. People see a breadboard with green LED’s some resistors and a battery, and call it a bomb. I guess everyone’s now an expert on identifying bombs.

    Science is dead in the USA. I’m surprised that the US can ever invent new technology. Oh that’s right, it’s done by all those foreign grad students. We can’t have basic science taught here. Science goes against god. Well, piss on you jeebus for dumbing down the children of the USA. Creationism is going make more meatheads who can’t ID simple electronics.

  149. abelincolnjr says:

    I like the comment the police released to the press:

    “She’s extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used,” Pare told The Associated Press. “And she’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.”

  150. subtlesquid says:

    I have no problem with security putting extra scrutiny to someone with an unknown device. This could have come in the form of, “excuse me miss, what have you got there.” what I don’t get at all is why wouldn’t they just let her go moments after they got the device in their hands and could obviously tell it was innocuous.

    As for the oh no, machine guns issue; Its called single shot mode. The longer barrel and two handed grip provides much greater accuracy than a pistol. And a silencer is good to use when firing in any enclosed space. Consider it hearing protection for everyone around.

  151. andersen_hc says:

    I personally always prefer the outcome to be alive rather than dead when a highly irrational person calls on a highly impulsive authority, in a nation full of people who are scared of imaginary bogeymen.

    Maybe the students at MIT should consider moving to Europe? I imagine they will be happy to welcome you with open arms… even those with a more creative streak.

  152. abelincolnjr says:

    A quote from Boston Police:

    “She’s extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used,” Pare told The Associated Press. “And she’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.”

  153. Jacques says:

    Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid girl. Jeebus fsck that is stupid. And no, they didn’t arrest her because she didn’t have a bomb, they arrested her because she was stupid. Unfortuantely they now have to follow up with arresting 50% of the american population who voted for that stupid fool in the oval room there.

  154. Anonymous says:

    The person at the booth, undoubtedly with no knowledge of electronic devices, acted correctly to report was they thought to be suspicious behavior.

    The police acted correctly to investigate once the claim was made by the person at the booth.

    But not charging her for carrying a ‘hoax device’? The first time I saw this ‘hoax device’ I began rattling off in my head the RS part numbers for all 5 components. In fact, I used to sell that exact group of components to kids in middle school for science projects.

    Here’s a tip for the legal system : people who want to blow something up aren’t going to walk around with a big, flashing sign on their chest that they have a bomb.

    Oh, and did she had the play-dough or not? I’ve seen reports that say the play-dough with linked to the shirt with wires, and reports that don’t even mention it.

  155. ill lich says:

    It is weird to see this post again after a year and notice that moderator Teresa took me to task, especially since she seemed to misunderstand a good amount of what I said.

    Theresa:

    I never defended the Boston municipal government, except perhaps in the backhanded way of suggesting that they are as corrupt and clueless as any other city government. I don’t see how that constitutes astroturfing for the Boston city government. Maybe I should start an ad campaign: “Boston: our public servants are as stupid as anybody else, let us prove it to you.”

    I never approved of the concept of a “hoax device”, I agree it’s a stupid law, which is why I referred to them as “hoax” devices with quotations– they are called that but there was no hoax intended, so the cops are basically inventing intent out of their own imaginations; it reminds me of cops planting evidence– some things never change.

    I stand by my hypothesis that you could walk into any major airport in the USA with a similar LED device on your chest and odds are that you’d be stopped and probably charged with some kind of crime. Welcome to the “home of the brave.” I saw Star Simpsons LED breadboard and understand why someone unfamiliar with homemade electronics might freak out; I wouldn’t freak out but I can see why they would. I recall another post on boingboing regarding someone hassled at an airport for his homemade iPod charger, which partially proves my point, the fact that he wasn’t also arrested might have to do with him not being in Boston, OR it might be just the luck of the draw that the TSA employee didn’t flip out like the Logan employee that ignited Star Simpson’s problems. (As for your reference to “Newark, La Guardia and JFK” . . . huh? I guess you’re on some NY vs. Boston turf war or something? Fair enough. I actually like and appreciate NYC, though I might hate the Yankees, but not all of us can live there. Additionally, it’s not like ALL the planes on 9/11 came from Boston, if I’m not mistaken one came from Newark– I don’t blame Logan for the WTC, anymore than I blame Dulles for the Pentagon, if that’s what you were implying)

    My point is that post 9/11 every city government (hell, even pretty much every suburban and rural municipal government) is overreacting to any perceived threats. Yeah, I guess in Boston the flavor seems to be anything that looks like it might be a bomb. I think the arresting of Amy Goodman in St. Paul, or the attempts to ban public photography, or the guy in upstate NY who’s “biological art” was confiscated by the cops, or the installation of CCTV cameras everywhere are all different manifestations of the same disease. If you want to single out Boston you’re missing a bigger picture.

  156. Robert says:

    Wow, she sure put the “mor[on]” in sophomore! Maybe for her next art project she can run around the airport screaming “I’m Al Qaida! Look at me! I’m Al Qaida!”

  157. nerdgod says:

    I’m glad they caught her. The last thing we need is goddamn borg terrorism.

  158. Dr_Fau5tus says:

    surlyben: “Sounds to me like the cops in Boston just need training on what DIY electronics projects look like.

    A suicide bomb is a DIY electronics project.

  159. mdhatter says:

    “But if your mother or child, or wife/girlfriend was in that airport and someone came up to the counter and had something with wires and a battery hanging off it with play doh or something that could look like explosives in their hands would you want the police to do nothing?”

    No, I’d want the police to behave rationally.

    I don’t believe they did.

    And I believe that is true largely becauase she has olive skin and a shaved head (which few people have brought up), and because different is scary to small-minded people the world around.

    We can fight against small-mindedness, or we can give into it.

  160. Anonymous says:

    I thought MIT students were supposed to be a bit more intelligent than the rest of us. Walking into an airport with an electronic device strapped to her chest ….. a very stupid action. She is lucky to just be in a cell, but I have a feeling a lot of people (including her) will never understand why, this time, the Boston Police are in the right.

  161. bricology says:

    JERE7MY — And how could you, I or anyone else know whether she was “attempting to fly” until after the fact? For all anyone knew, she simply hadn’t made it to her gate yet. Would a person walking into an airport with a classic bomb-looking device strapped to them (red tubes with “Acme Dynamite Co.” written on them) who was NOT intending to fly seem innocuous to you?

    Regardless, anyone with more than the smallest amount of good sense understands that airports have become sensitive places with heightened security. Law enforcement doesn’t have to wait for someone to get on a plane or know whether they even intend to, before dealing with what they perceive as a potential threat.

  162. George William Herbert says:

    Ack.

    I’ve been around HW labs and built breadboard stuff… Up close, I’d see that, note no further wires going out to what might be detonators/real explosive elsewhere, and wonder what sort of art project it was.

    From 20-30 feet away, it would look rather much like actual suicide bombs.

    Yes, most suicide bombers wear the bombs concealed. No, not all of them. Yes, it’s reasonable for someone who sees something at a moderate distance that they take for a suicide bomb device to freak out about it.

    By analogy – cops shoot kids or adults with squirt guns rather regularly. It’s the reason that real squirt guns are now brightly colored. But even so, in the dark, there are still mistakes.

    In the light, some of the squirt guns look pretty silly. That doesn’t mean that the officers didn’t have completely legitimate and honest and well founded fear for their life at the time they fired.

    I have no problem with this having been an honest mistake on her part. But… lesson learned for the geek squad. Some of the stuff we play with can be mistaken for bad things by normal reasonable people. We are under a social obligation to not cause widespread panic by doing things which are trivially misinterpreted as terrorist acts in progress. Even if what we’re doing is otherwise not illegal, doing something that is easy to or likely to be misinterpreted in a significantly bad way is bad. Don’t carry things in normal-people public that normal-people may think are bombs, guns, etc.

    Wearing something like that to a sci-fi con, art thing, around campus? Context ok. Airport? Context DUMB.

  163. Nick Mathewson says:

    @88: “we have criminalized the act of confusing a police officer!”

    My apologies for the sarcasm; a couple people have asked me offline what I meant, so I’ll expand.

    When policymakers tell the cops, “Be really careful and react to everything suspicious,” then sometimes the cops will wind up reacting to dumb stuff that isn’t really a danger at all. It’s obvious: if you tell people to minimize false negatives, then false positives will increase (all other things being equal).

    So, what should the cops do when they get a false positive? They could say, “Heck, it looked dangerous to _us_. Sorry for the inconvenience,
    but for future reference: the kind of thing you were doing flips us out like crazy.” Or on the other hand, they could arrest and pursue charges against the false positive, on the theory that if you did something that made the cops flip out, you must have been doing _something_ wrong.

    They’ve been doing the latter.

    Now of course, they don’t call it “confusing the police”. In Boston, it seems to be “possessing/producing a hoax device”. As far as I can tell, in Boston a “hoax device” is “anything that a cop mistakes for a bomb.” It’s possible that in Joe Previtera’s case (see 52 above), a “hoax device” is “whatever you happen to be carrying when a cop decides you’re trouble.”

    If that doesn’t stick, they also seem to charge the cop-confuser with “disturbing the peace” on the theory that it’s your fault the cops freaked out and shut down the area. This is the only legal theory they tried on the poor New Haven hashers, but it seems to be what they’re charging Star with as well.

  164. phasor3000 says:

    Any unusual items or behaviors are first identified as a sign of terrorism.

    Oh good grief, spare us the Chicken Little routine. Walk down any city street or go to any club and you’ll see and hear plenty of unconventional behavior, dress, ideas, etc. Weird people are not being rounded up and sent to secret concentration camps. Mosques are not being shut down and Muslims being deported en masse. With some very specific exceptions, usually involving airport security, daily life in the US has not been significantly affected by post-9/11 security measures. Any time that it does happen, e.g. someone’s detained for taking photos of a bridge, it’s plastered all over the media, but if you look at the frequency of those events versus the size of the population, it’s very rare.

  165. jimmerjay says:

    Poor, poor little girl. Does MIT really stand for Moron In Training? She can possibly realize the stupidity of her actions, accept whatever punishment the courts give her, and move on with her life. Or, she can continue with the “woe is me, I’m just an innocent little girl.” My bet is on the latter.

  166. phasor3000 says:

    Actually no, I don’t think she should be walking around with dangling-wire electronics strapped to her chest in public anywhere. I wouldn’t blame other people on a subway for being nervous about someone who looked like that, seeing as how you don’t normally see someone wearing a breadboard in public, MIT geeks aside.

    Some years ago (pre 9/11), I wore a circuit board strapped to my chest as part of a Halloween costume. I wouldn’t do that now, or at least I wouldn’t wear it outside the party. Is that really such a big inconvenience?

    Al Qaeda has to love incidents like this — what better than to get everyone to feel sheepish about pointing out possible bombs? “It looks suspicious, but it will probably turn out to be one of those electronic gadgets and I’ll look like an idiot. I just won’t say anything.”

  167. shirtsonaplane says:

    After my 3 year-old daughter was searched when we were flying to Florida, I started thinking about how to trigger a search from the TSA. So I created a line of T-Shirts that virtually guarantee it.

    You think this MIT-er made a bad fashion choice? Try these shirts and maybe you _will_ end up in the morgue!

    http://www.spreadshirt.com/shop.php?sid=139039

    Cheers!

  168. JimmyM says:

    Does anyone know what ended up happening to the “Mooninite Terrorists” who were charged under the “hoax device” statute? Did they go to trial, etc?

    thanks

  169. Anonymous says:

    “I believe it’s time for a line of clothing that has random electronics embedded into it.”

    its already here: its called RFID.

    your kids will get to know that VERY well, I suspect…

  170. ill lich says:

    OK, before you guys go overboard with the anti-Boston screeds you perfected back during the mooninite fiasco, I suggest you try to walk into ANY airport in the US with a similar device strapped on your clothing, and see what transpires.

    Furthermore, as for the whole mooninite-thing from last year, perhaps Boston is some unique backwater where this was bound to happen, OR perhaps it was just dumb luck that they attracted attention from confused cops in Boston first– given enough time I suspect any of the other cities might have over-reacted like Boston IF Boston hadn’t done so first. It is specious reasoning to point to that incident and claim it somehow proves something specific to Boston, authorities in any large municipality tend to over-react when confronted with the unknown (especially post-9/11). You’ll note that the other cities removed the mooninite-devices after the Boston scare, even though they knew full well that they were NOT bombs.

    I personally think that it is mostly dumb-luck to blame for these two event happening in Boston (I note that other smaller but similar “hoaxes” have happened in other cities, but haven’t garnered as much attention).

  171. Kaiser says:

    Hopefully Congress will act quickly and pass an amendment condemning her actions.

  172. mutatron says:

    Ummm… cops know about dead man’s switches, don’t they? I mean, seriously, if someone has a bomb strapped to their chest that actually _looks_ like a bomb, the odds are pretty good they’ll be using a dead man’s switch to punish people for killing them before they get whatever it is they’re after.

    If someone just wants to blow up a plane or the inside of an airport, they aren’t going to make a bomb that looks like a bomb.

    And about this “luck” thing. Technically speaking, she’s not lucky she followed their orders, that was a conscious act of free will, and can have had nothing to do with luck. If anybody’s lucky here, it’s the cops who are lucky she didn’t really have a bomb, because if she had had one, it almost certainly would have exploded one way or another.

    It seems redundant to point it out, but these cops take themselves way too seriously. They never seem to really understand what’s just happened. They think they’ve done their job, but they’ve only proven that they can be tricked and that they cannot learn from the experience.

  173. xadrian says:

    I think what we’re all missing is an MIT Computer Science student is probably not into making a lot of “art.” I know, board/chip design can take some creativity, but I don’t see this as guerrilla performance art or even an attempt to poke holes in the TSA web.

    I think she’s a bit unhinged.

  174. Anonymous says:

    “She’s extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used,” Pare told The Associated Press. “And she’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.”

    More accurately, she is lucky the police didn’t over react and then justify the shooting.

    Possession of Play Doh anyone ?

  175. Anonymous says:

    What she created is a crude version of a promotional products T-Shirt used by companies to advertise their products. These have been around for years. I have one with the Henieken logo on it which lights up, rotates the lights in different areas and plays different music depending on the settings. “Inside” the T-shirt is the battery compartment and all the wiring.

  176. Hamish Grant says:

    …and she did it in BOSTON! Home of the overreaction to improvised electronic devices!

  177. phasor3000 says:

    So shirtsonaplane, have you actually had the balls to wear one of your fine creations while going through airport security? I suggest the cavity search design for your first attempt.

  178. phasor3000 says:

    a nation full of people who are scared of imaginary bogeymen

    You mean Bush, Cheney, and Rove?

  179. Chris Tucker says:

    Any further questions?

    Yes, Bricology, I do.

    What’s it like, living in a state of pants-wetting terror every day of your life, and wishing some Big Daddy would make all the scary people Go Away?

    kthxbai!

  180. jenjen says:

    If TSA is not trained to tell the difference between electronics that are bombs and electronics that are not bombs, then logic dictates they need to prohibit ALL electronics, starting right now. If people claim that curtailing our rights is OK as long as it makes us safe, well then let’s just go for it. No more laptops, cameras, phones, mp3 players in airports or airplanes at all. Carry-on, checked, or cargo.

  181. Tensegrity says:

    On my soapbox and then I’ll stop spamming this article…

    The underlying problem is not that cops/guards are ignorant of electronics. Granted, their job is to look for bombs/weapons, so they should be trained on what bombs reasonably look like. But they are not. They are given dumb rules (e.g. no liquids) and expected to enforce them. That DHS are TSA incompetent is clear. But it is unavoidable that some technology will be unfamiliar to many people. Isn’t that the point of innovation?

    The problem arises from the basic axioms of our country’s security policies:
    1) fear is the best strategy
    2) distrust your own citizens
    2a) state/corporate = safe
    2b) independent/uncontrolled/unmonitored = dangerous
    3) security concerns trump *all* legitimate civilian activity

    A host of undesirable endpoints logically follow from those axioms, from illegal wiretapping to suspension of habeas corpus. In this case, they result in corollaries unwisely adopted by our government as technology policy:
    1) *any* unfamiliar technology is to be viewed as potentially dangerous.
    2) unfamiliar is defined as anything that is not a manufactured consumer product

    The implications of this are far reaching. The stated objective of many online communities, e.g. boing boing, is to foster and celebrate innovation and intellectual freedom. Assumption of distrust of home-made technology directly opposes individual innovation. Note the demonization of the word “improvised”. Anything from the workshop of amateur inventors/coders/geeks/nerds/artists is now viewed as a potential security threat (unless it is part of a DARPA sponsored contest).

    Before Microsoft and Google were huge state-sanctioned corporations, they were a few individuals with good ideas hunched over their PCs.

    Of the millions of home-brew electronics projects, what tiny percentage turn out to be bombs? And how many of those millions of student and amateur innovators need to be deterred by ignorant officials/parents/teachers before we lose something valuable without even knowing it?

    The problem is nothing less than our country’s basic attitude toward science and innovation, which seeks to eliminate individual/amateur innovation in favor of government/corporate control of technology.

  182. Kevvin7 says:

    A lot of the cro-magnons are missing the point.

    Girl walks into an airport with a strange device strapped to her chest. The proper procedure is:

    1. Detain her immediately and with appropriate force (which certainly may involve weapons).
    2. Ascertain the threat.
    3. If it turns out it was nothing, apologise and ask her to put it away and not bring it next time.

    #3 is what was what went missing here. The reason they are charging her is not to punish her. It’s to threaten *everybody* *else* into fear and obedience.

  183. Bryant says:

    @59, Jere7my —

    JTG: What’s wrong with, “Excuse me miss, could you show me what that blinking thing is?” You know — the way they respond to laptops.

    Early news reports indicate that she was asked that exact question. See this article:

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/city_region/breaking_news/2007/09/mit_student_arr.html

    Money quote:

    She was holding a lump of what looked like putty in her hands. The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.

    So… I mean, I’m very sympathetic, because I’m a geek and I can imagine a noisy airport terminal and being distracted and just not processing the question. But I kind of think that officials did make an honest effort to understand the situation better, and escalated after that attempt failed through no fault of their own.

    Also: the post here claims that the putty was the paint on her shirt. This does not seem to be accurate, although the news reports could all be wrong. If I had to guess, I’d point at the kind of stress putty that you can get at ThinkGeek — it’s exactly the kind of thing geeks carry for fidgeting, etc.

  184. drewstarr says:

    before anyone tries to come up w/ a crazy theory for what “Course VI” means…
    all the majors (and course titles, and buildings) are numbered and referred to by their numbers, not their names.

    All that Course VI means is she majors in Electrical Engineering / Computer Science

  185. Christovir says:

    Can anyone tell me what practical use a machine gun is to security in an airport? Isn’t that just about the worst security weapon you could use where you have one or two “bad” people mixed in with hundreds of “good” people, short of a rocket launcher?

    “Look, there’s a terrorist in the crowd of people! Open fire on them with a machine gun!”

    Like most “security,” automatic weapons are theatre. Although there is virtually nil chance security would need to use a gun in an airport, on the very rare occurrences where guns are used, I cannot imagine any scenario where a machine gun would be more useful than a handgun.

  186. bricology says:

    As we all know, women never wear IEDs on the outside of their clothing:

    http://tinyurl.com/27tyda

    This is what 7 oz. of plastic explosives (about the size of a tennis ball) did to a 747:

    http://tinyurl.com/2bfj3c

  187. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Screen capture?

  188. American Scot says:

    Sorry, I’m all for displaying art, but come on!
    Not too bright on her part.

  189. Raian says:

    I can’t believe anyone in their right mind is calling her an idiot.

    She wore a piece of home-made, electronic jewellery to an airport. If she wore that same piece of jewellery to say, the bus-station… would a guy run out with a machine gun to pop 100 bullets in her head? It is absolutely ludicrous.

    I’m willing to bet the whole putty on her hands thing was made-up to justify the insane over reaction.

    I don’t understand why there isn’t an outcry, questioning the competency of these trigger happy, security guards. In my opinion, they should be fired as should their superior officers for letting something this embarrassing happen.

  190. Merc says:

    Wow, too many people here watch too much TV/movies.

    Not all unusual things are bombs.

    In particular, not all custom electronics made from breadboards and wires are bombs.

    If you’re wearing it out where everyone can see it, the odds are pretty high it *isn’t* a bomb. Bombers try to hide their bombs, not wear them on the front of shirts.

    Of all the people here who is saying “it looks like what a suicide bomber wears”, how many have you have actually seen a suicide bomber wearing a bomb… and no, I don’t mean in a movie or on some show like 24, I mean a real-life suicide bomber? If all you’ve seen is TV shows are you sure you’re qualified to judge. Do you also believe that getting shot makes you sail backwards through the air? Do you believe that tires make a screeching sound when someone skids on a dirt road? Do you believe that high explosives create big orange fireballs?

    Get a grip.

  191. Chris Tucker says:

    Oak Island Lady @175:

    Wow. Really. WOW!

    You got EVERYTHING wrong except the Career Day date.

  192. phasor3000 says:

    The reason they are charging her is not to punish her. It’s to threaten *everybody* *else* into fear and obedience.

    I would describe it as “make an example of her so that other people with no common sense think twice before they do the same thing.”

    Of course, that’s not nearly as dramatic and fearmongery as “threatening everybody else into fear and obedience.”

    It’s kind of funny that the people who are constantly accusing the authorities of trying to incite paranoia and unwarranted fear are doing exactly that.

  193. JacobDavis says:

    “She said it was a piece of art, and wanted to stand out on career day.”

    Mission accomplished?

  194. Eduardo Padoan says:


    “Just curious… Can anyone who is protesting her treatment state exactly what a bomb is supposed to look like, even it were worn on the outside of some idiot “martyr’s” shirt?”

    A bomb is supposed to be hidden, or at least without blining LEDs.

  195. Claude Balls says:

    I’m surprised to see so many Boing Boing readers kowtowing to lunatics in power. I’m unsurprised to see MSM nitwits declaring whatever this was a “fake bomb”.

    Circuit board, wires, and batteries? Holy shit, I’m surrounded by fake bombs! Is a garage door opener a fake bomb, too?

    Possibly the dumbest thing I’ve read so far is the mayor stating this to be a reminder of the terrorism threat. Doesn’t this imbecile remember how his city was the laughing stock of the nation over the ATHF incident?

  196. boyfaceddog says:

    On the other hand if the “device” was packaged in a consumer-friendly (shiny-shiny) way with a big gray apple on it those guys would just ask her to take the thing off and x-ray it. Interesting how the consumerization of our society has come to the point where any item not manufactured by a corporation and packed in a high-design case is suspect.

    Why didn’t anyone ask the $64,000 question?
    “What is that you’re wearing, ma’am?”

    Another reason to take the train or the boat.

  197. HeidiTFM says:

    Meanwhile, just this past week, poor Jack Hanna, stuck in an Ohio airport with a flamingo wedged in the turnstile. Where was security when HE (and his flamingo) needed it???

    Read the story here:
    http://todaysfacilitymanager.com/facilityblog/2007/09/friday-funny-security-delay-for.html

  198. hiikeeba says:

    Wearing flashing lights on a circuit board to an airport is the equivalent of hanging a noose on the back of your truck and driving around black protestors in Louisiana. It may be art, but it will get you arrested.

  199. mikelotus says:

    Well now terrorists know the perfect way of doing a diversion in Logan. Have someone wear something like that, perhaps a bit less obvious, while security herds over to the person and the crowds herd into the terminal away from the fake bomber, the real bombers go right into the crowd and boom. Of course why would anyone bother to do any of this at an airport? She was outside when they got her. What kind of reality is this? Would it not be much easier to cruise into Fenway, strapped, armed, etc, on a cool night when you have a jacket on and do much more destruction? And know I don’t worry about terrorism. Even with no extra security after 9/11, the odds of being hit by a terrorist are much, much, much, lower than dying in a car accident. Most Americans are incapable of understanding that.

  200. Dark Phoenix says:

    This whole thing is idiocy. Let me start off by saying I’m one of those gun-loving, war-mongering, right-wing Republicans. And I even think the police acted like morons.

    First, to those who say that having a “machine gun” in the airport is useless, if you’re going to comment on firearms and their use you should know something about them first. You can fire single shots or even short bursts and hit ONLY the target you aim at. And with a longer sight radius, it’s much easier to aim accurately than it is with a pistol. Plus, we didn’t invent the concept. I saw full rifle-caliber machine guns on guards at the airport in Zurich in 1987, as well as armored cars with cannons!

    Now, about the “bomb.” What bomb?! I see a battery, an electronics practice board, some bare wires and leds and some tape. How is that a bomb? Last time I checked, in order to have a bomb you have to have explosives!

    This whole thing is about the police (and now the “lucky she’s not in the morgue” idiots) and DA not wanting to admit that they overreacted and made a stupid mistake. I guarantee that ten seconds after they arrested her they said to each other “oh, duh..that’s not even close to a bomb” and then figured they had better make up something good.

    This girl is not paying the price for being stupid, as some people are saying. She’s paying the price for the public and the authorities being stupid. The public is woefully uneducated about technology and the police can’t admit they jacked the situation, so now it’s “she had a hoax device.” I think that translates to “we were stupid enough not to recognize something was not a bomb, so we’re going to blame her for ‘fooling’ us with a ‘fake’ one.”

    The one question nobody is asking so far is this. How can someone be charged for a “hoax” bomb and the police not be questioned about how easily they were fooled into thinking it was one? Doesn’t this call into question the ability of the response team to recognize an actual bomb? And maybe, just maybe, if you’re going to work at someplace like an airport and start calling in that people have bombs, shouldn’t YOU be required to get some training so YOU know what a bomb ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE?

    Just wondering.

  201. teeheehee says:

    Boston.com has picked up the story, including some of the quotes in the comments here:

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/city_region/breaking_news/2007/09/mit_student_arr.html

  202. mikelotus says:

    Ah, boingboing brings us the perfect follow up to this: http://www.boingboing.net/2007/09/21/naomi-wolf-on-colber.html

  203. Dave367 says:

    It’s obvious to me that if I took my iPod out of it’s case and hung the raw guts from my belt, that I’d be arrested–or perhaps shot–at any American airport–well, any American airport in Boston, anyway.

    How utterly stupid; we all carry “suspicious” electronic devices with us, wherever we go. Take the cover off and you’re a terrorist. TSA blithely ignores the much more likely converse–a bomb put *into* an innocent electronics gadget. If an inspector can’t distinguish between a circuit board with lights and a suicide bomber, what makes you think they could recognize one on an x-ray?

  204. OldScot says:

    Anyone seen as a potential threat is subject to immediate execution. Thankfully all of our decisions are rational and are in our best interest.

  205. Chris Tucker says:

    The best quote on that one was from Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, on the obviously suspicious nature of the Mooninites:

    “[The device] had a very sinister appearance.”

    So does Dick Cheney!

    “It had a battery behind it, and wires.”

    So does Dick Cheney’s heart. Can we get the Boston Bomb Squad to blow up Dick Cheney?

  206. extra88 says:

    Regarding the idea of creating commerical-looking packaging for home electronics projects, I say turn to the experts in urban camouflage at Telstar Logistics!

  207. Garak says:

    This makes me glad I don’t live in the US. Its rediculus that something like this could even be mistaken for a bomb. The head lines are still calling it a fake bomb. It doesn’t even look like a bomb, doesn’t have anything remotely resembling a bomb. Why do they consider anything with exposed electronics a bomb.

    A bomb generally required a pressure vessel. No electronics needed. There are many ways to cause an explosion. Electronics are the mainstay of movies but in reality, there are many simpler ways. If someone is going to bomb an airport they are either going to walk in with a well hidden bomb and blow it up or yell out I got a bomb. They are not going to walk up to a desk with it in plain sight and ask when a flight is going to come in.

    Why isn’t the headline, electronics are not explosives! Or even electronics mistaken for bomb in airport.

    Its more likely that anyone carrying a cellphone, laptop, or even a travel mug has a bomb.

  208. Anonymous says:

    For all those who are pointing out what bad sense it was for this girl to wear the board to the airport, and saying that reasonable people could mistake it for a bomb: well, okay, but now that we have more facts, should they really still be charging her with carrying a hoax device?

    The fulcrum point for me is really that “play-doh/putty.” I am at the point where I am not sure whether I believe the police when they claim the girl had play-doh in her hands which she “cannot explain.” If they were willing to call the Mooninites hoax devices, and maintain that claim, they are not exactly trustworthy when it comes to admitting error, and might very well construct “putty” out of paint. But, of course, if she *was* actually holding play-doh, it does seem more like a possible really bad “crazy idea” hoax. But I don’t believe there was putty, with no witness corroboration, just because the Boston media tell me so.

  209. Merc says:

    #61 posted by Antinous , September 21, 2007 10:31 AM:

    …But if you were trying to secure the airport and somebody walked up with a homemade electronic device that you couldn’t identify, what would you do?

    Absolutely nothing. Homemade electronics are no more scary to me than homemade toys, homemade sweaters or homemade apple pie.

    I worked in a hospital during the Unibomber period. If we got an unexpected package, we called the bomb squad. We had to. People were actually getting blown up.

    Yes, unlike now when there hasn’t exactly been a rash of suicide bombers attacking airports.

  210. Anonymous says:

    Poor girl.. She’s just an MIT student who went to the airport to get a friend and decided to save some time having to take the device on / off for when she gets back to career fair. She probably didn’t even think about what it looked like to the personnel at the airport, or thought it would be fine since all she was going to do was to wait for a friend there, and wasn’t going to board a plane or try to get past security.

  211. NarmGreyrunner says:

    The thing that bothers me most about this story, is the fact that this is not a story.
    I’ll say my better judgement would probably have told me not to wear the electro-sweatshirt to the airport, but Miss Simpson chose to.

    Her presence and mannerism alarmed a clerk at the information kiosk.

    The clerk called the authorities and the authorities responded to an unknown situation with what they thought was an appropriate response. After a few minutes they realize there was no bomb, threat or hoax. The police get called for a lot of things that don’t turn out to be what someone originally thought. The whole thing should have ended right there.

    The big problem with this is the hype everyone put on it. Instead of letting this end quietly with no major incident someone had to get the media involved. Consequently most of the reports only have half the facts, every headline was “Fake Bomb worn to airport” or something eye cathing like that. It wasn’t a fake bomb, or hoax anything, it was a real electro name-tag.

    So to keep from looking stupid Mass. has to come up with charges for Miss Simpson, and the governor has to remind everyone how terrorism is everywhere, and the media hypes every new tidbit of information. All for something that wasn’t even a story in the first place.

    Not to mention everyone remembering Boston’s past buisiness of blowing up LED cartoon characters, and insidious DOT traffic counters.

    In my opinion the worst part out of all this is how the media hypes a non-incident to the point of not even reporting the truth, just to take advantage of a fearful populace.

  212. Anonymous says:

    Boston is making itself look very foolish in the national press right now. Being the home of MIT, I would think they would know better. For that matter, what is MIT doing to help this girl out?

  213. Kevitivity says:

    When did yelling ‘fire’ is a crowded theater become fashionable? Why are people defending this moron?

  214. Anonymous says:

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  215. Anonymous says:

    Any idiot with any electronics background knows that that isn’t a bomb, even from the low res pic I saw. How about some common sense. A person walks up with a wierd looking electronic device and asks about an incoming flight. Hmm. She didn’t make any threats or demands. I’d assume she’s ok, I mean if you are a suicide bomber you either going to trigger the bomb immediately, so no one can stop you, or hide it so that you can get to where a lot of people are. Maybe, and I mean maybe you send a manager over to chat with her about it, but once you’ve determined that there’s no threat, end of story, no police, no media, what a waste of taxpayers dollars.

  216. IvyMike says:

    there were wires attached to a battery that actually lit up

    She controls the technology of Edison! SHOOT HER!

  217. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Lets see what a real suicide vest looks like…

    http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2005/11/14/15nbomber_narrowweb__300x343,0.jpg

    You know, that shirt is “close enough” that to wear it to an airport you have to be, well, not thinking well, and “DOWN ON THE GROUND OR WE SHOOT YOU IN THE HEAD” is unfortunately the right response to someone wearing that to the airport.

    I hope the charges will either be dropped or pled out to a slap on the wrist, but airport security response to this was not an overreaction.

  218. Tensegrity says:

    We’ve clearly passed the point where the prevailing fear of technology has surpassed the prevailing knowledge of technology.

    Any electronic device not bearing a Dell/Apple/Sony/Motorola/etc logo is now immediately viewed as a potential weapon.

    I bet if you walked into an airport holding any current model graphics card in your hand, you’d be promptly gunned down.

    Even “knowledgable” security apparatchiks have an unreasoning suspicion of any non-corporate, non-official tech. I wonder how many DHS/FBI agents attend the Maker Faire…

  219. Nick Mathewson says:

    It seems clear that Boston has a broader law enforcement initiative in place to prevent police error.

    You see, to enforce the law, the police need to recognize crimes. But sometimes cops get confused, and think something’s a dangerous crime when it isn’t. These false positives are embarrassing and expensive. To prevent them, law enforcement is taking the obvious next step: we have criminalized the act of confusing a police officer!

    Thanks to this brilliant innovation in law-enforcement policy, we’ll never have a false arrest again: because if you’re not guilty of whatever the cops thought you did when they arrested you, you’ll at least be guilty of confusing them.

  220. JessPa says:

    These kind of behaviors are not appreciated specially when there are terrorists on loose trying their best to seek an opportunity to create violence.

    Jess @ Prank Videos

  221. Chris Tucker says:

    Teresa@#158

    Well said! Well said, indeed!

    Star was not arrested for displaying a “hoax device” she was arrested for confusing a cop, now, according to a previous posted, apparently a crime here in the Commonwealth.

  222. Anonymous says:

    “Of course, they’ve impounded her sweatshirt, so she’s got to do something else for Career Day.”

    Why not hand paint a new hoodie that says “My other hoodie is an I.E.D.”