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February 28, 2007

More Fun in Boston
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:11 PM *

Thanks to John Houghton who noticed this.

Boston, 28 February: The Boston Bomb Squad, who made their city a national laughing stock a month ago by blowing up cartoon Lite-Brites, answered the question “What will you do for an encore?” by blowing up a traffic measuring device put in place by the Boston Transportation Department.

Unfortunately this is a single-source story, and that source is Fox News so it has to be treated as unconfirmed, but they have video. Apparently the Fox News truck was in the financial district to get backdrops for a report on the recent downturn in the stock market, and got the whole thing on tape.

This makes me wonder some things. Both of the recent events, this one and the Mooninite affair, happened on the last day of the month, and both involved an apparent over-reaction to obviously harmless objects. Does someone have some actual intel that says there’ll be an attack on Boston with an explosive device on the last day of a month, but they don’t know which month?

I also wonder who Boston will try to fine for the cost of the police response for dealing with this hoax? And when will Michael Chertoff offer his congratulations on their efficient and effective response to the threat?

Comments on More Fun in Boston:
#1 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 10:17 PM:

WTF? Oh, this is totally ridiculous. Obviously Boston PD has been taken over by aliens.

#2 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 10:29 PM:

I wish there was something than the fox video. I was looking for confirmation of this one before passing it around.

Dateline March 31, Boston.

Callers report suspicious boxes attached to traffic poles, cycling through green, yellow and red. Drivers interview report "I've never seen one showing red before."

OT - oooh. a spelling reference.

#3 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 10:42 PM:

Confirmation (of sorts): I heard it on the news on WCRB, Boston's commercial classical station. (I'm guessing it's not a Fox outlet.)

Oh, the shame of it all. I'm so glad I was born in Rhode Island.

#4 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 11:45 PM:

Well, in a location where any heavy vehicle could be assumed to be someone you'd want to blow up, a traffic counter would be a great detector/trigger. But that concept doesn't translate too well from rural Iraq or Afghanistan to downtown Boston.

#5 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:08 AM:

Will this proceed to the point where the bomb squads are detonating each other's vans in the police garage each morning?

#6 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:17 AM:

The Boston police need to slow down and chill. There's a river there, with ice on it -- the Charles, isn't it? Maybe our midwestern torpid snow primates have the right idea, after all.

#7 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:18 AM:

Both of the recent events, this one and the Mooninite affair, happened on the last day of the month

Clearly, the Boston Bomb Squad must have a stock of explosives that have a "Use By" date on the can.

They can either throw it out, or look around for some excuse to make a satisfying "kaboom".

#8 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:02 AM:

It's on the local CBS channel, along with a picture of the event, apparently. http://wbztv.com/local/local_story_059122735.html Police Blow Up Suspicious Device in Boston. This is the first time I've seen a traffic-counter described at 'suspicious'.

#9 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:08 AM:

sounds like departments in Boston don't talk.

Actually sounds like the police don't have enough to do, to me.

I'm inclined to believe #7.

Sigh. They've got their detectors set on "Blow up." I hope they don't hurt anyone doing it stupidly.

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:45 AM:

I wonder what will happen at the end of March?

Given the proximity to April Fool's Day, I am filled with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

I just hope they continue to show more good sense in their controlled detonations than they have in their choices of target.

#11 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Maybe they have some monthly quota...

#12 ::: SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 02:44 AM:

Obviously Boston PD has been taken over by aliens. - #1 ::: Lizzy L

Must be. Since when did Boston PD do anything but show up at the neighborhood bar on Friday to collect protection money?

#13 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 04:47 AM:

Merely the usual Tet activities, happy new year, we've got these explosives lying around, let's blow something up. I used to yield to those impulses around the Fourth of July, and all of my carefully crafted models wound up blown to smithereens.

Not having been brought up as a capitalist, I didn't initially recognize this behavior for what it was, creative destruction, making room for the Next Thing, but eventually I caught on.

#15 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 07:57 AM:

I still think it all comes down to overtime pay somehow. The more times they take out the bomb truck, the more overtime someone, somewhere, in the chain of command, is getting paid.

#16 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 08:00 AM:

Okay Mulgready, your boys ticketed my car for the last time, now my department declares war on your department!!

#17 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 08:52 AM:

A bit more news on this.

The "device" was in front of the stock exchange building; which just happened to be where the local Fox news truck was broadcasting a "roving newswoman" report on Tuesday's market crash.

According to their news this morning (yes, it's their story; they got lucky and did scoop everyone) the device was the "wrong color" and thus "not recognized" by the state government official responsible for, well, being responsible, I guess.

And Greg London's comment on #15: excessive police overtime is a big media issue here (example: "Beat cop makes 200K a year" tabloid headlines).

#18 ::: Zeke ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 09:12 AM:

I look forward to the press conference where the mayor and the chief of police congratulate each other on their ever-so-serious and dedicated approach to the War on Terra. (It'll be delayed by a couple of hours so the police have time to blow up a few suspicious-looking microphones.)

#20 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Shockingly, they didn't detonate the Dr. Pepper treasure that was hidden in a Boston cemetery.

I'm still pissed at Turner for rolling over and playing dead in response to the Lite-Brite Crisis. Frankly, by giving Boston money and the head of a Cartoon Network exec, they've legitimized the moronic reaction of the entire city.

#21 ::: Peter S ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 10:40 AM:

Way back when in New Jersey, it used to be really risky to drive through certain towns at the end of the month. This is because the local police had quotas for the number of tickets they had to issue each month, and the officers who were behind on their quota would set speed traps on the 29th and 30th ...

Since then, NJ has outlawed traffic ticket quotas as a really bad idea. You don't think the Boston police department would be stupid enough ...?

#22 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Of course I now can't find the reference for it, but one day in the course of the last week, the bomb squad in NYC was called out to deal with a suspicious device that turned out to be something the Dept. of Transportation was using to test concrete near a subway station. They didn't blow it up, thank goodness.

#23 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Jon Meltzer @17: a friend of mine who grew up in Boston was shocked to hear that where I live, police officers barely make $30k, practically always have to moonlight as bouncers, and overtime schemes are totally unheard of. (At least, I've never heard of one.) He said "Wait, so your police don't get paid ridiculous amounts of overtime for standing around doing nothing?" So yeah, there may be something to the overtime situation.

The whole thing is really getting ridiculous now. I think Lizzy L's #1 comment is the only explanation.

#24 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Fox News "just happening" to be there when something gets blowed up makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

#3 Pfusand: Rhode Island pride! Woot, or whatever people say!

#25 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:55 PM:

#24: If Fox was trying to hype this as some kind of terra terra thing, then they didn't do a good job. Other than on the internet, it's been a non-story.

I think it was just some local news guys who stumbled onto a police action and hoped for another day long "breaking" Big Event. Once it proved otherwise, they dropped it down to minor footnote. The real story, about unnecessary panic and the city government looking like schlemiels again, isn't being covered.

#26 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:07 PM:

Peter@21, "used to be"?

Just because they outlawed quotas, doesn't mean they stopped using them.

#27 ::: mazianni ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:11 PM:

My wife works for a company that makes time management software. Her comment was that if there is a bomb threat meant for the end of a month, is it a month on the Gregorian calendar?

Maybe the Boston PD is blowing stuff up on the wrong day...

#28 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:58 PM:

#25 Jon Meltzer:

I meant something more along the lines of causation: because of this event, we now know that Fox News (News's?) being in the area leads to things blowing up. I know I'm making a ridiculous conclusion based on limited evidence from one unusual event, but maybe that's another thing that happens when Fox News is around.

#29 ::: Morfydd ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 02:10 PM:

I have a certain sympathy for the Boston authorities. I distinctly remember the full-page headline on the Seattle Times: "Schell: I am not a wimp" when he cancelled the 2000 NYE celebrations. Almost two years later, after 9/11 (and after he'd been booted from office), the federal government admitted that there *had* been a plot against the celebrations, and they'd made him aware of it.

(I always thought of that incident as what lost him the election, but looking at his Wikipedia entry - wow, that was a disastrous term.)

#30 ::: SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 02:27 PM:

You don't think the Boston police department would be stupid enough ...?
Of course they would.

#31 ::: SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 02:32 PM:

I wonder if all this anti-terrorist activity in Boston isn't about justifying a larger share of the Homeland Security budget for the city. The Democratic Congress has already vowed to review all the silly allocations (here in Portland they wanted to roof over the water reservoir) for every city's pet project, maybe Boston is just being proactive in justifying their pork.

Aha: the Big Dig is the logical next terror target!

#32 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 03:21 PM:
Does someone have some actual intel that says there’ll be an attack on Boston with an explosive device on the last day of a month, but they don’t know which month?

If so, do they at least know which calendar?

#33 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 03:35 PM:

I'd say it's less likely they have to use the explosives by the end of the month, and more likely they have to do something by the end of the month to justify the department's continued existence and/or next round of budget increases. (Or possibly the continued employment and/or salary increases of the individual officers involved.)

Never underestimate a bureaucracy's powers of self-propagation, or the lengths it will go to to justify its existence.

#34 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 08:56 PM:

I didn't think anyone had to do anything to make the Big Dig collapse...

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 05:01 PM:

That's why it's such a brilliant plot on the part of the devious terrorists. You can't defend against it!

#36 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 12:54 AM:

BBSpot (a satirical news site similar to, though IMO not as good as, the Onion) posts Boston Police Blow Up Suspicious Looking Man.

Reddit commenter doesn't get the joke. (Universal Hub has more.)

#37 ::: Jon Meltzer wishes Boston would blow up all this spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 08:13 AM:

If you see something, say something!

#38 ::: Carrie S. sees badly-executed spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:09 AM:

At least, I think Wlkkwlfg's...thing there is supposed to be spam.

#39 ::: NelC sees more odd spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 02:14 PM:

A badly programmed spambot?

#40 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Jon Meltzer: If you see anything, do everything!

#41 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:39 PM:

We get many spams like those from our good friend 78.129.202.7 here. Usually they have content that gets them held in limbo until someone can come along with the lead pipe and finish them off.

These are simply truncated. I dub them spa.

#42 ::: Xopher sees yet another truncated spambot spam thing ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 06:18 PM:

Ay Caramba.

#43 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:23 AM:

[posted from 78.129.202.7]

#44 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 06:30 AM:

[posted from 78.129.202.7]

#45 ::: Mary Dell has more fun seeing spammers ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 07:47 AM:

As someone else noted, it's every 4 hours for that particular IP...

#46 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2008, 03:32 PM:

[posted from 78.129.202.7]

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