Skip

Invaders from the moon
January 31, 2007 12:41 PM   Subscribe

A hefty chunk of Boston was paralyzed today in reaction to the discovery of numerous devices consisting of circuit boards attached to girders. The ones that have been found have been disabled. The subway is crippled; numerous lines have been shut down and been replaced by emergency bus service as authorities root out the remaining instances of what could be bombs! Here is a photo one of these nefarious devices in action.
posted by mkb (338 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm just catching this now as I poke around boston.com's forums. I cannot believe Boston was paralyzed by Moononites today, I cannot wait to hear the press mangle this as badly as I'm sure they will. I've already heard it referred to as a college prank with Spongebob Squarepants lighting up to give people the finger.
posted by rollbiz at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2007


Girder? I only just met 'er!
posted by ORthey at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2007


Yes, that appears to be a Mooninite.
posted by mkb at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2007


They are reporting finding a sixth "device." There will be a press coference at 4:00 p.m. (in 14-minutes).
posted by ericb at 12:46 PM on January 31, 2007


Well, the bumps should be interesting for the next couple of weeks.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 12:47 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Spongebob reference was on Channel 7 WHDH)
posted by rollbiz at 12:48 PM on January 31, 2007


Well, you can rest assured that whatever they accomplished it was done as hard as they could.
posted by prostyle at 12:48 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Err: Dude they're mooning us!
Ignignokt: Impossible, we are the Mooninites.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2007


From rollbiz's link: Some of the markings on the devices found resemble a cartoon character.

I wonder if they mean that it looks like a cartoon character in general or like a specific character. No ATHF references so far...
posted by brundlefly at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2007


Uh-oh, someone got some 'splaining to do!
posted by ericb at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2007


THA MOON RULZ!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:50 PM on January 31, 2007


Mooninites paralyze city? Advertising stunt gone too far? Hoax?
posted by ericb at 12:51 PM on January 31, 2007


WE'VE ENTERED A WHOLE NEW ERA!

of overreaction.

Oh God.

*head in hands*
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2007


Hah, commercial graffiti is so damn annoying, hopefully the people responsible will have to pay a huge fine or something

(see if this had been true anarchist graffiti, no one would have known who was responsible!)
posted by delmoi at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2007


Did you hear what I said, Boston? Or shall I turn it up for you?
posted by Mach5 at 12:53 PM on January 31, 2007


Fuck guerrilla marketing.
posted by smackwich at 12:54 PM on January 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


I flipped past CNN a few minutes ago and saw this. The report by the news anchor was something along the lines of, "Six mysterious devices have paralyzed the Boston area today. The devices, which were not dangerous, have been destroyed." Then more footage.

Uh, thanks.
posted by The God Complex at 12:54 PM on January 31, 2007


Interesting none of the articles linked actually say it was a Mooninite.

The only Adult Swim ads we get in this market are the creepy smiley people billboard.
posted by birdherder at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2007


WE'VE ENTERED A WHOLE NEW ERA of overreaction.

Like taserTMing streakers in school cafeterias! Oh, noes, zap the bastard, he's scaring the kids!
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2007


"You and your third dimension. It's cute, we have 5."
"...thousand!"
posted by owenkun at 12:56 PM on January 31, 2007


We have always been at war with Hasbro.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:56 PM on January 31, 2007


"It's a hoax — and it's not funny," Gov. Deval Patrick said.

I beg to differ, guvner.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:56 PM on January 31, 2007


Word up smackwich.
posted by Mister_A at 12:57 PM on January 31, 2007


Channel 11 changed everything.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:58 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Early polling shows that 57% of Americans believe that Saddam had an active role in training and deploying the Mooninites.

And coming up: anthropomorphic milkshakes. Threat or menace? FOX will tell you, after the break.
posted by cortex at 12:58 PM on January 31, 2007


Thus began the War on Humor!

*straps on Keystone Cop helmet and points at the horizon*

TO THE LAFF HOUSE.
posted by The Straightener at 12:59 PM on January 31, 2007


Anthropomorphic milkshakes have nothing on sentient (albeit mildly so) moving balls of meat and floating fries.

And seconding M.C. Lo-Carb!, I think it's hilarious. But then again, I don't have to take the bus nor do I live in Boston...
posted by owenkun at 1:00 PM on January 31, 2007


cortex: Scary. Did you hear that Frylock was made with oil containing trans-fats? How will we protect the children?
posted by Mach5 at 1:01 PM on January 31, 2007


I think we should round up all the sentient moving balls of meat and put them in camps.
posted by brundlefly at 1:02 PM on January 31, 2007


Did you hear that Frylock was made with oil containing trans-fats? How will we protect the children?

See, Bloomberg anticipated this.
posted by cortex at 1:03 PM on January 31, 2007


In related news, Philly will be under seige by a madman with a Foreigner belt sometimes next week.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:05 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


GUYZZZZZZZZZ! This could have been a BOMB in the SHAPE of a MOONINITE THINGAMAJIBBER SPONGEBOB TERROR!!!!!~!1`1~!~!!! THIS IS SERIOUSL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At least some people are keeping it all in perspective.
posted by solistrato at 1:05 PM on January 31, 2007


A city paralyzed because of ads for one of the stupidest fucking cartoons ever? What smackwich said.
posted by interrobang at 1:05 PM on January 31, 2007


so this is or is not y2karl's work?
posted by nola at 1:07 PM on January 31, 2007


Doesn't AquaTeen Hunger Force endorse vigilantism? Violence unsanctioned by any governing body? Doesn't that sound a bit like Terrorism? No more talk! The USAF begins bombing the Cartoon Network headquarters in one hour!
posted by lekvar at 1:07 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


solistrato -- I love that first comment:
"This is what you get when you allow mass hordes of illegal, law-breaking aliens into our country. Just a matter of time before these rotten illegals do us all in. Way to go, Ted Kennedy, you fat load."
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on January 31, 2007


Wait until that commenter finds out it was cartoon illegal aliens!
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on January 31, 2007


What's funny is that they're still referring to this as a bomb hoax. If this is what it now appears to be, it's nothing of the sort. It's a viral advertising campaign gone terribly wrong. These weren't put up to look like bombs.

What's scary is that I know this, but it doesn't seem the media, authorities, or my elected officials do.

*This is of course assuming no Moononites explode/shoot acid/etc.*
posted by rollbiz at 1:09 PM on January 31, 2007


Anyone that gets WFXT should turn to it right now. A reporter is hilariously trying to describe the show and the characters...
"This cartoon called 'adultswim.com'..."
posted by evilcolonel at 1:10 PM on January 31, 2007


Actually, I think this vanderlin guy is in trouble.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:11 PM on January 31, 2007


My beef with this thing is that it sure looks like corporate-sponsored "guerrilla marketing" tripe. Cartoon Network is a part of Time-Warner, a little mom & pop international multimedia conglomerate. Issues of raving agency idiocy and police over-reaction aside, this will go down with Sony's bletcherous PSP graffiti debacle as one of the worst ideas in advertising of the early 21st century.
posted by Mister_A at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007


"It's a hoax — and it's not funny," Gov. Deval Patrick said.

'Hoax Devices' Found At Several Boston Locations

Do the "hoax devices" raise your concerns about security in and around the city?

Hoax Devices Creating Gridlock In Boston

All of the devices appear to be hoaxes which resemble a cartoon character.


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by designbot at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007 [7 favorites]


this changes everathin', again. this time, irony is not only not dead, but in fact the only possible reaction.
posted by signal at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007


Best of Boston.
Best of the web.
Best of homeland security.

What color is the terror alert people?!?! Come on dammit, it's an important question!

OK, I liked the mummy show the best but the moonites are great. [ "Lobster!"]
posted by nofundy at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007


Another viral marketing campaign bombs.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


They've found a 7th. "device" and are expecting to find more.
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007


What's funny is that they're still referring to this as a bomb hoax.

Yeah, did anyone call in a threat? Isn't that what a bomb hoax is? Then again, if you don't call it a "bomb hoax," it wouldn't scare people.

OPERATION MINDFUCK IN FULL EFFECT, WORD
posted by solistrato at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2007


The live press conference Folks are just standing at the podium laughing at how much money the
perpetrators will have to pay.
posted by Constant Reader at 1:13 PM on January 31, 2007


The moon is, oddly, more of a threat to our national security than Iraq ever was.
posted by Football Bat at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2007


I cant believe nobody in the MSM has connected this to Cartoon Network yet. Apparently MeFi is now the USA's first and best defense against terrorism.
posted by Tones at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


We should get a 50 billion dollar budget.
posted by Mister_A at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2007


So how come nobody flips out when bridges get festooned with "Welcome Home PFC Smith!" banners or "Go Wildcats" written in plastic cups?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:21 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm in Atlanta and these have been showing up around town for a while now.
posted by Constant Reader at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2007


They've invaded Philly too! OHNOES!
posted by mkb at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2007


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

No kidding.
posted by brundlefly at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2007


Two hilarious quotes from links in comments above:

She said officials determined it was not explosive, and was similar to the package found Wednesday morning beneath Interstate 93 at the Sullivan Square T station on the Orange Line. Mieth described the object at the T station as "a sophisticated electronic device."

Earlier Wednesday, the state police bomb squad was called and detonated the package in Sullivan Square just before 10 a.m. Officials said it contained an electronic circuit board with some components that were "consistent with an improvised explosive device," but they said it had no explosives. They determined that the device was not dangerous, but destroyed it as a precaution.

I think maybe some more training is in order.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


They're not bombs, a hoax, or viral marketing. They're LED graffiti. Which makes this... artcrime!
posted by steef at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2007


Sorry Tones, it's LiveJournal that wins that award.
posted by mkb at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2007


OMG the Fox coverage here is hilarious.

And Governor Patrick: This is funny.
posted by rollbiz at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2007


The artist's reaction.
posted by boo_radley at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2007


Look what I stole!
posted by ericb at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2007


CBS is now reporting that the devices "appear" to be from the cartoon ATHF.

So, this media we have; it cries wolf just to sell us things?
posted by DragonBoy at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


We should get a 50 billion dollar budget.

I'm going to need a private mid-sized twin engined jet with crew, a open line of credit at Fry's, a quirky pale nerdgirl sidekick, one #10 bright-polished standard American paperclip and a martini.
posted by loquacious at 1:30 PM on January 31, 2007


What is the sound of one marketing executive getting fired?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:30 PM on January 31, 2007


This makes me happy beyond belief.
posted by solistrato at 1:34 PM on January 31, 2007


Dear Fox,

Balls ==> chin.

Love,

Moononites
posted by The Straightener at 1:35 PM on January 31, 2007


Turner Broadcasting has issued a press release 'fessing up for the "devices". They say they've been in place for weeks...
posted by rollbiz at 1:38 PM on January 31, 2007


fox boston, 1730 est: "we do not yet know what these things are ... weapon of mass distraction ..."
posted by psychoticreaction at 1:39 PM on January 31, 2007


I think it's hysterical that they blurred out the "middle finger" in the latest news report.
posted by O9scar at 1:40 PM on January 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


On the moon nerds get their pants pulled down and they are spanked with moon rocks.
posted by kosem at 1:40 PM on January 31, 2007


Yes, yes. Me too, loquacious. Also? my nerdgirl sidekick needs to have red hair. I called dibs.
posted by boo_radley at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2007


They must have been in place for weeks if you accept the dates on vanderlin's photos.
posted by mkb at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2007


Is this something I'd have to watch cartoons to understand?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2007


So glad I live out in the burbs and have a back-road commute.

What a bunch of fucking morons -- don't know which I'm actually referring to, the Boston Police or whoever thought this was a "funny stunt" in the first place.
posted by briank at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2007


link to the turner press release?
posted by subtle_squid at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2007


rollbiz I'm from Boston, but working at Turner in Atlanta...can you pint me to the press release or am I being wooshed?
posted by Constant Reader at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2007


CNN is reporting that Turner Broadcasting is soon to make a statement and apology for an advertising stunt gone wrong!
posted by ericb at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2007


OH NOES lighty up characters!

There are so many things I like about this story. I feel bad about people that had to deal with trains being shut down and other inconveniences...but I'm still laughing my ass off.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2007


They say they've been in place for weeks...

...until they were magically transformed into TERROR WEAPONS by some paranoid cow and your media network.
posted by solistrato at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2007


All photos taged with "graffiti research lab" Right above Vanderlin's "hoaxes" you get nice Anti paid graffiti stuff.
posted by delmoi at 1:44 PM on January 31, 2007


Considering the overreaction to things like this and the DC sniper, it's shocking to think that if terrorists wanted to freak us out, that they couldn't easily succeed.

Hell, just pick up a blinking LED, some batteries, some resistors, and a few radio shack project boxes, and you're set to freak out an entire city.
posted by drezdn at 1:45 PM on January 31, 2007


boo_radley and loquacious, the requisition forms have been filed; but there is one snafu—there is only one nerdgirl with a working pair of cat-eye glasses in stock right now! Her hair has been dyed blue.
posted by Mister_A at 1:45 PM on January 31, 2007


If I were Martha Coakley right now, I'd be preparing an arrest warrant and extradition affidavit for the executive in charge of this. make it so, number one
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:45 PM on January 31, 2007


Constant Reader, my bad. It's a statement, not a press release. I've tried and failed to locate a link, but this has been read and reported on multiple news stations here.
posted by rollbiz at 1:45 PM on January 31, 2007


Saucy: why should an executive be arrested because people are paranoid dumbasses? For proving the thesis?
posted by solistrato at 1:48 PM on January 31, 2007


The only thing this missing is some Blue Bonnet margarine. Crikey, I loves me some hyper-reactive chicken littles.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:48 PM on January 31, 2007


drezdn: "Considering the overreaction to things like this and the DC sniper"

One of these things is not like the other.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:49 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


We forgot all about your needs, we were... too busy fulfilling our own.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:49 PM on January 31, 2007


WCVB/Boston is reporting that guerilla marketing firm Interference Inc. was behind the viral ad program for Cartoon Network.
posted by ericb at 1:50 PM on January 31, 2007


So bizarre. I'm sitting at my desk being inundated with emails from those here who know I'm from Boston. I haven't heard anything on my end.
posted by Constant Reader at 1:50 PM on January 31, 2007


boston.com is now reporting a statement from Turner.
posted by Constant Reader at 1:51 PM on January 31, 2007


I was mooned once in New York. True story.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:52 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah the police were extremely stupid here, they ought to re-write their rules if there's a good chance that whatever they think might be a bomb actually is.

If terrorists had any brains, and if they actually existed in any quantity in the US, they'd be using this insane over reaction against us by pulling "hoaxes" all the time. I mean if a few circuit boards can shut down a whole town for a day, who needs real bombs?
posted by delmoi at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


boston.com is now reporting a statement from Turner

As is WCVB/Boston -- they read it over-the-air.
posted by ericb at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2007


So bizarre. I'm sitting at my desk being inundated with emails from those here who know I'm from Boston. I haven't heard anything on my end.

It's all being handled really strangely, the statement was issued in time for reporters at the press conference to be aware of it, but neither Mayor Mumbles nor the police commissioner would comment on it. They do say that they're closing on an individual, so Vanderlin look out, perhaps?
posted by rollbiz at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2007


from the Turner statement:
They have been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

So, in other words, if they actually had been planted by terrorists with nefarious intent, we'd be screwed.

Heartening.
posted by oaf at 1:55 PM on January 31, 2007


goodnewsfortheinsane writes "Actually, I think this vanderlin guy is in trouble."

It looks like he just found one of them and swiped it. Based on the date on that photo, it looks like they've been there for at least a couple of weeks.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:55 PM on January 31, 2007


I want to do the same thing, but with light up signs that say: "There is no danger... but that which you create."
posted by Eideteker at 1:55 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger.

I appreciate the wording.
posted by solistrato at 1:55 PM on January 31, 2007


Fuck viral marketing and that goddamned stupid tv show, Aqua Teen Hunger Lame.
posted by koeselitz at 1:57 PM on January 31, 2007


No one can defeat the quad laser.
posted by ninjew at 1:58 PM on January 31, 2007


Yikes -- we do live in a world of paranoia -- post 9/11.

Looks like Turner Broadcasting/Cartoon Network and others need to let authorities know about any similar campaigns -- and to get permission -- which, likely, will be denied.

Also, it looks like Turner has seen their marketing budget go through the roof -- with fines, costs for the emergency response, etc.
posted by ericb at 1:58 PM on January 31, 2007


The Flickr user behind this is not Vanderlin but Jackpot321. Looks like he's covering his tracks already, he's already removed an icriminating video from his Youtube page.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2007


It's the hot sauce for Interference Inc.!
posted by Mister_A at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2007


WCVB/Boston is reporting that guerilla marketing firm Interference Inc. was behind the viral ad program for Cartoon Network.

From their website:

Mission: to create the best Gurrilla and Alternative Marketing company in the world

What kind of "alternative" wankers would have a "Mission" statement like that?

We will bring our unique creative and targeting methodology to clients willing to make a difference in their consumer's lives. We want those companies who are looking for communications that will make them stand out from the clutter for their consumers as opposed to those who want to be safe see where the wind takes them

It almost reads like a parody of "biz speak" except even less grammatical.
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on January 31, 2007


I am sorely disappointed this is just some crappy viral marketing campaign. Why must they use their powers for evil, instead of good?
posted by solistrato at 2:00 PM on January 31, 2007


So, it looked like a cartoon character, its a lighted display a few inchs thick and clear.

YUP ITS A BOMB. Fucking excuses for a waste of money called homeland security. They need some excuse to make themselves important, to cover the cost of the tazers and tanks.
posted by IronWolve at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2007


You know that the punishment for this must appear to match the over-reaction. I would not want to be in the shoes of those involved right now.
posted by rollbiz at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2007


So were any laws broken here other than maybe littering?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2007


clutter...target...unique...method...

Wow these motherfuckers really are "outside the box", aren't they?
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2007


I think my feelings about the level of overreaction to this can best be summed up by the phrase "Mind That Parcel!
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:04 PM on January 31, 2007


So their idea of "alternative" is simply projecting normal TV advertizements on walls and shit?

Companies that market this way should have to pay big fines.
posted by delmoi at 2:04 PM on January 31, 2007


So were any laws broken here other than maybe littering?
If they are able to show that they were placed to cause "distress or anxiety" than absolutely.

WHDH 7 is showing pictures from a website run by a BU graduate, with pictures from some of the locations where these were found.
posted by rollbiz at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2007


With all the distraction this afternoon would have been the perfect time to have busted into the Federal Reserve building at South Station and looted the safes!
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2007


why should an executive be arrested because people are paranoid dumbasses

By people you mean the federal and state governments? Exactly.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:07 PM on January 31, 2007


This makes me smile.
posted by ColdChef at 2:07 PM on January 31, 2007


rollbiz writes "If they are able to show that they were placed to cause 'distress or anxiety' than absolutely."

How could they show that? They were obviously placed to advertise. I mean, the intent here is crystal clear.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:07 PM on January 31, 2007


I'm sure Williams Street is thrilled right now.
posted by brundlefly at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2007


AQTH is a red herring; clearly this is all ploy to promote Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:09 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am sorely disappointed this is just some crappy viral marketing campaign.

At least it wasn't for a ski resort in Taos.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:09 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh my...on the 5:00 local Boston news right now they are interviewig a woman from New England Comics (Harvard Ave., Allston) who said that the Boston Police sent a group to their store because they saw a similar "device" in the storefront window and interviewed them as to why they had the device. They explained to the police that it was a promotional device for the upcoming release of an animated movie.
posted by ericb at 2:10 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


All Turner employees just got a company missive not to talk to the media.

*snicker*

Everyone who's not a Senior Muckety Muck here is laughing their balls off.
posted by BobFrapples at 2:10 PM on January 31, 2007


I mean, the intent here is crystal clear.

Your honor, the prosecution will show that the defendant clearly intended to cause in Bostonians both distress that they were not able to watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force at the time that they viewed the offending signage, and anxiousness over the time and effort required to reach a state in which they would be able to commence viewing Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
posted by cortex at 2:11 PM on January 31, 2007


Looks like the Interference website has gone down ... but you go to their Index of/ page.
posted by ericb at 2:12 PM on January 31, 2007


How could they show that? They were obviously placed to advertise. I mean, the intent here is crystal clear.

I didn't say they could, but if they tried and succeeded there would be a very harsh punishment for this.

To play devil's advocate...What is guerilla advertising designed to do if not put people off guard by startling or shocking them? How different is this from causing distress or anxiety?
posted by rollbiz at 2:12 PM on January 31, 2007


AQTH is a red herring;

Aqua Queen Thunder Horse?
posted by cortex at 2:12 PM on January 31, 2007


So were any laws broken here other than maybe littering?

Here's the section of Massachusetts law in question.

Section 102A1/2. (a) 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.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the term “hoax device” shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine. For the purposes of this section, the term “infernal machine” shall mean any device for endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both, by fire or explosion, whether or not contrived to ignite or explode automatically. For the purposes of this section, the words “hoax substance” shall mean any substance that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such substance is a harmful chemical or biological agent, a poison, a harmful radioactive substance or any other substance for causing serious bodily injury, endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both.

posted by designbot at 2:13 PM on January 31, 2007


One of these things is not like the other.

Sorry, it's raining, I didn't intend to mean that they were similar, just that if terrorists wanted to strike fear into Americans, random sniping like DC, or "bomb hoaxes" like this would be the way to do it.

Hell, once before 9-11, someone taped test tubes to light poles in my hometown and everyone freaked out.
posted by drezdn at 2:14 PM on January 31, 2007


Aqua Queen Thunder Horse?

Now that I'd watch.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:14 PM on January 31, 2007


This is by far the funniest thing to happen in Boston since the great molasses flood.
posted by paxton at 2:16 PM on January 31, 2007


Roger Dodger quotes "Earlier Wednesday, the state police bomb squad was called and detonated the package in Sullivan Square just before 10 a.m. Officials said it contained an electronic circuit board with some components that were 'consistent with an improvised explosive device,' but they said it had no explosives. They determined that the device was not dangerous, but destroyed it as a precaution."

You know, what scares me about this statement is that if one of those things contains components that are "consistent with an improvised explosive device", then I'm carrying two objects in my pockets right now that are "consistent with an improvised explosive device" and I have another three sitting on my desk. Is everyone with a cellphone a terror suspect?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:16 PM on January 31, 2007


" with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort "

I've never watched ATHF so someone else will have to let us know if it does any of that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2007


Fuck guerrilla marketing.

Okay, admittedly I'm an ATHF fanatic and I would love to be working down at Turner. I've applied to work there a few times.

That disclaimer provided, Why so angry at this in namesake only? Compared to other corporate-funded stunts, this seems tame in comparison. They didn't pretend to do anything. They didn't hire people to make fake blogs, leave bogus comments, stamp corporate logos on natural resources or public facilities or anything like that. They're certainly not the ones freaking out on Fox News all afternoon claiming they "look like IEDs" (Because, you know, anyone from Fox News has ever been in a situation where they would know what a terrorist's weapons look like, cough cough.)

They dropped some light-up Ignignots iin a few places. I don't see how this makes Time Warner of calling a bomb threat in anywhere. They hired a "guerilla marketing firm" that's got loads of annoying corporate-jargon on their site, but I'm not really getting where subversive deception came in. They look like little space invaders flipping you off. If you didn't know what ATHF was, the reaction should be "why's that Space Invader thingie flipping me off?" If you "reasonably believe that such substance is a harmful chemical or biological agent" then I'm sorry, you watch too much daytime news and not enough Adult Swim.

I'm not going to change my opinion of the ridiculous overreacting that I had for the kids who put up Super Mario Bros. boxes this time around just because ATHF is owned by a big company. If wishing a light-up Mooninite was outside my house in D.C. is "selling out" then tell me where to sign because as a fan of ATHF I think it'd be awesome.

Now, back to the FreeRepublic thread explaining how this is a textbook case of a terrorist dry run. Because that is honestly the only thing that will make me laugh harder about this than I already am now.

Considering the overreaction to things like this and the DC sniper, it's shocking to think that if terrorists wanted to freak us out, that they couldn't easily succeed.

Self-link: Five bucks says you can't get them to ban Dr. Seuss hats!

posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


designbot, good luck proving intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear, or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons.
posted by oaf at 2:19 PM on January 31, 2007


infernal machine would be a great band name. I'd be careful about putting up flyers for your gigs in Boston, though.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:19 PM on January 31, 2007


drezdn: No problem - I had a feeling you didn't really meant to equate them.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:22 PM on January 31, 2007


This is by far the funniest thing to happen in Boston since the great molasses flood.

Tell that to the 21 who died and the 150 who were injured and the 133 man-months it took to clean up the molasses mess.
posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on January 31, 2007


And the other thing... Has the Official Term for "explosive device" now become "improvised explosive device"? Has this piece of military terminology successfully invaded my beloved English language? What's the technical difference, if any, between an "improvised explosive device" and an "explosive device"? Are both types of explosive devices also infernal devices?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:23 PM on January 31, 2007


And the other thing... Has the Official Term for "explosive device" now become "improvised explosive device"? Has this piece of military terminology successfully invaded my beloved English language? What's the technical difference, if any, between an "improvised explosive device" and an "explosive device"? Are both types of explosive devices also infernal devices?

As an improviser, I can tell you definitively that explosive devices are really funny.
posted by BobFrapples at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2007


“hoax device” shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine

What reasonable person would think an LED cartoon character is a bomb?

Never mind, don't answer that.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 2:27 PM on January 31, 2007


I'm going to need a private mid-sized twin engined jet with crew, a open line of credit at Fry's, a quirky pale nerdgirl sidekick, one #10 bright-polished standard American paperclip and a martini.

Oh, c'mon. You need a decent soldering iron and a Digikey catalog, though the martini and nerd girl sidekick wouldn't hurt.

Actually, the nerd girl wouldn't need us, and already has the soldering iron. Probably has the martini as well.

Never mind.

(City Shuts Down for an LED blinkie!)
posted by eriko at 2:29 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


mr_roboto: An "improvised explosive device" is any explosive device designed by engineers who were not in the employ of a major defense corporation, without the benefit of a multibillion dollar budget.

Gotta justify the high cost of defense projects somehow.
posted by contraption at 2:29 PM on January 31, 2007


mr_roboto writes "Has the Official Term for 'explosive device' now become 'improvised explosive device'? "

Yeah, I don't get that either. Aren't IEDs crudely made and incorporate old munitions, etc.? When I think "IED," I don't think covered in blinky lights.
posted by brundlefly at 2:32 PM on January 31, 2007


Everyone! Bow your heads and pretend to be serious.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:34 PM on January 31, 2007


" with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort "

I've never watched ATHF so someone else will have to let us know if it does any of that.


Speaking as a regular viewer, absolutely. These signs, not so much.
posted by designbot at 2:36 PM on January 31, 2007


Tell that to the 21 who died and the 150 who were injured and the 133 man-months it took to clean up the molasses mess.

Too soon?
posted by subtle_squid at 2:40 PM on January 31, 2007 [6 favorites]


An angry Mayor Thomas Menino said a stiff penalty will be pursued against whoever was responsible for the devices."

So ... what laws, if any, were broken?
posted by kaemaril at 2:42 PM on January 31, 2007


I say whoever reported this as a possible bomb threat should pay for all costs incurred from shutting down the city for a day. Everyone knows that if the cartoon character on the bomb is giving you the finger you're as good as dead already. Up until the moment of detonation, the cartoon character will dance and coo and entice you to come closer. Jeez.
posted by effwerd at 2:42 PM on January 31, 2007


Apparently very few people in Boston a) watch ATHF, and b) have anything approaching a sense of humor anymore.

What next? Toynbee tiles are potentially terrorist instructions?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:42 PM on January 31, 2007


Tell that to the 21 who died and the 150 who were injured and the 133 man-months it took to clean up the molasses mess.

I can't. They're dead now. But they didn’t die in vain; just being able to say molasses flood makes it all worth it for future generations.

This on the other hand makes our state and in particular your city, look real silly. A different kind of funny, but funny none the less.
posted by paxton at 2:48 PM on January 31, 2007


How long until some MIT Building Hackers get "THE MOON RULEZ #1" up on the State House?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


All day at work here in downtown Boston I've been interrupted by people shrieking or speaking ominously, sotto voce, about "mysterious devices" and "contraptions" that have appeared all over the city.

"They're not exactly bombs. Not traditional bombs anyway."
"The bomb experts don't know what they are!"
"Information is scarce. Just be safe."

I'm not shitting you. I had to come here to learn that they were Mooninites! I'm too stunned to speak.

Also, love the line in the Yahoo article: "The Department of
Homeland Security said there are no credible reports of other devices being found elsewhere in the country." It took me about fourteen seconds to find hundreds of photos and reports of these ads in many other cities in the US. WHY are Homeland Security "officials" so fucking stupid?! Why? Why?! Why?!!
posted by inoculatedcities at 2:56 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know what I've just realized -- any terrorist can build a bomb, enclose it in plastic, put a logo on it, and no one will pay any attention to it until it goes off.
posted by o2b at 2:59 PM on January 31, 2007


BobFrapples - send me an e-mail (contact info in profile); I don't see yours and I'd like to ask you something unrelated to the FPP... thanks!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2007


Associated Press:
"The first device was found at a subway and bus station underneath Interstate 93, forcing the shutdown of the station and the highway.

Later, police said four calls, all around 1 p.m., reported devices at the Boston University Bridge and the Longfellow Bridge, both of which span the Charles River, at a Boston street corner and at the Tufts-New England Medical Center."
If this is accurate, why the four calls coordinated around 1:00 p.m. Who made them?

Another question: at what time did Turner and/or Interference, Inc. realize it was their marketing devices which were the center of the brouhaha? And, did they proactively contact law enforcement?
posted by ericb at 3:04 PM on January 31, 2007


You know what I've just realized -- any terrorist can build a bomb, enclose it in plastic, put a logo on it, and no one will pay any attention to it until it goes off.

Well, one could disguise a bomb in any number of ways, I suppose. Taking advantage of the landscape and all.
posted by solistrato at 3:08 PM on January 31, 2007


rollbiz: You know that the punishment for this must appear to match the over-reaction. I would not want to be in the shoes of those involved right now.
Those in the Seattle area may recall the case of Jason Sprinkle back in 1996, who left as an art project/protest a parked pickup truck with an oversized metal sculpted heart in the back that was the "Heart of Seattle" (partly in response to the converting of a pedestrian walk area in Westlake Park to a through street at the behest of the Nordstrom's department store). Some dipshit cops thought a small piece of graffiti on the truck that said "Timberlake Carpentry Rules (the Bomb)!" meant this was another Oklahoma City: they overreacted and basically shut down the city for several hours.

However, as is always the case with shitheads in the government, they then blamed Sprinkle for their overreaction, and tried to prosecute him as if he did commit a terrorist act, holding him in jail for more than a month and acting as if they'd gotten the next Timothy McVeigh. Of course, they only did this because the alternative was to admit they royally fucked up, but who wants to take any responsibility for their actions?
designbot:
Section 102A1/2. (b) For the purposes of this section, the term “hoax device” shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine. (...)
So- really, a reasonable person would believe a LiteBrite is an "infernal machine"? Unless the jury is made of 12 homeland security fucktards employees, I fail to see how that standard can be met. :)
It's Raining Florence Henderson: Infernal machine would be a great band name.
It is a musician's name, actually!
ericb: Another question: at what time did Turner and/or Interference, Inc. realize it was their marketing devices which were the center of the brouhaha? And, did they proactively contact law enforcement?
Not sure exactly when they realized, but if you've read the posted information already, you know that these have been up in multiple different cities. For weeks.
posted by hincandenza at 3:13 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Somehow, these animated lights on a bridge didn't cause nearly as much of an emergency outcry in Boston.
posted by deanc at 3:15 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


er, and I meant to finish that last paragraph by suggesting that multiple-cities/up for weeks shows this wasn't just done today, so why would they coordinate with the police? It is akin to "coordinating" with the police when you want to post a flyer on a lamp post for your band's upcoming gig. How could they know that the police would overreact, and therefore think to 'coordinate'? That's like the police busting down the doors of the wrong house under an errant drug tip, arresting or shooting the innocent people inside, and then asking "Why didn't the residents of the house coordinate with the police that they were living there and not breaking any laws?".

I am curious if in all the ensuing brouhaha, any actual laws will be mentioned, or just general fuzzy concepts like "terroristic threats", as the city tries to make itself look good (impossible) as Seattle did with Sprinkle.
posted by hincandenza at 3:17 PM on January 31, 2007


If this is accurate, why the four calls coordinated around 1:00 p.m. Who made them?

All the news articles are all being updated with paragraphs like:
"Aqua Teen Hunger Force" is a cartoon with a cultish following that airs as part of the Adult Swim late-night block of programs for adults on the Cartoon Network. A feature length film based on the show is slated for release March 23.The cartoon also includes two trouble-making, 1980s-graphic-like characters called "mooninites," named Ignignokt and Err — who were pictured on the suspicious devices. They are known for making the obscene hand gesture depicted on the devices.
Considering that the website for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters just went live yesterday, I'd say that Williams Street is more than getting their money's worth from Interference Inc. Follow the money, my friend.
posted by designbot at 3:18 PM on January 31, 2007


but if you've read the posted information already, you know that these have been up in multiple different cities. For weeks.

It's clear from chatter on the Boston.com boards, etc. that many 'civilians' knew very early today that these were cartoon LED devices. I've heard that these folks called the television stations, newspapers and even police to say so. I now suspect that it was animation fans who called up the police and said "Dudes, WTF, these marketing things have been up-and-around the city for weeks. Check 'em out at x, y and z." Why then the need to "secure the city" and shut-down so many thoroughfares, after they knew what and where most of the remaining 'devices' were.
posted by ericb at 3:25 PM on January 31, 2007


Note to self, the best way to hide a bomb is to light it up brightly with cartoon characters.
posted by Eideteker at 3:26 PM on January 31, 2007


I dunno. My money was on Tommy Lee Jones.

god am I nerd for that reference.
posted by ninjew at 3:39 PM on January 31, 2007


They are known for making the obscene hand gesture depicted on the devices.

Awesome. They can't even bring themselves to reference "the finger."
posted by ColdChef at 3:43 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm usually one who snorts anytime some jackanape trumpets "the power of the int3rw3bzzz over the MSM", but in this case, it's exactly right.
posted by solistrato at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2007


That is sofa king we todd ed.
posted by supercrayon at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2007


There's going to be a movie?! Awesome!

I hope they can keep it under 70 minutes; I'm not sure how much ATHF I can take at once.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:51 PM on January 31, 2007


See this is the level of surreality I expected from Idiocracy.
posted by Skorgu at 3:54 PM on January 31, 2007


MSNBC video: Strange Day in Boston.
"The only bomb here is the potential movie."
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is by far the clearest sign of the apocalypse I have ever seen.
posted by phylum sinter at 3:56 PM on January 31, 2007


You can have one yourself.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:11 PM on January 31, 2007


I want to donate to the Adult Swim Legal Defense Fund and I've never watched it! Thank you Adult Swim for demonstrating the stupidity and over reaction by our custodians of the public good. By the way, where's FEMA and Jessie Jackson when we need them!! *gasp!*.
posted by BillsR100 at 4:16 PM on January 31, 2007


Tell that to the 21 who died and the 150 who were injured and the 133 man-months it took to clean up the molasses mess.

I can't. They're dead now.


Just as funny as the Worcester Warehouse Fire of December 3, 1999?

Guess we find humor in different things. No harm, no foul.
posted by ericb at 4:17 PM on January 31, 2007


The subway is crippled; numerous lines have been shut down and been replaced by emergency bus service

I'm sorry, but how is this different from any other day on the MBTA? They're lucky if the emergency bus service isn't "replaced" by a Nor'easter and a worn-through pair of sneakers from having to walk everygoddamwhere...
posted by mykescipark at 4:24 PM on January 31, 2007


For anyone just joining the thread, the linked news articles were much more clueless (and hilarious) earlier in the day.
posted by designbot at 4:25 PM on January 31, 2007


Just as funny as the Worcester Warehouse Fire of December 3, 1999?

If that's what you're into, sure. Me, I'm more of cartoon alien terrorist threat and molasses kinda guy.
posted by paxton at 4:27 PM on January 31, 2007


Technically this is insurgent marketing then? At least they're not releasing earworms or viral ads.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:28 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


ABC's evening news led with this story.

Mouth agape, then I yell at the TV "It's a fucking Mooninite, 'ya idjits!", but apparently they couldn't hear me.

They mentioned ATHF, but the impression left was that the marketing was attempting to cause a panic with their devices, which was obviously ridiculous from their own 3 second footage of these "devices".

Like they had placed fake bombs in public places to cause a panic. Not Homeland Security pants wetting on national TV.

Seriously, Lite-Brite melts down city.
posted by dglynn at 4:37 PM on January 31, 2007


This story contains the phrase "wad of hamburger meat", which is pretty cool.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:41 PM on January 31, 2007


If someone can get this damned Podzinger search to return anything, you can enjoy Boston's reaction first-hand the way I did: on this afternoon's Big Show on WEEI. Upshot: Duffy from Quincy and Fred Smerlas agree that you are Sofa King We Todd Ed elitist punks who don't understand this is the perfect cover for a real terrorist to act. It kind of shook me that people honestly feel like this was a terrible thing and Turner execs should go to jail for it. What can I trade my remaining freedoms for?
posted by yerfatma at 4:42 PM on January 31, 2007


And this story is actually pretty good. The reporters managed to track down the "vanderlin" guy who has photos of one of the things in his Flickr account and get a description of the device from him. Not a bad piece of reporting, that.


Yeah, I'm bored at work.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:45 PM on January 31, 2007


The time: The Future. At Dawn.

The Setting: America. Outside the seventy five foot high walls of Ft. New York.

Guard #1: Hey. Whats that down there?

Guard #2: Looks like a giant Deputy Dog toy? On wheels.

Guard #1: It's another trick! God DAMN them evil terrorists.

Guard #2: What should we do?

Guard #1: Um. Call the His Excellency the mayor.

Guard #2: Ok. (Gets out futuristic call phone). Y.. Yes. Hello. Your Honor. We have a situation out on rampart 47... yes. We have a device. What? Oh. A stuffed cartoon dog. Yes, sir. Last time it was a Penguin. What should we do? Bring it in like last time? No. (whispers to guard #1 "Don't bring it in like last time") Ok. Your gonna patch us through to Under Ground Washington DC for instructions. Ok. We'll wait.

[hold music is Girl From Impanema]

Guard # 1: What's taking so long?

Guard #2: Shhhhhhhh. (Back on phone) Oh. Yes. I'm here. General Hassenflatz! Yes sir! Another situation out here in Ft. New York. Yes. Yes. We SHOULD have gone underground like all the other cities. I agree. But you know...budgets and all. No it's not a giant penguin. Thank god. This is something new. A 5-6 foot high Cartoon Dog of some sort. Well the penguin we brought in remember and then in made scary BOING noise and the resulting reaction got a about three hundred people killed in the cross fire. So we thought it best to leave THIS one outside the walls. Yes, sir. We will wait.

Guard #1: What he doing.

Guard #2: He is sending out the bombers.

Guard #1: Oh. Thats a relief.

[twenty minutes go by in montage of guards playing paddle ball and peeking over wall at giant dog 75 feet below etc]

[Sound of bomber jets approaching]

Guard #1: YAY! (waving to bombers)

Guard #2: It's our boys!

Guard #1: So what kind of bombs you think?

Guard #2: Oh. He said atomic. They really wanted to show those terrorists.

Guard #1: Take that TERRORISTS! Our sacrifice is worth it!
posted by tkchrist at 4:49 PM on January 31, 2007 [5 favorites]


in 1938 orson wells panicked a gullible nation with a radio version of "war of the worlds" that purported to describe martians landing in new jersey and zapping the hapless residents

in 2007 the cartoon network panicked a gullible city with small electric cartoon "moononites" attached to bridges that confronted helpless commuters with glowing middle fingers

in 2055 a grateful world gives hiram h shookfoot the nobel prize for a wearable cloaking device that eliminates shadows, saving the lives of the thousands of americans who die from shadow fright yearly

progress is wonderful, isn't it?

our new national motto - e pluribus weenum
posted by pyramid termite at 4:51 PM on January 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Vanderlin said the device, which broke while he was taking it down, is a light-emitting diode or LED that was manufactured in China. It consists of four double D batteries ..."

My favorites.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:07 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a great big breasty diode, is what it is.
posted by cortex at 5:10 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is great news! Soon all advertising and/or design will be illegal. How I've longed for cities filled with simple architecture, devoid of distracting billboards, neon and cluttering signage.
posted by asfuller at 5:12 PM on January 31, 2007


designbot: If this is accurate, why the four calls coordinated around 1:00 p.m. Who made them? ... Follow the money my friend

If true, this would definitely be a case of causing public panic to further an ad campaign. But I find that (naively?) hard to swallow. It's far more likely that some radio station mentioned the first sighting, and suddenly everyone started noticing the things for the first time.

Repeat after me America: You aren't going to get blown up by a terrorist. You lead the safest lives man has ever lived. There is nothing to fear but... ah forget it.
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:14 PM on January 31, 2007


You lead the safest lives man has ever lived.

I dunno, I hear it's pretty cush up in Canada.

Bears, though. Strike that.
posted by cortex at 5:16 PM on January 31, 2007


This episode proves to me once and for all that there are only Barney Fifes left in any level of Homeland (In)Security, and that all the Andys have quit in disgust.

If we're really lucky, this will become one of those cultural watershed moments - yeah, yeah, 9-11 Changed Everything, but maybe, just maybe, the Day the Boston Police Blew up Fucking Mooninites can start changing everything back.
posted by yhbc at 5:19 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I sort of wonder if this started with someone mistakingly hearing "LED" as "IED".
posted by MikeKD at 5:20 PM on January 31, 2007


Goddamit, Popular Ethics. Don't leave me hanging!! What is it?!!
posted by MikeKD at 5:22 PM on January 31, 2007


This whole thing is high larry us on so many levels.

However, this Fox News screencap is like the cherry on top of a delicious, delicious cake.

The next time someone tells me we don't live in a perpetual fear state... Well:

CNN says that "the Pentagon said U.S. Northern Command was monitoring the situation from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but said none of its units were sent to assist."

The Pentagon is monitoring some LEDs and a couple D batteries.
posted by sparkletone at 5:27 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


MY NAME IS
posted by baphomet at 5:36 PM on January 31, 2007


I just can't believe this. I am too incredulous to laugh.

Well, then I saw this comment on Flickr:

"You're right. If i were going to bomb something, a big sign labeling it as a bomb would be really stupid. It would attract too much attention and not complete it's task, exploding before it is deteced.

Instead I would go for the much more subtle design of neon LEDs of a cartoon character giving a middle finger, now that's inconspicuous."

Then I laughed.

Are our police officers, media outlets, and national security folks ALL this fucking retarded? If so, we are fucked.
posted by mazatec at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2007


Looks like the video of the "guerrilla marketers" putting them up in Boston is back on YouTube.
posted by zsazsa at 5:46 PM on January 31, 2007


Boston.com reports that they arrested a man in Arlington who was hired by the guerilla marketing firm to install these things.

Welcome to the grim meathook future.
posted by solistrato at 5:49 PM on January 31, 2007


Holy Hell Carl is never going to be able to deal with this
posted by evilelvis at 5:52 PM on January 31, 2007


An arrest has been made.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:56 PM on January 31, 2007


we smoke as we shoot the bird.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:57 PM on January 31, 2007


CNN says that "the Pentagon said U.S. Northern Command was monitoring the situation from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but said none of its units were sent to assist."

The Pentagon is monitoring some LEDs and a couple D batteries.


Well at least we know NORAD isn't just being wasted on Santa. It's only appropriate that the WOPR be charged with tracking the movements of the Mooninites.
posted by paxton at 5:58 PM on January 31, 2007


Why does Gov. Deval Patrick keep referring to this as a "hoax"? It's a goddamn sign, people. By these standards Las Vegas is a nuclear superpower.

Attention government employees! You are in a hole, stop digging!

Honestly, my flabbergast-o-meter is totally redlined and starting to smoke at this point.
posted by dglynn at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


On NPR, I was disappointed by their reporting when they referred to it as advertising for a new show on The Cartoon Network.
posted by drezdn at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2007


tkchrist -- priceless!
posted by ericb at 6:03 PM on January 31, 2007


An arrest has been made.

They summarily tasered him, right?
posted by furiousthought at 6:10 PM on January 31, 2007


observe, boston, the digital dong.
posted by psychoticreaction at 6:12 PM on January 31, 2007


Please take note. They've blurred the Mooninites cartoon LED finger.

Just don't want any of you thinking we gave up on Cromwell in these parts.
posted by paxton at 6:26 PM on January 31, 2007


they arrested a man in Arlington who was hired by the guerilla marketing firm to install these things

Well, since there was no intent to cause panic, I can't imagine they'll get anything to stick.
posted by oaf at 6:27 PM on January 31, 2007


"so, honey, how was work today?"

"it was awful ... i had to put up more of those cartoon thingies today, it was cold as hell and then some idiot cops see one, have the fucking BOMB SQUAD blow it up and then they FUCKING ARRESTED ME for doing MY FUCKING JOB ... and then that dumb bastard boss of mine took 2 FUCKING hours to get down to the station and bail my ass out

"jesus, i never should have quite my damn job at the fertilizer factory"
posted by pyramid termite at 6:32 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Got in on the tail end of the latest press briefing. The live stream on CNN.com had a good minute or so of open mike after the officials had cleared out. The comments by those left in the room (press?) were priceless. The gist being "This is ridiculous" and "Those things are about as non-threatening as it gets"

Well, since there was no intent to cause panic, I can't imagine they'll get anything to stick.
Maybe. They were throwing around phrases like "5 year felony" at the press conference.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:33 PM on January 31, 2007


i convict them of stupidity ... the sentence ... life
posted by pyramid termite at 6:36 PM on January 31, 2007


This puts a whole new spin on H.L. Mencken's quote: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people". Turner will be laughing all the way to the bank after the dust settles. You can't buy this kind of publicity.
posted by tighttrousers at 6:38 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


They were throwing around phrases like "5 year felony" at the press conference.

So someone leaves completely non-threatening art (at its best) or litter (at its worst) around various cities, the government has no idea what's going on, but pretends it does, and then arrests some guy who wasn't doing anything wrong just to cover its mistake?

I don't want to hear anyone from Boston talk about how the South is full of ignorant yokels ever again.
posted by oaf at 6:43 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


From mr_crash_davis's link (above):
"An Arlington man was arrested after 38 hoax devices were found throughout greater Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino and Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Wednesday night.

The devices were eventually determined to be part of a marketing campaign that involved a character from the cartoon show 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force.'

Coakley said Peter Berdvosky, 27, of Arlington, was arrested Wednesday night and charged under a new statute that makes it a crime to place, transfer or possess a hoax device that results in panic. He was also charged with one count of disorderly conduct.

....Berdvosky will be arraigned in Charlestown District Court on Thursday. If convicted, Berdvosky faces up to five years in prison."
Holy, fuck -- there goes the "fall guy," the scapegoat.
posted by ericb at 6:51 PM on January 31, 2007


They were throwing around phrases like "5 year felony" at the press conference.

That's what really gets me angry about this whole charade. That and insisting this is a "hoax". Instead of admitting their mistake, the Mayor's office is using every press and police tactic they have to frame Turner Broadcasting as reckless hoodlums, and themselves as sympathetic heroes. It's like watching the Wizard of Oz feverishly operate the monster head after his curtain has been pulled back.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:53 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't want to hear anyone from Boston talk about how the South is full of ignorant yokels ever again.

Hell -- we've had our fair share of ignorant yokels here in Boston for centuries.
posted by ericb at 7:01 PM on January 31, 2007


Some comments from the website of Boston's ABC affiliate.

My favorite:
Turner Broadcasting Should not only be fined for all related costs. But should have their FCC license pulled, for their blatent irresponsibilty of Public Safety. They not only used Public Property (roads and Bridges) with out notification or Permitting, but failed to issue a statement until hours after the incident began. They also exposed the vulnerability of our cities to terrorists that we can have similar devices sit undetected for weeks on our infurstructure. it is a disgrace.
Sincerely Sheila B

posted by maryh at 7:07 PM on January 31, 2007


i've half a mind to spraypaint these little mooninite guys on everything i can find, just to protest the stupidity of the people who are running things

love live the mooninite liberation army!
posted by pyramid termite at 7:12 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think Sheila B should be required to request permission before using any public resources. Including oxygen.
posted by oaf at 7:17 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Quite the exchange of insanity on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 (news?) show . I am just speechless.
posted by jaronson at 7:24 PM on January 31, 2007


Given that these devices have been up for two or three weeks in several cities, I would think the guy arrested could argue that the lack of panic at so many other sites would demonstrate that it was a reasonable assumption that the devices would not induce panic.

And really, there are such things as accidents in the world, plain old human error. Homeland security policy is far from publicized or even clearly defined; this is just one of those things that happened to hit one of those new walls. The consequence was reasonably unforeseen.
posted by troybob at 7:35 PM on January 31, 2007


Just watch, because of this, Lite Brite will be deemed a Schedule I substance by morning.
posted by Peter H at 7:36 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


We really are a nation of Jittery Jills. If all it takes to shut down a major American city is the suggestion that some odd bit of advertising flotsam could go boom, the terrorists really did win, after all. Give yourselves a pat on the back, terrorists.
My heart goes out to the poor shlub who was arrested for putting these things up, and I say that as someone who loathes viral marketing.
posted by maryh at 7:36 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


They also exposed the vulnerability of our cities to terrorists that we can have similar devices sit undetected for weeks on our infurstructure. it is a disgrace.

In...fer..structure -- pronounced and articulated with a cig in her mouth, sipping a beer.

Honey, if the Cartoon Network is responsible for revealing civic vulnerability, what the fuck has the Department of Homeland Security been up to for the past 6-years in keeping us immune from anomalies in our "infurstructure?"

Oh ... and BTW, Sheila B, maybe it's why we have independent, free press and media outlets, including cartoon chanels (aka "the Fourth Estate") in the U.S. of A. They're here to point out the failings of our elected and appointed government officials in the three branches of gubermint!
posted by ericb at 7:49 PM on January 31, 2007


From cnn.com:
Rep. Ed Markey, a Boston-area congressman, said, "Whoever thought this up needs to find another job."

"Scaring an entire region, tying up the T and major roadways, and forcing first responders to spend 12 hours chasing down trinkets instead of terrorists is marketing run amok," Markey, a Democrat, said in a written statement. "It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt."
Except that the police were the ones who scared the region, who tied up the roadways, and *chose* to chase down the "trinkets."

This assclown just turned the whole situation on its' head. Beautiful.
posted by action man bow-tie at 7:49 PM on January 31, 2007


Grow some balls Boston, you're a bunch of miserable f*cking cowards and frankly it's embarrassing to occupy the same continent as you.
posted by aramaic at 7:57 PM on January 31, 2007


You remember that cartoon scene from Bowling For Columbine where the Americans/Pilgrims are running around shitting their pants?

SPOT ON MICHAEL MOORE! SPOT ON!
posted by furtive at 7:58 PM on January 31, 2007


our culture is advanced beyond all that you can possibly comprehend with 100% of your brain
posted by exlotuseater at 8:04 PM on January 31, 2007


I, being a Bostonian, bow my head in shame.
posted by ericb at 8:08 PM on January 31, 2007


Thanks Republicans!

How nice it is to live in the United States of Hysteria.
posted by rougy at 8:10 PM on January 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


This whole incident must be a footnote to the Limmy's World of Glasgow podcast in which Benjamin of BAMN Concepts ("By Any Means Necessary") decides to promote a new video game about WWII by stenciling a certain... familiar logo, let's say... on dozens of buildings around town.
posted by Creosote at 8:13 PM on January 31, 2007


Prepare yourself, Boston, for a pride-obliterating bitchslap.
posted by 235w103 at 8:14 PM on January 31, 2007


I wish I could rewrite the headlines: "Government Causes Bomb Scare."

Nah, that would get pretty tiresome to read every couple of weeks.
posted by action man bow-tie at 8:15 PM on January 31, 2007


So I just saw this on the news...
Lite Brites paralyzed Boston?
wow, what a bunch of sissies.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:17 PM on January 31, 2007


So, like, is anyone in Boston media pointing out that other cities seem to have found these things without fainting all over themselves?

What an embarrassment to Boston.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 PM on January 31, 2007


I wouldn't put blame on the people of Boston, necessarily. Those who reported devices, if they indeed thought they could potentially pose some threat, were being vigilant, and that shouldn't be discouraged. We rather want people to err on the side of caution when it combs to bombs and shit.

And it's not like everyone in the city totally freaked out about it; it sounds more like the government did. It seems it is the disproportion of their reaction that is the real issue here, even further illustrated by their continued insistence on referring to these as "hoax devices," long after their true nature has been determined. Vigilance is good; overreaction and overstatement are not.

The officials in Boston should be grateful not only that these devices were not harmful, but for this practice run of their emergency services. Any blame they will attempt to put onto those who will be arrested, financial or moral, is more than offset by the knowledge they have gained in where their services failed and where they succeeded. This is an event that caused no real harm, and one which they will learn from--a simulation they could not have created themselves.
posted by troybob at 8:32 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


My “live” – and almost accurate – transcription of a report on the 11:00 p.m. evening news, being reported on WCVB/Boston (Channel 5).
“…[Turner Broadcasting will] pay big according to the mayor [Thomas Menino]. The price tag for this size emergency response has already topped $500,000 and tonight the mayor and other officials are calling for a boycott against Turner Broadcasting Entertainment.”
Also…
"Here’s a little more about our suspect who was arrested. 27 year-old Peter Berdovsky, a local artist, lives in Arlington, but he was actually born in the Soviet Union in Belarus. He was granted political asylum in the year 2000 and went on to attend the Mass College of Art, gaining a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences degree and graduating with distinction in 2005. Now, according to Berdovsky’s own website, he has created and installed many custom video installations and other art show productions.
posted by ericb at 8:33 PM on January 31, 2007


Before we cast aspersions on Boston, let us not forget other events in the post-9/11 era.

Bomb Squad Destroys Newspaper Box Playing ‘Mission: Impossible III’ Theme
"A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s upcoming ‘Mission: Impossible III’ got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the ‘Mission: Impossible’ theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.

Sheriff’s officials said they rendered the news rack in this suburb 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles ‘safe’ after being called to the scene Friday by a concerned individual who thought he’d seen a bomb.

Times officials said the devices were placed in 4,500 randomly selected news boxes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in a venture with Paramount Pictures designed to turn the ‘everyday news rack experience’ into an ‘extraordinary mission.’

It was just that, at least for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arson squad, which destroyed the box.

‘This was the least intended outcome. We weren’t expecting anything like this,’ said John O’Loughlin, the Times’ senior vice president for planning.

The devices are to remain in the boxes until May 7, two days after the film is scheduled to open."
Ya' know what I'm sayin'? ;)
posted by ericb at 8:44 PM on January 31, 2007


So Los Angeles was faced with 4,500 "hoax devices" and somehow managed to avoid a panic? Impressive!
posted by llamateur at 8:58 PM on January 31, 2007


Well, given the thousands of noses, breasts, and lips that could be similarly classified...
posted by troybob at 9:04 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


"In ten seconds, this newspaper will self-destruct."
posted by furiousthought at 9:17 PM on January 31, 2007


If any criminal charges are actually filed I hope the rest of this country makes a laughing stock of this fair city's government.
posted by subtle_squid at 9:22 PM on January 31, 2007


Img needed. Nevar 4get!
posted by Balisong at 9:24 PM on January 31, 2007 [5 favorites]


Thanks Republicans!

How nice it is to live in the United States of Hysteria.
posted by rougy at 10:10 PM CST on January 31


Yeah, all those Republicans up in Boston, Mass.


I think this whole thing is laugh riot. I want to know where I can get my hands on one of these "hoax devices."
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:35 PM on January 31, 2007


I think this whole thing is laugh riot. I want to know where I can get my hands on one of these "hoax devices."

At least two are up on eBay. You're going to need at least a grand.

Perhaps, like the mayor of Boston, you can demand Turner Networks pay for it for you for no reason whatsoever.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:52 PM on January 31, 2007


I think I'm going to make one just on principle.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:25 PM on January 31, 2007


The agency that created this credits the Graffiti Research Lab as the inspiration for these ads. GRL is none too impressed.

"Interference Inc, welcome to the world of being misunderstood, scapegoated, demonized and wanted by the law. Still want to be a graffiti artist?"

posted by skullbee at 11:31 PM on January 31, 2007


Our culture has advanced to produce an a event that is both Orwellian AND Orson Wells-ian! who needs flying cars

(requires Oliver Cromwellian to achieve the trinity)
posted by arialblack at 12:15 AM on February 1, 2007


>Before we cast aspersions on Boston, let us not forget other events in the post-9/11 era.


Last year, San Francisco police detonated a flashlight left in the bathroom of a Starbucks by a homeless guy.
"If it had detonated, it would have caused damage," Gittens said. "It was what we consider an IED," an improvised explosive device.
Um, yeah. Actually it was a flashlight. They ended up arresting the homeless guy, too.
posted by rajbot at 12:21 AM on February 1, 2007


Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.
posted by moonbiter at 12:26 AM on February 1, 2007


I'm hearing on Usenet (bastion of accurate news information) that the gentleman arrested (Peter Berdovsky) is the one who called in to authorities indicating the Mooninite LED signs were bombs. So it appears they're accusing him of planting the signs and then calling in a bomb hoax to call attention to the signs.

Also, there's a link to his Interference, Inc. vid about placing the signs around Boston here.
posted by smashingstars at 1:24 AM on February 1, 2007


Your country is causing me anxiety and distress.

Where do I send the bill?
posted by dreamsign at 1:42 AM on February 1, 2007


It's creepy that in these morons' world view, other people are responsible (and should be fined, thrown in jail, etc) for their own stupid, knee jerk, grandstanding overreactions.
posted by signal at 3:29 AM on February 1, 2007


I'm used to being embarrassed for residing in Georgia, what with all the evolution disclaimers on science textbooks and Zell Miller and Cynthia McKinney and so forth. Being embarrassed about being from Massachusetts is new to me.
posted by Scoo at 3:55 AM on February 1, 2007


Boom shacka-lacka-lacka Boom!
posted by metaplectic at 6:10 AM on February 1, 2007


Spacecataz
posted by Vindaloo at 6:19 AM on February 1, 2007


I think Fox News has it about right: "Boston out for blood."

If there's a trial (either a prosecution of the people they've arrested, or a civil suit against Turner), it will make Boston look particularly stupid when the other side calls officials from the nine other cities as witnesses and shows that they didn't panic for no reason.
posted by oaf at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2007


Given the events of the Great Mooninite Scare of ’07 in Boston yesterday, I’m really, really puzzled about the message that we as citizens of not only Boston, but of America, are giving to the rest of the world. This morning, I watched the usual crew of local news jockeys repeat ad nauseum that now old canard of “In a post 9-11 World….” This sort of over reaction is not only justified, but desirable. “What if the Lite Brite ads for a cartoon movie were actually bombs!!??” they wondered.

Okay, sure. Let’s go with that. What if the magnetic Lite Brites were actually Deadly Bombs. Very scary. But let’s think about what that means:

1) The Deadly Bombs had been in place for days, if not weeks, before their discovery.
2) Nobody reported the Deadly Bombs when they were installed.
3) The Deadly Bombs lit up at night, thus attracting attention to themselves.
4) The Deadly Bombs were not placed for maximum civilian casualties. If they were made of C-4, I question how much damage they would have done to the structures they were placed on. My lay understanding of C-4 is that it likes to be pressed between the things it’s going to be blowing up, not laid on top of them.

So if the ads were actually explosives, two things would have to apply:

1) The terrorists are idiots for using poorly placed, attention getting devices.
2) The people in charge of protecting us from terrorists are idiots who ignored a threat for days, if not weeks.

The sum total message Boston, and America, delivers?

If you are not a very good terrorist, come here, because we’re not very good at stopping you.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:55 AM on February 1, 2007 [7 favorites]


Another arrested:
"Authorities arrested two men who put up the signs. Peter Berdovsky, 27, of Arlington, and Sean Stevens, 28, of Charlestown, were charged Wednesday night with one count of placing a hoax device and one count of disorderly conduct."
So, Turner did call in to police at 5:00 p.m. when it realized their promotion was involved:
"As soon as Turner realized the Boston problem around 5 p.m., it said, law enforcement officials were told of their locations in 10 cities where it said the devices had been placed for two to three weeks: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Ore., Austin, Texas, San Francisco and Philadelphia."
Artist 'freaked out' by furor:
"Berdovsky, an artist, told The Boston Globe he was hired by Interference and said he was 'kind of freaked out' by the furor.

'I find it kind of ridiculous that they’re making these statements on TV that we must not be safe from terrorism, because they were up there for three weeks and no one noticed. It’s pretty commonsensical to look at them and say this is a piece of art and installation,' he said."*
posted by ericb at 7:25 AM on February 1, 2007


"[Boston Mayor Thomas] Menino was also upset, he said, because top executives at Turner Broadcasting did not contact him directly to discuss what happened. The mayor said he did not receive a call from the company until about 9 p.m., and it was from a low-ranking press official.

'Give me a break. . . . It's all about corporate greed,' Menino said, adding that he wanted make sure 'not the guy we arrested today pays, but also the people in the boardroom have some obligation also on this issue.'"*

Tommy, calm down!
posted by ericb at 7:33 AM on February 1, 2007


This shirt made me laugh. I can't buy one since I got to work on time the day the Mooninites invaded my city.
posted by toddst at 7:39 AM on February 1, 2007


TV officials defend aggressive coverage.
posted by ericb at 7:40 AM on February 1, 2007


Huh. I found one of these in Portland about a week ago. I was amused and pleased, but not to the point of calling the bomb squad.
posted by Secretariat at 7:48 AM on February 1, 2007


were charged Wednesday night with one count of placing a hoax device and one count of disorderly conduct."

It's going to be pretty hard to make those "placing a hoax device" charges stick, I hope.
posted by agregoli at 7:49 AM on February 1, 2007


I just saw a live news conference on the Fox Noise Channel where the Chicago PD announced that they have arrested two twenty-something kids hired by the firm. No charges have been filed.
posted by ninjew at 8:58 AM on February 1, 2007


This is what hysteria looks like.
posted by dglynn at 9:11 AM on February 1, 2007


Oh, this is fun.
A few moments ago, upon leaving the courthouse, Stevens and Berdovsky stopped to make an official statement and then began to blather nonsensically about "hairstyles of the '70s".

Tut-Tutting newshead on live shot comments "they don't seem to be taking this seriously..."
posted by Pliskie at 9:37 AM on February 1, 2007


I get my lunch at a cafe across from the courthouse...and happened upon them coming out. Here are some pictures I took of the crazy press conference. Very bizarre questions and answers.
posted by ericb at 9:56 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was watching the news conference on Fox News and the whole thing was hilarious.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2007


Seriously, my US-based friends, you people are so fucked. I give you 5-10 more years, that's about it.
posted by signal at 10:05 AM on February 1, 2007


It's a good thing I am not king of the world because right now I'd be like one of those ancient kings who in a fit of pique orders all the officials beheaded and the seas whipped and the skies cursed, because honestly, it's getting to that point these days.
posted by furiousthought at 10:05 AM on February 1, 2007


Chapter 266: Section 102A1/2. Possession, transportation, use or placement of hoax devices

Section 102A1/2. (a) 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.

(b) For the purposes of this section, the term “hoax device” shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine. For the purposes of this section, the term “infernal machine” shall mean any device for endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both, by fire or explosion, whether or not contrived to ignite or explode automatically. For the purposes of this section, the words “hoax substance” shall mean any substance that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such substance is a harmful chemical or biological agent, a poison, a harmful radioactive substance or any other substance for causing serious bodily injury, endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both.
I want one of those lovely infernal machines. Good luck proving intent here, intent to cause mirth maybe.
posted by caddis at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2007


I love the tone of the reporters in the background berating them for "not taking this seriously". Like they're trying to continue using the two guys as their scapegoat
posted by pantsrobot at 10:07 AM on February 1, 2007


One camerman who I was standing next two yelled out at the end of the impromptu press conference: "I hope you enjoy time in jail." Very professional.
posted by ericb at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2007


*next to*
posted by ericb at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2007


This is so unfathomably stupid. The mayor and chief of police of Boston, as well as the prosecutors involved with this, should all be tarred and feathered.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:18 AM on February 1, 2007


What really angers me, in this country where supposedly every citizen is created equal, is that they go after the lowest guys on the totem pole. I'm absolutely certain that they weren't the ones responsible for approving and paying for this marketing campaign. Of course, they aren't going to march into the Cartoon Network's offices and arrest anyone there...
posted by MegoSteve at 10:20 AM on February 1, 2007


Am I wrong or would a hoax be something that was intentionally designed to look like a bomb?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:21 AM on February 1, 2007


“1-31-07 Never Forget” -- a sign held outide the courthouse.
posted by ericb at 10:49 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


What really angers me, in this country where supposedly every citizen is created equal, is that they go after the lowest guys on the totem pole. I'm absolutely certain that they weren't the ones responsible for approving and paying for this marketing campaign. Of course, they aren't going to march into the Cartoon Network's offices and arrest anyone there...

How much longer must our government be in the pocket of Big Cartoon!!!!????
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:53 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The two guys aren't even employees of Cartoon Network/Turner/Time Warner or the guerilla marketing agency. Interference Inc., which paid them each $300 to place the LiteBrites around the city. I would hope that one of those companies has the decency to pay for their legal costs.
posted by ericb at 10:59 AM on February 1, 2007


I'm not sure why people think it would be OK to place weird electronic devices underneath a highway overpass.
posted by cribcage at 11:06 AM on February 1, 2007


I'm not sure why people think it would be OK to place weird electronic devices underneath a highway overpass.

You mean weird electronic devices like a sign? With lights? America's streetscape has never before been soiled by such an unthinkable thing.
posted by designbot at 11:17 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why is NO ONE in the MSM upset that any of the TRAINED BOMB EXPERTS were not able to diffuse TEH PANIC by telling the authorities it was a circuit board and some batteries?
posted by ninjew at 11:30 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


isn't it obvious to anyone with a lick of sense that if the terrorists wanted us, by now they could have had us?

fuck the post 9/11 mindset

this is not the mindset that put a man on the moon
this is not the mindset that sent the wagon trains out west
this is not the mindset that homesteaded the prairies
this is not the mindset that won 2 world wars and changed civilization

what the hell is wrong with this country?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:32 AM on February 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


You mean weird electronic devices like a sign?

If you're going to be sarcastic, try not to be stupid. Nobody recognized these things. All they saw was an odd-looking, apparently electronic device hung underneath a major highway overpass. Somebody upthread compared the devices to a VCR; well, if I climbed onto a highway overpass and shoved a VCR between a couple of girders, I'd expect that somebody would report a suspicious device.

Maybe the Internet People think it's unfathomable that anybody would fail to recognize Aqua Teen Hunger Force. It'll probably blow your mind, but I wouldn't recognize any of the American Idol winners if they sang at my birthday party. I don't believe either of those specific ignorances disqualify a person from being reasonable, and the standard is whether a reasonable person would expect this stunt to have been mistaken for a bomb.

If Guerilla Marketing, Inc. offered me $300 to leave a disassembled clock radio inside an airport terminal, I'd politely decline because it's easy to predict what will happen. These were obscure devices, not signs that read, "Watch our show!"; and hanging it underneath a highway overpass is not equivalent to leaving it on the sidewalk.

If you're honestly still having trouble understanding what was wrong with this stunt, try imagining it the other way: Somebody spots a weird box with lights and wires attached to the underside of a city bus. He calls the police, and the dispatcher replies, "Oh, that's probably just some viral marketing gimmick."
posted by cribcage at 11:39 AM on February 1, 2007


Nobody recognized these things.

Bullcrap. I recognized it instantly for what it was. There are plenty of other signs which light up as advertisements all over the city of Boston.

This whole paranoia mindset is ridiculous. It accomplishes exactly what the enemy wants, without actually making them do any work.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:44 AM on February 1, 2007


Why would a bomb have attention-grabbing flashing lights? And if the bomb squad somehow blazed through your leaps of logic and onto your bus they would identify it as nothing but lights and some simple timer logic (the chips still had their serial numbers on them, try google)
posted by pantsrobot at 11:47 AM on February 1, 2007


I love the media's attitude during the press conference:

These charges of distributing Lite-Brites that resemble a cartoon alien giving the finger? You're not taking them seriously enough.
posted by Leather McWhip at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2007


That weird box with lights had been there for days, if not weeks, before yesterday. I'd be much more receptive to the Gung Ho Security mindset if the same people who were flipping out about weird boxes with lights being possible threats had actually noticed/done something about them earlier.

After the first device/ad was found, the idea that nobody seemed to think about looking into what it actually was surprised me. Instead, the reaction was to blow it up with a robot (!!). A little research would have shown that the things were harmless and could be removed at the city's leisure without a massive panic. "An ounce of prevention..." works both ways.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:52 AM on February 1, 2007


cribcage, are you trolling just for general giggles or becausey ou still live in Boston and this issue affected you yesterday? I'm sincerely curious.
posted by cavalier at 11:53 AM on February 1, 2007


There are plenty of other signs which light up as advertisements all over the city of Boston.

There are absolutely zero such signs hanging underneath highway overpasses.

That's a pretty important and simple point, and a lot of people seem to be ignoring it and pretending like these devices were exactly equivalent to hanging a neon sign inside a liquor store window.
posted by cribcage at 11:57 AM on February 1, 2007


LOL, I'm glad I've stayed tuned for the cribcage second act!
posted by agregoli at 12:01 PM on February 1, 2007


That's a pretty important and simple point

No, it isn't an important point. Why would it be important? I'd like to hear you clearly explain why the placement of this advertisement would matter.

Remember that the lights made a picture. They weren't crazy blinking lights on a circuit board or a countdown timer. It is plainly obvious that what you are looking at is an advertisement.

Why would a potential bomber call attention to their bomb? This whole thing is ridiculous, and your defense of those who clearly overreacted is also ridiculous.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 12:04 PM on February 1, 2007


After the first device/ad was found, the idea that nobody seemed to think about looking into what it actually was surprised me. Instead, the reaction was to blow it up with a robot (!!).

You misunderstand bomb disposal. There's a relatively small number of people in the world who can disable an explosive like you see on TV. Many cities don't have a single person that well-trained on their bomb squad. (If it helps, consider that last month, Boston had 10 full-time homicide detectives — woefully understaffed, given our homicide rate.) Standard operating procedure is to remote-detonate suspicious devices.
posted by cribcage at 12:04 PM on February 1, 2007


Why would a bomb have bright lights on it?
posted by drezdn at 12:05 PM on February 1, 2007


Also, there are 17 people on the Boston Bomb Squad.
posted by drezdn at 12:08 PM on February 1, 2007


I'd like to hear you clearly explain why the placement of this advertisement would matter.

I believe I already have, several times. Throw in the fact that it's a stupid question to begin with, and I'm done addressing that point.

Why would a bomb have bright lights on it?

According to the Boston Globe:
For much of the day, police treated the signs, which measure about 1 by 1 1/2 feet and feature protruding wires on one side, as potentially dangerous. But their investigation shifted when they happened to move one of the signs into a darker area. The sudden lack of sunlight prompted the lights forming the character's image to brighten into color. Sometime between 2 and 3 p.m., according to a public safety official, a Boston police analyst recognized the image as a cartoon character, and police concluded it was likely a publicity stunt.
They were contacted by Turner Broadcasting about 90 minutes later.
posted by cribcage at 12:09 PM on February 1, 2007


"Why would a bomb have bright lights on it?"

So it can blow your mind.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:15 PM on February 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Many cities don't have a single person that well-trained on their bomb squad. "

"That well trained" meaning able to recognize a bomb from a simple electronic device whose components are all visible? Where's all the homeland security money going again? Obviously not to training in threat assessment.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on February 1, 2007


Best news conference ever.

I'm disappointed they never got around to the mullet myself...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:27 PM on February 1, 2007


The "Grown-ups" in this unfolding comedy of errors are looking stoopider and stoopider. R. Crumb's iconic Whiteman strip comes to mind: "I must maintain this rigid position or all is lost!"
posted by Scoo at 12:55 PM on February 1, 2007


Well, it had batteries and wires, and in daylight the lite brite stuff probably didn't show too well. I dig that, and I dig that could be considered a potential threat. A 1 in 10 freak-out, as happened here, seems to me to suggest the problem is the smarts and or stones of the guy with the red 'panic' button in Boston, versus the other 9.

Worth investigating, not worth shutting infrastructure down or charging a "$750,000" bill. I’m saddened that they have chose to continue to barrel down this path, and not own up to being short on one of the two necessary qualities of leadership mentioned above. I imagine Turner, wanting to be good corporate citizen, will end up compensating them somehow in private. Shenanigans.

No, no, not shenanigans. A wicked pisser.
posted by cavalier at 12:58 PM on February 1, 2007


Currently redlined on the City of Boston's home page:
Statement from Mayor Menino

First, I want to congratulate the Boston Police Department and all the public safety agencies for responding in a coordinated effort today. As most of you know, there were reports of nine suspicious packages found throughout the city and area earlier today. At this time there is no reason to be alarmed. The coordinated response by all departments proves the system we have in place works. Today, my Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Boston Police Department shared intelligence with the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, Boston Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, Massachusetts State Police, ATF and FBI and we will continue to do so whenever necessary.

It is outrageous, in a post 9/11 world, that a company would use this type of marketing scheme. I am prepared to take any and all legal action against Turner Broadcasting and its affiliates for any and all expenses incurred during the response to today’s incidents. Boston will look to coordinate our efforts going forward with Cambridge, Somerville and any other affected agencies.
According to the Department of Homeland Security report, Homeland Security Grant Program Allocations FY 2006PDF, Massachusetts received $41,246,241 and the Boston urban area $18,210,000.
posted by cenoxo at 1:04 PM on February 1, 2007


That is obsence. Turner Broadcasting isn't at fault for your freakout.
posted by agregoli at 1:19 PM on February 1, 2007


In a news conference, Rich told reporters he had advised his clients not to discuss the incident. Stevens and Berdovsky took the podium and said they were taking questions only about haircuts in the 1970s.

Hilarity ensues.
posted by signalnine at 1:31 PM on February 1, 2007


Is it me, or are these two sort of rocking an updated Jobs and Woz look?
posted by Scoo at 1:40 PM on February 1, 2007


So they were placed in like 9 other cities and nobody else freaked out?

I blame idiots in Boston, not Time Warner.
posted by b_thinky at 1:47 PM on February 1, 2007


Perhaps the best thing about that faux news conference is, despite the idiot journalists shouted comments about how they're not making themselves sympathetic, is how not taking this seriously really is the best move:

If the last several years, and the musings of the Daily Show and Colbert, have taught us anything it is the power of truthiness. For their own selfish, petty, and pathetic reasons the journalists and news channels are, like the government itself, using loaded terms like "hoax" to frame this entire subject as if it were deadly serious. Using these words, taking on serious tones, all leads people to groupthink into believing "Well, with all this smoke..."

The best countermove then is for those being accused to act as if any reasonable person would conclude this is all a Bonfire of the Vanities, a silly concoction of the media and police department. It is to put out their own nonchalant truthiness that is expressed in this post, that of course this is a ridiculous kangaroo justice system and it's complete bollocks.

In other words, if the two dudes were to act all serious, they'd only reinforce the notion that they did something wrong, or that these charges were anything but completely ludicrous and unfounded. By acting as if the charges are bunk, as if anyone in the know understands- like on this thread- that this is all silliness, they are doing their small part to propagate a counter-meme, a "truthiness judo", to demonstrate that the real fault lies with Menino and his city employees' overreaction to this case.
posted by hincandenza at 1:48 PM on February 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ooh let's compare and contrast reactions! This coffee shop is not too far from me and I go there every now and then – maybe I'll get to see one of the nefarious devices in person.

Also of note, the list of other cities where the Mooninites can be found. Oh dear, New York's one of 'em. You know what this means, don't you? Yes. It's true. Mayor Curley's never gonna be able to show his face here again.
posted by furiousthought at 1:53 PM on February 1, 2007


that press conference is a thing of beauty. What better indictment of the absurd overreaction of the government and the media than these two artists calmly discussing hairstyles from the seventies, while finger wagging reporters try to force a sound byte.
posted by subtle_squid at 1:54 PM on February 1, 2007


Go Mass Art! My Alma Mater (had I not dropped out)!
posted by Scoo at 2:00 PM on February 1, 2007


hincandenza, you are my hero with that post. EXACTLY RIGHT.
posted by agregoli at 2:25 PM on February 1, 2007


From BPDNews, more information on the events yesterday:
At 6:53 a.m. DHS reported that a Washington D.C. Metro station was closed down due to a suspicious package.
At 8:52 a.m. DHS notified Law Enforcement officials that at least 4 people were being treated at a post office after being overcome by fumes emanating from a package at a post office in New York City.
At 12:54 p.m. the Boston Police Bomb squad receives a call for a suspicious device at the intersection of Stuart and Charles Street. That device appears similar to the first device containing batteries, wires, magnets and other components similar to the device in Sullivan Square. Using approved procedures the item is photographed, X-rayed and eventually rendered safe.

Six minutes later at 1:02 p.m. Boston Police received a call from New England Medical Center Security that they had uncovered a pipe bomb in their building in a desk drawer. Shortly thereafter Hospital Security reported that a suspect had been seen leaving the area of the pipe bomb in an agitated state stating “God is warning you that today is going to be a sad Day”. The suspect was reported to have fled the hospital. Boston Police continue to investigate this incident. No further details at this time.

At 1:08 p.m. the Boston Police Bomb Squad arrived and confirmed the existence of an item which appeared to be a pipe bomb inside the hospital.

posted by mkb at 2:28 PM on February 1, 2007


more on the fake pipe bombs
posted by caddis at 2:33 PM on February 1, 2007


A major metropolitan area was brought to its knees by LEDs. The goal of terrorism isn't to conquer militarily, but to cow the populace with an overinflated sense of danger.

Do we all agree that this means the terrorists have won and the Homeland Security Department is one of the biggest wastes of tax dollars in human history?
posted by mullingitover at 2:36 PM on February 1, 2007


As Boston Reeled, Was Artist Asked to Keep Quiet?
"One of the two men charged in connection with the advertising campaign that turned into a terror scare was asked to keep quiet as the stunt sent the city of Boston into chaos, according to two fellow artists who provided ABC News with an e-mail from the man supporting their claim.

….friends and fellow artists Toshi Hoo and Travis Vautour said it's not Berdovsky and Stevens who should take the fall for this.

According to Hoo and Vautour, the New York-based guerilla marketing firm, Interference Inc., which was running the advertising campaign in Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia, asked Berdovsky to keep his involvement quiet as the event was playing out.

‘We received an e-mail in the early afternoon from Peter that asked the community that he's a part of to keep any information we had on the down low and that was instructed to him by whoever his boss was in this advertising campaign gone wrong,’ Vautour said. ‘I don't know if it was for security reasons or it was to buy them some time or to buy Peter some time.’

In an e-mail obtained by ABC News sent from Berdovsky to Hoo at 1:26 p.m. Wednesday, the artist writes, ‘My boss at the Cartoon Network's ad agency just called — she is asking that I pretty please keep everything on the dl [down low; quiet].’ The e-mail, supplied by Hoo, contains a large swath of blacked-out text that he claims contained personal information he'd rather not share.

No one at Interference Inc. answered the phone or responded to requests for comment on the authenticity of the e-mail, and the company's Web site appears to be down.

Shirley Powell, a spokesperson for Turner Broadcasting, said she was unaware of the e-mail and that it was ‘nothing I've heard.’ Powell said that at this point the company had no comment on the e-mail or allegations Berdovsky was asked to keep quiet."
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on February 1, 2007


One small thing we could do to make the world a better place is to punch anyone who uses a variation of "in a post 9/11 world" in a non-joking manner.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 3:20 PM on February 1, 2007


A few moments ago, upon leaving the courthouse, Stevens and Berdovsky stopped to make an official statement and then began to blather nonsensically about "hairstyles of the '70s".

It is being reported that they used their mike time to do some "guerilla marketing" for another Adult Swim cartoon -- Perfect Hair Day.
posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on February 1, 2007


Schneier on Security, "Refuse to be terrorized, people!"
posted by cenoxo at 3:57 PM on February 1, 2007


I am looking forward to The Daily Shows' take on this event.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:07 PM on February 1, 2007


I am looking forward to The Daily Shows' take on this event.

And 'Saturday Night Live's."
posted by ericb at 4:14 PM on February 1, 2007


Why would a terrorist go to the trouble and expense of building a nuclear weapon when all he has to do to cause the media and the police to get whipped up into a froth for a day is go to Radio Shack and buy a battery and some wires?
posted by MegoSteve at 4:36 PM on February 1, 2007


I am looking forward to The Daily Shows' take on this event.

I'm waiting for Boston Legal, myself.
posted by aaronetc at 4:54 PM on February 1, 2007


Many Young Bostonians Think City Overreacted ...

Selected excerpts:
“‘Tracy O’Connor, 34, a retail manager, called the police response ‘silly and insane,’ contrasting it with that in other cities where no one reported concerns about the devices — an advertising gimmick for the Cartoon Network show ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force.’

‘We’re the laughingstock,’ she said.

-------

‘....Just a little over a mile away from the placement of the first device, a group of terrorists boarded airplanes and launched an attack on New York City,’ police Commissioner Edward Davis said in an interview with The Associated Press.

-------

‘The devices didn’t prompt calls of concern in any of the nine other cities where Turner said the devices were placed. Police in the other cities fanned out to find and remove them after Boston’s scare.

....Most of Boston’s colleagues in law enforcement in the other cities chose their words carefully.

‘I wouldn’t want to give my opinion, but in today’s world it’s better safe than sorry. Someone (in Boston) clearly thought there was a threat,’ Atlanta police Officer Joe Cobb said.

In the Seattle area, authorities thought the devices were ‘obviously not suspicious.’

‘In this day and age, whenever anything remotely suspicious shows up, people get concerned — and that’s good,’ King County sheriff’s Sgt. John Urquhart said. ‘However, people don’t need to be concerned about this. These are cartoon characters giving the finger.’”
posted by ericb at 5:11 PM on February 1, 2007


Tech Promo Stunts Gone Haywire -- "The 'toon-inspired bomb scare in Boston brings to mind earlier goofs, from PSP street art to Microsoft butterflies."
posted by ericb at 5:14 PM on February 1, 2007




The devices didn’t prompt calls of concern in any of the nine other cities where Turner said the devices were placed.

I bet lots of money that one of the prosecution's first moves will be to block any mention of how these devices were perceived in the other cities. Mefi lawyers, any idea what a valid legal reason for that would be?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:54 PM on February 1, 2007


"We're not getting the feedback we need from you guys...I'm sorry, that's not a hair question."

Smile of the Week
posted by jaronson at 6:42 PM on February 1, 2007


I'm in Philly, I saw one of these on a wall across from my apartment building the other night. I didn't get a good look as I walked by & I wondered what it was. I was going to check it out the next morning, but by then it was gone. Now I wish I'd taken the time to take a closer look. Sniff.
posted by scalefree at 8:16 PM on February 1, 2007




So in the end I'm guessing their justification is the Boston guys were just really terrrorific in their picking of 'obvious landmarks' and the rest of the cities just picked street corners and coffee shop doors?

Fear pervades Boston. Terrorists 1, Civilians 0!
posted by cavalier at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2007


Feds may sue over movie-marketing gimmick
" Federal prosecutors have said they may sue Paramount Pictures and the Los Angeles Times over a film promotion last year in which digital devices planted in news racks were mistaken for bombs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda A. Kontos accused the companies of acting 'carelessly in executing the promotional campaign by planting a device that could be mistaken for a bomb in a United States government building post-9/11,' the Times reported Thursday.

The threat of prosecution was reported a day after Boston officials found 38 blinking electronic signs promoting the Cartoon Network TV show 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force' across the city. Authorities are investigating whether Cartoon Network parent Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc., a unit of Time Warner Inc., or other companies should be criminally charged.

Last April, Paramount, which is owned by Viacom Inc., placed the devices in 4,500 Times news racks around Los Angeles that played the iconic movie theme music for 'Mission: Impossible III' whenever the door was opened. Some people thought they were bombs and reported them to police."
posted by ericb at 10:57 AM on February 2, 2007


That is very big of Turner Broadcasting - and a nice way to prevent elderly Bostonians from turning off TNT - but I still think Boston's politicians and media were ultimately more responsible for this. Are they going to admit any wrongdoing over this? Probably not. Thus, it is important that the rest of us never forget the Aqua Teen Two.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:05 PM on February 2, 2007


So obviously the Bad Guys could now make a pipe bomb look like a cartoon character, and the "Art Guys" could make a cartoon character that looks like a pipe bomb. Problem solved!
posted by davy at 2:18 PM on February 2, 2007




OMG, the insanity!
MEMO: CARTOON NETWORK PRESIDENT RESIGNS OVER BOSTON BOMB SCARE BLUNDER
Fri Feb 9 2007 13:56:11 ET



To: Colleagues
From: Jim Samples

I am sure you are aware of recent events in which a component of an Adult Swim marketing campaign made Turner Broadcasting the unintended focus of controversy in Boston and around the world. I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign. As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch. It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages. As for me, there will be new professional challenges ahead that will make the most of the experiences I've had as part of this remarkable company. Through my 13 years at the company I have found myself continuously in awe of the talented artists and business people surrounding me, from those who realize their vision in creating a cartoon to those who so brilliantly deliver the animation to viewers. I will always cherish the experience of having worked with you. I appreciate the support that you have shown me. As a friend and a fan, I also look forward to seeing your best and most personally fulfilling work yet. Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and each of you deserve nothing less.
(via Drudge - link is temporary)
posted by caddis at 12:08 PM on February 9, 2007


MSNBC link
posted by caddis at 12:14 PM on February 9, 2007


Yeah, this just ads a whole other layer of moronitude to the situation. A real shame.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:40 PM on February 9, 2007


« Older Clever little shit   |   ...but size doesn't matter. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post