Lightbrights, Incompetence, Tradeoffs, Blablabla

I wonder if the particular nature of Boston roads had anything to do with it being the only city in which all hell broke loose in response to the mooninites. In my experience, it's hard enough to merely drive from one place to another in Boston, but if you further shut down one major road, everything backs up. There are fewer "degrees of freedom" in Boston. In other cities, perhaps traffic would've been more easily re-routed, but when the entire city's traffic is slowed down, people panic.

One of the arguments I keep hearing defending the Boston authorities' actions goes something like this -

Suppose the devices had been bombs, what then? Would you still be complaining? What does a bomb look like anyway?

The problem with this argument is that it makes the word "bomb" meaningless. Surely we can't expect authorities to block off the roads and stop the trains to check out every single object that exists. There have to be at least some constraints as to what could potentially be a bomb, some minimal set of features that narrow the concept of "object" down to "potential bomb". What I find most shocking about this incident is that the object in question - and granted I'm not a bomb expert - looks absolutely nothing like a bomb. It looks like a light bright.

Kudos to Keith Olbermann. Out of all the television pundits I watched last night, only Olberman brought up the idea that perhaps the Boston city officials are at fault for over-reaction.

The other problem with the argument is that it sees safety, not as a tradeoff, but rather as an on-off switch. By this logic, we're either "safe" or "not safe". If we're "not safe", then we must shut down large cities until we are "safe". The public will sooner or later have to realize that safety is a continuum with resulting tradeoffs and tolerances with regard to practicality and convenience. False-negatives, not just false-positives, are unavoidable.

If literally anything is a bomb, we may as well shut down every single city in the US to investigate every single neon light in America. We might as well surrender to the Islamists right now. Ma'as salaam Western civilization. We can't distinguish between a Lightbright and a bomb. You win. Bring on the caliphate.

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