The Lite-Brite Boys might have a recommendation for a lawyer

So this college student goes up to a counter at Logan with a blinking circuit board strapped to her chest and a blob of unidentifiable material ...

"She claims that it was just art and she was proud of the art and wanted to display it. I am not sure why she had the Play-Doh in her hands. She could not explain that," Pare said.

Channel 4 has more:

Simpson was "extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare said. "She's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."

Except she wasn't wearing a hoax bomb. Joshua Glenn explains how she was basically wearing a light-up sweatshirt. The DA's office, of course, begs to differ.

Bonus: She's an MIT student who, according to her overloaded Web site (thanks, Google Cache) lets us know:

... I love to build things and I love crazy ideas. ... I lived for a long time in Hawaii, while traveling the world and saving the planet from evil villains with my delivered-just-in-time gadgets.

More on what she likes to build.

Simpson was released on $750 bail this morning after her arraignment in East Boston District Court on a single count of "possession of a hoax device." The Suffolk County District Attorney's office had asked bail be set at $5,000. She's due to return to court Oct. 29 for a pre-trial hearing.

There's got to be more to this story, though, right?



    Free tagging: 


    play d'oh!

    By on

    Now I can use my bad wordplay :)

    Wicked smahhhht at MIT, huh?

    First they set the Charles River on fire
    with sodium and injure a bunch of eco-volunteers,
    then they shutdown a major metropolitan airport
    at machine-gun point...

    Oh, those zany college cut-ups.

    Wonder what they're working on in the MIT
    Nuclear Reactor Lab these days?

    My mom's line

    By on

    I think I should get my mom to call her up and scream


    That epic screech is certainly far more appropriate in this case than it was for most of my adolescent meanderings.

    Only in Boston

    By Harry on

    The perfect headline for this post, adam!

    Where else could this happen besides Boston? At Berkeley months or years ago perhaps, but it lacks an airport.

    Hoax devices

    By on

    Joe Keohane makes a good point: That it's only a hoax device if she claimed it was a bomb, which she apparently didn't, in which case, why is she being charged with possession of one?

    Devil's Advocate

    By on

    If someone walks into someplace carrying a round black object with a fuse - something that looks like a bomb - would they have to announce that it's a bomb? I assume there are many configurations for bombs that don't fit the carttoon norm. So, if it looked like a bomb to the security personnel...

    Or, we could come at it from the other end: What if a person without vocal cords walks into someplace carrying the round black object? They can't possibly announce that it's a bomb, so can they be charged?


    Yep, I just looked up "hoax device" in the Mass. General Laws

    By on

    Our legislators thought of that:

    Although the opening paragraph of the law refers to "the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons," the second paragraph adds:

    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.

    In other words, if a state trooper thinks your geeky, quirky little blinking light sculpture and object d'Play-Doh is a "hoax device" and a "hoax substance," then you can be arrested.


    By on

    Thanks, Adam.

    I can't say that the thought of someone mistaking, say, my cigarette lighter for an infernal device, and then being able to arrest me, is particularly comforting. Oh, well. I suppose that's why we have courts - to sort out the ridiculous from the plausible in cases like these.



    By on

    That would be where the "reasonable man" theory comes into play: I would think a state trooper claiming your cigarette lighter was an "infernal device" would be laughed out of court - unless you were flicking it next to a large black sphere with a rope coming out of the top ...

    Sadly, no, unfounded

    By on

    Sadly, no, unfounded paranoia doesn't get laughed out of court. Instead, the cops say that you can't be too careful these days, and judges nod and frown seriously. False alarms are routinely being turned into criminal cases, because nobody in law enforcement is willing to accept that false alarms sometimes happen without somebody trying to make them happen.

    State or Federal?

    By on

    Mooninites certainly fell under state law - but what about airports? Aren't airport offenses under federal jurisdiction?

    I agree that intent is sketchy in Ms. Simpson's case, as it was in mooninite times, but the federal law might be her problem here.

    She was outside the TSA areas

    By on

    Hence the staties and the arraignment in East Boston District Court - she was actually taken down (submachines drawn and all) outside the terminal, according to Channel 4.

    Paging Ron Newman!

    By on

    Oh holey Swiss cheese, she isn't a Stud House rush?

    If she's doing the warm showers/couch adverts, I'd be a little concerned if she is!

    I wouldn't know...

    I haven't been actively in touch with the house or the alumni corporation in several years.

    Had to ask

    By on

    Me either - but since MITSH is the only coed house in the Back Bay ...

    Maybe she's a ghost brother at TEP? That would seem to be more her speed, and they are known to admit women and lie to their chartering organization about it.


    By on

    It's about hair. All about the hair. She's got enough hair experiments going on across all the different news item pics for at least one if not half-a-dozen press conferences!

    Oh, please let her be going out with Berdovsky!

    By on

    In any case, this comment just in from Japan Grown Masshole Wannabe:

    ... She is engineering major. Having read that she likes robots, I suspect that she is an anime fan. And also I suspect that what she was wearing commemorated some futuristic robot-ish(cyborg-ish even) stuff. ...

    MIT admits idiots

    By on

    W. David Stephenson fumes - before heading off to a shuffleboard match at the old-age home:

    Shades of last winter's Adult Swim controversy in the Hub of the Universe, which revealed a generational divide between those of us who pay mortgages and snot-nosed kids (bring on those snarky responses, boys and girls ...) over what is and isn't funny in the age of terrorism. ...

    he's too young for her

    By on

    Did anybody see the Globe photos? Yikes - boyfriend looks to be closer to 40 than 20!

    I know, I know - she's 19 and old enough to decide about these things but ya gotta wonder.

    Throw the book at her, she says

    By on

    Seraphic Single has had enough:

    ... How selfish and thoughtless! Star has probably ripped open the 9/11 wounds of Boston. Meanwhile, my own rage about Boston, both its academia and the way people there treat strangers, has boiled up again. Yes, Mum. I took my pill.

    Stupid AP

    By on

    JMac bristles at an AP report that calls her "a co-ed" and puts "art" in quotes and calls it "a fake bomb:"

    There was no fake bomb. It was a sweatshirt modified to have a light-up message, and by all accounts one that the person frequently wore. But every other headline is saying the same thing, and such was the best general knowledge in the first few moments after the arrest, so I can give this a reluctant pass. I'll be pissed if it sez this in tomorrow's print newspapers, though.

    Her name is STAR!! That

    By on

    Her name is STAR!!

    That should act as a big huge warning to anyone who comes into contact with her.

    and you're name is ASSHAT,

    By on

    and you're name is ASSHAT, and somehow you found out how to use the tubes.

    want a cookie?

    Oh, Sure It Is

    By on

    Oh, sure, it's legal to walk around with Play Doh. I'm not trying to take away anyone's fun with pliable gooshy glop. I'm just saying that, given the other circumstances, it wasn't unreasonable for some slightly-paranoid TSA to assume it might have been plastic explosives or something.


    The Play-doh

    Maybe it's left over sodium (described
    in the MIT Tech as "piece of taffy-like substance")
    from that other EXCELLENT idea, setting the
    Charles River on fire.

    And here we were all naively thinking that those
    September U-Hauls threatened only the bridges on
    Storrow Drive.

    The word from Slashdot (I think it was) ...

    ... is that Ms.Simpson used a foam-like paint on her shirt, and that the police referred to the paint as "putty". In other words, she paints the shirt, she gets a spot of paint on her hands, the police decide that paint is now "putty" and the paintspot left over because somebody didn't have any turpentine on hand is a ball of the stuff? I can't picture somebody walking around with an actual ball of dried paint, but the commentary gets a little vague on that point.

    I've tried to confirm that with outside sources, but haven't found any yet, so take this with a grain of salt, but if so, what we're seeing is Pare puffing a report about an incident which, if honestly portrayed, would make him look incredibly bad. That the LED device Simpson was wearing did not look like a bomb is beyond serious debate, and so Pare would have a clear incentive to engage in the use of spin.

    Even before 9/11

    By on

    She would have attracted attention. Even as a MIT grad who understands what she had there (and understands that wires and putty can be explosive, with leds in a star pattern or no).

    Can you sniff the difference between craft foam and putty? At a glance? Can you visually analyze the wiring that may be behind the little star thingy? Really?

    Let's look at some history. There are two types of people who blow themselves up in airports: terrorists and delusional nutjobs.

    Both existed before 9/11/01. Someone with a visible device involving electronics and putty which may/not be a bomb would have been flagged and confronted well before that magic infamous date.

    I'm sure the tech community would love us to know that "all tech men carry batteries" and are all really harmless. Tough shit. Not everybody can be expected to analyze wiring and sniff putty and *know* that it is harmless at a glance. She looked strange, acted strange, and had a strange thing on her that visually evoked an explosive devise.

    It is soooooo much easier to look at a photo for hours, once the "device" has been declared harmless and *know* that it was okay and then cry WAHHHHH THEY BE STUPID NORMLZ! You can pick this apart and "inform" everybody in "that nasty little real world full of stupid people who don't know what circuit boards look like blah blah blah" that we are all just paranoid and stupid all you like, but the bottom line is that at a glance SHE LOOKED LIKE A NUTJOB WITH A BOMB! She would have stimulated a security response in any large public gathering long before 9/11 because people with wires hanging off of them and playing with putty like substances were known to blow themselves up in public places to make a grand point to their delusions or their oppressors, and take bystanders along for the ride.

    Got it? Good.

    but ...

    A letter in today's Boston Globe points out that a shop at San Jose airport sells "a full array of printed circuit boards as billfolds, hairclips, wallets, notebooks, and clipboards."

    If you can buy this stuff in an airport, why can't you wear it there?

    Loony Factor 9.5

    By on

    Believe me you, that hairclip wouldn't make it through security without a good solid xray either. I've had to circle around and retry with even a standard sort of brown one, let alone anything detailed or fancy.

    I think one with wires and batteries hanging off of it would be more of an issue. The point I'm making is that she looked like the classic self-destructive lunatic, pre or post-9/11. Looking at pictures for hours is easy - seeing somebody like this, who isn't even responding to questions at first try, is a very different reality.

    "Loony" bombers classicly strap unidentifyable wires and batteries to their chests. They look somewhat disoriented and act strange when questioned.

    I think it is painfully stupid that she was charged with a crime. I think it is painfully stupid that the idiot staties made comments about "we could've killed her, yup, but she be a good girl for us".

    I also think it is painfully stupid that defensive geeks are derisively second-guessing actions taken based on her visual presentation and historical experience because they have had the luxury of time to look at it and knowledge that it was already declared innocuous. That isn't even close to the way that the question "how should they have responded?" should be answered, given the lacking knowledge and appearance and known hazards.

    Yes, people do build bombs with walkmans and other things people carry into airports every day. That isn't the point. The point is that she showed up at an airport with electronics on her chest, putty-like substance, and somewhat unresponsive to inquiry, placing her firmly within the possibility of being a danger.

    I disagree. It looked

    By on

    I disagree. It looked innocuous to me from the beginning. I never thought it ever looked like a bomb, and I never would have thought it was anything but some homemade jewelry at first glance. This seems to me a situation that obviously got out of control..first because the counter lady probably said something provocative like.."I think she might have a bomb" and secondly when it was apparent that they overreacted...they made up trumped up charges to make it look like they didn't overreact.

    Facts are: 1)Star Simpson is not terrorist. She is an MIT student with a unique taste in jewelry.

    2)Star Simpson did not violate any rules. She did not have a bomb or the constituents of a bomb. She never claimed to have a bomb and DID respond and say it was "Art"

    The police made all the mistakes here, It is they who judged her blinking jewelry dangerous (wrong). and WORST it was they who arrested her for having said jewelry. They made a mistake. They should have apologized and tried to learn something. Instead they make up charges and try to cover their asses and make some innocent girl pay for their potentially lethal ignorance.

    I have a friend with an insulin machine and a colostomy bag. So he's got electronics taped to his chest. putty like (actually shit) bag taped to his abdomen.

    So it looks A LOT more like a bomb than Star Simpsons. So should he expect that lethal force is reasonable if he happens to walk into an airport and ask about a flight? Is he "asking for it" like so many of you seem to think.

    if the police killed you think it would be reasonable?

    And my second guessing their use of lethal force is unreasonable?

    You seem to think that once a cop decides to use lethal force, he is automatically in the right...even when he is later shown to be wrong. That's crazy. He was wrong. He should admit it and learn something to prevent further tragedy

    Can I just take a second to

    By on

    Can I just take a second to ask what ever happened to the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE


    Captain Hindsight to the Rescue

    By on

    If you have a better idea on how this should have been handled given historical perspective and knowledge available at the time, I'd love to hear it.

    I really don't have a

    By on

    I really don't have a problem with how it was initially handled (except for the asshole cop's statement, which is rather scary when you realize a good number of cops are out there to bust some sculls with their state sanctioned authoritah).

    I do have a problem with how the media, and later the authorities, handled it and our obviously trying to save face. The media has a field day, and to make themselves look oh so important and sane, the authorities act all serious and use this this poor girl as a scape goat.

    What they should do is hold a press conference to state they resided on the side of caution and determined the device was nothing more then a light up shirt from a geeky MIT freshman. It's not a hoax devise and there seemed to be no intent to alarm or harm anyone. this is happened in other airports and jurisdiction since 9/11, but the cops in this city seem to be the only one's overreacting once the situation is under control.

    Is that so hard?

    Instead the authorities think this is an embarrassment (which I don't think it is), and are trying to save face while ruining this girls life. Let just say it doesn't speak highly of them.

    I also have a problem with this incessant fear that's around. Look, we live in this place called the world, and it's dangerous. Fact be told, it's less dangerous then when my grandparents grew up, and yet we obsess over the stuff that has the rarest ability to effect our lives. I have a better chance of being killed in a car crash then from terrorism. Does that mean we should regulate the hell out of the auto industry and police the highways with much stricter standards? Hell, I'm more likely to have a plane crash effect me personally.

    I think we all need to err or the side of caution, but keep our heads on and keep reality in perspective. Random bag searching and profiling at airports is never going to work and will always nab people like Star, who mean no harm. No need to then run them through the drier for being absentminded.

    I disagree

    By on

    Terminal? Checkpoint? What does that have to do with anything? Airport security isn't only about finding people before they blow up planes. Somebody entering North Station or Fenway Park or Symphony Hall would have raised similar concerns.

    She was just in a crowded public place, exhibiting equipment and behavior associated with acts which lead to self or other damage - e.g. blowing oneself up for whatever reason (psychosis or terrorism). Now that more information is available, it turns out she was an oblivious mumbling student with a toy. This doesn't change the fact of her initial appearance an behavior.

    I have a friend with a

    By on

    I have a friend with a colostomy bag and an insulin machine, so he has:

    A putty like substance (shit) taped to his abdomen. Electronics (insulin machine) on his body.

    Is he asking for it? Should he carry a sign "I am not carrying a bomb"?

    As far as her raising concerns, I have traveled around the world for work as an engineer fixing industrial electronics and on occasion, have carried led's and prototype equipment and NEVER had guns pointed at me. This was the result of a chain of mistakes and overreactions by the authorities and ought to be treated as such. If you still think she was some sort of alqaeda operative sent to terrorize the people in the terminal, then I suggest you check your medication.

    JEESY PEESY. They made a mistake. She wasn't a terrorist. Sometimes the police make mistakes. It's how they deal with it that shows their character. Charging Miss Simpson with being some sort of terrorist showed me that these guys can't admit they were wrong. I think that sort of irresponsibility just shows that they shouldn't be trusted with a gun.

    Defensive Geeks

    By on

    Could at least point out that the blockish beige item in question is a reusable breadboard, not a circuit board, which would be a flat green printed/soldered thing, not easily reusable.

    If people want to go all second-guessy on the cops and ridicule them for their supposed lack of technical knowledge, then perhaps they should try to manifest some technical knowledge themselves.

    In my humble yet professional opinion (in my real life, I analyze the performance of explosives detection systems), the police may have overreacted, but they did not act incorrectly. Anybody walking around an airport in a daze holding what appear to be all the necessary components of a bomb (battery, detonator, explosive) in plain view should be stopped and interrogated.

    It might seem fun to some to ridicule policemen for overreacting. But, really, they're not trying to be mean. They're just trying to protect people. It should make all of us feel safer to note their diligence... unless we are in the habit of walking around airports with playdoh, batteries, and breadboards glued to our shirts.

    Can't tell bombs from bottled water?

    By on

    Huh..."The police may have overreacted but did not act incorrectly" mean that "the police overreacted and did act correctly"?

    I think that's actually the crux of the matter- That you and far too many others seem to think that overreaction is perfectly correct.

    Do you know that in Iraq, carrying a roll of wire is considered reason enough to shoot someone? Do you really want the same thing here? Someone walking out of autozone and gunned down for a spool of car wire? Can't you see that there is such a thing as "too much security"

    I suppose you can glibbly make fun of a kid with a duracell as asking for it, but what happens when you are the one they gun down?.. Maybe forgetting your bottled water in your brief case..Maybe a toothpaste tube in your quivering hand?

    Won't be so funny then will it.

    - but were asking for it

    Repeat after me: Battery, Detonator, Explosive

    By on

    This strange random post of yours seems like the product of a disordered or confused mind. Or perhaps one that just woke up and needs another cup of coffee to think straight.

    Bottled Water? Iraq? What do those topics have to do with the problems one does, and should, face, if s/he walks around an airport in a daze with a battery, a breadboard, and a ball of playdoh?

    What happens when I'm the one they gun down? Well, I'm unlikely to be the one they gun down, because I'm not stupid enough to walk around an airport in a daze carrying things that resemble the three constituent elements of an IED.

    That's right: Battery, Detonator, Explosive.

    As for your scattershot topics, I certainly don't want the US to become more like Iraq - I would very much like the opposite.

    Also, I really would like for airplane passengers to be allowed to carry on bottles of water. I don't think that prohibition makes much technical sense. It's true that the scanners we use today can't tell water from Hydrogen Peroxide, but the H02 doesn't really pose a serious threat - try compounding explosives in an airport bathroom and you're more likely to get a fizzle than a boom.

    But things have been blown up and are likely to be blown up in the future. And one of the things the TSA and police do is try to protect you from being blown up. One way they do that is by paying attention to people who act strangely in airports. By now even the specialest little snowflake of an MIT student should learn that you shouldn't walk around an airport carrying objects resembling an IED.

    Can you remember what those are now?

    Yes, Anonymous, there is such a thing as too much security. But stopping some dingbat in a daze who is walking around an airport with a wired breadboard, a battery, and a ball of playdoh is not too much security.

    Repeat after me??? Battery +

    By on

    Repeat after me??? Battery + Switch + Possible Explosive?

    So do you have a Cell Phone? That's got a battery and a switch? Ever carry a cell phone and some bottled water? There you go. You are now a possible terrorist..Just go ahead and turn yourself in to Boston's finest.

    Face haven't really thought it through. Your 3 point arrest procedure would include just about everyone, with a coke (liquid) and a laptop.

    Now I'm sure your little mind doesn't see it that way..and knows that somehow the switch and battery MUST be different in the cell phone..because..well they look different, and every 5 year old knows that homemade looking stuff is bad.

    I know people with little minds are scared of the the big bad world, and thinking makes your head hurt..........

    -[TSA] ..oh mommy..she looks different..she's got blinking lights..I'm scared..Mr policeman protect me from the different smart woman with the lights.. ohh..she says it's art...I'm scared of that too..Please arrest her mr policeman..I've got a bad feeling about her...I think she might be a witch even.

    -[POLICE] Don't worry little lady..bad feelings are never wrong! I'll save you from the bad lady with the scary lights. We didn't tolerate her kind back in Galileo's day and we aren't going to start now.


    -[Star]'s just a blinking nametag..see LED.. Battery,...just basic 4th grade electricity...

    -[POLICE] Shut up! I don't have time to reason with terrorists like you. I could tell instantly that you were up to no good.

    -[TSA] ooohh My hero...why can't everyone just dress like everyone else..That way we can tell who's good and bad just by looking at them!

    -[POLICE] With all my training, I sense evil in an instant! (Here's a trick - I look real careful and see how close their eyes are together!) That's how I pick which president to vote for too!

    -[TSA] she was asking for it by dressing different..She must be a real bitch. Thank you mr policeman

    -[POLICE] Just doing my job ma'am

    By the way..your "dingbat in a daze" somehow managed to get into MIT. I'd imagine her only real crime is overestimating everyone else's intelligence

    I feel sorry for you

    By on

    You're kind of funny, but if you don't want to educate yourself, you'll never know much.

    I hadn't intended to give another lesson about IEDs, but here goes.

    Yes, brave Anonymous, cell phones
    be used to trigger IEDs. They are used to trigger quite a few IEDs., because they're so convenient. Just call them to set off the bomb!

    If you want to test the theory that cell phones can look like detonators, then next time you fly, tape your cell phone to a large organic mass such as a brick of cheese or chocolate or a jar of peanut butter and run that through the scanner. For more fun, place an attached metallic object directly into the organic mass. Your bag will be opened, you will be asked some questions, and then you can do a little comedy riff about how stupid all the pigs are. Warning: this may result in you being next week's stupid idiot who gets arrested or shot.

    As for "my 3-point arrest procedure," well, it's really not mine, nor is it an arrest procedure. Those are the three basic parts of an IED, and those are the three things the TSA is looking for when they scan your luggage (in addition to the silly bottled water diversion). But feel free not to learn that today, or any day. Knowledge is the enemy!

    As I have mentioned in

    By on

    As I have mentioned in another comment: I have a friend with a colostomy bag and and insulin pump. It looks a lot more like a bomb than what Star Simpson had. it also fits your IED profile. Putty bag around the abdomen..electronics and wires going in the general vicinity..(but not connected). The pump device is usually in his pocket, and the wires (tubes actually) go into his abdomen..

    He had rectal cancer, and now has cancer spots near his liver and has had a few months of chemotherapy. So sometimes he seems a little out of it...He looks about 50, and he has always had a "buzz" type military haircut. (He was in the airforce)

    This is a real person, by the way. He is a retired chemist who worked with my dad 30 years ago and a long time friend of my family and I see him often.

    So imagine he walks into an airport..asks for a flight and the lady sees some wires coming out of his pocket and under his shirt and asks: "what is that?". and he doesn't hear..sometimes he doesn't hear so good and walks away.

    The lady motions to the police..."come here...I think he might have a bomb...". The security man get on the radio.

    "man with khaki shirt and buzz cutt, just leaving the concourse. He may be a suicide bomber..use extreme caution"

    "The police surround him and start screaming.. "DON'T MOVE..PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR"

    He is startled. Thinks they are talking about someone behind him and tries to get out of the way and in the process, trips over his feet. Just then the insulin pump "Beeps"..

    (I have seen this happen..he has bad balance occasionally.again this is a real person.

    One of the men on the side, sees him turning away and misinterprets his movement and attempt to regain balance as an attempt to reach the "the firing device" and starts shooting. The others immediately join in...

    Some of the bullets wound passerbys and he dies tragically.

    In the press conference, Major Pare..announces

    "Tragically, a visitor to logan airport died today. He appeared to be carrying a plastic explosive, and because he refused to obey our lawful commands he is now in the city morgue. I'd like to remind everyone that you must obey the police at all times and no one is above the law"

    Would the police be right to gun him down? Yes or No? Explain yourself.

    It "could" have been a bomb, he "could" have been trying to set it off. He doesn't look sick or frail. Again it looks FAR more like a real bomb than a protoboard.

    By the way..I'm an engineer and spent 10 years working on computer controlled industrial equipment all over the world. I often carried test equipment and never in my life had a gun pulled on me, although occasionally I received polite questions as to the nature of my equipment when I went through the security line. I also have done a fair amount of protoboard work, and know that the push-in wires can easily pull loose and the connections are pretty flaky, so it wouldn't make make sense to use it for a bomb anyway as it is incredibly unreliable. A switch and battery would make much more sense.

    So..would the police be justified in killing him? (yes or no)

    Don't try and avoid this question and claim it's just some hypothetical thing. This is a real person, and I often have dinner with him. Additionally, I have to pick my dad up at the airport in 2 weeks. Should I bring our friend - or not? Should he carry a sign - "I am not carrying a bomb?"

    Go ahead and give me a detailed answer.I really want to know your honest opinion in the above situations


    Detailed answer

    By on

    Many people have colostomy bags (which, btw, may be putty-colored, but look nothing like putty. (Now, the sometime contents of those bags... if a TSO really wants to examine them, the joke will be on him.) Many people have insulin pumps. These people fly too, with few problems. People with medical devices containing metal anticipate they may set off the walk-through metal detector, and can't remove the metallic medical devices (in this case, the insulin pump), so they go to the secondary search area commonly known as "the corral" or "the fishbowl" for a "hand wanding." This is when a TSO comes up to them with a handheld metal detecting device and moves it up and down their body. The TSO will ask them questions such as "do you have any medical devices." The passenger will answer "yes," and will describe the devices. The TSO will have heard of them if they are so common as a colostomy bag and an insulin pump, and will have worked with passengers carrying them repeatedly. The TSO will verify that the metal on the passenger's body is related to the insulin pump, and will clear the passenger to exit the corral.

    If the passenger wants to save time or has an unusual device, he might have a brief description, including pictures, of his condition and device handy to give to the TSO, or even a note from his doctor.

    Really, your fantasies are quite inventive and might make for good fiction, but have little to do with the reality we experience daily.

    One of the keys in the actual situation is that your friend is (I presume), a conscious, alert person who is aware that he is carrying something unusual and thus expecting that someone might ask a question about his medical devices. He is unlikely to be evasive when a TSO or LEO asks him a question, and is unlikely to wander aimlessly around the airport holding his device out in front of him (for example, the colostomy bag is under his shirt, and nobody is ever likely to see it in the airport).

    There is a certain amount of absurdity involved in airport security. No system is foolproof. For example, if you were a dedicated terrorist, you might think of disguising your C4 with a colostomy bag and hiding your initiator in an insulin pump. But nobody has yet. Nor has anybody thought to make explosives into breast implants, or simply to swallow encapsulated explosives, as drug mules do every freakin' day with cocaine.

    I am sometimes surprised at how stupid most so-called terrorist plots are (Richard Reid, anyone?). But this is because most would-be terrorists are stupid and seriously unhinged people. This is why one of the best (and least intrusive) methods of terrorism prevention is behavioral observation. And this is one of the main reasons Star was stopped at the airport - she was acting really oddly. So the best advice to give your friend is don't act weird at the airport. Which is something most of us were told as children: just act normal. You yourself state that you have carried all sorts of test equipment through airports with no problem (as have I). The reason is that we weren't acting weird or evasive. Also, leaving the test equipment in the bag until it's time to explain it to the TSO might help.

    Provided you're capable of "acting normal"

    By on

    I've wondered similar things about my clients with persistent and severe mental illness, many of whom have medical devices such as the ones the poster described, and/or carry some odd collections of (harmless and legal) belongings on their person. Some of them present as disheveled in manner, even when a friend or family member has given them tips on grooming and dress before they go somewhere like an airport. You know, these are the folks who people refer to as "some homeless guy in the grocery store" even though they have homes. The folks who look older and younger than their actual age at the same time, and still just seem "off" no matter how bathed and shaved and attired they are.

    A lot of my folks have a little difficulty processing language and communicating effectively, so they might not give a straight answer right away, especially if they're already anxious about traveling, tend to be a little suspicious anyway, and then someone unfamiliar starts asking questions. My folks frequently have the cops called because someone decides they're "suspicious" while they're walking in a park or going to an appointment or running errands. I do worry about what would happen if one of them was questioned in the airport and responded with something odd. I worry about these types of airport policies really infringing on the rights of people to peacefully get on a plane to go visit someone.

    It's a reasonable worry.

    By on

    If "your folks" tend to get questioned for being suspicious on the street, then the same is likely to hold true in the airport. I would not recommend that people with "persistent and severe mental illness" go to airports by themselves, especially if they have medical devices they are unable to explain.

    As for whose policies you might disagree with, it's not airport policy but federal government policy. The TSA is a federal agency under the DHS, and local airports have little say in their procedures.

    I don't agree with everything the TSA does - as I've mentioned before, I think the water ban is stupid - and I don't want to be an apologist for them. I do believe that one of their big motivations is, however, protecting our rights as peaceful, law-abiding citizens to go to an airport and catch a plane without getting blown up. That's a right I'm attached to, and I'm sure you are too.

    Inevitably, there is a negotiation or compromise between that right and other rights. Rights are frequently in conflict. We have a right to free speech, but we can't yell FIRE in a crowded movie theater -- or BOMB in a crowded airport.

    Um, no...

    By on

    Your fellow anonymouse went on such a peculiar series of well this happens and then the other thing and then the cops go AAAH! that it sounded like he was a grade-schooler off his Ritalin furiously narrating a battle between He-Man and Skeletor. It's quite ridiculous to go off on a long comic-book fantasy tirade like that and then say YES OR NO, IF FLYING MONKEYS COME OUT OF HE-MAN'S BUTT CARRYING CREAM CHEEZE, DO YOU SPREAD IT ON A BAGEL? WELL? YES OR NO? or any other such bizarre situational question.

    In further attempts to educate you anonymice, I answered an underlying, reasonable question of what happens when someone with a colostomy bag goes to the airport. I'm sorry that not playing the fantasy game makes you sad, but if you want the answer to a question like that, just roll a D20 for yourself.

    Nope. You still evaded his

    By on

    Nope. You still evaded his question...and showed
    what a dork you really are at the same time.

    Details from the DA

    By on

    This just in from the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, which, granted, gives one side of the story:

    Evidence suggests that Simpson approached the information counter at about 8:00 this morning and asked a Massport employee for information on an inbound flight from Oakland, California. At the time, Simpson was wearing a sweatshirt affixed with a circuit board, light-emitting diodes, and wires connected to an exposed nine-volt battery.

    Simpson did not respond when the employee inquired about the device she was wearing. When the employee repeated her question, Simpson did not answer except to say that it was a piece of art and left the counter to walk around the baggage claim area, eventually leaving the building. Word of her activity and device quickly began circulating inside the terminal, causing several employees to leave the building in fear.

    As she left Logan, Simpson disconnected a nine-volt battery that was powering the device.

    Josh Glenn has it

    By on

    Josh Glenn has it right

    Seems BPD and the Stateies pictures are of the inside of the sweatshirt. The Rags can't tell us that, because it makes it much less contorversial and they then wouldn't be able to run this sotry for the next few days.

    It's Moonites V2.0

    Oh, good grief!

    By on

    What dishonest scum bags. AGAIN. All she was wearing was a light-up shirt? I didn't think what she did was a crime when I saw the pictures, but at least allowed that the official response was justified. Now, I can't even allow that, and yet she's being charged with a felony. What total BS. We JUST went through this in January and now they are at it again. How about kids with light-up sneakers? Are we going to take them down with machine guns, too?

    Kudos to Brainiac for being out front on this story. AGAIN. Lets see if the Globe manages to follow their lead this time.

    I think it's pretty clear

    By on

    I think it's pretty clear that 'the artist' is looking for attention. She got it and now has wasted everyone's time. At an airport, if someone asks you a question - just fucking answer it!! Don't walk away like a freak clutching at fucking playdoh! Give me a break.

    Yes, she was looking for attention

    By on

    Attention does not mean machine guns. Anyone who wears a light-up shirt is looking for attention. That's. Not. A. Crime.

    And she did answer the question asked of her. After it was repeated, she referred to the shirt as art. So she did FUCKING answer the question. The DA office insisting that this wasn't answering the question is dishonest to the extreme. Just because the employee didn't like the answer, didn't mean she didn't give it.

    The circuit board was on the

    By on

    The circuit board was on the outside of her shirt - so you're wrong about the light-up shirt. I do think machine guns were excessive. I also think that the comment: 'lucky to not have ended up in a morgue' is excessive.

    Reports are that she had to be asked three times before she would answer. The city of Boston isn't one giant campus. When you are off campus, it's time to act like an adult.

    Her Art Sucks.

    By on

    I stopped playing with Play-doh when I was 8, but then again I'm not smart enough to get into MIT's engineering department so what the hell do I know?

    Not only is Boston the

    By on

    Not only is Boston the bloggiest city, it's also got the best nutcases.


    By on

    "She said it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day,"

    I bet she stood out.

    "Hey, there's that slob who doesn't know how to solder!"

    More reaction to Star Simpson Visits the Airport

    By on

    The more Flynngrrl thinks about the case, the more scared and angry she gets:

    ... Don't you need intent to make a hoax device? Intent to hoax or something? It's not like she made a bomb threat. She made a home-made version of a crappy light-up pin you could get at the Christmas Tree Shoppe. It was ugly, and it was a nerd's weekend project, but it wasn't a threat.

    And then the "she could be dead" bit freaks me out. Having cops mad at you when you didn't commit a crime is scary. Having cops mad at you when you didn't commit a crime and you don't have exactly lily-white skin? I don't know if she'd be more scared than I would or more angry than I would - maybe both - but I bet there's a higher chance of her moving, or saying something like, "I didn't do anything" or "what the hell?" In which case she might have been killed. And the security guard seems to think that's completely okay. ...

    Rachel Paiste: What RETARDS we are! We did it again. Mooninites pt. 2.

    Phillip McCarthy discusses how he's glad the case makes him realize he can be better than some Cambridge college students:

    ... Fourth and finally, I do not walk into airports with blinking lights strapped to my chest and lumps of putty in either hand, thus inviting the heavily armed Massachusetts State Police Logan Airport detachment to legitimately use deadly force against me.

    So good for you, Star Simpson. You’ve proven that while I'm no Athenian, you’re certainly no Archimedes. ...

    Jay G has similar sentiments:

    ... While I have to gasp audibly at the sheer idiocy of going to an airport with a fake bomb in plain sight, I can't say it surprises me. MIT students can sometimes be the phsyical embodiment of "All College, No Knowledge." Or, as Dave Barry puts it, they don't have the common sense that G-d gave gravel. ...

    It's a damn name tag

    By on

    That's Lissa Harris's reaction after looking at the thing on the front page of the Globe:

    ... The fact that it's her name kinda makes the thing seem a little less deliberately boneheaded—not to mention, a whole lot less pretentiously precious.

    I wonder: If it had spelled out "Hello, My Name Is Star Simpson," scary wires or no, would the submachine guns have been called in at all?

    If only she'd read this

    By on Exclusive: Sew Smart DIY LED Shirt:

    ... We're all familiar with the LED belt buckle and the Motorola/Burton jacket, but now we're grabbing fashion by the threads and showing you how to make your own tech-inspired clothing (and not look like an MIT project in the process). After the jump, we're gonna show you how to sew an LED onto your shirt in 8 easy steps. ...

    just another guy who works for a living...

    By on

    I'm kinda hoping that her "her unique, and creative mind will
    be allowed to continue learning and developing" somewhere far, far
    away, like, say Hawaii. Where me and my family aren't likely
    to take a stray Statie MP5 bullet because some childish
    maroon is wearing lite-brites and massaging play-doh at the airport.

    You just don't get it, brah!

    By on

    You are one of those uptight people born like (puke) before the late 80s. Your parents raised you by teaching you consequences and actually said the word, "No." You were raised being taught common sense, morality and decency in the home. This new generation, man, we get it. Working hard is for suckers.

    Following rules, man? Pul-lease! You want me to be part of the establishment! D'uh. Ain't gonna happen. I totally heard about the people in the sixties. They had like a war, just like we do!! We are just like them -- cept better. Our parents have all this guilt for working full time so they totally buy us whatever we want. And our lawyers are the best. Want extra time on a test -- sue!

    You'll never get it, brah! Being old, using common sense and following the rules is for sheep, man!

    Uh...what rules?

    By on

    Uh...what rules? don't carry electronics into the terminal?
    Since when is that a rule? You might want to run on over there and
    start making citizens arrests of everyone with a cell phone or ipod

    I'm sorry but exactly what rules did she violate?

    Oh right..the unwritten rules..that only you are able to discern
    through your god given common sense. Hey it worked back in the salem
    witch trials didn't it..and everyone knows that we didn't come
    from's just common sense..

    Fact is she did nothing wrong except underestimate how stupid
    people seem to think "Battery + Light" = Terrorist.

    But then again, your magic feelings that god gives you mean that
    you don't have to use reason you? I mean if it vaugely
    reminds you of something you saw on TV..i.e. a pile of wires
    and the policeman saves the day by using his instincts to know
    to cut the red wire before the black one..well if you saw it in
    the movies, then it must be right..Oh yeah..but where was the
    Red numbers counting down from :05,04,03...feel confused, but
    still..wires bad..

    If the back is missing from your you get real scared?

    Jeesus...BATTERY + LED..!= BOMB. If it had been in a flash
    light case then you morons never would have gotten confused, but
    your small little minds didn't recognize it in unfamiliar settings
    and still cant seem to grasp that "ooog..blinking lights look
    different than magic lantern i use outside in dark, but basically
    same thing"

    oops I must have confused you..!= means "NOT EQUAL" It's a programming
    thing from something called the "C" language. That's WAY above you..but
    that's a start of how the magic keyboard with the magic screen you are
    looking at right now works, but for now..lets keep it simple shall we..


    I work, too

    By on

    I don't think kids who make light-up name-tags should be happy not to get killed. I don't think people should be arrested because other people are unjustifiably scared of them. I think people who are consumed with living in fear and criminalizing scariness don't deserve the safety they claim to seek.

    Star Simpson's mom: Oops

    By on

    The Honolulu Star-Bulletin interviews Stephanie Simpson:

    "It was just sleepyheads. She must have been just asleep to the fact of where she was going," Stephanie Simpson said.