I feel like at this point that we should be examining who did it, and what caused them to do it rather than how it could have been prevented with security measures. Get to the root of the problem and solve it there, rather than a surface-level patch. Was it a mental health thing? Was it spurred by our culture of violence and/or attention to violence? Was the attacker after a specific person? Certainly not easy to find out these answers, but would probably be effort better spent than checking trash cans.
I'm sure there will be some silly knee-jerk response that serves no good for the public and likely just inconveniences everyone. I'm also sure that people working in the government understand these short-term reactions are almost always useless. Why does it continue happening?
As for 9/11, that involved 3,000 people dead and the collapse of a major American icon. It killed more people than the Pearl Harbor bombing and involved direct costs and losses approaching $100 billion. Jury's still out on whether it was a "silly knee-jerk" response or a reasonable wake-up to the threat of global islamic terrorism.
 The "terrorism" part seems to come from using the example of people like McVeigh to argue for procedures to keep people from defeating a death sentence by filing endless habeas petitions.
"But within weeks of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Senate voted 91 to 8 to pass the Comprehensive Terrorism Protection Act of 1995, which cut back sharply on state death-row inmates’ access to federal court. This bill eventually morphed into the broader Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which President Clinton signed shortly after the first anniversary of the bombing. Standing on the south lawn of the White House, in the presence of family members of the victims of Oklahoma City and other recent terrorist incidents, the president declared that the new law “strikes a mighty blow” against terrorism." 
And also , which notes that a draft of the AEDPA also contained additional surveillance powers, among other things.
I'd definitely call the AEDPA a knee jerk reaction.
Much like free speech zones don't limit free speech rights, they just create stricter procedures for exercising those rights.
AEDPA was not just about habeas corpus rights. It covers penalties for conspiracies that involve explosives and for hacking into government computers. It covers counterfeiting activities. It covers law enforcement training and assistance. It covers international terrorist funding and investigation.
It is like an embryonic version of the PATRIOT act.
Of course; only those that restrict our rights should be so labeled. That, unfortunately, is what the majority of attempts to address security concerns do.
"The other stuff in AEDPA doesn't contract any rights, just addresses particular kinds of crimes."
That is a tautology: take away the things that are bad, and you are left with something good. Ignore the sections that reduce, restrict, or eliminate our rights, and every knee-jerk reaction just addresses particular kinds of crimes (whether or not they do so in an effective way is another story).
"The only thing that arguably contracts rights are the habeas portion, and that's more appropriately seen as improving habeas procedures rather than contracting rights."
More appropriate according to you perhaps, and perhaps the right wing politicians who passed and signed the bill, but it is hard to say that we are "improving" civil rights by restricting them. Restricting habeas corpus is not an "improvement," it is a restriction on civil rights -- or alternatively, a contraction of our rights.
The entire argument for restricting habeas corpus in this manner was this: people facing the death penalty might try to avoid being executed by exhaustively testing every technical detail of their case in court. That does not sound like a bad thing to me, it sounds like people are making use of their rights in a life or death situation. Far too many innocent people have been executed to claim that there are too many ways for death row inmates to stave off their executions.
AEDPA was drafted by the kind of people who think The Ox-Bow Incident is a how-to manual on law enforcement. It is the mindset that sees a man like McVeigh challenging his execution and says, "How dare he! We are supposed to kill him, because he is GUILTY!" That is not how America is supposed to work. The criminal justice system in this country is meant to ensure that innocent people are not imprisoned or killed even if it means allowing guilty people to walk free and even if it means using tax dollars to pay for guilty people to challenge their conviction.
nor the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, which may almost mirror this in terms of venue, injuries, & deaths. But, I think the fear is that we're now in a post-9/11 world where knee-jerk reactions are far more common.
France, in response to terrorist attacks in the 1995 mandated that all public locations have transparent bags held by posts  . I don't think that's a unreasonable compromise, considering the alternatives.
That is a very important item that many will overlook. To the person bemoaning what rights they will lose, well its not like your going to lose more, just be reminded of ones you lost and did not even realize, like that of a working cell phone.
What it does do is solve a political problem: "What the hell did you do in response to terror attacks" in a way that does't compromise liberty much.
It does make it just that bit harder to stow a bomb, because now the bomber needs to have it packaged properly, and hope that the package doesn't a) ruin the bomb or detonating device and b) that the bomb doesn't slip out and become visible.
It also helps the police identify - they can just machete all trash bags and grab/dump the contents and sort - compared with opening up the can - which might in some areas be locked or difficult to open.
Compared with moves like the creation of the TSA, I prefer this kind of security theatre - at least there's some plot here. It's like locking out the pilot doors from the cabin.
A real pain if you've got food and rubbish to dispose of.
The OP's point is that even if you can ensure 100% of the trashcans dont contain bombs for a reasonable cost, the terrorists will now just put them somewhere else.
Actually, I think they already do that, with bomb-sniffing dogs. But they have dubious reliability, and don't catch someone who's willing to place the bomb shortly before it detonates, as may have been the case here.
The attackers hid the canisters in trash cans in that instance as well.
Reaction to issues is tied to how much you can personally relate to the victims. It's also why 2 people dying in a stream in your neighborhood seems so much more relevant than 100,000 people dying in an earthquake halfway around the world.
Will it be all police cars, dogs and jersey walls from here on out? This sucks.
The video from the camera man on the ground at the finish line shows countless cops at the finish line. All that police presence did not prevent the detonation.
I'm not proud of my thoughts, and I'm not proud of the hundred or so sarcastic remarks that I've thought of since I first heard the news either.
I am genuinely saddened that this happened, and my most sincere hope is that whomever did so is apprehended quickly and that nobody else is injured or killed while that happens. At the same time, the explosion looks (at least to me) like Tannerite, and I'm also thinking that perhaps Tannerite is going to get banned, or regulated, despite being, basically, iron oxide; which would make such a ban pretty futile.
Are you suggesting that they should have some automatic kill switch implemented in advance which they can hit to show sensitivity?  Networks also run commercials to make money it's part of how they can afford to do what they do. Of course I've seen cases where networks don't run commercials on rare occasions.
 And why do they need to do this? Are you willing to pay for access instead so they don't have to run any advertising?
At the end of the day advertisers don't want to be associated with certain stories, and there's a public good imperative that drives rapid, open access in these tragic situations that overrides commercial interest even if that were of concern.
At just seemed crass at the moment. I admit that I was just having an overly emotional response at the time and do not fault them for it whatsoever.
So they build good will as the place to go when some major event has happened and you are looking for every morsel of information or discussion about it.
Sometimes people just need to realize that things happen and we don't have to pass new laws and regulations every time something bad happens.
It is easy to stand back at 100ft and say this type of crap, but the fact is, crazy people are all around us, and we should try to be proactive instead of reactive.
We as a society owe it ourselves to reflect on events such as this, and see if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it. If the answer is yes, then we SHOULD act. Does that mean freedoms need to be restricted, laws to be enacted? No, it could mean better technology, maybe better security, maybe MORE security.
I hope no new laws come of something like this, but if it means reducing the chance that this happens again, I am all for it.
Our rights are absolute, but we also need to compromise. We can't let ourselves become 1984, but we can become safer, smarter, more efficient with regards to security.
Is it cold to point out that we are already living in an age of more security? There were paramilitary police teams at the marathon, ready to take on a small army -- but the attackers found a way to plant their bombs anyway.
When the TSA was established and billions of dollars were spent on securing our airlines, a tiny minority of people were saying that if another attack occurred it would not be on an airplane. Now we have seen another attack, it was not on an airplane nor anywhere near an airport. We do no need another massive security bureaucracy designed to prevent marathons or city streets from being attacked, because that will just push terrorists to attack something else. There are far too many ways to attack a country as large and developed as the United States to have a sprawling bureaucracy for all of them.
"I hope no new laws come of something like this, but if it means reducing the chance that this happens again, I am all for it."
"We can't let ourselves become 1984, but we can become safer, smarter, more efficient with regards to security."
Every time we become "more efficient" about domestic security, we sacrifice our rights. What makes you think this time will be different?
Our lawmakers know just as well as we do, that more laws won't fix events like these, but better messaging ("See something say something"), better trained police officers, etc.. these are things that are controllable, changeable, and have a hugely positive impact on preventing horrible things like this from happening.
Use the powers we're given smarter, less broadly.
Watershed events always create these emotional knee jerk reactions. As opposed to "well we can save lives by driving 50 mph instead of 70 mph but since that's legacy we aren't likely to not consider the impact on society as a whole by lowering the speed limit."
Sitting at the top like that it really does start to look like soap-boxing or attention whoring. Apologies all, I really didn't mean it that way.
But more importantly, having a thought you aren't proud of is no mortal sin, nor is publishing it honestly on the internet. You're supposed to feel conflicted and confused; something bad happened and we're all going to have a wide range emotionally-charged responses.
Given recent history, there's little reason to feel that it won't and plenty to worry that it will.
The best thing to do if you disagree with the position of the OP's comment is to upvote other siblings. Personally, I think this discussion is interesting because it addresses in real time the implications of what this attack might be (if any).
Thank you, moderators.
I've scrolled down and up-voted as many of those more valuable comments as I could. I encourage everyone who reads this far to go and do the same.
As I said, I thought this would be a "one voice among many" kind of post, not become the lightning-rod of this thread. Parent is right. Go read the better stuff.
Besides with a little luck this is North Korea and we don't have to loose any more freedoms (do we even have more to lose?)
Clearly my point completely flew over your head. I was only commenting on how ridiculous it was that tomjen3 claimed that we had already lost all our freedoms in the very same sentence that he mentioned a country that is far more oppressive than our own.
The facts will be fleshed out over time on the regular news, so I see less value in comments just parroting that. Rather, (if this is to be discussed on Hacker News at all), I'd prefer it to be about the ramifications of the event, and especially how it relates to technology, or laws/regulations that foster the development of technologies.
I'm a Bostonian (at work about a mile from the explosions), and I wish everyone would just cool their jets a bit until more is known about what's going on.
If it would be found that this is an Islamist terror attack the aftermath will be much more pronounced then a scenario where the blame will be on say some extreme right wing group.
Much of the lose of freedom we all suffer from is due to entrenched xenophobia becoming political agenda, it seems much harder to enact changes when the criminals are white Americans ala Timothy McVeigh or some horrific mass shooting
While figuring out who did this will be very very important, right now it's not something the public should worry about.
Also, fuck off with the "whining nerd" shit.
A bomb in a sports event? That's suffering people eat for breakfast around other parts of the world.
Losing freedom has the potential to affect me personally, so I'm more concerned about it.
And I don't necessarily agree it's too early to discus the consequences of this. The authorities on the scene are handling the immediate situation, and there's very little to be done from 2K miles away.
I agree. Chance are, the friends and family who are directly affected by this aren't going to be trawling through comments on HN--there are more pressing concerns.
The rest of us, and maybe this will sound equally harsh, need to divorce ourselves from the emotional impact if there's nothing we can do (or donate to the appropriate organizations if so inclined). Right now, there's little that can be done, and even less information still. That leaves the most objective option as what we're doing right now: That is to say the discussion of potential policy changes.
I'm not sure this event is significant enough to affect anything on a large scale (e.g. TSA on every street corner), but you do have to wonder what changes might be made to future marathons as a consequence. I don't necessarily think that's harsh as much as it is objective.
Once bit twice shy. Muzzle your fkng dog.
First, there's age: deaths from heart disease tend to happen at old age. In most cultures, death at old age is considered less tragic than the death of an infant or young adult. Also, there's the perceived "naturality" of death: death by natural causes is considered less tragic and less repugnant than murder. And finally there's the fear aspect: a specific murder of A by B for reason X is repugnant but it doesn't necessarily makes other people fear for their lives, while a bombing in a public setting makes people worry that they and their loved ones might be targets too.
I think (i) isn't a very solid argument since we can't estimate the probability of future terrorist attacks the same way we can calculate the probability of winning the lottery, or as we can estimate the probability of x deaths by heart attack in the next 5 years. For example, suppose we count the number of bombings against civilians in pre-2nd-intifada Israel. In 1999 there were 2 bombings. In 2000, when the intifada started, 5. In the following 2 years, 40 then 47. I haven't checked, but I suppose the same pattern would hold for pre- and post-invasion Iraq (note that this isn't an argument pro or anti the invasion).
I'm not saying that the same thing is likely to happen in the US, I'm just pointing out a weakness in the argument. Overall, though, I think Schneier has a point.
I find some kind of beauty in that. It might just be the phrase "random acts of benevolence", which I've never seen before, but I intensely respect this position.
So what if it's affiliated with YC? It's a charity that pg trusts to help people effectively, which is the point.
I think it's a good reminder that serious shit isn't going down just in Boston right now, and that you can help people suffering right now, wherever they are.
It's a practical way to have people go from feeling helpless to actually helping people who need it (whether they'll be covered by the lastest media cycle or not).
He's using the events in Boston as a way to promote a service that has nothing to do with the horror occurring in Boston.
I'm not saying Watsi isn't great -- it is. But this isn't the time or place to call attention to Watsi. It's tasteless and rude.
People are suffering the world over. Some suffering is less shocking and unique than other suffering (and therefore less newsworthy), but suffering is suffering just the same. Widely-covered events such as this one should serve as a reminder to us all of the constant suffering going on the world over that is not covered. For any moral person, the thought of living in a world in which less than 1% of human suffering garners more than 99% of the attention should be unbearable.
I have no idea how you can say that helping people in one area "has nothing to do with" helping people in another.
That one's easy: what tangible benefit will people suffering from the events of the Boston Marathon get from a donation to Watsi? None? Then it has nothing to do with it.
People are indeed suffering the world over. Objectively it would be better if people who want to do something donated to Watsi instead of wringing their hands, praying/sending thoughts, and reloading cnn.com. But people are not objective and trying to steal this kind of attention for your own cause is highly insensitive.
Also, it comes off as crass and tasteless and generally won't work. Except on people who can keep their objectivity in this situation, which categorically aren't the ones pg is trying to reach. So this is crass, tasteless, highly insensitive, and ineffective.
This is becoming pure wordplay now. Sure, if you take the vague phrase "something to do with" and redefine it more specifically as "provides tangible benefits to", then you'd be right. But who gives you the authority to redefine it so? PG made the relation clear in his tweet: "When terrible things happen to people I can't help, I ... help people I can." In other words, he uses tragedies as a reminder to donate to the less fortunate.
Seems pretty simple to me.
As for the rest of your post, it seems that your argument rests on the belief that PG's tweet didn't cause anyone to donate. If so, your argument fails, because some people did donate as a result of PG's tweet (or at least claimed to).
But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that, instead, your argument rests on the belief that getting a few people to donate is not worth causing offense to others. In that case, I would denounce your argument is immature, selfish, and immoral. I would gladly give offense to 10 or 20 people (and tell them to get over themselves) if it caused 1 person to donate to Watsi.
Lastly, you haven't provided any evidence why people should be offended. I completely disagree that anything PG did was crass, insensitive, or tasteless. Au contraire, I think you are the one mistaken for interpreting it that way. You've misappropriated an arbitrary societal rule for reasons you likely cannot defend.
This has been pure wordplay for quite a while. My mistake was engaging the hive in defense mode.
"exploit": False. PG does not benefit from people donating to Watsi. What he's doing is quite literally the opposite of exploitation: persuading people to give money to others.
"unrelated interests": I've already debunked this, as did PG in his tweet. A terrible event occurred. This has caused people to become abnormally empathetic toward their fellow man. PG is encouraging people to channel that empathy into a good cause however they can.
The belief your argument rests on consists entirely of falsehoods.
Hurray, you've successfully countered an argument I wasn't making! I suppose congratulations are in order, though I'm at a loss as to why.
I find the fact that there is is an argument over this far more tasteless and rude.
It's times like this when people stop to think about other human beings and might actually act on something. Unfortunately during normal times we are really bad at that.
Orders of magnitude more people will die or be injured today from gun violence, car accidents or disease but 99.9% of them will not make the news, a reminder of this is anything but tasteless and rude.
https://watsi.org/profile/e86bdd4cc545-yai-min "... but they need help raising the $1500 needed to get him the surgery he needs to walk again"
https://watsi.org/profile/11d44c5c9f10-shwe-shwe "... help funding the $1500 surgery to remove the growth and restore functionality to Shwe Shwe’s eye"
https://watsi.org/profile/77babf5f7d6d-naw-hla-aye "A $1500 surgery can remove Naw Hla Aye’s kidney stones and give her back her health."
Why do all the medical treatments cost exactly $1500?
PS. Here's our launchrock page if anyone cares http://grasswire.com
Actually it's just completely obnoxious. I like the site though.
One of the many:
an on/off button for auto-refresh may be a good idea.
signed up for the notification email.
But the really cool stuff is what we can do with data of what users have favorited.
EDIT: Sorry, sorry--in a weird headspace from the news. In all seriousness, did you actually just launch a product in this thread?
EDIT2: Just remember, when launching a product--it's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
And as to "launching" in a thread, I don't really consider this a full "launch." Our product is needed, so even though it isn't ready we pushed it live.
Out of curiosity, how are you picking which things to feed? Your ticker rate for tweets seems fixed, so you are discarding some things, right?
Too bad life doesn't always imitate art.
*EDIT - thanks to those who confirmed. My confusion is now totally irrelevant after seeing the finish-line view of the same people. It just took them a few seconds to register and they were just in a running flow.
Pretty much everyone who finishes is some level of fucked up. Their body chemistry is way-the-hell out of whack, with problems from dehydration, hyponatremia, glycogen depletion, and boosted or dampened immune system reactions. Usually there are people at the finish looking for trouble cases and shunting them directly to the medical tent. (Because the runner might not even recognize that how bad a state they are in.)
I've had hyponatremia once after an ill-advised hike, and I literally couldn't form sentences out loud.
It doesn't surprise me that people weren't reacting in a normal way, because they weren't in a normal state of being.
To me, it looks like they respond physically to the shockwave but are not mentally registering anything other than the finish line.
I had done serious mountain biking and my worst injuries are not from doing extremely dangerous things like hard dropping from a 3 meter slippery stone, witch is something you prepare very well, but for really really stupid errors when being physically, and specially mentally exhausted.
I was 2centimeters away from losing an eye, with itching and hurting wounds in my face, some fractured bones.
On retrospect it was like part of my brain disconnected for most of the time when exhausted.
I could understand the man whose legs stop supporting him with the blast, hopefully he recovers.
I'm not trying to discredit what you're saying, just pointing out why people (my friend and probably a lot of others) go into hyper sensitive reactionary mode.
What is disproportionate about it? Large bombs don't go off in US cities every day. Are you surprised that there are bombings in Iraq? Is that something you don't expect?
I'm understand also, as you should, that this is an international community of people. There is, probably, a lot of brilliant minds here from many coins of this small floating rock, so it is expected that we could talk freely about universal problems and achieve much more than just a local and restricted point of view (and maybe to talk about possible ways to avoid this tragedies again and again).
But what happens if I do? Is my flagging affected by me using a flag on something with so many up votes?
I’m really sad about this, but where I know no one in Boston and can’t do anything about it, I’m just going to check back tomorrow when we know more rather than working myself up looking for the latest like I usually would.
To the best of my ability, I'll do the same.
There's nothing we can currently do. The news for the next 24 hours will be nothing but the newscasters making assumptions, bad connections, and conjecture. The rest of the time will be filled with interviews from people "on the ground." We'll gain nothing from watching it.
I feel like the smallest, tiniest "fuck you" I can muster to the person who did this is to spend this time working on something to make a slice of society marginally better, rather than spending the night passively absorbing all the negativity and sorrow he/she has caused.
"A law enforcement official says cellphone service has been shut down in the Boston area to prevent any potential remote detonations of explosives."
"I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor," he said. "We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."
Read more: http://livewire.wcvb.com/Event/117th_Running_of_Boston_Marat...
The #s will probably get much worse than 2 and 23.
EDIT: Thanks for the downvotes guys, here I was trying to show a real need. I've been calling friends in NY/Boston the past 30min asking to see if they are OK + stay at home.
Alerts can be sent out to particular geographic areas by restricting the cell towers they are distributed through, and "many providers have chosen to transmit WEAs using a technology that is separate and different from voice calls and SMS text messages. This technology ensures that emergency alerts will not get stuck in highly congested areas, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services."
The bar an alert has to clear to go out over it is very high, however, to avoid people being desensitized by false alarms.
Capitalization. Nonsensical reference to corporations that has nothing to do with this event. Lack of domain knowledge regarding already existing FCC notification systems. Random mention of New York, which is neither geographically proximal to Boston nor affected by this event.
EDIT: I know there's a statement regarding NY being "on alert" but there is no indication they have any reason to do so, or are doing so in reaction to anything.
They look like this — http://i.imgur.com/gWrDXFD.jpg
(I'm unclear on how these are delivered within the network, seems to be SMS but I can't source that)
I haven't heard about whether emergency SMS were sent out for the Boston bombings.
I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know, but if people came to rely on an emergency alert system that was not reliable... I would get nervous to say the least. Look at the bad press Google and Apple get whenever their maps lead someone into danger.
I don't think the objective is "perfect" targeting and delivery. The intent is to message as many people as possible within an affected area as quickly, as possible. IANAL, but I suspect it would be very difficult to hold companies liable if the service doesn't work properly - for one thing, it's not a service you're expressly paying them for, it's something they're doing as a public service.
Even paid for Facebook's promote service to get the word out that other devices are being "detected" and that the issue can extent to NY.
NY on alert via Reuters: https://twitter.com/reuters
> Paul Browne, NYPD Deputy Commissioner, tells Reuters that in response to #BostonMarathon, NY police stepping up security #breaking
>Paul Browne, NYPD Deputy Commissioner, tells Reuters that in response to #BostonMarathon, NY police stepping up security #breaking
Who knows is it's really being advised or if it makes sense if it is, but it's being reported as if it is.