Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


How unladylike

Like most EC readers, I have been following the story of the MIT student with the breadboard and Duracell fashion accessory who nearly got ventilated at Logan airport in the most LED-hostile city in the US, Boston.
The Associated Press was quick to repeat the claim that the student was wearing a “fake bomb”, when this is at best a very debatable point. Well, now they’ve outdone themselves with the latest headline on this story:

MIT Coed With Fake Bomb ‘Art’ Arrested

This is the greatest example of linguistic economy I have seen this year. It bundles three horrendously poor word choices into a seven-word sentence. The Bulwer-Lytton people need to make a special award.
1. We do not know that this was a “fake bomb”. That depends on the intent of the student, who says it was just art. Who the heck are the Associated Press to draw conclusions so early in the story?
2. “Art” or art? The AP “editors” need to read up on the different uses of quotation marks.
3. “Coed”? The appropriate term is “student”. I literally cannot find the words to express how….erm…’quaint’ this word choice is. I hope the AP editors are sitting down when they learn that the woman in question was not in a home economics, english literature, or library studies program.
I have no idea what the motives (if any) this person had for her choice of attire. She may be a publicity-seeking ninny, some kind of art activist, an EE geek with poor situational awareness, or — like Miss Teen South Carolina or whatever — somebody who let off a rather noticeable brain fart which got caught in Panopticon 2.0. She could also be none of the above. One thing for sure is that the Associated Press isn’t helping us arrive at the truth by using loaded terms (no pun intended) and taking us on a painful trip down memory lane.