[ by Charles Cameron — the prayer response at least is wordless and direct ]
The most deeply felt post about the Boston Marathon massacre I’ve seen was Caitlin Fitz Gerald‘s Boston’s best Day:
If you’ve never been to Boston on Patriots’ Day, you might not know this, but it’s the best day of the year in Boston. It’s a state holiday, spring is hitting, the Red Sox play a morning game, and thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of people come from all over the world for the Boston Marathon. The marathon is a 26-mile party. Every runner hears cheers from every person the whole way down the route. It is a gorgeously international event, with runners and spectators coming from all corners of the earth, filling the city and lining the marathon route. In the ultimate Patriots’ Day experience, you can go to Fenway to see the Sox, then walk out to Kenmore Square to watch the runners come through. They are tired then, they are in their last mile, but people line the route 10 and 15 deep hooting and cheering and clapping to help them through to the end. It’s amazing to watch the elite runners fly through the toughest course in the world, and just as amazing to watch the regular runners, most of them raising money for charity, people who have trained months and years to do this superhuman thing.
This didn’t just hit close to home, it hit my home.
Caitlin is also responsible for the elegant Clausewitz for Kids.
The most sensible response to the various premature speculations as to who’s to blame is JM Berger‘s tweet:
The least expected insight came from Charli Carpenter:
For background, here’s a DHS release on pressure cookers from 2010.
It’s beginning to seem likely that the bomb or bombs were made with a pressure cooker or pressure cookers — normally unsuspicious items that can be found in many homes, or easily purchased online.
JM Berger would be my resource for ongoing analysis of the Boston event, but Betsy Ross sees to be the one to follow for information about pressure cookers as weaponry. Their history goes back at least as far as the Croatian nationalist hijacking of TWA flight 355 in September 1976, although the “pressure cooker bomb” in that case was a threatening fake rather than the real thing. Max Fisher tells us their use in bomb-making is mentioned in the Anarchist’s Cookbook — I’m not about to spend money on something that would only tell me how to maim people in any case — but Berger pointed out (first in my feed) that AQAP’s Inspire magazine featured them:
The Inspire mention appears in their first issue, in a piece by “AQ Chef” titled Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.
But you know what most interested me in that article?
It’s not the recipe, no sireee, I have no interest in how to blow things — much less, people — up. It’s the warning that the writer attached. Explosive devices can easily — all too often and all too literally — blow up in the faces of those who are trying to make or set them.
Bomb making is a hazardous occupation — and that’s why the order and emphasis with which the AQ Chef [promotes his three dafety precautions interests me so much:
The following are a few safety precautions:
1. Put you trust in Allah and pray for the success of your operation. This is the most important rule.
2. Wear gloves throughout the preparation of the explosive to avoid leaving behind fingerprints.
3. This is an explosive device so take care during preparation and handling.
Did you get that? The most important advice is to trust in God and pray for success — taking care during preparation and handling comes a distant third.
That’s piety, people — piety before practicality.
And — as if to prove the point — three Palestinian would-be suicide bombers were killed by their own devices back in 1999, because they refused to comply when Israel announced a “premature switch from daylight savings time to accommodate a week of pre-sunrise prayers“.
So much irony, so much stupidity, so much sorrow.
A few other pages to note:
Bruce Schneier, The Boston Marathon Bombing: Keep Calm and Carry On
Jeff Stein, How They Will Investigate the Boston Bombing
Andy Kroll, Question Everything You Hear About the Boston Marathon Bombing
Dana Liebelson and Tim Murphy, 6 False Things You Heard About the Boston Bombing
Adam Serwer, Terror Attacks on Sporting Events, Especially Marathons, Are Surprisingly Rare
Mike Adams via Alex Jones, Boston marathon bombing happened on same day as ‘controlled explosion’ drill by Boston bomb squad — conspiracist, reminiscent of Ruppert on 9/11
XKCD, Pressure cooker: the worst thing? — see graphic above
Zoketsu Norman Fischer, In Times of Trouble — a Zen view from just post 9/11.