I took a special (to me) four-year-old to see her first Boston Marathon in Coolidge Corner, Brookline today. The security around the race was very impressive. An EPA ASPECT Cessna Caravan with a tricked-out exhaust system was operated all week from Hanscom Field to look for chemical and radioactive contamination. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Blackhawks flew back and forth overhead in formations of up to five helicopters (at about $25,000 per flight hour per helicopter, according to TIME Magazine). A friend asked “Did you feel safer?” My response: “Given that the Tsarnaev brothers were armed with two pressure cookers and one pistol, the security for this marathon has the same rational basis as a person who is attacked with a kitchen knife and expects the next attack to come from a nuclear-powered submarine.”
What if the Tsarnaevs had some cousins who had wanted to attack this marathon in the same way that the 2013 event was spoiled? The authorities absolutely forbade backpacks, potentially filled with explosives, from being carried near the finish line. But there was no such prohibition on bags and backpacks elsewhere on the route. Greta and I watched from Coolidge Corner, amidst hundreds of other spectators and passed by clumps of as many as 50 runners. At our feet? A large backpack.
[Note: I believe that the backpack belonged to a young woman who was hoping to cross the route to get to her job at Trader Joe's. But she had been waiting there for 30 minutes and there was nobody to stop her from walking away and leaving the backpack.]
Favorite T-shirt: “Keep Calm and Marath On” (each word on its own line)