Dial tone: The crazy is coming from inside the iPhone


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Already this week we’ve learned that the San Bernardino iPhone that Apple won’t make a whole new operating system to unlock could contain the plans for a nuclear attack. It almost certainly does not but… scary! Right? So, it was really only a matter of time before the phone was said to contain mythical dangers.

Turns out it was two days.

“San Bernardino DA says seized iPhone may hold ‘dormant cyber pathogen’”

A whatnow?

"The iPhone is a county owned telephone that may have connected to the San Bernardino County computer network. The seized iPhone may contain evidence that can only be found on the seized phone that it was used as a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernardino's infrastructure," according to a court filing by Michael Ramos, the San Bernardino County district attorney.

In a moment we’ll hear from an expert who says this is not a real thing, but first let’s consider who is to blame for this veritable slide whistle of an argument? Would you be surprised to hear the horny one say that we all are?

For years we have promulgated in fiction the idea of the tough, hard-bitten district attorney who’s not afraid to bend the law or make the tough decisions (like when to make things up) in order to bring down the bad guys. It’s probably a lot to live up to. Let’s look at the case of Laurel Lance on TV’s Arrow. In secret Ms. Lance is the vigilante known as the Black Canary who shuts down bad men by yelling at them.

It’s basically the opposite of what happens to women on Twitter.

We don’t really even know if she’s any good at her day job because we hardly ever see her attorneying her district. Mostly she’s clobbering criminals with a nightstick. Presumably when she’s not sleeping off a night of crime fighting at her desk, she’s prosecuting the same criminals she fought the previous night, which is a pretty big conflict of interests. But desperate times call for desperate measures, like training to fight and dressing up in black and using a sonic scream.

Or, if you don’t have those or they seem like they’d take too much time and require a lot of sweating and nighttime activity and you’re really more of a morning person, making up bogus forms of malware in order to scare people. From the example of Arrow an eager DA can learn three things: Don’t worry about the law, magic is real and you can ignore your day job.

Sorry, San Bernardino, Michael Ramos is the hero your county deserves. Although the body that is San Bernardino county is still trying to reject him like a rancid monkey liver.

The county declined to directly comment. A spokesman, David Wert, told Ars in an e-mail that "The county didn't have anything to do with this brief. It was filed by the district attorney."

The county also indicated that it was making a circular motion around its ear with its index finger and saying things like “So CRAY-zee with the THING and the nyoi nyoi nyoi…” in a Jerry Lewis voice.

Jonathan Zdziarski, a prominent iPhone forensics expert, said in a telephone interview that the district attorney is suggesting that a "magical unicorn might exist on this phone."

This lack of imagination on Zdziarski’s part is the reason that you and your children are in grave danger all the time. Think outside the box. For example, maybe the phone holds the location of Liam Neeson’s family. And a Notes entry explaining why criminals seem to think it’s a good idea to kidnap Neeson’s family which, let’s face it, would be more interesting. Neeson’s obviously going to get his family back. What we want to know is what madness drives them to make the same mistake over and over again.

"The world has never seen what he is describing coming from an iPhone," Zdziarski said.

Just because the world has never seen it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. A man in Liverpool broke the chain and 10,000 angry bees came out of his iPhone.

The Macalope just made that up but, again, making things up is how you fight crime.


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