Blog Ipsa Loquitur

Last week, The Atlantic ran an ad from noted Anti-Xenu enthusiasts Scientology, before being ridiculed for taking money from crazy people, and ultimately pulling the ad from their site. I guess some of the uproar was about taking money from people who’ve been accused of running a cult, or possibly some perceived ambiguity of the term “sponsored post” (what do you mean ‘a word from our sponsors’ NBC? do you believe the Dodge Dart is the #1 car in America or not help i’m so confused). Whatever. Post went up, post went down, and The Atlantic issued an apology.

But not before noted internet institution Boing Boing took the opportunity to lampoon either the outcry, the original ad, or Scientology itself. I’m not sure:

The driving force behind this unparalleled era of growth is Cthulhu himself, who is not only a cosmic entity of inordinate and terrible power, but also chairman of the board of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Mr. Cthulhu is unrelenting in His work, providing charitable assistance to worthwhile causes, serving communities with fresh humanitarian initiatives, and afflicting all mankind with a transcendent anxiety though His eldritch murmurs.

Never to be outdone, America’s Finest News Source Comma The Onion ran an even sillier sponsored post:

2012 proved to be just another in a succession of landmark years for the Taliban, as the influential Islamic fundamentalist organization continued its awe-inspiring push toward unprecedented expansion.

Even following a decade marked with some difficulties, the devoted members of the Afghani cultural and political movement have proven consistently successful in their trailblazing efforts to continue the Taliban’s constant recruiting of talented and diverse young insurgents and building its thriving base of support from politicians and citizens alike to over 30 times that of a decade ago.

Scientology might be a parody of itself, but I’m quite thankful for the actual parodies.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

This is the coolest name for the coolest and scariest piece of software I’ve seen in quite some time. Inception: a program that you run on your computer, and then plug your computer into someone else’s locked computer. Inception then breaks into the other guy’s computer. How? By being insanely awesome/scary:

Inception’s main mode works as follows: By presenting a Serial Bus Protocol 2 (SBP-2) unit directory to the victim machine over the IEEE1394 FireWire interface, the victim operating system thinks that a SBP-2 device has connected to the FireWire port. Since SBP-2 devices utilize Direct Memory Access (DMA) for fast, large bulk data transfers (e.g., FireWire hard drives and digital camcorders), the victim lowers its shields and enables DMA for the device.

The tool now has full read/write access to the lower 4GB of RAM on the victim. Once DMA is granted, the tool proceeds to search through available memory pages for signatures at certain offsets in the operating system’s password authentication modules. Once found, the tool short circuits the code that is triggered if an incorrect password is entered.

An analogy for this operation is planting an idea into the memory of the machine; the idea that every password is correct (ed: omg wtf). In other words, the nerdy equivalent of a memory inception.

By virtue of the specific kind of high-speed connection Firewire has, Inception makes the target machine think that every password is the right password. I really really hope it makes that absurdly loud BWAAAAM sound while it works. Then again, that might not be so stealthy.

Either way, I definitely recommend you stick gum in pretty much every port your computer has.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Every year, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School catalogs the copyrighted movies, books, and songs which would be public domain had Congress not retroactively prolonged their copyright in 1976. This year’s crop is a good one. On January 1, 2013, Old Yeller, Minority Report, and even a James Bond book would all be free for common use; the public, having given the authors a monopoly on their works for decades, has presumably earned the right to share in these cultural landmarks by now.

But Congress, in its infinite wisdom, prolonged copyright in 1976. So now, the 1956 book Old Yeller will not be public domain until 2052. I’m sure Fred Gipson, who died in 1973, would have never written his book unless he would have a monopoly on it through 2052. I mean, he did technically write it anyway. And he died before Congress decided to incentivize him further, but I’m sure it was retroactively really great motivation. Or something.

Likewise, Ian Fleming (James Bond) died in 1964 and Philip K. Dick (Minority Report) died in 1982, but their works are still under copyright for another 40 years.

Which is great, because we definitely wouldn’t want to cheat those guys out of profiting off their works. I mean, how is Ian Fleming going to feed his family if there’s only been like five different editions of the book itself, a comic book, and a movie starring Sean Connery? And if he died nearly 50 years ago? If he doesn’t have, say, another 40 years or so to profit off his work, then he might as well have become a chimney sweep.

Filed on under Legal Theory

A guy out in California wants to make a point about corporate personhood, so he put a certificate of incorporation (the closest thing to a physical presence a corporation has) in the passenger seat of his car, and drove in the carpool lane until the cops pulled him over. He says:

“If it gets there to the Supreme Court, it would be great. Large-scale corporations, they don’t go to jail for the crimes that they have committed,” the 56-year-old Marin County man said. “Personhood is one of the many absurdities we’ve given these corporations that we let run wild. It’s that kind of mind-fuck we’re asking to actually address.”

Supreme Court precedent likening a corporation to a person dates back more than a century. So for years, Frieman has been driving without a breathing passenger in the carpool lane, in hopes of being pulled over and cited. Moreover, he notes, the state Vehicle Code defines a person as “natural persons and corporations.”

Wait, for years? What is the highway patrol doing, anyway?

Also, this is doomed to fail for the same reason that driving with your wife’s birth certificate in the passenger seat isn’t the same thing as actually driving with your wife in the passenger seat. One is carpooling, the other is driving with a piece of paper.

Filed on under The News

How can you tell if one of your employees has committed fraud, and is currently considering covering up their misdeeds? According to a new study published by accounting firm Ernst & Young, apparently you can start by searching for the phrase “cover up.” No, really. Here are the top 15 phrases:

  1. Cover up
  2. Write off
  3. Illegal
  4. Failed investment
  5. Nobody will find out
  6. Grey area
  7. They owe it to me
  8. Do not volunteer information
  9. Not ethical
  10. Off the books
  11. Backdate
  12. No inspection
  13. Pull earnings forward
  14. Special fees
  15. Friendly payments

I thought this was fake until I saw Ernst & Young’s name pop up eleven times on Wikipedia’s article about accounting scandals. They must be experts at this kind of thing. Via Quartz.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

In 1800, it took a month and a half to get to Chicago from New York City. My three hour bus ride back home for Christmas would have taken a full week. (Or more, depending on the snow.)

The Mother Nature Network posted a fun series of maps which show how our country’s become smaller as transportation’s become faster. In one lifetime, from 1800 to 1857, travel from NYC to Chicago went from six weeks to two days. By 1857, those six weeks got you all the way out to Seattle.

Technology is kickin’ rad.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant