Interesting slo-mo on the road [Published articles]

Joey Hess: stupid long route [Published articles]

There's an old net story from the 80's, which I can't find right now, but is about two computers, 10 feet apart, having a ridiculously long network route between them, packets traveling into other states or countries and back, when they could have flowed over a short cable.

Ever since I read that, I've been collecting my own ridiculously long routes. ssh bouncing from country to country, making letters I type travel all the way around the world until they echo back on my screen. Tasting the latency that's one of the only ways we can viscerally understand just how big a tangle of wires humanity has built.

Yesterday, I surpassed all that, and I did it in a way that hearkens right back to the original story. I had two computers, 20 feet apart, I wanted one to talk to the other, and the route between the two ended up traveling not around the Earth, but almost the distance to the Moon.

I was rebuilding my home's access point, and ran into a annoying bug that prevented it from listening to wifi. I knew it was still connected over ethernet to the satellite receiver.

I connected my laptop to the satellite receiver over wifi. But, I didn't know the IP address to reach the access point. Then I remembered I had set it up so incoming ssh to the satellite receiver was directed to the access point.

So, I sshed to a computer in New Jersey. And from there I sshed to my access point. And the latency was amazing. Because, every time I pressed a key:

  • It was sent to a satellite in geosynchrous orbit, 22250 miles high.
  • Which beamed it back to a ground station in Texas, another 22250 miles.
  • Which routed it over cable to New Jersey to my server there.
  • Which bounced it back to a Texas-size dish, which zapped it back to orbit, another 22250 miles.
  • And the satellite transmitted it back in the general direction of my house, another 22250 miles.
  • So my keystroke finally reached the access point. But then it had to show me it had received it. So that whole process happened again in reverse, adding another 89000 miles travel total.
  • And finally, after 178000 and change miles of data transfer, the letter I'd typed a full second ago appeared on my screen.

Not bad for a lazy solution to a problem that could have been solved by walking across the room, eh?

Previously: roundtrip latency from a cabin with dialup in 2011

Ancient data, modern math and the hunt for lost cities of the Bronze Age [Published articles]

Scaling Postgres with Read Replicas and Using WAL to Counter Stale Reads [Published articles]

Microsoft and GitHub Team Up To Take Git Virtual File System To MacOS, Linux [Published articles]

An anonymous reader writes: One of the more surprising stories of the past year was Microsoft's announcement that it was going to use the Git version control system for Windows development. Microsoft had to modify Git to handle the demands of Windows development but said that it wanted to get these modifications accepted upstream and integrated into the standard Git client. That plan appears to be going well. Yesterday, the company announced that GitHub was adopting its modifications and that the two would be working together to bring suitable clients to macOS and Linux. Microsoft says that, so far, about half of its modifications have been accepted upstream, with upstream Git developers broadly approving of the approach the company has taken to improve the software's scaling. Redmond also says that it has been willing to make changes to its approach to satisfy the demands of upstream Git. The biggest complexity is that Git has a very conservative approach to compatibility, requiring that repositories remain compatible across versions. Microsoft and GitHub are also working to bring similar capabilities to other platforms, with macOS coming first, and later Linux. The obvious way to do this on both systems is to use FUSE, an infrastructure for building file systems that run in user mode rather than kernel mode (desirable because user-mode development is easier and safer than kernel mode). However, the companies have discovered that FUSE isn't fast enough for this -- a lesson Dropbox also learned when developing a similar capability, Project Infinite. Currently, the companies believe that tapping into a macOS extensibility mechanism called Kauth (or KAuth) will be the best way forward.

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The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act Restricts Congress, Not Surveillance [Published articles]

The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017—legislation meant to extend government surveillance powers—squanders several opportunities for meaningful reform and, astonishingly, manages to push civil liberties backwards. The bill is a gift to the intelligence community, restricting surveillance reforms, not surveillance itself.

The bill (S. 2010) was introduced October 25 by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) as an attempt to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. That law authorizes surveillance that ensnares the communications of countless Americans, and it is the justification used by agencies like the FBI to search through those collected American communications without first obtaining a warrant. Section 702 will expire at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes it.

Other proposed legislation in the House and Senate has used Section 702’s sunset as a moment to move surveillance reform forward, demanding at least minor protections to how 702-collected American communications are accessed. In contrast, Senator Burr’s bill uses Section 702’s sunset as an opportunity codify some of the intelligence community’s more contentious practices while also neglecting the refined conversations on surveillance happening in Congress today. 

Here is a breakdown of the bill.

“About” Collection

Much of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (the “Burr bill” for short) deals with a type of surveillance called “about” collection, a practice in which the NSA searches Internet traffic for any mentions of foreign intelligence surveillance targets. As an example, the NSA could search for mentions of a target’s email address. But the communications being searched do not have to be addressed to or from that email address, the communications would simply need to include the address in their text.  This is not normal for communications surveillance.

Importantly, nothing in Section 702 today mentions or even hints at “about” collection, and it wasn’t until 2013 that we learned about it. A 2011 opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—which provides judicial review for the Section 702 program—found this practice to be unconstitutional without strict post-collection rules to limit its retention and use.

Indeed, it is a practice the NSA ended in April precisely “to reduce the chance that it would acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”  Alarmingly, it is a practice the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act defines expansively and provides guidelines for restarting.

According to the bill, should the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence decide that “about” collection needs to start up again, all they need to do is ask specified Congressional committees. Then, a 30-day clock begins ticking. It’s up to Congress to act before the clock stops.

In those 30 days, at least one committee—including the House Judiciary Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—must draft, vote, and pass legislation that specifically disallows the continuation of “about” collection, working against the requests of the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

If Congress fails to pass such legislation in 30 days, “about” collection can restart.

The 30-day period has more restrictions. If legislation is referred to any House committee because of the committee’s oversight obligations, that committee must report the legislation to the House of Representatives within 10 legislative days. If the Senate moves legislation forward, “consideration of the qualifying legislation, and all amendments, debatable motions, and appeals in connection therewith, shall be limited to not more than 10 hours,” the bill says.

Limiting discussion on “about” collection to just 10 hours—when members of Congress have struggled with it for years—is reckless. It robs Congress of the ability to accurately debate a practice whose detractors even include the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)—the judicial body that reviews and approves Section 702 surveillance.

Worse, the Burr bill includes a process to skirt legislative approval of “about” collection in emergencies. If Congress has not already disapproved “about” collection within the 30-day period, and if the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence determine that such “about” collection is necessary for an emergency, they can obtain approval from the FISC without Congress.

And if during the FISC approval process, Congress passes legislation preventing “about” collection—effectively creating both approval and disapproval from two separate bodies—the Burr bill provides no clarity on what happens next. Any Congressional efforts to protect American communications could be thrown aside.

These are restrictions on Congress, not surveillance—as well as an open invitation to restart “about” searching.

What Else is Wrong?

The Burr bill includes an 8-year sunset period, the longest period included in current Section 702 reauthorization bills. The USA Liberty Act—introduced in the House—sunsets in six years. The USA Rights Act—introduced in the Senate—sunsets in four.

The Burr bill also allows Section 702-collected data to be used in criminal proceedings against U.S. persons so long as the Attorney General determines that the crime involves a multitude of subjects. Those subjects include death, kidnapping, seriously bodily injury, incapacitation or destruction of critical infrastructure, and human trafficking. The Attorney General can also determine that the crime involves “cybersecurity,” a vague term open to broad abuse.

The Attorney General’s determinations in these situations are not subject to judicial review.

The bill also includes a small number of reporting requirements for the FBI Director and the FISC. These are minor improvements that are greatly outweighed by the bill’s larger problems.

No Protections from Warrantless Searching of American Communications

The Burr bill fails to protect U.S. persons from warrantless searches of their communications by intelligence agencies like the FBI and CIA.

The NSA conducts surveillance on foreign individuals living outside the United States by collecting communications both sent to and from them. Often, U.S. persons are communicating with these individuals, and those communications are swept up by the NSA as well. Those communications are then stored in a massive database that can be searched by outside agencies like the FBI and CIA. These unconstitutional searches do not require a warrant and are called “backdoor” searches because they skirt U.S. persons’ Fourth Amendment rights.

The USA Liberty Act, which we have written extensively about, creates a warrant requirement when government agents look through Section 702-collected data for evidence of a crime, but not for searches for foreign intelligence. The USA Rights Act creates warrant requirements for all searches of American communications within Section 702-collected data, with “emergency situation” exemptions that require judicial oversight.

The Burr bill offers nothing.

No Whistleblower Protections

The Burr bill also fails to extend workplace retaliation protections to intelligence community contractors who report what they believe is illegal behavior within the workforce. This protection, while limited, is offered by the USA Liberty Act. The USA Rights Act takes a different approach, approving new, safe reporting channels for internal government whistleblowers.

What’s Next?

The Burr bill has already gone through markup in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. This means that it could be taken up for a floor vote by the Senate.

Your voice is paramount right now. As 2017 ends, Congress is slammed with packages on debt, spending, and disaster relief—all which require votes in less than six weeks. To cut through the log jam, members of Congress could potentially attach the Burr bill to other legislation, robbing surveillance reform of its own vote. It’s a maneuver that Senator Burr himself, according to a Politico report, approves.

Just because this bill is ready, doesn’t mean it’s good. Far from it, actually.

We need your help to stop this surveillance extension bill. Please tell your Senators that the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 is unacceptable.

Tell them surveillance requires reform, not regression.  

Take action today.

Related Cases: 

FCC Approves Next-Gen ATSC 3.0 TV Standard [Published articles]

New submitter mikeebbbd writes: "U.S. regulators on Thursday approved the use of new technology that will improve picture quality on mobile phones, tablets and television, but also raises significant privacy concerns by giving advertisers dramatically more data about viewing habits," reports Reuters. ATSC3.0 will apparently make personal data collection and targeted ads possible. New TVs will be necessary, and broadcasters will need to transmit both ATSC 2.0 (the current standard) for 3 to 5 years before turning off the older system. For now, the conversion is voluntary. There appears to be no requirement (as there was when ATSC 2.0 came out) for low-cost adapter boxes to make older TVs work; once a channel goes ATSC 3.0-only, your old TV will not display it any more.

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The Orville’s First Season Might Surprise You [Published articles]

I love the first 6-8 episodes of a TV show in its first season, because it always seems like the process is at its most transparent there. The first script order is when a show is figuring out what it is and how it’s going to work, actors and writers alike throwing things at the wall and gradually learning their way through the rhythms of their work. Some shows skip this step—Leverage in particular arrived fully formed and smiling as it quietly lifted the wallets of very bad men—but for most there’s a learning curve,

The Orville has followed that curve. What started out looking a lot like a weirdly elaborate and staggeringly unnecessary Star Trek: The Next Generation parody is rapidly becoming something interesting and new. That’s because The Orville hasn’t just spent this first run of episodes learning what it is, it’s spent it trying to balance two equally demanding requirements at the same: it has to be funny while also providing convincing drama.

The comedy side of things is still, often, pretty shaky. Recent episodes “Majority Rule” and “Krill” were designed to shine a spotlight on the ship’s navigator and helmsman, John Lamarr and Gordon Molloy, respectively. Neither worked, with the entire script of “Majority Rule” turning on the idea that John, a highly trained naval officer, would think that dry-humping a statue in public on an alien world is somehow a consequence-less action. Likewise, “Krill,” which in many ways is the darkest episode of the show so far, was hampered by Gordon’s continual carrying of the idiot ball. There’s a thin line between using humour as a means of spiking or cutting tension, on one hand, and using humour to completely destroy it, on the other. Despite the best efforts of J. Lee and Scott Grimes as John and Gordon, those episodes cross that line—or, more to the point, they trip over it and come crashing down the stairs at the worst possible moment.

When the comedy works, though—and it’s working more and more—it’s because it’s unforced. The show takes off in the first episode, “Old Wounds,” when former married couple turned senior officers Ed and Kelly stop bickering and verbally bouncea scientist around between them for making what seems to be an anti-banana ray (It isn’t, and they know that, but that’s the point). The rapid-fire dialogue, the easy chemistry between Adrianne Palicki and Seth MacFarlane, and the charm in seeing two Navy brats really having fun for the first time lands the joke good and hard, and the show has had repeated success ploughing that particular furrow. The closing moments of “If The Stars Should Appear” are another example: as the crew help the descendants of a generation ship crew realise their destiny, Doctor Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson. Captain Mercer tries, and EPICALLY fails, to indicate that he knows both the quote and the author. It’s fun—a self-deprecating moment that gently parodies the tendency for all Starfleet captains to be polymath fans of highbrow literature (with occasional forays into such areas of expertise as gourmet coffee, Earl Grey tea, baseball, and water polo).

Time and again, this is where the show’s comedy works: in balancing the utopian ideal of its Starfleet-like central organization with the endearing rubbishness of its staff. In “Command Performance,” when Alara realizes she’s now in charge, her first action is to sprint to a food vendor, order a tequila and slam it. In the opening scenes of “Cupid’s Dagger,” Bortus gets one of the biggest laughs of the season through his choice of karaoke song. The Orville as a show, and the Orville as a crew, are at their best when they’re at their most honest—normal, flawed, good people doing an impossible job to the best of their abilities.

The dramatic side of things has been smoother sailing, for the most part. A big part of that is down to how remarkably evenhanded MacFarlane and the show’s writers’ room have been with the spotlight. It’s especially impressive given that MacFarlane is basically pulling a Matt Albie/Aaron Sorkin here, having written all but three episodes to date. It would be massively easy for him to put his character, Captain Ed Mercer, front and centre all the time. Instead, Ed is frequently the butt of jokes, and in some episodes he’s barely present. In fact, in “Into The Fold” and “Majority Rule,” Ed essentially provides dramatic punctuation. He shows up at the beginning and end of the episodes to bring the plots in for a landing—for the rest of the time, the stage belongs to everyone else.

This evenhanded approach has led to most of the characters having opportunities to grow throughout the season. Gordon and John’s aforementioned moments in the spotlight didn’t go so well, but the others have been handled very well. Halston Sage, as Security Chief Alara Kitan, has become a mainstay of the show and her spotlight episode, “Command Performance,” is an early highlight. There’s a definite hint of Next Gen classic “The Lower Decks” to the story as Alara struggles with her first command when Ed and Kelly are kidnapped. Likewise, Peter Macon as Bortus, the ship’s second officer, has benefitted hugely from the extra room allowed his character. A Moclan, a single gender species who reproduce via eggs, Bortus started as the obvious Worf analog but is already diverging from that. The struggle to maintain his life as a parent, a partner, and an officer is a repeated C plot that seems to be building towards something later in the season, and the show has a refreshing lack of easy answers for his problems. Plus, Macon’s endlessly stoic presence has been the delivery system for some of the show’s best jokes to date. (And we all know Bortus’ version of “My Heart Will Go On” would be EPIC.)

The remarkable Penny Johnson Jerald has also been given great stuff to do as ship’s Doctor Claire Finn. A veteran officer and mother of two boys, Claire is the responsible adult in every room she’s in. She’s also an informal, relaxed counsellor for several of the ship’s officers, and her friendship with Alara in particular is one of the show’s best strands. Jerald’s spotlight episode, “Into The Fold,” gives her a chance to balance that warmth with a core of steel. Separated from her kids and crewmate Isaac in a shuttle crash, Claire has to escape her captor and help keep the others alive long enough for rescue. There’s a moment towards the end of the episode where she’s instructing her older son in how to use a sidearm that’s one of the best character moments in the show to date. Her last command is “Set on stun. They may not respect life, but we do.” Doctors McCoy, Crusher, Bashir, EMH, and Phlox would be proud.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the show so far is how successfully it has turned around its original central premise. The first episode spends much of its running time with Ed endlessly busting on his new XO/ex-wife Kelly for her infidelity. For a good half hour, the show looked horribly like it was going to boil down to “Take my wife, please!” in space. Even the promo photos portrayed Ed as a grumpy man-child, slumped as far away from Kelly as possible on the bridge.

Now, on the one hand, this is understandable as a plot point in that infidelity and divorce are awful, complex things that cause plenty of damage in the short term. On the other, in practice, this dynamic felt very much like MacFarlane clinging to his established brand like a dinosaur roaring defiance at the asteroid that’s about to land on it. Worst of all, it looked for a while like this toxic relationship was all the show was ever going to be—the ship saves a planet, Ed reminds Kelly that she slept with someone else. The ship is thrown back in time, Ed jokes about how they could stop Kelly from eventually ruining his life while they’re in the past.

Thankfully, The Orville has moved past this unpleasant rut very, very quickly. Adrianne Palicki’s Kelly is one of the best characters on the show: skilled, tough, principled, a great First Officer. Her plot line in “If The Stars Should Appear” is surprisingly hard-hitting and Palicki carries it off with the bloody-knuckled strength and intensity she’s become known for as an actress. Better still, she’s central to many of the show’s core friendships, especially in relation to Alara and Doctor Finn. Instead of being the villain of the piece—or worse still, an eternal punchline—Kelly has become a complex, interesting, and mature character. Who’s female. ON A SETH MACFARLANE SHOW.

And finally, there’s Ed himself. MacFarlane placing himself front and centre in a show he created, produces, and writes most of could seem egotistical. Hell, it probably is—but for the fact that Ed is consistently the butt of the joke, more than any other character. Starting out the season as walking wounded, he moves from being a constantly panicking Arnold Rimmer-like figure to something, again, far more interesting. Ed isn’t well-read, he isn’t a scholar of anything, or a veteran of something impressive and plot convenient. He’s a career military officer who is clearly not sure if he’s good enough for his job and, slowly, is learning to be the person the crew needs him to be. Like everyone else on the ship, Ed is a fundamentally a good person and his biggest challenge is getting out of his own way. The way the show explores that process is often surprising, too. Last week’s episode, “Cupid’s Dagger,” all but states out loud that Ed’s bisexual, and does so with a truly endearing lack of fanfare. “Krill,” for all its countless faults, puts Ed in the impossible position of saving a human colony at the expense of thousands of Krill lives. His solution is far from perfect, and the episode’s punchline destroys almost all of the good will it earns, but the attempt is there, if not the success. Yet.

The Orville is entering the home stretch of its first season with only four episodes to go and it’s still never met a cheap joke it didn’t like. But it’s also developing a clearer and clearer idea of just what it is: a series about a crew of decent, flawed people doing their best to help others. They, and the show, don’t often manage it. But what they have managed to do is create a fundamentally kind, hopeful piece of science fiction just when it’s needed most. The Orville and her crew are far from perfect, but that’s the point—and, more and more, the show’s biggest strength.

Alasdair Stuart is a freelancer writer, RPG writer and podcaster. He owns Escape Artists, who publish the short fiction podcasts Escape PodPseudopodPodcastleCast of Wonders, and the magazine Mothership Zeta. He blogs enthusiastically about pop culture, cooking and exercise at Alasdairstuart.com, and tweets @AlasdairStuart.

NASA simulation of this year's hurricane season [Published articles]

NASA published an animation depicting this years' rough hurricane season in two smooth minutes. It's beautifully wispy and liquid, a fascinating contrast to the radar machine-vision we usually get of weather patterns. From the press release:

How can you see the atmosphere? By tracking what is carried on the wind. Tiny aerosol particles such as smoke, dust, and sea salt are tranpsorted across the globe, making visible weather patterns and other normally invisible physical processes.

This visualization uses data from NASA satellites, combined with mathematical models in a computer simulation allow scientists to study the physical processes in our atmosphere. By following the sea salt that is evaporated from the ocean, you can see the storms of the 2017 hurricane season.

During the same time, large fires in the Pacific Northwest released smoke into the atmosphere. Large weather patterns can transport these particles long distances: in early September, you can see a line of smoke from Oregon and Washington, down the Great Plains, through the South, and across the Atlantic to England.

Dust from the Sahara is also caught in storms sytems and moved from Africa to the Americas. Unlike the sea salt, however, the dust is removed from the center of the storm. The dust particles are absorbed by cloud droplets and then washed out as it rains. Advances in computing speed allow scientists to include more details of these physical processes in their simulations of how the aerosols interact with the storm systems.

"To refrain from imitation is the best revenge" - Marcus Aurelius (Meditations Book 6) [Published articles]

Alternatively in the Long translation: "The best way of avenging thyself is not to become like the wrongdoer."

submitted by /u/Carl_B to r/Stoicism
[link] [comments]

Digital Resource Lifespan [Published articles]

I spent a long time thinking about how to design a system for long-term organization and storage of subject-specific informational resources without needing ongoing work from the experts who created them, only to realized I'd just reinvented libraries.

Real Estate [Published articles]

I tried converting the prices into pizzas, to put it in more familiar terms, and it just became a hard-to-think-about number of pizzas.

USB Cables [Published articles]

Tag yourself, I'm "frayed."

/u/alexmojaki backs up the claim that the CDC shall not study guns; citing specific funding being stripped from the CDC's budget as punishment for doing so, showing that a lack of a technical ban doesn't mean the CDC is free to do as it pleases. [Published articles]

Equifax CEO to Congress: Not Sure We Are Encrypting Data [Published articles]

Exit Interview: Scott Kelly [Published articles]

An excerpt from a new interview of Scott Kelly, now a retired astronaut, who spent 11 months and three days at the International Space Station in one stretch: Q: What does space smell like? It smells different to different people. Some people say it smells sweet. To me it smells like burnt metal, like if you took a blowtorch to some steel or something. Q: When you're up there on the ISS, arguably you're the most expensive human being on the planet except the president. The amount of resources being spent to keep you alive are enormous. Did that weigh on you at all? Never even thought about that. No. Never considered it. I appreciated the effort that people went through to make sure you're safe, and are taken care of and supported while you're there, but I never considered the cost of it. Question: Did it feel like, 'Man, I gotta work all the time'? I think some people feel that way. I kind of felt that way on my [first, six-month ISS mission]. But having flown for six months, and then a few years later flying for a year, I realized I couldn't do that. So I definitely had to pace myself throughout the course of the year. Q: Did you lose anything in the station?All kinds of stuff! One of the last things I remember losing was this fancy, 3-D printed cover for some experiment. It was for the camera and I turn around and the thing's gone, and they didn't have a spare. I've got to see if they've found that thing yet. Oh, yeah. We lost a bag of screws and washers one time. Question: When you're on the U.S. side of the ISS and the Russians are on their side, how much interaction is there, day-to-day? They work predominantly in the Russian segment and have their meals there, so during waking hours, they're generally on their side, we're generally on our side. You interact, you go down there, you chat with them, you come back, you might perform some kind of experiments, they might do a little thing in our space station, but it's what we refer to as "segmented ops." Question: Does it feel like you're all in it together? Yes! Absolutely. We actually do some things to help each other that we don't even share with the ground because then it creates like bureaucratic ... issues for them to deal with. I've been asked to help fix some of their hardware, their treadmill one time. We help each other getting trash off the space station without telling the folks in Houston.

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When your fire physics are too real [Published articles]

Programming Language Go Turns 8 [Published articles]

On this day, eight years ago, a group of programmers at Google released Go, a brand-new open-source programming language that they hoped would solve some of the problems they faced with Java, C++ and other programming languages. In the past eight years, Go has gotten a tremendous traction, with Go helping drive several services running inside Google. The company, on its part, has added a handful of features to Go, including a revamped garbage collector in 2015, and support for various ARM processors. From a blog post: Go has been embraced by developers all over the world with approximately one million users worldwide. In the freshly published 2017 Octoverse by GitHub, Go has become the #9 most popular language, surpassing C. Go is the fastest growing language on GitHub in 2017 in the top 10 with 52% growth over the previous year. In growth, Go swapped places with Javascript, which fell to the second spot with 44%. In Stack Overflow's 2017 developer survey, Go was the only language that was both on the top 5 most loved and top 5 most wanted languages. People who use Go, love it, and the people who aren't using Go, want to be. [...] Since Go was first open sourced we have had 10 releases of the language, libraries and tooling with more than 1680 contributors making over 50,000 commits to the project's 34 repositories; More than double the number of contributors and nearly double the number of commits from only two years ago. This year we announced that we have begun planning Go 2, our first major revision of the language and tooling.

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NASA Discovers Mantle Plume That's Melting Antarctica From Below [Published articles]

schwit1 shares a report from Newsweek: Researchers at NASA have discovered a huge upwelling of hot rock under Marie Byrd Land, which lies between the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ross Sea, is creating vast lakes and rivers under the ice sheet. The presence of a huge mantle plume could explain why the region is so unstable today, and why it collapsed so quickly at the end of the last Ice Age, 11,000 years ago. Mantle plumes are thought to be part of the plumbing systems that brings hot material up from Earth's interior. Once it gets through the mantle, it spreads out under the crust, providing magma for volcanic eruptions. The area above a plume is known as a hotspot. [I]n a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, Seroussi and colleagues looked at one of the most well studied magma plumes on Earth -- the Yellowstone hotspot. The team developed a mantle plume model to look at how much geothermal heat would be needed to explain what is seen at Marie Byrd Land. They then used the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM), which shows the physics of ice sheets, to look at the natural sources of heating and heat transport. This model enabled researchers to place "powerful constraint" on how much melt rate was allowable, meaning they could test out different scenarios of how much heat was being produced deep beneath the ice. Their findings showed that generally, the energy being generated by the mantle plume is no more than 150 milliwatts per square meter -- any more would result in too much melting. The heat generated under Yellowstone National Park, on average, is 200 milliwatts per square meter.

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View into the upsidedown [Published articles]

Simple exploit can be used to disable Brother printers remotely [Published articles]

The only people who should have access to your printer's web interface are the people who need it

Researchers Run Unsigned Code on Intel ME By Exploiting USB Ports [Published articles]

Slashdot user bongey writes: A pair of security researchers in Russia are claiming to have compromised the Intel Management Engine just using one of the computer's USB ports. The researchers gained access to a fully functional JTAG connection to Intel CSME via USB DCI. The claim is different from previous USB DCI JTAG examples from earlier this year. Full JTAG access to the ME would allow making permanent hidden changes to the machine. "Getting into and hijacking the Management Engine means you can take full control of a box," reports the Register, "underneath and out of sight of whatever OS, hypervisor or antivirus is installed." They add that "This powerful God-mode technology is barely documented," while The Next Web points out that USB ports are "a common attack vector."

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TSA remains bafflingly incompetent [Published articles]

The folks who make every visit to the airport intolerable are doing it without providing any results. ABC once again finds that the TSA nearly unable to stop folks from illegally carrying a handgun on to an aeroplane. The TSA does, however, make life miserable for breast-feeding mothers, and diabetics who need to travel with fluids or die, and pretty much everyone else.

Via ABC:

In recent undercover tests of multiple airport security checkpoints by the Department of Homeland Security, inspectors said screeners, their equipment or their procedures failed more than half of the time, according to a source familiar with the classified report.

When ABC News asked the source familiar with the report if the failure rate was 80 percent, the response was, “You are in the ballpark.”

In a public hearing following a private, classified briefing to the House Committee on Homeland Security, members of Congress called the failures by the Transportation Security Administration "disturbing."

DOJ: Strong Encryption That We Don't Have Access To Is 'Unreasonable' [Published articles]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Just two days after the FBI said it could not get into the Sutherland Springs shooter's seized iPhone, Politico Pro published a lengthy interview with a top Department of Justice official who has become the "government's unexpected encryption warrior." According to the interview, which was summarized and published in transcript form on Thursday for subscribers of the website, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein indicated that the showdown between the DOJ and Silicon Valley is quietly intensifying. "We have an ongoing dialogue with a lot of tech companies in a variety of different areas," he told Politico Pro. "There's some areas where they are cooperative with us. But on this particular issue of encryption, the tech companies are moving in the opposite direction. They're moving in favor of more and more warrant-proof encryption." "I want our prosecutors to know that, if there's a case where they believe they have an appropriate need for information and there is a legal avenue to get it, they should not be reluctant to pursue it," Rosenstein said. "I wouldn't say we're searching for a case. I''d say we're receptive, if a case arises, that we would litigate." In the interview, Rosenstein also said he "favors strong encryption." "I favor strong encryption, because the stronger the encryption, the more secure data is against criminals who are trying to commit fraud," he explained. "And I'm in favor of that, because that means less business for us prosecuting cases of people who have stolen data and hacked into computer networks and done all sorts of damage. So I'm in favor of strong encryption." "This is, obviously, a related issue, but it's distinct, which is, what about cases where people are using electronic media to commit crimes? Having access to those devices is going to be critical to have evidence that we can present in court to prove the crime. I understand why some people merge the issues. I understand that they're related. But I think logically, we have to look at these differently. People want to secure their houses, but they still need to get in and out. Same issue here." He later added that the claim that the "absolutist position" that strong encryption should be by definition, unbreakable, is "unreasonable." "And I think it's necessary to weigh law enforcement equities in appropriate cases against the interest in security," he said.

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Logitech is killing all Logitech Harmony Link universal remotes as of March 16th 2018. Disabling the devices consumers purchased without reimbursement. [Published articles]

First international asteroid tracking exercise proves a success [Published articles]

Asteroid 2012 TC4 appears as a dot at the center of this composite of 37 individual ...

An international team led by NASA has tested the International Asteroid Warning Network, which successfully tracked a potentially dangerous asteroid as it made a close flyby of the Earth in October. Billed as the first global exercise using a real asteroid to test global response capabilities, the TC4 Observation Campaign observed and plotted the orbit of the asteroid 012 TC4 as it passed within 27,200 mi (43,780 km) of the Earth.

.. Continue Reading First international asteroid tracking exercise proves a success

Category: Space

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Flaw Crippling Millions of Crypto Keys Is Worse Than First Disclosed [Published articles]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A crippling flaw affecting millions -- and possibly hundreds of millions -- of encryption keys used in some of the highest-stakes security settings is considerably easier to exploit than originally reported, cryptographers declared over the weekend. The assessment came as Estonia abruptly suspended 760,000 national ID cards used for voting, filing taxes, and encrypting sensitive documents. The critical weakness allows attackers to calculate the private portion of any vulnerable key using nothing more than the corresponding public portion. Hackers can then use the private key to impersonate key owners, decrypt sensitive data, sneak malicious code into digitally signed software, and bypass protections that prevent accessing or tampering with stolen PCs. When researchers first disclosed the flaw three weeks ago, they estimated it would cost an attacker renting time on a commercial cloud service an average of $38 and 25 minutes to break a vulnerable 1024-bit key and $20,000 and nine days for a 2048-bit key. Organizations known to use keys vulnerable to ROCA—named for the Return of the Coppersmith Attack the factorization method is based on—have largely downplayed the severity of the weakness. On Sunday, researchers Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange reported they developed an attack that was 25 percent more efficient than the one created by original ROCA researchers. The new attack was solely the result of Bernstein and Lange based only on the public disclosure information from October 16, which at the time omitted specifics of the factorization attack in an attempt to increase the time hackers would need to carry out real-world attacks. After creating their more efficient attack, they submitted it to the original researchers. The release last week of the original attack may help to improve attacks further and to stoke additional improvements from other researchers as well.

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Sleep Deprivation Disrupts Brain-Cell Communication, Study Finds [Published articles]

A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine found that sleep deprivation causes the bursts of electrical activity that brain cells use to communicate to become slower and weaker. "The finding could help explain why a lack of sleep impairs a range of mental functions, says Dr. Itzhak Fried, an author of the study and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles," reports NPR. From the report: The finding comes from an unusual study of patients being evaluated for surgery to correct severe epilepsy. As part of the evaluation, doctors place wires in the brain to find out where a patient's seizures are starting. That allows Fried and a team of scientists to monitor hundreds of individual brain cells, often for days. And because patients with epilepsy are frequently kept awake in order to provoke a seizure, the scientists had an ideal way to study the effects of sleep deprivation. In the study, all the patients agreed to categorize images of faces, places and animals. Each image caused cells in areas of the brain involved in perception to produce distinctive patterns of electrical activity. Then, four of the patients stayed up all night before looking at more images. And in these patients, "the neurons are responding slower," Fried says. "The responses are diminished, and they are smeared over longer periods of time." These changes impair the cells' ability to communicate, Fried says. And that leads to mental lapses that can affect not only perception but memory.

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Man builds airplane on apartment roof [Published articles]

Pilot Amol Yadav upped and said, one day, that he would construct an airplane on the roof of his apartment building in Mumbai. But how will you get it down, friends asked...

"I really don't know," he told them. Mr Yadav, who flies twin-engine turboprop planes for a living, is nothing if not obstinate. The five-storey building, home to his 19-member joint family, didn't have a lift, so they lugged factory lathes, compressors, welding machines, and an imported 180kg (396lb) engine up the narrow stairwell to the roof. Braving sticky summers and torrential monsoon rains, Mr Yadav and his motley crew - an automobile garage mechanic and an expert fabricator - worked under a tarp shed on the unkempt 111.5 sq m (1,200 sq ft) roof, less than half the size of a tennis court. In February last year, his six-seater propeller plane was ready.

Defensive Profile [Published articles]

NO DRAMA ZONE -> If I've made you sad, you'd better not tell me, because I am TERRIFIED of that situation and have NO IDEA how to handle it.

Calvin and Hobbes Showed The Trouble With Organized Sports And Father Figures [Published articles]

In 1990, Bill Watterson created a Calvin and Hobbes storyline in which Calvin is bullied into playing baseball during recess. Watterson drew a relatable, cautionary tale about the dangers of cramming boys into neat little boxes. Everyone in this story wants Calvin to do something he hates, but even when he commits to…

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The Only Way to Truly Experience Thor: Ragnarok Is With the Cast Acting It Out Live [Published articles]

Sure, Thor: Ragnarok is a pretty great movie. But who needs fancy lightning special effects and dazzling set design when you could just watch the cast perform it in front of you like a high school play?

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An American was sentenced to Guantanamo Bay? What exactly happened? [Published articles]

All I heard was that the first American in over eight years was sentenced to serve in Guantanamo. I think he has already been released, but can't find much info on what happened.

All my searches turn up the threats to the recent NY truck attack.

Edit: This question is NOT about the NY attack at all.

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Construction zone: filling in the cracks [Published articles]

NGC 6357 - Lobster Nebula [Published articles]

NASA SDO Image: Jack-o-Lantern Sun [2048 × 2048] [Published articles]

Make the Haunted Mansion's Hitching Ghosts Who Follow You Home [Published articles]

The Haunted Mansion, no matter what Disney park it’s in (California, Orlando, Paris, or Tokyo), has been a fan favorite since it opened at Disneyland in 1969. For years even The Walt Disney Company would refer to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as the last attraction which Walt personally supervised, but that’s baloney. Walt was shown concept art and models of many of the effects that would appear in The Haunted Mansion which eventually opened years after his death. Which brings me to today’s Halloween offering. The three Hitchhiking Ghosts appear infrequently in the ride, however they have become the iconic characters most identified with it. Years ago, Disney published three paper sculptures on The Disney Blog that allowed you to download, print out, and construct three very special models of the Hitchhiking Ghosts—their heads turn and follow you as you pass them by. The effect is based upon the ancient optical illusion known as The Hollow Face. Most simply, a cast of a face is made in a concave (or negative) sculpture. If you look at the cast with one eye closed and walk by it, the face will appear to turn and follow your movement. The Walt Disney Company obtained a patent on a new process that lit the reversed face in such a way that it was more easily viewable while both eyes are open. These busts appear several times in its Haunted Mansions. To see the sculptures created for you to download by Disney, watch this movie (since the camera has only one eye, the turning effect works very well). https://youtu.be/4-AlsVsLCNw And now it’s DIY time: click on each image below, download it. Print it out on cardstock and follow the instructions to create your own Hitchhiking Ghosts that will watch the trick or treaters and follow them as they go home. To increase the effect of the heads turning, wink at the ghosts as you pass them. They'll appreciate that. Ezra Phineas Gus All Materials Copyright Disney.

How Facebook made money dividing the US into adversarial political subgroups [Published articles]

Earlier this month Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos threw a twittertantrum over accusations that Facebook's algorithms promoted fake news in its users' feeds: "I am seeing a ton of coverage of our recent issues driven by stereotypes of our employees and attacks against fantasy, strawman tech cos," he wrote. "Nobody of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as neutral. Nobody is not aware of the risks."

Nobody of substance at the big companies thinks of algorithms as neutral. Nobody is not aware of the risks.

— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) October 7, 2017

But who needs algorithms to help political trolls transmit propaganda, when Facebook's sales team created this beautiful "US Political Segmentation" menu that made it easy to target groups of people "along a political ideology spectrum."

From Buzzfeed:

Indeed, it's increasingly clear that Facebook did not police its platform effectively during the 2016 election. This week, the company will have to answer questions from Congress about its missteps, including how it allowed a $100,000 Kremlin-linked ad buy intended to influence the election and sow discord in its aftermath. Asked if any of the 14 segments were targeted in that ad buy, a Facebook spokesperson said they were not, noting that the segments were available only through sales teams from whom the Russians did not buy ads. Asked if the Russians used the broader, umbrella categories in their targeting, a Facebook spokesperson reiterated Facebook's intention to let Congress decide whether to release the ads and associated data.

Orionid Meteors from Orion [Published articles]

Meteors have been shooting out from the constellation of Orion. Meteors have been shooting out from the constellation of Orion.


Watch the Stranger Things Sheriff Dance His Way to Meme Glory [Published articles]

Howdy, I’m Jim Hopper, and I’m the Sheriff of the dance.

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HP lost key historical archives in California's wildfires [Published articles]

There's no question that California's recent wildfires are ultimately a human tragedy, destroying homes and upturning lives. Please donate if you can. However, they've also represented a loss for technology history. The Press Democrat has learned tha...

America's F-35s Can't Fly 22% of the Time, Repair Facilities Six Years Behind Schedule [Published articles]

"[N]early 200 F-35s might permanently remain unready for combat because the Pentagon would rather buy new aircraft than upgrade the ones the American people have already paid for," according to one defense news site. And now Bloomberg reports: The Pentagon is accelerating production of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 jet even though the planes already delivered are facing "significantly longer repair times" than planned because maintenance facilities are six years behind schedule, according to a draft audit. The time to repair a part has averaged 172 days -- "twice the program's objective" -- the Government Accountability Office, Congress's watchdog agency, found. The shortages are "degrading readiness" because the fighter jets "were unable to fly about 22 percent of the time" from January through August for lack of needed parts. The Pentagon has said soaring costs to develop and produce the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, have been brought under control, with the price tag now projected at $406.5 billion. But the GAO report raises new doubts about the official estimate that maintaining and operating them will cost an additional $1.12 trillion over their 60-year lifetime. Slashdot reader schwit1 writes, "This is akin to buying an exotic car you can barely afford, without also budgeting for insurance, repairs, and tuneups."

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The most self-obsessed rappers, according to their own lyrics [Published articles]

John Lemon AKA Ben conducted a statistical analysis of self-mentions by popular rappers to determine who among them was most interested in themselves. Mr. West doesn't even make the top 5; the winner was Ms. Minaj.

1st: Nicki Minaj (11.5% of all words)

Three albums. 17,665 words. 2026 explicit references to herself
A self-reference every 8.78 words
42.87 self-references per song
An average of 371.55 words per song
On "Right By My Side" she referenced herself every 3.5 words, or 28% of the song
Her most word-laden song is "All Things Go", at 718 words, with 67 self-references

Just passing through: First ever detection of visiting "interstellar object" [Published articles]

A/2017 U1 is most likely of interstellar origin

We've managed to send spacecraft out into the vast realm beyond our solar system, and now it looks as if the Galaxy is repaying the compliment. An object originating from outside the Solar System has been detected passing through the Sun's real estate. Temporarily designated as A/2017 U1, the extrasolar asteroid or comet was recorded after approaching from interstellar space and heading out again on a parabolic trajectory.

.. Continue Reading Just passing through: First ever detection of visiting "interstellar object"

Category: Space

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Monsanto Attacks Scientists After Studies Show Trouble For Weedkiller Dicamba [Published articles]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Dicamba, an old weedkiller that is being used in new ways, has thrust Kevin Bradley, a professor of weed science at the University of Missouri, and a half-dozen other university weed scientists into the unfamiliar role of whistleblower, confronting what they believe are misleading and scientifically unfounded claims by one of the country's biggest seed and pesticide companies: Monsanto. The tensions between Monsanto and the nation's weed scientists actually began several years ago, when Monsanto first moved to make dicamba the centerpiece of a new weedkilling strategy. The company tweaked the genes in soybeans and cotton and created genetically modified varieties of those crops that can tolerate doses of dicamba. (Normally, dicamba kills those crops.) This allowed farmers to spray the weedkiller directly on their soybean or cotton plants, killing the weeds while their crops survived. It's an approach that Monsanto pioneered with crops that were genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, or Roundup. After two decades of heavy exposure to glyphosate, however, devastating weeds like Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, developed resistance to it. So farmers are looking for new weedkilling tools. Dicamba, however, has a well-known defect. It's volatile; it tends to evaporate from the soil or vegetation where it has been sprayed, creating a cloud of plant-killing vapor that can spread in unpredictable directions. It happens more in hot weather, and Monsanto's new strategy inevitably would mean spraying dicamba in the heat of summer. Monsanto and two other chemical companies, BASF and DuPont, announced that they had solved this problem with new "low-volatility" formulations of dicamba that don't evaporate as easily. Yet the companies -- especially Monsanto -- made it difficult for university scientists to verify those claims with independent tests before the products were released commercially.

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US Voting Server At Heart of Russian Hack Probe Mysteriously Wiped [Published articles]

A computer at the center of a lawsuit digging into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election has been wiped. "The server in question is based in Georgia -- a state that narrowly backed Donald Trump, giving him 16 electoral votes -- and stored the results of the state's vote-management system," reports The Register. "The deletion of its filesystem data makes analysis of whether the system was compromised impossible to ascertain." From the report: There is good reason to believe that the computer may have been tampered with: it is 15 years old, and could be harboring all sorts of exploitable software and hardware vulnerabilities. No hard copies of the votes are kept, making the electronic copy the only official record. While investigating the Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which oversees Georgia's voting system, last year, security researcher Logan Lamb found its system was misconfigured, exposing the state's entire voter registration records, multiple PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers, and the software systems used to tally votes cast. Despite Lamb letting the election center knows of his findings, the security holes were left unpatched for seven months. He later went public after the U.S. security services announced there had been a determined effort by the Russian government to sway the presidential elections, including looking at compromising electronic voting machines. In an effort to force the state to scrap the system, a number of Georgia voters bandied together and sued. They asked for an independent security review of the server, expecting to find flaws that would lend weight to their argument for investment in a more modern and secure system. But emails released this week following a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that technicians at the election center deleted the server's data on July 7 -- just days after the lawsuit was filed. The memos reveal multiple references to the data wipe, including a message sent just last week from an assistant state attorney general to the plaintiffs in the case. That same email also notes that backups of the server data were also deleted more than a month after the initial wipe -- just as the lawsuit moved to a federal court. It is unclear who ordered the destruction of the data, and why, but they have raised yet more suspicions of collusion between the Trump campaign team, the Republican Party, and the Russian government.

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Guy starts playing Chopsticks on the piano at a Talent Show and everyone laughs at him until it turns into something monstrous [Published articles]

'Basic IT security' could have prevented UK NHS WannaCry attack [Published articles]

England's National Health Service (NHS) could have avoided the ransomware hack that crippled its systems in May, according to a government report. "Basic IT security" was all that was required to prevent the "unsophisticated" WannaCry attack, which a...

First Extrasolar Object Observed Racing Through Our Solar System [Published articles]

Enigma2175 writes: For the first time, scientists have observed an object they believe came from outside our solar system. The object is in a hyperbolic orbit that will send it back into interstellar space. From Space.com: "The object, known as A/2017 U1, was detected last week by researchers using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. 'It's long been theorized that such objects exist -- asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system -- but this is the first such detection,' Chodas added. 'So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it.' It's unclear what exactly this thing is. When A/2017 U1 was first spotted, it was thought to be a comet (and was therefore given the moniker C/2017 U1). But further observations have revealed no evidence of a coma -- the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust surrounding a comet's core -- so the object's name was amended to its current asteroidal designation."

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FCC To Loosen TV, Newspaper Ownership Rules [Published articles]

The FCC is planning to vote on rolling back landmark media ownership regulations that prohibit owning a television station and newspaper in the same market and making it easier to acquire additional TV or radio stations. Reuters reports: If approved at the FCC's November meeting, the move would be a win for newspapers and broadcasters that have pushed for the change for decades, but was criticized by Democrats who said it could usher in a new era of media consolidation. The FCC in 1975 banned cross-ownership of a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market, unless it granted a waiver, to ensure a diversity of opinions. The rule was made before the explosion of internet and cable news and Republican President Donald Trump and Pai have vowed to reduce government regulation. "We must stop the federal government from intervening in the news business," Pai told a congressional panel, noting that many newspapers have closed and many radio and TV stations are struggling. Pai moved earlier this year to make it easier for some companies to own a larger number of local stations. Pai said the marketplace no longer justifies the rules, citing Facebook and Alphabet's dominance of internet advertising. "Online competition for the collection and distribution of news is greater than ever. And just two internet companies claim 100 percent of recent online advertising growth; indeed, their digital ad revenue this year alone will be greater than the market cap of the entire broadcasting industry," Pai said.

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We Can Safely Say That Sarek of Vulcan is Sci-fi’s Worst Dad [Published articles]

Star Trek: Discovery, Sarek

Look, I have been waiting years to say this and I just can’t hold back anymore. Science fiction is full of horrible dad figures. We know this. There are so many that we’d be hard pressed to decide the winner of that Battle Royale, particularly given the scope of their terribleness. Anakin Skywalker Force-choked his pregnant wife and tortured his daughter. Howard Stark emotionally abused his son into creating the “future” he wanted to bring about, and never managed to utter the words I love you. Admiral Adama made his eldest son feel totally inferior to both his dead son and his surrogate daughter, and then left him alone on a new world so he could spend three minutes with his dying paramour. Sci-fi dads are generally bad at their jobs.

But you know who it the absolutely worst? Spock’s dad.

Yeah. I’m looking at you, Sarek of Vulcan.

[Spoilers up to the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery.]

Obviously, Sarek has done some truly incredible things in his life as both a citizen of Vulcan and ambassador for his people. Those accomplishments matter a great deal. But as a parent? He’s flunked out so many times, it’s amazing that they keep letting him retake the course. And then he adopts more children under the auspice of being the one who knows how to raise “kids with emotions” on Vulcan when he’s really the worst at it ever. The truth is, Sarek would probably be a better parent if he owned up to something that he clearly feels great shame over—that he, himself, is super emotional for a Vulcan and happens to enjoy being surrounded by humans and emotional beings for that exact reason. He never says so out loud, but there is so much—in his past and in his actions—that suggest so.

A lot of effort has been made in zines, fan fiction, and licensed novels, to dig deeper into Sarek’s psyche and show that he is more than what we see on screen. But what we know of Sarek from Trek television and film is oddly telling. See for example: his marriage to Amanda Grayson, Spock’s mother. On more than one occasion, Sarek insists that marrying Amanda made sense, given that he was the Vulcan ambassador to Earth. If he’s married to a human, he can better understand them. If he’s married to a human, he can observe one up close consistently. “Marrying your mother was logical,” he tells tiny Spock in the alternate timeline provided by the 2009 film series. (And yes, I will count those as alternate canon, you cannot stop me.) When adult Spock and his father razz Amanda over being emotional in “A Journey to Babel,” Spock asks his father why he married her and receives the same reply: “At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.”

Star Trek, Sarek and Amanda

I mean, I like her okay, but mostly this was a sensible thing. Everyone feels that way about marriage, I assume.

Because that’s what Sarek of Vulcan is all about, right? He’s a Vulcan and they’re logical, they never make rash decisions, they are cool like cucumbers or ice or liquid nitrogen. Vulcans are very chill, rational people, and Sarek is a great example of an amazing Vulcan. Case in point: that time he had an affair with a Vulcan princess who gave birth to a radical exile—

Wait a minute.

Because remember, Spock isn’t Sarek’s only blood-related child. There’s still Sybok to account for, the product of Sarek and said unnamed Vulcan princess. And also the question of whether or not Sarek and this Vulcan princess had a fling or a more prominent relationship. It’s all a bit confusing because Amanda Grayson is referred to as Sarek’s first wife, but the novelization of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier suggests that T’Rea (that’s the name given to the Vulcan Princess) and Sarek were subject to one of those childhood emotional bonds that some Vulcans undergo. It’s “less than a marriage but more than a betrothal,” the way Spock was bonded to T’Pring. Sybok was meant to be the product of their only coupling before T’Rea got super into Kolinahr (the Vulcan process of purging all emotion), and had their marriage annulled. But Sarek raised Sybok alongside Spock as though they were brothers…that is, until Sybok became such an emotional fanatic that he was banished from Vulcan.

Star Trek V, Sybok and Kirk

He seems like a super chill guy.

Still, why should that be Sarek’s fault? That probably has nothing to do with his parenting! It’s unfair to blame anyone for the events of The Final Frontier, really. (Except maybe William Shatner.) But Sybok’s resurfacing does bring us to perhaps our first concrete exhibit of Sarek’s bad parenting skills: when Sybok hijacks the Enterprise, he converts Kirk’s crew to his side by helping them “release their pain.” Sybok has the ability to telepathically show people their worst memories and traumas, and when he arrives at Spock, the event we witness is his birth. A bawling baby is handed to Sarek, and the Vulcan ambassador looks on the infant with disdain. “So human,” he says, before handing the child off.

It would be surprising if this scenario happened exactly as Sybok reveals it. The truth is, as the audience, we’re never completely certain about the nature of his powers—is he really showing people their pasts, or is it the past according to their perception? After all, it’s unlikely that Spock could “remember” the moment of his birth, so how could Sybok project that for him? But if Sybok’s powers are limited to a person’s perception of events, that would explain a great deal, including the increased levels of pain and anxiety each person feels in relation to that event. Which means that what Sybok is showing Spock is not a memory, but rather what Spock assumes happened the moment after his birth. And that is more telling than anything: Spock thinks his father’s first expression toward him was one of disgust at his humanity, even after all these years.

Star Trek IV, Spock and Sarek

I know you hate me, but we’re extra polite to each other, so it’s fine.

You would think that Spock would know better, given that his father married a human woman, but Sarek’s attitude toward his wife Amanda does very little to disabuse anyone of that notion. He continually insists that he only married Amanda because it was a logical practice, and he basically orders her around like she works for him in professional settings. The same is true of Sarek’s second wife, Perrin, who is pointedly also a human; she basically exists to hang around and make certain that he has everything he needs. Knowing that Vulcan is a society full of powerful women, you almost have to wonder if Sarek didn’t marry human women out of a belief that they might be easier to control. Spock carries around certain sexist beliefs that are likely a product of this environment; on more than one occasion we witness him frame women (in general) as irrational and over-emotional when compared to men, and it’s hardly surprising because his father says this about his own mother constantly, to the point where making fun of her for it is a bonding exercise between them.

So. Aside from teaching his half-human kid to belittle his mom for lolz and parenting his first son so well that the guy became a renegade against Vulcan society… well, there’s also the fact that Sarek is basically using two of his children as “experiments,” trying to integrate emotion into Vulcan society.

Star Trek: Discovery has expanded Sarek’s peculiar legacy with the addition of Michael Burnham, his adopted ward. Raised alongside Spock after the death of her parents, Michael clearly struggles with her logical upbringing. She does her best to live according to Vulcan principals, but has difficulty compartmentalizing when she feels strong emotions. This difficulty is part of what leads her to commit mutiny against her beloved captain, Philippa Georgiou. Sarek claims that he brought Michael to Starfleet and to Captain Georgiou’s ship in particular because he thought that Philippa would be the ideal mentor to help Michael learn about her human psyche. But we later find out that Michael’s entry into Starfleet was never Sarek’s desired plan….

Star Trek: Discovery, Sarek, Amanda, and Michael

I see that everyone here is upset, so how about… I tell a BUNCH of lies to make myself feel better?

Michael has a unique connection to Sarek; because he brought her back from the edge of death when she was young, she holds a piece of his katra, or soul. In the episode “Lethe,” Michael tries to aid Sarek as he’s dying on a deteriorating ship via this link. She finds him caught on a specific memory—the day she found out that she was rejected from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. It turns out that a large portion of Vulcan elites were unhappy with Sarek’s continual experiment of infiltrating their ranks with beings of emotion. The leader of the group gave Sarek a choice: they would accept only one of his “not-quite Vulcans,” Michael or Spock. While Spock was too young to be considered for admission to the group—he had not yet even had the chance to apply for the Vulcan Science Academy—Sarek chose his son over his adopted daughter.

This decision is cruel enough, but Sarek did it one better by allowing Michael to believe that she had failed him, failed to achieve the Vulcan standard which Sarek touted as the very highest standard there was. Rather than tell the truth to both his daughter and his wife—that his own people were bigoted and should be made to answer for their prejudice and hypocrisy—he allows Michael to shoulder this burden. While he admits that this was his own failure when she finally insists on viewing this memory, he still turns a cold shoulder when she takes him to task for it; Michael notes that this was an awful thing to do to your own daughter, to which Sarek replies, “Technically, we are not related.”

Wow. Just… yeah, wow.

He later pretends that the does not remember the conversation he had with Michael inside of his mind, just so he doesn’t have to talk to her about it. A fact that Michael calls him on, reminding him that he’ll owe her that chat one day.

Star Trek: Discovery, Sarek and Michael

It’s easy to meditate your problems away, I just imagine I don’t have any and then they’re gone.

But it gets better. (I mean worse, obviously, it gets much worse.) When viewers were first introduced to Sarek back in the Original Series, it was with the caveat that he had not spoken to his son in eighteen years. The reason given was that Spock had forgone admission to the Vulcan Science Academy and chosen instead to enlist in Starfleet. Amanda tells Captain Kirk that Sarek had expected his son to follow his path the same way he had followed his own father. But now there’s an extra layer here: Spock tuned down the path that Sarek betrayed his adopted child to ensure for him. So he essentially hurt Michael for nothing. And the anger over Spock making that choice (yes, anger, because refusing to talk to your child is an emotional response, plain and simple, there is literally no way around that), leads to a rift in their relationship that lasts the rest of Sarek’s life.

The best part? Sarek was in the room (again, according to the alternate Kelvin timeline, which has no particular reason to diverge from the main timeline in this instance) when Spock turned down his spot at the Vulcan Science Academy. And the reason why he walked out and straight into a Starfleet recruitment office? It was because he could not accept the outright bigotry that the Vulcan elite displayed toward his human heritage—particularly the fact that they referred to his human mother as a “disadvantage.” Spock did a very brave and loving thing that day, making the choice to separate himself from people who viewed himself and his mother as far beneath their regard. And Sarek still chooses to express disappointment that his son wouldn’t shrug off Vulcan prejudice and direct insults to his own wife, all for the sake of following in his footsteps and making good on a bad decision he already made on behalf of his children.

Star Trek 2009, Spock

I’ll show *you* a disadvantage….

And the sad part is, it never really gets any better. Whether Sarek ever makes good regarding Michael remains to be seen, but his relationship with Spock is permanently damaged. They make small talk and interact on occasion, but Spock seems to think that his father would rather not bother with him and treats him accordingly. When Sarek suffers from Bendii Syndrome late in life (a neurological disease that causes Vulcans to lose emotional control), he mind melds with Captain Picard, who gets a heavy dose of all the emotions breaking through Sarek’s mind. The aging ambassador laments never expressing love to the people in his life, something which Picard is finally able to communicate to Spock after his father’s death via another mind meld. While it is beneficial for Spock to know, to say it’s late-coming is laughable at best. Sarek indicates his affection via other parties—asking Kirk to retrieve Spock’s katra and body to restore his life, telling Captain Georgiou to guide Michael—but he cannot possibly summon the maturity it would take to own up to emotions that he insists he does not feel.

This is not a “he’s Vulcan, of course he behaves differently” issue. There are plenty of Vulcans who have to ability to indicate basic affection, warmth, and regard toward others without resorting to grander displays of emotion. Sarek would rather gaslight the people he cares about into believing that Vulcan philosophy requires the strictest adherence possible because it’s a “better” way of life (something that Spock and Amanda frequently parrot to anyone who questions the Vulcan way of doing things). This, despite the fact that the Vulcans think his choice to take care of an orphaned human child is a step too far, despite the fact that Vulcan children bully and assault his son on a regular basis, despite the fact that his wife’s very reasonable insistence that her children be safe from torment and respected for their impressive accomplishments falls on deaf ears. It points to Sarek’s inability to reconcile what wishes and believes Vulcan could be with what it actually is. And that is an unfettered emotional response to the situation, not a considered and rational one.

By the way, there is one way to get Sarek to open up to his kids—by literally destroying Vulcan. In 2009’s Star Trek, following the destruction of his home planet and the sudden death of his wife, Sarek witnesses Spock completely lose control; he nearly kills Jim Kirk when the man deliberately goads him into an emotional response to prove his unfitness for command. Following this display, Sarek opens up to Spock; he tells his son that Amanda wouldn’t have recommended trying control his grief, and admits, “You asked me once why I married your mother… I married her because I loved her.”

Star Trek 2009, Sarek

It’s reeeeeeaaaaalll hard to say this, but you did almost kill a guy, so I should probably make an effort.

See? He can admit that he has some good emotions! After losing a loved one, witnessing genocide, and watching his son’s near nervous breakdown!

Sarek clearly believes that human emotion has some measure of value, or he wouldn’t work so hard to fold it into Vulcan culture. But he refuses to acknowledge that the prejudices of his own people make it impossible for this integration to take place. Doing so would force him to make peace with the fact that Vulcan society is not the beacon of evolved thinking that he believes it to be. He wants to introduce these children with emotions into Vulcan society, but he refuses to fight for them at every juncture. As a result, not one of his children carves the path he wanted for them. But more important than that is the simple fact that Sarek was a horrific paternal figure to his children. He belittled them for feeling, allowed them to believe they evoked nothing but disappointment from him, and took exception to the majority of their decisions. He made his children feel undervalued, unsupported, and unloved, then doubled down whenever those tactics were called into question.

Star Trek: Discovery, Sarek and Michael

Is this the kid-drop off zone?

He is the worst dad. It’s quantifiable.

Good thing he had some very special kids to make up for it. (Let’s not talk about Sybok, though.)

Emily Asher-Perrin has always maintained this position on Sarek, and was happy enough to be vindicated yet again by Discovery. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

This $20 security camera is aiming for the Nest Cam’s throne [Published articles]

 When the Nest Cam — or the Dropcam, as it was known back then — was first introduced, it was something of a game changer. A security camera that just… worked. Plug it in, get it on WiFi, and you’re set. Nowadays, the Nest Cam stands in a more crowded arena. Logitech, Netgear, Samsung, and most of the other big names all have their own comparable offerings, all racing… Read More

Where Your Elements Came From [Published articles]

The hydrogen in your body, present in every molecule of water, came from the The hydrogen in your body, present in every molecule of water, came from the


#310594 [Published articles]

<rymate1234> z33k33 is trolling imo
<walle303> s/troll/z33k33
<PikalaxALT> walle303: rymate1234 actually meant: z33k33 is z33k33ing imo
<walle303> A sleeping POKeMON blocks the way!
<Renb> s/^.*$/butts/
<PikalaxALT> Renb: walle303 actually meant: butts
<Renb> s/^.*$/\nQUIT :butts/
<PikalaxALT> Renb: PikalaxALT actually meant:
* PikalaxALT has quit (Quit: butts)
<Renb> LOL
Comment: abusing a sed script.

The dream of customizable virtual 3D foliage is alive at Disney [Published articles]

 Oh, to work at Disney, to have a hand in creating those lusciously detailed 3D worlds, every character lovingly rendered, every animal sidekick unique and hilarious, every tree… filled with leaves. Designed and placed individually. In movies that take place in forests. There has to be a better way. What if you could just 3D scan some leaves and then tweak them to your liking? Read More

Sesame Street: How a saxophone is made (1983) [Published articles]

Wonderful 1980 video of Sesame Street's visit to a saxophone factory, complete with a free jazz sax soundtrack. (via Laughing Squid)

Five-minute allergy test passes the FDA's scrutiny [Published articles]

A few years ago, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) started developing what they eventually dubbed the "world's most rapid" allergy test. Now, that test has received the FDA's approval and will start telling...

Flying Insects Have Been Disappearing Over the Past Few Decades, Study Shows [Published articles]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is "on course for ecological Armageddon," with profound impacts on human society. The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said. The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected. The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardized ways of collecting insects in 1989.

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VU#973527: Dnsmasq contains multiple vulnerabilities [Published articles]

Vulnerability Note VU#973527

Dnsmasq contains multiple vulnerabilities

Original Release date: 02 Oct 2017 | Last revised: 18 Oct 2017

Overview

Dnsmasq versions 2.77 and earlier contains multiple vulnerabilities.

Description

Multiple vulnerabilities have been reported in dnsmasq.

CWE-122: Heap-based Buffer Overflow - CVE-2017-14491

CWE-122: Heap-based Buffer Overflow - CVE-2017-14492

CWE-121: Stack-based Buffer Overflow - CVE-2017-14493

CWE-200: Information Exposure - CVE-2017-14494

CWE-400: Uncontrolled Resource Consumption('Resource Exhaustion') - CVE-2017-14495

CWE-191: Integer Underflow - CVE-2017-14496

Please see the Google Security blog post for additional information.

Impact

Dnsmasq is a widely used piece of open-source software. These vulnerabilities can be triggered remotely via DNS and DHCP protocols and can lead to remote code execution, information exposure, and denial of service. In some cases an attacker would need to induce one or more DNS requests.

Solution

Apply an Update
dnsmasq version 2.78 has been released to address these vulnerabilities.

Vendor Information (Learn More)

Vendor Status Date Notified Date Updated
dnsmasq Affected 25 Sep 2017 02 Oct 2017
Technicolor Affected - 18 Oct 2017
3com Inc Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
ACCESS Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Actiontec Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Aerohive Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Alcatel-Lucent Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Amazon Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Android Open Source Project Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Apple Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Arch Linux Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Arista Networks, Inc. Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
Aruba Networks Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
AsusTek Computer Inc. Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
AT&T Unknown 25 Sep 2017 25 Sep 2017
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.View More &raquo

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

Group Score Vector
Base 10.0 AV:N/AC:L/Au:N/C:C/I:C/A:C
Temporal 8.7 E:H/RL:OF/RC:C
Environmental 8.7 CDP:ND/TD:H/CR:ND/IR:ND/AR:ND

References

Credit

Thanks to Felix Wilhelm, Fermin J. Serna, Gabriel Campana, Kevin Hamacher and Ron Bowes of the Google Security Team for reporting this vulnerability.

This document was written by Trent Novelly.

Other Information

Feedback

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

The Unappreciated Genius of John Carpenter [Published articles]

John Carpenter is one of the greatest American filmmakers. Ever. Period. The end.

There—I’ll just come out swinging. See, I toyed with several different ways of saying what I mean to say. Initially, I started this piece by talking about the names commonly associated with American filmmaking auteurs: Scorsese, Kubrick, and Paul Thomas Anderson to name a few. The point I was trying to make was how, when the idea of great American filmmakers is discussed, John Carpenter is generally left out of the conversation—and it’s a total injustice.

So, let’s take a spin down retrospective lane and look at the movies that make Carpenter one of the greats. Because I’ll tell you what: From 1976 until 1986, Carpenter crafted a streak of films that are arguably as good as any other ten-year period from even the most celebrated and acclaimed directors.

Let’s start in 1976, the year Carpenter released his first true film, Assault on Precinct 13 (and I say “true” because his previous release, Dark Star, was more of a student production). Now, I won’t contend that Assault on Precinct 13 is a great film. It’s close, but it’s far too long and it stumbles in some key moments. While the movie was met with harsh reviews when it was first released, it was eventually rediscovered and is now considered one of the great thrillers of the 1970s. What’s most interesting about Assault on Precinct 13 is the way Carpenter attempts to utilize the conventions of a genre (though an action thriller is a far shallower dive into the idea of genre, especially when considering Carpenter’s later films) to tell a story that is much deeper and more thoughtful than anyone would anticipate.

On the surface, Assault on Precinct 13  is meant to be a taut thriller about a cop who must hold down his precinct building against an onslaught of gang members, and his only ally is a dangerous criminal (talk about killer hooks, by the way). But while Carpenter utilizes the conventions of thrillers and even westerns, he also weaves into his tapestry a story about racism and urban decay. Neither thread dominates the film, but Carpenter’s eye to mining the anxieties and horrors of the world around him and using them to elevate his art is one of the most defining characteristics of his career.

And that characteristic was never displayed any better than it was in Assault on Precinct 13’s follow-up, the crown jewel of Carpenter’s career:

Halloween.

(As an aside, let me say that it’s not without much consideration that I call Halloween Carpenter’s masterpiece. Because he also made The Thing. And Escape from New York. And Starman.)

First, forget about every Halloween film that was made after the original, and forget about its countless knockoffs. Nothing compares to Carpenter’s original, a masterpiece not only of the horror genre, but a masterpiece of cinema. All of cinema.

There’s so much working in this movie that it’s difficult to know where to even begin. The technical achievements alone are awe-inspiring. It’s shot beautifully—the Midwestern town of Haddonfield, awash in brown and amber autumnal hues, is a portrait of both idyllic beauty but also dread. After all, autumn is the season of death—leaves fall from trees, grass withers with the winter chill. And Carpenter’s eye captures all of that. And as a bonus, he infuses this imagery with a score—arguably the most memorable of all time—that’s absolutely spine-tingling. Carpenter directs Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence to tremendous heights; he paces every beat with a precision that’s unnerving. But, more than that, Carpenter made the most influential movie about evil of its time, one that continues to be as powerful today as it was almost 40 years ago.

The United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a time of personal, intimate horror. This is a bit of a tangential discussion, but for many reasons, fear felt very close. If you’ve seen IT—or have read the book—you know that this idea of intimate horror exists in King’s opus as well. Halloween is the progenitor of this trend of evil coming for you, specifically you, and it couldn’t be stopped. That was the genius of Michael Myers; he didn’t have a dead, emotionally abusive mother driving his psychosis like Norman Bates, nor did he exist in some already-frightening, unfamiliar backwoods like Leatherface. He existed in your small town, and he was evil just because that’s what he was. Michael Myers didn’t have any reason to be a killing machine, he had no motivation. He was the boogeyman, plain and simple. In early drafts of the script, he didn’t even have a name, instead being referred to simply as The Shape. Michael Myers is the evil—without reason or logic—that lurks in all of our lives and, like death itself, he will one day claim every single person he’s after.

Carpenter’s follow-up to Halloween was 1980’s The Fog, a fun, vintage horror yarn. Then he unleashed Escape from New York, a dystopian sci-fi movie that is, like Halloween, perfectly shot and scored, and it brought Carpenter back to his penchant for depicting urban decay. And while Escape is an absolute classic that introduces one of the most iconic film characters of all-time in Snake Plisken, it’s overshadowed by Carpenter’s subsequent release, which would prove to be his second masterpiece in just four years: The Thing.

The Thing is a perfect movie. From its beautifully shot widescreen opening moments to its pulse-pounding, ambiguous ending, it doesn’t waste a single second. A feast of Cold War paranoia where there’s no telling who to trust, the movie is expertly paced, wonderfully shot, and the atmosphere—a hallmark of Carpenter’s, creating pitch-perfect atmosphere—is so rich you can almost feel the bitter cold through the screen. And like other Carpenter gems, The Thing uses the conventions of horror to tremendous effect while transcending the genre at the same time. There are scares and chills—and some awesomely gory special effects—but at its heart The Thing is an examination of human nature laid bare, of what happens when the you-know-what hits the fan and all the rules of civilized society are thrown out the window. The Thing is a scary, smart, tremendous achievement that, like Halloween, should be regarded as one of the best movies ever made.

Carpenter followed The Thing with a string of films that range from good to great—Christine remains one of the best Stephen King adaptations to this day; Starman is a stunning achievement; Big Trouble in Little China needs no introduction; Prince of Darkness is weird but interesting; and They Live is so over the top and crazy that it actually works (and, of course, it has THAT fight scene). Granted, Carpenter’s career hit a decline once the 80s ended (though I’d argue Vampires is a ton of fun), but his run of greatness—where he displayed artistic talents of the highest order while plumbing the depths of the horror and sci-fi genres like few others have—makes him one of the absolute best, and most unique, filmmakers to grace us with his work. To this day, Carpenter remains an artist, an auteur, and an inspiration to countless storytellers, myself included.

Michael Moreci is a comics writer and novelist best known for his sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit. His debut novel, Black Star Renegades, is set to be released in January 2018. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMoreci.