Network Security neophyte - Willing to learn anything
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Air Travel Packing List

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I know the etiquette is controversial, but I think it's rude when the person in front of me reclines their seat into the bell of my trumpet.
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hacksauce
58 days ago
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I miss the alt-text bot
shermozle
58 days ago
+1
emrikol
58 days ago
I wonder what happened :(
silberbaer
58 days ago
Didn't notice it was gone. I always hover the cursor over the pic to read the text. Then I read alt-text bot too. LOL
smarkwell
58 days ago
If you are on mobile you can long press the image.
adam_w
58 days ago
+1
vanbcguy
57 days ago
I'm sure it's just out getting an oil change... it was around in the past few weeks?
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1 public comment
srsly
58 days ago
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Alt Text:
I know the etiquette is controversial, but I think it's rude when the person in front of me reclines their seat into the bell of my trumpet.
Atlanta, Georgia

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Human

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
If your reaction is 'but it's easy to count the dots' you might want to check your motherboard.


Today's News:



Red Button mashing provided by SMBC RSS Plus. If you consume this comic through RSS, you may want to support Zach's Patreon for like a $1 or something at least especially since this is scraping the site deeper than provided.
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hacksauce
508 days ago
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There's 18. They don't move; they're just hard to see.
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Ask MeFi: Redemption/makeover shows/resources like Queer Eye?

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I'm watching Queer Eye for the Straight guy and enjoying the positivity , the genuine kindness, and the uplifting and comfortingly predictable narrative arc.Can you recommend some shows like this?

I loved he original Queer Eye, the British What not to Wear, and to a lesser extent, the American What Not to Wear (it was a little snarky.) All of those are quite old at this point and I would like to get some tips for myself as I no longer know what's in fashion (I'm a woman, if it helps.)

But also, I'm looking for a break from....literally everything. I would like that 'faith in humanity briefly restored' experience.

Any other shows like this out there? Home makeovers, fashion, make up, male or female, all are good as long as the people in them seem genuine and somewhat caring. Might also be documentaries or websites too. (I used to like the site 'Already Pretty' for example, but she no longer updates.)
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hacksauce
1125 days ago
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Normal Is Gone Forever

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"The old records belong to a world that no longer exists"
- Dr. Marty Hoerling, Research Meteorologist
NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory

It has been a remarkable summer across the Northern Hemisphere, with high-temperature records being set at locations in North America, Asia, Europe, and North Africa.  Now that we are well into the fire season, a pall of smoke generated by large wildfires hangs over much of the western United States, as evident in yesterday afternoon's GOES-16 satellite image.  

Source: CIRA
Will we ever return to normal?

No.

Although the climate, especially on regional scales, has always exhibited variability, we are now accelerating into a future in which the planet will be warming at a rate not seen since the emergence of human civilization. 

Further, while this warming may occur in fits and starts rather than at a steady rate, the idea that what we are currently experiencing is "just a cycle" is pure fantasy.  We will also not settle around a "new normal" for at least the next few decades, and even that assumes we get our greenhouse gas emissions under control quickly.  

The reality is that we have poked the climate bear with a hot poker and it is not going to calm down anytime soon.  If we curtail greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, perhaps we can get this thing under control in the latter half of the 21st century, but right now, that's looking unlikely.  

So, it is time that we all get used to a world of remarkable change, that we give up on the idea of a stationary climate, and we rise to meet the challenge posed by rapid change.  

If you want an example, look no farther than the western U.S. wildfires.  Yes, the lack of precipitation this past winter probably wasn't due to global warming and wildland management, development patterns, and climate variability have contributed to the mess we're in, but the fingerprints of climate change in the ashes.  Global warming is shifting the weather in ways that we are seeing longer fire seasons, increased fuel aridity, increased acreage burned, and more extreme fire behavior (see, for example, Abatzoglou and Williams 2016).  

And here's a sobering thought.  The train has just left the station.  The fire season of the future is longer, hotter, and drier.  If you think 2018 is bad, fast forward to a drought period around 2048 or 2078.

Normal is gone forever.  The sooner we accept that and build a weather and climate resilient society for the future, the better.  
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hacksauce
1222 days ago
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Vulnerability Spotlight: Kaspersky Unhandled Windows Messages Denial of Service Vulnerability

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Vulnerability discovered by Marcin 'Icewall' Noga of Cisco Talos.

Overview

Talos is disclosing the presence of TALOS-2016-0175 / CVE-2016-4329, a local denial of service vulnerability within Kaspersky anti-virus. A system user is able to cause a denial of service attack against Kaspersky’s avpui.exe process by executing malicious code on a system. As a result, avpui.exe process protected by Kaspersky Self-Protection dies.
The vulnerability can only be exploited by a user who is already present on the system. Nevertheless, such a vulnerability potentially may be exploited by a malicious user who wished to cause anti-virus scanning to stop informing users about potential malicious activities. This may comprise a step in a longer sequence of malicious activity. Administrators should ensure that the latest version of Kaspersky is installed to remove the vulnerability.

Coverage

The following Snort Rules will detect exploitation attempts. Note that additional rules may be released at a future date and current rules are subject to change pending additional vulnerability information. For the most current rule information, please refer to your FireSIGHT Management Center or Snort.org.
Snort rules: 39918,39919
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hacksauce
1913 days ago
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Team should read this.
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Deploying the monomyth in Space Opera

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So: in the ongoing investigation of space opera, I've looked at cliches, I've tried to come up with a rough definitional rule of thumb ... but I've avoided what's possibly the largest elephant in the room, namely, plot structures.

A key aspect of space opera is that it's about epochal events and larger-than-life characters. Most genres can be written to work in a variety of modes; for example, consider the difference in the level of melodrama in spy thrillers betwee James Bond and Graham Greene's The Human Factor. Similarly, high fantasy can be quietly introspective and pastoral, or focus on the clash of kings and dark lords, and horror can run the scale/focus gamut from The Yellow Wallpaper to The Stand.

But space opera is different: it's almost impossible to conceive of a space opera with a plot that revolves around the eqivalent of a middle-aged English professor's mid-life crisis as he carries on a furtive affair with one of his female students under the nose of his long-suffering wife (the somewhat cruel stereotype of the MFA-approved Great American Novel). I mean, you could do it, but your professor would have had to have invented a new type of FTL drive that threatens to revolutionize interstellar travel, the student is a spy from a cartel of space traders and is trying to get the blueprints out of him before she stabs him in the kidneys (because: lecherous middle-aged prof, ew), and his wife—the professor of political science at Galactic U—is actually a retired assassin (and just wait 'til she finds out about the student). Into the middle of this quiet literary novel of academic infidelity and domestic lies, we then add an evil religious cult of alien space bat worshipers who want to steal the new space drive to equip their battle fleet when they sweep in from the Orion Arm to bring fire, the blaster, and the holy spacebat inquisition to the Federation, and when they kidnap the professor his wife and his grad student have to work out their differences to get him back before he cracks under (well-deserved) torture and gives the fanatics the ultimate weapon ...

(Huh. Actually, that'd make a cracking space opera; just not one of mine. Anyone want to borrow it?)

I stand by my point: you can't write space opera without ramping up the stakes to melodramatic levels. (Well, maybe you could if you were Iain M. Banks, but he was special that way.) The need for romanticist drama is one of the pillars of the sub-genre. And one of the recurring core tropes of the genre, which is so fundamental you can hardly call it a cliche (any more than boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl/boy-gets-girl is a "cliche" in genre romance) is the Campbellian Hero's Journey.

If you are reading this blog you are familiar with the Hero's Journey monomyth because it's ubiquitous in our mythology and entertainment. Campbell derived it from studies of myths in many cultures, publishing his exposition The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949: his theory was that major myths from various world cultures can be traced back thousands of years and share a common cyclic template (with roughly 17 stages). Since then, it's been used repeatedly by entertainers as a construction template; for example, Christopher Vogler more or less codified it as a recipe while working for Disney studios. The plot of the original Star Wars trilogy was an explicit appropriation of the HJ cycle by to George Lucas (to be fair, before Vogler's codification); it's no accident that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father (Vader is Dutch for "Father") or that the fight between Skywalker and Vader in The Empire Strikes back is one that Skywalker loses—but survives to re-fight more successfully later. A key feature of the monomyth is that the hero leaves home on a quest, faces challenges, confronts and is struck down by his father/the darkness, then rises again, atones/achieves enlightenment/excellence, and triumphs in a final struggle that represents maturation.

Campbell's work isn't uncritically or universally accepted, to say the least, and there are variants on it: for example, Valerie Frenkel critiched him for focussing exclusively on the male variant of the Hero's Journey. It turns out that there are plenty of recurring myths where a version of the monomyth applies to women, with similar but distinctively different recurring stages focussing on the heroine's progress from girl to mother. Rather than fighting to defeat/overturn the parent, the heroine's struggle is to become the parent: rather than returning to the original home but as master (the male branch of the monomyth) the female version has her joining a new household as its mistress and new mother or goddess/priestess.

Yes, this is all horribly gender-stereotyped. But I'll take a stab in the dark at diagnosing its origin: the stages in the monomyth echo the mammalian K-selective reproductive cycle—on hitting puberty the young adult leaves the nest/parents, goes looking for a mate, meets and overcomes obstacles (competitors and predators), finds a mate, forms a new mated pair. In the case of humans or other primates there may also be issues about troupe/pack hierarchy to be resolved. Yes, there are problems with this: it doesn't map onto social structures once established settlements and agriculture become the norm and the young adults are expected to stay home and plough the fields. But the monomyth remains deeply appealing because the mythic framework it builds on has very deep roots that go all the way down to primate reproductive biology.

The monomyth doesn't have to be melodramatic: you can, at a pinch, apply it to that stereotypical MFA lit-fic novel of lecherous middle-aged academics without too much trouble. (The journey is one of internal psychological discovery, the threats are the protagonist's inner demons, the allies are the psychiatrist, the crisis/conflict is one of understanding ...) But as often as not, it's a structure for heroism: melodrama acts as a spice, raising the stakes and giving us a reason to pay attention to the protagonists, for their deeds are significant and implicitly may affect us (or the proxy the author has provided for our viewpoint).

So: Space Opera. Take the monomyth as a framework for how the action unfolds, and mix it up with melodrama. Then add space ships, ray guns, and wide-scale travel backdrops. Arguably the monomyth comes first, before the background: although some of the more skilled authors of the sub-genre spin their plots within the constrains of a background world, and sometimes manage to avoid the monomyth completely. (I'd go so far as to say that "Matter" by Iain M. Banks is an almost complete rejection of the form, as is "Look to Windward" ... actually, I suspect IMB had his own different idea of a story structure in mind for the Culture novels: as often as not they're epic tragedies ("Consider Phlebas") or illustrations of the limits of heroism.)

But if you're trying to spin a space opera, and you're reaching for a plot skeleton that works, the monomyth is your friend. Here's an exercise for the involved reader: take my dysfunctional Galactic U professorial marriage from the beginning of this essay and use the monomyth structure to come up with a plot, climax, and ending that delivers a satisfactory sense of closure. You might first want to consider who you are focussing on—the lecherous male prof, his spouse the academic with a dead-and-buried past (she thought) as an assassin, or the grad student with the secret mission. Then you need to consider what stage of the Hero's Journey you are joining them at—for there's no reason to assume the story starts at the beginning, rather than in media res. Next, work out what challenges and allies they might encounter on their way to the climax and resolution, and what role the other characters play in their quest. Finally: what is the prize they're seeking, how do they achieve it, and at what cost? For added points, see if you can find a way to twist the standard Hero's Journey cycle to apply a surprise climax to it—for example, by spinning this steamy menage-a-trois with added murderhate and alien space bats so that it appears at first to be one protagonist's journey but then switches track and turns out to be about one of the others (your classic example of this would be IMB's "Use of Weapons") ...

What variations can you come up with?

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hacksauce
2088 days ago
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One of the reasons I love Nathan Lowell is he writes excellent space opera that doesn't revolve around galactic mayhem and universe ending doom.
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