Based in New York City, Matteo Giuseppe Pani is a graphic designer. Passionate about art since his early age, he found, in his work, the way to live thanks to his creativity. His series “Aishti by the Sea” is a campaign on which he worked in collaboration with Sagmeister & Walsh for the Aishti Foundation. The latter is an exhibition space located just minutes from downtown Beirut, on the Mediterranean side. To celebrate the opening, its founder and owner of Aishti department stores, Tony Salamé, has asked for the design of a campaign around fashion, art, without forgetting the sea, because of its geographical place.
« We got inspired by surrealism to recreate a set design that could combine these three points […] I spend a lot of time trying to look at Dali and mostly Magritte trying to catch some secrets to make our images as dreamy as the ones those incredible artists did. We also got inspired by contemporary surrealism and personally, I also looked at the metaphysic of De Chirico, which was a very good reference of how to represent space and objects in the space », Matteo explains.
The campaign aimed to be high fashion and luxury oriented. To do this, sketches were first made and were then recreated as more defined photoshop layouts trying to be as accurate as possible in terms of outfits, colors, type of model in the scene and elements inside the compositions. « Everything was carefully thought during this process. Once the client approved the concepts and the layout we eventually shot the models I a studio. The incredible Alexandra Kingo was the photographer we used », he says.
Until May 26th, two photography exhibitions will present the 10 finalists of the Hyères Photography and Fashion Festival 2019. For this 34th edition, the jury, directed by fashion photographer Craig McDean (who will have his own exhibition running during all the festival in Hyères) picked ten photographers from seven different countries. Ten young talents to follow in the next years : Federico Berardi, Hubert Crabières, Kerry J Dean, Tommy Kha, Hilla Kurki, Vincent Levrat, Alice Mann, Andrew Nuding, Jean-Vincent Simonet et Elsa & Johanna.
Made from superimposed glazed layers of aerosol paint, Geneva-based visual artist Eliana Marinari creates a blurred, surreal portrait of chosen subjects in her series Recognition Memory. The hazy, dreamy images are splattered with subtle paint particles from spray paint, ink, pastels and acrylic, layered in a way that leads us to question whether it is a painting or a photograph, or perhaps a digital image that hasn’t fully loaded yet. Always one for seeking experimental ways to present her work, Marinari playfully explores the boundaries of memory and experiences through the distorted and ephemeral quality of the series.
Marinari first trained as a scientist in Florence until deciding to focus on her studio practice and realism and figurative painting at Central St Martins. Her work has been exhibited worldwide and featured in various print and online publications. Visit her website for more, and follow her on Instagram.
Larry Mayer is headed out this week on a ship to explore the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. Well, he’s actually exploring seafloor formations near the islands, looking for evidence that ancient peoples might have camped out in the caves as they migrated south some 15,000 years ago, a time when the sea level was 600 feet lower than today.
To do that, Mayer and a team led by famed Titantic explorer Robert Ballard will be using a new type of technology to provide three-dimensional imagery of the caves, a kind of acoustic camera. The device uses existing multibeam sonar technology—which helped oceanographers scan the seafloor for the past 30 years—with improved resolution, computer processing speeds, and visualization software in one off-the-shelf package.
“This device can now give you a picture-like view made with sound,” says Mayer, director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. “The idea is to look for places that look like a beach and a cliff but are underwater. If there are sea caves there, that’s where these people would inhabit.”
The researchers have made several previous trips to these formations, but on this trip they will examine them in greater detail with the new acoustic camera mounted on a new drone surface ship. Once they find the caves, they will send down a remote-operated vehicle called Hercules that has a high-definition video camera and robotic arms to grab samples.
The mission is just one of many recently in which ocean scientists have deployed new seafloor mapping technology and advanced autonomous vehicles to uncover startling new information about the ocean bottom. There are discoveries like the underwater sea caves, deepwater coral formations off the East Coast, and new species of marine life clustered around hydrothermal vents spewing out methane and other chemicals from the Earth’s crust. The new mapping techniques are also revealing hazards like seafloor faults, volcanoes, or unstable underwater slopes that could generate deadly tsunamis near coastal cities.
That’s what H. Gary Green and colleagues from the Canadian Geologic Service found during recent mapping of the Salish Sea, an inland waterway between the US mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They detected two active fault zones—one of them newly discovered—that could trigger rockfalls and slumps of sediment that might lead to tsunamis that could be directed toward the San Juan Islands and Bellingham, Washington.
“You don’t want to scare the public, but it’s something that should be incorporated into any analysis for hazards,” says Greene, a marine geologist at the Moss Marine Laboratories in Moss Landing, California. Greene and colleagues explored the Salish Sea with multibeam sonar sensors attached to the bottom of the research ship and seismic sensors on a small torpedo-like instrument towed 100 feet off the seafloor. Their findings were reported in April at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.
Though the surface of Mars is some 34 million miles away, scientists know more about that planet’s surface than the bottom of Earth’s own oceans. Many marine scientists hope that might change in the next decade, mainly by using more robots and fewer human-staffed ships. “What you have to do is take the ship out of the equation,” says Carl Kaiser, program manager at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Running a large research vessel costs from $25,000 to $60,000 per day, and research cruises can last up to six weeks for mid-ocean expeditions.
Kaiser and members of his team are developing a shore-launched autonomous vehicle that could survey deeper waters of the US exclusive economic zone, a region that stretches 200 miles from the shoreline, at a lower cost and greater resolution than ship-based surveys. Better mapping means more information about all kinds of strange environments, such as the methane seeps that attract sea life to deep plumes of minerals. “In 2013, there was a paper that found there was one naturally occurring methane seep on the US East Coast,” Kaiser says. “Today the number is north of 800, just because we have learned how to look for them and map them.”
A commercial firm is taking autonomous ocean-mapping ships to another level. Louisiana-based L3 Technologies is designing a 100-foot, single-hulled, crewless ship, the C-Worker 30, that can cruise the ocean for two months at a time, at a speed of about seven knots. Powered by diesel engines, the C-Worker 30 will also be able to launch two helper surface ships to expand the size and resolution of the underwater map. The firm is pitching its project to the Pentagon and NOAA for ocean surveys at half the cost of a crewed ship, says Thomas Chance, vice president and general manager at L3 Technologies.
By 2030, scientists hope to have a much more accurate seafloor map of the world’s oceans, says Eric King, operations manager for the R/V Falkor, a ship operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, a private, nonprofit foundation. “We still have ships going over waters that were surveyed by Captain Cook with a hand lead line,” says King. In Cook’s day, back in the 1770s, surveyors would toss a long rope overboard with a lead weight on the end to mark the depth of the seafloor.
With new acoustic maps, shipping companies will also be able to avoid trouble spots, while researchers will know more about the habitats of endangered fish stocks as well as valuable minerals that lie on the seafloor.
Yet even with robotic vehicles puttering through the oceans, humans will still need to go to sea to interpret the data their instruments are collecting. King leaves in August for a four-week cruise to explore a range of seven underwater seamounts between Hawaii and the Aleutians along with 44 other scientists and crew. Imagine sending that many people to Mars.
Recently, a battery caught fire in my kitchen. First it popped and sparked, then it settled into a small flame, giving off a ribbon of gray smoke that smelled like burning plastic and cancer. My partner slapped the flame out with a dish towel and set the smoldering thing out on the fire escape. The battery was his project, a DIY range-extender for an electric skateboard. Now that it had short-circuited so spectacularly and unpredictably, he was doomed to a chronic case of range anxiety—monitoring the replacement battery constantly and charging it often.
Range anxiety typically involves the specific fear of running out of battery while driving an electric vehicle. But look around. Not everybody drives electric cars, but nearly everybody has a cellphone, and the fear of that little percent bar dropping to 0 is ubiquitous and acute. Your personal range extends only as far as the nearest charger.
Emma Grey Ellis covers memes, trolls, and other elements of internet culture for WIRED.
When smartphones start dying, people get weird: They head home immediately, swipe cables from coworkers’ desks, demand chargers from random strangers or places of business, and generally act so thoughtlessly that a false story about a girl unplugging her grandpa’s life support to charge her phone seemed plausible enough to go viral. In just a few decades, battery-powered devices have become the main drivers of people’s lives. Without them, we feel just as stranded as a dead Tesla.
Anxiety about dying batteries is the major trigger for “nomophobia,” or fear of being without a smartphone. Nomophobia has gotten a bad reputation for frivolity—nobody needs to have constant access to Candy Crush—but according to Şengül Uysal, who has studied nomophobia among college students at Erciyes University in Turkey, the fear has deep roots. Uysal discovered that the more social anxiety a student demonstrated, the more likely they were to fear the loss of their smartphones.
Anxious people, Uysal found, relied on their mobile phones more to maintain their personal relationships. “The basic purpose of the mobile phone is to allow people to be in two different places to communicate instantly, eliminating the human anxiety about loneliness,” she says. “But if you use your mobile phone to avoid in-person relationships, you create communication dependency.” So it’s extra traumatic when the phone dies—there go your relationships. Of course, it’s not just the socially anxious who suffer. Most people offload various parts of their lives to their phones, from important meeting times to family photos to food delivery, and dead batteries cut those tethers too. It’s a vicious cycle: When the battery dies, you feel even more cut off from the things you already feel cut off from.
Battery anxiety isn’t entirely unreasonable—the tech people rely on daily is objectively not great. Even if you splurge on top-of-the-line tech, you’re still buying a battery system developed in the 1970s. While major progress has been made, lithium-iron batteries are heavy, explosive, corrosive, and difficult to dispose of. Many miniaturized ones, like the batteries powering AirPods, live short and unpredictable lives. Apple has gone to great pains—and subsequently generated great scandal—to disguise how frail its batteries are after a few years of recharging. Battery life readouts often prove unreliable, especially at low charge. Sure, you could live with a flip phone and breathe easy with a battery that lasts for weeks, but can you really?
Nothing sums up our culture’s relationship with batteries better than Die With Me, a chat app you can only use when you have less than 5 percent battery. Its creators, artist Dries Depoorter and app developer David Surprenant, have certainly noticed how bizarre people act when their batteries run low—the idea for the app came to Depoorter while he was wandering lost in Copenhagen at night, powerless to find his hotel without battery power. But they’ve also watched letting your phone die become a transgressive act of its own. “We’ve seen many discussions about people getting to less than 5 percent battery for the first time in their lives!” Surprenant says. They had trouble convincing Apple to even allow Die With Me in the App Store, since the company found its usefulness “limited.”
Depoorter and Surprenant obviously disagree. “We wanted to work around the anxiety,” Surprenant says. “We thought this was a nice way to make people who experience that stress smile.” Die With Me is a remarkably wholesome chat, with many users seeming to revel in their phone’s imminent death. Letting your phone die, in this context, is a cheeky kind of nihilistic badassery—I’m dancing on the edge, doomed to fall at any moment, and I don’t give a hoot. “Die together in a chatroom,” the app’s tagline reads. “On your way to offline peace.”
But, as you may have heard, batteries are supposed to be the future. For electric vehicle manufacturers, finding more proactive ways to assuage people’s fears is essential to ensuring their tech gets adopted. According to Malte Jung, who studies human-robot interactions at Cornell University, the issue with electric-vehicle range anxiety is less that people are uncomfortable with battery power and more that our devices seem to lie to us.
When drivers fill their tanks with gas, their experience tells them roughly how far that gas can carry them. Most people have no idea how far an electric vehicle will travel on a charge, let alone a partial charge, so they rely entirely on information supplied by the car. But those ranges—like a phone’s battery estimate—are projections based on your current power consumption. If you’re driving across flat land, your electric car might say it can go another 30 miles. If you go up a steep hill, its range estimate could plummet to five. “The system suggests certainty, and then you’re screwed,” Jung says. So he designed a system that made the uncertainty clear and presented the car’s range as, well, a range.
Outwardly, drivers claimed to hate this. On some level, being told that your car will continue to function for five to 10 miles is not as comfortable as being told it will last precisely eight. And yet, Jung still found that those presented with a more realistic, less certain battery assessment were less anxious overall and drove better. “We created a low level of anxiety up front by denying that need to know exactly where we stand,” Jung says. “It meant the device doesn’t have to lie to you, and that helps people manage anxiety about ending up stranded.” They disliked the interface but trusted the car. In that light, pervasive battery anxiety looks a lot like the very natural consequence of being asked to rely on something unreliable.
Until battery tech improves (which it will) or tech companies get more honest (hmm), Jung and Die With Me may have found the only way forward: embracing the uncertainty of your battery’s lifespan while knowing its death is inevitable. Just like your own.
By Michael Acton, Chief Technology Officer at Array By Joe Amsden, Senior Solutions Architect at Array By Brad Barker, Client Executive at Array
On behalf of a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) client, our multi-company team—comprised of staff from ARRAY, NTT Data, TSRI, and Datum—delivered a successful modernization of a COBOL-based system running on aged mainframes to a Java-based system running on x86 Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
The goals were to introduce agility, reduce costs, modernize the technical stack, and enhance security by leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS). We did this using automated code conversion tools and techniques while maintaining all functionality, screens, and reports.
The modernization target was AWS GovCloud (US) in order to address the DoD’s stringent security and compliance requirements such as U.S. citizenship.
The system we modernized is an ACAT III Major Defense Acquisition Program and mission-critical system used by more than 18,000 users at over 260 global locations. It provides daily supply chain and equipment support for DoD missions and is the accountable data system for over $30 billion in inventory.
A major component of the system is 54 years old, written in COBOL, and provides retail-level business logic. The component runs on mainframes that have proven to be extremely difficult to change and manage, and the DoD needed to modernize the component to drive down operating costs and move to an open platform, while retaining all functionality.
After 54 years of operations, maintenance, and extensions, the component’s code had become poorly documented. The technical design of the existing system, which was needed to support the modernization effort, had to be derived from the existing system and code.
Key characteristics of this component included:
Annual operating costs over $30 million, largely attributable to mainframe hosting and maintenance costs.
1.3 million lines of COBOL Source Lines of Code (SLOC).
A data management system, comprised of 1.2 million lines of COBOL code, supporting approximately 500,000 transactions per day.
The component needed to be modernized and migrated to an affordable open system and hosting environment, with no down-time, data loss, functionality loss, performance loss, and minimal mission risk. The DoD had never done anything like this.
Hexbyte News Computers Modernization Approach and Solution
Our team developed a trusted relationship with the DoD’s Project Management Office over several years by delivering solutions that transformed and improved their supply mission. In 2015, the DoD contracted our team to modernize the component to become an integrated and sustainable part of the overall system.
We started the project by identifying and evaluating solution options:
A total manual rewrite and re-architecting solution failed to meet the program’s time constraints, had historically low success rates (high risk), and would have been too costly.
A replacement solution was not selected because the DoD needed to retain all the current business rules.
A COBOL emulator re-host solution was a stopgap measure that failed to reach the J2EE/RHEL/SQL DB architectural future state requirement.
This analysis led to our decision to use a COBOL-to-Java code automated refactoring solution. This option would take a low-risk, incremental approach and apply a blended agile/traditional methodology and tools to ensure rapid, high-quality software delivery.
Once the COBOL-to-Java code automated refactoring solution was selected, a three-phase approach emerged to meet the entirety of the DoD’s requirements and cost, schedule, and risk constraints.
Phase 1 (18 months): COBOL-to-Java code automated refactoring to x86/RHEL platform This was the most complex and risky phase, as we automatically refactored COBOL code from mainframes to Java code on a virtualized x86 RHEL platform while not losing any functionality or performance. The resulting Java code contained design remnants of COBOL, and development and test environments were moved to the AWS Cloud.
Phase 2 (12 months): Code advanced refactoring to remove COBOL design overtones We refactored the Java codebase even more to remove residual COBOL remnants, overtones, and design elements to improve maintainability.
Phase 3 (3 months): Infrastructure moved to AWS GovCloud (US) We moved all remaining environments to AWS GovCloud (US) including staging and production. AWS GovCloud (US) allowed us to meet the many cyberthreat security requirements for the DoD.
Figure 1 shows our three-phrase modernization approach. The two Java logos illustrate the different Java phases. At the end of Phase 1, the Java program is “dirty” with remaining COBOL coding practices. At the end of Phase 2, the Java program is “clean” without COBOL remnants.
Figure 1 – ARRAY’s three-phase modernization approach met the DoD’s stringent requirements.
Hexbyte News Computers Phase 1: Automated Refactoring of COBOL to Java on x86
The modernization of the component involved a conversion of 1,260,679 lines of COBOL code and 10,078 lines of C code to Java to maintain current application capabilities, Graphical User Interface (GUI), and performance while migrating to an affordable and sustainable x86 RHEL platform.
The component’s COBOL online and batch applications were automatically refactored to run on a JEE platform using Java object-oriented software layers (data access, presentation, business logic) and patterns to enable migration to a standard x86 architecture.
The modernized Java software reused identifier names from the original COBOL application, allowing the component SMEs to read and understand the new Java code and routines more easily.
Rather than simply transliterating source COBOL code to target Java code, the tool executes a mature automated conversion and refactoring process by first constructing a comprehensive Intermediate Object Model of the legacy system in an intermediate translation language.
Once modeled within the tool engine, SMEs employ an iterative process of applying rules and tuning to output the transformed code into the target Java language.
We completed the work of reintegrating items like schedulers and other utilities, testing the initial construction iterations of the code, and providing defects. In response to each construction delivery evaluation, we adapted the transformation rules and regenerated improved construction iterations of the code according to internal evaluations.
During this phase, the COBOL Data Management System network database code was transformed to COBOL with SQL. This COBOL and SQL code was then transformed to Java and SQL code.
Figure 2 – The component COBOL automated refactoring to Java.
After we completed Phase 1, the resulting converted Java code contained COBOL paradigm design remnants, or COBOL overtones, that required personnel to have specialized skills to maintain the codebase. A plan was developed to identify and correct COBOL overtones with standard Java solutions. This part of the effort was considered low-risk because we used approaches, processes, and techniques proven in Phase 1.
Our refactoring approach used the TSRI JANUS Studio tool and a semi-automated refactoring method that performs further code optimization, naming changes, and other enhancements to improve architecture, design, security, sustainability and performance.
We used an iterative approach consisting of tool-driven automated refactoring, regression testing, and customer review to address the four most significant COBOL overtones existing in the component’s Java codebase:
Refactoring the COBOL Memory Model to Java
Refactoring the COBOL data mapping layer to native Java and SQL
Removing COBOL-style control-flow/GOTO Logic
Identifying and removing redundant code sections
These techniques, along with the improved method synthesis algorithm, greatly improved the maintainability of the Java codebase.
Figure 3 – The component refactored to maintainable Java.
Hexbyte News Computers Phase 3: Infrastructure Moved to AWS
After Phase 2 was completed, the entire component was moved to AWS GovCloud (US) including the staging, production, and all support environments.
AWS GovCloud (US) was selected because it aligned with the future technical direction of the system. This included cybersecurity, DevOps, and automated continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) tools. The component’s architecture was installed in AWS GovCloud (US) and continues to evolve.
Figure 4 – The component moved to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Hexbyte News Computers Customer Benefits
For the DoD, the component has been transformed from an expensive mainframe COBOL legacy system to an affordable, modern maintainable Java-based system. All valuable existing business rules have been preserved in the modernized system, while development, test, and production environments were migrated to AWS providing flexibility at reduced cost.
The DoD’s projected cost savings is $25 million per year, and they are now able to use popular Java programmers to maintain and enhance the critical component.
Hexbyte News Computers Lessons Learned
This project taught the DoD that automated refactoring projects are a viable approach to modernize major legacy systems, including complex COBOL-based mainframes, to preserve the existing business rules within a cost-effective, open system.
We can highlight specific lessons learned during this project:
Code conversions via automated refactoring are a low-risk approach to modernize away from legacy platforms and migrate to the AWS Cloud.
Breaking efforts into phases (modernize, migrate, etc.) keeps risk low and ensures mission success.
Breaking away from legacy COBOL enable a completely new set of sustainment opportunities, such as labor and tooling.
Agile development models enable real-time course corrections and reduce delivery risk.
Maximum automation is crucial in order to transform millions of lines of code while preserving functional equivalence, reducing risks, and reducing the project timeline.
The Java language target allows choosing from a wide range of cost-efficient reliable compute options. In this case, it allowed the elasticity and scalability to meet the mission-critical DoD system needs.
Moving away from legacy proprietary mainframe and COBOL to an open Java platform allows access to a large pool of talented architects and specialists for design and operation.
Suppressing proprietary COBOL technologies allows more cost-efficient and reliable application servers and databases.
Hexbyte News Computers Next Steps
ARRAY specializes in transformative IT solutions for government agencies and the commercial sector. For more information about our mainframe and legacy migration to AWS capabilities, please visit www.arrayinfotech.com.
The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.
I remember that the race was long and lumpy, 18 times around a roughly six-mile loop. I remember that on one side of the course rain would sprinkle and splatter, and on the other side the sun would bake road grit against my lips. I remember racing down single-lane roads canopied by ancient oak trees and haunting willows. I remember horses grazing in green fields framed by white fences. I remember a swamp. Humidity. I remember I felt good. I felt as good as I will ever feel on a bicycle. I know that now.
One warm evening during the summer of 2001, in a leafy suburb outside of Columbus, Ohio, I climbed into a white passenger van with five other odorous and messy-haired young bike racers. I was 21, and on a cycling team sponsored by the Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas. We’d just finished five consecutive days of national calendar criterium racing, and in about a week’s time we’d line up at the under-23 national championship in Gainesville, Florida.
During that dreamy, formative summer, I’d raced my bicycle in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Wisconsin. In Elgin, Illinois, I’d lost a sprint to a future Tour de France rider. In San Francisco, I rode across the Golden Gate Bridge, gazed upon the blue Pacific, and ate a burrito in the Mission district. In California’s Central Valley, my sweat-soaked back stuck to the vinyl seat of a 1989 Toyota Corolla. I kissed a girl with curly blond hair, read a Chuck Palahniuk novel, wrote emails at public libraries, and browsed for clothes at thrift stores. I wore out a Strokes CD, watched bad movies, collected surf magazines though I’d never surfed.
We drove in shifts on our way to Gainesville, straight through. At some point in the night, I fell asleep on one of the lumpy bench seats. I woke with the sun.
I remember that the course and the climate, the handful of heavily marked favorites, and the nature of a national championship (one winner and a hundred-some losers), made for an uncontrolled and chaotic four-and-a-half-hour race. I remember how riders would surge forward in groups of four or six, and coalesce into packs of 24 or 15, only to break apart again. Every time a group of racers surged forward, I would search for strength in my legs, and my legs would respond, and I would be able to leave the pack, go out in front, catch the others.
And I remember with about two laps to go I found myself in one of those lead groups, eight or maybe nine riders. I remember knowing there were fast finishers in that group, racers I didn’t want to have to sprint against at the end, so I attacked. I would get caught, and attack again. And again. With about a lap and a half remaining, I attacked and no one followed me.
I remember that when I was clear, when I knew I was clear, I peered backward, beneath the crevice of my arm and torso, and saw a white and black jersey gaining on me. It was a rider I didn’t recognize, didn’t know. By the time he got to my rear wheel, he looked too exhausted to help me, too beat to be able to pull hard enough to help the two of us stay away. So I attacked again. I didn’t want him with me. I didn’t need him. I wanted to go alone.
But every time I attacked him, I remember, he would claw his way back to me.
Mike Friedman had spent the summer at a training center for cyclists in New York’s Catskill Mountains. He’d traveled to that race in Elgin, Illinois, too, the one where the racer who would go on to ride in the Tour de France had beaten me. Mike had drunk five espressos before the start of that race, and dropped out. He saw the racer from the Mercy team who got second, and he thought that the racer was pretty good.
Mike was 18. He’d gotten overtrained and was overstressed, so in the weeks preceding the national championship he’d stopped riding hard. He ate cake. He painted a friend’s home to earn some money. He figured that if he even went to nationals he’d get his ass kicked. But a close friend was going down, the only other good junior racer in the Pittsburgh area. His friend’s family was wealthy, drove a nice RV, had an expensive, rare hypoxic breathing machine that could mimic the effects of altitude and increase an athlete’s red blood cell count. Mike and his friend and his friend’s dad drove to Gainesville, camping out along the way, listening to Neil Young, riding motorcycles they’d brought.
Mike also scrutinized the results in the back pages of the racing magazines. He knew that prodigies like Danny Pate and Michael Creed, with more than a dozen national titles between them already, would line up at the under-23 championship. He knew that the five-man Mercy team would be there, its riders outfitted with matching gray Trek bicycles and garish hunter-green and magenta jerseys, and including the reigning under-23 national champion, Brice Jones. Along the way, he learned that the Mercy team employed two masseuses, and each of the team’s riders had received an hour-long rub in the week preceding the national championship race. Mike didn’t have a team. He didn’t have much confidence. But he knew that the mostly flat course suited his compact and powerful body. And he knew that in a bicycle race, anything could happen.
Ian Dille, May 2018
My title as national champion had just been promised to me by my breakaway partner.
I had come into the race as a relative novice, even though I’d been a cyclist my whole life. I’d grown up a high school cross-country runner and mountain biker in a road-racing family. My dad’s love affair with bikes began in the 1960s, when my great uncle bequeathed him a cardboard box of heirloom Campagnolo parts. My parents’ first date involved a bike ride. Summers, we traveled to the junior national championships, where my brother raced. Dinner parties, we spent with bicycle club friends. Weekends, we went to bike rallies in rural Texas towns. But road racing wasn’t really my thing until 1999, when I let my dad buy me a road bike for my 19th birthday. I started racing with the team at the University of Texas at Austin, the school where my older brother had won a national championship. I was green. But I was good. In that first year of racing, when I didn’t crash, I often won.
Now, three years after my first collegiate road race, I had a shot at a national title. All I had to do was shake the rider in the black-and-white kit. I remember attacking him again.
The moment the words left his mouth, Mike regretted saying them.
“I won’t sprint,” he said. “You can win.”
For more than a hundred miles, he’d done everything right. Every time he’d come through the start-finish line, he’d grabbed either a water bottle or an energy bar. He’d exerted his energy in all the right spots, followed the right wheels, kept himself in a position to win. But now there was this racer. The one in the garish green and magenta Mercy jersey. Every time Mike did a pull at the front, this racer would attack him. Mike would come back to the racer’s wheel, only to get attacked again. After each attack and chase, the pace would slow to a crawl. Mike looked back. He saw the pack getting closer to catching us. He panicked. He offered a deal.
In bike racing, the immense energy savings of one rider drafting behind another can make two competitors of differing strengths essentially equal, and stronger together than either would be solo. A rider who is weaker or at a tactical disadvantage will sometimes offer a promise not to sprint for the win if the stronger rider will promise to stop trying to get away. The stronger racer does the bulk of the pulling into the wind as the other racer sits in the slipstream. In return, the weaker racer will do what he or she can to help the break survive, taking occasional pulls to give their partner some respite. In this way, with the weaker rider exchanging an almost nonexistent shot at winning for a more secure opportunity for a high placing, both riders have a better chance of succeeding. No written rules broker a deal. It’s a verbal handshake.
Although all of this is a time-honored and accepted strategy within racing, rarely does someone publicly admit to making a deal.
Even more rarely does someone break a deal.
I remember that I put my head down and hammered. My title as national champion had just been promised to me by my breakaway partner. A race official riding a motorcycle shouted to us through his full-face helmet. Thirty seconds, he said. Nine miles to go. I rode through the start-finish line with six miles to go. Forty-five seconds, someone said.
We turned onto the back straightaway. One minute, the man on the motorcycle said. I will win, I thought. My family will be so proud.
I flicked my elbow and waved Mike through. He pulled. But I remember that I was pulling harder. As hard as I could pull. I held nothing back. Near a sign that said there was one kilometer to go, we rounded a left hand turn. I looked back at Mike. I said to him, “You remember our deal?”
Mike Friedman, May 2018
THE MOMENT THE WORDS LEFT HIS MOUTH, MIKE REGRETTED SAYING THEM. ‘I WON’T SPRINT,’ HE SAID. ‘YOU CAN WIN.’
Mike grew up without much money. His dad, a dispatcher for a trucking company, loved bikes, too. When Mike turned 10, his dad bought him a road bike, and started picking him up from school in a semi-truck on Friday afternoons. Mike would sleep on a bunk in the cab of the truck and his dad would drive through the night to a national-level junior race in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. They’d get to the race, and Mike’s dad would wake him up. They’d go to a diner, and eat pancakes.
Mike would race and his dad would watch. They’d sleep for a little bit, then his dad would drop the truck’s load off, and pick up a load that needed to go back to Pittsburgh. That’s how Mike and his dad got to bike races.
In that two-man breakaway at the under-23 national championship in the sprinkling rain and sun in a swamp outside of Gainesville, Florida, Mike remembers that at about one kilometer to go, the other racer turned to him and reminded him that they had a deal, that Mike had said he wouldn’t sprint.
But Mike can’t remember if he acknowledged the other racer. He can’t remember if he nodded yes, the way I remember it, or if he didn’t do anything at all. He remembers only that when he saw the finish line, a banner across the road at the top of a short abrupt hill, he suddenly was sprinting. He was a good sprinter.
When his front wheel crossed the finish line taped flat across the road, all he could think was, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. But he felt no euphoria. Before he knew it, before he could change it, he had won the national championship.
I remember how I had anticipated joy and instead my body surged with pain and anger. Like something that I wanted so badly, and had allowed myself to believe I already owned, had been stolen from me. I remember my legs seizing with cramps. My vision blurry with sweat and salt. I caught up to Mike just past the finish line, and I hit him on the back. I yelled something.
I remember that he looked back at me. He looked shocked. He said that on the podium, he would give the jersey and the medal to me. Then I heard Mike’s coach tell him no, this was a race. That the first racer across the line wins.
On the podium—after the drug test, after our faces were wiped clean and our sponsors’ hats were placed atop our heads, and after I had talked to a reporter for the bike racing publication VeloNews and was quoted as saying, “He told me not to attack and I could have the win. If he hadn’t have said anything, it would have been a whole different race”—I watched someone hand Mike the stars-and-stripes jersey of the national champion, and I watched Mike wrestle the jersey on and lean forward as someone draped a gold medal around his neck.
I locked my lips to keep them from trembling. When the other racers on the podium raised their arms, I did not raise mine.
Mike wished he had gotten second. Had he gotten second, he would have achieved a personal best result. Had he gotten second, he would not feel so embarrassed even though he had just won a national title. Had he gotten second, he would not need to later fabricate an explanation based on semantics: That he didn’t offer a deal at all. That actually, he had told the other racer that if the racer worked with him, then the racer could win. And he wouldn’t have to lie about why he really felt sorry—because of what he had done—by saying that it was only because the second-place rider had misunderstood him.
Had Mike gotten second, he would not later read an article about the race, the first story ever published about him in a national cycling publication, that portrayed him as having broken one of bike racing’s sacred codes. And had Mike gotten second, he would not feel like a cheater every time he lined up at a bike race.
A long drive to Arkansas from Florida, lying prone in the back of a passenger van. Sun streaming through a van window. Shadows flashing across my face. A wetness welling in my eyes, a succession of blinks to suppress the tears.
A bed in Fort Smith, Arkansas, from where I rose only to eat or to use the restroom. A call from my mother—“come home”—and a flight to the Washington, D.C., area, where my parents had relocated. An email from the director of the U.S. national team, and an invitation to race in Europe, all expenses paid.
A house in Belgium, and a dozen of the best young racers in the U.S. Kind words from riders I admired: “You are, essentially, a national champion.” A contract with a U.S.-based professional racing team sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Then a knee injury. My dream had barely begun, and it was over.
Mike felt so bad when he raced bikes that he quit. He went to college, studied biology, for a year and a half tried and failed to find a new path in life. Then someone suggested he put his explosive power to use on the banked oval of a velodrome. He left Penn State and began racing track bikes and eventually made the U.S. Olympic team. He went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He got last place. But he felt proud. He got the Olympic bands tattooed on his wrist, and sometimes he would point to the tattoo and say, that…that is real. He went back to the road, and raced professionally at a high level, competed at Paris-Roubaix, finished twelfth at the European classic Omloop Het Volk. He became known by the nickname Meatball, became a beloved persona in domestic racing. He met the President of the United States, twice, and the President remembered his name the second time.
Every year he raced pro, his team supplied him with a stack of cards with his photo on the front and his lifetime racing results on the back. Every year he looked at the card and saw listed there as one of his honors the 2001 U.S. Under-23 National Championship, and he would know that it was not real. That it was no honor after all.
In 2013, I was at another national championships for under-23 racers. This one was in Madison, Wisconsin, and I was a helper, not a competitor. I’d become a journalist. I’d written a book. I had a career, but I still rode and raced a bit as an amateur, and my friends and I had started our own team, Super Squadra, full of eager and anxious and fast 20-year-olds, for whom I spent a lot of my spare hours filling water bottles and making sandwiches, and driving to and from races, and offering encouragement. I watched them ride and race, and I saw how important this all felt to them, and I told them something I believed but wasn’t really thinking deeply about: that whatever happened, they should cherish the experience. Because whatever the results of a race ended up being, the experience was what would remain with them.
While I was in Madison for that national championship, I called home to check in with my wife, who was pregnant. We talked, as we’d been doing lately, about the renovations we were making to the house we’d just bought, the things we needed to do to prepare for the baby. When I hung up, I recalled how losing that race in 2001 had felt like the end of the world. And I thought about how so much more had happened since. And then I watched Super Squadra’s under-23 team race together, and I saw them make mistakes and enjoy small victories, and I saw how, wow, they were just kids. I was just a kid when that championship was taken from me. Mike was just a kid when he took it. And right then, more or less, I let go of that hurt I’d held onto for so long.
In 2014, at the national championship road race for professional riders in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mike got a phone call. His dad was dying of pancreatic cancer. Mike went home and cared for his father. Mike felt his father’s sagging weight, 250 pounds, as Mike carried him to the bathroom. Mike watched a rabbi kneel by his father’s bed, and heard his father speak Hebrew.
Before he died, Mike’s father introduced him to a boy. The boy’s classmates teased him because he couldn’t ride a bicycle. Mike’s father said, my son is an Olympian, he can teach the boy to ride. And so one day, Mike took the boy out. Mike took the wheel off his bicycle. He spun the wheel, and he let the boy hold the wheel, try to turn the wheel, and Mike said, it’s science, keep moving and you won’t fall. By the end of the day, the boy could ride. He would no longer be teased. Mike had changed the boy’s life.
At around the same time, while his father was dying, Mike asked his girlfriend to marry him. He became a husband and a stepfather, and he quit professional bike racing, and he moved to Golden, Colorado, and with the help of his wife who worked in education, he started an after-school cycling program, Pedaling Minds, and taught kids to ride bicycles.
Mike and his wife fought sometimes, and Mike felt the way they fought was not okay. She was the only person who he had told the truth to about the race in Gainesville, and she would use it against him. She would tell him that everything he had achieved had been based upon a lie, and it would bring him to his knees. More than once, he left, came back. Left. Moved out. Went back. Eventually, she asked him for a divorce.
He moved back home, back to Pittsburgh. He had no family. No job. No home. He began riding and racing again. He started thinking about what really made him happy, and it was teaching kids to ride. Eventually, he decided to return to Colorado, to Boulder, to see if he could restart Pedaling Minds in the school district there. He drove back across the country.
And as Mike drove, he made a call he’d long wanted to make. Long needed to make. He said into the phone that he had that jersey with him. He said, I cheated. I’m sorry.
He felt so light.
I flew up from my home in Austin, and we met at the house of a mutual friend in Fort Collins, Colorado. Mike and I embraced, and right away, he handed me the jersey with the stripes and the stars. He apologized for how wrinkled it was. It had been in a drawer, he said. He said he’d meant to frame it. He said it was important that he give me the jersey as soon as he saw me.
We went on a ride together, into the foothills of the Front Range. “You were such a talented racer,” Mike said. I asked him about his childhood, and I learned how a blue-collar kid from Pittsburgh made it to the Olympics. We climbed a mountain, and came back down. We laid our bikes on the bank of a reservoir, and dove into the water. Mike said he had wanted to make things right for years, but hadn’t known how.
Later that day, when I was alone, I pulled the jersey out of my bag. I rubbed the blue and white fabric between my fingers. I took a photo of the jersey. I texted it to my wife. I wondered if I really felt like a national champion. You won that bike race, Mike had said.
I held the jersey in my hand and I thought about how, when I was younger and more preoccupied with the questions of winning and losing, I had believed it possessed a power. I had thought the jersey could change the course of things. It did, but not in the way I’d envisioned. For so long, for Mike and me, the jersey had been a burden, even felt like a curse.
I wondered what I would do with the jersey, where I would put it, whether my son or my daughter would see it and ask me about it, and what I would say. Would I say that on one steamy August day, more than a decade ago, I had been the best bike racer in my age group in the United States? Or would I say that this is something that I lost, and then it came back to me? Would I preach to them about honesty and integrity and morals?
I wondered: Who am I to preach?
I held the jersey in my hand. I pulled down the zipper. And I put it on.
On Monday, security firm Symantec reported that two of those advanced hacking tools were used against a host of targets starting in March 2016, fourteen months prior to the Shadow Brokers leak. An advanced persistent threat hacking group that Symantec has been tracking since 2010 somehow got access to a variant of the NSA-developed DoublePulsar backdoor and one of the Windows exploits the NSA used to remotely install it on targeted computers.
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Killing NOBUS
The revelation that the powerful NSA tools were being repurposed much earlier than previously thought is sure to touch off a new round of criticism about the agency’s inability to secure its arsenal.
“This definitely should bring additional criticism of the ability to protect their tools,” Jake Williams, a former NSA hacker who is now a cofounder of Rendition Infosec, told Ars. “If they didn’t lose the tools from a direct compromise, then the exploits were intercepted in transit or they were independently discovered. All of this completely kills the NOBUS argument.”
“NOBUS” is shorthand for nobody but us, a mantra NSA officials use to justify their practice of privately stockpiling certain exploits, rather than reporting the underlying vulnerabilities so they can be fixed.
Symantec researchers said they didn’t know how the hacking group—known alternately as Buckeye, APT3, Gothic Panda, UPS Team, and TG-0110—obtained the tools. The researchers said the limited number of tools used suggested the hackers’ access wasn’t as broad as the access enjoyed by the Shadow Brokers. The researchers speculated that the hackers may have reverse engineered technical “artefacts” they captured from attacks the NSA carried out on it own targets. Other less likely possibilities, Symantec said, were Buckeye stealing the tools from an unsecured or poorly secured NSA server or a rogue NSA group member or associate leaking the tools to Buckeye.
The attack used to install Buckeye’s DoublePulsar variant exploited a Windows vulnerability indexed as CVE-2017-0143. It was one of several Windows flaws exploited in Shadow Broker-leaked NSA tools with names that included Eternal Romance and Eternal Synergy. Microsoft patched the vulnerability in March 2017 after being tipped off by NSA officials that the exploits were likely to be published soon.
Teasing out the myriad influences on any artist creating a timeless masterpiece is tricky business, but Finnish director Dome Karukoski does an admirable job of it in Tolkien, an evocative dramatization of the late linguistics professor and beloved fantasy author’s early life.
Per the film’s official premise: “As a child, J.R.R. Tolkien becomes friends with a group of fellow artists and writers at his school, with whom he finds inspiration and courage. Their bond of fellowship grows with the years, as they experience life together. Meanwhile, Tolkien meets Edith Bratt, with whom he falls in love. But when World War I breaks out, Tolkien’s relationships with his friends are tested, an act which threatens to tear their “fellowship” apart.” Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite) heads the cast in the title role, with Lily Collins (Okja) playing Edith.
The broad strokes of those formative years provide the backbone of the film. In 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in modern-day South Africa while his bank manager father, Arthur, had left England to manage a branch of the British bank there. When Tolkien was three, his mother, Mabel, took him and his younger brother, Hilary, for an extended trip to England. His father was meant to join them but died of rheumatic fever, leaving the family with no source of income. Mabel and the children wound up living in Birmingham with her parents, and the nearby village of Sarehole would end up inspiring various scenes in Tolkien’s novels.
Mabel died when Tolkien was 12, and a local priest, Father Francis Xavier Morgan, assumed guardianship of Tolkien and his brother and ensured they received a good education. It was at King Edward’s School that Tolkien met Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith, and Christopher Wiseman, forming their own artistic society: the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, or T.C.B.S. That brotherhood anchors the film, which follows the young, idealistic dreamers who wanted to change the world with their art as they march off to defend Great Britain in World War I.
Later (after the events of the film), Tolkien bonded over a shared love of Norse mythology with Narnia-creator C.S. Lewis when the two men met at Oxford as professors in the 1930s. Along with several other Oxford-based writers and scholars, they began meeting regularly at a local pub called The Eagle and Child, fondly dubbed The Bird and the Baby. The Oxford Inklings, as they came to be called, were arguably the literary mythmakers of the mid-20th century, at least in England. That is the period of Tolkien’s life most familiar to fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, Lewis was the first to read early drafts of Tolkien’s imagined world. Tolkien later credited Lewis with “an unpayable debt” for convincing him the “stuff” could be more than a “private hobby.”
But most of us are less familiar with Tolkien’s formative years. “To me it was surprising, as I always envisioned Tolkien like everyone else: with his pipe at The Eagle and Child, debating with C.S. Lewis about elves,” said Karukoski. “Then I found out he had all this background, being an orphan, finding his friends, going to war. The story is quite amazing.” So Karukoski set out to bring it to life on film.
“For me, what is most important is to find the emotional truth of the character.”
Making a film about such a well-known and beloved literary figure is always a daunting prospect, especially in light of the sometimes litigious Tolkien Estate. The Estate did release a statement in April clarifying that the family “did not approve of, authorize, or participate in the making of this film” and “they do not endorse it or its content in any way.” But a spokesman for the estate told The Guardian that statement wasn’t a harbinger of legal action. The intent was simply to distance the Tolkien Estate from Tolkien the film, lest people confuse the director’s artistic vision with historical fact.
Karukoski isn’t bothered at all by the statement, which he thought was “quite respectful. I didn’t feel offended.” In fact, he has invited Tolkien family members view the film with him, with the hope they’ll see he has treated their forebear with great respect. That said, he readily admits to taking some creative license with the facts of Tolkien’s life in his interpretation of the author as a character.
“Almost any biopic or real-life story needs alterations, because everyday existence is not that exciting or cinematic. At the end of the day, the narrative flow must work,” he said. “For me, what is most important [for a biopic] is to find the emotional truth of the character.”
Still, there are many factual flourishes throughout. Tolkien really did fall in love with a fellow boarder, Edith, only to be forced to choose between her and an Oxford education, thanks to Father Francis (played by Miles O’Brien himself, Colm Meaney). A scene in a Birmingham teahouse where the couple toss lumps of sugar into the hats of fancy diners is largely accurate (except the real Tolkien and Edith sat on a balcony and tossed the lumps into the hats of passersby below). Edith was briefly engaged to someone else but broke it off when Tolkien declared he still loved her. They married after the war ended. And the tragic fates of two T.C.B.S. members are also part of the historical record.