Search Results: "anton"

31 August 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, July 2022

A Debian LTS logo
Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Debian project funding No any major updates on running projects.
Two 1, 2 projects are in the pipeline now.
Tryton project is in a review phase. Gradle projects is still fighting in work. In July, we put aside 2389 EUR to fund Debian projects. We re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In July, 14 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available: Evolution of the situation In July, we have released 3 DLAs. July was the period, when the Debian Stretch had already ELTS status, but Debian Buster was still in the hands of security team. Many member of LTS used this time to update internal infrastructure, documentation and some internal tickets. Now we are ready to take the next release in our hands: Buster! Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

26 July 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, June 2022

A Debian LTS logo
Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Debian project funding No any major updates on running projects.
Two 1, 2 projects are in the pipeline now.
Tryton project is in a review phase. Gradle projects is still fighting in work. In June, we put aside 2254 EUR to fund Debian projects. We re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In June, 15 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available: Evolution of the situation In June we released 27 DLAs.

This is a special month, where we have two releases (stretch and jessie) as ELTS and NO release as LTS. Buster is still handled by the security team and will probably be given in LTS hands at the beginning of the August. During this month we are updating the infrastructure, documentation and improve our internal processes to switch to a new release.
Many developers have just returned back from Debconf22, hold in Prizren, Kosovo! Many (E)LTS members could meet face-to-face and discuss some technical and social topics! Also LTS BoF took place, where the project was introduced (link to video).
Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold. We are pleased to welcome Alter Way where their support of Debian is publicly acknowledged at the higher level, see this French quote of Alterway s CEO.

3 July 2022

Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in June 2022

FTP master This month I accepted 305 and rejected 59 packages. The overall number of packages that got accepted was 310. From time to time I am also looking at the list of packages to be removed. If you would like to make life easier for the people who remove packages, please make sure that the resulting dak command really makes sense. If this command consists of garbage, please adapt the Subject: of your bug report accordingly. Also it does not make sense to file bugs to remove packages from NEW. Please don t hesitate to close such bugs again Debian LTS This was my ninety-sixth month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian. This month my all in all workload has been 30.25h. During that time I did LTS and normal security uploads of: I have to admit that I totally ignored the EOL of Stretch LTS, so my upload of ncurses needs to go to Stretch ELTS now. This month I also moved/refactored the current LTS documentation to a new repository and started to move the LTS Wiki as well. I also continued to work on security support for golang packages. Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties and took care of issues on security-master. At this point I also need to mention my first business trip . I drove the short distance between Chemnitz and Freiberg and met Anton to have a face to face talk about LTS/ELTS. It was a great pleasure and definitely more fun than a meeting on IRC. Debian ELTS This month was the forty-seventh ELTS month. During my allocated time I uploaded: Due to the delay of my ncurses upload to Stretch LTS, the ELTS upload got delayed as well. Now I will do both uploads to ELTS in July. Last but not least I did some days of frontdesk duties. Debian Printing This month I uploaded new upstream versions or improved packaging of: Debian Astro As there has been a new indi release arriving in Debian, I uploaded new upstream versions of most of the indi-3rdparty packages. Don t hesitate to tell me whether you really use one of them :-). Other stuff This month I uploaded new upstream versions or improved packaging of:

23 June 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, May 2022

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Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Debian project funding Two [1, 2] projects are in the pipeline now. Tryton project is in a final phase. Gradle projects is fighting with technical difficulties. In May, we put aside 2233 EUR to fund Debian projects. We re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In May, 14 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available: Evolution of the situation In May we released 49 DLAs. The security tracker currently lists 71 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 65 packages needing an update. The number of paid contributors increased significantly, we are pleased to welcome our latest team members: Andreas R nnquist, Dominik George, Enrico Zini and Stefano Rivera. It is worth pointing out that we are getting close to the end of the LTS period for Debian 9. After June 30th, no new security updates will be made available on security.debian.org. We are preparing to overtake Debian 10 Buster for the next two years and to make this process as smooth as possible. But Freexian and its team of paid Debian contributors will continue to maintain Debian 9 going forward for the customers of the Extended LTS offer. If you have Debian 9 servers to keep secure, it s time to subscribe! You might not have noticed, but Freexian formalized a mission statement where we explain that our purpose is to help improve Debian. For this, we want to fund work time for the Debian developers that recently joined Freexian as collaborators. The Extended LTS and the PHP LTS offers are built following a model that will help us to achieve this if we manage to have enough customers for those offers. So consider subscribing: you help your organization but you also help Debian! Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

3 June 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, April 2022

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Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Debian project funding Two projects are currently in the pipeline: Gradle enterprise and Tryton update. Progress is quite slow on the Gradle one, there are technical difficulties. The tryton one was stalled because the developer had not enough time but seems to progress smoothly in the last weeks. In April, we put aside 2635 EUR to fund Debian projects. We re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In April, 11 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available: Evolution of the situation In April we released 30 DLAs and we were glad to welcome a new customer with Alter Way. The security tracker currently lists 72 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 71 packages needing an update. It is worth pointing out that we are getting close to the end of the LTS period for Debian 9. After June 30th, no new security updates will be made available on security.debian.org. But Freexian and its team of paid Debian contributors will continue to maintain Debian 9 going forward for the customers of the Extended LTS offer. If you have Debian 9 servers to keep secure, it s time to subscribe! You might not have noticed, but Freexian formalized a mission statement where we explain that our purpose is to help improve Debian. For this, we want to fund work time for the Debian developers that recently joined Freexian as collaborators. The Extended LTS and the PHP LTS offers are built following a model that will help us to achieve this if we manage to have enough customers for those offers. So consider subscribing: you help your organization but you also help Debian! Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

13 May 2022

Bits from Debian: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (March and April 2022)

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months: The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months: Congratulations!

28 April 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, March 2022

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Every month we review the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Please find the report for March below. Debian project funding Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In March, 11 contributors were paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available below. If you re interested in participating in the LTS or ELTS teams, we welcome participation from the Debian community. Simply get in touch with Jeremiah or Rapha l if you are if you are interested in participating. Evolution of the situation In March we released 42 DLAs. The security tracker currently lists 81 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 52 packages needing an update. We re glad to welcome a few new sponsors such as lectricit de France (Gold sponsor), Telecats BV and Soliton Systems. Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

17 March 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, February 2022

A Debian LTS logo
Every month we review the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Please find the report for February below. Debian project funding Debian LTS contributors In February, 12 contributors were paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available below. If you re interested in participating in the LTS or ELTS teams, we welcome participation from the Debian community. Simply get in touch with Jeremiah or Rapha l if you are if you are interested in participating. Evolution of the situation In February we released 24 DLAs. The security tracker currently lists 61 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 26 packages needing an update. You can find out more about the Debian LTS project via the following video:
Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

4 March 2022

Abiola Ajadi: Outreachy-And it s a wrap!

Outreachy Wrap-up Project Improve Debian Continuous Integration UX
Project Link: https://www.outreachy.org/outreachy-december-2021-internship-round/communities/debian/#improve-debian-continuous-integration-ux
Code Repository: https://salsa.debian.org/ci-team/debci
Mentors: Antonio Terceiro, Paul Gevers and Pavit Kaur

About the project Debci exist to make sure packages work currently after an update, How it does this is by testing all of the packages that have tests written in them to make sure it works and nothing is broken This project entails making improvements to the platform to make it easier to use and maintain.

Deliverables of the project:
  • Package landing page displaying pending jobs
  • web frontend: centralize job listings in a single template
  • self-service: request test form forgets values when validation fails
  • Improvement to status

Work done

Package landing page displaying pending jobs Previously, Jobs that were pending were not displayed on the package page. Working on this added a feature to display pending jobs on package landing. Working on this task made it known that the same block of codes was repeated in different files which led to the next task Screenshot-2022-03-04-at-02-03-06.png Merge request
web frontend: centralize job listings in a single template Jobs are listed in various landings such as status packages, Status alerts, status failing, History, and so on. The same Code was repeated in these pages to list the jobs, I worked on refactoring it and created a single template for job listing so it can be used anywhere it s needed. I also wrote a test for the feature I added.
Merge request
self service: request test form forgets values when validation fails When one tries to request for a test and it fails with an error, originally the form does not remember the values that were typed in the package name, suite field et. c. This fix ensures the form remembers the values inputted even when it throws an error. Image of request test page N/B: The form checks all architecture on the load of the page
merge request
Improvement to status Originally the Status pages were rendered as static HTML pages but I converted these pages to be generated dynamically, I wrote endpoints for each page. Since most of the status pages have a list of jobs I modified it to use the template I created for job-listing. Previously, the status pages had a mechanism to filter such as All, Latest 50 et.c which wasn t paginated. I removed this mechanism added a filter by architecture and suites to these pages and also add pagination. Last but not the least, I wrote tests for these implementations carried out on the status page. Image of Status failing page merge request:
first task
second task

Major take-aways I learnt a lot during my internship but most importantly I learnt how to:
  • write Tests in Ruby and how writing tests is an important aspect of software development
  • maintain good coding practice, Paying attending to commit messages, Indentation et.c are good areas I developed in writing code.
  • make contributions in Ruby Programming Language.

Acknowledgement I can not end this without saying thank you to my mentors Antonio Terceiro, Paul Gevers, and Pavit Kaur for their constant support and guidance throughout the entire duration of this Internship. It has been a pleasure Interacting and learning from everyone.

Review Outreachy has helped me feel more confident about open-source, especially during the application phase. I had to reach out to the community I was interested in and ask questions on how to get started. The informal chats week was awesome I was able to build my network and have interesting conversations with amazing individuals in open-source. To round up, Always ask questions and do not be afraid of making a mistake, as one of the outreachy blog post topics says Everyone struggles!, but never give up!

21 February 2022

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2022

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Every month we review the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Please find the report for January below. Debian project funding We continue to looking forward to hearing about Debian project proposals from various Debian stakeholders. This month has seen work on a survey that will go out to Debian Developers to gather feedback on what they think should be the priorities for funding in the project. Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In January, 13 contributors were paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available below. If you re interested in participating in the LTS or ELTS teams, we welcome participation from the Debian community. Simply get in touch with Jeremiah or Rapha l. Evolution of the situation In January we released 34 DLAs. The security tracker currently lists 39 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 20 packages still needing an update. Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

16 January 2022

Chris Lamb: Favourite films of 2021

In my four most recent posts, I went over the memoirs and biographies, the non-fiction, the fiction and the 'classic' novels that I enjoyed reading the most in 2021. But in the very last of my 2021 roundup posts, I'll be going over some of my favourite movies. (Saying that, these are perhaps less of my 'favourite films' than the ones worth remarking on after all, nobody needs to hear that The Godfather is a good movie.) It's probably helpful to remark you that I took a self-directed course in film history in 2021, based around the first volume of Roger Ebert's The Great Movies. This collection of 100-odd movie essays aims to make a tour of the landmarks of the first century of cinema, and I watched all but a handul before the year was out. I am slowly making my way through volume two in 2022. This tome was tremendously useful, and not simply due to the background context that Ebert added to each film: it also brought me into contact with films I would have hardly come through some other means. Would I have ever discovered the sly comedy of Trouble in Paradise (1932) or the touching proto-realism of L'Atalante (1934) any other way? It also helped me to 'get around' to watching films I may have put off watching forever the influential Battleship Potemkin (1925), for instance, and the ur-epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) spring to mind here. Choosing a 'worst' film is perhaps more difficult than choosing the best. There are first those that left me completely dry (Ready or Not, Written on the Wind, etc.), and those that were simply poorly executed. And there are those that failed to meet their own high opinions of themselves, such as the 'made for Reddit' Tenet (2020) or the inscrutable Vanilla Sky (2001) the latter being an almost perfect example of late-20th century cultural exhaustion. But I must save my most severe judgement for those films where I took a visceral dislike how their subjects were portrayed. The sexually problematic Sixteen Candles (1984) and the pseudo-Catholic vigilantism of The Boondock Saints (1999) both spring to mind here, the latter of which combines so many things I dislike into such a short running time I'd need an entire essay to adequately express how much I disliked it.

Dogtooth (2009) A father, a mother, a brother and two sisters live in a large and affluent house behind a very high wall and an always-locked gate. Only the father ever leaves the property, driving to the factory that he happens to own. Dogtooth goes far beyond any allusion to Josef Fritzl's cellar, though, as the children's education is a grotesque parody of home-schooling. Here, the parents deliberately teach their children the wrong meaning of words (e.g. a yellow flower is called a 'zombie'), all of which renders the outside world utterly meaningless and unreadable, and completely mystifying its very existence. It is this creepy strangeness within a 'regular' family unit in Dogtooth that is both socially and epistemically horrific, and I'll say nothing here of its sexual elements as well. Despite its cold, inscrutable and deadpan surreality, Dogtooth invites all manner of potential interpretations. Is this film about the artificiality of the nuclear family that the West insists is the benchmark of normality? Or is it, as I prefer to believe, something more visceral altogether: an allegory for the various forms of ontological violence wrought by fascism, as well a sobering nod towards some of fascism's inherent appeals? (Perhaps it is both. In 1972, French poststructuralists Gilles and F lix Guattari wrote Anti-Oedipus, which plays with the idea of the family unit as a metaphor for the authoritarian state.) The Greek-language Dogtooth, elegantly shot, thankfully provides no easy answers.

Holy Motors (2012) There is an infamous scene in Un Chien Andalou, the 1929 film collaboration between Luis Bu uel and famed artist Salvador Dal . A young woman is cornered in her own apartment by a threatening man, and she reaches for a tennis racquet in self-defence. But the man suddenly picks up two nearby ropes and drags into the frame two large grand pianos... each leaden with a dead donkey, a stone tablet, a pumpkin and a bewildered priest. This bizarre sketch serves as a better introduction to Leos Carax's Holy Motors than any elementary outline of its plot, which ostensibly follows 24 hours in the life of a man who must play a number of extremely diverse roles around Paris... all for no apparent reason. (And is he even a man?) Surrealism as an art movement gets a pretty bad wrap these days, and perhaps justifiably so. But Holy Motors and Un Chien Andalou serve as a good reminder that surrealism can be, well, 'good, actually'. And if not quite high art, Holy Motors at least demonstrates that surrealism can still unnerving and hilariously funny. Indeed, recalling the whimsy of the plot to a close friend, the tears of laughter came unbidden to my eyes once again. ("And then the limousines...!") Still, it is unclear how Holy Motors truly refreshes surrealism for the twenty-first century. Surrealism was, in part, a reaction to the mechanical and unfeeling brutality of World War I and ultimately sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. Holy Motors cannot be responding to another continental conflagration, and so it appears to me to be some kind of commentary on the roles we exhibit in an era of 'post-postmodernity': a sketch on our age of performative authenticity, perhaps, or an idle doodle on the function and psychosocial function of work. Or perhaps not. After all, this film was produced in a time that offers the near-universal availability of mind-altering substances, and this certainly changes the context in which this film was both created. And, how can I put it, was intended to be watched.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) An absolutely devastating portrayal of a character who is unable to forgive himself and is hesitant to engage with anyone ever again. It features a near-ideal balance between portraying unrecoverable anguish and tender warmth, and is paradoxically grandiose in its subtle intimacy. The mechanics of life led me to watch this lying on a bed in a chain hotel by Heathrow Airport, and if this colourless circumstance blunted the film's emotional impact on me, I am probably thankful for it. Indeed, I find myself reduced in this review to fatuously recalling my favourite interactions instead of providing any real commentary. You could write a whole essay about one particular incident: its surfaces, subtexts and angles... all despite nothing of any substance ever being communicated. Truly stunning.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) Roger Ebert called this movie one of the saddest films I have ever seen, filled with a yearning for love and home that will not ever come. But whilst it is difficult to disagree with his sentiment, Ebert's choice of sad is somehow not quite the right word. Indeed, I've long regretted that our dictionaries don't have more nuanced blends of tragedy and sadness; perhaps the Ancient Greeks can loan us some. Nevertheless, the plot of this film is of a gambler and a prostitute who become business partners in a new and remote mining town called Presbyterian Church. However, as their town and enterprise booms, it comes to the attention of a large mining corporation who want to bully or buy their way into the action. What makes this film stand out is not the plot itself, however, but its mood and tone the town and its inhabitants seem to be thrown together out of raw lumber, covered alternatively in mud or frozen ice, and their days (and their personalities) are both short and dark in equal measure. As a brief aside, if you haven't seen a Roger Altman film before, this has all the trappings of being a good introduction. As Ebert went on to observe: This is not the kind of movie where the characters are introduced. They are all already here. Furthermore, we can see some of Altman's trademark conversations that overlap, a superb handling of ensemble casts, and a quietly subversive view of the tyranny of 'genre'... and the latter in a time when the appetite for revisionist portrays of the West was not very strong. All of these 'Altmanian' trademarks can be ordered in much stronger measures in his later films: in particular, his comedy-drama Nashville (1975) has 24 main characters, and my jejune interpretation of Gosford Park (2001) is that it is purposefully designed to poke fun those who take a reductionist view of 'genre', or at least on the audience's expectations. (In this case, an Edwardian-era English murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, but where no real murder or detection really takes place.) On the other hand, McCabe & Mrs. Miller is actually a poor introduction to Altman. The story is told in a suitable deliberate and slow tempo, and the two stars of the film are shown thoroughly defrocked of any 'star status', in both the visual and moral dimensions. All of these traits are, however, this film's strength, adding up to a credible, fascinating and riveting portrayal of the old West.

Detour (1945) Detour was filmed in less than a week, and it's difficult to decide out of the actors and the screenplay which is its weakest point.... Yet it still somehow seemed to drag me in. The plot revolves around luckless Al who is hitchhiking to California. Al gets a lift from a man called Haskell who quickly falls down dead from a heart attack. Al quickly buries the body and takes Haskell's money, car and identification, believing that the police will believe Al murdered him. An unstable element is soon introduced in the guise of Vera, who, through a set of coincidences that stretches credulity, knows that this 'new' Haskell (ie. Al pretending to be him) is not who he seems. Vera then attaches herself to Al in order to blackmail him, and the world starts to spin out of his control. It must be understood that none of this is executed very well. Rather, what makes Detour so interesting to watch is that its 'errors' lend a distinctively creepy and unnatural hue to the film. Indeed, in the early twentieth century, Sigmund Freud used the word unheimlich to describe the experience of something that is not simply mysterious, but something creepy in a strangely familiar way. This is almost the perfect description of watching Detour its eerie nature means that we are not only frequently second-guessed about where the film is going, but are often uncertain whether we are watching the usual objective perspective offered by cinema. In particular, are all the ham-fisted segues, stilted dialogue and inscrutable character motivations actually a product of Al inventing a story for the viewer? Did he murder Haskell after all, despite the film 'showing' us that Haskell died of natural causes? In other words, are we watching what Al wants us to believe? Regardless of the answers to these questions, the film succeeds precisely because of its accidental or inadvertent choices, so it is an implicit reminder that seeking the director's original intention in any piece of art is a complete mirage. Detour is certainly not a good film, but it just might be a great one. (It is a short film too, and, out of copyright, it is available online for free.)

Safe (1995) Safe is a subtly disturbing film about an upper-middle-class housewife who begins to complain about vague symptoms of illness. Initially claiming that she doesn't feel right, Carol starts to have unexplained headaches, a dry cough and nosebleeds, and eventually begins to have trouble breathing. Carol's family doctor treats her concerns with little care, and suggests to her husband that she sees a psychiatrist. Yet Carol's episodes soon escalate. For example, as a 'homemaker' and with nothing else to occupy her, Carol's orders a new couch for a party. But when the store delivers the wrong one (although it is not altogether clear that they did), Carol has a near breakdown. Unsure where to turn, an 'allergist' tells Carol she has "Environmental Illness," and so Carol eventually checks herself into a new-age commune filled with alternative therapies. On the surface, Safe is thus a film about the increasing about of pesticides and chemicals in our lives, something that was clearly felt far more viscerally in the 1990s. But it is also a film about how lack of genuine healthcare for women must be seen as a critical factor in the rise of crank medicine. (Indeed, it made for something of an uncomfortable watch during the coronavirus lockdown.) More interestingly, however, Safe gently-yet-critically examines the psychosocial causes that may be aggravating Carol's illnesses, including her vacant marriage, her hollow friends and the 'empty calorie' stimulus of suburbia. None of this should be especially new to anyone: the gendered Victorian term 'hysterical' is often all but spoken throughout this film, and perhaps from the very invention of modern medicine, women's symptoms have often regularly minimised or outright dismissed. (Hilary Mantel's 2003 memoir, Giving Up the Ghost is especially harrowing on this.) As I opened this review, the film is subtle in its messaging. Just to take one example from many, the sound of the cars is always just a fraction too loud: there's a scene where a group is eating dinner with a road in the background, and the total effect can be seen as representing the toxic fumes of modernity invading our social lives and health. I won't spoiler the conclusion of this quietly devasting film, but don't expect a happy ending.

The Driver (1978) Critics grossly misunderstood The Driver when it was first released. They interpreted the cold and unemotional affect of the characters with the lack of developmental depth, instead of representing their dissociation from the society around them. This reading was encouraged by the fact that the principal actors aren't given real names and are instead known simply by their archetypes instead: 'The Driver', 'The Detective', 'The Player' and so on. This sort of quasi-Jungian erudition is common in many crime films today (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Layer Cake, Fight Club), so the critics' misconceptions were entirely reasonable in 1978. The plot of The Driver involves the eponymous Driver, a noted getaway driver for robberies in Los Angeles. His exceptional talent has far prevented him from being captured thus far, so the Detective attempts to catch the Driver by pardoning another gang if they help convict the Driver via a set-up robbery. To give himself an edge, however, The Driver seeks help from the femme fatale 'Player' in order to mislead the Detective. If this all sounds eerily familiar, you would not be far wrong. The film was essentially remade by Nicolas Winding Refn as Drive (2011) and in Edgar Wright's 2017 Baby Driver. Yet The Driver offers something that these neon-noir variants do not. In particular, the car chases around Los Angeles are some of the most captivating I've seen: they aren't thrilling in the sense of tyre squeals, explosions and flying boxes, but rather the vehicles come across like wild animals hunting one another. This feels especially so when the police are hunting The Driver, which feels less like a low-stakes game of cat and mouse than a pack of feral animals working together a gang who will tear apart their prey if they find him. In contrast to the undercar neon glow of the Fast & Furious franchise, the urban realism backdrop of the The Driver's LA metropolis contributes to a sincere feeling of artistic fidelity as well. To be sure, most of this is present in the truly-excellent Drive, where the chase scenes do really communicate a credible sense of stakes. But the substitution of The Driver's grit with Drive's soft neon tilts it slightly towards that common affliction of crime movies: style over substance. Nevertheless, I can highly recommend watching The Driver and Drive together, as it can tell you a lot about the disconnected socioeconomic practices of the 1980s compared to the 2010s. More than that, however, the pseudo-1980s synthwave soundtrack of Drive captures something crucial to analysing the world of today. In particular, these 'sounds from the past filtered through the present' bring to mind the increasing role of nostalgia for lost futures in the culture of today, where temporality and pop culture references are almost-exclusively citational and commemorational.

The Souvenir (2019) The ostensible outline of this quietly understated film follows a shy but ambitious film student who falls into an emotionally fraught relationship with a charismatic but untrustworthy older man. But that doesn't quite cover the plot at all, for not only is The Souvenir a film about a young artist who is inspired, derailed and ultimately strengthened by a toxic relationship, it is also partly a coming-of-age drama, a subtle portrait of class and, finally, a film about the making of a film. Still, one of the geniuses of this truly heartbreaking movie is that none of these many elements crowds out the other. It never, ever feels rushed. Indeed, there are many scenes where the camera simply 'sits there' and quietly observes what is going on. Other films might smother themselves through references to 18th-century oil paintings, but The Souvenir somehow evades this too. And there's a certain ring of credibility to the story as well, no doubt in part due to the fact it is based on director Joanna Hogg's own experiences at film school. A beautifully observed and multi-layered film; I'll be happy if the sequel is one-half as good.

The Wrestler (2008) Randy 'The Ram' Robinson is long past his prime, but he is still rarin' to go in the local pro-wrestling circuit. Yet after a brutal beating that seriously threatens his health, Randy hangs up his tights and pursues a serious relationship... and even tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter. But Randy can't resist the lure of the ring, and readies himself for a comeback. The stage is thus set for Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, which is essentially about what drives Randy back to the ring. To be sure, Randy derives much of his money from wrestling as well as his 'fitness', self-image, self-esteem and self-worth. Oh, it's no use insisting that wrestling is fake, for the sport is, needless to say, Randy's identity; it's not for nothing that this film is called The Wrestler. In a number of ways, The Sound of Metal (2019) is both a reaction to (and a quiet remake of) The Wrestler, if only because both movies utilise 'cool' professions to explore such questions of identity. But perhaps simply when The Wrestler was produced makes it the superior film. Indeed, the role of time feels very important for the Wrestler. In the first instance, time is clearly taking its toll on Randy's body, but I felt it more strongly in the sense this was very much a pre-2008 film, released on the cliff-edge of the global financial crisis, and the concomitant precarity of the 2010s. Indeed, it is curious to consider that you couldn't make The Wrestler today, although not because the relationship to work has changed in any fundamentalway. (Indeed, isn't it somewhat depressing the realise that, since the start of the pandemic and the 'work from home' trend to one side, we now require even more people to wreck their bodies and mental health to cover their bills?) No, what I mean to say here is that, post-2016, you cannot portray wrestling on-screen without, how can I put it, unwelcome connotations. All of which then reminds me of Minari's notorious red hat... But I digress. The Wrestler is a grittily stark darkly humorous look into the life of a desperate man and a sorrowful world, all through one tragic profession.

Thief (1981) Frank is an expert professional safecracker and specialises in high-profile diamond heists. He plans to use his ill-gotten gains to retire from crime and build a life for himself with a wife and kids, so he signs on with a top gangster for one last big score. This, of course, could be the plot to any number of heist movies, but Thief does something different. Similar to The Wrestler and The Driver (see above) and a number of other films that I watched this year, Thief seems to be saying about our relationship to work and family in modernity and postmodernity. Indeed, the 'heist film', we are told, is an understudied genre, but part of the pleasure of watching these films is said to arise from how they portray our desired relationship to work. In particular, Frank's desire to pull off that last big job feels less about the money it would bring him, but a displacement from (or proxy for) fulfilling some deep-down desire to have a family or indeed any relationship at all. Because in theory, of course, Frank could enter into a fulfilling long-term relationship right away, without stealing millions of dollars in diamonds... but that's kinda the entire point: Frank needing just one more theft is an excuse to not pursue a relationship and put it off indefinitely in favour of 'work'. (And being Federal crimes, it also means Frank cannot put down meaningful roots in a community.) All this is communicated extremely subtly in the justly-lauded lowkey diner scene, by far the best scene in the movie. The visual aesthetic of Thief is as if you set The Warriors (1979) in a similarly-filthy Chicago, with the Xenophon-inspired plot of The Warriors replaced with an almost deliberate lack of plot development... and the allure of The Warriors' fantastical criminal gangs (with their alluringly well-defined social identities) substituted by a bunch of amoral individuals with no solidarity beyond the immediate moment. A tale of our time, perhaps. I should warn you that the ending of Thief is famously weak, but this is a gritty, intelligent and strangely credible heist movie before you get there.

Uncut Gems (2019) The most exhausting film I've seen in years; the cinematic equivalent of four cups of double espresso, I didn't even bother even trying to sleep after downing Uncut Gems late one night. Directed by the two Safdie Brothers, it often felt like I was watching two films that had been made at the same time. (Or do I mean two films at 2X speed?) No, whatever clumsy metaphor you choose to adopt, the unavoidable effect of this film's finely-tuned chaos is an uncompromising and anxiety-inducing piece of cinema. The plot follows Howard as a man lost to his countless vices mostly gambling with a significant side hustle in adultery, but you get the distinct impression he would be happy with anything that will give him another high. A true junkie's junkie, you might say. You know right from the beginning it's going to end in some kind of disaster, the only question remaining is precisely how and what. Portrayed by an (almost unrecognisable) Adam Sandler, there's an uncanny sense of distance in the emotional chasm between 'Sandler-as-junkie' and 'Sandler-as-regular-star-of-goofy-comedies'. Yet instead of being distracting and reducing the film's affect, this possibly-deliberate intertextuality somehow adds to the masterfully-controlled mayhem. My heart races just at the memory. Oof.

Woman in the Dunes (1964) I ended up watching three films that feature sand this year: Denis Villeneuve's Dune (2021), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Woman in the Dunes. But it is this last 1964 film by Hiroshi Teshigahara that will stick in my mind in the years to come. Sure, there is none of the Medician intrigue of Dune or the Super Panavision-70 of Lawrence of Arabia (or its quasi-orientalist score, itself likely stolen from Anton Bruckner's 6th Symphony), but Woman in the Dunes doesn't have to assert its confidence so boldly, and it reveals the enormity of its plot slowly and deliberately instead. Woman in the Dunes never rushes to get to the film's central dilemma, and it uncovers its terror in little hints and insights, all whilst establishing the daily rhythm of life. Woman in the Dunes has something of the uncanny horror as Dogtooth (see above), as well as its broad range of potential interpretations. Both films permit a wide array of readings, without resorting to being deliberately obscurantist or being just plain random it is perhaps this reason why I enjoyed them so much. It is true that asking 'So what does the sand mean?' sounds tediously sophomoric shorn of any context, but it somehow applies to this thoughtfully self-contained piece of cinema.

A Quiet Place (2018) Although A Quiet Place was not actually one of the best films I saw this year, I'm including it here as it is certainly one of the better 'mainstream' Hollywood franchises I came across. Not only is the film very ably constructed and engages on a visceral level, I should point out that it is rare that I can empathise with the peril of conventional horror movies (and perhaps prefer to focus on its cultural and political aesthetics), but I did here. The conceit of this particular post-apocalyptic world is that a family is forced to live in almost complete silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound alone. Still, A Quiet Place engages on an intellectual level too, and this probably works in tandem with the pure 'horrorific' elements and make it stick into your mind. In particular, and to my mind at least, A Quiet Place a deeply American conservative film below the surface: it exalts the family structure and a certain kind of sacrifice for your family. (The music often had a passacaglia-like strain too, forming a tombeau for America.) Moreover, you survive in this dystopia by staying quiet that is to say, by staying stoic suggesting that in the wake of any conflict that might beset the world, the best thing to do is to keep quiet. Even communicating with your loved ones can be deadly to both of you, so not emote, acquiesce quietly to your fate, and don't, whatever you do, speak up. (Or join a union.) I could go on, but The Quiet Place is more than this. It's taut and brief, and despite cinema being an increasingly visual medium, it encourages its audience to develop a new relationship with sound.

1 January 2022

Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in December 2021

Here s my (twenty-seventh) monthly but brief update about the activities I ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

Debian
This was my 36th month of actively contributing to Debian. I became a DM in late March 2019 and a DD on Christmas 19! \o/ Just churning through the backlog again this month. Ugh. Anyway, I did the following stuff in Debian:

Uploads and bug fixes:
  • ruby2.7 (2.7.5-1) - New upstream version fixing 3 new CVEs.

Other $things:
  • Mentoring for newcomers.
  • Moderation of -project mailing list.

Ubuntu
This was my 11th month of actively contributing to Ubuntu. Now that I ve joined Canonical to work on Ubuntu full-time, there s a bunch of things I do! \o/ I mostly worked on different things, I guess. I was too lazy to maintain a list of things I worked on so there s no concrete list atm. Maybe I ll get back to this section later or will start to list stuff from next year onward, as I was doing before. :D

Debian (E)LTS
Debian Long Term Support (LTS) is a project to extend the lifetime of all Debian stable releases to (at least) 5 years. Debian LTS is not handled by the Debian security team, but by a separate group of volunteers and companies interested in making it a success. And Debian Extended LTS (ELTS) is its sister project, extending support to the Jessie release (+2 years after LTS support). This was my twenty-seventh month as a Debian LTS and eighteenth month as a Debian ELTS paid contributor.
I was assigned 40.00 hours for LTS and 60.00 hours for ELTS and worked on the following things:
(since I had a 3-week vacation, I wanted to wrap things up that were pending and so I worked for 20h more for LTS, which I ll compensate the next month!)

LTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:

ELTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:
  • Issued ELA 525-2, fixing CVE-2021-43527, for nss.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version 2:3.26-1+debu8u15.
  • Issued ELA 530-1, for systemd.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version 215-17+deb8u14.
  • Issued ELA 531-1, fixing CVE-2021-41817 and CVE-2021-41819, for ruby2.1.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version 2.1.5-2+deb8u13.
  • Issued ELA 533-1, fixing CVE-2018-12020, for python-gnupg.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version 0.3.6-1+deb8u2.
  • Issued ELA 536-1, fixing CVE-2021-43818, for lxml.
    For Debian 8 jessie, these problems have been fixed in version Prior to version 4.6.5, the HTML Cleaner in lxml.html lets certain.
  • Started working on src:samba for CVE-2020-25717 to CVE-2020-25722 and CVE-2021-23192 for jessie and stretch, both.
    The version difference b/w the suites are a bit too much for the patch(es) to be easily backported. I ve talked to Anton to work something out. \o/
  • Found the problem w/ libjdom1-java. Will have to roll the regression upload.
    I ve prepared the patch but needs some testing to be finally rolled out. Same for stretch.

Other (E)LTS Work:
  • Front-desk duty from 29-11 to 05-12 and 20-12 to 26-12 for both LTS and ELTS.
  • Triaged ffmpeg, git, gpac, inetutils, mc, modsecurity-crs, node-object-path, php-pear, systemd-cron, node-tar, ruby2.3, gst-plugins-bad0.10, npm, nltk, request-tracker4, ros-ros-comm, mediawiki, ruby2.1, ckeditor, ntfs-3g, tiff, wordpress, and jsoup, udisks2, libgit2, python3.5, python3.4, and openssh.
  • Mark CVE-2021-38171/ffmpeg as postponed for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-40330/git as no-dsa for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2020-19481/gpac as ignored for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-40491/inetutils as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-36370/mc as no-dsa for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-35368/modsecurity-crs as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-23434/node-object-path as end-of-life for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-32610/php-pear as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2017-9525/systemd-cron as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-37701/node-tar as end-of-life for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-37712/node-tar as end-of-life in stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-39201/wordpress as not-affected for jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2020-19143/tiff as not-affected for stretch and jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-38562/request-tracker4 as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-37146/ros-ros-comm as no-dsa for stretch.
  • Mark CVE-2021-28965/ruby2.1 as ignored for jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-37714/jsoup as ignored for jessie.
  • Mark CVE-2021-41617/openssh as no-dsa for jessie.
  • Auto EOL ed ardour, nltk, request-tracker4, python-scrapy, webkit2gtk, and linux for jessie.
  • Attended monthly Debian LTS meeting.
  • Answered questions (& discussions) on IRC (#debian-lts and #debian-elts).
  • General and other discussions on LTS private and public mailing list.

Debian LTS Survey I ve spent 5 hours on the LTS survey on the following bits:
  • Went through the old content on the previous survey.
  • Reviewed the new content - still more work to do.
  • Discussed the survey bits in the team meeting.
  • Partly reviewing the questions of the survey.
  • Walking through the instance to find the doability of the tasks discussed in the meeting.
  • Segregating and staging questions. More work to do here.

Until next time.
:wq for today.

31 December 2021

Chris Lamb: Favourite books of 2021: Fiction

In my two most recent posts, I listed the memoirs and biographies and followed this up with the non-fiction I enjoyed the most in 2021. I'll leave my roundup of 'classic' fiction until tomorrow, but today I'll be going over my favourite fiction. Books that just miss the cut here include Kingsley Amis' comic Lucky Jim, Cormac McCarthy's The Road (although see below for McCarthy's Blood Meridian) and the Complete Adventures of Tintin by Herg , the latter forming an inadvertently incisive portrait of the first half of the 20th century. Like ever, there were a handful of books that didn't live up to prior expectations. Despite all of the hype, Emily St. John Mandel's post-pandemic dystopia Station Eleven didn't match her superb The Glass Hotel (one of my favourite books of 2020). The same could be said of John le Carr 's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which felt significantly shallower compared to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy again, a favourite of last year. The strangest book (and most difficult to classify at all) was undoubtedly Patrick S skind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and the non-fiction book I disliked the most was almost-certainly Beartown by Fredrik Bachman. Two other mild disappointments were actually film adaptions. Specifically, the original source for Vertigo by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac didn't match Alfred Hitchock's 1958 masterpiece, as did James Sallis' Drive which was made into a superb 2011 neon-noir directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. These two films thus defy the usual trend and are 'better than the book', but that's a post for another day.

A Wizard of Earthsea (1971) Ursula K. Le Guin How did it come to be that Harry Potter is the publishing sensation of the century, yet Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea is only a popular cult novel? Indeed, the comparisons and unintentional intertextuality with Harry Potter are entirely unavoidable when reading this book, and, in almost every respect, Ursula K. Le Guin's universe comes out the victor. In particular, the wizarding world that Le Guin portrays feels a lot more generous and humble than the class-ridden world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Just to take one example from many, in Earthsea, magic turns out to be nurtured in a bottom-up manner within small village communities, in almost complete contrast to J. K. Rowling's concept of benevolent government departments and NGOs-like institutions, which now seems a far too New Labour for me. Indeed, imagine an entire world imbued with the kindly benevolence of Dumbledore, and you've got some of the moral palette of Earthsea. The gently moralising tone that runs through A Wizard of Earthsea may put some people off:
Vetch had been three years at the School and soon would be made Sorcerer; he thought no more of performing the lesser arts of magic than a bird thinks of flying. Yet a greater, unlearned skill he possessed, which was the art of kindness.
Still, these parables aimed directly at the reader are fairly rare, and, for me, remain on the right side of being mawkish or hectoring. I'm thus looking forward to reading the next two books in the series soon.

Blood Meridian (1985) Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian follows a band of American bounty hunters who are roaming the Mexican-American borderlands in the late 1840s. Far from being remotely swashbuckling, though, the group are collecting scalps for money and killing anyone who crosses their path. It is the most unsparing treatment of American genocide and moral depravity I have ever come across, an anti-Western that flouts every convention of the genre. Blood Meridian thus has a family resemblance to that other great anti-Western, Once Upon a Time in the West: after making a number of gun-toting films that venerate the American West (ie. his Dollars Trilogy), Sergio Leone turned his cynical eye to the western. Yet my previous paragraph actually euphemises just how violent Blood Meridian is. Indeed, I would need to be a much better writer (indeed, perhaps McCarthy himself) to adequately 0utline the tone of this book. In a certain sense, it's less than you read this book in a conventional sense, but rather that you are forced to witness successive chapters of grotesque violence... all occurring for no obvious reason. It is often said that books 'subvert' a genre and, indeed, I implied as such above. But the term subvert implies a kind of Puck-like mischievousness, or brings to mind court jesters licensed to poke fun at the courtiers. By contrast, however, Blood Meridian isn't funny in the slightest. There isn't animal cruelty per se, but rather wanton negligence of another kind entirely. In fact, recalling a particular passage involving an injured horse makes me feel physically ill. McCarthy's prose is at once both baroque in its language and thrifty in its presentation. As Philip Connors wrote back in 2007, McCarthy has spent forty years writing as if he were trying to expand the Old Testament, and learning that McCarthy grew up around the Church therefore came as no real surprise. As an example of his textual frugality, I often looked for greater precision in the text, finding myself asking whether who a particular 'he' is, or to which side of a fight some two men belonged to. Yet we must always remember that there is no precision to found in a gunfight, so this infidelity is turned into a virtue. It's not that these are fair fights anyway, or even 'murder': Blood Meridian is just slaughter; pure butchery. Murder is a gross understatement for what this book is, and at many points we are grateful that McCarthy spares us precision. At others, however, we can be thankful for his exactitude. There is no ambiguity regarding the morality of the puppy-drowning Judge, for example: a Colonel Kurtz who has been given free license over the entire American south. There is, thank God, no danger of Hollywood mythologising him into a badass hero. Indeed, we must all be thankful that it is impossible to film this ultra-violent book... Indeed, the broader idea of 'adapting' anything to this world is, beyond sick. An absolutely brutal read; I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Bodies of Light (2014) Sarah Moss Bodies of Light is a 2014 book by Glasgow-born Sarah Moss on the stirrings of women's suffrage within an arty clique in nineteenth-century England. Set in the intellectually smoggy cities of Manchester and London, this poignant book follows the studiously intelligent Alethia 'Ally' Moberly who is struggling to gain the acceptance of herself, her mother and the General Medical Council. You can read my full review from July.

House of Leaves (2000) Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves is a remarkably difficult book to explain. Although the plot refers to a fictional documentary about a family whose house is somehow larger on the inside than the outside, this quotidian horror premise doesn't explain the complex meta-commentary that Danielewski adds on top. For instance, the book contains a large number of pseudo-academic footnotes (many of which contain footnotes themselves), with references to scholarly papers, books, films and other articles. Most of these references are obviously fictional, but it's the kind of book where the joke is that some of them are not. The format, structure and typography of the book is highly unconventional too, with extremely unusual page layouts and styles. It's the sort of book and idea that should be a tired gimmick but somehow isn't. This is particularly so when you realise it seems specifically designed to create a fandom around it and to manufacturer its own 'cult' status, something that should be extremely tedious. But not only does this not happen, House of Leaves seems to have survived through two exhausting decades of found footage: The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are, to an admittedly lesser degree, doing much of the same thing as House of Leaves. House of Leaves might have its origins in Nabokov's Pale Fire or even Derrida's Glas, but it seems to have more in common with the claustrophobic horror of Cube (1997). And like all of these works, House of Leaves book has an extremely strange effect on the reader or viewer, something quite unlike reading a conventional book. It wasn't so much what I got out of the book itself, but how it added a glow to everything else I read, watched or saw at the time. An experience.

Milkman (2018) Anna Burns This quietly dazzling novel from Irish author Anna Burns is full of intellectual whimsy and oddball incident. Incongruously set in 1970s Belfast during The Irish Troubles, Milkman's 18-year-old narrator (known only as middle sister ), is the kind of dreamer who walks down the street with a Victorian-era novel in her hand. It's usually an error for a book that specifically mention other books, if only because inviting comparisons to great novels is grossly ill-advised. But it is a credit to Burns' writing that the references here actually add to the text and don't feel like they are a kind of literary paint by numbers. Our humble narrator has a boyfriend of sorts, but the figure who looms the largest in her life is a creepy milkman an older, married man who's deeply integrated in the paramilitary tribalism. And when gossip about the narrator and the milkman surfaces, the milkman beings to invade her life to a suffocating degree. Yet this milkman is not even a milkman at all. Indeed, it's precisely this kind of oblique irony that runs through this daring but darkly compelling book.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (2014) Claire North Harry August is born, lives a relatively unremarkable life and finally dies a relatively unremarkable death. Not worth writing a novel about, I suppose. But then Harry finds himself born again in the very same circumstances, and as he grows from infancy into childhood again, he starts to remember his previous lives. This loop naturally drives Harry insane at first, but after finding that suicide doesn't stop the quasi-reincarnation, he becomes somewhat acclimatised to his fate. He prospers much better at school the next time around and is ultimately able to make better decisions about his life, especially when he just happens to know how to stay out of trouble during the Second World War. Yet what caught my attention in this 'soft' sci-fi book was not necessarily the book's core idea but rather the way its connotations were so intelligently thought through. Just like in a musical theme and varations, the success of any concept-driven book is far more a product of how the implications of the key idea are played out than how clever the central idea was to begin with. Otherwise, you just have another neat Borges short story: satisfying, to be sure, but in a narrower way. From her relatively simple premise, for example, North has divined that if there was a community of people who could remember their past lives, this would actually allow messages and knowledge to be passed backwards and forwards in time. Ah, of course! Indeed, this very mechanism drives the plot: news comes back from the future that the progress of history is being interfered with, and, because of this, the end of the world is slowly coming. Through the lives that follow, Harry sets out to find out who is passing on technology before its time, and work out how to stop them. With its gently-moralising romp through the salient historical touchpoints of the twentieth century, I sometimes got a whiff of Forrest Gump. But it must be stressed that this book is far less certain of its 'right-on' liberal credentials than Robert Zemeckis' badly-aged film. And whilst we're on the topic of other media, if you liked the underlying conceit behind Stuart Turton's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle yet didn't enjoy the 'variations' of that particular tale, then I'd definitely give The First Fifteen Lives a try. At the very least, 15 is bigger than 7. More seriously, though, The First Fifteen Lives appears to reflect anxieties about technology, particularly around modern technological accelerationism. At no point does it seriously suggest that if we could somehow possess the technology from a decade in the future then our lives would be improved in any meaningful way. Indeed, precisely the opposite is invariably implied. To me, at least, homo sapiens often seems to be merely marking time until we can blow each other up and destroying the climate whilst sleepwalking into some crisis that might precipitate a thermonuclear genocide sometimes seems to be built into our DNA. In an era of cli-fi fiction and our non-fiction newspaper headlines, to label North's insight as 'prescience' might perhaps be overstating it, but perhaps that is the point: this destructive and negative streak is universal to all periods of our violent, insecure species.

The Goldfinch (2013) Donna Tartt After Breaking Bad, the second biggest runaway success of 2014 was probably Donna Tartt's doorstop of a novel, The Goldfinch. Yet upon its release and popular reception, it got a significant number of bad reviews in the literary press with, of course, an equal number of predictable think pieces claiming this was sour grapes on the part of the cognoscenti. Ah, to be in 2014 again, when our arguments were so much more trivial. For the uninitiated, The Goldfinch is a sprawling bildungsroman that centres on Theo Decker, a 13-year-old whose world is turned upside down when a terrorist bomb goes off whilst visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, killing his mother among other bystanders. Perhaps more importantly, he makes off with a painting in order to fulfil a promise to a dying old man: Carel Fabritius' 1654 masterpiece The Goldfinch. For the next 14 years (and almost 800 pages), the painting becomes the only connection to his lost mother as he's flung, almost entirely rudderless, around the Western world, encountering an array of eccentric characters. Whatever the critics claimed, Tartt's near-perfect evocation of scenes, from the everyday to the unimaginable, is difficult to summarise. I wouldn't label it 'cinematic' due to her evocation of the interiority of the characters. Take, for example: Even the suggestion that my father had close friends conveyed a misunderstanding of his personality that I didn't know how to respond it's precisely this kind of relatable inner subjectivity that cannot be easily conveyed by film, likely is one of the main reasons why the 2019 film adaptation was such a damp squib. Tartt's writing is definitely not 'impressionistic' either: there are many near-perfect evocations of scenes, even ones we hope we cannot recognise from real life. In particular, some of the drug-taking scenes feel so credibly authentic that I sometimes worried about the author herself. Almost eight months on from first reading this novel, what I remember most was what a joy this was to read. I do worry that it won't stand up to a more critical re-reading (the character named Xandra even sounds like the pharmaceuticals she is taking), but I think I'll always treasure the first days I spent with this often-beautiful novel.

Beyond Black (2005) Hilary Mantel Published about five years before the hyperfamous Wolf Hall (2004), Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black is a deeply disturbing book about spiritualism and the nature of Hell, somewhat incongruously set in modern-day England. Alison Harte is a middle-aged physic medium who works in the various towns of the London orbital motorway. She is accompanied by her stuffy assistant, Colette, and her spirit guide, Morris, who is invisible to everyone but Alison. However, this is no gentle and musk-smelling world of the clairvoyant and mystic, for Alison is plagued by spirits from her past who infiltrate her physical world, becoming stronger and nastier every day. Alison's smiling and rotund persona thus conceals a truly desperate woman: she knows beyond doubt the terrors of the next life, yet must studiously conceal them from her credulous clients. Beyond Black would be worth reading for its dark atmosphere alone, but it offers much more than a chilling and creepy tale. Indeed, it is extraordinarily observant as well as unsettlingly funny about a particular tranche of British middle-class life. Still, the book's unnerving nature that sticks in the mind, and reading it noticeably changed my mood for days afterwards, and not necessarily for the best.

The Wall (2019) John Lanchester The Wall tells the story of a young man called Kavanagh, one of the thousands of Defenders standing guard around a solid fortress that envelopes the British Isles. A national service of sorts, it is Kavanagh's job to stop the so-called Others getting in. Lanchester is frank about what his wall provides to those who stand guard: the Defenders of the Wall are conscripted for two years on the Wall, with no exceptions, giving everyone in society a life plan and a story. But whilst The Wall is ostensibly about a physical wall, it works even better as a story about the walls in our mind. In fact, the book blends together of some of the most important issues of our time: climate change, increasing isolation, Brexit and other widening societal divisions. If you liked P. D. James' The Children of Men you'll undoubtedly recognise much of the same intellectual atmosphere, although the sterility of John Lanchester's dystopia is definitely figurative and textual rather than literal. Despite the final chapters perhaps not living up to the world-building of the opening, The Wall features a taut and engrossing narrative, and it undoubtedly warrants even the most cursory glance at its symbolism. I've yet to read something by Lanchester I haven't enjoyed (even his short essay on cheating in sports, for example) and will be definitely reading more from him in 2022.

The Only Story (2018) Julian Barnes The Only Story is the story of Paul, a 19-year-old boy who falls in love with 42-year-old Susan, a married woman with two daughters who are about Paul's age. The book begins with how Paul meets Susan in happy (albeit complicated) circumstances, but as the story unfolds, the novel becomes significantly more tragic and moving. Whilst the story begins from the first-person perspective, midway through the book it shifts into the second person, and, later, into the third as well. Both of these narrative changes suggested to me an attempt on the part of Paul the narrator (if not Barnes himself), to distance himself emotionally from the events taking place. This effect is a lot more subtle than it sounds, however: far more prominent and devastating is the underlying and deeply moving story about the relationship ends up. Throughout this touching book, Barnes uses his mastery of language and observation to avoid the saccharine and the maudlin, and ends up with a heart-wrenching and emotive narrative. Without a doubt, this is the saddest book I read this year.

29 December 2021

Chris Lamb: Favourite books of 2021: Memoir/biography

Just as I did for 2020, I won't publically disclose exactly how many books I read in 2021, but they evidently provoked enough thoughts that felt it worth splitting my yearly writeup into separate posts. I will reveal, however, that I got through more books than the previous year, and, like before, I enjoyed the books I read this year even more in comparison as well. How much of this is due to refining my own preferences over time, and how much can be ascribed to feeling less pressure to read particular books? It s impossible to say, and the question is complicated further by the fact I found many of the classics I read well worth of their entry into the dreaded canon. But enough of the throat-clearing. In today's post I'll be looking at my favourite books filed under memoir and biography, in no particular order. Books that just missed the cut here include: Bernard Crick's celebrated 1980 biography of George Orwell, if nothing else because it was a pleasure to read; Hilary Mantel's exhilaratingly bitter early memoir, Giving up the Ghost (2003); and Patricia Lockwood's hilarious Priestdaddy (2017). I also had a soft spot for Tim Kreider's We Learn Nothing (2012) as well, despite not knowing anything about the author in advance, likely a sign of good writing. The strangest book in this category I read was definitely Michelle Zauner's Crying in H Mart. Based on a highly-recommended 2018 essay in the New Yorker, its rich broth of genuine yearning for a departed mother made my eyebrows raise numerous times when I encountered inadvertent extra details about Zauner's relationships.

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces (2020) Laura Tunbridge Whilst it might immediately present itself as a clickbait conceit, organising an overarching narrative around just nine compositions by Beethoven turns out to be an elegant way of saying something fresh about this grizzled old bear. Some of Beethoven's most famous compositions are naturally included in the nine (eg. the Eroica and the Hammerklavier piano sonata), but the book raises itself above conventional Beethoven fare when it highlights, for instance, his Septet, Op. 20, an early work that is virtually nobody's favourite Beethoven piece today. The insight here is that it was widely popular in its time, played again and again around Vienna for the rest of his life. No doubt many contemporary authors can relate to this inability to escape being artistically haunted by an earlier runaway success. The easiest way to say something interesting about Beethoven in the twenty-first century is to talk about the myth of Beethoven instead. Or, as Tunbridge implies, perhaps that should really be 'Beethoven' in leaden quotation marks, given so much about what we think we know about the man is a quasi-fictional construction. Take Anton Schindler, Beethoven's first biographer and occasional amanuensis, who destroyed and fabricated details about Beethoven's life, casting himself in a favourable light and exaggerating his influence with the composer. Only a few decades later, the idea of a 'heroic' German was to be politically useful as well; the Anglosphere often need reminding that Germany did not exist as a nation-state prior to 1871, so it should be unsurprising to us that the late nineteenth-century saw a determined attempt to create a uniquely 'German' culture ex nihilo. (And the less we say about Immortal Beloved the better, even though I treasure that film.) Nevertheless, Tunbridge cuts through Beethoven's substantial legacy using surgical precision that not only avoids feeling like it is settling a score, but it also does so in a way that is unlikely to completely alienate anyone emotionally dedicated to some already-established idea of the man to bring forth the tediously predictable sentiment that Beethoven has 'gone woke'. With Alex Ross on the cult of Wagner, it seems that books about the 'myth of X' are somewhat in vogue right now. And this pattern within classical music might fit into some broader trend of deconstruction in popular non-fiction too, especially when we consider the numerous contemporary books on the long hangover of the Civil Rights era (Robin DiAngelo's White Fragility, etc.), the multifarious ghosts of Empire (Akala's Natives, Sathnam Sanghera's Empireland, etc.) or even the 'transmogrification' of George Orwell into myth. But regardless of its place in some wider canon, A Life in Nine Pieces is beautifully printed in hardback form (worth acquiring for that very reason alone), and it is one of the rare good books about classical music that can be recommended to both the connoisseur and the layperson alike.

Sea State (2021) Tabitha Lasley In her mid-30s and jerking herself out of a terrible relationship, Tabitha Lasley left London and put all her savings into a six-month lease on a flat within a questionable neighbourhood in Aberdeen, Scotland. She left to make good on a lukewarm idea for a book about oil rigs and the kinds of men who work on them: I wanted to see what men were like with no women around, she claims. The result is Sea State, a forthright examination of the life of North Sea oil riggers, and an unsparing portrayal of loneliness, masculinity, female desire and the decline of industry in Britain. (It might almost be said that Sea State is an update of a sort to George Orwell's visit to the mines in the North of England.) As bracing as the North Sea air, Sea State spoke to me on multiple levels but I found it additionally interesting to compare and contrast with Julian Barnes' The Man with Red Coat (see below). Women writers are rarely thought to be using fiction for higher purposes: it is assumed that, unlike men, whatever women commit to paper is confessional without any hint of artfulness. Indeed, it seems to me that the reaction against the decades-old genre of autofiction only really took hold when it became the domain of millennial women. (By contrast, as a 75-year-old male writer with a firmly established reputation in the literary establishment, Julian Barnes is allowed wide latitude in what he does with his sources and his writing can be imbued with supremely confident airs as a result.) Furthermore, women are rarely allowed metaphor or exaggeration for dramatic effect, and they certainly aren t permitted to emphasise darker parts in order to explore them... hence some of the transgressive gratification of reading Sea State. Sea State is admittedly not a work of autofiction, but the sense that you are reading about an author writing a book is pleasantly unavoidable throughout. It frequently returns to the topic of oil workers who live multiple lives, and Lasley admits to living two lives herself: she may be in love but she's also on assignment, and a lot of the pleasure in this candid and remarkably accessible book lies in the way these states become slowly inseparable.

Twilight of Democracy (2020) Anne Applebaum For the uninitiated, Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine who won a Pulitzer-prize for her 2004 book on the Soviet Gulag system. Her latest book, however, Twilight of Democracy is part memoir and part political analysis and discusses the democratic decline and the rise of right-wing populism. This, according to Applebaum, displays distinctly authoritarian tendencies, and who am I to disagree? Applebaum does this through three main case studies (Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States), but the book also touches on Hungary as well. The strongest feature of this engaging book is that Appelbaum's analysis focuses on the intellectual classes and how they provide significant justification for a descent into authoritarianism. This is always an important point to be remembered, especially as much of the folk understanding of the rise of authoritarian regimes tends to place exaggerated responsibility on the ordinary and everyday citizen: the blame placed on the working-class in the Weimar Republic or the scorn heaped upon 'white trash' of the contemporary Rust Belt, for example. Applebaum is uniquely poised to discuss these intellectuals because, well, she actually knows a lot of them personally. Or at least, she used to know them. Indeed, the narrative of the book revolves around two parties she hosted, both in the same house in northwest Poland. The first party, on 31 December 1999, was attended by friends from around the Western world, but most of the guests were Poles from the broad anti-communist alliance. They all agreed about democracy, the rule of law and the route to prosperity whilst toasting in the new millennium. (I found it amusing to realise that War and Peace also starts with a party.) But nearly two decades later, many of the attendees have ended up as supporters of the problematic 'Law and Justice' party which currently governs the country. Applebaum would now cross the road to avoid them, and they would do the same to her, let alone behave themselves at a cordial reception. The result of this autobiographical detail is that by personalising the argument, Applebaum avoids the trap of making too much of high-minded abstract argument for 'democracy', and additionally makes her book compellingly spicy too. Yet the strongest part of this book is also its weakest. By individualising the argument, it often feels that Applebaum is settling a number of personal scores. She might be very well justified in doing this, but at times it feels like the reader has walked in halfway through some personal argument and is being asked to judge who is in the right. Furthermore, Applebaum's account of contemporary British politics sometimes deviates into the cartoonish: nothing was egregiously incorrect in any of her summations, but her explanation of the Brexit referendum result didn't read as completely sound. Nevertheless, this lively and entertaining book that can be read with profit, even if you disagree with significant portions of it, and its highly-personal approach makes it a refreshing change from similar contemporary political analysis (eg. David Runciman's How Democracy Ends) which reaches for that more 'objective' line.

The Man in the Red Coat (2019) Julian Barnes As rich as the eponymous red coat that adorns his cover, Julian Barnes quasi-biography of French gynaecologist Samuel-Jean Pozzi (1846 1918) is at once illuminating, perplexing and downright hilarious. Yet even that short description is rather misleading, for this book evades classification all manner number of ways. For instance, it is unclear that, with the biographer's narrative voice so obviously manifest, it is even a biography in the useful sense of the word. After all, doesn't the implied pact between author and reader require the biographer to at least pretend that they are hiding from the reader? Perhaps this is just what happens when an author of very fine fiction turns his hand to non-fiction history, and, if so, it represents a deeper incursion into enemy territory after his 1984 metafictional Flaubert's Parrot. Indeed, upon encountering an intriguing mystery in Pozzi's life crying out for a solution, Barnes baldly turns to the reader, winks and states: These matters could, of course, be solved in a novel. Well, quite. Perhaps Barnes' broader point is that, given that's impossible for the author to completely melt into air, why not simply put down your cards and have a bit of fun whilst you're at it? If there's any biography that makes the case for a rambling and lightly polemical treatment, then it is this one. Speaking of having fun, however, two qualities you do not expect in a typical biography is simply how witty they can be, as well as it having something of the whiff of the thriller about it. A bullet might be mentioned in an early chapter, but given the name and history of Monsieur Pozzi is not widely known, one is unlikely to learn how he lived his final years until the closing chapters. (Or what happened to that turtle.) Humour is primarily incorporated into the book in two main ways: first, by explicitly citing the various wits of the day ( What is a vice? Merely a taste you don t share. etc.), but perhaps more powerful is the gentle ironies, bon mots and observations in Barnes' entirely unflappable prose style, along with the satire implicit in him writing this moreish pseudo-biography to begin with. The opening page, with its steadfast refusal to even choose where to begin, is somewhat characteristic of Barnes' method, so if you don't enjoy the first few pages then you are unlikely to like the rest. (Indeed, the whole enterprise may be something of an acquired taste. Like Campari.) For me, though, I was left wryly grinning and often couldn't wait to turn the page. Indeed, at times it reminded me of a being at a dinner party with an extremely charming guest at the very peak of his form as a wit and raconteur, delighting the party with his rambling yet well-informed discursive on his topic de jour. A significant book, and a book of significance.

16 December 2021

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, November 2021

A Debian LTS logo
Every month we review the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Please find the report for November below. Debian project funding We continue to looking forward to hearing about Debian project proposals from various Debian stakeholders. This month has seen work on a survey that will go out to Debian Developers to gather feedback on what they think should be the priorities for funding in the project. Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In November 13 contributors were paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available below. If you re interested in participating in the LTS or ELTS teams, we welcome participation from the Debian community. Simply get in touch with Jeremiah if you are interested in participating. Evolution of the situation In November we released 31 DLAs. The security tracker currently lists 23 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 16 packages needing an update. Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

1 December 2021

Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in December 2021

Here s my (twenty-sixth) monthly but brief update about the activities I ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

Debian
This was my 35th month of actively contributing to Debian. I became a DM in late March 2019 and a DD on Christmas 19! \o/ Just churning through the backlog again this month. Ugh. Anyway, I did the following stuff in Debian:

Uploads and bug fixes:
  • rails (2:6.1.4.1+dfsg-3) - No-change rebuild for unstable.

Other $things:
  • Mentoring for newcomers.
  • Moderation of -project mailing list.

Ubuntu
This was my 10th month of actively contributing to Ubuntu. Now that I ve joined Canonical to work on Ubuntu full-time, there s a bunch of things I do! \o/ I mostly worked on different things, I guess. I was too lazy to maintain a list of things I worked on so there s no concrete list atm. Maybe I ll get back to this section later or will start to list stuff from next year onward, as I was doing before. :D

Debian (E)LTS
Debian Long Term Support (LTS) is a project to extend the lifetime of all Debian stable releases to (at least) 5 years. Debian LTS is not handled by the Debian security team, but by a separate group of volunteers and companies interested in making it a success. And Debian Extended LTS (ELTS) is its sister project, extending support to the Jessie release (+2 years after LTS support). This was my twenty-sixth month as a Debian LTS and seventeenth month as a Debian ELTS paid contributor.
I was assigned 30.00 hours for LTS and 45.00 hours for ELTS and worked on the following things:

LTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:
  • Issued DLA 2813-1, fixing CVE-2021-33829 and CVE-2021-37695, for ckeditor.
    For Debian 9 stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 4.5.7+dfsg-2+deb9u1.
  • Issued DLA 2817-1, fixing CVE-2021-23214 and CVE-2021-23222, for postgresql-9.6.
    For Debian 9 stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 9.6.24-0+deb9u1.
  • Issued DLA 2836-1, fixing CVE-2021-43527, for nss.
    For Debian 9 stretch, these problems have been fixed in version 2:3.26.2-1.1+deb9u3.
  • Started working on src:samba for CVE-2020-25717 to CVE-2020-25722 and CVE-2021-23192 for jessie and stretch, both.
    The version difference b/w the suites are a bit too much for the patch(es) to be easily backported. I ve talked to Anton to work something out. \o/
  • Found the problem w/ libjdom1-java. Will have to roll the regression upload.
    I ve prepared the patch but needs some testing to be finally rolled out. Same for jessie.
  • Started working on libgit2.

ELTS CVE Fixes and Announcements:

Other (E)LTS Work:
  • Front-desk duty from 29-11 to 05-12 for both LTS and ELTS.
  • Triaged udisk2, wordpress, samba, gmp, nss, ntfs-3g, and openssh.
  • Auto EOL ed dwarfutils, radare2, mongodb, linux for jessie.
  • As FD, did a deep dive into the no-pu-update issue. Will write to list shortly.
  • Attended monthly Debian LTS meeting.
  • Answered questions (& discussions) on IRC (#debian-lts and #debian-elts).
  • General and other discussions on LTS private and public mailing list.

Debian LTS Survey I ve spent 3 hours on the LTS survey on the following bits:
  • Talking to Laura to revive the old a/c on survey.d.net.
  • Setting up stuff there.
  • Discussing the survey questions and other bits w/ Jeremiah.
  • Partly reviewing the questions of the survey.
  • Doing a walkthru of the LimeSurvey instance we have to make sure there are no changes .

Until next time.
:wq for today.

29 November 2021

Russ Allbery: Fall haul

It's been a while since I've posted one of these, and I also may have had a few moments of deciding to support authors by buying their books even if I'm not going to get a chance to read them soon. There's also a bit of work reading in here. Ryka Aoki Light from Uncommon Stars (sff)
Frederick R. Chromey To Measure the Sky (non-fiction)
Neil Gaiman, et al. Sandman: Overture (graphic novel)
Alix E. Harrow A Spindle Splintered (sff)
Jordan Ifueko Raybearer (sff)
Jordan Ifueko Redemptor (sff)
T. Kingfisher Paladin's Hope (sff)
TJ Klune Under the Whispering Door (sff)
Kiese Laymon How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America (non-fiction)
Yuna Lee Fox You (romance)
Tim Mak Misfire (non-fiction)
Naomi Novik The Last Graduate (sff)
Shelley Parker-Chan She Who Became the Sun (sff)
Gareth L. Powell Embers of War (sff)
Justin Richer & Antonio Sanso OAuth 2 in Action (non-fiction)
Dean Spade Mutual Aid (non-fiction)
Lana Swartz New Money (non-fiction)
Adam Tooze Shutdown (non-fiction)
Bill Watterson The Essential Calvin and Hobbes (strip collection)
Bill Willingham, et al. Fables: Storybook Love (graphic novel)
David Wong Real-World Cryptography (non-fiction)
Neon Yang The Black Tides of Heaven (sff)
Neon Yang The Red Threads of Fortune (sff)
Neon Yang The Descent of Monsters (sff)
Neon Yang The Ascent to Godhood (sff)
Xiran Jay Zhao Iron Widow (sff)

17 November 2021

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, October 2021

A Debian LTS logo
Every month we review the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Please find the report for October below. Debian project funding We re looking forward to receiving more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In October 12 contributors were paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available below. Evolution of the situation In October we released 34 DLAs.

Also, we would like to remark once again that we are constantly looking for new contributors. Please contact Jeremiah if you are interested! The security tracker currently lists 37 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 22 packages needing an update. Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

14 November 2021

Ruby Team: Ruby transition and packaging hints #2 - Gemfile.lock created by bundler/setup with Ruby 2.7 preventing successful test with Ruby 3.0

We currently face an issue in all packages requiring bunlder/setup and trying to run the tests for Ruby 2.7 and 3.0. The problem is that the first tests will create Gemfile.lock (or gemfile/gemfile-*.lock) using Ruby 2.7 and the next run for Ruby 3 will report e.g.:
Failure/Error: require 'bundler/setup' # Set up gems listed in the Gemfile.
Bundler::GemNotFound:
  Could not find racc-1.4.16 in any of the sources
or
/usr/share/rubygems-integration/all/gems/bundler-2.2.27/lib/bundler/definition.rb:496:in  materialize':
  Could not find rexml-3.2.3.1 in any of the sources (Bundler::GemNotFound)
Both bugs #996207 and #996302 are incarnations of this issue. The fix is as easy as making sure that the .lock files are removed before each run. This can be done in e.g. debian/ruby-tests.rake as very first task:
File.delete("Gemfile.lock") if File.exist?("Gemfile.lock")
In another case the .lock file is created by the tests in gemfiles/. While the first examples could actually be solved by gem2deb removing Gemfile.lock on its own, I m not quite sure how to handle the last case using packaging tools. The interesting part is that we will unlikely be confronted with this issue anytime soon again. It seems very specific to the Ruby 3.0 transition.

Update After talking to Antonio he added some code to gem2deb-test-runner to moving Gemfile.lock files out of the way. The tool already did this in an autopkgtest environment. In the upcoming 1.7 release it will do it in general and this will fix some more FTBFSes, e.g. #998497 and #996141 - originally reported against ruby-voight-kampff and ruby-bootsnap.

19 October 2021

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian s report about Debian Long Term Support, September 2021

A Debian LTS logo
Like each month, have a look at the work funded by Freexian s Debian LTS offering. Debian project funding Folks from the LTS team, along with members of the Debian Android Tools team and Phil Morrel, have proposed work on the Java build tool, gradle, which is currently blocked due to the need to build with a plugin not available in Debian. The LTS team reviewed the project submission and it has been approved. After approval we ve created a Request for Bids which is active now. You ll hear more about this through official Debian channels, but in the meantime, if you feel you can help with this project, please submit a bid. Thanks! This September, Freexian set aside 2550 EUR to fund Debian projects. We re looking forward to receive more projects from various Debian teams! Learn more about the rationale behind this initiative in this article. Debian LTS contributors In September, 15 contributors have been paid to work on Debian LTS, their reports are available: Evolution of the situation In September we released 30 DLAs. September was also the second month of Jeremiah coordinating LTS contributors. Also, we would like say that we are always looking for new contributors to LTS. Please contact Jeremiah if you are interested! The security tracker currently lists 33 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 26 packages needing an update. Thanks to our sponsors Sponsors that joined recently are in bold.

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