Shh! The NSA Can Identify Your Voice!

(Getty Images/Hoxton/Paul Bradbury)

Soon, they’ll be able to find you anywhere you speak

Big Brother is listening to you. Still. And now he’s got some new tricks up his sleeve.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we already know that the government spies on us. Now, based on information within the documents the former NSA contractor provided back in 2013, they’re dangerously close to being able to track us all down merely by the sound of our voices.

Which can be captured via pretty much anything that has a microphone. Fun!

An article published in The Intercept details the NSA’s efforts to perfect voice-recognition technology, and some of the details are, shall we say, alarming.

Snowden himself tweeted out the article, which is the result of digging through the trove of documents he absconded with in 2013.

The details of the technology are insane, and that’s before you consider the fact that those details are from documents that are already nearly five years old.


Jake Laperruque, Senior Counsel at the Constitution Project, works in the realm of government surveillance and digital privacy, and he launched a Twitter thread in response to the article that might keep you up at night.

To put it in terms you might more easily understand, he compares the NSA’s tech to Bruce Wayne’s scary device in The Dark Knight:

Suddenly those home speakers you have are the least of your concerns:

But hey, at least there are laws against this kind of thing.

Gulp.

To further increase your anxiety, Jake posits an unsettling, “where is the Joker?” scenario:

And asks everyone to remain vigilant.


The Intercept’s story is rife with terrifying details about invasions of privacy, indiscriminate targeting, and technology that is advancing far faster than the laws surrounding its use are able to.

As science and technology continue to make things that once seemed like science-fiction, or “Black Mirror,” possible, guidelines curtailing the government’s use of such technology becomes increasingly important.

Not that laws have ever stopped the government before.

Father Figures: A Flame

“The timing of my fiancee’s pregnancy was anything but perfect, with us living in different states and having trouble finding a house.

I was terrified of fatherhood because of who my father was([n’t). For a time during which many would be excited, I had feelings of doom inside of me. I was already expecting this pending happiness to one day turn to pain.

Magnolia coming into our lives ignited a flame that steadily rages inside me, incinerating every fear of the other man I once dreaded becoming.

200 words or less could never do justice to what being a father means to me. The joy is monumental compared to anything else in life.”

– Nathan Davis

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

3 Things to Do With Your Kids This Weekend

Three Things to Do With Your Kids
(Getty/Digital Vision./Hero Images Food Network)

Hooray for another weekend, or two-day-vacation-with-kids as I like to think of it. The weekend is all about disconnecting with the daily drudgery and making some memories with your little ones. It doesn’t matter if you’re building something or just being silly, commit to whatever you’re doing and have a good time.

Get the Pool Out

Kid's in Pool
(Getty/Digital Vision.)

Hooray for it finally being sunny enough to spend evenings outdoors (in some areas of N. America at least). Get a few cold beverages in the cooler and give the kids enough toys to keep them busy for a while. Lather on the sunscreen, get the hats and shades on and spend your weekend outside. You can pick up an inexpensive inflatable pool for as low as $30 at Amazon. Sure it might only last the season, but that saves on storing it away through the winter, so who cares!

A few ideas that’ll keep the kids in the pool and away from their screens, how about:

  • Ping Pong Race – Empty a bag of ping pong balls in the water and get the kids to act like Hungry Hungry Hippos and race to gather the most
  • Atomic Whirlpool – All the kids run in the same direction around the inside edge of the pool to get the water spinning. Then let them get swept around or try to swim against it.
  • Sponge Toss – Unload a few big car-washing sponges and let them throw them around. They’ll quickly get water-logged and fun to splash around.

Backyard Camping and Outdoor Movie

Backyard Camping
(Getty/Hero Images)

You don’t have to travel far to have the same fun as going on a family camping trip, and they’ll have the benefit of on-site bathrooms, snacks, and the comfort of their own beds if they get chilly at night.

Set up a tent and let them bring all their blankets, pillows, cuddly toys, flashlights, and some food to get them into the evening at least. Make it really memorable by setting up a projector and drape a white sheet over a wall to create an outdoor movie theatre. Bring popcorn and all the goodies they need. Even if they don’t stay out the whole night, they’ll surely have a great time.

Make Spider Burgers

(Food Network.ca)

Ok, well they’re not technically spider burgers. They look more like octopus burgers. Either way, your kids will love them, probably! They’re super-easy to make too, which is always a winner in my book. Here’s the recipe, thanks to FoodNetwork.

Ingredients:

  • Hot dog wieners
  • vegetable oil
  • Small hamburger buns as wieners
  • Condiments for burgers

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or foil.

2. To cut wieners so they will cook into “spiders”, begin about an inch down from one end of each wiener, use a small sharp knife to cut along the length of the wiener into halves, then make two lengthwise cuts into each half, making 6 “legs” total. Try to make each “leg” the same thickness. The wieners should be intact at one end and have with 6 “legs” dangling from it.

3. Put sliced wieners in a bowl. Add drizzle vegetable oil (1 tsp for every 4 wieners) and toss to coat weiners.

4. Splay wieners onto lined baking sheets by spreading “legs” out like spokes from the intact end of the wiener. You can fit 4 to 5 wieners onto each baking sheet. Bake on middle racks of the oven for 6 minutes, or until “legs” curl up and wieners look lightly roasted.

5. Tuck wieners into hamburger buns. Set out with self-serve hamburger condiments.

For more suggestions check out last week’s 3 Things to Do With Your Kids.

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

Explaining the Plot of Game of Thrones in a Single Tweet

(Warner Bros. Television Distribution)

Despite how you might feel about the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, you have to admit that the series as a whole is a marvel of storytelling. Creating dozens of characters with rich backstories that intertwine almost effortlessly over the course of eight seasons isn’t exactly easy.

Even more difficult, though, is condensing the series into a single 280-character tweet (which, coincidentally, is about the same number of characters in Game of Thrones overall).



Thanks to a prompt by Amy Cuddy, folks attempted to use just a single Tweet to explain the plot of the entire series, and some of them were surprisingly spot-on.

Others went a bit off-the-rails with their explanations, but they still hold up surprisingly well.


Can you give a better Thrones synopsis in under 240 characters?

New ‘Once Upon a Time In Hollywood’ Trailer Teases More Manson Family

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Trailer
(YouTube/Sony)

Yesterday, just ahead of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, the latest trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time in America, dropped.

The movie, which follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s fading TV star Rick Dalton and his faithful stuntman (Brad Pitt) as they navigate Hollywood in 1969, on the eve of the Manson murders and at the end of an era. The first trailer didn’t offer much in the way of plot, and frankly, neither does the second. But it’s already clear there is a long cast of characters, and this trailer adds even more.

This time we catch a glimpse of Al Pacino’s flamboyant movie producer and a longer look at Charles Manson and his notorious family, whom Brad Pitt runs into while visiting the Spahn ranch for some reason.

The movie looks like it will be packed with fun cameos from celebrities of the era, and a handful of fake movie recreations (sign me up to watch Leo light up some Nazis!), but it remains to be seen how it will tackle Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate and the presence of the Manson family. That infamous crime doesn’t quite lend itself to goofy Hollywood hijinks…

And we also get out first look at Luke Perry, RIP.

The movie premiered in France on Tuesday night to a standing ovation, but we won’t be able to see it until July 26th.

I’ll be watching the trailer a dozen or so more times to tide myself over.

Sarah Conner Is Back In First Terminator: Dark Fate Trailer

Terminator Dark Fate
(imdb.com)

Obligatory “he’s back” joke here, for like, what, the fifth time now? Nobody took T2‘s whole “No fate but what we make for ourselves” theme more to heart than the Terminator franchise itself, simply refusing to die. This morning the trailer dropped for Terminator: Dark Fate, featuring new robots, familiar faces, and a couple classic “Oh-no-my-face-got-ripped-off-but-it’s-chill-because-I’m-a-cyborg” moments.

So to recap, we’ve got Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna as two new Terminator varieties doin’ the ole’ help/hunt dance with Natalia Reyes, who -per the way these movies work- is somehow the key to saving the future. Along for the ride are Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger returning with producer James Cameron to the franchise they started together 35 years ago.

The film takes place “the day after Judgement Day” but LA doesn’t look like the sea of human skulls we’re used to, so it’s a good bet the evil Skynet has been lying in wait. Or maybe Skynet is out of the picture, but a new cyber threat rose to decimate humanity, like BitCoin or Facebook.

Terminator: Dark Fate has wisely chosen to disregard everything since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the gold standard of 90s action adventure. Look, not to shit on Jurassic Park or The Matrix, but T2 was the action movie of action movies. Personally, I begged my parents to rent it probably six Friday movie nights in a row, and they didn’t even argue until the fourth week.

But since then, the franchise has made some missteps. Terminator 3 was…fine. Terminator: Salvation is remembered more for proving Christian Bale was kind of an asshole (still love you CB, just maybe stick to one body weight for a while; you need to level out). Terminator: GynYsYssY or whatever they called the last one tried to reboot the franchise while also not rebooting it because time travel is weird like that. All of them featured The Arnold, but all of them fell flat. So what makes this latest stab at the franchise more promising? One minor little detail:

 

Sarah Conner wearing sunglasses and a kevlar vest stares menacingly at the camera.
(imdb.com)

The Queen is back, baby.

Linda Hamilton has returned as Sarah Conner, the role she originated in the 1984 sci-fi horror masterpiece that launched this whole thing. Her turn from waitress-in-distress in the first film to supreme badass in the second made Conner one of the most iconic characters of all time. We haven’t seen her since 1996’s Terminator 2: 3D – Battle Across Time, the Universal Studios attraction that taught 12-year-old me what excessive gunfire smelled like; but while Arnold may be the titular cyborg, the heart of Terminator has always been Hamilton.

Getting these two back together is the hail mary this series needs. Dark Fate may be The Terminator‘s last chance to cash in on the reboot craze, but with Hamilton’s Sarah back in the action, and Deadpool‘s Tim Miller in the director’s chair, odds are in its favor. James Cameron took time away from making 36 Avatar movies to produce this one in order to ensure it was “relevant” to the times. It’s got the pedigree. Can it deliver? That’s up to fate.

Terminator: Dark Fate opens November 1st.

If you don’t want to wait that long, Reader, then permit a humble recommendation. Go pick up the Blue-ray of FOX’s Sarah Conner Chronicles. That show was awesome, completely underrated, and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) was a great Sarah Conner. Hamilton’s untouchable, but that show was the best Terminator content since T2. Unless you count the Terminator: Future Shock video game, which I do, but I’ve been told that I’m a nerd.

Sign This Petition to Have Danny DeVito Star as Wolverine

(change.org)

Hugh Jackman’s performance as the near-indestructible, clawed mutant, Wolverine, is so long-running and memorable that he will forever be associated with it.

However, true fans of the X-Men comics know that the yellow spandexed superhero doesn’t actually share many of Jackman’s physical features. Yes, the razor-sharp jawline and muscular physique fit the bill, but ol’ Wolvie is traditionally a surprisingly short fella—something 6’2″ Hugh Jackman has difficulty pulling off.

Thankfully, the internet is here to remedy this problem with an online petition asking for someone worthy and short enough to finally pick up the mantle, and it’s none other than Danny DeVito. Yup, Danny DeVito of Twins and It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia fame.

(Getty/David Livingston)

The petition was started by someone going under the name “Ring Arius,” who wrote:

“The only man able to take the throne after Hugh Jackman. We believe that if Wolverine is to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that the only man able to pull it off is Danny DeVito.”

And, honestly, it kinda makes sense. If I asked 100 people to name an actor who could perfectly portray a tiny ball of muscle and rage (an apt description for the clawed X-Man), I have no doubt at least 90 of them would name DeVito.

As of this writing, the petition has reached 15,000 signatures and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. With Disney’s completed merger with Fox, it’s inevitable that the X-Men will be roped into the MCU in some way or another; so, if Disney likes money (and you know they do), maybe they should consider it.

I mean, seriously. . . who wouldn’t pay to see Sabretooth battling it out with DANNY-FUCKING-DEVITO??

Also, interestingly enough, DeVito claimed in an interview with Wired that he was actually in the running against Jackman for the role back in the late-90s. The only thing that held him back? He didn’t have abs.

I’ve never related to anything more.

If you want to add your name to the petition, you can find it here.

Science Says Babysitting Helps Keep Grandparents Alive Longer

Grandparents Who Babysit Live Longer
(Getty/supersizer)

Next time you and your significant other need a sitter, call your parents and open with this:

“It’s not that we need a break. This is about your health.”

That’s right. According to a study out of Berlin, grandparents who babysit actually tend to live longer.

While most grandparents don’t need another reason to spend time with their grandchildren, the study finds some serious benefits for seniors who help take care of kids and even their adult children later in life.

The Berlin Aging Study confirms a growing sentiment in the scientific community that seniors who act as part-time caregivers can extend their years and even see benefits in areas such as cognitive function and general wellbeing.

Researchers found grandparent babysitters had a 37% lower mortality risk than seniors of the same age who had no caregiving responsibilities.

While the exact correlation is still being investigated, researchers believe spending time with grandchildren is a good way for older people to have a sense of purpose, while also keeping them physically and mentally active.

The study further suggests that even childless participants who helped others during their senior years may see similar benefits. According to the National Health Service, acts of giving and kindness, small and large, are associated with positive mental wellbeing.

NHS gives a few examples:

  • Giving to others and co-operating with them can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, creating positive feelings.
  • Helping and working with others can also give us a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.
  • Giving our time to others in a constructive way helps us strengthen our relationships and build new ones.
    Relationships with others also help mental wellbeing.

Although the results of the recent study are promising, researchers only followed around 500 participants – all hailing from one region in Germany. While that sample size is relatively small, it still provides some real evidence that a link exists between health and giving back.

So what are you waiting for?

Drop those kids off at mom and dad’s house. Plan a little trip. Go see the new Avengers.

After all, it’s not just about you – it’s for your parent’s health!

Dad and Son Plan 48 State Road Trip in Corvette For Autism Awareness

(KETV.com)

A Nebraska man and his 15-year-old son are about to set off on a 10,000-mile journey that will take them across the United States. The trip, a bonding experience that the pair will also turn into an opportunity to promote further understanding of Autism.

Mike Straub and his son, Adam, will hit the road in Mike’s Corvette on May 29th to traverse the country and take in the sights, all while raising money and awareness for an important cause.

Adam has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. The developmental disorder can often affect an individuals ability to communicate non-verbally and can present difficulties when it comes to social interactions.

While much about Asperger’s still remains a mystery, medical professionals and organizations around the world are working to not only understand the disorder but to educate the public on inclusivity and acceptance.

“Every person is different in some way,” Adam told ABC affiliate KETV in Omaha.

Diagnosed at age three, Adam had behavior and communication issues, however, his mom, Jolene Straub, says each person on the autism spectrum has their own abilities and struggles.

“For us, it’s social and learning challenges, but for someone else, it’s a completely different picture.”

Thanks to support from various organizations over the past 13 years, Adam and his dad are now looking forward to giving back.

“I feel like now is a good time to do something for the community. Adam’s leaned on different organizations over the years for help,” said Mike.

They will share their adventure and promote Autism Action Partnership, a group that works with individuals to get them the resources and support they need. The non-profit organization that in part funds the “Circle of Friends”, an inclusive program that teaches friendship and acceptance in 240 schools.

The long-distance road trip, a tradition Mike started with his older son Eric, will take the duo to many places across the US, all while giving them the most important thing of all: a whole lot of father-son bonding.

“This is just undiluted time that he gets to spend with the boys. And the memories he’s made on these trips, there’s nothing to compare to that,” said Mike’s wife, Jolene.

The two will begin their 17-day journey at Millard West High School where Adam is a student. An entourage of other Corvette owners will join them as they set out on their motoring mission.

To follow them and support the work of Autism Action, visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter: @48State.