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Honey Boo Boo vs. Duck Dynasty November 4, 2013

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While Conservatives bemoan the crudeness of popular culture, there are 12 million viewers tuning in to watch the Season Premiere of the comparatively-positive  White Trash role model  “Duck Dynasty”.  The largest audience ever for a reality show on cable. They’re even releasing a Holiday record “Duck the Halls”. Now those rich rednecks know how to market themselves.
As reality’s first family, the Kardashians, have seen their ratings steadily decline over the past several years, shows like “Pawn Stars,” “American Restoration” and “Duck Dynasty” have risen to dominate basic cable.

Reality Cable StarsLast year, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which features a cornucopia of social ills, was TLC’s highest-rated show, attracting more cable viewers than the Republican National Convention, which had the misfortune to share the time slot with the charmers from Georgia. The show’s matriarch, June Shannon, has four daughters by four men, one of whose names she can’t recall.

Students of Arnold Toynbee, the English historian, will recognize what is going on here. In a chapter of his “A Study of History” entitled “Schism in the Soul,” Toynbee argued that it is a sign that a society is disintegrating when it takes its cues for manners and customs from the underclass. He describes such societies as being “truant” to their own values.

Toynbee is the guide to what we see all around us today.

We modern philistines tell ourselves that rejecting the customs and conventions of a stuffy, old elite will release creativity and bring about a renaissance. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Toynbee, self-expression replaces creativity when disintegrating societies look downward.

Aspiration is replaced by complacency. Shame vanishes. Any criticism becomes “haters gonna hate,” or the White Trash motto: “It don’t make no difference.”

White Trash signifiers have changed of course — the foreclosed McMansion with the mosquito-infested swimming pool has replaced the rusting tractor permanently bivouacked on cement blocks in the front yard. But it’s the same general idea.

Obesity, the product of a lack of discipline, sloppy dressing, loud and intimate cellphone chats broadcast to a captive audience and foul language nonchalantly uttered in the ATM line are all forms of this “self-expression.”

Pre-White Trash, physical intimacy was reserved to private places. Now it’s reserved for the subway. You no longer have to live in a one-room shack to learn the facts of life early. Just walk down the toy aisle at Toys “R” Us for a sexpot Bratz Doll.

Children who see daytime television, broadcast in public areas, are inevitably treated to Jerry Springer reruns. How do you explain “Honey, I’m a Ho,” or “Transsexuals Attack” to a tot? Oh, wait, the tot explains it to you.

Tattoos are form of self-expression that have moved from gangs and prisons to the mainstream.

via When did white trash become normal? | New York Post.

“Fake” Fancy Wine Widespread November 3, 2013

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Counterfeit wine accounts for some 20 per cent of international sales, according to unofficial wine industry estimates published in yesterday’s regional French newspaper, Sud Ouest. Investigators said the design on bottles were “near perfect” and that many customers were clearly fooled.

 

This month, Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundy winemaker and famed forgery hunter, estimated that 80 per cent of auctioned wines allegedly coming from Burgundy’s most prestigious domains, including his own, are fakes.

 

Mr Ponsot famously unmasked Rudy Kurniawan, an Indonesian collector said to possess “arguably the greatest cellar on Earth” as an alleged wine fraudster, after Mr Kurniawan tried to auction Ponsot’s Clos-St-Denis vintages dating back decades before the domain started producing them. Decanter said the scale of alleged forgeries found when the FBI raided Kurniawan’s premises last year may “ultimately go down as the wine crime of the century”

via Fifth of wine sold worldwide is ‘fake’ – Telegraph.

What Happens in an Internet Minute? March 26, 2013

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Do you know what happens in one minute on the Internet? In just one minute, more than 204 million emails are sent. Amazon rings up about $83,000 in sales. Around 20 million photos are viewed and 3,000 uploaded on Flickr. At least 6 million Facebook pages are viewed around the world. And more than 61,000 hours of music are played on Pandora while more than 1.3 million video clips are watched on YouTube.

internetminuteToday, the number of networked devices equals the world’s population. By 2015, the number of networked devices is expected to be double the world’s population. And by the time we reach 2015, it would take five years to view all the video content crossing IP networks each second. Click Infrograph to expand.

via What Happens in an Internet Minute?.

You Would Probably Blow An Inheritance March 17, 2013

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According to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, two-thirds of baby boomers will inherit family money over their lifetime—most during their later middle-age years—to the collective tune of some $7.6 trillion. Add in the many postwar babies who receive a significant financial gift or two from Mom and Dad while the latter are still alive, and the asset shift jumps even more. Not bad, experts say, considering that Americans’ total household wealth at the end of 2012 was $64.8 trillion. “There’s a lot on the line,” says John Davis, faculty chair of the Families in Business program at Harvard Business School.

mrmoneybagsBut if the past is any prelude, inheritors, especially those who are new to the family-windfall phenomenon, face an unpleasant reality: They’re likely to blow it. Although it’s not widely discussed, financial advisers say that new riches prove particularly hard to hold onto—and even harder to patiently nurture and grow. Indeed, research shows that family money rarely survives the transfer for long, with 70 percent evaporated by the end of the second generation. By the end of the third? Ninety percent. Hence the old saw, “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”

The most obvious reason, of course, is that money gets spread thinly over fast-growing family trees. But wealth managers also say many people are simply inexperienced at handling large piles of dough in any disciplined way—think of the so-called sudden-wealth syndrome experienced by lottery winners and many professional athletes. Another common trend advisers see?

A belief among some inheritors that, hey, it’s permanent vacation time, and there’s no need to create any new income streams.

via Lost Inheritances – Studies Show Americans Blow Through Family Fortunes at a Remarkable Rate |.

Would you rather be Right or Happy? March 16, 2013

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When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a the feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right.

lionHenpeckedI’ve coached dozens of incredibly successful leaders who suffer from this addiction. They are extremely good at fighting for their point of view (which is indeed often right) yet they are completely unaware of the dampening impact that behavior has on the people around them. If one person is getting high off his or her dominance, others are being drummed into submission, experiencing the fight, flight, freeze or appease response I described before, which diminishes their collaborative impulses.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

(more…)

Europe Most Generous, Asia Stingiest For Paid Days Off October 14, 2012

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  • Workers in UK and Poland have most generous statutory employee holiday entitlements
  • Employees in the USA, Canada, Philippines, China and Thailand have the least generous
  • Colombia has greatest number of public holidays; Mexico the least
  • UK employees have access to a highest amount of potential holiday (36 days per year) but in reality fare worse than other European employees

According to Mercer Consulting, holiday entitlement is often more complex since actual holiday provisions often depends on company contracts and the number and treatment of public holidays. In the UK, for example, employees are entitled to 28 days holiday. With the UK also holding 8 public holidays each year, this suggests that employees in the UK could be on holiday for 36 days, or 10%, of each year. This would be one of the highest entitlements of all 62 countries. The reality is that companies are allowed to include the 8 public holidays as part of the 28 day entitlement so UK employees actually have fewer days’ holidays than their peers in the rest of Europe where, in general, the practice is for European employees to take public holidays in addition to their statutory entitlement. Employees in the Asia-Pac region have comparatively low levels of statutory entitlement but public holidays are taken in addition to this rather than as part of it. However, the levels of holiday entitlement in Asia-Pac are still below those of Western Europe.     Employee holiday entitlements around the world.

USA has Plenty More Fish in the Sea June 8, 2012

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On May 14th the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a record six federal fisheries returned to health last year. After a decade of similar progress, 86% of America’s roughly 250 federally monitored commercial fish stocks were not subject to overfishing; 79% were considered healthy.

The recent recovery of species, including New England scallops, mid-Atlantic bluefish and summer flounder and Pacific lingcod, is the result. This signals another truth: given a break, the marine environment can often replenish itself spectacularly. America’s fisheries are probably now managed almost as well as the world’s best, in Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia

via Fish stocks: Plenty more fish in the sea | The Economist.

Amazing Timelapse of 30-Story Building Constructed In Only 360 Hours January 9, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Enviroment, Science & Technology, Video.
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impressive timelapse video from his company’s latest project: a 30-story tall, 183,000-square-foot hotel built in just 360 hours. Just 15 days!.

It was erected near the Dongting lake, in the Hunan Province, China, by Broad Group, a Chinese construction company specialized in sustainable architecture. The building uses prefabricated modules (with a +/- 0.2mm precision in the fabrication process) mounted on a steel structure, with diagonal steel bracing.

via Amazing Timelapse of 30-Story Building Constructed In Only 360 Hours.

Big Rare Earth Discovery in Nebraska August 5, 2011

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Enviroment, Geopolitics, Technology.
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China has emerged as the world’s predominant supplier, controlling 97 percent of the global market for rare earths. In recent years, lawmakers have expressed concerns about China’s “rare earth” dominance, and these concerns were heightened when Beijing temporarily halted exports to Japan last year during a territorial dispute. Despite having such obscure names as praseodymium, promethium and samarium – no copper or zinc here – they are necessary for such routine contemporary technologies as magnets, laser pointers and miniature electronics, such as iPods.

Quantum acquired a circular piece of land – a bit more than 4 miles in diameter – near Elk Creek late last year. The land, which the U.S. Geological Survey projects may have one of the world’s largest deposits of niobium and rare earths, has since been poked, prodded and drilled to determine whether it held any niobium, which has never been mined in the U.S., or rare earths, which the U.S. has not mined in almost 10 years

via Neb. mine find to challenge China’s dominance of vital rare minerals – Washington Times.

AARP- an Insurance Company in Non-Profit Clothes July 31, 2011

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AARP, under the guise of an orginization offering discounts to Seniors,  sells their names to companies, who pay heftily to be their exclusive supplier. A recent Hearing Aid company bankruptcy revealed that the deal is very lucrative for AARP.  A lion-share of AARP payments come from Seniors into their captive for-profit corporation, which has grown into the 6th largest US Insurance company, with almost half-a-billion dollars in profits. Planned cuts in Medicare, will encourage more Seniors to purchase Medigap Insurance, through AARP’s exclusive agent – United, to the tune of an estimated $1 billion during the next 10 years. The chart shows the decreasing share that is returned to the non-profit side of AARP, except, by non-profit standards, the lush salaries and perks management enjoys, while being on both Boards. Read the full report at AARP_Report.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Korean Virtual Subway Grocery Store July 6, 2011

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It’s the future in South Korea now: people don’t even have to go to grocery stores there any more. Tesco installed virtual grocery stores in subway stations, which are basically giant photos of grocery store aisles. Customers can then take photos of the food they want to purchase and have it delivered to their homes later. But what if your train comes while you’re still shopping? That is the kind of problem we’ll all have in the future. Here’s a video: Thanks to Marty Acevedo

via The Future : Eater National.

Decline of Snail Mail Killing U.S. Postal Service June 5, 2011

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The USPS has 571,566 full-time workers, making it the country’s second-largest civilian employer after Wal-Mart Stores (WMT). It has 31,871 post offices, more than the combined domestic retail outlets of Wal-Mart, Starbucks (SBUX), and McDonald’s (MCD). Last year its revenues were $67 billion, and its expenses were even greater. Postal service executives proudly note that if it were a private company, it would be No. 29 on the Fortune 500.

The problems of the USPS are just as big. It relies on first-class mail to fund most of its operations, but first-class mail volume is steadily declining—in 2005 it fell below junk mail for the first time. This was a significant milestone. The USPS needs three pieces of junk mail to replace the profit of a vanished stamp-bearing letter.

During the real estate boom, a surge in junk mail papered over the unraveling of the postal service’s longtime business plan. Banks flooded mailboxes with subprime mortgage offers and credit-card come-ons. Then came the recession. Total mail volume plunged 20 percent from 2006 to 2010. (more…)

Somali Adventure Cruise March 12, 2011

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Dog for Sheep Herding Now Sheep For the Dog January 16, 2011

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Once upon a time, Americans got dogs for their sheep. Now they get sheep for their dogs. “I never dreamed it would go this far,” says Ms. Foster, 56 years old.

Border collies, first bred along the frontier between England and Scotland, are compulsive herders, with instincts so intense they sometimes search for livestock behind the television when sheep appear on screen, says Geri Byrne, owner of the Border Collie Training Center, in Tulelake, Calif.

Herding experts—yes, there is such a thing—say it’s increasingly common for people who get border collies as pets to wind up renting or buying sheep just to keep their dogs busy. “It’s something that’s snowballing all the time,” says Jack Knox, a Scottish-born shepherd who travels the U.S. giving herding clinics.

Each day, an average of 18 dogs visit Fido’s Farm outside Olympia, Wash., their owners paying $15 per dog to practice on the farm’s 200-head flock of sheep. Herding revenue at the farm is up 60% over the past five years, says owner Chris Soderstrom, who bought the farm in 2004.

WSJ commenter Christina Kielich wrote:

As Donald McCaig, the famous dog writer, has said, if you don’t give your dog a job, he’ll find one, and chances are you won’t like it. I know of people who left their border collie in the kitchen to go to a movie and came back to find their entire tile floor chewed up.

via In a Tale That Wags Dog Owners, They Rent Flocks for Bored Collies – WSJ.com.

The Face Behind Facebook September 15, 2010

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Mark Zuckerberg, The C.E.O. of Facebook, wants to create, and dominate, a new kind of Internet. The link below to a rare interview, before an unflattering movie gets released.

via Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg opens up : The New Yorker.

No More Dental Fillings? July 28, 2010

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A gel that can help decayed teeth grow back in just weeks may mean an end to fillings.

The gel, which is being developed by scientists in France, works by prompting cells in teeth to start multiplying. They then form healthy new tooth tissue that gradually replaces what has been lost to decay.

Researchers say in lab studies it took just four weeks to restore teeth back to their original healthy state. The gel contains melanocyte-stimulating hormone, or MSH.

via Gel that can help decayed teeth grow back could end fillings | Mail Online.

Billion Dollar Baseball Teams July 27, 2010

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The remarkable valuation was apparently placed on the Red Sox — and their cable arm, New England Sports Network — in a transaction earlier this year.

A $9.1 million profit on a $5 million purchase implies a $14.1 million sale. The shares sold amounted to 1.2% of the Sox. By that math, the total value of the club would be $1.2 billion.

The Yankees will surely be worth even more than this if George Steinbrenner’s heirs decide to sell. Forbes magazine puts the value of the Yankees at $1.6 billion. Click on the link below to see how they came up with these numbers.

via How the Red Sox beat the Yankees to a billion Brett Arends’ ROI – MarketWatch.

What’s Really Underneath The Oil Spill? June 25, 2010

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Among oil industry watchers there has been a great deal of information about the size of the field under the big spill. Respected industry watchers have said that there is good reason to expect that the field extends many miles deep underground and horizontally from the site of the spill.

In the past few years, seismic studies and drilling results from deep beneath the Gulf are leading many informed sources to believe the total oil available under the Gulf of Mexico, in the area around BP’s Macondo well (which was originally expected to have about 50 million barrels of recoverable oil) may contain billions of barrels of oil. It is early to make an informed analysis, but the Macondo well blowout may indicate that these Gulf of Mexico fields, located in deep water about 50 miles offshore and under another 20,000 to 35,000 of rock below the seabed, represent a massive oil discovery.

via Guild Global Market Commentary :: Guild Investment Management, Inc. | MyNewsletterBuilder.

Bernie Madoff BMOC June 7, 2010

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rom the day Bernard Lawrence Madoff, prisoner No. 61727-054, arrived at the softer of Butner’s two medium-security facilities in handcuffs and shackles, his over-the-collar hair shorn close, his rich man’s paunch diminished, he was a celebrity, even if his admirers were now murderers and sex offenders

“People just kept throwing money at me,” Madoff related to a prison consultant who advised him on how to endure prison life. “Some guy wanted to invest, and if I said no, the guy said, ‘What, I’m not good enough?’ ” One day, Shannon Hay, a drug dealer who lived in the same unit in Butner as Madoff, asked about his crimes. “He told me his side. He took money off of people who were rich and greedy and wanted more,” says Hay, who was released in December. People, in other words, who deserved it.

via An Inside Look at Bernie Madoff’s Life in Prison — New York Magazine.

Suicidal iPad Makers June 5, 2010

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Ask around among the more than 250,000 workers at the Shenzhen complex, and you’ll find explanations. One 21-year-old assembly-line worker, who asked that his name not be used, says conditions at Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, make his life seem meaningless. He says conversation on the production line is forbidden, bathroom breaks are kept to 10 minutes every two hours, and workers get yelled at frequently. . So far this year, 10 Foxconn workers have committed suicide.

No one disputes that Taipei-based Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai, has cultivated a tough culture. The company generates more revenue in a year than Apple, Dell, or Microsoft (MSFT). It has grown in profitable obscurity to become an industry juggernaut for a simple reason, says Pamela Gordon of Technology Forecasters, a supply-chain research firm: “It’s the prices. Their prices are lower for high-quality work.” Foxconn won Apple’s order to make the iPhone after Gou directed the business units that make components to sell parts at zero profit, according to two people familiar with the chairman’s actions. Net income jumped 37 percent in 2009 to $2.3 billion, Foxconn’s second-best year on record. Foxconn’s suicides are a reminder of the human cost that can come with the low-cost manufacturing U.S. tech companies demand.

via Why Apple and Others Are Nervous About Foxconn – BusinessWeek.

Another Blow To The “Green Revolution” May 4, 2010

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The “Green Revolution” that lifted millions out of hunger is threatened by a fungus re-appearing in wheat and now the emergence Superweeds.

Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.

Farm experts say that such efforts could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.

via U.S. Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds – NYTimes.com.

The Post-PC Era April 30, 2010

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The PC revolution is almost coming to an end, and everyone’s trying to work out a strategy for surviving the aftermath.

This is why there’s a stench of panic hanging over silicon valley. this is why Apple have turned into paranoid security Nazis, why HP have just ditched Microsoft from a forthcoming major platform and splurged a billion-plus on buying up a near-failure; it’s why everyone is terrified of Google:

via The real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash – Charlie’s Diary.

Yoga’s Revolt For Affordability April 25, 2010

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Our local Library had a free Saturday morning  Yoga class that always overflowed into the hallway. When it was threatened by budget cuts an anonymous donor not only saved the class, but was generous enough that a night class during the week has been added. This article delves into the anti-diva yoga movement…the problem wasn’t with the instructor, but with Mr. Gumucio himself. “You are your own teacher,” Mr. Gumucio said he was told. “You are responsible for your own experience.”

It was a revelatory moment for Mr. Gumucio. If the student was more important than the teacher, why was there such an emphasis placed on the individual instructors?

A second revelation occurred in class when he was struggling to keep his body in a difficult position. “I was sweating, my muscles shaking, in triangle pose, and Bikram was talking about how fast he was as a boy in Calcutta. How he could catch this dog.” The situation was almost more than Mr. Gumucio could bear. “In my mind,” he recalled, “I was thinking ‘What is wrong with you. Stop this stupid story!’ ”

Later, Mr. Choudhury again dismissed his complaints, telling Mr. Gumucio that distractions were everywhere: “Candle, incense, music, easy to meditate!” Mr. Gumucio recalls being told. “Try being calm and peaceful in your car when someone cuts you off.

via Yoga’s New Wave – NYTimes.com.

Those Coveted Black Credit Cards April 13, 2010

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Take American Express’ Centurion Card, for example. There’s an initiation fee on the Black Card of $5,000 — plus an annual fee of $2,500. Considered the cream of the crop, the top of heap and the most exclusive card in the world, this “Black Card” is by invitation only and has been around since 1999.

“Whenever you take a card that gives points, miles, whatever, the more perks a card offers its cardholders the more [the credit card company] charges the merchant for taking that card,” says Sherry Frankel, president of the Worth Avenue Association and owner of Sherry Frankel’s Melangerie.

The charge for using a Centurion Card can be as high as 4 percent but is determined by the amount of business a merchant does within a year. The average rate charged for using it today is reportedly around 3.75 percent.

via Black credit cards come with cachet, price.

How The French Fry Came To India April 7, 2010

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INDIA is the third-biggest producer of potatoes in the world. The humble spud finds itself stuffed into flatbread, encrusted in cumin seeds or tucked into pancakes. But the truckloads of large, oblong potatoes that arrive at the McCain Foods plant in the Mehsana district of Gujarat face a more exacting ordeal. Ferried by a conveyor belt and propelled by water, they are sized, steam-peeled, sliced, diced, blanched, dried, fried (for precisely 42 seconds in vegetable oil at 199ºC), chilled, frozen, bagged and then boxed.

The 15kg boxes of fries that emerge at the other end of this pipeline supply the growing chain of McDonald’s restaurants in India. When McDonald’s first entered India in 1996, the food-processing industry was confined largely to ice cream and ketchup. Even importing frozen fries was complicated by the fact that such an exotic item did not appear on India’s schedule of tariffs and quotas. It took McDonald’s roughly six years and $100m to weld a reliable supply chain together.

via Agribusiness in India: Green shoots | The Economist.

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