Foxfier

Former sailor, trained calibration tech, current mother, current geek; has a former sailor current geek computer tech husband, three kids and two spoiled barn cats. Currently living in the Seattle Blob (look at one of those "lights from space" and you get the idea) and missing Japan, the cattle ranch she grew up on and the dry side of the state, in no specific order. Keeps an entire flock of peeves as pets, although most have really good reasons for existing rather than being a matter of style. Has been "Foxfier" since before Mozilla existed, let alone renamed their browser "Firefox." It's a purposeful misspelling of the photo-luminescent effect, with no relation to the movie, series(es?) of books, old magazine, etc, and she'd never heard of Vulpix or any other kitsune when she chose the name.

A Question of Learning

Or, less pretentiously:

What should a kid learn in kindergarten?

I’m taking a swing at home schooling the Princess*– she’s just a bit too young to go into kindergarten, and I’ve got enough qualifications legally allowed to be a home educator by the state.

I know that I want her to be reading and diving in to self-guided research that I can supplement with what she isn’t interested in, but I really am looking for a realistic expectation in general.

I’m thinking:

  • reading basic words– “Hop on Pop” as a test.
  • being able to draw a connection between math problems and real examples– 2+2 is the same as two apples plus two apples
  • writing print legibly in military style all-caps, and basic progress in upper-lower case block-print
  • trace a standard coloring book– depending on small motor control, color inside of the lines and fill it out
  • recognize and match colors and basic shapes, both two and three dimensional; possibly recognizing a pattern and copying it
  • recognize basic classes of animal– land mammal, reptile, bird, fish, sea mammal
  • recognize basic plant categories
  • growth stages of plants and animals
  • master the ASDFJKL; of the keyboard, demonstrate ability to both double-click and click-and-drag, plus understand which you should do in a specific instance
  • safety related science– germ theory, electronic theory, very basic physics; why you wash your hands, why you don’t touch that wire, and why you don’t jump out in front of a car to yell “boo.”
  • basic scientific theory
  • basic skepticism– “what’s another way to look at this?”  “is this person trying to make me think something that isn’t quite right?”
  • memorize basic prayers– Our Father, Hail Mary, possibly how to pray the Rosary
  • basic theology; Trinity, angels, life after death, salvation, caritas, the Saints, some of the ideas of expressing love as wishing-another’s-best-interest

So, those expectations: too high?  Too low?  What am I missing?  No idea what kind of metric to put on history– trying to build a basic understanding of our family history, and of world history, but it’s rather tough with someone who doesn’t consistently grasp the difference between “today” and “last week.”

We have a phonics book that both girls love (yes, the two year old knows her letters and is connecting them to “making words.”  Yay, older sister leading by example.) and I subscribe to an OK online school called Starfall, plus a lot of concepts are being introduced by Dinosaur Train, My Little Pony, Guess with Jess and Boo!, as well as Good Eats.  I don’t have any good specifically Catholic “edutainment,” although the Scriptural Rosary from Rosary Army is rather good for car trips and I try to catch some ETWN radio shows when I can.

After hearing some horror stories of the utter lack of basic control in classrooms, my husband is pretty supportive of home schooling if I can get this year to work… so please, feel free to suggest!

*Please, don’t bother to “correct” me that it’s not homeschooling– yes, parents are responsible for teaching their children.  I noticed, my folks did a great job– I learned more science from my mom than from school, and the only thing they didn’t do well on was what they were told they weren’t qualified to teach. (Religious education.)  That doesn’t change that there is a difference between getting one’s formal schooling at a gov’t facility and getting it at a private school, or at home.  It’s a matter of specifying what formal schooling a kid gets.  I get the world-view statement being made, but I value communicating clearly over Making A Statement when it’s a social nicety like “where do your kids go to school.”

Basic Life Science and Catholicism

mildly edited and cross posted from Catholic Stand, because it seems to be timely

“Quit forcing your religion on me! Your Pope might think that a fertilized egg is alive, that it’s human, but that’s your opinion– I believe in science! It’s no more a person than a skin cell is, and you just think it has a soul. If abortion upsets you, you should get people to use birth control.”

If you’ve been in abortion discussions, you’re probably familiar with this kind of assertion. I’ll admit that I’ve taken some slight liberty with the paraphrase– I combined several variations into one claim. Other than that….

A ‘fertilized egg’ is a somewhat improper way to describe what happens when a sperm and egg (gamete) join; it’s a zygote, the first stage of development in all animals. It is a single celled organism of whatever species the parents were. In cloning the egg is emptied, the insides of a cell from whatever is being cloned are put in, and the result is induced to start growing as if fertilization had just occurred. (Nuclear transfer; I mentioned this in the Frankenstein installment.) Sometimes the phrase is used to mean “pre-embryo” or “pre-fetus,” although in non-abortion situations (such as IVF) a three-day-old organism is called an “embryo.”

While a skin cell can be said to be alive– because it is part of a living organism– a zygote is an individual constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of organs separate in function but mutually dependent : a living being. If uninterupted, a zygote will develop into a recognizable adult member of the species. A skin cell will remain an skin cell.

When a human egg is fertilized, the organism that results is a member of the human species, distinct from both parents. That is a scientific fact. The Catholic Church teaches that being a living human being means the individual has inherent dignity which we must respect. The question of ensoulment doesn’t arise. (You can find a much more in depth explanation of when human life begins in this PDF of the same name, from the Westchester Institute.)

All of this establishes that, scientifically speaking, the unborn ‘product of conception’ we’re looking at is both alive and of our species.

This is where things get confusing, because science does not speak on who is a “person.” The question of personhood is (in this context) a moral question. As Catholics, we are required to recognize all living humans as people– ironically enough, it is those claiming to be defenders of science who are making a moral judgment, and one that is sadly not that uncommon in the history of humanity. More recently the word “person” has come to be synonymous with “human being,” and is preferred by some to “man” to apply to an individual homo sapiens. It is then easily understandable that most people defending abortion would not want to recognize that their stance means that they are explicitly denying that all humans are “people.” Especially if someone is not carefully choosing their words it is understandable that they would try to claim that a member of our species below a set point of development is not a “human being.”

Pointing out that they are declaring a group of humans to be non-people can be effective, sometimes even on the person arguing for abortion. Please try to be as gentle as possible about it, the shock can be pretty nasty. The author John C. Wright wrote about his instinctive recognition of his son as a person, and laid out the logic rather bluntly. It is worth noting that at the time he was an atheist, though a very classically influenced one.

On a related note, some folks will say that If you don’to like abortions, you should support birth control.  This sounds like it should make sense– the logic of “women have abortions because they have an unwanted pregnancy; birth control reduces pregnancy; more birth control would result in less pregnancy.”

First a religious or philosophical response: for a Catholic, this is roughly on par with saying “if you don’t like murder, you need to support assault!”
Chemical “birth control” results in death for the small human, in some cases as a primary means, some physical methods (IUDs) also cause death, and even something as basic as a condom inherently deforms the essence of sex. This is religion, or at least philosophy, although obviously some (sometimes very) non-religious people will agree that risking your kid’s life so you can have lower risk of pregnancy is obviously wrong.

Now the practical side.

Birth control does not necessarily reduce the number of pregnancies, it lowers the chance of a pregnancy as a result of intercourse. Failure is usually measured in terms of the percent of female users who have an unintended pregnancy in the first year of typical use. Not listed, of course, is not having sex unless you recognize that the reproductive act may result in a new life.

That is what makes contraception– and the “contraceptive mentality”– a root cause of the heat in the abortion debate. Contraception promises that you will have sex without a chance of needing to be responsible for your resulting children. So, if pregnancy results anyways, it’s very tempting to believe that there’s not really your offspring involved.  People you can’t see are so much easier to dehumanize, and the unborn are both really small and not walking around.

Pro-Life Demonstrator Assaulted By Professor

A department of feminist studies professor has been accused of going berserk after coming across a campus prolife demonstration that used extremely graphic displays, leading a small mob of students to chant “tear down the sign” before grabbing one of the signs, storming off with it, then allegedly engaging in an altercation with a 16-year-old prolife protestor who had followed the educator to retrieve it.

“Allegedly” for legal purposes, it was caught on video and is serious enough that the cops– who reportedly were going to poo-poo it off– got serious when they saw the video.

Also notable is that, at the bottom of the article, they mention that some students are claiming they feel unsafe.  Why?  Because there are people protesting the legal, at-will killing of unborn humans, with pictures and facts to back them up.  Not because teachers assault teenage girls with whom they disagree and from whom they have taken private property.

EDIT:

to make link quickly visible

Catholic Answers Needs Help

I’m sorry I haven’t posted for so long– I’ve been over at Catholic Stand and Ricochet, and trying to help folks on facebook– and I’m sorry to come back with a “Please help” message.

Doing it anyways.

Catholic Answers needs help. They’ve had to let folks go, cut pay and are still falling short.

I don’t know if you’ve been helped by them, but… I got more just from the Catholic.com website than I got from the decade plus of “catholic” education from my local parish.  Just last week I was talking to my mom about how much stuff I wouldn’t even know I didn’t know if not for ‘stuff I found online’… which almost always meant “On Catholic Answers.”

More recently, I helped a cousin who was being faced with the “but if you weren’t a nasty evil mean person, you’d support marriage equality” stuff with some of their articles.

I know things are tough. Please help.

On Ricochet: Modern Media and Benedict the Humble

Our modern media, driven by image, loves outward signs of humility. The incongruity of a Pope riding the bus and moving out of the palace creates a spectacle that viewers can instantly digest as “good,” even though these are only external acts. Now, I don’t doubt that these acts are spurred by Francis’ genuine virtue, but they should mean less if humility, as Aquinas and Augustine insisted, is only a virtue as an inward movement of the soul.

In Benedict’s pre-papacy book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, he wrote that the Pope should be a “humble servant” to the “Tradition of the faith” — a deliberately inconspicuous goal that a headline cannot capture, and which those unfamiliar with that tradition cannot fully appreciate.

Again, I do not wish to criticize Pope Francis, but rather to suggest that we, as viewers, keep our idea of “humility” in proper perspective. Humility is not the greatest virtue proposed by Christianity — it is just a prerequisite, an interior attitude of other-worldliness, for receiving the rest of the Faith.

Rest of the article is here.

Thought y’all might enjoy it!

So Who Are The Bigots?

big·ot [big-uht]
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
Origin:
1590–1600; < Middle French ( Old French: derogatory name applied by the French to the Normans), perhaps < Old English bī God by God

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.

A movement to redefine a basic institution of civilization into a novel form, unsupported by traditional practices or even rational justifications for gov’t involvement. Supporters commit acts of vandalism, intimidation/assault (including by law enforcement), and violence up to and including attempted mass murder; those who oppose are met with bullying attempts to silence them and ban their employment.

All of those could also apply to the introduction of laws against blacks and whites marrying.

Actual voting results do not back up claims that the fight is over, and even if they did– Truth is not determined by a majority vote. Forcing people to call a thing by a nice name does not change the thing; as was pointed out in arguments yesterday, forcing kids in a class to call everyone a friend does not actually make them friends.

Little Miracles

No, I don’t mean “kids.” They’re really big miracles in little packages. I also don’t mean things where small happenstances have big side-effects– like the time something silly I can’t remember happened, and delayed my car enough that we missed being T-boned or caught in the huge pileup with it from a run-away car. Barely.

I mean things where you are just not having a good time of it, for perfectly normal and predictable reasons…and then something rather odd happens that made you feel better, or fixed a problem unexpectedly.

The “hey, I know you’ve been down, but I also know you like rocks and I found this pretty crystal. Have a nice day!” type stuff.

Got to thinking on it because 1) I am a total sleep wimp, and 2) I’m a month and a half from the next baby being due. That means that, most nights, I can’t sleep. Mental note: next time, make sure that the last trimester is at the END of DST…. ;)

A couple of days ago, the girls were having screaming fits over everything. They’re tired, too; they miss their dad, mom isn’t as fun and can’t pick them up anymore, and there have been some minor disasters the last few weeks, from medical to minor injury to very minor vehicle trouble. As an added bonus, I emptied all the odds and ends stuff out of the closets to organize them properly, got a bunch of storage boxes and all… about two months ago, and haven’t managed more than a third of it. I knew that TrueBlue did a lot, but this is ridiculous.

I was unable to sleep, again, and about ready to cry from frustration, so I thought I’d try to find a registration code for a game I had on the old computer. Can’t find it. Try ever odder groupings of the name… and this email forward from a family friend that witnessed for our wedding, but has since died, popped up. It was one of those probably made up tear jerkers about a guy whose car suddenly had problems, and he managed to get to a gas station where he saw a woman in distress. He helped her and her kids out, feels the urge when she asks if he’s an angel to tell her “they were busy, so God sent me” and when he gets back to the car, it of course starts up.

The cry I got from that did more good than two hour’s worth of sleep, and I know it’s been making my days a bit easier. They’re still…trying, but I can deal a bit better, now. I’ve been able to get enough energy to do a couple of the things that I’ve had on my list for far too long, and I KNOW it’s made me a bit less irritable.

I still can’t find anything that should’ve triggered that search to bring up that email. I’m sure there’s something, but… a little, well-timed “accident” of the sort mom always taught us to be grateful for.

Trigger any thoughts anybody would like to share?

Lies of Omission

I’m fairly sure that anyone here is sufficiently “plugged in” to current politics enough to have heard about House member Gabby Gifford’s recent plea for further gun restrictions. I’m not sure what your local media is like, but there’s a fair chance that there was even a mention of Sarah Palin or at least some sort of “incitement” behind that shooter’s attack. Given the body count, it’s not too surprising.

Also recently mentioned, though only in passing, is that the guy who shot up the Family Research Council in DC was finally in court.  Honestly, my main memory of that was being on a family trip and wondering why the heck somebody targeting based on “anti-gay bias” would have bags of Chick-fil-A. I can remember a few commentators suggesting that it was some sort of cartoonish attempt at “blending in”– an indication of just how crazy his view of those who disagree is or was. “Hey, Chick-fil-a is ‘anti-gay’ the same way that the FRC is– they don’t support redefining marriage to fit current pop culture appeals. The Family Research Council even denies a man and woman are functionally identical to two guys or two gals, of all the nerve! They’ll never notice me coming in and killing people if I have suitable fast food bags!”   Not someone to take too seriously, even if he did have a gun. Continue reading

Culture War on a Shoe String (Budget)

Over at the blog of the author, Sarah Hoyt, there’s a very good post.

I was going to try to use the theme to combine with some conversations from over at Ricochet.com, but then she went and put what I would’ve been pointing at into its own paragraph:

Both of these endeavors will change your perception and you’ll find yourself huffing at sitcoms you used to enjoy.   This is good.  Most of the politics are snuck into stuff like that (hence the directive that came down for more plots about healthcare in sitcoms and episodic dramas) and if you’re not aware of them they’ll insidiously color the way you see the world.  It’s brilliant to sneak them into entertainment because if you complain, you’re a sour puss.  But at this point they’re not even subtle, and you’ll start seeing them if you look: cardboard “conservative” characters who are anything but and who can’t defend their positions.  “Dangerous” tea partiers.  Liberating yourself through having indiscriminate sex and stuff.  The government as a fount of goodness.  It’s all there.  And it’s there on purpose.

There’s more, some general stuff on how the polite refusal to inject politics into everything puts us at a bit of a disadvantage, and it’s quite worth reading.  Now, on to my comments:

She’s right.  My husband is a lot more easy going than I am, but we both can’t watch some shows because of the obvious agenda involved.  Recognizing it isn’t just about paying attention or such– we had a rather long argument with my mother over a TV show that opened with a guy being shot inside his house by a SWAT team called in for a false hostage situation. (Before SWATting got big.)  The show, and the woman who taught me to not trust the story that the news presented, held the SWAT team (personified by the leader) responsible.  TrueBlue and I held those who certified that it was a hostage situation on an anonymous call from a random number as being responsible– there wasn’t any way for the guys who’d been told they were going in to a known hostage situation to know that the guy charging them with a kitchen knife was righteously defending his house.  The guy risking their lives had to be at fault, while the paper-pushers that actually created the entire situation had to be blameless– not even faceless, but as natural a thing as the sun rising, and as unquestioned.  Something goes wrong?  It’s the fault of those uniformed Authority Figure guys. (Who all incidentally looked military.)

Stories set up the way we see the world.

New, Shocking Study Finds Humans Are Not Standardized!

Folks here probably know about the BMI– and possibly are familiar with my, ahem, “issues” with it as a tool of diagnosis; anything that bases treatment choices on the assumption that bones, fat and muscle all weigh the same, and people are identically proportioned, is going to get me angry. Add in it being changed in 2000 by over 2kg/m2 (so that “overweight” is 25kg/m2; BMI is weight in kg divided by height in meters, squared) to make it easier to calculate and remove the differences between men and women and…well, I’m getting distracted.

Anyways, the BMI is the basis for the “obesity epidemic” we’ve all heard about, and there are calls for action on the following theory that this generation will die earlier than their parents.

Shockingly, some scientist actually decided to do research to see if being over-weight or obese by this BMI standard resulted in dying earlier. It’s clear that if you’re heavy enough, you do die earlier, but that’s diagnosis by examining actual people, not by applying a broad standardized calculation.  Everyone knows that if you’re over-weight, then you’re going to have more health problems, so you’re going to die earlier.

There’s a problem: they didn’t confirm what “everyone knows.”

The news will seem heaven sent to those contemplating a new year diet, and contradicts the received wisdom that being fat reduces life expectancy. It is the second time that research studies led by Katherine Flegal, a distinguished epidemiologist from the National Centre for Health Statistics at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Maryland, US, have studied the link between obesity and mortality.

In 2007 the same group caused consternation among public health professionals when they published the results of a similar analysis that also showed being fat does not shorten life. Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, dismissed the finding as “rubbish”.

Dr Flegal told The Independent she had decided to conduct a second, larger, study on the same theme to counter the sceptics. She and her team examined results from 100 studies from around the world, involving three million people and 270,000 deaths.

via Recipe for a long life: overweight people have LOWER death risk – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent.

Who knew that the art of healing people may not work so well when you try to remove individuals and judgement from the mix?

 

It’s All The Social Conservatives Fault!

I really, really wish I were joking about the title, but I’ve actually heard several folks seriously suggest this.  (Hugh Hewitt show had a co-host/guest suggest “dropping the abortion issue,” for example—thankfully, Hugh pointed out that was…not a great idea.)

In a campaign where social issues were not focused on, where the SoCon vote was assumed, where the entire point would be “It’s the economy, stupid” and our turnout dropped hugely… we should really ditch these social conservatives entirely and try to peel off some Democrat voters.  I was one of the folks that was saying at the beginning that we could not just assume we’d get our own base and that all we needed was to go after other groups, though I—like many others—thought that things were obviously bad enough that maybe the base could be taken for granted.

We tried the “shut up about social issues, focus on the financial short-term disaster.”   Shock shock, it didn’t work.  The “of course” votes didn’t show up, as best we can tell at this early of a time.  Of course there was fraud and probably voter suppression, but we knew from the start that we’d have to win so big that they couldn’t cheat.

I know the thinking Libertarians believe that Social Issues hurt us, and if we’d just drop them it would improve—but they ignore that if you let people do all the stupid stuff they immaturely desire, they are going to want to be saved by someone else.  (I’m ignoring the sub-group of thinking Libertarians that thinks having children at is a “personal choice” with no serious effect on the future of society, and mostly only something that ‘women want while they leach off men.’  I wish that last part was not a very slight paraphrase.)  Of course, thinking Libertarians think social issues hurt because when thinking Libertarians recognize the cause and effect of libertine personal actions in creating demand for a leech-State, they become at least isolationist conservatives, rather than Libertarians.  But I’m digressing.

So, we tried assuming that the rah rah Abortion!! stuff on Obama’s side would be enough to 1) get half our base out, and 2) get them to vote for Romney.  Clearly, that was wrong.

We focused on the economy.  I think we did pretty well on that, considering that Obama and Co could lie their tails off about what we actually said.  (It’s a given, sadly.)

That makes me think that we maybe should’ve beat on the military side of things a bit more as well.  I  have friends who are still active duty who thought I was blowing smoke up their rears when I told them there was never a protest when the Ambassador was killed, when that was known just days after the attack.  (Power Line linked an interview in a UK paper that included quotes from the guys who were opening a hospital with the Ambassador; they were on the phone when the attack started, and there was no mention of a protest, which would’ve been a pretty big deal.)

So, we need to actually make our own case, try to win the base before we try to peel folks off, and probably improve our communication networks.  I’m going to work even harder on applying this in person—when someone says something incredibly untrue in person, I’m going to politely correct them.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable and socially awkward, but that is what the other side’s tactics depend on.  At some point, the drunk in the party has to be confronted.  We’re there and past.

This is going to be especially hard on religious people.  There are a lot of very nice people who…well… voted for Obama because that’s what “nice” people do.  It’s never easy to stand up to family, no matter how wrong you know they’re being.

New Catholic Convert

From over at John Wright’s place, I heard mention of a guy who went from being the head of the Secular Free Thought Society (no jokes, please, they write themselvers) to converting to Catholicism, as told in State Press Magazine:

Imagine society’s collective shock if Hillary Clinton were to join the National Rifle Association…

Josh Horn’s friends were hit with a shock wave of that magnitude when Horn, then an ardent atheist, announced his resignation as president of the Secular Free Thought Society, an ASU club known for its skepticism of religion. Horn had committed the ultimate taboo and sealed his self-imposed excommunication with one act: he decided to become a Catholic.

Welcome home!

Where Are The Artists?

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of folks lamenting how modern art (especially Modern Art) doesn’t have anything to compare to, oh, the great cathedrals of Europe—according to some, doesn’t even have a decently sized mural.  Usually comes with a lot of talk of how soul-killing Walmart and their sort are, but not always.

Continue reading

Science And Religion

Yeah, that old favorite; Mr. Wright enters the fray again over at his blog, in a rather long and detailed post asking if science fiction is inherently opposed to religion.

Because this is the internet, the comments rather quickly head into attacking religion (ours and his, specifically), which he answers by explaining in detail the reasons he’s now Catholic.

I was inspired to post what is mostly a “hey, go read this!” after several great comments by folks other than the author, culminating in this one:

 If some earnest scientist did the experiment outlined above, and then said to the nearest Catholic (not even going as high as the Pope) “I have conclusively proven that what you say happens during the celebration of the Eucharist does not, since this sample still has the same qualities of wine after the words of institution were spoken as it did beforehand, and so it has not turned into the blood of an Iron-Age Semitic male from Roman-occupied Galilee, and so all your beliefs are false and God does not exist”, then the Catholic would say “Dude, I *know* that already. We talked about it back in the 13th century, even before they had spectrometers or chromatographs: Tommy A gave a definition of transubstantiation where he puts it in the technical philosophical language of “The accidents remain the same but the essence changes”.

Fast Friday

That’s “fast” like “quick,” not “fast” like, well, “fasting.”  I do go meatless, but that’s entirely beside the point.  The idea is things to make when the weak week is ending and I’m longing for a stiff drink ready for the weekend.  Maybe I’ll make a tradition of it, we’ll see.

Expect it to be thrifty, too, because I’m cheap like that.

Safeway has some lovely “party sized” dinners that I got because… well, they were about 25% off, and I’m lazy sleep deprived, and I love both lasagnas (five cheese and meat, respectively) and orange chicken.  Grabbed the cannelloni because it sounded like something to try.

Thus far:

$7 for five to ten servings.  Usually ten bucks plus tax.  Easily two evening’s dinner for us with the toddlers, plus a generous packed lunch.

Cooking time is a bit on the low side—by which I mean you’ll want to set it for the low timer, check it, and then let it go to the high suggested cooking time.

The cannelloni  was… er… well, TrueBlue says it didn’t taste right.  It tasted like salsa made of green peppers mixed with basic pasta and a good white cheese sauce to me.  Kept its form very well.

The cheese lasagna is WONDERFUL.  How good is it?  My husband willingly ate it when I wasn’t cooking only non-carne meals.  This is the guy that complains there’s not enough meat in his steak and potatoes….

The meat lasagna is good; not great, but better than I could make, and probably less expensive.  The meat seems to be rather spicy sausage, but not bad at all.  (Note, this is not to be interpreted as “spicy” or “hot” by the measure of most folks; more along the lines of mild-to-medium salsa.  Yes, I’m a wimp.)

Haven’t tried the Orange Chicken yet, we’ll see.

 

(update: fixed the name of the not-very-good baked dish; I blame that line from the Godfather movies)

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