July 2007 Archives

Artifact #A14

LA Hangout, bar portrait, 30 July 2007.

Movie review: The Simpsons Movie

So I attended the 12:01 showing of The Simpsons Movie because, well, I felt like being a part of something.

The AMC Theatre Oldsmar was packed -- a 500-seat sellout was in order, and the crowds ranged from parents with young kids to people my age, which is to say that it was all people my age or their kids. I was there early enough to secure a pretty decent seat, only to have the two seats next to me be occupied by an amazingly unattractive couple who spent the entire movie making out. Yes, they were making out during the Simpsons movie.

Anyway, I'd provide a better review of the movie except that it broke only a few minutes into the picture. It opens with the requisite Itchy & Scratchy picture, followed by an admonition of people who would pay money for something they can get on TV for free, and the lovely Lydian mode of Danny Elfman's "Simpsons Theme" which elicited a roar of applause from the crowd. A cameo by Green Day started the picture proper, and then the screen went black and the theatre lights came up.

Another roar ensued, this one of boos. The screen remained black and I started singing, loudly,


That got a laugh out of a lot of people. Fifteen minutes later, a full-scale riot was underway, with numerous red-hots being tossed at the screen, screaming, cursing, and lots of craning around backward to look at the projectionist's booth. Here I quote Duane Decker's 1947 book Good Field, No Hit (for the second time on this blog) where he speaks about hecklers at a baseball game:

They crane their necks to look for the heckler. They never see anything, but they always crane their necks.

Alas, there was nothing to see, and no usher or manager came out to explain what was happening to the crowd. After about twenty minutes the film resumed, to applause, though about 30 seconds past where the film had broke (and after what appeared to be the setup to a fairly large joke) leading the makeout couple next to me to yell, "rewind it!" and I turned to them and said "it's not a videotape, you can't rewind it" and I'd have said more except I realized the film was much quieter than when it had started, and this is a problem for comedy films, because the laughter covered up a lot of the lines of the film from this point on.

I was reminded of this moment from the series (click through if your RSS reader doesn't show YouTube clips:

So as far as I could tell, The Simpsons Movie was very funny, but I missed a lot of it for the aforementioned reasons, and I encourage you to see it, just make sure the theatre is loud and/or empty.

Lulz is a corruption of LOL


Today might be the greatest day in the history of the internets, even better than Chocolate Rain or TayRolling, because last night Fox 11 in Los Angeles spent five minutes investigating Anonymous.

(Click through to the post if you read via RSS/Bloglines, YouTube video embedded.)

Oh, that which could be said about the Internet menace that is Anonymous. This certainly has been quite a week for Anonymous, what with Chocolate Rain being on the front page of YouTube and the whole Fox News nonsense. In fact, it's been an interesting week for the continuing war between Fox and anonymous.

Just keep in mind two things:

Lulz is a corruption of LOL, and

this is when my buzzer goes

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It's been at least three weeks since I've had a normal night's sleep. Most of my sleep hasn't been at night at all, but from noon to 8pm or from 5pm to midnight or from 10am to 5pm. Last night I slept from midnight to 7am and I feel terrific today. I'm going to borrow Rob's bike and go tooling around the neighborhood this afternoon, I think.

I realized last night that I haven't had a crush on anyone in more than a year. This is after spending every waking moment since the age of 14 having a crush on at least one person. I guess it's a testament of Pinellas County that no one here is crushworthy. In any case, I feel like less than a whole person as a result, and I'm looking to resolve this situation.

The man has gone completely mad

President Bush is speaking live on television right now. He just said something so absurd ... I'm almost at a loss for words. Almost.

"People will try and tell you [Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11]...it's like they watch a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun and saying he's just there to cash a check."


It's a triangle

The rise and fall of Starter Jackets


My sleepwear options change on a nightly basis. Sometimes I wear a white, longsleeve Texas Longhorns T-shirt with one of my orange pairs of J.Crew pajama pants. Sometimes it's a Napoleon High School Tennis t-shirt with forbidden gym shorts, or one of my many sports jerseys (few of which are actually mine, save the 1984 Bernie Kosar Miami Hurricanes throwback and the 1998 Carolina Hurricanes Sean Burke jersey). A trip through my closet is like a trip to the ultra-discount store, which is not coincidence as I obtained many of these items at the ultra-discount store.

This image courtesy the STARTER JACKET FETISH SITE. No, srsly.
Last night, I wore one of those "borrowed" jerseys, namely a New Jersey Devils belonging to my brother (Hot Dog Man, you haven't been looking for your Devils jerseys, have you?) The back of the jersey notes that it was manufactured by Starter, which made me wonder,

"What happened to Starter Jackets (and related clothing)?"

Once the domain of athletes, gangsta rappers, and actual gangstas (and gangsta wannabes) Starter clothes have virtually disappeared from Foot Lockers and Champs Sports locations nationwide. Where once an Oakland Raiders Starter jacket identified one as an "O.G.," now the thugs and ballaz are wearing NASCAR gear (or at least they are here in St. Petersburg) proving that even the uneducated are capable of understanding irony. In the early '90s, Starter jackets found their way to the nightly news, as people were regularly shot and killed for their bulky, unattractive sportswear. The story of the rise and fall of Starter appears to be as-yet untold on the internets, so here I am, telling it.

Michael Wilbon says that throwback uniforms are today what Starter Jackets were in the late 1980's.[1] The source of the success, he alleges, is the same: hip-hop culture.

Starter was once the darling of the sports world, having exclusive contracts with, among others, Major League Baseball; in 2000, MLB switched contracts to Majestic Apparel, and that seems to be the beginning of the downfall (though, notably, the New York Yankees consistently wore their old Starter Jackets throughout 2000[2] ).

Contemporary news articles most often feature Starter Jackets in descriptions of crime suspects, such as:

Police were seeking a black man, 24, with a dark complexion, wearing a blue Starter Jacket with white lettering (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 27 August 2000)

Police say the gunman is a black male in his late teens, wearing blue jeans and a blue Starter Jacket (Little Rock Democrat-Gazette, 25 September 1997)

His accomplice was described as 25-30 years old, 6 feet and 200 pounds. He was wearing a ball cap and a University of Miami Starter Jacket (Columbus Dispatch, 21 June 1999)

A man wearing a black Starter Jacket, blue jeans, and brown boots got out of the car with a gun drawn, punched the victim in the side of the face and demanded money (Newark Star-Ledger, 17 April 2003)

Elyria police Detective Chuck Gallion said Steckman used candy, beer and Starter Jackets to persuade pre-adolescent boys to have sex with him (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 September 1997)

Starter Corporation was founded in New Haven in 1971 by David Beckerman. By the mid-90's, it was selling $365 million in sports apparel. Did the association with crime (both in suspects' descriptions and murders over the jackets themselves) lead major sports organizations to end their affiliation with Starter?

As it turns out, Starter faded into obscurity for a several reasons:

1. The hockey and baseball labor stoppages of 1994.

Hockey didn't start its 94-95 season until January, and baseball's season ended August 12th -- making for a quiet sports autumn. Starter, which had exclusive contracts with both, saw earnings fall $33.3 million in 1994 and the company never recovered. While the $4.8 million deficit did improve to a meager $1 million profit line in 1995, shareholders weren't impressed, and the company that went public at $21.50 a share was staring at $5 a share only two years later.[3] It's possible this is mere coincidence, but the association is striking.

2. Starter made inferior merchandise but sold it at upscale establishments.
because its products sucked. "No one ever bought a Starter Jacket because it was the warmest jacket out there," explains a retailer, "They bought it because it was a cool brand."[4] Nike and Reebok were much better-prepared to produce quality athletic apparel, and were prepared to sell it at discount prices -- something Starter refused to do.

3. Brand extension instead of brand expansion.

Starter could have mitigated its problems by seeking new markets for athletic wear (a brand expansion) like non-licensed performance apparel (a role now filled by Under Armour) or non-mainstream sports (soccer, Arena League). Instead, they extended their brand to children's wear by Disney, school supplies, and socks.

In 1996, Brandweek wrote "Once the ship is righted, the vision is a Starter that could look a lot like Nike or Reebok."

As it turns out, Starter declared bankruptcy in 1999, and was purchased for $46 million by a consortium led by, yes, Value City (bringing this post around full-circle if you bothered to click the link in my introduction).

So that's where Starter went.

  • Wilbon, Michael. "Throwback jerseys: An old fashion statement." Washington Post, 6 February 2003: D01.
  • Robbins, Lenn. "Wrong Yankee Jackets? Sew What?" New York Post, 18 October 2000: 069.
  • Lefton, Terry. "Starter: In licensed athletic apparel, Starter owned authentic." Brandweek, 9 September 1996: 52.
  • Jacobsen, Michael. "Performance ANXIETY." Sporting Goods Dealer, 1 January 2004.
  • The internets are broken

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    If you don't get this, I feel sorry for you, but one must /b/ow to pressure. And if you're reading via RSS or Bloglines, you'll need to click through to the actual page. This... is... Chocolate Rain guy Rick Rolling himself.

    It's like worlds colliding. It's like your ex-girlfriend sleeping with the brother of the girl you slept with five years prior. Erm, no, it's not like that, I assure you.

    i hate myself

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    i just made a lolcat. photo taken of mouse and Chase (the new dog) a few days ago.

    Hassles and frustration

    We've been trying for several days now to migrate to the new server. Most of this is nerdage, but the problems result from the following:

    1. The newest version of Debian (and Ubuntu) ship with Apache 2.2, which is not out-of-the-box compatible with FastCGI, which is pretty much a requirement for Movable Type (and Rails, which the rest of EW is going to be running). You can recompile Apache to make it work, but the fixes posted on the web all fail when I try them.

    2. The next option is using Lighty, but I can't get it to work with FastCGI either. It just keeps failing and the web fixes don't seem to make it work either.

    3. I tried using NginX with a Mongrel cluster, and that didn't work either.

    My roommate's boyfriend is a server admin, but he only uses Windows (ha) so he's no help. I'm pretty frustrated as I've sunk many hours into this and can't get anything working. Linux is such an enormous pain in the ass it's amazing anyone even uses it; then again, EW has been running on Debian Drake for two years now and it's been pretty much flawless. We'll keep cracking, and maybe grab an image of Ubuntu Edgy or something that uses Apache 2.0.

    Artifact #A13

    epic win, and a video you should see

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    Scott Kazmir pwn3d Roger Clemens tonight. Clemens, your fastball is made of fail.

    Also, I rediscovered this video from Norway tonight, which I forgot to share with you all when I first saw it. It is the greatest thing on the Internet outside of Thursday night's Habbo raid. It has more than a million views, which means you have a 0.5% chance of having seen it already.


    Hooray, Norway!

    Florida: "Don't touch our flag"

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    I wrote this for Sticks of Fire, but as Tommy's on vay-kay I thought I'd post it here.

    A Tampa man is in jail for violating Florida's flag-desecration law.

    Police say 45-year-old Donnie White stomped on the flag, sat on it, and "rubbed it on himself." He's charged under Florida statute 876.52, under the category "Criminal Anarchy, Treason, and Other Crimes Against Public Order" (check it out, it's almost entirely made up of laws aimed at the KKK):

    Public mutilation of flag.--Whoever publicly mutilates, defaces, or tramples upon or burns with intent to insult any flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States or of Florida shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

    First degree misdemeanors are punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. It isn't White's first clash with the cops; Hillsborough County records show several open container and disorderly conduct violations. Yet Donnie may have more than a public defender on his side this time around; flag desecration laws were struck down by the 1989 Texas v. Johnson Supreme Court case (one my Public Speaking students know very well).

    I love America. I cheer for us in the Olympics and World Cup. I vote. I blow sh*t up on Independence Day. I have a flag I fly from time to time. Yet I recognize the semiotic difference between signifier and signified. Donnie White wasn't stomping on America; he was stomping on the symbol of an idea -- an idea that, by way of the First Amendment, protects his right to stomp on it (though I doubt Donnie had any particular political expression in mind).

    Flag desecration laws are fairly ludicrous on their face, however -- regardless of their unconstitutionality. This is for several reasons:

    1. The U.S. Flag Code is regularly violated. Here's a few examples:

    2. To ban desecration of an object, you have to define that object. How do you define the American Flag? If I draw it on a blackboard with chalk, am I not allowed to erase the blackboard? If I make an American Flag cake am I not allowed to eat it?

    3. What, exactly, is desecration? How do you delineate between burning the flag in protest and burning it to dispose of a used or worn flag?

    Certainly if this story makes any kind of national news, the ACLU will come to Donnie White's aid -- and they should, as Florida's law is in clear violation of Texas v. Johnson. Interestingly enough, Donnie would be in the same situation if he'd stomped on the Confederate flag -- that's illegal in Florida too.


    I hate the All-Star game, but...

    This was awesome.

    Adventures in last-year post comments

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    This doesn't count as a real post, but some jackass replied to this post from last year about the tatted-up punter that I saw during the Tampa Bay game on TV:

    he was also a safety in college dipshit, oh and he runs a 4.3 40 and bench presses nearly 380lbs. check the facts next time before you clown on someone else. oh and by the way i bet your butterfly tatoo on your back would go great in the nfl too

    I dunno, knowing such intimate details about a punter? Sounds kinda... you know. He has an Indiana State email address, though the punter went to Illinois, so who knows.

    If you are replying to a year-old blog post, it means you're searching for that name. I dunno what the phrase was, exactly, all StatCounter says is "handjob Indians game" which I'm thinking is someone else.

    The decline of rap, kinda

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    I like the number seventeen. It's prime, was worn by luminescent figures like Brian Sipe, is the age of the titled girl in the Winger song, the number of wallpaper groups, and the year ancient Rome's Alex Trebek Livy died.

    Thus in order to prove my point I will take us back seventeen years, to 1990. Specifically, to November 13th, 1990, the day Tim Berners-Lee wrote the world's first web page. George Bush was president (just like he is today!!! ZOMG) and the Virgin Mary was telling us the world had begun to end.

    But this is not a post about the web or Tim Berners-Lee or George Bush or people high on peyote. It is a post about crappy music, and how in seventeen years, the nature of music has changed in a dangerous and creepy manner. I may be sounding like a curmudgeon, and I may be asking you to get off my lawn. But by looking at the #2 song on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 13th, 1990, compared to the #2 song on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 6th, 2007, we can learn a lot about where American culture has gone -- and where it's going. Oh, and if you're going to argue that 1990 was a particularly bad year for music, I point you to the top five songs for the year on the Hot 100 -- Wilson Phillips "Hold On," Roxette "It Must Have Been Love," Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U," Bell Biv Devoe "Poison," and Madonna "Vogue." You wouldn't skip a single one of them if they came up on your iPod shuffle. Admit it.

    #2 song in 1990 : "Pray," by MC Hammer

    #2 song today: "Party Like A Rock Star" by Shop Boys

    First let's look at the similarities between the two songs:

    * Title of song repeated ad nauseam (more than 100 times for "Pray," 49 times in "Party")
    * Scantily-clad women
    * "Rap"
    * References to being down on one's knees
    * Horrible lyrics

    There are, however, significant differences. Let's look at a sample of the lyrics from "Pray."

    Time and time and time and time again
    I kept on knocking,but these people wouldn't let me in
    I tried and tried and tried and tried to make a way
    But nothing happened till that day I prayed

    ...and those from "Party Like A Rock Star."

    bitches wanna marry me
    they see me they just might panic
    my ice make em go down quick
    like the Titanic!

    And, so, the differences:

    * Titles of songs: Dichotomy of holy vs. sinful behavior
    * Scantily clad women: Praying in one, stripping in the other

    Listening to "Pray" today, it doesn't even sound like a pop song. It sounds like contemporary Christian music, except it WASN'T. It was a major hit single. It, and its remix, were on heavy rotation on MTV. It was a song about NOT SMOKING WEED. "Party Like A Rock Star" is about SMOKING AS MUCH WEED AS POSSIBLE. "Pray" was popular and it had a video ABOUT PRAYING and featured Hammer BREAKING UP A FIGHT (also popular in 1983). Huh?

    Now, I am not a cannibiphobe by any means. I don't project this change in mores as the downfall of American morality or culture, and, frankly, I want to make it clear that I would never press for any sort of censorship by any means. But Christ, people! In one generation we've gone from "We got to pray just to make it today" to "Hoe don't you know I fuck wit fine dimonds" as the pinnacle of American music production.

    If you can explain exactly how we got from there to here, I'd love to hear it.

    TV review: Kyle XY


    "Have you seen [insert television show here]?"

    While I watch a lot of television, and will defend that behavior, I probably think the show you're asking me about sucks, whether I've seen it or not. 90% of television sucks. The list of television that does not suck is short, and consists mainly of the following (this list is very short as most good television programs have been canceled):

    ESPN College GamedayBoston LegalFamily Guy
    The OfficeER (it does NOT suck)Numb3rs
    The Daily ShowThe Colbert ReportNBC Nightly News
    A show to be named later

    You'd think that if there was a television show on a major network like ABC, I'd have heard about it. I would also tell you, having never seen it, that it sucks.

    Somehow, a show named Kyle XY slipped under my radar for an entire year. It ran a full 10 episode summer season in 2006, and the 2007 season premiered a few weeks ago. I'm only on episode six so far (I found the damn thing on a site involving ninjas or Swedish pirates or something) and it's already breaking my head open and carving out pieces with a spork.

    And that's a good thing.

    The ABC website makes Kyle XY sound like a science-fiction program, as does the title (note to producers, we read words and phrases from the outside in, meaning at first glance, the title appears to refer to butt lubricant), but it is not science fiction, and that is why I think it does not suck.

    Hello, I'm Matt Dallas, and I'm 24 years old. The actress who plays my love interest on the show is sixteen, but that's totally cool, because we film in Canada.
    Kyle (six episodes in, the XY part has not been explained, but I will assume it refers to his sex chromosomes, or perhaps his amazing mathematics skills) is a fit, alleged 16-year-old who is found naked in a forest with complete amnesia and a lack of language skills. A lovely upper-middle-class family of a psychologist, computer nerd, 16-year-old ugly girl and 14-year-old pipsqueak (who later goes skinny dipping with a girl "his age" played by an actress clearly... more developed) takes him in "temporarily." He knows nothing of our strange world, yet instead of becoming an unfrozen caveman lawyer, he becomes...


    Maybe Kyle XY is supposed to be science-fiction, or a drama about teens, but at its heart it's a show about ethnography. Kyle provides voiceovers (clearly long after the fact, as his voiceovers accompany the several episodes in which he has no use of verbal language) describing the strange world he's observing. Better yet, he does it on such a minute basis that he is a veritable Edmund Husserl -- yes, it's phenomenology in action!

    Wait, no, it's episode six and now he's using a Ouija board.

    Did I mention "young" Kyle has no navel? It's true. His stomach is quite literally flat. He can't swim, until he takes a swim lesson and becomes Mark Spitz. He doesn't know anything, until he reads the World Book in one afternoon. His sensory perception is amazing (which makes him a badass ethno-phenomenologist). Oh, and he knows Kung Fu. As in, Keanu Reeves, "I know Kung Fu." No, really, that's pretty much how it happened. But let's meet the rest of the family.

    Hello, I'm April Matson, and I'm ugly.
    April Matson plays Lori, the elder Trager sibling, and she somehow manages to be a) popular and b) dating the hot, rich stud despite that she is butt-ugly. She even loses her virginity on-camera, which is way less hot than televised teen deflowerings ought to be. The disaster is further exacerbated by how often she's found in a bikini on the show. Her "boyfriend" is Declan, a dumbass jock who just ran over somebody in his car. He could do so much better than this fat, stupid ho.

    I don't feel like describing the rest of the family. I do want to talk about the hot neighbor girl, whom is presented as Kyle's "love interest" of sorts (she instigates his first boner! Yes, this show takes on all sorts of teen issues! It's like an afterschool special where everyone drinks and has sex, without the awkward "ramifications" and "lessons" and "educational value"!)

    Hello, I'm Kirsten Prout, and I'm hot. ERR, I mean, I'm sixteen.
    Meet Amanda, the piano-playing life-saving smart girl next door. She takes a liking to Kyle even after he breaks into her house, essentially violates her, and tries valiantly to break up her relationship with a nameless loser. High school sucks. Amanda has a touching scene with Kyle in his bathtub, which is really kind of crossing lines of proper television when you consider that Kyle sleeps in the bathtub.

    Oh, snap. Episode seven, Kyle is the second coming of Peter Press Maravich. And now Amanda's boyfriend is recruiting him to join the star basketball team. (The basketball team is in the "finals." The high school year just started last week. I guess time goes faster during the abbreviated summer season.)

    I'll check back in with you all after I'm caught up. Sorry for the TL, hope you didn't ;DR me. Oh, and tomorrow we'll look at Flight of the Conchords.

    Yes, this is in the category of "sports."

    Today is "Independence Day" in the United States. What is "Independence Day?" Perhaps we should consult Encyclopedia Dramatica:

    The 4th of July is one of several United States holidays created to whip up patriotic American feelings and remind the rest of the world that they better not fuck with us. Also known as Independence Day, it was originally started by a small terrorist gang because they hated the civilized, British way of life, with its incessant tea & crumpets routine, and loose talk about abolishing slavery. Since then, the 4th of July has become an endearingly fetishized annual occasion for parades, picnics, and sex parties, that make the USA the world’s most admired nation.

    I love the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating competition at Coney Island in New York. I like it so much I recorded a song about it. It's maybe the best song ever written about hot dogs. Evar.


    Anyway, so last night I celebrated with this girl and her boyfriend, by running around in the LA Hangout with sparklers while hitting on the girl, in unabashed fashion. Oh, and we did Mudkip shots. (Citing ED twice in one post? Crazy.)

    Apparently I am seeing some band play in St. Petersburg tonight. i don't know what band is playing, but I know who's opening for them, so we have that going for us. It's Basic Rock Outfit, a band that somehow avoids the natural suckiness of being from Tampa.

    Oh, yeah, and then there's the hot dog eating competition. Click the jump to read about that... LIVE.

    Myspace has issues

    I hate Myspace. I've never tried to hide that fact. I feel about Myspace similarly to how I feel about Barry Bonds: if I was big, and I saw Myspace on the street, I'd punch him in the face. Maybe I'd hit him in the face with a full can of mace. I'd definitely kick Myspace in the knees. Having a Myspace is almost a necessity, alas, and thus I have a personal myspace, a music Myspace, and a comedy Myspace. I might just get rid of my Myspaces, though, because I'm getting awfully tired of the constant spam. Don't believe me?

    That was my Gmail inbox this morning. At least dealing with Myspace spammers, scammers, and porno..ers is easier now than it used to be. It used to be that when you received a friend request from a scammer, you had to go to their page and "report" them to Myspace. You had to write up a review, and there was the giant WARNING THIS DOES NOT GO TO TOM message and you felt like you were reporting on the party next door not because they were too loud but because you weren't invited. Now you can just click the friend request as "spam." Still, though, it's pretty much rendered using Myspace for anything useful, well, useless.

    And now Facebook is becoming more and more like Myspace every day -- with good reason, as Zuckerberg needs to create a profitable enterprise so as to get the $2 billion he wants from Yahoo! to sell Facebook. Facebook blows, too, now, but at least the site works more often than not. Myspace is fundamentally broken, and is possibly the most popular disaster since the reign of Caligula.

    hah -- traffic stats

    So, yeah, people really wanted their Chris Benoit updates.

    Went and saw SiCKO again last night. It was a 12:35 showing, which means the two-hour-long movie started at 1:00 am. Which means I didn't get out of BayWalk until three.

    Which means I didn't get to bed until awfully late, especially since I stopped at IHOP on the way home and was suckered in by their strawberry French Toast. So, yeah, my sleep schedule's still all f*cked up.


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      This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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