Blacklisting Tainted Artists

Oh, here we go. College professor Sandra Beasley is as wrong as wrong can be here:

When you are a writer who learns a beloved author has a dark side, you experience waves of disillusionment. When you teach that author’s work, you feel an additional stab of concern: What about my syllabus?

Why on earth would you? She goes on to explain why she does that. Excerpts:

I was the student who lost her composure when the famed science-fiction author launched into homophobic vitriol. After the conversation was over, I looked at the hardback edition I had just bought, signed and jacketed in its beautiful cover, and dropped it in the corner of my dorm room. Now, 20 years and four books later, I’ve been adjacent to every range of author behavior. There’s a lot of generosity, and grace, and talent. There’s also more than a few nightmares: arrogant, vindictive or on the prowl.

You’d throw away a book you loved because you found out the writer is a jerk? I don’t get that at all. A friend of mine the other day — a hardcore leftie secularist — was visibly shocked and crestfallen when I told her that J.R.R. Tolkien was a Catholic, and that his Catholic faith informed The Lord of the Rings. She told me that I ruined it for her. That is something I do not understand. In fact, not only do I not understand it, I push back hard against it. If we start judging works of art by the character of the artists, where do we stop?

The Venn diagram of “artists” and “saints” has almost no intersection. I hate the off-the-rack Bohemianism holding that real artists are hedonists. Flannery O’Connor was no hedonist. Wallace Stevens sold insurance. Tom Wolfe, who just passed, dwelled among the acidheads in the 1960s, but he never went native — and his ability to observe closely but not be captured by those he observed was a key to his talent.

On the other hand, it’s equally childish to expect artists to be good people. If I started talking about the seamy private lives of accomplished artists and other creative types, we could be here all day, and exhaust ourselves. As I write this, I’m looking on my bookshelf at a collection of Truman Capote short stories. Capote was immensely talented — a talent he wasted on decadent living, and an early death. Nothing about his private life takes away from his artistic accomplishment. I wouldn’t have to cast my eyes over many titles on my bookshelves to find other authors about whom I could say the same thing. Or musicians.

Or filmmakers. Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite, a philanderer, and a hot mess. He is also a hell of a filmmaker (ever seen Apocalypto?) If Mel Gibson’s personal politics and opinions make it hard for you to watch a Mel Gibson movie, okay. But if you deny your students the opportunity to study a Mel Gibson movie because you find him personally objectionable, the sin is yours, not Mel Gibson’s.

Beasley goes on:

If your love of literature is grounded in erecting a wall between authors and their work, then you have your philosophy. I respect that. I’m a stickler for addressing “the speaker” of a poem, never the poet. But let’s say that it’s my student heading out the door to meet that poet — a jerk whose work I once adored without reservation. I will have an instinct to pull her aside, to say, Hey, just be aware. If there’s still space for that poet on my syllabus, there certainly needs to be space for that conversation, too.

Well, that makes sense. So look, don’t go have a drink with Junot Diaz (who has recently been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct) or Mel Gibson. But don’t cut them from the syllabus.

More Beasley:

To put someone on a syllabus is to privilege them with our attention. We’re saying, This is worth your time. Unless we actively complicate the conversation, our students will perceive that as a form of admiration.

I don’t know. That sounds to me like a secular version of the sort of thing one hears from a certain kind of Christian: that whether or not an artist is a Christian matters in how you view that artist and his work. Christians who actually appreciate art complain all the time about how third-rate most consciously Christian art is. I believe it’s important to police the line between artistic merit and the personal characteristics of the artist. Otherwise, you get shlock made by lovely people who believe all the right things.

One last bit from Beasley:

Are we inviting students into a tall tower from which the world is viewed at a distance? Or are we giving them a compass to navigate toward the horizon? We ask readers to analyze the impact of enjambments, and to differentiate third-person limited point of view from omniscience. So let’s trust them to incorporate nuanced, even troubling information about authors into their knowledge of the work.

Or choose other authors. To not allow dynamics of our era to inflect how we teach is to gird the argument that literature is a self-contained and impractical pursuit. If your principal hesitation is that you’ll struggle to come up with replacement authors while remaining inclusive, consider that the diversity you’ve congratulated yourself on is merely tokenism in disguise.

I have a better idea: why not choose authors based not on their biographies, but on the quality of their work? Crazy, right? I think it just might work. Beasley lists some other American Indian and Hispanic writers to substitute on syllabi from which professors have exiled Sherman Alexie and Junot Diaz for being pigs. How is that not tokenism?

Terry Teachout objects to the news that the Metropolitan Opera has decided not to rebroadcast performances conducted by James Levine, because he is a disgusting, abusive lecher. Here’s more info on what the Metropolitan Opera has done:

Performances by former Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine were withdrawn from the company’s Sirius XM satellite and online radio channel, representing a large percentage of the company’s history. Levine, the company’s leading force as music or artistic director from 1976-2016, was fired as music director emeritus on March 12 after an investigation found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment.

He conducted 2,552 performances from 1971 through Dec. 2, the day accounts first appeared in the New York Post and The New York Times of sexual misconduct dating to the 1960s. He was suspended by the company the following day pending the Met’s investigation.

The Met said the last Levine broadcast was a performance of John Harbison’s “The Great Gatsby” on Dec. 10. The company said Levine’s performances “will be reintroduced to the programming at an appropriate time.”

This is insane, and immoral! It’s a kind of blacklisting, except worse, because it goes back in time. James Levine certainly deserves public shaming for his behavior, and he deserved to be fired. But by what kind of Stalinist ethic does all the music produced under his baton become so tainted that no one can listen to it? What about all the musicians and singers who are on those recordings?

This has to stop. It has to. This moral panic.

UPDATE: Now look:

Last week, Spotify flexed its new hate content policy by removing the music of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion, two artists with a long history of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse, from its playlists and algorithmic recommendations. Now, women’s advocacy group UltraViolet is urging the streaming giant to do the same with other artists accused of sexual abuse.

In an open letter, UltraViolet executive director Shaunna Thomas specifically calls out the likes of Chris Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley of The Eagles, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Tekashi 6ix9ine, and Ted Nugent, citing them as artists “who continue to profit from your promotion.”

“Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse,” she writes. “That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist.”

No. No, no, no. From what I know about R. Kelly, he is as scuzzy as they come. But banning his music from Spotify because of “hate”? You give these SJWs an inch, they’ll take a mile.

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SOTG Approved Night Fision Sights Launched at NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas

Night Fision Student Of The Gun Accur8 GLOCK Sights
Night Fision Student Of The Gun Accur8 GLOCK Sights

Saratoga, Wyoming – -(Ammoland.com)- On Saturday, May 5th, 2018, Night Fision and Student of the Gun announced the release of the Accur8 Tritium sights at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits held in Dallas, Texas.

The Accur8 Tritium sights are a collaborative effort between Paul Markel of Student of the Gun and Night Fision. These Tritium sights are precision machined from high-quality steel, built in the USA with Swiss Tritium, and are brighter than ever before. The front sight is surrounded by a brightly colored polymer to enhance sight visibility in all light conditions.

Initially released for the GLOCK 17 sight cut, the Accur8 Tritium sights were made to offer Point of Aim/Point of Impact at 50 feet using 124 grain 9x19mm ammunition. Sight offerings for other handgun models are coming soon.

“A great deal of thought and testing went into the development of these sights,” said Paul Markel veteran trainer and firearms instructor. “I am pleased to have the Student of the Gun name associated with Night Fision and these sights.”

“ We are very excited to be working with Paul on this exciting project,” said Jacob Herman, Director of Sales, Night Fision,” As Night Fision is the countries foremost expert in precision tritium we felt that we had to bring a sight like the Accur8 to market.

Accur8 sights are available for immediate purchase at the Night Fision website.

Get Yours Today

Night FisionAbout Night Fision

Based in Metro Detroit, Night Fision brings a rich background in automotive engineering, lead manufacturing, and expertise in tritium illumination to the firearms industry. Its sister company, Cammenga, is the official manufacturer of the U.S. Army’s Tritium Lensatic Compass and provides them to national militaries around the world. As a result, Night Fision utilizes over 25 years of tritium insertion and military-grade manufacturing expertise to provide the best tritium night sights in the market today. The company’s proprietary Perfect Dot, combined with CNC precision machined bodies and a higher concentration of tritium gas, allows for the creation of the highest quality firearm night sights with enhanced brightness at a lower price than the leading competitor.

StudentoftheGun.com is your 24/7 source for all manner of on-demand firearm and outdoor related topics.

SOTG offers education, enlightenment, enjoyment, and entertainment through on-demand video material, online articles, books, DVDs, live-training events, and online training courses.

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Being a Student of the Gun is not about being a novice or beginner. Student of the Gun represents a life’s journey of education, enlightenment, and the enjoyment of firearms.

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Student of the Gun offers education, enlightenment, enjoyment, and entertainment through on-demand television, radio, and articles as well as; books, DVDs, live-training events, and online training courses.

Get Student of the Gun on-demand in the palm of your hand by downloading their mobile app on iTunes or Google Play.

ABOUT THE HOST

Paul G. Markel Takes Aim
Paul G. Markel

Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor.

Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for more than two decades, with hundreds of articles in print and several #1 Amazon Bestselling books.

Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force.

Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program.

Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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Teacher assaulted cop, had pot and sex toys in car, police say

A Hudson County high school teacher was arrested Sunday night in Ridgefield Park after shoving a police officer in a parking garage, authorities said. Jean-Claude Santini, a teacher at Union City High School, is charged with resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, obstruction, and multiple drug offenses, Ridgefield Park police said.

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Two arrested after gunman opens fire on vehicle

BATON ROUGE- Two men have been arrested for their involvement in a shooting earlier this year. On February 25 while sitting in a vehicle in the 3900 block of Geronimo Street, a gunman opened fire on them. Though the victim’s vehicle was hit multiple times …

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Walker Percy & In-Breakings Of Grace

We are a couple of weeks away from this year’s Walker Percy Weekend — please buy your tickets if you haven’t yet! — and we have a great line-up of speakers and topics. Alas, it is my sad duty to inform you that for the first time in five years, my dear friend Ralph Wood of Baylor won’t be joining us. He couldn’t fit it into his travel schedule. But he will be there in spirit, and in more than spirit: one of his prize students, Jessica Hooten Wilson, will be there to promote her wonderful new book about Percy’s novels, and to teach a class on her favorite Percy novel, The Last Gentleman.

No Ralph Wood in St. Francisville this year, but here’s good news: there’s a Ralph Wood essay about Percy and Love In The Ruins in the new issue of TAC — and it’s available online, right here. Excerpt:

Percy’s philosophically astute psychiatrist identifies this far deeper trouble in a single lapidary claim: “Descartes ripped body loose from mind and turned the very soul into a ghost that haunts its own house.” Dr. More traces our illness to René Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher whose notorious motto was “Cogito, ergo sum: I think, therefore I am.” Descartes’ animating idea marked a fundamental “turn to the subject,” a relocation of ultimate authority in subjective human consciousness rather than any transcendent reality.

It is safe to say that, prior to Descartes, human reason seated itself either in the natural order or else in divine revelation. In the medieval tradition, reason brought these two thought-originating sources into harmony. Thus were mind, soul, and body regarded as having an inseparable relation: they were wondrously intertwined. So also, in this bi-millennial way of construing the world, was the created order seen as having multiple causes—first and final, no less than efficient and material causes. This meant that creation was not a thing that stood over against us, but as the realm in which we participate—living and moving and having our being there, as both ancient Stoics and St. Paul insisted. The physical creation was understood as God’s great book of metaphors and analogies for grasping his will for the world.

After Descartes, by contrast, the sensible realm becomes a purposeless thing, a domain of physical causes awaiting our own mastery and manipulation. Nature no longer encompasses humanity as its crowning participant. The soul drops out altogether and is replaced by disembodied mind. Shorn of its spiritual qualities, the mind becomes a calculating faculty for bare, abstract thinking. To yank the mind free from the body is also to untether it from history, tradition, and locality. After Descartes, the mind allegedly stands outside these given things so as to operate equally well at anytime and anywhere. Insofar as belief in God is kept at all, it is an entailment of the human. Atheism was sure to follow. Marx made truth itself a human production, whether social or economic. Nietzsche went further, insisted that nothing whatever can stand over against the human will to power, not even socially constructed truth. Hence the cry of Zarathustra: “If there were gods, how could I endure not to be a god!”

More:

As Wordsworth said of Milton, so might we plead: “Percy, wert thou living at this hour!” Though it’s 28 years past his death and 47 since publication of Love in the Ruins, he might call Christians to a similar kind of hope. Though he would be witty rather than solemn, I believe he would summon his fellow believers, not to a culture war against the twin evils of the left and the right, but rather to a drastic renewal of our badly fractured churches. Father Rinaldo Smith’s tiny flock might find its successors in small gatherings of Christians from across the denominations in order that the Gospel might survive amidst the Dark Ages that have already begun. Aboard the church’s rickety ark riding out the storm, these remnant Christians would create communities of refuge for those who desire “a better country” (Heb. 11:14) than our bestial and angelic Cities of the Plain.

For nearly a half century, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been making a similar summons. He has confessed that we Christians are likely to remain a permanent minority from here on in—barring, of course, a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a phoenix-like rebirth from our moral and spiritual ashes. We Christians will never be in charge of things again, the future pope acknowledged. We seem to be back where we began—as a minority faith in an overwhelmingly pagan world. Hence these startling words from a 1969 radio address entitled “What Will the Church Be Like in 2000?”:

She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members…. The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek…. But when the trial [of] this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church.

Yet it’s not as if two millennia of Christian existence have made no difference. In a 1997 interview with Peter Seewald, a German atheist reporter, Cardinal Ratzinger declared that we have been given two unparalleled gifts wherewith to build such enclaves of radical Christian excellence: (1) the inexhaustible fund of Christian thought and art, and (2) the unsurpassable witness of our saints and martyrs. On a sure prophetic and sacramental foundation, such mustard seed churches will “live in an intensive struggle against evil.” They will seek to keep “what is essential to man from being destroyed.” They will bring “good into the world,” prophesied the future pope, and thus “let God in.”

This, of course, is what The Benedict Option is based on. I’m not going to spoil the rest of the long essay by telling you what Ralph has to say about all this — and what Percy does — but I hope you will check it out.

These passages from Ralph’s essay really hit home with me this week. I am re-writing the proposal for my next book. In fact, just thinking about Ralph, and Walker Percy, prompted me to pour myself a finger or two of this incredible Reservoir bourbon my Virginia friends gave me recently (see photo). It’s the best sipping whiskey I’ve tasted in ages.

I submitted a proposal for the next book, and had it returned by my editor with the comment that it reads, as is, like the takeaway is, “We should all spend more time thinking about Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.” I missed the mark, then. I wouldn’t read a book as dull and worthy-sounding as that one. I’ve got to find the edge.

A friend suggested that I ought to consider the paradox I inhabit: I spend my days howling like Jeremiah on this blog about how the sky is falling, but in person, I am cheerful and amiable. How do I keep up hope despite it all? Part of it is my disposition, I think; nobody who likes to eat and to drink and to tell funny stories as much as I do can ever be permanently gloomy. But there is philosophical and theological seriousness there too. It has to do with the culture of the Christian church, and with the kind of people (at their best) that Christianity produces.

It has something to do as well with the profound sense of meaning, meaning embedded in the material world, that comes from my Christian faith. That is to say, from a sacramental view of life. And it has to do with the fact that like Percy, I’m a natural ironist who is inclined to see the absurdity in life, and to cherish it.

How to talk about this in a way that doesn’t sound insufferably abstract or worthwhile-Canadian-initiative-ish?

And there’s this, which another friend pointed out to me. My wife once said that I’m a “weirdo magnet,” meaning that I have this uncanny ability to draw unusual people and unusual events to me. She’s right about that. I bat far above average in having encounters with the numinous, and with people who also have had them. I think that being open to them certainly helps — that, and the fact that I don’t mind talking about these mysteries openly. You’d be surprised by what people will tell you has happened to them once they know that you won’t automatically call them crazy for saying so. My friend, a solid, Ivy-educated professional who has had run-ins with the numinous himself, says that I should write about people like me: those “who had their faith in secularism destroyed by the collapse of the immanent frame and a kind of supernatural invasion.”

I think he’s onto something there too. But how to tie it all together? How to tie it all together into a book that actual people will read, and argue about?

Maybe I’ll get an idea or two at Walker Percy Weekend. Say, if you’re coming, I hope you’ll show up at the off-the-menu conversation I’ll be hosting on the back porch at the Magnolia Cafe with Fare Forward‘s Charlie Clark, about his essay “The Walker Percy Option.” TAC is sponsoring the event, and will provide frosty longnecks for ticket holders, though you don’t have to be a ticket-holder to come to the talk (only to get free beer). “If the Benedict Option imagines a faithful remnant waiting out the flood, the Walker Percy Option imagines an unfaithful one, nonetheless borne up by grace,” writes Charlie. More:

Like all Christians, Percy believed that man’s immortal soul had been jeopardized by his fall from grace, that his original connection to the divine had been severed by sin. But he saw the problem of modernity through a narrower lens. Influenced by existentialism, he saw that man had fallen not only from grace, but (more recently) from himself as well. Moderns were uncomfortable in their own skin, alienated from their daily lives, restless, angry—and this in spite of unprecedented wealth and leisure. Like the secular existentialists of his age, Percy became convinced that something about modernity hampered human flourishing. It blocked not just the special grace by which the monks attended to the counsels of perfection, it interfered with the common, everyday grace that makes an ordinary life feel worth living.

Percy’s anti-modernism is not reactionary. He does not propose to re-erect a premodern social imaginary “amid the high tide of liquid modernity,” as Dreher says. When his characters imagine a coming calamity that will usher in a new order, it is a sign of madness, not wisdom. Rather, Percy’s vision is forward-looking, synthetic—even syncretistic. It tolerates a high degree of imperfection, the rough edges that are the mark of all real and natural things. He envisioned a new humanism, one that combined an affirmation of animal life with an openness to higher perfections, and which could rescue believer and unbeliever alike from the common disaster of estrangement from their selves. This vision, Percy’s Bad Catholic Existentialism, may not promise eternal salvation, but it does create occasions for further in-breakings of grace. The cure for our modern ills can be found through cathedral doors—and not just behind monastery walls.

Creating occasions for further in-breakings of grace. Hmmm … I like the way this is going.

I hope we see you at the Mag on Friday afternoon, June 1, to talk about all this — and that we see you for the rest of the weekend as well. Again, buy tickets here.

The Magnolia Cafe, St. Francisville, La.

 

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin say US ‘wrong’ to abandon Iran nuclear deal

According to Russian newspaper Kommersant, in the final year of Putin’s third term as president, he spoke to Erdogan 20 times, double that of other world leaders. Relations between Turkey and the US are strained over multiple issues including Washington’s …

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Don’t Let Defense Contract Losers Block Options for Taxpayers

Defense contracting is hard to get right. Unelected government officials dealing out princely sums naturally creates an area of government that is ripe for cronyism and waste if not overseen properly. That’s why the Government Accountability Office has had Department of Defense contracts on its High Risk List since 1992 for programs that are vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. And it’s also why it’s so important that when the DoD awards a contract based on merit and not access, all participants know the reasons and understand the rules of the process.

The battle for the DoD’s cloud-computing contract, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), has been heating up for months. Though the DoD initially solicited proposals from single entities as well as multiple companies cooperating together, its decision to make the contract single-award angered many smaller contractors. A larger corporation, such as Amazon, now appears to be the favorite to take home the lucrative contract, which will be worth billions of dollars.

Naturally, some in Congress who are familiar with traditional contracts and the companies who pursue them have begun to cry foul. And some of the remedies they’ve proposed — such as regular reports and justifications for the single-award decision — are smart precautions. Transparency is important.

Companies such as Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM have argued that a single-award contract is “unfair” and implied that Congress should step in and change the rules. Some opinion pages have followed suit — even the Spectator’s Mytheos Holt made a similar argument back in March. Yet this mistakes the purpose of the DoD contracting process — it’s not to give everyone a piece of the pie, it’s to ensure that the DoD gets the best value and service for taxpayer money. And that’s exactly what the DoD’s process is attempting to achieve in this case: it allowed itself the opportunity to evaluate the relative benefits of choosing a single provider or multiple, and decided to go with just one.

In justifying its choice for a single provider, the DoD makes strong enough arguments to throw cold water on the idea that it was in cahoots with big business to shut out the “little guys.” The future of warfare is going to be about the speed of machine learning, allowing troops access to data at the speed machines can process it. Forcing the military to manage connections between multiple providers would risk this speed and disrupt the DoD’s plans to centralize its scattered data so it can be accessed by hundreds of thousands of users. On top of this, the DoD argued that multiple providers would require a drawn-out bidding process for new capabilities, a process avoided with a single-provider contract.

As with most situations where billions of dollars are on the line, both sides have opened up their wallets to bring their lobbying armies to Congress. The danger here is that Congress will overcorrect and end up quashing the single-award approach for political reasons, rather than doing what is best for national defense and taxpayers.

In doing so, Congress would be, ironically, be fighting a cronyism red herring with real cronyism. Cronyism is often mistakenly defined as “government actions that benefit big business” rather than “government actions that unfairly benefit big business at the expense of taxpayers or a competitive process.” The distinction is important — it’s the difference between being anti-corporate and being pro-market.

It’s also important to note that the contract only lasts two years. After that period, the DoD can choose to renew or find a different provider. If Amazon is truly being awarded this contract for reasons other than merit, it will become apparent over that time period, at which point the DoD can switch to another provider. The DoD may even decide over that period that multiple providers are a superior option, and switch the contract award type. What’s important is that, so long as the DoD is acting in the best interests of the country, the process is not allowed to be hijacked.

I’m not exactly Amazon’s biggest cheerleader, but I am a fan of taxpayer dollars being used efficiently. It’s a rare enough occurrence that when it does happen, we can’t afford to let those who miss out change the rules late in the game to benefit their own interests.

The post Don’t Let Defense Contract Losers Block Options for Taxpayers appeared first on The American Spectator.

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