Thursday: Hili dialogue

July 22, 2021 • 6:30 am

Greetings on a soon-to-be-sunny Thursday, July 22, 2021: National Penuche Day (“penuche” is a fudgelike sweet made only from butter, brown sugar, and milk). It’s also Mango Day, Lion’s Share Day (take the extra donut!), and Spoonerism Day, named after the reverend and Oxford lecturer William Archibald Spooner, born on this day in 1844. He was famous for garbling language in a humorous way, and is supposed to have said these things:

  • “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride” (…customary to kiss the bride) [JAC: supposedly said while Spooner was officiating at a wedding]. 
  • “I am tired of addressing beery wenches” (weary benches)
  • “Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed. Can I sew you to another sheet?” (Pardon me, madam, this pew is occupied. Can I show you to another seat?)
  • “You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted two worms, you will leave by the next town drain” (You have missed all my history lectures, and were caught lighting a fire in the quad. Having wasted two terms, you will leave by the next down train)

Finally, it’s also Pi Approximation Day, (22/7 approximates π at 3.14286, but see also March 14) and Ratcatcher’s Day, celebrating the mythical Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Note that the number of subscribers has now fallen to 72,999. One person please subscribe!

News of the Day:

You’ll be pleased to know that my teeth and gums are in excellent condition; the hygienist particularly complimented me on my excellent gums. But that is my due given the amount of time I spent flossing, brushing, and stimulating. I am now recommended to get a WaterPik.

Some good news from the ACLU—for a change. Remember when Biden was accusing Facebook of helping kill people by spreading lies about COVID-19? That sounds well meaning, but is in fact a violation of the First Amendment. As a newsletter from FAIR notes:

As private entities, social media companies have the ability to censor content on their own. However, as journalist Glenn Greenwald noted, “the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee is violated when government officials pressure or coerce private actors to censor for them. That is exactly what [the White House] is doing with Facebook.”

After the White House announced plans to “review” Section 230, which protects social media companies from culpability regarding content on their platforms, The ACLU issued a statement in opposition to the White House’s actions.

As the CNN story referenced by the ACLU notes:

The White House is reviewing whether social media platforms should be held legally accountable for publishing misinformation via Section 230, a law that protects companies’ ability to moderate content, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said Tuesday.

The Section 230 debate is taking on new urgency in recent days as the administration has called on social media platforms to take a more aggressive stance on combating misinformation. The federal law, which is part of the Communications Decency Act, provides legal immunity to websites that moderate user-generated content.

Biden has long railed against the law for its protection of social media companies from misinformation, whereas Trump has claimed that it leads to the censorship and suppression of conservative voices. Supporters of the provision, meanwhile, argue that the law protects free speech. Trump’s attempts to use the executive branch to change how Section 230 is applied to tech companies was called unconstitutional by legal experts, lawmakers and officials at the Federal Communications Commission.

And now Biden’s in the same boat.

Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped more steeply last year than any time since World War II. Naturally, the cause is the coronavirus pandemic. And the drop is substantial; as the NYT reports:

From 2019 to 2020, Hispanic people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy — three years — and Black Americans saw a decrease of 2.9 years. White Americans experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years.

. . .Racial and ethnic disparities have persisted throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a reflection of many factors, including the differences in overall health and available health care between white, Hispanic and Black people in the United States. Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely to be employed in risky, public-facing jobs during the pandemic — bus drivers, restaurant cooks, sanitation workers — rather than working from home in relative safety on their laptops in white-collar jobs.

They also more commonly depend on public transportation, risking coronavirus exposure, or live in multigenerational homes and in tighter conditions that were more conducive to spreading the virus.

The Kennedy Center Honors this year (the second of 2021 because of the pandemic) will go to these five people in December: Berry Gordy (the founder of Motown Records), Lorne Michaels (creator of Saturday Night Live), singer Bette Middler, opera singer Justino Díaz, and, my favorite, Joni Mitchell! Joni doesn’t appear in public very often, so I hope she shows up; it’s likely that Joe Biden will confer the awards.

Well, this was a surprise. The U.S. women’s soccer team, the world Gold Standard, lost its first game to Sweden 3-0—the first game the team has lost since January 2019. I didn’t watch it, but HuffPost has a bunch of tweets about the lackluster U.S. play. Let’s just see a summary of the highlights.

The U.S. isn’t out, but they have to beat New Zealand in the next game to advance.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 609,508, an increase of 249 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 4,143,645, an increase of about 8,800 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on July 22 includes:

What on earth is a schiltron? See here. This was the end for Wallace as a leader for Scottish independence, but he hung around for seven more years before he was captured and, then, well, the end is gruesome (they leave out the worst bits in Braveheart. FREEEEEEDOMMM!

  • 1598 – William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, is entered on the Stationers’ Register. By decree of Queen Elizabeth, the Stationers’ Register licensed printed works, giving the Crown tight control over all published material.

I found the entry at the Folger Shakespeare Library site and have put a rectangle over what I think is the entry, at least as indicated by Folger:

The Merchant of Venice was entered into Liber C of the Stationers’ Company on July 22, 1598, under “the title the Marchaunt of Venyce or otherwise called the Jewe of Venyce.” James Roberts, the London printer and publisher who entered the title, was allowed to enter the play under the restriction that any printing had to be authorized by the Lord Chamberlain.

Lord was the handwriting weird in those days!

Here’s one of my favorite versions, performed by Ray Charles in 1972.

This, and not The Star-Spangled Banner, should be America’s National Anthem.

  • 1933 – Aviator Wiley Post returns to Floyd Bennett Field in New York City, completing the first solo flight around the world in seven days, 18 hours and 49 minutes.

Here’s a brief documentary of Post’s accomplishments. Sadly, both he and comic Will Rogers died in an accident in Alaska on August 15, 1935, crashing in bad weather.

  • 1937 – New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 1942 – The United States government begins compulsory civilian gasoline rationing due to the wartime demands.

Here’s how it worked:

An “A” sticker on a car was the lowest priority of gasoline rationing and entitled the car owner to 3 to 4 US gallons (11 to 15 l; 2.5 to 3.3 imp gal) of gasoline per week. B stickers were issued to workers in the military industry, entitling their holder to up to 8 US gallons (30 l; 6.7 imp gal) of gasoline per week. C stickers were granted to persons deemed very essential to the war effort, such as doctors. T stickers were made available for truckers. Lastly, X stickers on cars entitled the holder to unlimited supplies and were the highest priority in the system. Clergy, police, firemen, and civil defense workers were in this category. A scandal erupted when 200 Congressmen received these X stickers. Referring to the lowest tier of this system, American motorists jokingly said that OPA stood for “Only a Puny A-Card.

Clergy got the highest priority, along with “first responders.” Why is that? So they could drive around and visit their parishioners?

  • 1942 – Grossaktion Warsaw: The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto begins.

Here are Warsaw Jews being loaded onto trains, and you know what’s waiting at the other end:

  • 1990 – Greg LeMond, an American road racing cyclist, wins his third Tour de France after leading the majority of the race. It was LeMond’s second consecutive Tour de France victory.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1849 – Emma Lazarus, American poet and educator (d. 1887)
  • 1882 – Edward Hopper, American painter and etcher (d. 1967)

Hopper drew cats! Here’s his “Cats Study”:

  • 1888 – Selman Waksman, Jewish-American biochemist and microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973)
  • 1923 – Bob Dole, American soldier, lawyer, and politician

He’s 98 today!

  • 1955 – Willem Dafoe, American actor
  • 1992 – Selena Gomez, American singer and actress

Those who paid Charon on on July 22 were few, and include:

  • 1916 – James Whitcomb Riley, American poet and author (b. 1849)
  • 1932 – Flo Ziegfeld, American actor and producer (b. 1867)
  • 1934 – John Dillinger, American gangster (b. 1903)

The “Lady in Red” who helped the government track down Dillinger, with the FBI shooting him dead in front of Chicago’s Biograph Theater, was Ana Cumpănaș, a Romanian prostitute and brothel owner who hoped to gain citizenship by helping the government. She got her $5000 reward for fingering Dillinger, but then was deported to Romania anyway. Here she is (she identified herself and Dillinger to the FBI by wearing red as she accompanied the gangster to the theater):

  • 1967 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (b. 1878)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enforcing the Orchard Roolz:

Hili: A spider made a spiderweb on our tree.
A: So what?
Hili: It’s illegal.

In Polish:

Hili: Pająk zrobił sobie pajęczynę na naszym drzewie.
Ja: I co z tego?
Hili: To jest nielegalne.
And Andrezej has a photo of Szaron:


From Anne-Marie, another cartoon. She says this is from “André-Philippe Côté, another well-known artist\cartoonist from the French Canadian press.”. The title is “The Veiled Sky in Afghanistan,” which of course is what’s coming. It’s an excellent cartoon.

From Barry, who comments, “We aren’t going to make it, are we?”

And yet another superfluous sign from reader David:

A pinned tweet put up by Masih in March (we featured her yesterday). Her conversation with Bari Weiss last evening was superb.

From Ginger K., a refreshing heartwarmer:

From Ken, who says, “Fox News falsifies Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity by announcing a new, superluminal Russian jet” (i.e., it flies faster than the speed of light). Sound up. I think they mean Mach 2:

From Luana, a map of racism, defined as whether you’d want to live next to someone of another race. The U.S. isn’t doing so bad!

Tweets from Matthew. He says to note the date this one was first tweeted:

What is this thing?

Except for government vehicles:

Carolyn, like me, is a huge Beatles fan. Be sure to turn the sound up and listen for that high note:

56 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. My favourite Spoonerism:
    Owing to the clamp and dammy weather, the meeting will be halled in the hell downstairs.

    1. A couple of others: He once referred to Queen Victoria as “our queer old dean” and reminded his congregation that tomorrow was was a holiday, so they should remember to have their hags flung out.

      That train looks like something from The Flintstones.

  2. “Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped…”. Beyond life expectancy, early last year in the first weeks of the pandemic, I was curious about what noticeable impact a pandemic might have on a macro number such as a nation’s total population. So I had looked at yearly U.S. population since some time in the 19th century and noticed that in 1918, the peak of the 1918 flu pandemic, the total population of the U.S. actually decreased. It was the only year since at least 1900 in which the U.S. population did not increase…that is, deaths exceeded births and immigration.

    1. In 1918, was the flow of immigrants from Europe to the USA essentially zero? If for no other reason than the commandeering of immigrant transport ships (E to W) as troop transports (W to E)?

    2. I’m surprised at the ‘neighbour of different race’ map, countries like Denmark, The Netherlands, and even France or Portugal always appeared as not very racist to me. How wrong can one be.
      I don’t know how this survey was set up, eg. how anonymous or not, so maybe there also is a question of honesty?
      I note that a majority of African countries are not surveyed, subliminal racism? 😉

  3. “Biden has long railed against the law for its protection of social media companies from misinformation, whereas Trump has claimed that it leads to the censorship and suppression of conservative voices.”

    Right before leaving office last January, Donald Trump was offered a 40% stake in Parler, the right-wing social media alternative to Facebook and Twitter, by Bob and Rebekah Mercer, the pere et fille wingnut big-dollar Republican donors and Trump supporters. Negotiations for the deal broke down over Trump’s insistence that Parler be required to censor all criticisms of him.

    So much for the Donald being anti-online censorship.

  4. Rather than focus first on racial and ethnic disparities of virus impact, i would like for the media to focus on socio-economic disparity as the primary indicator….poor people are the super set of the suffering (I think that this is true but have not noticed a proper gathering of data to reference). Then they can point out any disproportional representation of low income among various racial and ethnic groups.

    1. Well, of course the poor die most often in an epidemic. Firstly, there are more of them ; secondly, a large part of the reason to have a for-profit health care system is to keep the poor in terror of dieing young (throwing their children into the workhouse), and so to keep them in their place (the mud).
      Haven’t you read Marx?

  5. “Keep kids uncorrupted”. I love this story and from the teacher’s accent and the tv station byline, it appears to be from coastal Alabama in the deep South of the U.S.

  6. Does anyone know the experience of gas rationing? I’m not old enough to know of it during the war but we had it in places overseas. While in England back in the late 60s and early 70s we were under gas rationing at all military installations. I cannot remember how many gallons per month we were allowed but it was much more than they experienced during the war. You bought gas at the stations on base and therefore, paid U.S. prices. Much lower than on the economy in England. We also had ration control on booze and cigarettes. The idea was to prevent lots of black marketing.

    1. During World War Two, petrol rationing in the UK was based on mileage – the intention was to allow about 200 miles of driving per month (this was later reduced) and the coupons were issued after taking the horsepower of the engine into account.–1945

      Although civilian petrol coupons were issued in the 1973 oil crisis they weren’t used, according to the (unreferenced) section in the Wikipedia article.

      1. I’m pretty sure the gas rationing in the U.S. during the war was all about reducing gas usage in the civilian world so the war effort would always have plenty. The rationing I experienced was primarily a black market thing. Over in South Korea the U.S. military rationed food in the 80 and 90s. They may still do this, I am not sure. But it was also used to prevent black market activity. Sometimes specific cost on a food item would be used. I remember that happening with hot dogs. While the price of a package of hot dogs was less than a dollar it was not ration controlled. However, the price went up, (more than a dollar) causing it to fall under ration control. Suddenly the supply of dogs increased a great deal and the pipeline had to be cut way down. This showed just how strong the black market could be.

        1. Bought any illegal drugs lately? Their price movements are an economist’s wet dream. EVEN though their prices operate ENTIRELY independently of interdiction efforts. (Another failure brought to you by the dumb-assed counter-productive War on Drugs).
          D.A,, J.D.

  7. 1967 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (b. 1878)

    Sandburg wrote a famous multi-volume biography of Abe Lincoln, but I don’t think he was otherwise a “historian.”

    1. I think that was enough to qualify him: six good-sized volumes. I’ve only read the three-volume abridgement, but I would recommend it. I actually plan to read the full volume (two on Lincoln’s life before the Civil War, and four on Lincoln during the war).

      1. I meant no slight to Sandburg’s magisterial work on Lincoln. But one biography does not a “historian” make.

        Robert Caro has one more volume to go (or so he’s been saying for several volumes now) on his even more magisterial biography of Lyndon Johnson (plus a thousand-plus-page biography of Robert Moses under his belt), and he’s not generally regarded as a “historian,” either.


    2. “The worst thing to happen to Lincoln — aside from the unfortunate incident at Ford’s theatre — was to fall into the hands of Carl Sandburg” — Gore Vidal

  8. The handwriting in the Stationers’ Register is a style known as secretary hand. It was used in all official documents in England until the late 17th century, according to my wife, who learned how to read it many years ago so that she could read the originals of late medieval documents such as wills as part of her family history research.

  9. It shouldn’t be necessary to observe that governments consider misinformation to be anything that hurts the government, and especially, anything that hurts the governors. Good for the ACLU for remembering what it’s there for, and pointing out that the government’s track-record on Covid information is hardly consistent.

  10. I’m admiring Hopper’s realistic cats. Just finished Hopper by Rolf G Renner (recommended). Hopper was not quite a realist painter. His colors were wrong, for one thing. But they worked. He sneaks into a painting much to contemplate. One of America’s finest.

  11. The McCartney clip brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful.

    Re: “Referring to the lowest tier of this system, American motorists jokingly said that OPA stood for “Only a Puny A-Card.” My brother used to have LPs of the old Abbot and Costello radio shows, and on one of them, Costello made this very joke, and the audience cracked up…and until this very day, I did NOT know what he was talking about. I thought, “Only a puny acorn? What’s THAT mean?”

    1. Yes a really nice behind the scenes Penny Lane video. Does anyone know what the high trumpet note was? I think i recall from my band days of the 1960’s Maynard Ferguson reaching a”double high c” on a regular basis.

        1. David Mason was paid £27 and 10 shillings for the session – the Musicians’ Union rate, which was still unchanged (although changed to the decimalised £27.50) when Raphael Ravenscroft improvised and recorded the seminal saxophone part on Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”. (Rafferty reportedly earned £80,000 a year in royalties from the song, much to Ravenscroft’s understandable displeasure.)

    2. I’ve been watching that excellent Hulu show. It’s six one-hour episodes and I’m halfway through. You get the details of how Beatle songs were inspired and constructed. It consists of Rick Rubin playing tracks while manipulating a mixing board and chatting with McCartney, interleaved with short video clips. He isolates single instruments to focus on their contribution to the song. No surprise that McCartney bass lines were an important part of the Beatles sound.

      1. Speaking of Paul McCartney, he just debuted a new video today, a collaboration with Beck; it’s called “Find My Way,” and you can see it on Youtube. It’s not “Penny Lane,” but I like it.

    3. Re: Abbott & Costello: There was a similar joke in a WWII-era Bugs Bunny cartoon. He’s on a plane which is about to crash, when he stops a foot above the ground because he ran out of gas, saying “You know how it is with these A-cards.” Never got that one when I was a kid. “These egg-carts?”

      I’ve read that the goal was not just to conserve gasoline, but also tires, since many rubber plantations in the Pacific were now under Japanese control, and the US would not be able to get any more rubber until after the War. You were told to turn in any extra tires you had. Another common joke in cartoons of the era was to show a character hoarding tires. Never got that one either.

      1. I’ve read that the goal was not just to conserve gasoline, but also tires, since many rubber plantations in the Pacific were now under Japanese control,

        Rubber was definitely a problem. I remember [stuff] about it, and the development of the chemical production line for isoprene and neoprene in my 1970s/80s chemistry courses, and subsequent advances in catalytic chemistry, polymer chemistry, etc. But I was shedding chemistry in favour of geology at the time, and paid no more than necessary attention.
        Controlling the polymerising of “-enes” was a part of Dad’s employment, somewhat related, driven by emigrees/ escapees from early-30s Germany. Quakers on the run, so a rarely-told story.

    4. Paul Sinha joked on Radio 4 yesterday that he had no interest in the presidents of the US besides the fact that the first six (George, John, Thomas, James, James, and John) shared their first names with the Beatles, adding “This only works if Ringo Starr’s real name is Thomas the Tank Engine” … (He also asked the audience if they knew Michael J Fox’s middle name – it is, of course, Andrew!)

    1. I believe that is what they call “anal play”. Which is not what you’re looking for when you want a professional who “has A-levels”. If you believe “Belle de Jour”, who must have been a near-contemporary of mine in “the Granite City”.

  12. And yet another superfluous sign from reader David: [“Sidewalk Ends”]

    Oh I don’t know. There have been a couple times riding a bike when my enjoyment of speed, good eyesight, yet old slow reflexes on the brake could’ve used a sign like that.

    1. Isn’t it obvious from the lack of “textured” paving slabs, that the sign is intended for the visually impaired?

  13. I agree with our host that “America the Beautiful” should be the US national anthem, despite the presence in the lyrics of the G-word and the phrase “pilgrim feet.” It celebrates the land and its people with elegant lyrics and a lovely, majestic melody. This is opposed to our current anthem, which celebrates flag idolatry, contains racist lyrics, and is set to a bastardized, difficult-to-sing drinking song in a staggering, asymmetrical 3/4 time.

    1. I don’t understand some of your criticisms of the US national anthem. “Flag idolatry” is not the major theme of the song. And where are the racist lyrics? No need to insert weak or unsupported claims into your argument.

      I agree with your other points though, and would support a change to America the Beautiful.

      1. Happy to add support for my claims. The racist lyrics are found in the third verse, viz., “No refuge could save the hireling and slave

        From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

        And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

        O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” These words refer to the slaves who the British recruited to fight against the colonists in the Revolutionary War and who Key reportedly despised. I also submit to you that the very title of the anthem, star-spangled banner, as well as the constant repetition of that phrase at the end of every verse, make a false, worshipful idol of the flag, when the true objects of worship, if we are to use that word, are, as I alluded to above, the land and its people.

    2. I’m sorry, but i find the Star Spangled Banner an outstanding piece of music. Change the lyrics if you want. That being said, America the Beautiful also is a good piece, and there too the lyrics could be changed as far as I’m concerned. After all, Amerigo never set a foot in North America.

    3. This is opposed to our current anthem, which celebrates flag idolatry, contains racist lyrics, and is set to a bastardized, difficult-to-sing drinking song in a staggering, asymmetrical 3/4 time.

      I’m almost tempted to find out what the US national anthem is. It sounds like it could have the guts of a banging good tune in it, unlike the normal dirges of national anthems.
      Crash helmets off to Formula 1’s Verstappen though – whatever the anthem he gets is, it’s a cracking bouncing tune. I bet that gets the steins banging in the beerhalls.

    4. I was always much amused by Kurt Vonnegut’s description of The Star-spangled Banner” (from Breakfast of Champions):

      There were 1 quadrillion nations in the Universe, but (the USA) was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks”.

      it’s the bit about the question marks that cracks me up.

  14. I understand that a few days ago the Tennessee Dept of Health quit promoting any kind of vaccination. Meanwhile, a day or so ago Moscow Mitch came out urging more vaccination. I wonder how that’s impacting Ivermectin futures?

    1. They’re gun-owners, aren’t they? Both.
      So surely they should settle their differences according to their stripes?

  15. Regarding the US women’s loss in football to Sweden, yes it is a bit of an upset, but one that has been coming for a while. It’s also instructive as to how small countries can do very well in football, beating much larger countries…if they have the right systems in place.

    In the football world, the men’s and women’s games have completely different histories and situations. In the US, the men’s game basically spotted the rest of the world about a century, and despite high youth participation rates, it is still playing significant catchup in player development and cultural acceptance of the sport. Lack of qualified coaching at the youth ranks, “pay to play” travel and select teams that emphasize winning over development and crowd out talented kids without the financial means to participate, and even competition for athletes from sports like American football, baseball, and basketball continue to be significant barriers. Overall, there is simply too much emphasis on winning in youth sports in the US, and not enough on developing passion, creativity and technical ability (which takes patience, time and expertise).

    So the US men actually do very well to stay in top 25 or so nations in the FIFA rankings, and the MLS (established only in the mid-1990s) continues to develop into a respectable professional league, but the US Men will not be winning the world cup anytime soon, if ever.

    In contrast, the US is was an early adopter of women’s football (and women’s sports in general). It boasts over half of the world’s registered female soccer players. The US club, high school and university infrastructure, while inadequate on the men’s side compete with the elite developmental systems on offer in other countries, is more than adequate on the women’s side to produce players. That is because so many traditional football powers have neglected the women’s game for so long, and are just now exposing their girls to the same level of technical training and coaching expertise as their boys have enjoyed for many decades.

    So really, at this point in time the US should be able to field three or four women’s teams that could win a world cup or Olympic gold.

    As someone who has coached soccer (boys and girls) for many years in the US, I always root for them to win. But a (small) part of me wants them to fail. That is the part that recognizes the massive flaws in the US system of player development and youth sports in general, and sees the lack of motivation to change these things. In the women’s game, it seems that sometimes these flaws are hidden behind the success of the national team. So if they begin to be consistently outplayed, especially by technical teams with a much smaller national player pool, even the most obtuse and stubborn decision makers might be open to change.

    1. Well it would be nice if the NZ women beat the USA, but I suspect it is unlikely (although the men did beat Sth Korea in something of an upset)

  16. Greg Lemond didn’t lead the majority of the 1990 TDF; he in fact only assumed the yellow jersey (from Claudio Chiappucci) on the penultimate stage.

  17. Today is the 10th anniversary of the day that Norwegian right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik shot dead 69 people and wounded more than 100 more at a socialist-run summer camp near Oslo. Fifty of the fatalities at the camp were kids 18 y.o. or younger.

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