reality is weirder than you think

Tag: rhetoric (page 1 of 2)

Jordan B Peterson is DANGEROUS in the Chronicle of Higher Ed

Yes, two in a row. Confirmation bias is a bitch (I just pre-ordered 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos), and clearly Jordan B Peterson is gearing up for its release next week.

The media storm is coming, and given the media climate these days…it’s not going to be glowing.

For instance, Peterson’s appearance today in The Chronicle of Higher Education (conveniently located in front of the paywall, even). The Chronicle‘s editorial staff would have you believe that Peterson is a DANGEROUS and UNHINGED man.

They won’t let him have a coherent picture, and there are multiple versions of this cut-apart Peterson on the site. If you’re just skimming headlines, you’ll come away with the impression that he is disjointed, plus the only important word in the headline is DANGEROUS.

Frankly, it makes him more badass to me.

(And you know how well the DANGEROUS slur worked against Dangerous Donald Trump. Not well at all.)

Unlike the visuals, the article gives Peterson more of a fair shake. It’s a profile–nothing earth shaking–but a good primer of who he is and what he’s been up to lately. The academic world is small, but it’s a nice attempt to bring depth to the otherwise scandalous and DANGEROUS academic past. On the one hand, we are treated to a rich description of his scholarship and discussion style; on the other hand, we are reminded of how much he (and graduate students who use his videos in class) is attacked by academia.

Anyway, a few things stuck out at me from the article.

It can be tough to parse the Peterson phenomenon. For one thing, it seems as if there are multiple Petersons, each appealing to, or in some cases alienating, separate audiences. There is the pugnacious Peterson, a clench-jawed crusader against what he sees as an authoritarian movement masquerading as social-justice activism. That Peterson appears on TV, including on Fox & Friends, President Trump’s preferred morning show, arguing that the left is primarily responsible for increased polarization.

Whoops, Trump Derangement Syndrome rears its ugly head once again. They just can’t help themselves, can they?

There’s also the avuncular Peterson, the one who dispenses self-help lessons aimed at aimless young people, and to that end has written a new book of encouragement and admonition, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Random House Canada). The book isn’t political, at least not overtly, and it grew out of his hobby of answering personal questions posted by strangers on the internet. That Peterson runs a website on “self-authoring” that promises to help those with a few spare hours and $14.95 discover their true selves.

Peterson doesn’t traffic in new age bullshit like your “true self.” The Self-Authoring suite is based on helping you understand yourself, your personality, and your experiences. The idea is that “thinking about where you came from, who you are and where you are going helps you chart a simpler and more rewarding path through life,” not that you have to undergo some mystical journey to uncover arcane knowledge about yourself.

Then there’s the actual Peterson, a guy who Ping-Pongs between exuberance and exhaustion, a grandfather who is loathed and loved by a public that, until very recently, had almost entirely ignored him. Now he has more than a half-million YouTube subscribers, nearly 300,000 Twitter followers, and several thousand die-hard disciples who send him money, to the tune of $60,000 per month.

Yes. It’s called Patreon. Welcome to how people make money in [current year].

Even the man with all the answers appears stunned by the outpouring, and at the sudden, surreal turn in his life. “When I wake up in the morning, it takes about half an hour for my current reality to sink in,” he says. “I don’t know what to make of it.”

That is adorable. I have those moments with my current life, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to have changed so many lives for the better.

In college, he writes, he espoused socialism almost by default. He tried to emulate the movement’s leaders, dutifully attending meetings, absorbing their slogans and repeating their arguments. Over time, though, he found that he didn’t respect his fellow activists, who struck him as perpetually aggrieved and suspiciously underemployed. “They had no career, frequently, and no family, no completed education — nothing but ideology,” he writes. He also discovered that he often didn’t believe the things he was enthusiastically spouting. “Despite my verbal facility, I was not real,” he writes. “I found this painful to admit.” He also became obsessed with the looming prospect of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. He fell into a depression, suffered “apocalyptic dreams” several nights a week, and fought against “vaguely suicidal thoughts.”

Sounds like everyone on /pol/, tbh. Verbal, but not fully realized. Vaguely suicidal. Obsessed with the intersection of memetics and politics. Hopefully the chans will birth at least one Jordan B Peterson for the next generation.

He continued to research topics like religion, creativity, and the effect of personality on political orientation. But he is not widely known as an expert on any of those topics, nor is he considered the pioneer of a game-changing concept. He hasn’t frequently published in top journals. That may be, in part, because he is an old-fashioned generalist, more interested in understanding the connective tissue between seemingly disparate ideas than in tilling a small patch of disciplinary soil.

Another reason they hate him. He’s more dedicated to the Truth than he is his discipline.

Peterson started appearing on podcasts and YouTube shows like The Rubin Report and Waking Up, hosted by Sam Harris, where the two wrangled fruitlessly over the definition of truth for two hours. Perhaps most important, Peterson appeared on a podcast hosted by Joe Rogan, a comedian and Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator, whose show is often among the top 10 most-downloaded on iTunes. Rogan spoke with Peterson for nearly three hours and declared him one of his favorite guests. He’s had him back twice since, and those podcasts have each been listened to by millions.

Joe Rogan, super-influential podcaster described as nothing but a comedian and UFC commentator. The author clearly did research into Peterson, but obviously knows nothing about internet culture. Ignorance or disingenuous reporting? We may never know.

Peterson has used his unexpected notoriety to express dissatisfaction with the state of the university in Canada and the United States. He believes that the humanities and the social sciences in particular have become corrupted — a term he employs with relish — by left-wing ideology, and that they are failing to adequately educate students.

More subtle digs….

Are they trying to make him look like a Bond villain?

There were female fans, too, though they were clearly outnumbered. One recent Toronto journalism graduate whispered that she had a crush on Peterson. Another woman, Kristen, didn’t want her last name printed because she’s already suffered blowback from online friends over her fondness for him. “I think people misconstrue what he’s about,” she says. His overall message, according to Kristen, is “pick yourself up, bucko” — quoting one of Peterson’s taglines.

His influence, though, runs deeper than cross-stitch-ready phrases.


In the early 2000s, Peterson began buying these [Soviet propaganda] paintings on eBay because the irony of bidding for communist agitprop on the most capitalist marketplace ever devised was too delicious to resist.

And he has a delightful sense of humor. Love.

These days Peterson seems like a man possessed. His brow furrows, his eyes narrow. He speaks in rapid-fire, um-less sentences. He doesn’t smile much. Sometimes Peterson seizes his temples with one hand as if squeezing out an especially stubborn thought.

Um-less? Really? Might I suggest the word “unhesitating.”

His lectures are largely improvised. He writes out a bare-bones outline, but he’s never sure exactly what he’ll say or how long he’ll talk (90 minutes? Two hours? More?). His audience likes the no-frills urgency, the sense that he’s digging to the heart of impossibly complex conundrums, the feeling that they’re observing a bona fide philosopher sweat out the truth under pressure. His frenetic, freewheeling approach is the antithesis of a rehearsed TED talk. He describes his method as a high-wire act. “It’s always a tossup as to whether I’m going to pull off the lecture, because I’m still wrestling with the material. Because the lecture in the theater is a performance — it’s a theater, for God’s sake,” he says. “What I’m trying to do is to embody the process of thinking deeply on stage.” He pauses for a moment, then amends that last statement: “It’s not that I’m trying to do that. That’s what I’m doing.”

The antithesis of Intellectual-Yet-Idiot. There’s a real risk in his lectures, the risk that he won’t say anything worth hearing. Highly unlikely, given his orientation to the truth, but still there.

Not long ago, Peterson had his picture taken with a couple of fans who were holding a Pepe banner. One of them was also forming the “OK” sign with his fingers, probably a reference to the “It’s OK to Be White” meme created on 4Chan, one of the more offensive and irreverent corners of the internet.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. The author cites Milo Yiannopoulos at some point, but fails to realize that the Trump crowd was using the OK sign long before “It’s OK to be white” became a Thing. Milo was using the OK sign extensively before he got kicked off Twitter.

Peterson, who has written a lot about religious iconography, finds the mythos around Pepe fascinating, noting how Pepe is worshiped by the fictional cult of Kek in the made-up country of Kekistan. “It’s satire,” he says. “A lot of these things are weird jokes.”

…or are they?

Asked whether he worries that his association with these symbols and slogans, which have been employed by a number of avowed white supremacists, could be misunderstood, Peterson waves off the concern. “I know for a fact that I’ve moved far more people into the center,” he says. “People write and say, ‘Look I’ve been really attracted by these far-right ideas, and your lectures helped me figure out why that was a bad idea.’ That also happens with people on the far left.”

Is it possible to be in the center but not a “moderate”? Legitimate question. The “why can’t we just all get along” people are useless, and Peterson is definitely not useless.

Now, if these “far-right ideas” of which the anon speaks are actually the socialist-in-disguise Alt-White type people, that I understand. I also had to bang against the walls of intellectual incoherence a few times before I realized it was impossible to be both right-wing and a “national socialist.”

On the table in his den is a copy of his new book, 12 Rules for Life. It is, in a sense, a more accessible version of Maps of Meaning. In it you won’t find flowcharts featuring dragons or the full text of a letter he wrote to his father in 1986. Instead it’s an anecdote-driven advice book that encourages readers to “treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping” and “pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).” It would be hard to ferret out anything to protest in these pages. The preorders of 12 Rules already dwarf the total sales to date of Maps of Meaning.

I know I preordered 12 Rules, but this makes me want to read Maps of Meaning. Flowcharts with DRAGONS? How much more DANGEROUS can you get?

The article is long, but I enjoyed reading it. For all the little digs, it’s a pretty fair treatment of Peterson and his ideas–one that won’t often get heard in academic circles.

There’s also a great cameo from Camille Paglia in the middle–if you haven’t watched her conversation with Peterson on YouTube, you should. Their conversation is fascinating.

Appreciation post

Lately I’ve noticed some sour thoughts sprout up in my mind.

“I hate people.”

“Why do I do this? It’s absurd.”

“Coffee tables are stupid and ugly.”

It’s easy to get caught up in a spiral of negativity. I’ve noticed myself doing so more and more.

This is not the life I want to live.

So to counteract, I’m going to appreciate some things:



How can you forget how delicious steak is? Apparently I can. I made myself steak tonight for the first time in many months. It was delicious. I’m partial to NY Strips, because I like the fat/lean ratio.

(Don’t ask me about my cast iron pan, though. They come with a learning curve that I haven’t quite mastered.)


Jordan B Peterson

Our favorite Canadian professor absolutely owned his recent interview with Channel 4 News.

Talk about the IQ/communication gap in action. Obviously she’s not dumb, but she paddles around in the shallow pool of word-thinking while Peterson is plying her with logical arguments and abstract reasoning.

Even if you know Peterson’s arguments front and back, it’s worth watching his delivery. Unflappable, friendly, on the offense. Beautiful. I aspire to this level of mastery.



My recent foray into the needle arts has reminded me about the crack-level addiction that comes with embroidery floss colors. You go to the fabric store, and stand before an entire wall of pure, unadulterated color. And usually it’s in gradients, gradually morphing in hue and shade. I want them all.


The Donald Trump chia head that is sprouting in my dining nook

One of the delightful parts of moving is finding all sorts of things, packing them, and then finding them again when you unpack. I had totally forgotten about the Donald Trump chia head that I bought sometime in 2016 but had never sprouted.

Our God Emperor deserves the best of chia hair. I’ll post a photo when it’s sprouted.

MAGA or ‘zines, amirite?

It’s funny, in that #NOCOINCIDENCES kind of way, how conspiracy theories from different parts of the internet are starting to collide.

From the Chans, there’s all the evidence of a child trafficking and money laundering ring based out of Haiti.

From the Hollywood blind item camp, there are the rumors that all your favorite celebrities are involved in shady business, everything from snorting coke to murder with a stop through for…wait for it…child trafficking and money laundering rings that just happen to run through Haiti.

Think they might have something to do with each other?

I remember sometime in the last 18 months, I forget when exactly, when yet another story broke about Human Abedin and Anthony Wiener. There was a video circulating on Twitter of somebody shouting uncomfortable questions as she ducked into a townhouse. The person holding the door for her was Anna Wintour.

It’s always been obvious that Anna Wintour is a shill for the democrats, especially democrats named Hillary Clinton. Stories about Hillary abound in Vogue-related publications (she’s on the cover of a special issue of Teen Vogue at the moment), and

(Fun fact: before she was picked for McCain’s running mate, I first heard of Sarah Palin through a story in Vogue on women politicians, and couldn’t believe my eyes that a republican governor had been featured in a mildly positive light.)

Magazines, especially fashion magazines, have always been problematic. The promote celebrity culture and degeneracy. They foster shallow thinking. Their advertiser/funding model has turned them into catalogs for product rather than being a trusted filter for products.

I didn’t realize until recently, when I fell back into the blind-item timesink, that tabloids are basically another arm of PR for celebrities. People is the New York Times of the theater that is celebrity personal life.

You know what that makes all those “high end” magazines that put celebrities on their covers?


I feel so dumb for taking this long to figure it out. It’s long been known that celebrities end up on magazine covers when they have something to promote, but I never connected the dots that what they have to say in those articles is promoting an agenda (mostly their own image and fame) just as much as its promoting their product.

Some of them are sincere, I’m sure. Others, not so much. The craft a public image that fits some sort of narrative, and then do despicable things behind the scenes.

At this point, with the amount of people that “knew” about people like Wienstein and Lauer and who did absolutely nothing about it for years, I have a hard time believing that someone like Anna Wintour knows nothing, who is close enough with Human Abedin that Huma appeared hiding from the media at her house.

I banned myself from buying magazines on the regular sometime around 2012. They weren’t providing enough ROI in my life.

I’m glad I did, though, because I don’t want to support the type of people who lie (excuse me, “do PR”) and provide cover for the horrible people of this world.

I still read some fashion blogs–I like the content. As much as I pretend I’m not sometimes, I’m still a girl who likes reading about girly things and who likes to fantasize about impractical fashion from time to time.

We need a ladies’ magazine for the MAGA agenda.

A laughable protest

What a joke, the Golden Globes “time’s up” protest. Like it’s such a hardship to show up wearing black–nobody has to be too inconvenienced–and nobody’s dressed in a way to deter a sexual predator. Dresses are still plunging to there and slit up to here.

I can’t decide if they’re all idiots who never thought past the initial this-would-be-such-a-good-idea phone call to what such an event would really say, or if they’re maliciously trying to cover their tracks. Either way, they don’t seem to think that we see through their facade.

If they were seriously about protesting sexual assault in Hollywood, they would do something substantial (such as, perhaps, quit in protest or name names other than the disgraced Weinstein) instead of throwing one of their favorite yearly parties of mutual admiration and back-scratching with the a feeble warble of “we’re wearing black look at us we’re protesting.”

Meanwhile, people literally at the event–both attendees and award winners–are known or rumored sexual predators.

And it’s not just the men that have problems.


It’s one thing to look past differing political views to enjoy a work of fiction. I did that for years with scifi and fantasy entertainment.

It’s quite another to knowingly support an industry that does nothing to police its members, and fails to protect its innocents.

And it’s especially egregious when they put on a show like this pretending exactly the opposite.

“I can’t believe that big bad man leered at me. I mean, I know I’m hot but he just can’t do that!! I’ll wear an even shorter skirt tonight–that’ll sure show him.”

Twice so vaporwave

I thought that the vaporwave trend would be wrapping up soon, but judging from the amount of K-pop groups who are using vaporwave stylistic influences to promote in Korea and Japan, I’m not so sure. EXO was the last that I noticed using vaporwave, especially in their upcoming promotion in Japan (but also in the “Power” video).

Twice is the latest group to go full vaporwave.

Glitchy video: check.

Pink and/or purple color scheme, heavy on the gradients: check.

Gratuitous backlighting and neon: check.

Random unrelated geometric shapes: also check.

Google and wiki tell me that vaporwave was born of the online indie music scene in the early 2010’s, which means in internet year’s it has probably outspent its welcome.

But if K-pop is pulling vaporwave influences–and more than one entertainment company, Twice is with JYP and EXO is with SM–and other groups pull influence from K-pop (citation needed), it stands to reason that eventually vaporwave will show back up in the “traditionally” produced media. About 8 years too late. Whatever “late” means these days.

Please note: I know that I am late to the vaporwave party.

I’m just interested to see how much Korean pop music is going to influence everything else, especially now that it’s “officially” out of the bubble. (Thanks, BTS. I think.)

Weaponized fashion styling

Clothes are just as much about communication as they are about preventing one from walking down the street naked.

Clothes can say everything from “I’m not that kind of girl” to “I’m the next President of the United States of America.”

I love how this scene from My Father is Strange illustrates how important clothes can be when preparing oneself for battle.

“Fur trumps everything,” says the status-oriented mother (nevermind that fur is a ridiculous choice in the summer months).

Meanwhile, the practicality-oriented mother shows up looking far better than the other team ever would have thought.

The clothes do just as much talking as the people.

This is why you should have your personal equivalent of a “power suit” in your wardrobe. There are times when you (and I) need to perform our best–that is the time to pull out your best garment.

“Best” is subjective in this case.

But this garment should make you feel badass. Invincible. Completely protected. Confident to the point of aggressive.

It can be difficult to find these magic garments (LOL MORMON JOKE) but it’s worth it.

Especially if you have to go up against a Tiger Mother who also happens to be your landlord.

Why you should literally never use the word “literally”

I’m not even going to try to write this post like a sales letter. I’m not trying to sell anything, just trying to start every sentence with “I’m” and hash out my thoughts on things.

I’ve had more “random” thoughts lately, which means that I’m finally settling into my new environment (even though I don’t get keys to my new apartment until tomorrow). It helps that I’ve set up a new configuration for my bullet journal-style planner which is much more conducive to my way of operating. In practical terms, it means that I have a “notes” section where I can jot down random thoughts instead of putting them on random pieces of paper or forgetting them or letting them fester until they’re just weird vapors spun from the rationalization hamster.

Anyhow. One of the things that I’ve recently been able to see and identify is this ability for people (who are not strategic thinkers) to skip directly from a high-level/strategy/overview way of thinking down into this middle domain that is characterized by rumor, innuendo, words meaning things, what other people think, and lots of other stuff that is ultimately irrelevant to strategically accomplishing a goal.

In other words, something like this:

Level Characterized by
High Strategy, long-term, vision, ideas in their bare form
Middle Social, “what will other people think,” sophistry, rhetoric
Low On-the-ground details, data, facts, reality

I suspect this is heavily influenced by (and maybe inadvertently copied from) Nassim Taleb’s ideas about asymmetry and “barbell theory.” I’d check, but my copy of Antifragile is packed right now.

I believe that the best way of thinking is with the vision of the high-level strategy, and the practicality of the low-level data. Anything else just gets in the way of clear thinking (unless you have to take account of it to successfully navigate your projects–politics are a real thing).

Lots of people who can’t or won’t stay with the high-level thinking (not totally sure why, if it’s just laziness or if they legitimately aren’t intellectually capable of it) will skip down to the middle and wallow around in it.

Ideally, good writing would combine “directional truth” (as Scott Adams would say) of the detail-free salesy version (which I sometimes think of as the “metaphorical understanding”), or you get the super duper uber detailed version, with the charts and graphs and raw data and alllllll the analyses.

The stuff in the middle fails to communicate either the endgame, or the reality. It writes phrases like “substantially all” and favors the insufferable passive voice. This is where the fifty-cent words come into play.

Hence why you should never use the word “literally.” It’s a dead tell for middle-level (OMG DID I JUST PRETEND THAT I INVENTED THE TERM “MIDDLEBROW”?!?) writing.

Dirty adverbs:

  • Virtually
  • Substantially
  • Literally

I used to wonder why some websites that check your writing’s grade level issue a warning for adverbs.

Now I know.

Go big or go home, folks.

Reactionary Fashion vs Revolutionary Fashion

No further words needed. Thank you /pol/, courtesy of Peter Duke.

(Also, LOL Martin Luther)

Anna Wintour, BAMF

Down the rabbit hole of fashion again. I have such a love/hate view of Anna Wintour.

She’s the embodiment of much that I despise, one of the New York City elite who want to run the lives of everyone else in the country. As “pope” (some would say) of the fashion world, she sets the tone for much of what goes on in it. And of course, instead of staying in her lane, she is a huge donor to the democrat party and shills for the in the magazine. There’s footage of Huma Abedin getting hounded by reporters a few months back while she’s standing on a doorstep; when the door opens, it’s Anna. When Sarah Palin was still governor of Alaska, she was featured in the paged of Vogue which still shocks me to this day. Of course, she got maybe 1 or 2 columns and a small photo, whereas Hillary Clinton gets a full-length article and a double-page photo, but

Fashion is full of rabbity and left-wing people to begin with, but she condones the blatantly partisan behavior.

However, she’s an elegant woman at the top of her game. I admire how she commands respect and runs Vogue exactly how she wishes to (or at least that’s how it seems from the outside). Despite the fact that she seems to have a blind eye to the oblique way that most fashion trends grow (there’s a fun exchange between her and Bill Cunningham in Bill Cunningham’s New York where she acknowledges that they have diametrically different perspectives — he documented street style while she dictates from above), she exudes authority and does not apologize for who she is or the fact that she works in fashion.

While I don’t always love reading Vogue — it’s so very elitist — one cannot deny that it is a respected and influential publication.

So I feel that there’s a lot I can learn from her. Watching her interviews is incredibly inspiring. She’s well spoken, clearly an introvert, clearly intelligent, and she uses all that to her advantage. Perhaps the thing that resonates with me the most, and this is probably because I don’t feel this quality, is her philosophy on decisiveness.

“People respond well to someone who’s sure of what they want.”

This strategy is working out for her. In fact, you can see it in her magazine, both how she runs it and the soul of Vogue — the top down, “you should want this,” aspirational fantasy.

Even if Anna (and Vogue itself) can be cold, domineering, and out of reach — sometimes even completely decoupled from the real world — the decisiveness and authority that she exudes compels people to follow her.

Something to consider when crafting a public persona.


Other observations of note: a signature hairstyle is easily identifiable and hides much of her face, upping the intimidation factor; her clothing is always the same silhouette, recognizable and flattering and fewer decisions in the mornings; she does nothing to dispel the negative rumors; diversifying the Vogue brand beyond just the magazine, into digital and the Met Gala and all sorts of other things.

Tumblr, the alt-right, and me

As part of research for a project I’m working on, I went on Tumblr this afternoon.

(I haven’t been on Tumblr in ages. Tumblr is an SJW wasteland.)

And in Tumblr, I searched “alt-right.”

The results came back as pretty much what I would have expected. Lots of BLM posts, “punch Nazi” cartoons, and long impassioned rants about feelings. There are a few nationalist and traditionalist blogs on there, intrepid souls, which was a bit surprising and very uplifting. I got lost in Wrath of Gnon for a while.

Not a lot of nuance, especially with those related search terms: nazis, racism, white nationalism.

It was interesting watching my own emotional reaction to things as I scrolled through the post. Most it skewed toward “SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET,” related to the lack of nuance.

I’m of the school of thought that the alt-right is a big umbrella, with sub-groups underneath; the white nationalists/Nazi larpers are just one cluster of thought. There are others: traditionalists/Western Civilizationalists, omni-nationalists, and if you squint, the New Right and Proud Boy types.

The New Right and Proud Boys work hard to distance themselves from the alt-right, but that is because the left — with its total lack of nuance or care — has defined the alt-right as entirely neo-Nazi. Or perhaps that is Richard Spencer’s huge ego eclipsing everything and trying to bend all media coverage to itself.

In my opinion, the Spencerites play right into the left’s hand by accepting the idea of “white” identity. There is no white identity. It is an artificial bucket created in opposition to the “black” identity. To give any legitimacy to that false construct is a huge mistake. It lets the left dictate the frame of the argument.

Not that the left cares. They’re delighted, I’m sure, to have ready-made villains for their political theater.

What I have to learn is this: that trying to earnestly explain to people that not all of the alt-right is like that is not a helpful thing to do, and in fact will disperse my voice into the noisy background of pixels and bits on the internet. There may be a time for a dialectical discussion, but some random project on the internet is not it.

I need to focus on rhetoric, and hone rhetorical strategies that will dovetail with Tumblr themes but also hone in on chinks in the SJW armor.

I’m being vague about my project for now, because it’s still in the beginning stages, but I look forward to debuting it when the time is right.

Let’s just say I rediscovered Hugo-nominated author Chuck Tingle today as well. Delightful.

Stay nimble, my friends.

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