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I write from Rochester, in between appointments (the office is closed, with everyone else out at a local amusement park- I had court:P). A neighboring suburb has become the battleground for the Religious Freedom rights of the religion that's in the least need of having its freedoms protected:


Particularly, the offended consist of the Fundiest of the Fundies, who believe they are divinely ordained to shout the loudest while repressing any and every other voice that might offer an even slightly wavering viewpoint.  Last Friday, I witnessed (see what I did there?) this practice in action in a slightly schadenfreudy way: as waves of nattily dressed Jehovah's Witnesses filed into Rochester's downtown arena for their annual regional convention, a bunch of sign-waving, bullhorn-blaring Fundies were harassing the heretics on their way in with vivid pictures of the hell they're destined for.  I wonder if they were followed home and had brimstone-breathers knocking on their doors for once.

That was an oddity, though. This next part is actually making the national news.


The Town of Greece has been opening its public board meetings with religious invocations for years.  Almost inevitably, they were offered in the 31 flavors of Jesus and nobody else's.  Finally, an atheist protest against the practice reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the practice, but in the opinion written by swing vote Justice Kennedy, it did so on the explicit understanding that "a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist," must be allowed to give the invocation from time to time.

Those pesky infidels were quick to respond to the Court's invitation. One of the first to try to get on the docket was the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which was apparently rejected for trying to "make a mockery" of religion.  (Come, come. From sacrificing innocents on altars and behind doorposts in just the first two books of the Bible, to making a sacrament out of a form of the death penalty? There's plenty to be mocked in all of these groups.)  But ultimately, the town fathers allowed a proclaimed atheist to give the invocation at a meeting last week- and as a local blogger in attendance reported, it made Jesus sad:

I got to the town hall early, in anticipation of a large crowd. Many secular humanists had turned out for the event, including Linda Stephens, the atheist plaintiff in the case (whom I’d also met and been impressed with at the AU meeting), and a large contingent from the Center for Inquiry. We only had to pass one Jesus nut on our way in, and he later made his point by loudly repeating the “under God” phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance. Almost all of the 110 seats in the meeting room were filled, and people stood along the walls, as well. The podium was cluttered with TV microphones, and camera crews, which I suspect were unusual for a routine town meeting....

The "Jesus nut" in question-

was quoted in another article, preferring to be nameless:

"Our country has a rich history in the public arena for calling on the help and guidance from God, the almighty, the supreme, the maker. It's only recently that rich history has come under attack by the atheist," he said.

That seems to be the talking point of the month for this Lot (pass the salt).  In a letter in Rochester's alt-weekly out today, another True Believer put it this way: 

The US Senate and House start their sessions with prayer every day. The president of the United States has participated in the National Prayer Breakfast for the last 61 years. There are chaplains in every branch of the armed forces to tend to the spiritual needs of its members. Law enforcement, fire departments, and hospitals have chaplains, as do public universities.

Eighty-six percent of the people in Greece, according to the Census, are Christian. An overwhelming 65 percent are Roman Catholic. Majority rules in this country. That a small handful of shrill atheists want to ram their opinion of a Godless world down everyone else's throat doesn't mean they should be allowed to run roughshod.

Hell, no. That's OUR right as Christians, because, John 14:6.  But if "majority rules" in a way that deprives corporations of their own corporate religious freedoms (you ever try to fit a Hobby Lobby into a confessional?), then we're going to ask the Supremes to protect our Christian minority rights.  Ours, mind you; not those of your belief, or unbelief.

Think we're inconsistent? Just read the wildly conflicting creation stories in the first two chapters of Genesis. We were made this way.

Happily, wingnuts aside, the atheist's invocation generally obtained much applause from the audience and a polite reception from the CINO town board members. Maybe, eventually, wounds will heal and we'll all be able to get along.


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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 07:39pm on 17/05/2014
If you're one of several who follow me here rather than on LJ, you'll notice it's been real quiet of late. That's temporary; I have a new primary computer, which hasn't had Semagic loaded up on it yet, so I've been posting directly to LJ for about the past two weeks. Once things settle down with software on Tobor, with work craziness, and with Emily's graduation week (yay!), I'll get cross-posting back and you'll be able to read in both places. Until then, click this to ketchup:
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 09:36pm on 03/05/2014
It's a day too soon for May the Fourth, but that riff works for most of what I tried to accomplish today.

Our front stove burners both stopped working earlier this week. It's an electric model, resembling more a 1958 Buick than anything else, and two days ago I found replacements for both burners, which I picked up early this morning. But they're very touchy. A millimeter either way and they don't seat right. So I pronounced FAIL and Eleanor will try to have at it tomorrow.

She couldn't, today, because she got a desperate call at 9-something this morning to go in to cash at the store- this is a big prom weekend, so a lot of their younger cashiers were out of commission. She asked that, while she was out, I do some cleaning around the stereo area, which I did- and after which, at the time, I succeeded in reconnecting the rabbit warren of video/audio equipment to suit our tastes and seeing/hearing needs.  All the inputs displayed and sounded correct on their respective outputs. At noon, anyway.

Come this evening, though, none of it was behaving. My new computer had the final Portlandia downloaded, but I couldn't get sound through the living room stereo come hell or (suitably for the episode) high water. That meant dragging my old Vista machine out, re-downloading it for that, and delaying things before we finally got it.

Next, we continued a DVD until about 8:30, which worked fine- and left plenty of time to pop in a blank to record Orphan Black at 9. Except not. One of the cords between TV and DVR suddenly stopped behaving, and  by the time 9 p.m. rolled round, there was no hope of it. It's a fairly cheap and accessible part, but Radio Shack's not open at this hour, so we're going to have to hope we can on-demand it tomorrow in order to see what-all is up with the grrls.

Speaking of my new computer, it's almost ready to go into full-time service. It took hours, but I got my Outlook email archived and onto it earlier today, and that function is now ready. Billing will move onto Tobor as soon as I get this week's completed on this machine. Then it's just copying over data and music files, and making sure my phone syncs nicely with the new setup, and I can finally put this old beast into semi-retirement.

So just a bit more than two more hours of May the Turd. Sorry to dump on you;)

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I worked mostly from home and, still, from this Vista computer today. Windows kept nagging me to install updates- unusual, since the scheduled ones usually show up on Tuesday or Wednesday.  One of them was to the pre-loaded Microsoft browser that I only use under duress, when no other independent one plays well with the site I need to use.  Apparently, this bug was so dangerous, Microsoft resurrected its promise not to support XP or IE 8 anymore, and it provided patches even to those millions of out-of-date users.

So it seemed like a good time to get this computer out of the early 21st century and into a more secure browser for the few things I ever use it for.  I opened IE 8 and tried to download 9 (higher versions seemingly needed higher operating systems than Vista). Here's what I got:

That's right, kids. IE 8 blocks you from downloading IE 9 "to help protect your security."  So, in a fit of irony, I used a non-Microsoft browser to download the same executable, which it did download. Several times. But every attempt to run the executable, straight or even "as administrator," produced the following:

In time, I figured out how to restore IE9, which I rejected dozens of times, in the Windows Update automatic download/install protocol. But that, too, generated the same "has stopped working" error.  "Check online for a solution" does nothing. "View problem details" explains nothing. In short, I'm stuck with a vulnerable and obsolete browser which at least two programs of mine require me to use.

Output me now.
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 09:10pm on 01/05/2014
The shit has hit the fan!

Perhaps you recall my windmill-tilting from a month or so ago, where I renewed being rather perturbed about the way my state's constitutution permits, and party-poltical tradition demands, that party chairmen almost singlehandedly decide who gets their party nominations to run for office on the state's trial court of general jurisdiction. I questioned why the "judicial convention" system isn't more open to party newcomers and outsiders, and whether the system might work better if the convention was a truly open process where any voter, particularly a knowledgeable lawyer, could petition to join the party and participate in a real choice.

Results so far have been mixed.

I sent in a piece to the local bar association's newsletter, which they printed in this month's issue as a letter to the editor. It's a somewhat less snarky version of this blog piece from last fall, but I also edited out any reference to the friend who spent most of last spring and summer running for the job and then fell on his sword last fall for the good of the party. He's running again this year, when five seats are up for grabs rather than the one unusual odd-year vacancy of 2013, and already people are looking at him funny on my account.

Because, you see, in order to get some information about how to become a delegate, I had to fill out a Freedom of Information request. I used my home address on it. Still. Within a day, my friend (who works in the same building I do but is not otherwise affiliated with me, or I with him or his campaign) got at least two calls from party insiders asking wtf Ray was up to.

So far, he's not up to anything, other than encouraging more participation by the local Bar members in choosing candidates. As it stands, most Bar Association members delegate that responsibility to its Judiciary Committee, which requests applications from candidates, interviews them, possibly asks their permission to check out their grievance records, and ultimately passes on them Nero-style over the summer as being well-qualified, qualified, or not qualified.  The latter is generally the kiss of death, especially for a non-incumbent.  I've heard complaints over the years about how this process is very closed, old-boy oriented and lacking in any real recourse if they ding you.  Personally, I'd prefer a larger body of regular practitioners having more access to both the information about the candidates and the final choice about who to put on the November ballot.

I also shared my letter, prior to publication, with another friend who is a lower-level party chairman. That friend was receptive, and liked how the piece was written, but also encouraged me to try to effect change from within rather than by being a curmudgeon.

Good luck with that, after all these years.

So as of now, the letter's only been seen online. The paper copies will begin hitting member mailboxes probably starting tomorrow. Making it all even weirder is that I attended a Bar Association seminar this afternoon titled "Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Judge." Not because I want to (at least not in the system I've been complaining about), but to hear what they had to say about the process, and how they felt about encouraging more general attorney participation in it.  In what may have been a first, the speakers included all three of the Dear Leader Party Chairmen who, in this county at least, among them control probably 99.9 percent of the judicial convention nominations.  None really addressed the openness of the convention process, although all of them spoke at length about being team players for their parties and building up name recognition and campaign treasuries. (One of them outright insulted close to half the audience by saying, in substance, "Face it- these elections are largely beauty contests, which is why we like giving women our endorsements." On behalf of ugly old men in the audience, I resembled that remark:P)

After they spoke, I introduced myself to my own party chairman as the elephant in the room, and told him I'd just gotten my letter published. He hadn't seen it yet, he said. He'd be happy to talk to me about my concerns, he said. 

Give me a week for the hate mail and hang-up calls to arrive, or not, and I'll tell you about whether I'm ready to take him up on that.

On the bright side, I did find out from another speaker that the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct takes complaints very seriously in races for judgeships. They generally fall into three categories: petition faking, financial violations, and impermissible remarks during campaigns.  After they spoke, I asked him how they felt about situations like we saw last year in a lower court race, when two candiates were seeking all of the party nominations in the September primaries and the endorsed Democrat was basically libeled by a supporter of the endorsed Republican. Would his committee consider a complaint where the offensive mailing came from an allegedly "independent" "Republican" "club" and not from the actual candidate?

His answer? Absolutely they would consider it. And if they could prove coordination between the candidate and the supporter, and if the candidate won (which in this case she didn't), they absolutely had the authority to kick her (in this case) out of office.

So at least we've got that going for democracy, which is nice.
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Sorry my posts have been so curmudgeonly lately. Bigots and insurance companies will do that.

So instead I'll catch up on some shows, and of greatest note, a show within a show:

That's the actually written and performed musical that Ali is rocking out to in this season's early episodes of Orphan Black. It previewed in Toronto last year and was included in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  You'd think the creative minds involved would be all a-titter about the sudden love for their production, but they're not: no new posts on the musical's website since last year, and the show's twitter feed seems to end right after this probably relevant post:

I'm guessing they signed on to some kind of gag order during the run of the tv series, but once it ends, we have got to track down this train wreck:)

As for what else happened in Week Two: lots.  Many surprises, and from the look of the E3 previews, another big one on the way.
Also, for the US viewers, some odd choices of commercial sponsors. probably didn't want the slot right after Sarah and Art raided a motel room, and Expedia might not have been the best choice just as people were plotting their escapes from death and destruction.

Or maybe they're edgy enough to have asked for those spots.


Odd that both that ep from Saturday night, and the Portlandia from the previous day, would both include a 3-D printer as a prominent plot point.  Mr. Mayor has been much more prominent this season (with his assistant, a real former Portland mayor, somehow staying out of the real-life scandals that plagued him in office).

Only one episode to go on this one.


Nurse Jackie is back on track, both for us and in its own world. I like the new dynamics they're working out among longtime characters and new ones (although Dr. Roman is definitely French manicured nails on a blackboard everytime she shows up).  Now that Zoey has crossed over into the downtown gay subculture, I'm thinking it'd be fun if she met Felix from OB.


And Fargo tonight. I'm on my own for that one, but am already rather hooked.
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That's from a longago Imus routine, but even as that old coot ages into oblivion, the subject of his satire still goes on.

Buffalo just had its very own Rodney King moment, when city po-po's were caught on Youtube last week, beating a drug suspect after he was already cuffed:

Comments on the local stories, of course, took the usual turns you'd expect from the enlightened population of the local Internet:

"The video's a fake!" (One tin-foil-hat wearer accused the uploader of using greenscreen, which is certainly within the high production values of most libtard welfare moocher Obama supporters).

"Dude deserved it!" (Also, references to the officers being "only human," a conclusion that perhaps Donald Sterling might agree with but not many others....)

and a good dozen references to how sad it is that Al Sharpton isn't here protesting because it was a black-on-black incident, whereas a white officer would've brought the city down in a race riot.

Maybe I should just stop reading the paper, huh.
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 01:31pm on 27/04/2014

Two Popes are going in together today to the Holy Mother Church Hall of Fame. John XXIII, he of Vatican II, and John Paul II (or as we originally called him, Pope John Paul John Paul) will be inducted by the present holder of the office. There will be hymns and prayers and maybe even balloons for the kids. And likely, there will be signs of reconciliation and peace among these devout followers of Jesus.

Don't believe it.

For today's local paper also brought news of the local Diocese going the extra mile to shame one of its faith.  Instead of turning the other cheek, it brought out a hot poker and pointed it at the offender.

The story:

Lynn Zlotkowski was married over Memorial Day weekend last year and, like most newlyweds, was so excited she wanted to share news of the joyous occasion with friends.

But when the Sacred Heart Academy graduate sent her wedding announcement and photograph to the school in Amherst for inclusion in its alumni magazine, the submission was rejected.

Zlotkowski, who had married a woman, was told that same-sex marriages could not be placed in Cordecho, the school publication for students, alumni and friends of Sacred Heart.

Zlotkowski, 32 and a member of the Class of ’99, was disappointed.

“I treasure my time at Sacred Heart and feel sad that my school doesn’t feel empowered to support part of their population,” Zlotkowski said during a phone interview from her home in Dedham, Mass.

“I know I am not the only gay alumna Sacred Heart has,” Zlotkowski said. “You can’t just ignore a portion of the people you educated and helped grow into the person they’ve become.”

Zlotkowski received an email response to her wedding announcement request, and while friendly and cordial, it rejected the request for inclusion in the alumni publication.

“I’m very sorry that we can’t publish your pictures and your good news in the Cordecho,” Sister Edith Wyss wrote. “We had a similar request several years ago and we did publish that announcement of the marriage of an alum to her partner. We did expect some negative response and we got some.

“However some readers of the Cordecho also contacted the Diocese of Buffalo. The bishop sent a diocesan official to meet with us at SHA to make sure that we understood what we had done,” Wyss wrote. “In their view, we were publicly supporting same-sex marriage. In our view, we were supporting our alumnae.”

The bottom line, according to Wyss, was that the Cordecho – published three times a year in winter, spring and fall – could not again print news or photos related to same-sex marriage.

Wyss declined to be interviewed for publication, but did return a phone call seeking her comment. The email, she said, was an accurate reflection of her sentiment.

I usually try to avoid the comments on online news sites; they tend to be troll-filled spouts of hate and stupidity with enough flame-throwing to take down a small city.  But the comments to this story included one from the "similar request" that caused such a kerfuffle:

Sacred Heart Academy, from which I graduated in 1981, posted my marriage to Theresa three years ago in the Cordecho. The Bishop then sent his "representative" or goon if you will, to threaten the board of directors and the head of school should they every do that again. I am proud to say there were several SHA alum at my wedding along with two Franciscan Sisters. I heard from many other classmates and former teachers congratulating me, including Sister Edith, quoted in the article. I am confident that SHA would have continued posting lesbian marriages had it not been for the Bishop. If I had a daughter, I would be proud to send her to Sacred Heart Academy. I thank God every day for the faculty and staff who supported me as I struggled all those years ago with my sexual identity. God bless them and save them from narrow minded fools, including the bishop.

Another commenter wisely questioned whether the Bishop has a similar doctrinal aversion to posting wedding announcements from couples who included a previously divorced spouse, or who had cohabitated prior to the wedding- both equally stonable offenses under both commandment and catechism. But those don't flaunt it the way, you know, BEING BORN WITH TEH GAY does. No way His Eminence is going to allow such irrefutable proof of God's sick sense of humor into one of HIS school publications.

Pope Francis's take on the whole issue is, "Who am I to judge?"  No need, Your Holiness; you still have plenty of minions with mitres to do it for you.

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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 07:48pm on 26/04/2014

Yesterday, I told you about an obscure but rather forward-thinking part of early 19th century Buffalo history. Today, we move backward, in both senses of the word, to the turn of the 20th century, which still exists in surprisingly large parts of modern America.

Buffalo hosted the 1901 Pan American Exposition. While best known for resulting in the assassination of President William McKinley on his visit to the grounds, the event also included other equally repulsive (even for that time) depictions of Western Hemisphere life. Local author Lauren Belfer highlighted one of these in her debut novel City of Light:

Such a depiction was reprehensible in 1901, 40 years after the start of the War to end such thinking. It's even more reprehensible 113 years later, when a seeming "American Patriot," embraced by the entire Conservative media machine in this country, comes out and says essentially the same thing:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
Continue reading the main story

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Because, yeah, way down south in the land of cotton, old times there were better than rotten. And despite spokespeople for conservative politicians racing away from Bundy like from the proverbial plague, there is still clearly a market in this country for this kind of pap.  Only mistake he made was not using the accepted code.  Per Reagan propper-upper Lee Atwater, circa 1981:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Bundy still cleans it up to "Negro," but the underlying sentiment is still there.  And that demeans that in which I hold citizenship.


You can dismiss Bundy as a underclass, stupid, backward backwater rancher, but he's by no means alone in his sentiment. The One Percent are right there with him. One Percenters like Donald Sterling, one of the 30 owners of a coveted and printable-money franchise in the largely African-American talent-driven NBA:

A recording said to be of Clippers team owner Donald J. Sterling making racist remarks was met with swift condemnation from Los Angeles city leaders and prompted a call for the city to formally denounce him.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said through a spokesman Saturday that he condemns the "statements and sentiments" attributed to Sterling. Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who represents a portion of South Los Angeles, went further, saying the council should take a formal position denouncing the remarks and demanding action from the NBA.


A person identified by TMZ as Sterling can be heard in the recording, said to be made this month, telling a female friend, identified as V. Stiviano, that he was upset she posted a picture on her Instagram account of herself next to Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the man in the recording says, later adding: “I’m just saying, in your … Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me,” he says. “And don’t bring him to my games.”

The NBA released a statement saying it was conducting a “full investigation” into the recording.

“The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in the statement, “but at this time we have no further information.”

Dude has a long history of racial insensitivity. I'll be shocked if it turns out not to be him. The NBA commish is scheduled to do a presser in just under an hour where he will have to address this latest stupidity among his own massah classah. If he isn't suspended the way any player would be in any league, it will prove just where the lines are drawn in even this day and age.

Oh, and the team Donald Sterling owns? Guess where that franchise originated, and had its best alltime record prior to last season and its only playoff appearances prior to 2005-06?

Yoooooooo (for Mcadooooooo) would be right!

Maybe Sterling visited the Pan-American site and decided that a team full of these guys would be best for him:

Days like this make me hate sports, hate my city, hate my species. All of them can do so much better.

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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 08:59pm on 25/04/2014
Odd, that two of my postable moments of the day involved Jewishness.

This morning, I worked my way through three of the nine circles of hell in downtown Buffalo- one court appearance and two public office visits. When I finished the third of them, I was on a side of a downtown building I usually don't pass by, and therefore I saw an oddity on a plaque outside the city's main Episcopal cathedral:

A Mogen David.

I got a picture of the plaque, which wasn't one of my better ones due to the sudden late-morning sunlight on it, but you can see an image, and the text, of it here:

Sept. 15, 1825, St. Paul’s was the center of an extraordinary, humanitarian and ecumenical event. Mordecai Noah, of New York City, proposed that Grand Island, across from Buffalo, become a City of Refuge, he named Ararat, as a proto-Zionist solution to millennia of Jewish exile and homelessness. The Rev. Addison Searle permitted the dedicatory ceremony to be held, with much pomp, in St. Paul’s. The project was not successful.

I'd heard the story of this before; a dear Facebook and Met-fan friend of mine knew of it, and her great-grandfather had been involved in the movement back then.  She always felt that the plan would've worked well in the summertime, but the 5-7 months of frozen tundra on the Niagara might not have been best for the Chosen.  As for me, I worried that when Moses parted the Niagara, the Israelites might've been overrun by Canadians coming the other way to shop in Cheektowaga.

Plus, for the tolls on the Grand Island Bridges, they would've needed to bring a shitload of shekels;)


That was late morning. By late afternoon, I was mostly done for the day and reading a novel I'd discovered on a page dedicated to memories of my longago Long Island home town. It's rough- in the first few chapters, the protagonist suffers an incurable form of cancer and begins his own divorce- but the character, clearly a M.O.T., at one point makes mention of the need for ten Jewish men to form a quorum for a proper prayer service.

I know this as a minyan, but the author chose to spell it (acceptably, according to my great-granddaughter of the Grand Island project participant) as "minion."

This, for me, led to all kinds of mental images. Images that, the Internet being the Internet, were by no means original:

Fine, go ahead and say it: I'm.... Despicable.


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