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Topics - Cramulus

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1
Apple Talk / Evangelical Atheism versus Religion, ROUND 666
« on: May 21, 2019, 03:24:34 pm »
I've seen this article bouncing around facebook... It's basically another of these evangelical atheism pieces. I wanted to share my response.

http://churchandstate.org.uk/2019/02/you-need-to-consider-the-possibility-your-religion-is-mythology/

Article Summary
  • If any religion is true, it's only one of them. Therefore most people who practice religion are wrong.
  • "A belief system written by human beings that has no bearing on the factual nature of reality is mythology." They are using the word Mythology to mean "an amusing bedtime story with no bearing on reality", and also a "complete waste of time"
  • your religion contains stuff that doesn't jive with a materialistic world view, it's false
  • Believing in mythology is a 'waste of time'. You should focus on 'real things'.
  • You need to critically evaluate your own religion (okay, I agree with that, but they also assume that if you evaluate it critically, you should conclude that it's all bullshit)
  • Evangelism is bad, because if you convert a bunch of people to a belief system, it will influence laws and social norms, thereby fucking over people who don't share that belief.[/i]
Feel free to add to this, if there's something in the article I missed in that summary.


Okay, so where does this go wrong?


First, let me pose the question what the fuck is religion, anyway? A basic answer is that it's a belief system, it "explains" things about the world we live in. Gods, heaven, hell, what created the earth, etc. It explains what the stars are to people who don't haven't discovered astronomy.

But this is actually pretty reductive. Religions are also communities. Traditions. Cultural practices. A way of orienting oneself to the outside world and the bigger picture. In a lot of religions, the actual "beliefs" take a back seat - what's really "going on" is the relationships between people and community that's born from that.

as an aside - some scholars think that religious practices predated religious belief. Maybe there are ceremonies that villages do together for community or survival related reasons, and over time, a mythology develops around it.

I think it's better to ask the question "which cultural practices are bad?" rather than assuming all religious thought is "mere hokus pokus".

For example, take the Native American protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. They believe that the land is sacred, and running an oil pipeline across it will defile that sacred land. So yeah, at the root, there is a belief that the land has some invisible quality which should be protected. This is not true in a material sense. But it is true in a symbolic sense. Respect for the land is a positive human behavior which grows out of that "mythological" belief.

Could the native americans respect the land without the mysticism? Probably. I mean, there are lots of good material reasons for not hosing crude oil all over the cute forest animals. But isn't it a bit colonial/imperial to impose this on people? To say "even though they result in the same outcome, my reasons for protecting nature are true, whereas yours are false?"

And really, why does it matter what the behavior is rooted in? Maybe you watched the movie Fern Gully, Wall-E, or some other film that is supposed to help you give a shit about nature. None of the stuff in the film is materially true... but along with the story about (inexplicably white) faeries that live in the jungle, something else is transmitted--a feeling about nature. A sense of mankind's place in the universe and how we are going off-course. The article would suppose that this story is a waste of time, and that you can arrive at the same relationship with nature using reason alone. I don't necessarily agree. Different strokes for different folks.

To use a more secular example --- take the story of American Thanksgiving. I was raised with this narrative that the Pilgrims and Native Americans made friends and had dinner together, etc, etc. This turns out to be a bad distortion of the truth. Nevertheless, we celebrate Thanksgiving today with a ritualized meal and this weird historical 'mythological' explanation for why we're doing it.

But the explanation is really kinda irrelevant, yeah? The real inner-essence of thanksgiving is the material behavior-- that we get together with our families and eat and spend a moment being thankful for all of our gifts and privileges. I feel like the article would tell us that the story about native americans and pilgrims is a waste of time because it's not materially true. (And yeah, we could benefit from a more truthful understanding of the native/colonist relationship, but the real reason we tell the story is not as a documentation of history.. it's that we can benefit from participating in this story where two groups come together and share)

And why is it good to be thankful? This is essentially a spiritual question.

To back up a bit, I also disagree with the assumption that religion is basically the impoverished, uninformed version of what science can give us. I think science and religion are aimed at different targets. There are fruits growing on the spiritual vine which you can't pluck from contemporary science, and vice versa.

I strongly agree that people who take the bible literally are hung up on a lot of horse shit. But there is a way to read religion without taking it literally. Reading religious writings literally is a trap that very material-minded people fall into whether they are atheists or religious.

There is an inner-meaning to spritual practices -- in part, it's meant to develop an personal sense of compassion and empathy, a sensitivity to others (That's the essence of the "Do unto others..." rules). This empathy is a positive quality for a person, and it's also good for a community that people within it have this sensitive orientation. A community which develops the empathy of its members will work better.

Is it possible to receive that empathy from science alone? Yes, some people do -- Carl Sagan thought of the universe as conscious, and that our consciousness plays some cosmic role in the universe's desire to know itself. But that idea is not a scientific conclusion--it's an interpretation, an extrapolation.

It is no different than a pantheist's conclusion that we are all a part of god, and that the omnipresent god's will is to know itself. Or the Zen conclusion that the ego is false and that the greater forces hidden behind the ego (some of which are external to our physical being) are the real self. Sagan looked at the Big Cosmic Picture and arrived at some conclusions about how he should live, how he should relate to others, how his personal curiosity fits into the nature of intelligence and human purpose. This is, in essence, spirituality.



2
Principia Discussion / DISLIB - the Discordian Library
« on: May 02, 2019, 02:36:52 pm »
These cats are archiving Discordian writings

Eris bless them all (but not more than they can handle)

https://dislib.lima.zone/doku.php/start

3
Apple Talk / Cameo Dot com
« on: April 18, 2019, 03:53:31 pm »
My current obsession is https://www.cameo.com/

You can pay C/D-list celebrities to record a short video for you. Most of these are birthday greetings and such. A lot of them are amusing just cause these people are clearly hard up for cash, and trying to channel their sincere energy.. to varying degrees of success.

Here's a fav: Wesley Snipes still cashing in on Blade - https://www.cameo.com/v/uulMdnbb6


If you find other good uns, link em here

4
Literate Chaotic / Cancel Culture
« on: April 09, 2019, 02:11:45 pm »
They were the idol, I was devoted.
Then they strayed into discomfort,
now they're CANCELLED.
now their art means NOTHING.

Through 'Share' Sermons and 'Like' Pulpits, we assemble like clergy.
We watch you like fireworks, like the sermon on the Mount Rushmore.
We made these boots for you, size 100, they must fit you.

You say the things we want you to say.
Stay on course, you are perfect
reenforce and support me, you are perfect
give us the sequel, you are perfect
We made you, monster, and we can break you

We worship gods, not humans
If your hand shakes as you draw the line between up and down
the eddy will twist into a vortex
your head will spin in exorcism
we throw the clothes that smell like you in a trash can, light it on fire, and sob

The thumbs up are paparrazi now, following you to your car, chasing you through the tunnel
don't be human don't be human don't be human
faster and faster, the double yellow line thrashes back and forth like a snake
We crash at top speed into a tweet you made five years ago
the age of fools

Now the chase is over, we righteously unfollow
we are righteously the crowd, the gallows, the passion

A parade in your dishonor
Like some defeated Gothic King
still living, now silent

Someone will stand atop your warm corpse like a soap box
Calling Out a euology, wreathed with paparrazi
you will not rest in peace. you will be forgotten.
you will diminish, move out to the country,
haunted by the aftertaste of ambrosia
no one cares about you anymore

How could you do this to us?
Repentance is for mortals, not gods
maybe you'll get one more moment in the sublimelight
which is not about your art, it's your apology tour.
With the stage lights focused like lasers
you will be naked and blemished,
disgusting and shameful.

I tell all my friends I will never enjoy you again,
and if my friends relate to you,
fuck them, too

sitting in the audience, clothed in unimportance
our blemishes and our shame are private
the pulpit is empty--we have emptied it, you and I
I call out another motherfucker
to viral applause
standing before the cathedral
purifying myself
for ascent


5
RPG Ghetto / Dungeon World
« on: March 26, 2019, 06:14:57 pm »
I just started a Dungeon World group, and so far, I'm loving it.

Dungeon World is derived from D&D, so a lot of its components look the same. You have a character, with a class, race, alignment... you've got XP, levels, ability scores...

D&D is a game where the Dungeon Master presents all this prepared content and then you fight / talk / solve your way through it.

In Dungeon World, everybody is collaborating on the story. One of the firm rules for DMs is that you don't prepare an adventure for the first session; you adlib an adventure based on everybodys' character concepts. As people make characters and develop their relationships, an exciting moment will begin to take shape. The game begins at this moment.

PCs Fill in the Blanks

The GM is encouraged to "leave blank space" and "play to find out what happens", creating a lot of the setting and story by adlibbing with the players. You can suggest setting elements that you want to include, but everybody shares responsibility for the overall direction and details.

For example, as people are making characters, I (the GM) ask "What stopped you from climbing up the sky chain last time?" Somebody might say "Giant evil birds", or "a toxic cloud", or "ninjas on flying carpets". I write down whatever they say. As they climb the sky chain, they will have to face this obstacle.




Whose Turn Is It, Anyways?

Another big departure from D&D is that there are no turns or initiative in combat. In D&D, outside of combat, the game is more like a conversation.. people talk when they want their character to do something ,and there's a natural back and forth between the PCs and the DM. In Dungeon World, combat is like this too. There's no limit to how much you can do at one time--that's kind of like asking, in a fight scene in a movie, how much can one character do at a time?

The PCs take actions, and the GM responds to those actions. This means that when you attack a monster, the monster sometimes gets a chance to respond. When you attack, if you roll poorly, the monster counter attacks or puts you in a bad spot. The GM constantly tosses the "focus" around to other characters at the table to make sure everyone's engaged.


Roll Up For the Mystery Tour

In D&D, a die roll will either result in a pass or fail. In Dungeon World, there are three outcomes -- pass, fail, and the fun one: pass with consequences. These consequences are pretty open ended. Maybe you pass-with-consequences on a die roll to cast a spell - as a result, maybe the spell also hits an ally, or maybe you got the monster's attention and he charges straight for you. Then the GM tosses the focus to another player - you see the monster charging at the wizard, about to rip her apart. What do you do? That player now has to choose between the action they were working on, or saving their friend.


A Night at the Improv

Dungeon World has a lot of open-ended prompts that you get to adlib your way through. For example, the wizard in my group has a bag with five books in it. We don't know what those books are, but he can name them as he pulls them out of the bag. The troll is about to attack, so he reaches in and pulls out a Troll Language Phrasebook. (he writes the book title down in his inventory, and marks off one of his five random books). Now he has an opportunity to talk to the troll, which didn't exist before that clever idea.


Like the Dan Harmon version of D&D

I find that Dungeon World feels a lot like those D&D podcasts where the rules are kinda in the background and everybody is just riffing on each other. Consequently, the session I played felt much sillier than my average D&D game, (I mean, one of the area's wandering monsters turned out to be mountain penguins... wrap your head around that) but everybody was laughing the whole time, riffing on each other and 1-upping each other's ideas.

You can tell that Dungeon World was written by people that really love D&D, but are kinda bored with the mechanical rules-driven nature of it. By opening up the story so that everybody is contributing, it feels like a very different kind of story. At the end of the day, it's not about this performance that the GM puts on for the PCs, but about what everybody is bringing to the table to share.

6
I was listening to an episode of Chapo Trap House where they were discussing the "redpill" movement. They briefly discussed the allure of these kinds of worldviews.

The "red pill movement" gives [idiots] this framework for understanding the world around them. They can apply the framework to any given situation, it "explains" both how the world works and how they should relate to it. This makes them feel smart--it feels like they understand things that aren't immediately visible, and therefore can operate at a higher level.

That's part of what's so attractive about belief systems. Take the incel community's framework to understand mating behaviors, especially relating to bone structure (that attractiveness is immutably linked to skull shape or something) - to them, these ideas feel like a key which unlocked a new way of understanding, one that justifies the emotions (namely how being rejected feels unjust) they were already experiencing.


In an effort to be better than that, I wanted to examine my own tendency to get caught in these kinds of mind-traps. Certainly, Discordianism appeared at a time in my life when I was looking for answers, and it provided answers (or at the very least, comfort with uncertainty) while appealing to my sense of humor and existing distrust of organized religion. Becoming a Discordian felt good, and this made me turn all my rational faculties to its defense. It wormed its way deeper and deeper into the golden apple of my heart.

The Gurdjieff work is the same way - it appeared at a time in my life when I was looking for answers, and it provided me with a new a framework for understanding both humanity and myself. It helps me focus on the real shit. And so I'm sure that part of my attraction to it is that it partially satisfies my incurable desire to understand.

And this phenomenon definitely appears in much less esoteric disciplines. When I first started learning about design (thanks Netatungrot, btw), all of the sudden all these design principles became visible, everywhere. I was able to go "ooh that's a bad design choice" or "that's some very clever design", and it made me feel smart. I was able to see things that others couldn't, and that felt good.


Probably every religion / belief system has these tendencies.. for an idea to spread, it must provide a benefit to the person spreading it. This is both how jokes evolve, and how gods are born.

But once we've found one of these "decoder rings" that cracks open a secret layer of reality, we have a tendency to stop there.

7
Literate Chaotic / Gnosis Now!
« on: March 18, 2019, 03:34:02 pm »
Years ago, Robert Anton Wilson's Maybelogic academy hosted a series of talks by Erik Davis called "Gnosis Now!"

It's an 8 part series which introduces gnosticism and gnostic texts. It touches on both the gnostics of antiquity, and modern gnostics like Phillip K Dick and Rene Daumal.

I really enjoyed this series -- it sparked my interest in a bunch of authors and related topics. I was just hunting for it and thought I should share--some of you might dig it.

https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-1/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-2/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-3/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-4/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-5/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-6/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-7/
https://techgnosis.com/gnosis-now-talk-8/

8
Apple Talk / Capeshit
« on: March 12, 2019, 01:15:02 pm »
I don't know why I needed to start a topic about this. Not liking something isn't usually an interesting opinion, so this post contains zero calories. But I gotta get it off my chest. I can't stand 99% of Superhero fiction.

I think it started when I saw Blade in theaters. Everybody I went with was like "that was so fuckin cool", and I was like... really? Every time he kills a dude, he does an absurd pose as if he knows there's a camera there. It's weird, that stuff doesn't bug me as much when it's an animation or a comic book, but when you film live people doing things that make sense for a still frame, the whole thing breaks down for me. It just seems corny to me.

Maybe my hangup is believability. When I see a film with live actors, it seems more relatable and immersive, so certain things bug me more. In a cartoon, if Batman's doing this gravelly character-voice, it works. But Christian Bale doing the cookie monster voice doesn't seem cool. Like if I were there in person, I'd be like "why is this guy talking like that, is he sick?"

There are exceptions. I really liked (most of) the Nolan Batmans. I liked Watchmen, probably because it's critical of the whole superhero genre. I've only seen a couple of the rando superhero movies like Dr. Strange, and they successfully killed 2.5 hours of time on a plane, so that was satisfying.

I like the moment in the first X-Men movie, where they put on the outfits for the first time, and Wolverine is like "What, you expected a yellow leotard?" Because yeah, it acknowledged that not everything in the comics is gonna work in a live format. I wish that logic was applied to almost every aspect of superhero movies.

Don't get me wrong - I'm into some nerdy shit, so this isn't me being on a high horse about how superhero trash is childish or anything. You're allowed to like it, you do you. My hobby is putting on elf ears and saying Thou, so I am not sitting in a position to condescend on anybody. I'm just saying they're not for me. But the problem is, all of my hobbies are filled with people who get all sweaty when some obscure bubblegum character gets their own feature film. So I'm constantly having the same conversation "OH DID YOU SEE JESSICA JONES? I WATCHED THE WHOLE THING IN 9 MINUTES", "ah, no, missed that one." and then they say GOD DAMN over and over again while wiggling their eyebrows at me.

Then comes the evangelists... DID YOU WATCH UMBRELLA ACADEMY? no, it doesn't seem like my cup of tea. BUT YOU GOTTA CHECK IT OUT.  You know, I don't get into the superhero stuff that much. THIS IS DIFFERENT, IT'S REALLY CHARACTER DRIVEN. yeah but uhhhh so is the Full House reboot, have you seen that?

Getting back to the Alan Moore vibe... I wonder sometimes about why these things are so popular, aside from the spectacle. What is it, exactly, about the superhero genre that people keep flocking to?

Is it the fantasy of the benevolent tyrant? We live in times that are complex and grey, so there is a desire for simplicity--for some unimpeachable strongman to show up and do a fight that makes everything good again?

Can you imagine what the world would actually be like if a handful of random people had superpowers? Can you imagine what elections would be like? What about regular law enforcement, how would that square with the normalization of vigilante justice? What about the intersection of power and celebrity? Superheroes would have ad deals and would go on podcasts. They'd be on commercials and SNL skits. There would be movies about them, and what the fuck would that look like?

Or, imagine if the Weird Science that gave Peter Parker spider powers was an over the counter medication. If some teenager can accidentally mutate into a badass, then big pharma would start rolling out FDA trials and selling it to the ultra-rich. It would be kinda like if everybody had a rocket launcher and a secret identity, the world would not be a better place.

So maybe these last two paragraphs tell me that I could like capeshit if it were framed differently. There's probably some good ones out there that I'd really like if I gave them a chance--but I dunno, there's a lot of media out there, I don't feel like I am really missing anything.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

9
Principia Discussion / New RAW book is out
« on: January 22, 2019, 03:02:36 pm »


FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Chaos-Best-Trajectories-Vol-ebook/dp/B07MY7NTKN/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1548039563&sr=1-2&keywords=Beyond+chaos+and+beyond

Quote
For over a decade (1987-1997), Robert Anton Wilson, co-author of the Illuminatus! trilogy and author of The Cosmic Trigger, published a quarterly newsletter, Trajectories: The Journal of Futurism and Heresy, full of original articles, unpublished fiction and outrageous opinion. The 1994 book Chaos and Beyond collected the best essays from the first ten issues of the newsletter; this sequel, Beyond Chaos and Beyond, preserves the best of the final issues, including an excerpt from RAW’s unfinished sequel to Illuminatus!, transcripts of audio and video issues, and transcripts of the several videos featuring RAW produced specifically for his globe-girdling fan base.

Additional material includes a rare 1977 interview with RAW; a major essay on Philip K. Dick, as well as RAW’s comments from a PKD documentary; transcripts of RAW’s 1978 PBS appearances discussing The Prisoner; and a 30,000-word essay by the editor detailing his 30-plus-year association with Wilson.

Beyond Chaos and Beyond is essential reading for hardcore fans of Robert Anton Wilson’s extraordinary work and life.

10
Apple Talk / Consumer Identity
« on: January 16, 2019, 01:33:35 pm »
Right now, the socialwebz is chattering about the Gilette commercial where they talk about toxic masculinity.

It's a great message. It's a well produced commercial. This is not about that.

I just feel like I'm taking crazy pills sometimes. Remember the Pepsi commercial where Kylie Jenner suddenly gets WOKE and ends racism by giving a cop a pepsi?



The whole thing was so cheap and awkward. I actually had a little faith in humanity restored because people rejected the crass attempt to cash in on a social movement. "Why can't we all just get along and enjoy a Pepsi together"

But we forgot about that -- now brands are our moral guardians again.


Just so we're on the same page here:

Bigass companies like Proctor & Gamble have legions of marketers who spend all day dreaming up ways to get regular people to talk about their brand. The easiest way to do it is to associate the brand with a topic people are talking about already. If they pick a controversial topic, they do a fuckload of research to make sure they're on the right side of the wave. At least, with their target audience. Brands aren't going to move the needle, they usually choose the safe side, to minimize blowback. (although the blowback can serve them -- when Chick-Fil-A took a stand against The Gays, people boycotted them, but then there was Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.. The company grew by 12% as a result of the controversy)

So, I am not generous with credit when ads sell us feel-good pro-social moral messages. They're not Martin Luther King, they're more like the guy who shows up at the million man march selling T-Shirts.


But all that being said, it's complicated... Because toxic masculinity is an important topic, #MeToo is an important topic, and getting some fresh air around masculinity is a net benefit. We need to be having these talks in cyberspace. We need shitheads to accidentally see a mirror and go "oh fffffuck".

In my darkest and most cynical moments, I question whether social progress is possible without involving Consumer Identity. Maybe progress is only possible when it can be sold -- and integrated into your wardrobe.

(the research shows, btw, that gender-role based advertising is super effective)

Because ultimatley, what moves the needle is "influencers" (like Kylie Jenner for some fucking reason) or Taylor Swift (whose brief dip into political awareness spiked voter registration). And if we're all just plugged into the knee-jerk machine anyway, then we might as well get something good out of it... so Thanks, Gilette, for getting people talking about your brand (in the context of toxic masculinity). Because it IS time to have a conversation about toxic masculinity (brought to you by Gilette).



Let's look back at the early Women's Lib movement... The FIRST American PR campaign was about getting more women to smoke--this was accomplished by targeting activist feminists. They tried to get women to call cigarettes "Torches of Freedom", and create a symbolic link between smoking and independence. They paid women to smoke cigarettes while marching in parades. 

In my darkest and most cynical moments, I thank the cigarette industry for women's lib.


11
Apple Talk / Postergasm Brainstorm
« on: November 19, 2018, 03:36:51 pm »
Playing with the idea of making some new posters. For those of you that don't know, POSTERGASM is a discordian project where you put crazy / surreal / funny / mind expanding printouts into public spaces. The idea is to jackknife right into somebody's stream of consciousness and plant a seed that might grow into a full thought.

Here's the central question --

In the Year of Our Lady of Discord 3184 (that's this year, ya spag), what message does the average pedestrian need to hear?


for now, let's focus on the core message... if we can come up with a few good kernels, we can develop corresponding memes which, when dropped into warm water, will gradually expand into a sponge shaped like a dinosaur.

12
Apple Talk / Obligatory Invisibles TV Show Thread
« on: November 08, 2018, 02:49:45 pm »


https://news.avclub.com/cue-the-cosmic-placentas-and-time-travel-orgies-grant-1830298144

  • Morrison's beginning work on an Invisibles TV show
  • They don't have a network yet, but let's hope it's Netflix (some Invisibles Graffiti was visible in the background of a Stranger Things episode)
  • Wouldn't it be cool to see the scenes that they lifted for The Matrix?
  • Wouldn't it be cool if this story was actually filmable

13
Apple Talk / Psychedelic Review
« on: October 24, 2018, 01:42:09 pm »


Whattup, buttlords and buttladies, it's ya boy Cramulus, back with my usual nerd shit.

I found out about this magazine called Psychedelic Review, began by the heady cats at the Harvard Psilocybin Research Project. It's a really interesting time capsule, a tour of mid-60s 'tune in, turn on, drop out' subculture and wackadoo spirituality.

As soon as I saw the cover of this thing, I wanted to read it cover to cover. (the Gurdjieff piece and the Rene Daumal essay tip the scales for me) And thank Gawdess we live in a time when we can, immediately. Or at the very least take a peek, read a few paragraphs, then get distracted by something else. It feels very dated, but still retains a lot of its original potency.

MAPS has most of this magazine archived: https://maps.org/research-archive/psychedelicreview/

14
Apple Talk / Let's start our own newsfeed, without blackjack or hookers
« on: October 23, 2018, 07:40:04 pm »
Yo, social media is stressing me out (which is probably a sign I'm on it too much). Every single post is trash, everywhere. So here's what I want you to do. Just make a bunch of light, harmless, fun posts in this thread as if you're posting status updates from a non-fucked world. Then I'll scroll through this thread once every 5 minutes and pretend it's real life.



15
Apple Talk / Witzelsucht: the Joker Syndrome
« on: September 26, 2018, 09:34:40 pm »

Quote
Witzelsucht is a set of rare neurological symptoms characterized by a tendency to make puns, or tell inappropriate jokes or pointless stories in socially inappropriate situations. It makes one unable to read sarcasm. A less common symptom is hypersexuality, the tendency to make sexual comments at inappropriate times or situations.

In our hearts,
we all already knew puns were a sign of brain damage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witzelsucht


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