Archive for December, 2012

Links for Monday, 31 December 2012

Exporting the “old and sick” to another place

But don’t worry – I’m sure it’s for “the common good.”

From The Guardian,

Growing numbers of elderly and sick Germans are being sent overseas for long-term care in retirement and rehabilitation centres because of rising costs and falling standards in Germany.

…with increasing numbers of Germans unable to afford the growing costs of retirement homes, and an ageing and shrinking population, the number expected to be sent abroad in the next few years is only likely to rise. Experts describe it as a “time bomb”.

Germany has one of the fastest-ageing populations in the world, and the movement here has implications for other western countries, including Britain, particularly amid fears that austerity measures and rising care costs are potentially undermining standards of residential care.

Something to think about as we travers the road towards nationalized healthcare.

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The Last Radicals
From the National Review,

There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional.

The author contends that opponents to homeschoolers have three core reasons.

The first is that progressives by their nature do not trust people as individuals and feel that, whether we are applying for a credit card or popping into 7-Eleven for a soft drink, Americans require state-appointed overseers.

The second reason for this hostility is that while there is a growing number of secular, progressive, organic-quinoa-consuming homeschool families, there remains a significant conservative and Christian component.

A third reason is that the majority of homeschool teachers are mothers. A traditional two-parent family with one full-time breadwinner and one stay-at-home parent is practically built into the model.

Long live independence!

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Safe, legal and… rare?
From Touchstone Magazine,

The Federal Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) released a report on the eve of Thanksgiving showing that there was an historic drop of five percent in the abortion rate, the most in a decade. The data is from 2009, the latest year available, and shows that there were only 789,000 abortions. [emphasis in original]

The author states that data from California was not included, so the number of abortions most likely was over 1,000,000.

As for the demographics, this unsettling note,

Approximately 85 percent of women who aborted their babies were unmarried. The majority of abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy. White women had the lowest abortion rate, at about 8.5 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age; the rate for African-American women was about four times that; and the abortion rate for Hispanic women was about 19 per 1,000.

The liberal mantra of being there for the disadvantaged seems to get turned on its head.

And to put some perspective on the killing of 1,000,000 unborn children every year, it’s like having 137 Sandy Hook mass killings EVERY DAY.

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A belated Christmas Light Painting link for you all
Here’s a great example!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

© Michael Ross

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Doctrine vs. Methodology?
From The Gospel Coalition,

Pastors constantly face temptation to devote more time and energy to methods rather than to doctrine. If that includes you, then give heed to Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 4:16: “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Following the imperative to keep watch on himself, Paul further instructs Timothy to keep watch on his doctrine. My observation, however, is that most ministers aren’t doing this. They don’t talk about doctrine. They don’t read it. If they’re paying close attention to anything, it is their methods and psychology. What’s the result? Less biblical fidelity. Less interest in truth. Less seriousness. Less depth.

Neglecting doctrine results in less capacity to offer a compelling alternative to the thinking of our generation. I often hear the excuse that pastors aren’t studying theology because they’re too busy trying to reach more people. Ironically, this pursuit of identification often comes with a corresponding loss of communication. We put forth all this effort to make people feel comfortable and at home so they don’t feel the difference between life in Christ and life without Christ. Problem is, it is supposed to be different when you come to Christ. That is the point.

[emphasis added]

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From Radicals to Oddballs
Oh, those homeschoolers,

There are two facets to educating a child well. The first is to recognize that education is not merely the accumulation of facts, but that it has an unavoidably moral aspect. A suitable education must do more, therefore, than simply teach facts, even moral facts. Education must seek to cultivate the moral imagination of the child, for reducing moral education to a list of rules is bound to fail.

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    Things Heard: e243v1

    Good morning.

    1. NY Time op-ed favors ignoring equal protection (“parts of the Constitution he doesn’t like”) … kinda like ignoring “felony crimes for high capacity magazines” if you’re a wealthy member of the press but not if you’re a regular schmo, eh?
    2. Advice for living the Christian life.
    3. Voting and “powerful indicators”.
    4. Media bias once more … or if you’re thinking the media isn’t as biased … produce a similar list with counter-examples (or just one).
    5. Contra the classical liberal and libertarian, a speech.
    6. This is not unrelated.
    7. An example of a politically motivated definition … the assault rifle.
    8. The big charity problem.
    9. A cure for addiction?
    10. book noted.
    11. Well, yes of course. Our “ruling class are swine”, but that forgets that basically we are all swine.
    12. Obama wants to halt the murder of school-age children, so he’s stopping the drone campaign? Or not.
    13. The deficit, just click the link linked.
    14. Snow sculptures.
    15. Violence in America … meet’s Mark Twain and his “lies, damned lies and statistics” quote.
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      Links for Sunday, 30 December 2012

      No, despite America’s obsession with guns, the U.S. isn’t the most violent country
      It’s the U.K. From the article,

      Britain’s violent crime record is worse than any other country in the European union, it has been revealed.

      Official crime figures show the UK also has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa – widely considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

      In terms of violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the U.K. comes in at 2,034 per 100K (with the U.S. listed at 466 per 100K).

      For those who may be unaware, the U.K. has effectively banned the general public from owning firearms.

      ###

      Besides that, gun control doesn’t reduce crime – just ask the U.K. or Australia
      From the Wall Street Journal,

      We aren’t alone in facing this problem. Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.

      The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

      Read it all.

      ###

      Enacting “Gun-Free [sic] School Zones” increases the frequency of active killer events
      So says David Codrea, and he links to an interesting graphic provided by GeorgiaCarry.org.


      ###

      The Mayor of Newark gets it
      Mayor Cory Booker,

      I’m not afraid of law-abiding citizens who buy a gun… Listen to me, the people dying in Chicago, the people dying in Newark are not being done with law-abiding gun owners.

      ###

      The World according to murder
      An interesting infographic (have not vetted the accuracy of it).

      murder
      Provided by Survival Goods

      ###

      Be careful what you ask for
      CNN asked its “iReporters” the question, “Was your gun banned?”, and also asked them to “upload a photo of your gun and share your thoughts on gun control.

      An intrepid young iReporter decided to have a little fun with the assignment, and uploaded a photo of a nerf gun* (shown below), stating,

      My ak 47, 5th generation model. This one uses the 9.88x33mm round. I believe the only nation that uses it is Canada. They need this kind of firepower actually. I got mine in yellow because nothing says, “I’m big, bad and scary like yellow”…banana yellow.

      This gun is actually at the top of the ban list. I don’t like that. We have rights to bear arms. Don’t take that away from me, don’t take that away from us. Guns are a part of our heritage, or history, our roots, our blood.

      What happens if tyranny arises? What if North Korea invades? What if a meth head randomly walks into my house? The only thing between life and death, survival, and non-survival, freedom and slavery is this baby.


      * “Not vetted by CNN”

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        Things Heard: e242v2

        Good day. Well, I didn’t get an essay out last night. I over-estimated the time I’d have to write with so much family visiting to do. Anyhow … we played the game Munchkins a few times, much fun was had by all.

        1. Super-hero Barsbek.
        2. Discomfort and disorder.
        3. Comparisons again made between late antiquity and late modernity.
        4. No PTSD?
        5. The complete Democrat party plurality avoided … but only the GOP regrets it.
        6. Not defined by sex.
        7. How to make a really poor argument.
        8. Still gunning for Obamacare.
        9. Ya wanna bet they’ll just kick the can down the road again?
        10. So, does that shirt literally or figuratively amuse you?
        11. Chinese labor.
        12. I’d never heard of sugru, have you?
        13. A show, I think we’re going tomorrow.
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          Things Heard: e242v1

          Well, I hope everyone (who wanted to) had a good Christmas celebration.

          1. Papua.
          2. Stall speed of 45 mph.
          3. What do you predict Mr blog-pundit? I predict lots of confounded predictions.
          4. To the Happy Holidays (Holidays = Holy Days btw) vs Merry Christmas debate, Orthodox tradition has this as its Nativity declamation (which is done in a declamation/response form … Pascha/Easter the declamation/response is Christ is Risen/He is Risen Indeed). So, if you want to push the Merry Christmas humbugger’s buttons declaim “Christ is born!” instead … if you don’t get the response (Glorify him!) after a pause supply it yourself.
          5. Why saftey nets should have lots of suck.
          6. Needed, more cheeky mavericks.
          7. At the same time you complain they couldn’t make this show any more … it is still being broadcast (and likely watched).
          8. Let’s see, a few days ago there was a “strong indicator” that wasn’t. Here is another indicator … perhaps strong.

          Gun control

          1. So, do you think it new regulations will pass (or even be voted on by) Congress?
          2. Those “big” effects that gun controllers … all that new regulation and laws they want for .1 to .3 per 10,000?
          3. And … what prohibition would get you.
          4. And a congress-critter doesn’t actually realize that women own/buy guns too? He apparently believes the CT shooter’s mom was “testosterone fueled”.
          5. Apparently to the irrational liberal “left in the car” means “used”.
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            "Hear the Bells"

            Every Christmas Eve, before the kids go to bed, we listen to Mannheim Steamroller’s "Silent Night" as the last thing in the day. Usually I’ll say a little something about remember family far away, or about soldiers deployed during this time. It’s usually short.

            However this year, with the Newtown shooting, and getting some inspiration from different sources, I wrote this up. It gives us some perspective; how good most of us have it, how much some people are hurting, and how much God has for all of us.

            And I dare you not to cry when you hear the toy piano plink out "Silent Night".

            Merry Christmas.

            Doug

            Read the rest of this entry

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              Just like Mary, you too can give birth to Jesus!

              What, you say? How can this be? Simple, just check you Cable listings for the Casting Crowns Christmas Celebration and listen to the sermon [sic] from Max Lucado (about 30 minutes into the program). After reading the scriptural account of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary, Lucado then launches into one of the strangest evangelistic talks I’ve ever heard.

              Here are some direct excerpts:

              “The virgin birth – more than just a Christmas story, but a heavenly promise that what God did for Mary, he will do for you.”

              “The virgin birth – the core of the Christian hope, that God could work such a miracle in those that would trust and obey him, that Jesus himself would be placed within them, so that they could do what Mary did – deliver hope into a dark world.”

              “And John was clear that those who obey his [Jesus'] commands live in him and he lives in them. And the sweet invitation of Christ is this, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come-,” not just near, and not just around, but “I will come in.” Jesus’ invitation to all people is this, “If you’ll let me, I’ll move in.” And what Christ did for Mary, he’s willing to do for you. To grow in you, until he has to come out – until you deliver him. Until he comes out through your speech – through your touch – through your eyes – through your love. Every place you live will be a Bethlehem, and every day you live will be a Christmas. And you, like Mary, will deliver Christ into the world.”

              “And the day you deposited your faith in Christ he performed an irrevocable yet undeniable miracle – he moved in. And he took up residence, deep within you, until he grows and he grows and he grows, and he must be delivered. You do not have a choice – you are third trimester heavy, with the presence of Christ. And you deliver him into the world.”

              I think this takes metaphorical analogy, with a personal application, to a whole new level.

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                Things Heard: e241v4

                Good morning.

                1. An acquittal you didn’t notice.
                2. Clean and the germ population.
                3. Zee crimez and ze criminalz.
                4. The argument for (?) assault weapons bans is slippery slope as a good thing?
                5. Trends.
                6. Grey Lady racism.
                7. 1000 words on race politics.
                8. Climate … so at that first link the trend is so so clear, eh?
                9. For the die hard LOTR fan.
                10. A cool game for kids.
                11. Thanks fer that.
                12. The anti-feminist in your midst.
                13. It didn’t work over there, so gosh let’s try it ourselves.
                14. letter of resignation.
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                  Things Heard: e241v3

                  Oh. Happy birthday to me. I’m 51 today. We’ll see if we can keep ‘em (birthday’s that is) coming.

                  1. So do public service teachers union come into this story or not?
                  2. More on schools here.
                  3. Plan and market.
                  4. Powerful predictor not so powerful after all.
                  5. Taking the gun rhetoric seriously for a moment.  And gussy up a false dichotomy with pretty graphics and its still a false dichotomy. Seriously. Hint … to the non-religious liberal who thinks evil doesn’t exist and all crime is just illness … read Midgely’s book Wickedness. Mary Midgely is a renknowned British moral philospher. It’s not a hard read.
                  6. Or not at all. Let’s see what was Congress’ first suggestion ban “assault” rifles … you know they are used in less than 2% of crimes like the one in the news and not in the current case.
                  7. And the idiot who shouted “ban all Glock’s” calls others ignorant. Let’s see, Glock makes semi-automatic pistols which are inexpensive, accurate, and reliable. The are one of a dozen manufacturers who make similar products. But let’s ban just the one. Why? Dunno. Let’s ban “high capacity” magazines, ’cause it takes a second and a half to change magazines. That’s clearly the limiting step.
                  8. Slurp.
                  9. So what triggered the shooter? Perhaps, the threat of involuntary incarceration in a mental health institution. Which in turns suggests he needed it.
                  10. Race and shootings.
                  11. Wheee!
                  12. Not forgetting the economic crises.
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                    Things Heard: e241v2

                    Good morning.

                    1. Well, Ms Althouse has the best response to gun nuttery in the wake of the CT shootings (and for the rhetorically challenged, a little explanation of what is being said).
                    2. And so, here are some of the Presidents options on controlling gay community/activity in the wake of the U-Penn/Sandusky affair.
                    3. Mental health? Actually … there was a WSJ article this morning (likely behind pay-walls) that pointed out only 47% of the similar shootings in the last 30 years have been linked to mental illness. So … even if we “fixed” our mental health it isn’t going to be the fix we might hope (that is 90% or better). The Norway shooter for example was not clinically insane (how about just plain evil?).
                    4. Speaking of evil.
                    5. And a homily in response to Friday’s events.
                    6. Timelines, Timelords, and liturgy.
                    7. What will “he” do.
                    8. Warming and solar variation. “perhaps because … ” … ya think?
                    9. More weather, err, climate stuff.
                    10. Scholastic majors.
                    11. New world maladies.
                    12. Flee.
                    13. Connecting abortion and child support.
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                      Things Heard: e241v1

                      Good morning.

                      1. Approaching the Nativity and the seasonal liturgical practices of the East.
                      2. An upcoming discussion.
                      3. Does that exhaust the choices?
                      4. So … it has to end? What? Now, do you figure we’ll see the liberal/progressive press and thinkers all figuring out how to revamp mental healthcare in America? Or will they stupidly and mindlessly go after things that won’t make a difference? Or how to organize fast (armed?) responses to violence in public places? Or will they use this as an opportunity to steal more liberties from the people?
                      5. Foot votes.
                      6. Very pretty.
                      7. Negative to vastly outweigh the positive. Which describes most of what Washington does these days. Which is why gridlock is the voters choice.
                      8. Metrics.
                      9. What the modern progressives seek … uniformity trumps all else?
                      10. One progressive argues for legalizing automatic guns and good body armor for civilians.
                      11. Small government conservatism begins here.
                      12. Minding Midgley … is it detecting mental health problems … or just locating actual evil in our midst?
                      13. Why?
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                        Things Heard: e240v5

                        Well, better late than never, eh?

                        1. How is the US like an autocracy?
                        2. Medical eRecords.
                        3. Hypocrisy.
                        4. Grass is not a “priority” … heh. Today its’ not … 30 years ago it was and now the priority is (perhaps) keeping the kids away from it.
                        5. Maya.
                        6. I guess while I was working and net-less … another shooting occurred. A question that will come up answered.
                        7. A reaction to that.
                        8. The fiscal cliff thang.
                        9. No true Scotsman comes to ESPN.
                        10. Bang tech.
                        11. What too much safety net looks like.
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                          1st Sunday of Advent – Love

                          Love

                          The 1st Sunday of Advent was December 2nd. I’m late. I know.

                          This year we’re celebrating Love for the First Sunday of Advent. You may have heard of the saying, “God is Love.” Indeed, reference 1 John 4. But what exactly is that supposed to mean? In English, the word ‘love’ has a variety of applications which can run from the erotic to gastronomical. I ‘love’ green chile cheeseburgers, for instance. Not to worry, though, because we have the Word of God to explain this to us.

                          In Romans 5 we are told of the depths of love which was expressed for us.

                          For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

                          (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

                          And in the well known John 3:16 passage we are explicitly told of God’s love for mankind as well as the implications of such love. Hence we celebrate the Advent of Love, a pre-existing love, which by its very nature, cannot have existed in a singular state – for who would God have to love?

                          One admonition I’d like to leave you with is that as you reflect on the Love of God, particularly in the Advent of the Incarnate Jesus, don’t make the mistake of trivializing said love by over-personalizing the concept. While God loves each and every one of us, the phrase “For God so loved the world…” should not be translated “For God so loved ME…” In our self-centered culture, that’s an easy trap to fall into. I recently heard an evangelist prompt the audience he was speaking to to repeat the phrase, “Jesus was born, just for me.” Besides being wrong on so many levels, such a phrase only serves to reinforce the individualistic mentality so prevalent in society. Remember Romans 5:8, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

                          Happy Advent!

                          And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                          “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

                          (Luke 2:8-14 ESV)

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                            Potential Remedies for the Fiscal Cliff

                            I have a lot of vacation saved up for the end of the year, so I have to take quite a bit of it so I don’t lose any. (We, like many companies, can only carry so many days of one year’s vacation into another year. Part of the reason is so that people have to take vacation and not get burned out.) So I’ll be off the rest of the year, and this will likely be my last post of the year. When I return, we will have gone off the so-called "Fiscal Cliff", or we’ll have come to an agreement to avoid it.

                            As the countdown to the Fiscal Cliff continues, tax increases seem to be the only way Democrats in Congress think that we can close the deficit gap. But Michael Barone points out that, no, tax increases alone will never be enough. It’s not the panacea that Democrats claim it to be. He covers some ideas that I’ve mentioned here, like the fact that entitlement spending alone is enough to keep a deficit going. You might think tax increases are helping, but we’d just be sinking slower. Some I’ve engaged in on this subject have said, “well, at least that’s in the right direction”. Sure, if you can hold your breath indefinitely. No, the right direction would be to start rising and get above the water level.

                            Another point is that higher tax rates don’t typically produce more tax revenue. From the 1940s to the 1960s, when the top marginal tax rate was 91% (91%!), tax revenues always bounced between 15 and 21% of GDP. Why? Because with a tax rate like that, people spend more time looking for tax shelters and other means, legal and illegal, to keep from paying those high rates. Thus, the Congressional Research Service notes that, during those times of 91% top rates, the effective tax rate on earners in the top 1/100th percent was 45%. Now, I understand that only income over a certain amount was charged that 91% rate, but even the tiniest sliver of earners at the very top, the absolute richest of the rich, were still paying an aggregate of less than half the rate. Some studies put it at 1/3rd the rate. This is simple pain avoidance. Threaten to poke me, and I’ll defend myself.

                            And so from 1948 until now, with up economies and down, with huge marginal tax rates and smaller ones, under Republican Presidents or Democratic, the total US tax revenue taken in as a percentage of GDP has stayed remarkably consistent in the same range; between 15 and 21%. The tax rate made precious little difference in how much of the economy was taken in taxes.

                            The lesson, then, is this: grow the economy and restrain spending. If we’re going to get the same percentage of the economy in taxes, then to get more tax revenue, you must grow the economy. And as Barack Obama himself said in 2009, “you don’t raise in a recession.” Now, you might say we’re coming out of the recession, but his proposal for $50 billion more in yet another stimulus says he thinks otherwise. Don’t read his lips; read his proposals.

                            But, once you get those increases revenues, don’t spend that and more on, well, another stimulus, which, by the administration’s own numbers, grew the economy and the jobs at a slower rate than doing nothing. No, taking more in is not a license to spend it. But it’s what government does. That’s why any deal which includes higher taxes may look like a healthy compromise, but it’s nothing more than a ruse that will put us further in debt.

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                              Things Heard: e240v4

                              Gotta be quick … oh, hi! Good morning.

                              1. Six bullet points on Iraq/Afghanistan that the President’s supporters likely either wish would go away but should defend (and likely won’t/don’t).
                              2. Mr Mom’s beginner mistake is a classic.
                              3. History lessons … answering 3 questions.
                              4. I think the argument that the level of fine is not excessive is the harder, err … frankly impossible, one to make.
                              5. And more government overreach.
                              6. Speaking of government malfeasance and overreach … Democrat shenanigans that likely won’t make the (biased) mainstream news.
                              7. Opposite day.
                              8. Materials sciences.
                              9. Meta-ontology.
                              10. Two separate arguments that right-to-work is not a libertarian notion, here and here.
                              11. Drones and the law.
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