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12:08 AM
@b_jonas Ah, true. Pine is the most Christmassy plant, but holly comes a close second.
@Hamlet The problem with HNQ isn't the community members' votes. It's the drive-by-non-expert-visiting-masses' votes (mostly, i guess, from SO, simply due to the sheer difference in scale).
Personally, I often refrain from voting on HNQ content I visit, especially when I know i'm not informed enough to know correctness. Even on the sites I generally am a community member, like Cooking. Or even often SFF (I wouldn't vote on WoT HNQ posts, for example)
@DVK-on-Ahch-To Although, it's the community members' votes that get a post to HNQ in the first place.
And, here on Lit at least, we're getting some answers with more upvotes than they deserve even if they haven't hit HNQs.
Like this travesty, which should be downvoted into the basement.
12:31 AM
@Randal'Thor But it doesn't take many of those votes at all. And once it is in HNQ, hotness practically becomes self-perpetuating.
But I still agree with Hamlet that there's sometimes a problem with voting from within the community as well as the HNQ effect.
Well, sure, I feel unable to judge that. I agree with DVK's general statements nevertheless.
But saying a question wouldn't get hot if the community didn't extensively vote for it is...not really true. But I guess you didn't say that so much.
I've seen some god-awful answers getting several upvotes even without the HNQ effect. Like the HP one I just linked, or the bottom two answers to this which are just plain wrong and yet have 4-5 upvotes, or this answer from someone who evidently has zero idea what that scene is all about.
Well, sure, I stumbled across one or the other rather unpleaseant questions/answers, too. Happens, I guess.
I especially found those self-answers about Trümmerlitatur and Kafka rather displeasing. But that's how things go.
(Sorry if I'm being harsh here. But we do want to have some proper quality standards, right from this early stage, and identifying bad answers is part of that as well as rewarding good ones.)
12:45 AM
Well, sure, you always want to improve the site you're invested in and protect it against detrimental influences, often under the risk of coming across harsh.
reads between lines ;-)
It works pretty much as a general statement, though.
Wow, we got twelve questions today! Nice work, all (and especially @DVK for kicking the topic challenge back into life).
Speaking of which, it looks like Gallifreyan's post about the topic challenge got auto-unpinned.
Oh, time to graduate then.
The April 2017 topic challenge is Hard to Be a God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Please consider joining in by asking and answering questions about the book! It's legally available here in PDF form.
@NapoleonWilson We can't graduate for another few days at least :-P
(There's a 90-day lower bound.)
12:51 AM
I see.
[face/palm] Another convention season, another concom handling misbehaviour in the worst possible way.
1:06 AM
@BESW eeeergh. That's a very bad decision on their part
Which? Keeping a known harasser on their concom, belittling and dismissing reports and concerns about him, publicising private email correspondence from a concerned party, issuing a public statement saying that their "inclusive" policy means harassers are welcome?
@BESW That was so delectably creepy
@BESW the whole package.
1:16 AM
And unfortunately it's not surprising. Conventions, especially lit/scifi conventions, are still riddled with this kind of behaviour.
Yeah. The author section of my Twitter feed is So Done With This.
@BESW I've not checked mine (and it's mainly romance authors) but I suspect once I do, it will be similar
Ooh, Romance Twitter. That's a nut I'd like to crack; do you have any recommendations?
@BESW In terms of?
1:28 AM
Like people to follow?
@BESW what sort of perspective are you looking for?
Usually a good seed account is one that re-tweets a solid spread of quality stuff from the same category.
That lets me get a sense of the landscape and I can choose my own follows from there.
eg, @2minutetimelord for Doctor Who Twitter.
Hm, not sure. Let me poke about, and see what I can find
I'm interested in the Romance Novel discourse; what are their interests and concerns?
1:32 AM
Most of what I follow are indie romance authors of various stripes
That sounds awesome.
Usually representation (POC, queer, there was a lot of #ownvoices stuff going about), representation of the genre as a whole
2:08 AM
Ursula Vernon is impatient with the novel she's reading:
You know what? If I was the heroine in a horror novel, I wouldn't call my loser ex from twenty years ago.
1 hour later…
3:17 AM
Speaking of romance:
The Romance Trilogy is available now in hardcover & softcover via @DriveThruRPG PDF is included!… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/851781996007358464
4:06 AM
Today in "people being stupid about romance novels":
None of these are pulpy romance novels that you'll have to conceal with a different book jacket http://bonap.it/szOEvxs
6:03 AM
Q: Is the old man still alive at the end of The Tell-tale Heart?

MithrandirIn The Tell-tale Heart, we see the madman does kill the old man: But for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not bother me. I knew it would not be heard through the wall. Finally the beating stopped. The old man was dead. I moved the mattress away and ex...

2 hours later…
7:34 AM
Q: What do red and blue represent?

BESWThe Manhattan Projects uses red and blue in clearly representational ways, but I can't quite figure out what they represent. At first they're used to designate between the Oppenheimer twins, and later between alternate realities where things go right or wrong, so I thought they might be simple c...

2 hours later…
9:33 AM
@Randal'Thor Yes yes. The Easter break is coming, I'll probably read the book then.
@Randal'Thor Awww, shoot!
@BESW That sounds bad.
@Randal'Thor you not on 10k yet? :P
@b_jonas Well, yes. On the up side, it's become a thing people actually talk about, and more and more people are able to choose which conventions they attend (as participants and as guests) based on how well the concoms handle this stuff--until relatively recently there wasn't much choice between bad options.
1 hour later…
11:12 AM
@BeastlyGerbil he's got another 105 to go...
11:22 AM
Question about the site which might not fit well on meta: is it harder to answer questions about stories you haven't read (a.k.a. do a Rand al'Thor) here than on SFF?
Yes, because (a) SFF questions tend to not require the context of the full text and (b) there are a lot more wikias for their texts.
I mean, I've done it a few times here (The Great Gatsby, Pechorin, Lermontov), but nowhere near as much as I used to do it on SFF, and it is generally harder here - as @BeastlyGerbil discovered ;-)
I mean, heck, I can spout quite convincingly about Doctor Who media I've never consumed.
@BESW I embarrassed myself at least once trying to do that.
When people try to talk about stuff they haven't read here, it usually shows more clearly and weakens the answer more obviously.
It's also often more important here to know what other people say about the work; see the several times people do a quick Google and think Philosophy of Composition is a sufficient citation.
11:27 AM
@Bookworm is this title too spoilery?
IME, there's an important difference between plot questions and "out of universe" questions. If you want to know how Star Trek combadges were attached to the actors' clothing, someone who's never seen ST can research that almost as easily as someone who has. If you want to know why [character] did [thing], or what [object] symbolises in the context of a story, it's much harder if you haven't read the story.
@Mithrandir Oh, thanks for reminding me! I meant to answer that one.
Aye. lit.se tends to be non-diegetic while sff.se tends to be diegetic.
And no, not too spoilery.
I've also run into occasional resistance to questions from users who don't know the basic context of the work.
Libraries and Information Science - a proposal that Lit users may find interesting.
11:34 AM
[throws at library friend]
12:00 PM
@Mithrandir Might be better to turn that link into hyperlink text, so that people can see what it is before they click it.
@BESW I had to look up that word, but (if I'm understanding the definition correctly) I would rather say it's the other way round. SFF has plenty of "behind the scenes" questions which can be answered by interviews with authors or directors - which is how I managed to get so many answers; I could never touch in-universe questions on that - but Lit has more questions which can't be answered without knowing all the in-universe context.
And @Mithrandir, you poor soul. Abridged versions of books can be terrible.
Retellings can be fine, but abridged means they literally take the same text and cut out great chunks of it.
The exception to prove to rule is, of course, The Morganstern. Because it isn't actually abridged at all and that's the whole point.
Mhm. It's 4 Poe stories stuffed into one volume meant for kids (sorta). I wish I had the full version, but I am not the one buying books at this stage...
As a child, I once read an abridged version of Nicholas Nickleby. I vividly remember one of the very last chapters, in which Nicholas (?) was talking to some other guy. There were actually some important plot revelations in that chapter (about Smyke?), but I had no idea who the other guy was, or what they were talking about, or what the hell was going on. I got really upset.
This is what I've got.
Also, I imagine Poe's stories are old enough to be legally available online.
I found the full text of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (admittedly with plenty of punctuation errors) without much effort.
Hmm, I guess I can try that. Might find some more stuff for the meta :)
@Randal'Thor I suppose I should read that by now. I have it, it's just been sitting downstairs waiting for me to stop rereading stuff to find questions for Lit...
Q: Why is Gandhi so aggresive?

XenoxWhen playing Civilization the Gandhi AI seems very aggressive in its use of nuclear weapons. Real live Gandhi has a reputation of not being aggressive at all, is there a reason why the creators of Civilization made him so aggressive in the game? Although the answer why does Gandhi want to nuk...

If Valorum was here, he'd say...
12:13 PM
@Gallifreyan classic Arquade click bait title
@Mithrandir You spoiled the joke :(
@Gallifreyan oh. Sorry.
@Mithrandir Meh. Unlike the Ninth Doctor, I'm not a fan of Dickens.
In no way do I resemble a means of keeping oneself cool.
@Randal'Thor yep ;)
12:19 PM
I may be flamed out of here for saying this, but I've found screen adaptations a much better way to appreciate Dickens's stories than actually reading the books in full.
> Joseph Oppenheimer, an American physicist with multiple personalities; Robert Oppenheimer's evil twin brother
Albert Einstein, a German physicist and barbarian
Albrecht Einstein, a German physicist and alcoholic from an alternate reality
Richard Feynman, an American physicist and wormholer
Enrico Fermi, an extraterrestrial disguised as an Italian physicist
@BESW The Manhattan Projects sounds wacky already, and I've only read the character list.
It's wacky, for sure, but it's a lot more cynical than my tastes tend to run.
Kind of... Alan Moore does Atomic Robo.
Also I think those are some massive spoilers.
Speaking of futuristic comics, Kickstarter editions of Yohancé are shipping this week! [bounces excitedly]
12:59 PM
@Randal'Thor Some stories adapt better to other mediums. Often there's been some kind of cultural shift about how mediums are used, so the themes or visuals of an old novel are now closer to what we'd expect from a film,or the like.
....which makes it so weird that nobody's ever managed to make a really good faithful adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans, since it's already written as if describing a film being watched.
1:26 PM
O_o I wonder why I got a downvote on this. Does someone think it's a bad question? o_o
A single downvote can usually be treated as white noise that means the system's working.
@BESW yes. But when it happens to half the questions I ask, I start to wonder if it's me who's the problem...
You can use it as a prompt to see how you might improve the question, but a certain inevitable amount of individual contrariness and grumpitude means that if you're not getting singular downvotes sometimes you may not be doing much.
If you're starting to see a pattern, though, that's when it's time to sit up and take notice.
@Mithrandir I downvoted the Tell-Tale Heart question, after some thought, because I honestly think the answer is obvious just from the whole theme of the story and the narrator's insanity.
Which is rare: I don't normally both downvote and answer a question.
@Randal'Thor After the answer, I expected downvotes. That's expectable when the answer is apparently a paragraph after.
But I've asked 40 questions (counting deleted ones). Of those, 28 have received at least one downvote. So...
1:43 PM
How many have received more than one downvote?
@Mithrandir The dismemberment wouldn't be enough on its own, IMO. Some of Poe's stories are crazy enough that a man's heart still beating after his head and limbs had been cut off isn't too inconceivable.
@BESW 'round ten or so, I think.
I'd focus on those when looking for patterns.
By the way, I'd still welcome more answers on this. Don't be afraid to provide a new answer just because it's already got one; there's no guarantee that that answer will get the bounty.
@BESW Those are usually the ones "legitimately" downvoted, though.
So those are the ones that need actual improvement.
1:48 PM
@NapoleonWilson Isn't that what Mith is looking for?
@Randal'Thor Sure.
If some of his questions get single downvotes just because someone doesn't like him or whatever, then meh. It's the "legitimate" downvotes that can actually teach him something.
Yes, so can someone explain the two downvotes here then? :P
I think I've slipped a little recently in commenting on my downvotes, which I've generally been trying to do here.
1:50 PM
Meta downvotes?
Still doesn't seem to be a particularly alarming upvote/downvote ratio.
@Mithrandir I upvoted it, but can't remember why.
Or alternatively, "duh!" downvotes.
It could be a sort of reverse HNQ effect: people think it's got more upvotes than it deserves in comparison to other questions, so they compensate by downvoting.
Like, @Hamlet and @DukeZhou said that they often downvote stuff; if it's one of them I'd prefer if they told me why.
@Mithrandir It's a scope-challenging question asked in the early days of the Stack?
1:53 PM
@Mithrandir DZ has 3 downvotes all-time. Are you thinking of someone else?
@BESW Yeah, but the downvotes were recent (at least one).
@Mithrandir You got the HNQ effect by proxy on that one, after linking to it from one of those SFF Hobbes HNQs.
@Randal'Thor maybe he said it in context of Mythology. Don't remember.
@Randal'Thor it bugs me for some reason that the comment has 125 upvotes and the question has 45.
2:18 PM
On this day, renowned children's book author Beverly Cleary was born in 1916. She turns 101! Image source:… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/852144788690403330
2:46 PM
3:12 PM
@Mithrandir I didn't downvote the question (and I think it's fine). I downvoted both answers because they were just authorial intent answers on a question that demanded a lot more than authorial intent. (I should have left comments, but I guess I was busy or something?)
To clarify, there are times when I upvote authorial intent answers. For example, I upvoted this:
A: What is the significance of Alec Bings's name in The Phantom Tollbooth?

JuniIt’s noted in The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth (which I highly recommend to any fan- it's a really lovely book) published by Knopf/Random House in 2011; on page 106, annotation 10 reads: “I’m Alec Bings” According to the author, this character’s curious name has no special significance ap...

@Hamlet yes, I would have loved a better answer.
@Mithrandir A better answer ... than your own?
@Randal'Thor Yes.
I don't really know why the question got downvotes.
I would have expanded it, but I don't know enough about analysis to write a good answer like that. I knew that answer, but I would also like the other kind of answer.
3:19 PM
But I guess if no one gives you an explanation, there's nothing you can do. I wouldn't worry about it.
Yep, I was just hoping for some wise advice from the people who hang out here :)
And I'm not so sure how my next couple questions will go over.
Say, I wondered this before I even heard about SE: "Why was"'In English?' translated directly into 'באנגלית' instead of into 'בעברית' ('in Hebrew') in the translation of--- - - - - - - - - - - - -?"
@Gallifreyan @BESW classic misinterpreting Gandhi in one of the answers
A: Why is Gandhi so aggresive?

MahatmaWhile I don't know developers motivation behind this choice, I always thought they took the following quote from Ghandi to the next level: There was a time when people listened to me because I showed them how to give fight to the British without arms when they had no arms and the British...

literature.stackexchange.com/revisions/719/3 so many tags for individual works...
@b_jonas yep. When that's what we decided on...
Still think it's a dumb idea that will eventually lead to a lot of problems
3:34 PM
If we had a slightly larger tag limit, I'd propose something else, but...
@b_jonas It makes more sense in some contexts than others, I'll admit.
But I can't see any easy way of distinguishing between where it does make sense and where it doesn't, except by making some sort of notability criterion, which is almost certainly a bad idea.
@Randal'Thor yeah, which is why I came to the position that we just shouldn't have them at all
@Hamlet But then, I want to be able to find a list of questions without getting all the ones too.
Many authors have written lots of completely unrelated works, and many people will have read one of those works but not another.
@Randal'Thor it might be that search is the more appropriate tool here.
@Randal'Thor Tags aren't supposed to replace search... you can search by tag and term... seems like the easy solution is to search by author name tag and keyword "1984"...
3:42 PM
@Catija "1984" or "nineteen eighty-four" or "nineteen eighty four".
or doesn't work well in search when combined with something else.
@Randal'Thor I can't say that I've ever seen someone write the title out.
Q: Should the [1984] tag be changed?

fi12If I'm not mistaken, I was the one who originally created the 1984 tag, which has now been applied to more than a few questions. However, I'm wondering if I made a mistake, as I just realized the actual title of Orwell's novel is Nineteen Eighty-Four, spelled out. Personally, I don't think this i...

... which you answered :-P
@Randal'Thor And? I'm not sure how that relates... if anything, it proves my point. The title is "Nineteen Eighty-Four but no one writes that.
4:35 PM
@Randal'Thor Richard Feynman is God. Did you read Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
Or What Do You Care What Other People Think??
Nope. Never really bought into all the hype around Feynman.
@Mithrandir Just want to state that I avoid down-voting except where absolutely necessary.
@Randal'Thor don't know about the hype, but they are interesting reads, at least for the sake of historical anecdotes.
The first is more like recollections of life events, and the second is almost a detective story, except he's investigating the shuttle disaster, and a ot of the story is about him getting the people to listen to him and believe him.
2 hours later…
6:24 PM
Mithrandir has made a change to the feeds posted into this room
@Feeds @Mithrandir Woo, extra 1 post here... per month :D
@Gallifreyan actually, I'm planning on being generous and giving out three bounties.
@Feeds @Mithrandir +1 for the feed name.
Coincidentally, I was literally just now watching this:
@Randal'Thor :D
Now we test if it works.
6:34 PM
Ha, I broke even for today.
I earned and lost 50 rep.
6:50 PM
Nu @LongJohnSilver? Where are you?
Don't be like Greedobie, please
@Mithrandir Greedobie worked just fine, thank you very much.
That reminds me. We've had no Robert Louis Stevenson questions yet? How is that possible?!
@Gallifreyan once.
@Randal'Thor Gosh! What have you done to him?
@Gallifreyan I shot him. But it's OK, because he shot first.
No, seriously: he's only ever posted one bounty notification, and never worked before or since AFAIK.
Mar 28 at 15:56, by Rand al'Thor
@DForck42 Apparently you fixed Mos Eisley's bounty bot.
7:06 PM
in Charcoal HQ, 1 min ago, by M.A.R.
Russian is weird as hell.
@Mithrandir Agree. Weird in every sense.
@Mithrandir Especially the genitive plural, as I recall.
@Randal'Thor For example?..
@Gallifreyan Oh, I don't remember any details.
I just remember the genitive plural being really complicated to learn.
Tries to remember which one was genitive
7:09 PM
@Randal'Thor Oh, thanks.
To be fair, it plagues native speakers as well. Say, a lot of people say "ихний" instead of "их", for "their". Needless to say, the former is an abomination, but still very common, even among educated people.
1 hour later…
8:38 PM
The cat is out of the bag. Northern Frights available now! Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998691224 Kindle:… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/852180969578795009
8:59 PM
@Randal'Thor There are a lot of good authors about whom we don't have questions yet.
@b_jonas True. But Stevenson is a classic mainstream western English-language author about whom we don't have questions yet.
I thought I'd made sure most of those were covered :-P
@Randal'Thor "Is Treasure Island an Edenic allegory?"
@Randal'Thor Do we have Eric Knight yet?
@BESW That sounds interesting ...
@b_jonas Dunno. Don't think I've heard of him.
"Why exactly did Sapkowski choose lilac and gooseberries as Yennefer's perfume?"
9:05 PM
@Randal'Thor It's patently ridiculous, but easy to make an insincere case for if you're not choosy about analytical rigor.
@Randal'Thor He's a british writer who published in America, written Lassie Come-Home which is quite famous, and The Flying Yorkshireman which is less famous, both about men and dogs.
eg, there are a LOT of Edenic parallels if you go looking for them, and cherry-picking those can make it sound very reasonable... but it's inconsistent with the text as a whole, and so unsupportable.
The latter is probably on-topic on sci fi, the former isn't.
@b_jonas Oh OK, I have heard of him then.
And read at least one of his books.
(Lassie Come-Home.)
@Randal'Thor He wasn't a very profilic writer, so he doesn't have too many famous books.
9:08 PM
(I wrote a short paper positing that Long John Silver is an amalgam of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and of Judas Iscariot. It was a lot of fun, and there's a ton of evidence for it. But it's also complete nonsense.)
@Randal'Thor how about P. L. Travers, who wrote Mary Poppins (a series of six books)
@b_jonas Less "classic" than Stevenson, surely?
@Randal'Thor Probably.
But yes, we really do cover a lot of classics.
Even if we only have a few questions mentioning some of them.
@b_jonas Then there's Dodie Smith, who wrote another book which is much better known for its screen adaptation.
Wuuuuut? She also wrote I Capture the Castle?
@Randal'Thor Honestly, I prefer 101 Dalmations, but Castle is good too.
Also, our only James Fenimore Cooper question is about what Mark Twain thought of him.
9:14 PM
@BESW Have you also read the little-known sequel The Starlight Barking?
I remember nothing about it except being underwhelmed.
I remember very little about it.
adds to reread list
@Randal'Thor On the topic of authors who wrote awesome books better remembered for their very different but also good screen adaptations, with disappointing sequel novels, Robert C. O'Brien.
We're also missing Chris Van Allsburg and William Steig.
@Randal'Thor As for more classics. We have barely any questions about Rudyard Kipling (who's famous for the Jungle Book), he's only mentioned passingly in questions about other authors. Same about Oscar Wilde. I hear Frances Hodgson Burnett's The secret garden is famous, though I haven't read it. I think we have exactly one question about J. F. Cooper, and one about Jane Austen.
No Wilkie Collins, no Anne Rice.
@b_jonas Cooper's question is about Mark Twain's defamation of him and subsequent critical opinion.
The Secret Garden is a notable "classic" for reasons I have never been able to fathom.
9:24 PM
@BESW Yes, and the Jane Austen question is similar.
Now, you know what'd be hilarious is a question about critical opinion of the Brontë sisters based on Stella Gibbons' portrayal of literary criticism in Cold Comfort Farm.
And of course nobody asks anything about the Peabody sisters.
(Is Richard Scarry a classic?)
...heh. When we visited Concord, the woman in the tourist information house started giving us the monotone speech about all the battle locations and the gun museum. When we said, "Actually, we're interested in the writers," she lit up, swept all the military pamphlets off the table, leaned forward and said "Well then! Surely you're here for Sophia!"
@BESW um, what Concord?
@b_jonas Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Donald J Sobol...
Or, as you might better know it, the one lousy with Transcendentalists.
Or the one with the rude bridge that arched the flood, where once the embattled farmers stood / And fired the shot heard round the world.
(Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson.)
And yes, that is where the phrase "shot heard 'round the world" comes from.
9:36 PM
@BESW I dunno, here in the eastern bloc I haven't really met Dr Seuss and all those american children's book illustrators. We had Richard Scarry for some reason, and I now have Matilda with Quentin Blake's original illustrations, which I quite enjoy, but that's not a common book here. Instead,
we have our own Réber with his unique style and some other talented Hungarian illustrators, the soviet illustrator Szutyejev whose children's books (some written by Plackovszkij) are highly circulated here, and of course Kästner's books come with Horst Lemke's drawings.
Scarry was a big part of my childhood, but I never considered it particularly noteworthy except in its ubiquity.
I suspect most of my childhood diet was very American, but I did get de Brunhoff, and Hergé, and Bemelmans...
(Though apparently now Madeline is a massive international multimedia franchise? [baffled])
How the heck is Szutyejev transcribed in English?
I can't guess English spellings.
(Can't they use proper transcriptions that at least try to be mostly bijective?)
Anyway, do people have the Plackovszkij–Szutyejev books in America?
@b_jonas Suteev looks like a good transcription to me
(When compared to Russian in Wikipedia, it's an almost lossless conversion, so to speak.)
Pljackovszkij is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Plyatskovsky , but a few of the books are solely by Szutyejev.
Hmm no, that's not the same Pljackovszkij, but someone else with a similar name...
None of the titles are familiar, but the art style seems very familiar.
...maybe I'm just reminded of Bill Peet.
9:48 PM
I dunno, he has the same full name
3 suggested edits pending. Get to work, people!
Anyway, Szutyejev's illustrated children books are really popular here.
They look awesome.
2 hours later…
11:48 PM
Q: Where is the start of Treasure Island set?

Rand al'ThorRobert Louis Stevenson's famous novel Treasure Island opens somewhere in Britain, at and around the Admiral Benbow inn. Where exactly is this meant to be? It seems to be relatively near to Bristol, so I'd guess somewhere in the West Country of England. I've also heard it said that it's meant to ...

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