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October 08, 2011

Comments

rjmadden

"What was he in prison for?"

The irony gods must be working overtime.

Rafi

stalked by a union heavy, whose purpose, presumably, is to intimidate. Like some socialist antibody

That's definitely a bit creepy. I'm sure they're just 'concerned' for his safety.

David

“That’s definitely a bit creepy.”

Well, I guess that’s the idea, and the word ‘antibody’ seems apt. It’s becoming a common tactic, as seen during the Wisconsin protests, where Ann Althouse and Meade encountered similar escorting.

And in a way, I think that’s the most interesting thing about Mr Breitbart – the reactions to him from a large section of the activist left. If you’ve seen, for instance, the footage of his visit to the 2011 Netroots Convention – and the behaviour of so-called progressives there – then the antibody imagery is hard to avoid. Breitbart is surrounded, told he “doesn’t belong” there, is accused of being complicit in abusing women, then called a racist, then screamed at, then told he’s “going to be dealt with,” and is eventually hounded out of the building while being called a coward. (Because walking away from a crowd of demented and threatening people is cowardice, obviously.)

For all his faults, Breitbart makes his opponents reveal quite a lot about themselves. They, remember, are the good guys, the caring, enlightened ones, the ones who speak truth to power.

Karen M

Behold: the architects of tomorrow.

I feel better already.

David

Robert Graham notes some of the charming practicalities of “occupying” spaces in the name of “the people.” (Or, “What’s yours is mine, what’s mine is mine, and you’d better watch your laptop.”)

And speaking of charming, a little dirty protest is bound to impress the public.

twitter.com/mrleeward

Are you talking about this resolutely non-violent fellow?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHslkhZWzUQ

sk60

Those kiddies have had way too much sugar.

David

Lee,

“Are you talking about this resolutely non-violent fellow?”

Thanks, I saw that a while ago. Not his finest hour, certainly. But I suspect that’s what can happen if a person spends so much time talking to, and being repeatedly threatened by, unhinged “revolutionary” leftists. The unhinging becomes contagious, as it were. It’s one of the reasons I limit my exposure to such people (and even to, say, the Guardian). Prolonged exposure to radical posturing becomes nauseating, annoying and makes it hard to mock. And one’s reaction to it can become personal and visceral, which isn’t necessarily helpful.

Luckily, the video is interesting regardless of one’s opinion of Mr Breitbart.

[ Added: ]

If it helps, I’m pretty sure we could replace Andrew Breibart with almost any known opponent of extreme leftism and get broadly similar results. For instance, Ann Althouse - hardly a menacing figure - received detailed personal threats for reporting on the Wisconsin protests, while her husband found himself with an ominous “escort” on more than one occasion. And the archives here include several examples of perfectly civil speakers being harassed, physically intimidated – even chased off campus - by people who shout “fascist!” at the drop of a hat.

I suspect this kind of reaction is partly because the “activists” in question are frequently disingenuous. Their claims, ambitions and motives aren’t always what they seem. (As illustrated by people like Professor Dana Cloud who cries “rightwing thought police” while physically preventing her opponents being heard at all; or people who denounce imaginary “fascism” while smashing windows in order to intimidate those who dare to disagree. There’s more than a whiff of projection.) And if you let dishonest people see that you’ve noticed their dishonesty, you probably won’t be thanked for this. If you persist in making their false position known, making it visible to others, things can get quite strange – whether overtly aggressive or passive-aggressive.

And you don’t have to be Andrew Breitbart to elicit this kind of reaction. I’ve experienced it myself, in person and online.

Trimegistus

Lee's basically doing the same thing libs always do: accuse the right of what they themselves are guilty of. Union thugs menace people, so Lee says Andrew Breitbart is violent.

Note that in the video Breitbart is discussing how angry and outraged he is at the way genuine violence by the left goes ignored and unreported -- let alone unprosecuted. But Lee tells us Andrew Breitbart is violent.

I guess we just have to face facts: liberals have a God-given right to attack and intimidate their opponents, and any conservative who is even unhappy about that is dangerous and violent.

DensityDuck

Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice!

...said a slaveowning plutocrat.

Wm T Sherman

The Charles Johnson thing was kind of funny. Although, at this point Johnson has faded to the extent that it may be obscure 'inside baseball' stuff to a lot of people.

Ted S., Catskills, NY

Density Duck:

Barry Goldwater owned slaves??

JuliaM

There must be something about this 'Occupy Wall Street' kerfuffle that speaks to the nihilist anarchist aspect of the left. Check out this scornful attack on their narcissism and self-centered hyperbole at 'Harry's Place'. It's a startlingly good post.

And then, there's the comments. Sheesh!

David

Regarding casual intimidation, it’s telling that leftist speakers can generally address a non-leftist audience – say, on campus – without the need for additional security and personal bodyguards. The reverse situation, however, is often very different:

When Ms. Cloud finished, I pointed out that organizing mobs to scream epithets at invited speakers fit the category of “McCarthyite” a lot more snugly than my support for a pluralism of views in university classrooms. I gestured toward the armed officers in the room -- the university had assigned six or seven to keep the peace -- and introduced my own bodyguard, who regularly accompanies other conservative speakers when they visit universities. In the past, I felt uncomfortable about taking protection to a college campus until a series of physical attacks at universities persuaded me that such precautions were necessary.

There is an asymmetry here.

David

John,

“We are all individuals.”

Wow. That’s… stunning. I am bestunned. Video added to the main post.

John D

Thought you'd like it. ;D

These people need psychiatric help.

David

I wonder… Is that how hippies reproduce?

Simen Thoresen

My contribution - if protesting against Obamas policies is racist, then are lefties who protest also racist?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OlrlLZHKKY
(PJTV Zonation - a little too edgy for my taste, but still fun)

-S

rjmadden

Let your puny individual mind absorb this mighty feat of collective decision-making

...! ...?

Words fail me.

Anna

mighty feat of collective decision-making

Is it a meeting of Morons Anonymous?

Bart

"'We are all individuals.'

Posted by: John D | October 09, 2011 at 11:10"

I feel sorry for conservative satirists. How are they supposed to compete with the real thing?

Henry

It's the way they think you can forget everything the human race has learned, and make the rules up from scratch. I bet they have a touching faith that the decision-making process they've cooked up over a few joints is going to be adequate for world affairs - what could possibly go wrong?

They're already starting to lose enthusiasm as we watch. Good thing too. It's awfully reminiscent of Jonestown

Henry

...just one more thing:

Here's the same thing going on in Washington DC and similarly being filmed. The crowd start repeating as someone says "Does anyone else have a problem with us being filmed like this..." and the scenario continues as you see...

Darleen

re: second video

and here I though pod-people were a thing of 1950's sci-fi

witwoud

Who'd have thought there was such an untapped reservoir of stupidity? And how long before corporate marketeers get in on the game?

'At McDonalds ... "AT MCDONALDS!!! ... We've got time for you ... "WE'VE GOT TIME FOR YOU!!!'

David

“…and here I thought pod-people were a thing of 1950’s sci-fi.”

The hypnotic quality seems more than a little symbolic. Each generation of these imbeciles acts as if it were the first. It’s always Year Zero for some people. And their “consensual” decision-making process isn’t just a gaffe or random brainfart, it’s meant to be exemplary, a blueprint for tomorrow. But then, to imagine that one’s own creaky leftwing politics is shared by “99%” of the population requires a mix of vacuity and arrogance.

(Incidentally, I can’t help wondering how the media might have reacted if a Tea Party gathering had decided not to allow a black man to speak.)

David

Henry,

“Here’s the same thing going on in Washington DC and similarly being filmed.”

Thanks. Also added to the main post.

I notice the robo-collective frets at length about whether all of its members consent to being filmed – i.e., filmed lawfully, in a public place. Apparently being filmed would somehow be injurious to some of those speaking (or rather, repeating). Yet they don’t seem at all concerned with whether their intended law-breaking and disruption – declared as a matter of imminent fact - will inconvenience anyone else. Nor does the collective hesitate to impose its preferences on the non-collective person quietly filming them.

It’s curious how so many of these gatherings are defined by an atmosphere of passive-aggression. Evidently, their ostentatious concern for sensitivity and “consensus” applies only to The Tribe. Again, you don’t have to be Andrew Breitbart to elicit this kind of… interesting reaction. That’s who they are; that’s what they do. Crowd dynamics throw up all kinds of odd behavior, but what we’re seeing above is much more pronounced among groups of people whose politics and psychology are collectivist and supposedly egalitarian. The contradictions and dishonesty make the passive-aggressive aspect much more pronounced. They tend to be pricklier and more obnoxious precisely because there’s a mismatch between how they wish to seem and who they actually are. And they don’t like being rumbled.

For example, near the end of the clip, the rather smug and obnoxious young woman uses several fatuous arguments about why the protestors shouldn’t be filmed, despite them choosing a public space where filming is quite likely. Supposedly, some of the protestors have “had bad experiences.” But it’s much more likely that her objection is rather different and much simpler. The collective has just stated an intent to - in their own words - “break the law.” Any protestors subsequently caught doing precisely that would find it unhelpful to be faced with footage of themselves publicly declaring their criminal intent.

It’s laughably disingenuous, and that’s why they’re so pissy.

carbon based lifeform

It’s laughably disingenuous, and that’s why they’re so pissy.

Best line from smug obnoxious woman. "It's a collective experience. Maybe you could learn from this."

And just think, one day they'll be raising kids.

David

“Best line from smug obnoxious woman. ‘It’s a collective experience. Maybe you could learn from this.’”

Aye, because people who aren’t impressed must need educating.

And don’t forget the equally smug and obnoxious guy – the one who repeatedly blocks the cameraman’s view. He’s immediately rude and condescending, and accuses the cameraman of, among other things, being an “asshole” for quietly filming a public display. His erratic smiles don’t seem to match his sentiment. And note how the guy reacts when he discovers the cameraman is from out of town and possibly not a lefty. He says, “This isn’t Texas. This isn’t the South. This isn’t where you get to do shit just ‘cause you feel like it.” Which is an odd sentiment from someone whose friends and associates are planning to break the law and disrupt other people’s business.

Why, it’s almost as if he were projecting his own feelings onto others.

Sam

These people want to 'occupy DC' (slogan: 'the world is watching!') BUT they get upset when someone films them doing it?

How does that work?

Mark G

"Are you talking about this resolutely non-violent fellow?"
Am I missing something in that clip? Andrew Breitbart doesn't advocate for non-violence, he advocates for individual rights and responsibilities - as opposed to group rights and identity politics.

Mark G

The lookout has reported
The lookout has reported
that the barbarians are nearing the gates.
that the barbarians are nearing the gates.
The forward bowmen
The forward bowmen
have suffered great losses.
have suffered great losses.
Our provisions will be exhausted
Our provisions will be exhasuted
in one or two days......
in one or ......

Is there a block?

Mark G

Cool dude blocked the filming with his keffiyeh.
Added bonus - bigoted toward Republicans, Texans, the Southern United States in general and dedicated to the theoretical victimhood of a potential group member in a what-if situation.

Ted S., Catskills, NY

US Representative who marched for civil rights in the 60s first allowed, then disallowed, from speaking at Occupy Atlanta:

http://reason.com/blog/2011/10/10/silencing-john-lewis-is-what-d#comments

As the article says, if they want a rule preventing any elected official from speaking, that's great. But that's not what happened.

David

Mark G,

“…dedicated to the theoretical victimhood of a potential group member in a what-if situation.”

Again, the whole thing is disingenuous. That’s why they’re so touchy.

If you object to, say, paying even more tax, you can protest this point in an uncomplicated way. “I’d prefer to keep more of the money I earn.” The grievance is just what it seems. But the protestors above aren’t able to state their motives with equal honesty, or indeed coherence. Their “occupations,” disruptions and intended law-breaking are no doubt very exciting and gratifying to their egos, as is the prospect of being given money that someone else had to earn and then have confiscated. But the protestors can’t admit this in such frank terms. It would be regarded as much too selfish and unflattering. (All of these people are nice, see? And they’ll do just about anything to prove it.) Instead, there has to be some veneer of collective altruism and/or victimhood. As demonstrated by the objection to being filmed. And acting in bad faith leads to further complication, further evasions, and consequently a resentment of any realistic questioning.


Ted,

“…if they want a rule preventing any elected official from speaking, that’s great. But that’s not what happened.”

And remember, in a fantasy world where collectivist theories of “consensus” are implemented everywhere, this is how bread would be priced.

My favourite, somewhat ironic, Reason comments:

What I’m wondering is why one of the speakers who had a slot didn’t give it up so that Lewis could speak. I think I know the answer, but it involves selfishness, which I’ve been told does not exist among the occupiers.

And,

I guess they didn’t want a black Locutus.

Stuck-Record

I've had the same maddening conversation with several supporters of these idiots over the last few days.

I ask them, "Why is it OK to physically obstruct members of the public from going about their everyday business when you stage a protest or happening (ala UKUNCUT or OWS), but it is morally unacceptable for members of the public to physically resist, criticise, object or in many cases even be allowed to speak in response to said protest?"

Otherwise intelligent people look at me as if they don't understand the question (and I'm mad or evil).

Stuck-Record

The young hipster in the adamvstheman clip resembles a Steve Coogan character. Delusional. It's hilarious how clever he actually thinks he is. How pleased he is with his arguing 'technique'. Not just contradicting himself, but doing it within single sentences. An amazing intellectual achievement really.

But anyone who's ever argued with a 14 year old will recognise the same incoherent logical loops and riffs.

I'm afraid that's my main take-away from these clips and articles: naivety and stupidity. To paraphrase Professor Rumsfeld, 'They don't know what they don't know'.

Bigland

What if John Lewis had wanted to "address the block"?

mojo

To mis-quote Dave Bowman: "My god, it's full of stupid!"

Henry

"near the end of the clip, the rather smug and obnoxious young woman uses several fatuous arguments about why the protestors shouldn’t be filmed, despite them choosing a public space where filming is quite likely"

This bit is interesting. One wonders what exactly they are doing in a public park. Are they protesting? Well then surely they want people to see their protest? Or do they want their message to be seen and heard, but with the faces blurred out? Anything else demanded of us on a whim?

Then she uses the all-powerful argument that someone could be "followed home" if they are recognized on any footage of the protest (qué?) Yes it's the argument that all other freedoms can be done away with if it saves a single woman (attending a public protest/meeting) from being recognized and then harassed by a man. Unbalanced? Yep, but to her it's unshakable (for now - and until they want to add any amendments later)

You get the idea of what the world (or just a small workplace) would be like with people like this in charge

Hey Skipper

What do you call it when a documentary appears before the event it documents?

You are all individuals.

Anna

"The public cost of the occupation is estimated to be $2 million a day — and you know who’ll be cleaning up after it’s all over and it won’t be the slackers who started it."

phantom menace

From Occupy LA:

"One of the speakers said the solution is nonviolent movement. No, my friend… Ultimately, the bourgeosie won’t go without violent means. Revolution! Yes, revolution that is led by the working class. Long live revolution! Long live socialism!"

http://pajamasmedia.com/tatler/2011/10/11/occupy-l-a-speaker-violence-will-be-necessary-to-achieve-our-goals/

Communists love threatening violence. It gets them hot.

Lee

Trimegistus

I didn't say Andrew Breitbart was violent. I have no idea whether he is. Maybe he has good reason to be so aggressive in that video (can we at least agree on aggressive as a sobriquet?). I couldn't possibly say. I only though that it might be nice to provide a comment slightly at odds with the increasingly homogenised commentary on this blog.

Hope that doesn't sound too troll-y; it's not intended too.

I dare say this movement has more that its fair share of the sort of privileged wankers you'd cross the road to avoid. Nevertheless, I don't think any movement that attempts to point out corporate America has become too powerful is prima facie ridiculous.

Anna

I don't think any movement that attempts to point out corporate America has become too powerful is prima facie ridiculous.

No, but a movement that says it's against cronyism and yet wants the state to get bigger is.

David

Lee,

“I only thought that it might be nice to provide a comment slightly at odds with the increasingly homogenised commentary on this blog.”

Well, the commentary here can only be as diverse as the people who choose to comment. By all means address anything you find contentious. I do try to encourage readers to join in and I frequently address readers’ alternative views, including your own earlier comment.

I like to think of my posts as starting points, not full stops.

[ Added: ]

“I don’t think any movement that attempts to point out corporate America has become too powerful is prima facie ridiculous.”

This was posted by rjmadden in the latest thread. It seems relevant:

“Government of the sort progressives demand — supposed ‘experts,’ wiser than the market, allocating wealth and opportunity by supposedly disinterested decisions — is not just susceptible to corruption, it is corruption. It is political favouritism with a clean (even green) conscience.”

As Anna says, objecting to cronyism while demanding a world in which even greater cronyism would be a default condition isn’t a great way to be taken seriously.

Lee

There's something distressingly binary about this conversation, though.

Anna, can't we be opposed to cronyism and mass unemployment, underemployment, and economic insecurity? Are we hypocritical progressives because we deplore the corrupting influence of big money? Are we hopelessly wet for decrying the chasmic and ever-widening inequality of wealth and income? Do we just shrug our shoulders at the impunity of the financial-industry scammers whose greed and fraud precipitated the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? Is a broken political system hobbled by a Republican right willing and usually able to block any measures just the way things have to be? Is bowing before the wisdom of the almighty market literally the only way?

Or, to put it the other way round, isn't a spot of cronyism the least of our problems?

Henry

Hi Lee,

Actually I tend to think this blog is less one-sided than most other political blogs I've seen. (I have to be blunt. I dislike this new usage of the word "binary" :) sorry!) David has his views. (Mine are hardly consistently the same) I sincerely doubt he'd delete your comments if you came on to put a different view.

Your points are well made. Arguably there is a change in the power (im)balance - linked to movements in wealth inequality - that we should think about. But I do think that these videos are excellent illustrations of the sheer madness of some of the proposed solutions to problems of inequality, or the childish naivety.

Looking at these people do you not think their schemes would simply lead to new problems, and not fix "inequality" at all (if indeed it can be fixed)? Your argument differs from theirs I would think. And it is well worth pointing to their intolerance, groupthink, and their airily dismissive attitude towards the freedoms that we value very highly.

I'm unconvinced by the reliance on income inequality metrics, and not just because it is the sort of thing rabid Marxists recite like some sort of mantra. How do we compare our wealth and standard of living now with that of even 50 years ago? The metrics (that are bound to be somewhat arbitrary) can't be the whole story - to my admittedly inexpert eye.

David

Lee,

“…isn’t a spot of cronyism the least of our problems?”

In a way, that’s a point I’ve tried to make.

I doubt anyone here is a huge fan of cronyism - I take that as a given. But what struck me about the protests here and in the US was the way they became nesting sites for all manner of assumptions and pathologies. Others with greater expertise can tackle the issues of cronyism far better than I can, but I do have something to say about the broader protest phenomenon and some of its common dynamics. Bear in mind, a large percentage of the protestors and core organisers are students, former students and lecturers – supposedly educated people and overwhelmingly leftwing. Yet their grasp of the particulars and general thinking skills are, well, less than one might hope. And I find the uniformity, unrealism and boilerplate interesting.

For instance, we find Nina Power, a senior philosophy lecturer, Guardian contributor and avowed Marxist, telling us, “the Occupy Wall Street protests are reclaiming the psychic space,” and that those of us who find the videos above amusing are being “repressive.” By noting the absurdity, we’re indulging in “domination,” and are therefore wicked. (Presumably, laughing at Dr Power is also a clear indicator of evil.) When not grumbling about “white males discussing formal logic,” Dr Power described the recent student riots - which left dozens of people hurt, one nearly dead, and repairs costing millions - as “uplifting.” She also believes that knowledge and the ability to explain are unnecessary teaching skills and that equality of intelligence is “something to be presupposed” because – well, just because - “everyone is equally intelligent.” An assumed “equality of intelligence” will, she says, “overturn existing hierarchies.” So here we have another leftwing philosopher telling us that she and her peers no longer need to be knowledgeable or competent in any conventional sense, while demanding more public funding of leftwing philosophers.

Immediately after the August riots, Dr Power insisted that the muggers, thieves and arsonists were actually fighting against “entitlement” and therefore deserving of our “understanding.” The muggers’ own sense of entitlement – which you’d think was hard to miss – somehow escaped Dr Power’s notice. Nor did she have much to say about the fact that three quarters of those apprehended already had criminal records, with an average of 15 previous offences. In Nina Power’s mind, the aggressors were the victims, not the people who were robbed and assaulted or whose homes and businesses were burned to the ground. Clearly, she’s just the kind of person you’d hope to have teaching your children.

A number of Dr Power’s fellow educators, among them David Gaeber, have described attempts to slow the growth of public spending as “the real violence,” while championing rioting, arson and physical intimidation as “representing civilisation.” (Graeber tells us that the OWS protestors’ incoherence and ignorance of basic economics isn’t a problem because they’re “juxtaposing themselves” and being “pre-figurative.”) These attempts to distort language and derail logic have become commonplace among a section of the protestors, most notably among leftist academics, with Priyamvada Gopal, a lecturer in “postcolonial studies” and another Guardian regular, telling us that setting fire to occupied buildings isn’t “real” violence and is no more objectionable than “hypocritical language.”

And these are some of the people animating the students in their care and thrilling to the prospect of popular “revolution.” Which may help explain the quality of the arguments being advanced and subsequently laughed at. Clearly, cronyism isn’t the only issue worth noting, or necessarily the most pernicious.

Min

This is what cronyism looks like.

I know, let's make the state even bigger!

Laurie and Hardly

“I don’t think any movement that attempts to point out corporate America has become too powerful is prima facie ridiculous.”

It is ridiculous on two counts. The first, already detailed elsewhere, is that the 'occupiers' are faithful supporters of corporations. A 'progressive' choosing Apple over Dell, or Coca Cola over Pepsi is just a corporate user with a different taste. The protestors have not eschewed corporatism in any way, despite their alleged poverty.

Second, government is in effect the biggest corporation of all. Everything levelled at Corporatism can be levelled against a government. Democracy -- the right to vote once ever four or five years -- is watered down by gerrymandering, political appointments (there's a fair chance your candidate has been parachuted into your ward) and even at times the creative accountancy of counting votes. After that the government of whichever colour came out on top can do what it wants without further reference to "the people." We have already discovered that manifestos are worth nothing (and certainly are not promises to be kept) and the corporation of government will fiddle both books and expenses and play a sort of tune while Rome burns around them. Worse than corporations themselves, they do it with the full weight of armed force behind them.

If then we are opposed to corporations then we should be opposed to government. The occupation might then have more credibility if it begin with Washington and Westminster.

TimT

Hahaha! I was intrigued by that response, 'if only they knew', when the guy filming got challenged with 'are you a Republican'. So I googled 'Adam Kokesh'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Kokesh

He's an Iraq war veteran who's now come out against the war, and has been busted several times heckling Republican candidates. Your comments regarding 'mob mentality' and how the actions of the Washington occupiers reflect this seem very prescient with regards to that Kokesh youtube, David: they don't recognise Kokesh. He is not with them, so he is against them!

DensityDuck

As far as I know, the repetition thing is something they've cooked up called "human microphone". The idea is that you aren't permitted, by statue, to use bullhorns or amplifiers in public spaces without getting a permit. So they do the "call and repeat" thing.

It's ostensibly an act of rebellion--"you can't use bullshit laws and regulations to stop our message!" But imagine if that happened at a Tea Party rally. We'd hear the calls of "fascist indoctrination ceremony" before the first sentence was finished.

Henry

More on this Occupy Wall Street rubbish, which I am going to have to stop thinking about as it is getting on my wick. Nothing new - I just thought I'd add to the ammunition/evidence.

Herewith another video from OWS where Judith Butler speaks for the robo-collective. "Judith who?" you may ask, as I did. Apparently she is "a major scholar in philosophy, gender studies, and queer theory". (as a matter of fact I've known one or two philosophers of note and find this quite amusing, but enough of that)

I put a comment up about the Marxists feeding on people's unhappiness with bankers etc, and found myself blocked (after the uploader had written a brilliant riposte urging me to give them an informed critique!)

It's the usual dishonest pleas for open discussion, then...

David

Henry,

That would be this Judith Butler (see last two paragraphs and subsequent comments). For whom, Hamas and Hizballah are “social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left” and which therefore deserve the support of her students. The same Judith Butler who, when challenged, lied about her statements, claiming the video of her speaking (and being applauded by her credulous admirers) had been edited in “an effort to distort [her] views.”

Despite her speech being filmed and uploaded in one continuous take.

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