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Everything posted by LoBagola

  1. Is anyone interested in getting together and studying logic? I've worked through Peikoff's logic course and every week or two I work on analyzing one essay from Stephen Hick's Readings For Logical Analysis; I also plan on reading & studying with (1) Lionel Ruby's Logic: An Introduction and (2) Joseph H.W.B's An Introduction to Logic, in that order. The way I'd see us study together is by getting together once a week or fortnight and sharing our analyses of an essay from Readings For Logical Analysis. (I've attached my previous week's work from this book to give a feel for my approach.) Readings for Logical Analysis Work.pdf
  2. Okay I think I got it a few minutes after posting this :/ The key is "exclusive power" or "monopoly" over force, which, if I simply interpret as having the most powerful tools of force, the definition begins to make more sense. In this interpretation an "organization" (I'm using the term loosely here) of bank robbers or murderers are not government in the geographical area of the bank or victim's house, simply because there's another organization with more powerful tools of force which includes that area as it's own. If an area was in anarchy then any guns in any given area might form a government for one or two days before being killed by another "government"--this is the only situation where I can think of the concept being useless and meaning nothing, i.e., when one organization doesn't have the overwhelming physical power. Also I think earlier I thought the definition had to be proper, i.e., moral or right, but I realize just now that's incorrect too since a concept like "morality" is useful to referring to many kinds of codes, e.g., Islamic one. And the same is the case with government where it's useful in being able to refer to the controlling gang in a given area, e.g., Iran or Nazi Germany.
  3. I've just spent some time trying to define the concept government. I got to a messy definition of "government is an organization forcing certain terms between men in a given area." I tried some more but then gave up and checked the AR Lexicon: "A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area." (See http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government.html). The problem with my definition and my understanding of the AR Lexicon definition is that it seems too broad, still. It would still include something like an organization of bank robbers: they control the geographical area of the bank and enforce the social conduct of giving your money to someone with a gun. Or what about a cult which forces you to commit suicide, or an organization of murderers who govern a given house of victims at a given time. When I think of current governments and previous governments that I have some knowledge on, they all fit this loose definition, and yet there are still big differences between the US govt and an organization of murderers. But I'm a little stuck in compressing these into a neat definition.
  4. I briefly read Greenspan's essay on Antitrust, but I don' think that was what you were referring to, right? Thinking of my own experience working under unspecified orders and undefined orders (in banking) I simply worked as best as I could and did what was logical in any given situation. I did what I could as far as abiding by clear rules but every situation was different and if I wanted to be rule-following the only way would be to spend 20min or more per task researching rules & regulations and trying to contact compliance. (and even then many rules are not clear.) I once tried this with one particular method of work that I developed. Everyone told me not to do it but I saw no problem in doing it. I emailed the head of compliance since by my understanding of the policy it was a proper method of work. I received a reply a month later of over two pages on bank policy in relation to some unrelated method of work which completely evaded my question. What did I do? I implemented my method of work and waited for a compliance review that would force them to make a decision. They did and it was considered a legitimate method and then other people started using it. Thus, I put no thoughts towards achievement in performance or compliance reviews--they simply became meetings where I was told I was doing something wrong and I corrected it. Without having studied it, I assume this works the exact same way in antitrust. When the rules are arbitrary and undefined my guess is they are ignored as it's impossible to work otherwise, and then you just hope for the best and do whatever you're told when you're called out on doing something against the rules.
  5. I like that you drew a connection from something apparently so personal as assertiveness in relating to people to these two articles. I'll read them with this connection in mind. Thanks
  6. If I’m to live well, and thrive, I must recognize & acknowledge my errors and wrongs. When those errors and wrongs impact people, i.e., they are part of a social context, then that process of recognition & acknowledgement may become part of an apology. For example, if I say something hurtful to a friend and value the friendship then I’ll need to recognize and acknowledge what I’ve said and attempt to right the wrong by not saying or doing it again. But what about cases where I can’t right the wrong? Or cases where I don’t want to see that person again? I see value in the just the recognition and acknowledgement of my error or wrong, because I’ll carry that knowledge into all my other relationships, but is there value in an apology, i.e., in the reaching out to the person and telling them that I was wrong and why I was wrong? For example, a friend committed a wrong against me that led to me ending the relationship but also saying something hurtful in return. I don't plan on attempting to rebuild a friendship with this person again but I'm wondering if there's value in apologizing for the wrong that I committed? Also I still have some of the friend's property--but how about posting it to them despite never being asked for it back? I'm split in that I feel that I've acknowledged what I need to for myself and I've learned from it and anything else would be altruism, but also I feel there may be more to an apology then it just being for the sake of rebuilding a friendship, so I'm keen to think this over more and hear other's thoughts. Another example would be a friend I didn't stand up for (he was bullied) when I feel that I should've. With that friend I wish I could've acknowledged this much earlier as he's completely changed from someone who studied physics and programming to become an extremely religious person living in an isolated biblical community. I've acknowledged my errors personally, but I don't think there's a friendship to rebuild with him. Is there any gain to be had from an apology?
  7. I was talking to my closest friend about our differences: that I have few, but very few friends (one!), and he has many friends of all kinds. The context was me describing someone new I met to him and how I liked her but wouldn't want to spend that much time with her. He said that one doesn't need all friendships to be all-or-nothing and he gave me many examples of people who he felt the same way about but would still spend time with. He explained "you don't need to spend eight hours with them. You could just catch up for a quick walk in the park and connect over the few things you do share." At various points in life what and who to call a friend will change, e.g, if you're fortunate enough to be in a loving relationship you would have less time and so need to increase your standard slightly; or maybe you're lucky enough to have three incredibly close friendships so you don't have room for or need anyone else at the time. But the point of his talk I think was that there's much value to be gained from friendship or connection with others, even if it's only brief as a 30min walk in the park. And the added benefit is you might meet others through these friends who you will connect with on a much deeper level. He's convinced me that my strict view of friendships may be wrong, especially while I'm single, and that I need to give this more thought. My thinking till now has been I should just hold out for those I feel strongly about and that way I'll have much more time for being productive at work and other interests. But he's also a good example of how effective the approach of cultivating many friendships can work: he manages to run a successful business four days a week, pursue many eclectic interests and always has many options for social events and consequently frequently meets many interesting people. And maybe it's the general happiness and value that he derives from these friendships and interests that then allows him to pour a concentrated mental effort into his business. In a way my interest and thought over this shows me that part of me does want more friendship in my life, even if it's not some extremely intense and close friendship (as it is with him). And maybe it's just a matter of changing my attitude and what to expect. Keen to hear other's thoughts on this.
  8. As someone who's never been in what I'd consider a strong relationship, it's something I've recently thought a lot about. I first look outward and notice that many people are in relationships (and many not) and then I look inward and see that I've never been that way: the longest relationship I've had was six months and I entered it because I thought maybe this is just something I need to cultivate and build and only then will I be in a loving relationship. I was more indifferent to my partner after six months then I was after one. And from this experience, many years ago, I concluded that the whole concept of love was bullocks, rubbish perpetuated in movies & books that convinces people to give up on their values for other stupid people--but this changed. After many more years of not being in one relationship I fell intensely in love with someone who I was briefly with and then lost. This was the kind of love that had moments I'd intensely, passionately & feverishly live out a long dull life of labor for to just to experience once more. It caused a complete change in my attitude and life's direction, but I don't need to go into that in this post. So now I sit here believing that the kind of love sometimes depicted in movies or books is real & that it offers, not the only kind, but the highest kind of happiness open to man. But my experience also tells me that it's incredibly rare: often when I've spoken to people I've felt that they haven't experienced it even though they've been in many relationships (?). I would dismiss this as not worth the thought were it not for also talking with people where I feel the exact opposite--that they "get it". E.g. I recently spoke to my friend about an ex-partner and everything about his description makes me thinks he felt something similar to me. He described much of his happiness just being the knowledge that she existed, i.e., the knowledge that someone who was that way could exist and that he could meet them and be with them. And then I compare that to others who talk about a partner and don't ever speak of love or who's eyes don't light up at the topic at all. And I think about how I once asked my love how many people I meet are always in relationships and why I feel incapable of it--and she answered "you don't settle." And that's it. I think that's it. But I've also been thinking maybe settling could be a good thing? Maybe if you meet someone you share some values with you can actually build something that involves feelings as passionate as the highest kind of love? I'd be really interested in hearing from someone who experienced both immediate and intense passion, but that also built the same feeling up over many years through cultivating a relationship. So far in my life I've met many people who've been in numerous long term relationships and said they loved all their partners; but till now, based on my own experience, I find that impossible to believe, at least in the sense that I understand love (as distinct from like or like a lot or even many kinds of other love). But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that approach to life is better--to cultivate as many relationships as you can, as long as they provide some value. Or also maybe they are just excellent at meeting many people? I think if I could line up a particular demographic of the whole country every morning and spend 5 minutes chatting to 12 people I'd very likely meet the love of my life within a few months or less. (please do not talk about online dating.) This'll eventually bring me to my next post (more like open-ended question) on friendships.
  9. I tried to search the author and found this: http://metaphorestmusic.com/
  10. Wow, I love this! Thank you for sharing.
  11. "The "Hinduism" that now replaced Buddhism was not one religion, nor was in only religion; it was a medley of faiths and ceremonies whose practitioners had only four qualities in common: they recognized the caste system an the leadership of the Brahmans, they reverenced the cow as especially representative of divinities, they accepted the law of Karma and the transmigration of souls, they replaced with new gods the deities of the Vedas." (Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilzation, Volume 1). So then (I think) Hinduism is, rather than a religion, a grouping of related religions. Right, and the Greek & Roman Gods are no longer worshipped, but the Hindu’s are—and in much the same way as they have been for over a thousand years. I think the same can be said about monotheistic religions, although maybe with less room to do so? What's this about educated Romans? So they did not believe in the specific Gods, but viewed them purely as tools to control the masses? This is possible. In your opinion though is it common for most who associate themselves with Hinduism to believe in one god (?), no god (?). These groups may be minorities. Anyway just something I find interesting, but not enough to want to start reading heaps more about it. (I still have around 19,000 pages left of Will Durant's work--enough for me.)
  12. Reading through Will Durant's Story Of Civilization, I've noticed that there's frequently a strong attraction to belief in one god. At first the idea is too abstract but eventually it wins over, e.g., Christianity, Islam. But in India, even after invasion after invasion (the Moguls, Portuguese, French, British) and even after competing religions enter the scene (Buddhism), Hinduism and it's stadium of gods survives and strengthens. For every new god Hinduism would just swallow it up and explain it as a reincarnation of some other God and win over. How is this? Does anyone think it may have something to do with the epics, i.e., the Ramayana & Mahabharata?
  13. Yes, I agree with this. I think it's because your imbuing the knowledge with a sense of wonder and fascination you can only get through feeling. And the best way to get feeling is to make it personal—the job of literature.
  14. Why university? I have access to the same, if not much better, materials online and at libraries. There are two aspects of university however I'd love to be exposed to—people & staff with similar interests whom I can discuss and dream with—but cannot justify the insane price. I could hire a poor post graduate student for the same price and get so much more value. No university means I'll need to get creative to expose myself to those just mentioned aspects.
  15. I watched a few documentaries. I decided to experiment fleshing out the material by involving myself in activities related to the texts I'm reading, e.g., workshops on pottery, iron forging, woodwork. Then I might try salt and preserve fish & meat from the market, hand grind grains and later (when I study mechanics) build a mechanical grinder. Given the range of activities there is a limit on what I can do, but just by doing a workshop for a week or even a day I'll achieve the goal of loading up my mind with smell, taste, touch which I think will help me retain and take a more lively interest in the material. Something else I learned (in a more concrete way) from recently building a road bike from recycled scraps is that because knowledge is so tightly integrated, principles from one field often link or even build on another. E.g, by learning to build a bicycle from scratch you'll get a better understanding of a drive chain, gearing and leverage and the wheel; if you take an interest in cars you have already set yourself up for some basics and then just need to learn about hydraulics and the internal combustion engine. Think Peugeot and other early car makers—they all started with the bicycle and then went an to add the internal combustion engine. Anyway, this is my approach. It may pan out an unreasonable adventure time-wise, but I can adjust, and I'll have fun.
  16. I plan on (and have already begun) reading through Will Durant's The Story of Civilization, the purpose being to broaden my understanding of where I come from and what man once did (and what he doesn't do today but maybe should) and also to help me truly understand more abstract words like justice, free market, politics, economy—I could tell you what each is and can vaguely recall some mental images for each, but I want to shore up my concepts by having my mind to flood with images, e.g., justice—Hammurabi's code, the Sumerian custom of an eye for an eye, trials by ordeal, Justinan's codex etc. I know not all these images would fall under an objectivist concept of justice, but this is just to illustrate a mental process. So two things— (1) does anyone have any tips on working through material like this and how to integrate it, e.g, essay ideas, hiring a tutor to question you. I thought even spending some time travelling, e.g, a month or two in Greece studying Ancient Greek and visiting sites, might help in that I might be able to help what I read come alive when I can touch, taste, see and talk about things connected to it. Be aware that I have much more time and ability to do this than most as I've committed myself to a four year study of topics of my choice. (2) is anyone interested in studying together via Skype?
  17. I posted this in a student's lounge for a writing course I'm currently enrolled in. I wanted to share it because (1) it was inspired by Peikoff's lecture, the survival value of great (thought philosophically false) art, (2) there are some posters here who's feedback I'd love, (3) reading Ayn Rand has inspired me to do and be so much more than I once was. After listening to that lecture I've been away studying and trying to make myself less floating, philosophically speaking. What does reading fiction offer you? What do you think it can offer? I get more than just enjoyment out of a novel. While I don’t think education is the primary purpose of a novel, I don’t think it’s coincidental either. Some stories show me people I don’t normally meet and stir me up to question myself and my relationships. Sometimes they show me people I do meet, or at least isolated aspects of people that I meet, and then I find myself striving to think over some particular mannerism or action, that on its own is totally random, but viewed in context of the person’s overall character, should have some meaning and is not to be overlooked. The example I’ve heard and like is the wife who takes out the trash. Wives don’t seem to spend much of their time taking out the trash in stories. And yet, in life, they do it every day. But a book is focusing on what’s important about the person, their thoughts and actions that have meaning. Some books relate everything to the theme. Nothing is coincidence. It’s an art to do that. Imagine the poor soul who lives with his beautiful wife and forgets the good, the amazing and the special, only to become acutely aware of her daily task of trash disposal. I think reading can help reorientate our focus, for better, by leaning a little on the authors artistic skill. The walking sticks range from odd, lyrical and violent (Burgess), to dirty, drunk and raging (a la Dostoevsky), to sharp, radical and scientific (Rand) to everything else; every one of them gives us a chance to lean on and walk, exploring the world, with a different perspective. Isn’t that amazing? Just observe yourself in any situation—where, and to what, do your thoughts go? Any book is similarly wrapped in that thought-stuff and emotional perspective you feel around you all day, but can’t really break down into small analysable bits, and we literally get to jump into the mind of another when we read! I’m not done yet talking about the educational value. There’s style and expression, too. I find, and I don’t know why yet, sometimes I’ll mentally latch on and become addicted to a certain author’s way of writing. He or she might not even be writing about a topic I’m particular excited about, but I’ll become addicted to their phrasing. I’ll write down phrases and sentences for later review. There’s something beautiful in a way they’ve expressed something I’ve felt or thought before, and here they are, giving to me words (so cheaply!) to something that otherwise may have taken me years to give form to. I take it and eat it all up, without manners. A lion is made up of the lambs he has digested. Heard that? I’ve often been so impressed with an author’s ability to dress up his thoughts that I start eating the same things that the characters in his book eat—a pea soup phase in my life because of London’s Martin Eden, eggs and toast with jam because of Burgess’s Clockwork Orange—secretly hoping to be mentally closer to the author. There’s benefit beyond just expression though, and that’s thought. When you take something as fleeting as a feeling and give it shape you’re doing the equivalent of painting and preserving a mental picture for future inspection and viewing (or expression). You can always refer back to it as a witness or judge, build on it with new linking chains of thought, and also correct yourself with it. There’s more, but I’m all over the place right now and my shoulder’s aching and I feel that I want to talk about inspiration, which is perhaps the primary purpose of a book. Good stories can inspire and fuel you. They can feed you when you’re starving. They don’t even need happy endings to do it. This is rare, but it’s a type of pick-me-up better than any best friend, motivational speaker or football star can give. It’s the type of pick-me-up relaunching you through life like a fiery rocket burning everything up in its path. Hooray to books and reading and fiction and writing! How exciting is all of this?
  18. The proliferation of peer-to-peer rental companies has made me curious about the history of rent. Who invented the idea of renting out your house and what were the circumstances? when does renting an asset become superior to buying? when does renting something out becoming economically feasible? off-hand I know it wouldn't make any sense to rent out a pair of scissors, so I think it has something to do with initial costs of acquisition and running costs. Here in Australia we have peer-to-peer car rental (car next door), hardware tool libraries (the tool library), private car space rental (divvy), green produce made at home (ripenear), websites to rent out your unused household items like vacuum cleaners or sewing machines (open shed). There are plenty more interesting companies although they no longer fall under the category of renting out your assets. What I find so exciting about this is not the advertised communal or environmental benefits, but that it makes it possible to live, at the same standard, on so much less. Your unused assets become efficient and you may no longer lose money on them—you might even make some!
  19. I understand the em dash to be more dramatic and intense than a semi-colon. I'm checking on whether the decision to use the em dash here is also purely stylistic. “Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law. I could also construct the paragraph thus: “Rights” are a moral concept: the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others; the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context; the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law. I don't see a difference between the two, but I'm curious if anyone else does.
  20. Brilliant review sir. This book was pushed way up my book list after reading it. What are other "such books" with a didactic value ?
  21. I was just listening to a lecture titled "Art in Education". The context is discussing a child's admiration for a hero being put down by an adult: “Buck Rogers… Ha! He never gets any colds. Do you know any real people who never get them? Why you had a cold last week — so don’t you go on imagining that you’re better than the rest of us!”, I could summarize this as a "come down to earth attitude", which I'm sure many of you have experienced as children. Rand goes on to say that "If they actually regarded romanticism as an impractical fantasy, they would feel nothing but a friendly or indifferent amusement — not the passionate resentment and uncontrollable rage which they do feel and exhibit." But is that true? I can think of when my parents would constantly tell me "you live in a fantasy world; you need to see the real world". I don't think it was a passionate resentment or uncontrollable rage. Maybe that was friendly, indifferent amusement? Also if something is regarded as an impractical fantasy it is more likely to elicit laughter, which may give off the impression of passionate resentment. There was an unrelated quote that I was curious about (in the context of repression): "when all other emotions are stifled, a single one takes over: fear." Fear of what and why? The only thing I can think of is fear of taking action because emotions help us narrow down our interests. If you feel nothing how do you know if you should be a lawyer, engineer or painter? If there is something that you think may elicit an emotion you need to fear it and find a way to avoid it. So you'll feel a fear of feeling more, which might be a fear of living?
  22. Just to give some idea of how many different things I'd like to take courses in or intensely study: Computer Science: Python, Linux, Algorithms (covered by a few different courses) Literature: A reading list containing lots of classic literature, poetry and then a list of literature, poetry courses Dance: I dance. I want to further study movement and musicality (this means some one on one study with teachers). Business: I had been working towards something for many years; at some point I gave up, but I'd still like to try. This means working over-time and saving up a certain amount. It also means intense study and work. English: Improving diction, writing and studying grammar so that I can think better and communicate better. This also includes some plans for hiring a teacher 1 on 1. Philosophy: epistemology, ethics, history... I love it all. I just am so hard pressed for time. It's one thing I don't want to give up because I feel like thinking about it makes me a better person. If I'm doing lots of stuff and making money it won't mean anything if I'm not a good, confident, proud, happy person (I know because I've been close to achieving what seem like a lot, but still feeling miserable). Theatre: I like improvised theatre and the community around it Maths / Physics: I did some maths at university but have not had a chance to explore topics as in depth as I wanted to. I'd also like to read up on physics. Relationships: I want to actively, consciously work on cultivating better relationships and being a better friend I could keep going with this list of things. But you see my dilemma? I'm working 8 - 9 hours a day full-time to pay bills and save up. Ahhh!
  23. Are there any materials covering this topic from an abstract, Objectivist perspective? I have so many interests I'd like to pursue and study but I just don't have enough time for it all and I don't know how to prioritize. Do I spend more time working over-time to save up for a business? Do I spend that time instead studying philosophy, history? Learning dance? Improving my English? Reading literature? Going out for coffee with a friend? I've tried ranking my interests — but I just can't — and its left me somewhat overwhelmed with what I'm supposed to do with my time. Ahh!
  24. I'm definitely interested in some of those. Yes, you can use other fields in science to help guide you in using your conceptual faculty. Quoting Peikoff from "Teaching Johnny to think" The other part is that maths will underlie and be relevant to some of those subjects you mention. For history his reasoning is as follows: Given my education I tend to think of myself as this young child lacking concretes with which to integrate, especially when considering the next statement by Rand. Briefly on physics, Peikoff says: "Mathematics teaches pure method. History gives the students the facts about man. Science gives them the facts about nature. In effect, science does for existence, what history does for consciousness. History gives the students the data for what one day will be ethics and politics; science gives them the data for what eventually will be metaphysics, the nature of reality... "All subjects equally teach epistemology if they are taught properly; one is not more logical than the others... The whole message that he should get from science is that this vast sprawl of factual observations is brought into the one comprehensible total by a few principles or by a brilliant theory... that is exactly the integration he has to learn. The atomic theory is a tremendously valuable thing to teach because of the range of observable data that it subsumes and integrates... The rest of the natural sciences are in various ways dependent on physics or highly specialized". He does emphasize that the way it's (whether physics, biology, chemistry etc.) taught is what's important, and that it needs to be related back to principles. Concerning literature he picks it because it's art expressed in a conceptual medium (as opposed to music), and because of that it's also easier to teach. He goes on to say that "What history is to ethics and politics, what science is to metaphysics, art is to philosophy. Art is the data and the concretes of philosophy in specific, easily graspable terms. If history opens up the study of man, and science opens up the study of matter, art opens up man's view of the universe as a total. It gives the student the ultimate integration—man in relation to man, within the universe." I've started with pre-socratic philosophers and when my eyes start glazing I move onto history and fiction. I've picked this because I really enjoy learning about how so many things we see every day actually originate from a culture existed 2500 years ago... "a real (as in, a platonic form) man"... "real strong" "everything changes...we're always changing... always flowing" (Heraclitus) academic number fixation originating from Pythagorean philosophers I don't know where to start. My interests, hobbies are narrow and are not sciences where enormous abstractions are made and principles inducted. My approach so far is all over the place. I'm just starting as far back as I think is relevant, which to me is Ancient Greece. Thank you for that last book recommendation. I agree with you re: plain history. I hated it in school too. I remember when studying the french revolution we had to memorize a large list of causes. Like farmer discontent, bad weather or crops, queen saying that, village X doing this. I don't remember any of it anymore. I'm hoping that if one works through it correctly though you can hold onto all relevant information because you integrate it with everything you see around you today also. The words you use (e.g. the word "real" being used in phrases to denote the pinnacle of something being connected to Platonic forms), the technology you use, the news / politics. I've got a degree in economics and don't feel that I've learned anything useful from it. Supply / Demand is about the only thing I remember and lots of other random facts about markets which are easily learned elsewhere. Economics at uni was a mess of ideas. FWIW with my discussions of some people working at big banks on trading desks they never liked hiring business / economics / econometrics grads they always wanted the physics / maths graduates because they found that the former couldn't really think outside of the strict, vacuum contexts they were taught, e.g. crunching stats on very specific situations with econometric tools, i.e. they had not integrated the ideas into principles and tools for thinking about problems. I don't plan on "knowing it all" in maths / physics. I'm trying to set myself a goal of learning some of the more essential parts of these subjects / their history and then if I'm still curious continuing from there. In a way I'm free to do so because right now my central purpose in life is to find my central purpose. Won't a logical leap in physics be too difficult with no physics background?
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