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Judgment Day For The Brandens

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Thanks for fleshing out your thoughts here. I don't have any objection to your using OPAR the way you have here, but from the first post I could not tell that's what you were doing. That's why I asked you to spell it out a bit.

James Valliant definitely does try to explicate Rand's analysis using principles from Objectivist epistemology. I guess the problem I had with taking a lot of that too seriously was the fact that Rand was analyzing no more than a bunch of fabrications Branden fed to her.

To put this in the form of a question: what can we learn from Rand's analysis of Branden's "problems," if we know that Branden was feeding her a bunch of lies during their sessions?

You'll see I love analogies; another has just occurred to me. Suppose an expert meterologist did a detailed analysis of a bunch of weather data, but later we found out that the data was fabricated, and there's no way to know whether that collection of data could ever exist in reality. How should we view the detailed analysis? Maybe there is some value in studying the analysis, but it would take effort to extract it, more effort than if the analysis was done on real data.

Does this question make sense?


Edit: I guess one value is that it shows how one can determine whether someone is being dishonest in presenting his "problems." Perhaps I'm being too hasty here.

Edited by To the Dogs
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To the Dogs,

First, I appear to have misunderstood your objection to quoting Peikoff, for which I apologize.

Yes, I think the value of the book and of the meteorologist example is precisely in their respective abilities to demonstrate and teach us the method of lie detection and how to act in the face of lies.

Notice, for example, that my reason for searching for obscure instances of intellectual trash, was in an effort to learn how to recognize and counter the trash. Sometimes that is not as easy as it was in this case.

The meteorologist example is a good one. For the average layman the value would be in reading a book summarizing the analysis and showing the method, and the reason for writing it up in a paper or book might be to show, for example, the junk science behind the environmental movement.

Both would be examples of good premises in action -- one dealing with the proper method of analysis in science, the other with the proper method in judging people.

On the more "positive" side, there are, in the Journal entries as well as Valliant's notes, discussions of "stylized life", Rand's attitude toward giving love, and "autism" among other subjects, which were new to me.

In short, the object is always to get at the truth and integrate it with the rest of our knowledge in any area of interest in one's hierarchy.


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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I have just finished reading the book, which I have read "in one breath". The book's great merit, of course, is the exposure of the Brandens. But I think that the second part, showing Rand`s private journals, also gives a great demonstration of the way a great mind such as Rand`s analyses "Branden". I write "Branden" in quotes because it is now known that the person she was analyzing was not the real Branden. But while being "duped" by the Brandens, Rand analyzed the mind of an honest person who has fallen into a terrible error, perhaps even corruption.

I find it extremely helpful for the understanding of myself and others- more helpful, I must admit, than Rand`s articles speaking of abstract psychology. Probably because she had a higher motivation to help a person she considered her best friend- an Objectivist hero. And now, that I have finished reading the book, I intend to try and sell to people not just the defense of Ayn Rand, but as an example of the way a genius analyzed the mind of an honest and erronous man- however factitious he turned out to be.

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Can anyone help me understand the following ?

1. How can an objectivist (THE Objectivist) Ayn Rand have a love affair? (even with permission )

2. How could AR ever have been married to someone who could "share" her? (how could Frank be of her caliber)

3. How could lesser minds dupe AR ? (Barbara and Branden)

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Can anyone help me understand the following ?

1. How can an objectivist (THE Objectivist) Ayn Rand have a love affair? (even with permission )

2. How could AR ever have been married to someone who could "share" her? (how could Frank be of her caliber)

3. How could lesser minds dupe AR ? (Barbara and Branden)

Think about it this way:

Why do lovers break-up? Why do people get divorced?

What would bother me is if she was sleeping with both men at the same time. I haven't read the book, and I dont' remember what Branden said in Judgment Day but I suspect that she was only sleeping with Branden at the time. If this is true, then it was not that she was deciding who was the better lover, but who was the better soul for her, that necessarily would arouse a greater sexual passion in her and a better sex life.

I suspect that if Frank did not allow her to decide and make her final choice, it would have meant divorce immediately.

If she was sleeping with both men at the same time, then: then this represents a "dimension" I have no clue about. But I suspect that the affair involved the commencement of a spiritual relationship that she could not have had had Frank not given her the opportunity to explore it, and the sex was a necessary corollary of that.

I think Frank's "sharing" Ayn Rand could be understood by looking at Ayn Rand's short story, The Husband I Bought, available in the book The Early Ayn Rand. He could not interfere with her happiness, because if you love someone you would want to see them happy, even if it meant giving up that person. In the loss, you still maintain what you once had, i.e., the level of love, but the one you lose moves on to something greater, and the potential for you to find something better still remains.

As to how could Ayn Rand be duped: taking people at their word until their actions prove otherwise, and when they are proven to be trangressors, meeting that with the appropriate justice.


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However, now I'm thinking that perhaps the affair lasted several years, because he had an affair with Patricia for some years, which would lead me to believe that she was sleeping with both men. So I suspect it's simply that she was a giant of a woman, and no man was at her heights, embodying the same characteristics that she possessed; so that Frank's essence embodied something important that Ayn had but Nathaniel did not possess, while Nathan's "essence" embodied something important that Ayn had but that Frank did not possess.

The sex was a celebration of two different things, that one person could not give her. It is a rare event, requiring a very rare and magnificent soul with very great needs.

Note that Barabara and Nathaniel like to point out flaws in Ayn Rand, which amount to the idea, "see--she wasn't SO great." If you succeed in convincing people of that, then you can succeed in convincing them that such an affair was representative of a flaw in Ayn Rand's character, and not in the people who could not live up to a rational morality, while having the benefit of living in the presence of such a great teacher and mentor.

Wouldn't you have love to have lived just one year with Miss Rand?


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  • 8 months later...

I began reading Ayn Rand's novels when I was seventeen (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, We The Living) and did not get into her non-fiction work until my mid-twenties. I now in my early thirties absorb any Objectivist material I can get that is available through the Ayn Rand Bookstore (lecture tapes, books by other Objectivist writers like Peikoff, etc.) A couple of years ago, I read both Branden books Judgement Day and Barbara's The Passion of Ayn Rand, and had little inisght into the relationship between Rand and Branden until reading both of those texts. All arguments aside.....one thing that I have had a hard time dealing with in terms of my admiration and respect for Rand who is possibly the greatest philosopher and writer ever to have existed, is the fact that if she did have an affair with Branden while married to another man, she who I always admired for being an advocate of the sanctity of contracts and capitalism, would have been actively breaking a contract (marriage) while having an affair with Branden. I don't doubt Branden's lack of integrity based on all other material I have read online and after researching him more in depth but it just doesn't make sense that such a great mind like Rand would have engaged in an affair with man while being married to another. I don't think I ever read anything that said she admitted to it either, which has given me some hope, and I could tell from reading Judgement Day and The Passion of Ayn Rand that a lot of things were being left out of the story as would be expected when considering who the authors of those texts were. Still confused as a younger student of Objectivism that my hero in a sense could have behaved in such a way, when if she wanted to be with Branden could have easily gotten divorced and engaged in the relationship as an unmarried woman.


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Can anyone help me understand the following ?

1. How can an objectivist (THE Objectivist) Ayn Rand have a love affair? (even with permission )

2. How could AR ever have been married to someone who could "share" her? (how could Frank be of her caliber)

3. How could lesser minds dupe AR ? (Barbara and Branden)

I have struggled with the same questions for some time considering the incredible impact I feel Rand's works have had on my life and own development as a person. I try to make sense of it all by realizing that maybe as Rand got older in age and realized she was never that passionate about Frank, that she gave in to a weakness that enabled her to be with Branden and after all, we are all human beings with some degree of weakness in some areas and strengths in others. As far as being with Frank, married at the same time, I don't understand how if that happened, she could ignore any concern for how her husband would have felt at the time. And as for lesser minds being able to do to Rand what the Brandens did......I've come to find in life when a lesser mind employs the use of manipulation, deception and lies on a better person that makes the mistake of trusting them, then the results are usually what occurred in the case of Rand and the Brandens. They preyed on her virtues and her willingness to let them into her world, trust Nathaniel, and she overlooked some things that might have been more obvious to her if she was not emotionally and physically attracted to Nathaniel. If being with another man while she was married is/was wrong, it pales in comparrison to the level of deceit and manipulation that both Branden's used to dupe Rand and in a sense she was the victim throughout that entire episode of her life.


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  • 1 month later...

On YouTube last week I watched Barbara Branden

the 50th anniversary of Atlas Shrugged. While I found it interesting as a first-person telling of Ayn Rand's life, what I haven't been able to get out of my head is Rand's alleged misery "'till the end of her days [paraphrased]" after such heavy criticism toward Atlas. Mrs. Branden went on in some depth about it, and it's kind of getting me down; such a great mind did not deserve to live miserably.

As a disclaimer, I haven't read much about the Brandens, though I find it hard to believe that someone who was close to Rand "systematically" tried to destroy her legacy. Has anyone found any other evidence that Rand lived in terrible sadness because her book was initially so disdained? Did she really come to believe that the bulk of the world would never live up to her expectations?

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As a disclaimer, I haven't read much about the Brandens, though I find it hard to believe that someone who was close to Rand "systematically" tried to destroy her legacy.

Are you equating closeness to Rand with some sort of morally positive evaulation of the Brandens? My question to you is, how is Barbara Branden in a position to know what Rand's psychological state of mind was for the rest of her life considering Rand broke contact with her? Someone who asserts someone elses mental state without close contact with them is psychologizing, pure and simple. If you want testimony of Rand's state try someone who was actually around her for that entire time, then.

Do you think someone who tries making a claim like that after this much time to evaluate it is merely honestly mistaken?

Read PARC. Highly recommended.

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Since Rand never saw or spoke to the Brandens after 1968, Ms. Branden isn't in a position to know anything about Rand's personality "till the end of her days." That Rand was miserable until her death is contradicted by the testimony of Leonard Peikoff, as well as Charles and Mary Ann Sures. As PARC proves, Barbara has been willing to lie about and distort the testimony of others, as well. PARC proves beyond any reasonable doubt that both Barbara and Nathaniel Branden have systematically lied about Rand. The case is overwhelming. So to take the testimony of Barbara Branden as reliable (or even worth considering) is a mistake, to say the least.

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I just listened too the recording and it is laughable. Full of interpretations of Rand's psychology through a lens of non-Objectivism. Please tell me you guys see through that crap. Not only that, the first third is her providing no substance but instead establishing her "credibility" by sidling up as close to Rand as she can during the writing of Atlas. Uggh... makes me want to vomit.

Edited by KendallJ
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OK, thank you both for your replies. It appears that I was hasty in my conclusions. If I am to know one way or the other, I will certainly need to read more about Rand, from different perspectives, her relationship with the Brandens, and the Brandens themselves. I was not even aware that Rand and Mrs. Branden stopped speaking after 1968.

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I was not even aware that Rand and Mrs. Branden stopped speaking after 1968.

Most certainly. This is a very important fact to remember. By the way, in N. Branden`s Judgement Day he writes that in AR`s funeral, an order came not to let either of the Brandens enter; so you understand Rand`s (and Rand`s heirs) attitude towards them.

Rand`s post-Atlas depression (of about two years) is confirmed by Rand herself, as shown in The Passion of Ayn Rand`s Critics.

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  • 6 years later...

Following is an excerpt from JUDGMENT PLAY: My Years With Ayn Rynd, by Gnat Bloominthrall (first published in two parts in the Feb. 2, 2014 and Feb. 9, 2014 issues of The Libertarian Enterprise).


THIS LITTLE book of 16,000 words or so was conceived in response to Nathaniel Branden’s 1989 memoir Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand. Branden’s compelling blend of pomposity, indelicacy, and bitter swipes at former associates seemed ripe for parody.


After I had gotten about halfway through my retelling of the memoir’s epic events, I set the effort aside for a little while. Next thing I knew it was a quarter century later, 2014. Among other depressing features of the annum, the socialist Obamacare had arrived and the flying antigrav cars had not.


One excuse for not finishing my manuscript had come in 1999 with the publication of the second, revised, cleansed edition of Branden’s memoir, entitled simply My Years With Ayn Rand. I gather that this version deletes much of the vindictiveness and perhaps other indiscretions of the original, making Judgment Play even more pointless than before unless one enjoys this sort of thing and has access to library systems and second-hand books or vaguely remembers a book read 25 years ago. So perhaps I should have just let my manuscript molder in my computer.


However, I kind of like it myself; and this being the age of the Internet and e-books, which are even groovier than flying antigrav cars, it is easier than ever to inflict dubious reading matter on the public. So here we are.


If, despite the hurdles, readers show enough interest in what follows, I shall proceed to Part Two, which I would expect to fashion even faster than Harlan Ellison churned out The Last Dangerous Visions.


P.S. As long as I’m here, I may as well state for the record that James Cowardly’s idiotic screed The Bad Fashion Sense of Ayn Rand’s Critics: The Case Against the Brandens’ Wardrobe—an attack on both Nathaniel Branden’s fluorescent memoir and Barbara Branden’s far superior Passion of Ayn Rand—is also ripe for parody, were it worth any attention at all. I stipulate my distaste for Cowardly’s exercise in sustained obtuseness only because I do not wish anyone to suppose that merely because I have scribbled a stupid parody of Nathaniel Branden’s Judgment Day, I must also be dumb enough to favor such an infinitely even stupider book targeting Branden, let alone one purporting to be fair and factual.


Chapter One

The Culmination of My Childhood


MY CHILDHOOD was so fascinating. Let me tell you about it.


It began when I was fourteen and I overheard some girls reading aloud from what was, apparently, a rather dramatic novel. They were giggling and excited. To my age-fourteen self, their behavior seemed foolish. I felt lordly, superior and disdainful, as if I had attained a pitch of maturity that they could never hope to match.


When they had left the room I plucked the volume up. The Funnelhead by Ayn Rynd, were the words gracing the cover. Hmm. I began to read.


“Howard Hunk laughed.” That was how it began.


It was the story of a lone individualist who fought for his vision with a fearless integrity against the collectivist mob. A man who pursued his own happiness as his highest moral purpose. A man with strangely-hued hair and a strange girlfriend.


...She stood, as insult to the place below and to all of existence. Her dress, the color of pale orange rind, too simple and too expensive, its pleats like the knife edges of shards of orange-colored glass—her thin heels like spikes as daggers to stab the traitorous earth—the fragility of her body against the harsh lemon sky like a wind-whipped stem against a yellow background—added up to an emblem of grace, of protest and of doom that was both song and scream—not at all evocative of the fastidious drawing rooms she’d hailed from.


She looked down. Her eyes stopped on the orange hair—which also resembled orange rind, incidentally—of the incredibly sexy and dynamic man working hard in the quarry below who raised his head and looked at her. Their glances locked in a dynamic interplay of sexually-charged mutual cognition.


“Are you looking at me?” she inquired, harshly. “You don’t have any sexual interest in me, I hope?”


The man had gaunt, hollow cheeks and a severely pitiless cast to the planes of his countenance. Immediately she wanted to destroy him.


“Yes, I am looking at you,” he said contemptuously, tossing a chunk of granite out of the way of his drill. He turned off the drill. “Unless it bothers you.”


“It does bother me.”


He looked away and started up the drill.


“Hey you!” she shouted. “Mister!”


He turned off the drill. “Yes ma’am?”


“You needn’t call me ma’am. I’m Francine Dominant. My father owns this quarry.”


“Goodie for you.”


Her eyes became two narrow slits of gray; gray as the gray of the quarry granite. “You want something, don’t you?


What do you want?”


“I want to take you sexually by force. Okay with you? I know you’re the type of dame who won’t put out for just anyone.”


“Goddamn you,” she hissed. “Submit the appropriate forms to the Ministry of Rough Romantic Foreplay.”


She whirled and was gone.


She wants it, Hunk thought: she wants to be “taken by force,” so to speak, or she wouldn’t have asked me to file an MRRF form when I mentioned my intention to do precisely that.


Hunk didn’t think actually filing the forms was strictly necessary. But that night he did so anyway, making sure to send Francine’s copy to her by certified mail, and keeping another copy for his files. Better to cover your ass in these kinds of cases, he reflected.


When he had finished filling out the forms Hunk felt tired, very tired. Dropping the forms off at the post office the next day was like a point reached for him—a stop. He waited in line with the rest of them. Then he had to get up early the next day to go back to the quarry. He picked up the drill.


I’m getting too old for this shit, he thought.


After several more carefully choreographed encounters, Francine presented Hunk with a notarized affidavit declaring that she wanted him to come fix the damaged marble of her fireplace; that she had scratched the marble herself as a way to request his presence and to attempt, and fail, to humiliate him; that Hunk hereby had her permission to damage the marble work further as manifestation of masculine contempt for her feckless desire to humiliate him, as prelude to her being taken by him by force; and that she would provide him with further instructions at that time. Hunk was to be paid his normal wage for the work.


After Hunk had initialed the affidavit, Francine walked away, disappointed. She felt that their secret understanding was lost. He had complied with her demands as if but a simple job plus sexual adventure were involved that she would have offered to any other rippling-muscled, orange-rind-haired workman.


Then she felt the sinking gasp inside, that feeling of shame and pleasure which he always gave her: she realized that their understanding had been more intimate and flagrant than ever—in his natural acceptance of an unnatural offer; he had shown her how much he knew—by his lack of astonishment.


She turned. “Do you realize the shame and pleasure you are giving me by this unnaturally natural acceptance of an unnatural offer?” she asked him.


“Yes I do,” said Hunk. “My contemptuous indifference to your overtures will be followed by violently taking you by force.”


“I will send you an engraved invitation,” said Francine, “you bastard.”


Hunk received the engraved invitation by certified mail the next day.


When Hunk came by to fix the scratch in the fireplace he said, “Good evening.” He walked with the relaxed, muscle-bunched gait of a cougar approaching an easy kill.


She said: “Good evening.”


Hunk walked straight to the fireplace.


“I see the inconsequential scratch,” he said.




“Well...guess I’ll go ahead and create some damage.” He struck the fireplace with a sharp tool. “Okay...now it’s damaged and has to be replaced. That what you wanted?”


She asked calmly: “Know what kind of marble this is and how to get another piece like it?”


“Sure toots.” He went to work removing the marble.


“Got anything else to say?” she asked finally.


“Yes. This is an atrocious fireplace.”


“What would you know of architecture?” she sneered.


“Well, I’m an architect. Actually, I worked for your father once. He fired me, because of my integrity. Have you seen my work? It’s quite good. I’m a genius.”


She shrugged. “So you have integrity, eh?”


“Lots of it. Like you.”


“I don’t believe in integrity. At least not in any physical manifestation. The world destroys it. I destroy things myself, to protect them from being destroyed by others. It’s my hobby. For example, I threw a beautiful statue down an elevator shaft so it would smash to pieces and no one else would ever get to see it and thereby sully its magnificence. If we ever fell in love, I would have to protect you. I would do so by obliterating you like a gnat.”


“Now why would you want to do a fool thing like that?”


“It’s too complicated to explain. I’ll send you several recent volumes of my diary though and you can....”


“Okay, send me the volumes,” said Hunk, realizing this was not going to be such an easy lay after all. “The marble can be replaced within a few days. I will be sure to get exactly the same kind. You know, I hope, that this type marble is created by suppressed pressures bubbling up to the surface, much like the suppressed pressures of our psychologies, eager to erupt all over the place, via sperm and so forth.”




“The replacement marble will arrive in two or three days.” Hunk turned to leave.


“Wait!” yelped Francine, her hair swaying like liquid mercury.




“Will you set the new piece yourself?”


Hunk froze. He had wanted it to be a surprise.


“No,” he said slowly. “No...I won’t. Somebody named Pasquale Orsini will do it.”


A few days later Pasquale Orsini showed up to set the new marble.


Francine was furious that Hunk had not been the one to come.


“Damn him!” she said. And yet, she had known ahead of time that it would be Pasquale Orsini who would come.


“Red down at the quarry, he said you wanna I setta the mar—”


“Yes yes,” she said.




Early the next day she received the signed permission.


That evening she struck him across the face with the twig.


“Ouch!” he said.


She had struck him much harder than was necessary.


“Here to ‘rape’ me?” she asked when Hunk arrived “unexpectedly” at her home the next day.


“What do you think?” asked Hunk, reaching into his back pocket.


But he had left the engraved invitation back at the cabin.


Damn. Damn damn damn.


“Uh...I’ll be right back,” said Hunk....


All my ideas changed.


Everything about The Funnelhead fascinated me. I wanted to be just like Howard Hunk. Someday, I vowed, I would be.


I WAS what you might call a normal teenager with pretensions to godhood. Part of my context at the time was that my parents were middle-American, or in this case lower-Canadian, members of the bourgeoisie with psychiatric problems of the sort endemic to the modern age and which perplexed me. I felt alienated from them and from the world. To add insult to injury, I was living in Canada, not the most glamorous country in the world.


Many-a-day I felt: what kind of universe is it in which I am based in Canada and surrounded by ordinary people who do not subordinate themselves to my every whim?


Despite my ennui and frustration, however, I did not succumb to the malevolent-universe premise. Instead, I decided I needed to understand people better so that I could effectively manipulate them for their sake and for my own.


I decided to become a psychologist.


The little detail that Howard Hunk did not go around manipulating people unfortunately eluded me at the time. Many years later I would come to regret my innocent misinterpretation of Rynd’s novel.


My fascination with The Funnelhead disturbed my parents, who fretted that my reading was becoming limited to this one book. My mother called in a specialist on such matters. The specialist could not know that my psychological understanding of myself was far superior to her own. Nevertheless, I was eager for her opinion of the book. But the specialist took one look at some of the sex scenes and said, “Why, this is nothing new. Pure anarchism all the way.”


I looked up anarchism in the dictionary and concluded that though Rynd’s novel was not anarchistic per se, anarchism was indeed the way to go: the optimal social system.


Foreshadowingly, my adolescent self wondered what Ayn Rynd would have to say about that.


I continued to re-read the novel for the next several years, still stuck in Canada. By the time I was eighteen, I had absorbed The Funnelhead so thoroughly that a person could quote to me any particular sentence from it and I would have been able to repeat verbatim all the sentences following as well as all the ones preceding. The first and last lines of the book—“Howard Hunk laughed” and “Howard Hunk laughed again”—were especially soldered in my mind as kinds of book ends to the book.


My profound knowledge of the text, including the psychodynamics of the sex scenes, would come in handy later, when I was to have an affair with the author. (That’s right! An affair! With Ayn Rynd! Keep on a-readin’.)


But another woman would enter my life first. For at just about this point in my context, a friend of mine brought me to meet a girl he knew who had also memorized The Funnelhead. Her name, he said, was Babs Wannaman. Would I like to meet her?


Indeed I would.


It was to be an encounter that would change my life.


ONE DAY, my friend and I went to her home as had been previously arranged.


We knocked on the door.


We waited for the door to open.


We heard footsteps coming toward the door.


We waited some more.


And then still more.


Then, a young woman opened the door.


She was beautiful—in an innocent, submissive kind of way that I found very congenial.


“Babs,” our mutual friend said, “I’d like you to meet...Gnat Bloominthrall!”


The woman to whom I was being introduced looked singularly impressed.


Read more: amzn.to/1eDlJF4

Edited by GabrielB
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