Tuesday, December 29, 2015

You Should be Able to Refinance Your Student Loan Debt




It took me a while to figure this out, so bear with me. Megan McArdle tries to pooh-pooh a very good question asked by Bernie Sanders:

The day after Christmas, Bernie Sanders asked a question on Twitter: “You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?”


Finance types may snicker. But I’ve seen this question asked fairly often, and it seems worth answering, respectfully, for people whose expertise and interest lie outside the realm of economics.


The short answer is: “Loans are not priced in real life the way they are in Sunday School stories.” In a Sunday School story, the cheapest loans would go to the nicest people with the noblest use for the money: single mothers who need money to buy their kids a Christmas present, say.

That’s splendid for the recipient. But what about the lender? Let’s say you had $150 that you really needed to have at the end of the month, say to pay your rent. Would you want to lend it to the single mother whose income is stretched so tight that she needs to borrow money for Christmas presents, or would you want to lend it to some heartless leech of a securities litigator with an 800 credit rating who happens to have left his wallet at home? C’mon. You know the answer; you just don’t want to say it. If you really need the money -- if you cannot afford to turn your loan into a gift -- then you lend it to the better credit risk with the higher income, not the person who may find themselves too short to pay you when the loan comes due.


In aggregate, most of the money in your savings account is loaned out using this cold calculus, and unless you could afford to have that contents of that account suddenly vanish, you want it to be. That’s why poor people, on top of all the other unfairness heaped upon them, pay higher interest rates. And that is why secured loans, like mortgages, get lower interest rates than unsecured loans, like credit card balances and student loans.


Student loans are two-for-one in terms of risk: They are frequently made to people with no income, no credit history, and somewhat imperfect prospects; and they carry no guarantee of payment other than the borrower’s signature. If someone fails to pay their auto loan, you can take their car away. This ensures repayment in two ways: first, you can auction the car and recover some of the money that you lent out; and second, people need their car, and will scrimp on other things in order to keep it from losing it. The immediate personal costs of failing to pay your student loans, on the other hand, are pretty minimal, and people are going to take that into account when they decide whether to pay you or the auto finance company. That’s why the government has to guarantee these loans; the low-fixed-rate, take-any-course-of-study-you-want-at-any-accredited-institution, interest-deferred-in-school is probably not a financial product that would exist in the wild.


Secured loans have thus always carried lower interest rates than unsecured loans, and will do so until the heat death of the universe renders moot such questions.

And so on, and so forth. McArdle tries to demonstrate competence and knowledge here, but let's go back to the question that kicked off this discussion:

Bernie Sanders asked a question on Twitter: “You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?”


Let's ignore McArdle and really answer the question. Let's say a family, who refinances their home, takes a look at their student debt and makes an honest effort to refinance that debt. They can't! And that's why the question needs to be answered from the viewpoint of a family with student loan debt as opposed to a recently graduated student with student loan debt.





McArdle is basically right about why a student who just gets out of college is charged a higher interest rate--they're a riskier proposition. But the family, with their home as an asset, is a much lower risk. Why wouldn't you allow them to use their home as collateral so that they could refinance their existing student loan debt?





That's the part that makes no sense. You have two people who are married and, if they're at a point where they own a home and refinance it, let's say they're also ten years into the thirty year process of paying back their student loans. They've been making ten years of payments on that debt at 7 or 8 percent while their home is financed at 3 percent. You could say that the only reason why they own their own home is because of the degrees they earned. 





As a condition of refinancing their student loan debt, you could minimize the risk and reduce the interest rate on their student loan debt by using the equity in their home as collateral. You're telling me that someone who has paid off a third of their mortgage is the same risk as a kid just out of college? Hell, no. They're a damned good risk and they deserve an interest rate cut. That would mean huge savings for the family and bring them greater financial stability in the long run, making it more likely that not only would they pay back their mortgage but that they would pay back their student loan debt.





And wouldn't that help bring down interest rates? Or am I being an idiot on purpose?





These are the kinds of scenarios that Sanders is really pushing--common sense changes to how we do things so that Americans can get out from under crushing levels of debt. And no one currently self-identifying as a Republican would even dream of such a thing--it runs against the economic self-interest of their primary voters as well as their donors.

Tell the Libtards that Obama Still Sucks




Jobs? What jobs?

Look, here's how the modern American economy works. If a Republican is in office, the deficit doesn't matter.

If a Democrat is in office, the deficit is the ONLY thing that matters.

Here's proof, via Paul Krugman, that Obama has been a far better president than we're being told.





It's hard to argue with the proof at hand, but that's all they have--an argument. The fact that it doesn't hold water is a feature, not a bug.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Microagressions Suck





Just by writing this, Emily Shire committed a microagression!

Before 2015, playing beer pong and pulling all-nighters were the activities most associated with the college experience. That all changed this year.


From large public universities in America’s heartland, like the University of Missouri, to small private colleges along the coasts, like Claremont McKenna College in California, student outrage spread like mono at a frat party.


A new lexicon to cover hot-button campus issues—“microaggressions,” “safe spaces,” “yes means yes”—entered the mainstream as college protests earned increasing national interest, far beyond the academic bubble.


Student outrage doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother you, either. Let them get spun up about these things--it's not like there aren't people being shot and it's not like women just stopped being raped. Let them have their moment within the safe environment of college to learn how the world really works, and, oh by the way, let them change society for the better by redefining what we can and cannot talk about. Deriding someone's opposition to racism or gender inequality means you're getting a taste of what's around the corner. Eventually, we'll all stop offending one another, even if it means giving up a banh mi sandwich, whatever the hell that is.

Friday, December 25, 2015

So Much For That Scandal




How much do you want to bet that there will be a "scandalous" revelation about the Clinton Foundation in the weeks ahead?

One of the nation's largest charity watchdog groups has removed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from its watch list that is supposed to alert donors to potential issues of interest when they are making philanthropic decisions.


The foundation was placed on the watch list in April after a slew of news stories about foreign governments and donors giving to the foundation who were also lobbying the Obama administration while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.


The Clinton Foundation responded to the label with a lengthy memo in May.
"There has been no indication, accusation or evidence in any of these stories of any wrongdoing," the memo read. "Our supporters donate to the Clinton Foundation because they want to see lives improved; they want better opportunity across the globe; and they want to see communities, businesses and governments working together to address problems that, when working together, we have the solutions and resources to fix."


The way it works is, someone makes a barely-sourced accusation against the Clintons, and, under the Clinton Rules, every minor malfeasance that emerges in the fevered imagination of someone who won't put their name on anything becomes a huge scandal that normally wouldn't affect a Republican with similar issues. Everything is blown sky-high and out of proportion so that, eventually, we get to read about the vindication the Clintons when the information is dumped on a major holiday or on a late Friday afternoon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Your Kids Belong in the Car, Not on the Roof




This is a story about parents who have lost control of their common sense:

LEAGUE CITY, TX (KTRK) -- One League City neighborhood attracts people from all over with its homes decorated for the holidays.


But Tuesday night, as Jeremy Barron was headed home, he saw something he had never seen before.


"As I passed by them I saw the kids sitting on the roof and it just blew my mind,"said Barron.


Barron says he saw as many as three children riding on top of a minivan as it cruised through the neighborhood. He couldn't tell if they were restrained in any way. There were two adults inside. Barron has no idea who they are.

Now, this was Texas, not Florida. Based on my super scientific application of incompetent Photoshop, there was an older kid holding on to a smaller kid. They may have been tied to the luggage rack.





Bad parenting. Bad, bad, bad. And worse Photoshopping, too. Well, at least I don't use Photoshop on the kids.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cheap Oil




A barrel of oil goes for about $39 right now:

Oil fell below $37 a barrel on Thursday, after new data showed OPEC is still pumping like there is no tomorrow.


The mighty oil cartel produced 31.7 million barrels a day in November, its latest monthly report shows. That is the highest output in over three years and 1.7 million barrels a day over its former production ceiling.

Oil hasn't been this cheap in a long time. About a year and a half ago, it was $108 a barrel.

The implications of this probably aren't well understood. There are a number of countries--Iran, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia that face unique circumstances at home. They have restive, unhappy populations that are trying to live in struggling economies. The governments of those nations (only Mexico is a non-OPEC state) are forced to chase revenue and produce oil in abundance, working against their common interests in the name of maintaining a revenue stream that is drying up.

If those countries come apart at the seams because of cheap oil, we'll have interruptions in supply and the possible intervention on the US military as a result. Sure, I like paying less than $2 for a gallon of gas, and I laugh about it all the time because what else could be more hilarious, but there are some really difficult choices here. Do we continue to live like this and hope the oil producing states can remain stable or do we welcome a modest price hike? It would seem to me that someone has to figure out how to cut production, bring the price up, and do this quietly.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ben Carson Can't Defend the Book He Wrote




Ben Carson wrote about things in his book that no one can verify or prove:

Ben Carson slammed CNN's reporting into his past as a "bunch of lies" in a combative interview on Friday, strengthening his defense of his violent past that the media have thus far been unable to corroborate.


"This is a bunch of lies, that is what it is," Carson said on CNN's "New Day" when Alisyn Camerota asked about the report by Scott Glover and Maeve Reston in which they spoke to people Carson grew up with. "This is a bunch of lies attempting to say I'm lying about my history, I think it's pathetic, and basically what the media does is they try to get you distracted."


Camerota pushed back on Carson's argument that the reporters on the story did not talk to people who knew him earlier than high school, but Carson rejected that and launched into an aggressive attack on the media. He also accused the media of not doing the same with Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.


"The vetting that you all did with President Obama doesn't even come close, doesn't even come close to what you guys are trying to do in my case, and you're just going to keep going back, 'He said this 12 years ago' -- it is just garbage," Carson said. "Give me a break."

 Basically, Carson believes that anyone who tries to corroborate anything he's ever written is a liar. That's a pretty good indication that virtually anyone can now run for President and any attempt to perform a perfunctory background check on them will elicit howls of outrage.

They didn't write the lies. He did. And it's their fault for catching him. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Luckiest Kid in the World




Whoops!

A Taiwanese boy on Sunday punched a hole in an extremely valuable Paolo Porpora painting at a Taipei exhibition after apparently tripping and trying to catch his balance on the artwork, according to the surveillance tape provided by the organizers on Monday.

The 12-year-old boy may have gotten lucky, however, because the organizers will not ask the boy's family to pay for the cost of restoring the damaged painting, displayed as part of "The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius" exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

According to Sun Chi-hsuan (孫紀璿), the head of exhibition co-organizer TST Art of Discovery Co. (京銓藝術), the 200-centimeter tall painting is around 350 years old and valued at over NT$50 million (US$1.5 million).

Was the painting insured? If so, calm down everyone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Remember When it Was Tracy Morgan's Fault?




Yeah, it was totally Tracy Morgan's fault that the driver who plowed into his vehicle was awake for 28 hours because Wal-Mart demands absolute fealty to maximum profits over all other considerations. I'm surprised that their lawyers didn't wring a few million out of Morgan in the process of suing him for almost dying when their driver crashed into him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Kelly Osbourne Just Talked Herself Out of a Job




I guess there could have been one or two things she could have said that would have been worse:

[...] Kelly Osbourne was a guest host on The View this morning. Like every time she goes on TV, Kelly offered a lot of useful insight to the discuss—just kidding. During a conversation about Donald Trump, she confidently vomited up a racist comment about Latinos and then insisted she did not mean it “like that.”

In an attempt to scold Trump for his own racist comments about Mexican immigrants being “rapists,” Kelly idiotically offered a different generalized view of this group of people: they’re good at cleaning bathrooms! She explained: “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?”

Let us be fair to poor Kelly--her Mexicans clean her toilets only because she pays them a living wage. What you do with your Mexicans in Hollywood is your business and she certainly did not mean to suggest that the handful of celebrities who manhandle and bamboozle their Mexicans are doing the Lord's work to enrich their lives. Kelly should feel comfortable enough to share her opinions and put her foot in her mouth.  She is setting herself up to be a stern advocate of making quite certain that everyone's Mexican is adequately paid for menial work. Of course she didn't mean it the bad way, even though it came out of her mouth in the bad way as if on purpose and through a great deal of rehearsal.

Does she have a job anymore? Does she need one? Someone out to think about that for a moment.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

This is What the TSA Has In Mind For You




Unfortunate timing, to say the least:

If the new head of the Transportation Security Administration gets his way, all airport screeners will be retrained within 60 days to better detect explosives and spot weapons and more passengers will enroll in the agency's expedited security checkpoint program.

And one day travelers will be able to use fingerprints or some other biometric identifiers instead of paper or electronic boarding passes.

Peter Neffenger, who has been on the job as TSA administrator for four weeks, went before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday and said it was a "huge concern" that the agency's officers failed to identify bombs, weapons and other security threats 96 percent of the time during recent undercover testing.

"It greatly disturbs me to know that we had that failure rate at the checkpoint," he said.

The nature of those failures have been carefully studied, Neffenger told the panel, underscoring an immediate need to "train out those failures."

International traveler Stephen Morrissey has a story to tell:

On leaving the US on 27 July I flew from San Francisco International Airport to London on flight BA 284.

At 2:30 in the afternoon I went through the usual airport security procedure including the stand-up 'scanner', and all was well - no bleeps and nothing unusual.

Before I could gather my belongings from the usual array of trays I was approached by an "airport security officer" who stopped me, crouched before me and groped my penis and testicles. He quickly moved away as an older "airport security officer" approached.

The officer who sexually assaulted me was identified as the General Manager On Duty. Luckily I was accompanied by two members of British Airways Special Services, who were horrified at the sexual attack and suggested that I lodge a complaint. I asked if there would be any point in lodging a complaint since, as with any complaint against a figure in "authority", the complaints are simply collected in order to protect the guilty officer should the matter go further. The British Airways Special Services employees assured me that a complaint was worthwhile, and so I filed the appropriate information.

Here's what the TSA is doing wrong--Morrissey is not a threat to you or anyone else. Leave Morrissey alone and focus on the people who are actually breaking the rules.

It's like we're stuck on stupid or something.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Combat Gum




I found this old piece on the New Yorker website:

Hale predicts that combat gum could save the military a hundred million dollars annually. Dental emergencies account for ten per cent of all injuries that cause soldiers to be evacuated from the battlefield (not counting battle itself, of course). There are forty-seven types of dental emergencies, ranging from the mildly uncomfortable (gingivitis, say), moderately painful (pericoronitis), and severe (totally avulsed tooth). When it gets that bad, a soldier might need to be helicoptered into a dental theatre on another continent. The cost of transportation, plus that of the treatment itself, on top of the unit’s lost manpower, adds up to tens of millions of dollars each year. According to Hale, forty per cent of recruits have at least three cavities. “They have developed a decay pattern,” he said. “We diagnose, pull their teeth, and fill them. This is a constant thing for us, because we have tremendous turnover.”

This is the sort of thing that would have automatically prompted me to write a post, had I seen it back in March of 2014. I had occasion to see dentists in the Army, and I can't remember any bad experiences. I even had my wisdom teeth taken out while stationed in San Antonio, Texas. I was regular Army, and I was referred to the Air Force hospital for removal.

It took a week for me to feel normal after that because I had waited until I was about 30 to do the wisdom tooth extractions. I had all four of them out at once. No fun.

What is referenced in the article gets to the heart of a problem for deploying soldiers. We had categories for everyone, and I seem to recall that they ran from Cat I to Cat IV. If you were a one or a two, you could be deployed. That meant that you had seen a dentist and didn't have any issues. If you were a Cat III or IV, you couldn't deploy. Typically that meant that you hadn't been to the dentist in a while or that you had outstanding issues, like root canal work that needed to be done.

I always went to the dentist. It was free and it wasn't that bad. If they can give you a gum that will keep your teeth in your head, sell it to the civilian world and make money. Precious few innovations come to soldiers nowadays. The last big innovation was the Camelback drinking system. Gum that kills bacteria and prevents tooth loss? We should give that to everyone.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Andrea Peyser is Still Insane




Holy crap:

Bill Cosby is a lousy husband and a possible sex addict. But is he a rapist?

I have my doubts.

Is Cosby, 78, so diabolically creepy that he secretly slipped Quaaludes into the mouths of his alleged victims, as even President Obama suggests? Perhaps.

But I’m starting to think that Cosby’s “crimes’’ were not rapes, but high-pressure seductions.

This may be female heresy.

Still, I wonder if some, if not most (or maybe all?), of the dozens of women who claim Cosby attempted or completed sexual assaults against them, dating back as far as the 1960s, swallowed drugs willingly before the encounters.

That kind of contrarian bullshit could only have been written by a crazy person working at the New York Post. In other words, Andrea Peyser. Someone is paying this bag of nuts to write things in public?

In case you missed it, a high-pressure seduction is rape when the man admits to giving the woman drugs to shut down her central nervous system.

Jeeeee-zus.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Prurient Purposes Thwarted




How far does freedom really go?

The man with shoulder-length red hair stood by the sidewalk just north of Island Park Pool. In the muggy heat, he wore gray slacks and a silky, blue, long-sleeve shirt.

From his perch along First Avenue South, the man, who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s, could peer down on swimmers by the pool’s diving boards. He would look around, act like he was smoking and then snap a photo using a camera with a zoom lens.

Jed Felix said he witnessed all this on Monday afternoon. After watching the man surreptitiously take photos for a while, Felix confronted him and asked what he was doing. “He said he was just taking pictures and that he was an artist,” said Felix, 26, of Fargo. “He said it’s completely legal.”

Now, imagine the impending freakout--they're violating his rights.

Well, yes, but no. They've made this an issue of trespassing, which means he went somewhere that he wasn't welcome and he did something specific that violates the use of public property for personal or prurient reasons. This is not the sort of thing that would stand up in every court, but it does make sense when considering the safety of the public.

This is because the man in question, regardless of what he's wearing, is using technology (a camera) to violate the privacy of others. Should they get a search warrant and see what's on the camera? Would a judge sign off on that? Who knows? Your right to be a weirdo is guaranteed up and until the moment when you start taking telephoto lens photos of kids and women (which should be good enough to ban paparazzi, but oh well).

The  kicker in this whole article will appear briefly before your eyes:

One of the comments was from a woman who said she saw the same man taking photos of women in bikinis on Friday in Island Park.

“We watched as he set his camera on his lap and aim it at women in the park and then moments later look through the shots he just took,” she said in a post on her own Facebook site, which included a photo of the alleged photographer, a man with long red hair who looked like the man Felix encountered.

Felix said the man he approached would not tell him his name or show him the photos he’d taken.

“He was very calm during the entire thing like he knew that he was in the right,” Felix said. “He said that until it’s illegal, he’s going to keep doing it.”

Why didn't the man want to show a perfect stranger, a common citizen, what was on his camera? Because he doesn't have to. That's a matter for the courts. Short of that, using trespass laws to keep him out of public places is about the only recourse left to the community, which has rights as well. He's made up his mind to be an asshole. That's his right! Nobody else has to put up with that, though.

Don't be an asshole. You're ruining freedom for everyone else.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Heh, Indeed, Mr. Alinsky




I was hoping to see something of substance when I checked out the crazies at Powerline, and all I saw was a rehash of what most emphatically did not keep America from electing and then re-electing President Barack Hussein Alinsky Benghazi Obama of rural Kenya. Darn the luck.

You can wade through the Saul Alinsky material if you want, but it's just going to give you a headache. Instead of seething nutters gnawing at the insides of their own mouths, we get practiced outrage and guilt by association.

These people are bonkers and there are no more attendants with butterfly nets to chase them down and put them in the padded cells. Such a pity, such wasted lives, but the ads are super!

I don't know how they still live in Minnesota, these crazies from the Powerline blog. Minnesota is booming, it has a liberal governor who refuses to burnish a national profile, and it sits next to the slapdash clapboard monument to conservative policy ideas, Wisconsin. Every time someone compares Minnesota to Wisconsin, you can hear Packers fans howling about how they've won Superbowls and things like that. What you can't hear are people walking out of a Wisconsin unemployment office with anything but fear and a kick in the ass for their troubles.

It must be impossible to contemplate the idea that Saul Alinsky was on to something, and that his minions now govern us, using his thoughts and words and deeds to give people jobs, health care, safety, and unheralded progress in the face of a multi-decade conservative freakout over nothing. 

Wait, were the first three words in that Powerline article really The David Horowitz? And no one thought to hide that fact? Sonofabitch...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Lesson in Ethics by Ruth Marcus




I'm not making any of this up--Ruth Marcus questions whether we should have gone after FIFA and Denny Hastert:

For different reasons, I find both indictments unsettling — not necessarily wrong, but worth thinking through whether they ought to have been brought.

Holy Mother of God:

Instead, Hastert was tripped up by bank reporting requirements intended to catch drug kingpins and organized crime bosses. His alleged crime is that he structured his hush money withdrawals to avoid triggering reporting rules and then — seemingly on a single occasion — lied to FBI agents about why he was making the withdrawals. Lying is bad. Lying to FBI agents is even worse.

But, really, wouldn’t that have been your first instinct, too? I’d feel differently if Hastert had stuck with the lie, in a second interview after he’d had time to think it over, or before a grand jury. (And, yes, I’m thinking about President Clinton’s impeachment here.)

Hastert did, it seems, a terrible thing. He is, or was, paying for it — literally. He shelled out $1.7 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct,” the indictment says. He is at once alleged perpetrator and victim of a shake-down scheme; his alleged victim is both prey and blackmailer.

Yes, the first place anyone reasonable or serious would go in trying to excuse Denny Hastert's hush money payout to a victim of underage sex abuse is to the Clinton impeachment because, hell, they're the same damned thing, aren't they?

Good God.

Just so we're clear--we shouldn't prosecute FIFA (hundreds and hundreds of men have died building stadiums for FIFA World Cup host countries, who used bribes to secure the games) or Denny Hastert (sexually abusing someone is far, far worse than paying to keep it quiet).

Speechless.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Reasonable Language of the War on Women

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900.0"]  Scott Walker  Scott Walker [/caption]


If it's Wednesday, someone thinking about running for the Republican nomination for president just said something dumb:

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said in an interview on Friday that mandatory ultrasounds for women hoping to get an abortion was "just a cool thing."

During the interview with conservative radio host Dana Loesch, Walker defended a bill he’d signed in 2013 that required women get the ultrasounds.

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” Walker said. “Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons who are 19 and 20, and we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

Walker sounds so reasonable and that's how you know when someone wants to take rights away from women. It's as if he's living in a state divorced from reality.  It's as if he doesn't have a single competent adviser who can help him steer clear of giving away too much when it comes to taking away a woman's right to choose. When he defends the creation of a law that intrudes on the liberty of others and forces doctors to perform an unnecessary and invasive test procedure, he doesn't seem to understand that he's violating every tenet of conservatism:

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” Walker said.

That's the thing with white male conservative men--your liberty is meaningless. Your liberty--your legal right to get an abortion--means nothing to them. They will invade your space and force doctors to perform an unnecessary test in order to maintain their dominance. They want to tell people what to do with their bodies, and all you can do is note that they keep winning elections and they pay no political price for such things.

It would be easy to mock Scott Walker but, really, you have to question the wisdom of the Wisconsin voting public. They elected this man twice (three times if you count the recall) and they don't seem to mind having their liberty used as a doormat.

Do the voters hate the idea of giving women the right to choose what to do with their bodies? Plenty of them seem to love it when a conservative goes against conservative values just to confiscate liberty and throw it away.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Racism is Insane







I like what Paul Krugman is getting at here:






“It has been disheartening to see some commentators still writing as if poverty were simply a matter of values, as if the poor just mysteriously make bad choices and all would be well if they adopted middle-class values. Maybe, just maybe, that was a sustainable argument four decades ago, but at this point it should be obvious that middle-class values only flourish in an economy that offers middle-class jobs.”

— The New York Times, Paul Krugman





It's nearly impossible for anyone to end up in a middle-class lifestyle when the city in which they live has been systematically dismantled in favor of tourism and suburban expansion. And that is what defines Baltimore--there's plenty to do downtown, but don't even think about living inside of the Baltimore beltway. 


For me, it comes down to tolerating a level of racism that isn't going to be sustainable anymore. There are plenty of poor whites in Baltimore, as well as a host of other ethnic groups. Their plight--and the plight of the African-American community--can be laid at the door of the idea that Baltimore can function as a downtown tourist trap with a great retail and eating district by the waterfront and nothing else. It's a city with tremendous potential that made terrible choices decades ago. 


For me, it begins with the idea that we should stop thinking poor people are the problem. They're the result of bad policies and not values or choices.


Couple all that with the crippling war on drugs and the dismantling of the police department, and you have what you have today--a dysfunctional city with enormous potential. Someone has to run the city in the right direction. Someone has to find a way to police the city without terrorizing the people being served. Someone has to run towards building middle-class jobs in areas that are falling apart. Some measure of political compromise and pragmatism is needed, but how are you going to convince people to stop feeding off of the enormous carcass that is the spoils system?


How do you get people to abandon the insanity of racism and embrace doing the right thing for the greater good? How do you reconcile deal making with solving problems for everyone?


Someone legitimate to the governing of Baltimore--and that means someone who isn't walking around with a billion dollars or a host of bought-and-paid-for lackeys--has to step up. There's a real moment here where people who haven't been hitting it out of the park have to find the strength to go long. It doesn't matter what they look like. But someone has to step up and do the job of fixing the city without ramming cash into their pants.


The media will try to destroy them of course. After all, that makes for a better story.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nice Try, Asshole


Note the title of Kevin Williamson's attempt to defend the bigotry laws of Indiana. And, also note that he gets everything wrong right away:

There are three problems with rewarding those who use accusations of bigotry as a political cudgel. First, those who seek to protect religious liberties are not bigots, and going along with false accusations that they are makes one a party to a lie. Second, it is an excellent way to lose political contests, since there is almost nothing — up to and including requiring algebra classes — that the Left will not denounce as bigotry. Third, and related, it encourages those who cynically deploy accusations of bigotry for their own political ends.

So, the left uses bigotry, correct? Well, why do Republicans use national security in exactly the same manner to bludgeon their opponents into submission?

No one declared war on the private mind or the private beliefs of the people of Indiana. War was declared on the very public and commercial use of denying basic services to people based on their sexual orientation. This became an issue because Indiana law attempted to deny basic services to people based on sexual orientation in exactly the same manner as was done to people of color forty years ago (which the National Review defended as a matter of course in the 1960s).

No one is telling people what to think. They are being politely reminded that discrimination is anti-American and against the American way of life.

Can someone tell me what the fuck is he on about with regards to algebra? I am afraid the poor man is shivering in his own cloak of ignorance, afraid of his own shadow, and desperately hoping old William F. Buckley will show up and denounce that queer Gore Vidal.

You see, it's against the law to discriminate against people. Case closed, motherfuckers. Case closed.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Archived Strictly for Satirical Purposes




Unsexed males possess no self awareness. This HAS to be satire. There is no other explanation.


Until recently, I had never read any of the original “gamers are dead” articles, assuming they would contain nothing but the standard leftist drivel to which we’ve become accustomed. The only likely outcome of reading them would be an increase in my blood pressure. Then, while watching a video about GamerGate, I clicked on a link to an archive of one of the original articles, “A Guide To Ending Gamers” by Devin Wilson at Gamasutra.


Full disclosure: I am far from a hardcore gamer. I play Magic The Gathering and Minecraft, and am a recovering WoW addict. As a kid, I played Wolfenstein, Doom, and Mario Brothers. In college it was Duke Nukem and Unreal Tournament. I’m a casual gamer who occasionally goes nuts with a particular game, but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking or reading about games. So I hadn’t even heard of Kotaku or Gamasutra before August 2014.


I happened to be on Reddit on the day of the original Quinn event and saw the threads full of deleted comments. As I learned more about what was happening, I began to nurture the hope that what I’d been waiting for was finally happening: the men of my generation were waking up. My interest in and support of GamerGate comes primarily from two sources:


  • My absolute disdain for all things Politically Correct

  • My rejection of the gradual, deliberate process of feminization Western society has been undergoing since the second half of the 20th century.



I want to protect gaming because of what it represents as because of the entertainment value I get out of it.


Games Are Fun



In any case, I was scrolling down through the article’s list of strategies for eliminating gamers, trying to keep an open mind, and actually thinking there were one or two somewhat valid points. Then I got to item #11:



We stop upholding “fun” as the universal, ultimate criterion for a game’s relevance. It’s a meaningless ideal at best and a poisonous priority at worst. Fun is a neurological trick. Plenty of categorically unhealthy things are “fun”. Let’s try for something more. Many of the alternatives will have similarly fuzzy definitions, but let’s aspire to qualities like “edifying”, “healing”, “pro-social”, or even “enlightening”. I encourage you to decide upon your own alternatives to “fun” in games (while avoiding terms like “cool” and “awesome” and any other word that simply caters to existing, unexamined biases).



That paragraph represents everything that is wrong with social justice thinking in less than 100 words.


Madness Is Real



What this person is saying is that “fun” is not an essential element of a “game”. Not only is it not necessary, it’s either a “meaningless ideal” or a “poisonous priority”. Poisonous, one assumes, because of the unfortunate fact that focusing development effort on creating a fun experience takes away from time spent making it “edifying”.


There are two likely explanations for how an otherwise intelligent, educated person could reach a conclusion so off-base, so fundamentally lacking in anything resembling validity, that it’s difficult to even describe it as wrong:


The Charitable Explanation: Operating almost entirely in a world of abstractions, as academics often do, it’s easy to get so removed from the reality on the ground that you overlook critical details. This is the “absent-minded professor” image, and it offers the benefit of the doubt insofar as it assumes an absence of negative intent.


The Ideological Explanation: For the fanatic, the goals of the revolution are all that matter. The end justifies the means; the importance of making the vision a reality warps the decision-making process and critical thinking faculties of even the most brilliant minds. Essential details are overlooked because they are obscured by emotions, desires, and rote imperatives. This yields the phenomenon we know of as “doublethink” or “cognitive dissonance”.


I don’t know what was going on in the mind of Mr. Wilson; I know which explanation I think is the most likely, but to be honest, in many ways it doesn’t matter. Either leftists like Devin are living in a dream world that causes them to ignore reality, or they ignore reality in order to bring their dream world into being.


Boys Will Be Boys



The most obvious flaw, alluded to earlier, in this reasoning is that video games will no longer exist as a medium in which to promote social good if they are not fun: no matter how well-designed for this purpose, their “healing” powers will go to waste because no one will play them. Leftists appear not to grasp this basic truth because they believe, or behave exactly as though they believed, that people can be programmed like a computer, with each program operating unaffected by the others. They start from a snapshot of current activity in aggregate, try to stamp out elements they object to, and assume there will be no unintended consequences.


As we saw last century with the Soviet Union, this model, while based on shallow truths, has no durability in the real world. People can be convinced to keep working, fighting, and trading for a time if totalitarian authority is maintained through fear, information control, and other forms of manipulation. But there are always unintended consequences of social engineering and central planning that ignores local realities.


By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, it was littered with things like factories producing farm equipment that was worth less than its component parts, because not only did the end product not work, but the cost of salvaging the components was too high to be economical. This will be the result if we allow feminists and other peddlers of academic sanctimony to continue to interfere with the video game marketplace and turn it into a PC haven.


I believe this effect is intentional, and that the feminist campaign to destroy gaming is just one piece of a larger strategy to eliminate or co-opt masculinity in all its forms. Video games are one of the few media that cater more to male than female entertainment preferences: they are dominated by games involving sports, war, and fighting, and often contain images of the female body that appeal to male sexuality. A lot of young men and boys play video games, and they can be coarse, vulgar, and unwelcoming to outsiders.


I say: So what? “Boys will be boys” is now treated as something akin to a Satanic incantation, but it has the inconvenient and feminist-galling audacity of being true. Boys and girls compared to men and women are different—we have different tastes, needs, proclivities, and comfort zones. Video games manifest this basic truth, and are not, as leftists would like us to believe, based on arbitrary, socially constructed gender distinctions designed to give one half of the population advantages over the other half.


Man The Battlements



If you imagine the world of entertainment or leisure generally as a map, video games are one of the few geographic regions where boys are still allowed to be boys, and this is simply not tolerable to feminists. They look at that territory and see a dark black stain on the pink-tinted expanse of modern culture. Feminine sensibilities and political correctness dominate the traditional media, Hollywood, academia, and publishing, while video games serve a niche market that, though large in absolute numbers, impacts a far smaller percentage of the population than other media. In other words, they have us surrounded.


But what they—and most men—don’t appear to understand is that the only reason things have gotten this far is that we haven’t been fighting back. Men have spent 50 years meekly retreating, conceding cultural territory, and even defecting to the other side. It has taken a blatant, undisguised assault on some of the least-threatening members of the male population, people who mostly just want to enjoy their hobby in peace.


This is a test, and the answer is not to become an MRA so you can try to fight the feminists on their own well-fortified ground. The answer is to become a man in the traditional sense: self-sufficient, productive, ambitious, knowledgeable about the world you live in, and resistant to female emotional manipulation. Women who understand the benefits they get from living in a masculine environment will do what the majority of women do best: follow and support you, or get out of your way. The rest, alone, bitter, and without any offspring to indoctrinate as future feminists, will join their ideological fellow-travelers in the dustbin of history.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

America Will Never Be Rid of the Palins




When things like this happen, all you can do is wish the best for the lucky couple and imagine what the next few years are like, what with the death of irony and the elimination of self-respect from American political discourse.

The Palins are forever and you're just living in their world.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Leave People Alone


I know I am a jackass for saying this, but the best thing that a policeman can do is leave people alone.

If you're not breaking the law, you expect to be left alone. That moment of uncertainty when a policeman stops you or approaches you is stressful enough. There are times when you don't want to inadvertently scare people by introducing authority figures into their daily routine.

Really, free stuff is just not worth the aggravation. Leaving people alone is a priceless practice in modern American society.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How is This Even Legal?




Damn, life is so inconvenient:

Pam McGonigal, who began using Uber last year to ferry her 14-year-old daughter from dance class in Silver Spring, Md., back home to Chevy Chase when she got stuck at work in the District, said she had never considered a taxi for the job.

“I just have reservations about my pretty little girl going out and hailing a cab,” she said.


But Uber’s competitors question whether that trust is misplaced.


Dave Sutton, spokesman for the Rockville-based Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, noted that officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco have questioned the company’s methods for screening drivers. He said unlike the taxi industry, Uber’s background checks don’t include fingerprinting. Uber officials said the company does not use fingerprinting as part of its background checks, but said they think the process they use is more comprehensive.

“Obviously, everybody loves their kids, but the idea of placing a young person with someone who hasn’t received a criminal background check is terrifying,” Sutton said. “We’re working to make sure that people understand that.”


Oh, yeah--that screening process for cab drivers is embedded in the psyche of the American consumer. Did that cab driver pass his background check, no one has ever asked, ever. Why not just admit you're a shill for the cab companies and Uber made you crap yourself for days at a time?





Some people love their kids more than other people love their kids, and Uber is proof of that? 





No, the proof of that is found in exactly how much of your life you are willing to surrender to the idea that the safe transportation of your children from one place to the other is kinda your own damn responsibility. We are now in an age where it's okay to outsource the schlepping of your offspring to someone who has a car and needs money. No judgment, please. Life is such a pain in the ass for busy people who want to live somewhere nice and do everything all of the time without thinking of the consequences.





They're your kids. You had them. They want to do activity stuff. You're busy. It's easier to put them in a car with a complete stranger and hope like hell everything works out for the best. Yay! No guilt necessary. Don't be a shamer. Be a sharer of space in a car. Get with the program, grampa. 





Jeebus.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pat Robertson is Still Saying Weird Things


Did a day go by?

Check.

Did Pat Robertson get on television again by appearing on the network that he owns?

Check.

Did he say something designed to make liberals crazy that someone wrote for him because they are part of a massive conservative movement to troll everyone through the method of sticking nutty things in an old man's mouth because he can make them plausible enough to scare old ladies into sending him checks?

Check.

It's March 2, 2015. Korean War hero Pat Robertson is still bugfuck crazy and on the television network that he owns.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Things You Can Read About


Who is Disturbed by Hillbilly Themed Porn?

Jason Street at Hillbilly Thrill - 17 seconds ago
I'm not buying the premise of this: *There is a rising trend in pornography: hillbilly porn. Instead of the usual bevy of coked out blonds with fake boobies from California, these fine films feature rednecks from the South and Appalachia. It’s no wonder with the popularity of shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Swamp People celebrating the inbred and ignorant. According to Gamelink, the niche market for movies with toofless white trash going at it started selling in quadruple numbers about two years ago. While I can’t say that I understand the appeal of watching homunculus tro... more » 

On a Friday

Jason Street at The Killing Moon - 5 hours ago
The world is a shrunken, global mess of release dates and embargoed intellectual property, and I don't know if this really fixes anything. Does it change the fact that artists will release their albums on vinyl before all other formats in order to earn cachet with hipsters? To me, release dates hearken back to the 1970s, which is when an album release would actually generate attention. That's gone now--there is no album being released this year by anyone that people are going to shit themselves over, save perhaps a Kanye West album or a surprise album by Beyonce. And you just got ... more » 

The Dumbassery, It Abounds

Jason Street at Wretched Corners - 1 day ago
People have been offended by art again. You can read about it here. This is the money quote: *Small told Hyperallergic that when one billboard was being installed, a group of locals surrounded the workers, "shouting obscenities and claiming that the billboards were either Satanic or Islamic."* It's unfair to pick on New Mexico for being home to a bunch of backwoods jackasses, but still. How do you conflate art and someone's attempt to do something like this with the fear experienced by people who are too stupid to understand that ISIS is not coming to blow up their town? Answer--... more » 

A Show For the Ages

Jason Street at Foolish Blood - 1 day ago
You may click to embiggen... more » 

Parks and Recreation

Jason Street at An American Lion - 1 day ago
And that's the end of them. *Parks and Recreation* was the last "NBC" comedy that I liked. *Community* lives on in a Yahoo! format that I don't think anyone will decry or mind, but that show has shed the network that failed to make it a hit, not the other way around. I don't know what's coming, but I do know we need another paintball episode, fast. *The Office, Community, 30 Rock*, and *Parks and Recreation* were four of the greatest comedies ever. They rank up there with *Newhart*, which is a show that has never been forgotten specifically because it had the greatest finale ever... more » 

Rounded Up

Jason Street at Rounded Up - 2 days ago
Keith Olbermann Has Been Suspended From ESPN Jason Street at An American Lion - 6 minutes ago I swear to God, I really was going to write a blog post about how I was wrong about Keith Olbermann and his new job with ESPN. I was going to reference this post, where I wrote, in July of 2013, that Olbermann's being hired by ESPN was a bad idea. Then I saw this. Then I went, whew. Good luck, Keith. You belong at 9PM on CNN. You are a talented, consummate professional and a great, great broadcaster. The problem is, you are a crappy employee in a world where you ought to be the employer. Oh... more » 

Keith Olbermann Has Been Suspended From ESPN

Jason Street at An American Lion - 2 days ago
I swear to God, I really was going to write a blog post about how I was wrong about Keith Olbermann and his new job with ESPN. I was going to reference this post, where I wrote, in July of 2013, that Olbermann's being hired by ESPN was a bad idea. Then I saw this. Then I went, whew. Good luck, Keith. You belong at 9PM on CNN. You are a talented, consummate professional and a great, great broadcaster. The problem is, you are a crappy employee in a world where you ought to be the employer. Oh well. And, I don't know about you, but as soon as I saw that Bill O'Reilly had absolutely ... more »

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow White is a Nerd?




A great idea and a great piece of pop art (if I'm allowed to call it that).

I would put a little bit of white tape on the glasses, though. But, remember. I have next to no talent.

Brian Who?




In case you were wondering:

In the first week of his six-month suspension (Feb. 9-13), the Lester Holt-anchored NBC broadcast posted a victory among total viewers, with an average 9.43 million, and adults 25-54. The demo race was a much tighter race. Despite leading ABC News by 400,000 total viewers, it only just topped it in the key demo: 2.292 million over 2.242 million.


CBS remained in third place, averaging 7.628 million viewers and 1.786 million adults 25-54.


Brian Williams has been replaced and the numbers on his broadcast, such as they are, have remained the same. The audience for the evening news has shrunk down to practically nothing but NBC persists with the delusional idea of putting Williams back on the air? I think that has come to pass.

Williams would make a hell of a game show host.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nobody Goes to Jail These Days




 Someone wake up Dinesh D'Souza before he sleeps through his stories:

David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, says he’s proud of the fact “there hasn’t been a major scandal” during the administration’s six years in office.


Axelrod was responding to a question from the audience about the so-called Washington revolving door between lobbyists and the White House during a discussion of his recent book at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

Somewhere, a man's head just exploded in a spasm of outrage and you can hear the indignant persecution complex of D'Souza begin anew:

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza avoided prison on Tuesday when a U.S. judge sentenced him to serve eight months in a community confinement center after he pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law.


D'Souza, 53, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan to live in a center, which would allow him to leave during non-residential hours for employment, for the first eight months of a five-year probationary period.


Berman also ordered D'Souza to perform one day of community service a week during probation, undergo weekly therapy and pay a $30,000 fine.


D'Souza, a frequent critic of U.S. President Barack Obama, admitted in May to illegally reimbursing two "straw donors" who donated $10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a Republican he had known since attending Dartmouth College in the early 1980s.

So, just to recap--none of the Obama appointees have gone to jail, only a handful have done anything wrong, and one of the most prominent critics of the Obama Administration can't even get sent to jail in this modern era of elitist backscratching and corruption. A few people have resigned, but, big deal, right? Nobody's being dumped in a Federal Prison anywhere.

What does that tell you about where this country is headed right now? Nobody will ever go to jail for anything ever again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Time to Get the Blood Out of the Stone


Do you really think Lance Armstrong is going to pay back the money?
A Texas arbitration panel gave a $10 million judgment for SCA Promotions in its suit against disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong for bonuses it paid for his Tour de France championships.
"We are very pleased with this result," SCA president and founder Bob Hamman said in a statement, per Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today. "It is hard to describe how much harm Lance Armstrong's web of lies caused SCA but this is a good first start towards repairing that damage."

The arbitration panel, which voted 2-1 in SCA's favor, will now turn its ruling over to a judge, who must give a final approval. SCA asked the panel to do so out of fear Armstrong would refuse to pay it the $10 million.
Armstrong can default on these judgments and no one would care. How bad can the public image of a man stripped of seven Tour de France victories get before people notice he's a sleaze?

Money is easy to hide. He can divest himself of property and fortune and tell the government to go pound sand. Token payments and tales of hard luck go a long way. He can live out his life free from accountability, albeit with limited potential to earn money and absolutely no dignity whatsoever.

I'm thinking he doesn't care. This is America. A wealthy man can do whatever he wants and reinvent himself when public furor subsides. Armstrong is little more than an afterthought now.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Heather Cho is Going Away For a Year




I think people are forgetting something here:

A former executive of South Korea's national airline has been jailed for one year for obstructing aviation safety during a row over nuts.


Heather Cho forced a plane to return to the gate in New York last December and offload a steward because she did not like the way she had been served nuts.


Judge Oh Sung-woo said it was a case where "human dignity" had been "trampled upon".


Ms Cho has apologised and quit Korean Air, which is run by her father. 


Her plane was taxiing at New York's JFK Airport on 5 December when witnesses say she became angry after being served macadamia nuts she did not ask for, and which were still in a bag and not in a bowl.


It wasn't entirely about macadamia nuts. It was about an ethical approach to a simple customer service complaint, one that Cho failed badly. She committed an abuse of power, she was on an aircraft and hitting people with objects. She was using a position of authority to terrorize and intimidate employees of the airline. We can project our values on this and come up with a lot of different scenarios, but, the bottom line is, she interfered with a plane that was "in flight" and could have faced stiff penalties if this was handled in America.





This incident reminds me of "who moved my cheese" and not in a good way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Liberation of Kansas

At some point, a humanitarian mission to liberate the occupied territory known as Kansas will have to be undertaken by peacekeeping forces and by non-governmental organizations that will deliver human rights relief to a badly oppressed people.

Yes, Kansas is full of God-botherers who have no money, no jobs, no health care, dwindling access to education, fracked-out water supplies, no real quality of life to speak of, but they have Jeebus and Sam Brownback and his tax cuts for the wealthy and his failed state government and his promise to make God-bothering look like a trip to a dry well on a prairie filled with nothing.

What does it say about a country where this kind of thing can happen in the year of our bothered God 2015? People need jobs and basic necessities. We see state legislatures tie themselves up in knots trying to legislate against abortions that simply don't happen anymore and they call that good government.

If you live in Kansas, my heart goes out to you. My head wonders what the hell is the wrong with Kansas, but I am not without sympathy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tax Cheats and Swiss Banks




Even if you were able to get the taxes owed on the money stashed in HSBC's bank accounts, you wouldn't get it next year or the year after that because the owners would move their assets to another location.

It's a noble idea--make tax cheats pay their fair share. In theory, we could close budget gaps. fully fund education, and put free sweaters on puppies everywhere. This is the goal of tax collection agencies throughout the world, but it rarely turns out to be practical in the long term. You might see a surge of revenue one year and then the tax cheats find a new haven for their wealthy.

HSBC shouldn't even be allowed to do business in the United States. Withdrawing the protection of the American rule of law would force many wealthy people to go off shore. If you think you can get a better deal paying European tax rates, go live there. Wait until some shady organization with the legal backing of the state confiscates your wealth and then try to get an American lawyer to sue to get it back. I will you well in that endeavor. Ask a former Russian billionaire how they got their money back from the government. I'm still waiting to see what that looks like because it would be fantastic and wonderful to behold.

People are always going to try and cheat, even though the smart money is on using America's legal system as a guarantor of perpetual wealth. Once they have been robbed by questionable governments and sleazy bankers outside of the protection of American courts, let them come home and live under the law and pay their fair share of taxes. Got a bank in the Cayman Islands? Good, steal from these people so we can laugh when they come begging for the protection they saw fit to abandon.

Friday, February 6, 2015

We're All Eleventh Cousins With Somebody




Jane Austen

This is a little ridiculous:

Jane Austen wrote the ultimate fairy tales, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is living one herself. But that's not all these two women have in common. 


The famed romance author (1775-1817) and the newly-minted royal, 29, have family ties, according to findings from Ancestry.com


The ladies are eleventh cousins, six times removed, according to the site, and they are linked through Henry Percy, the second Earl of Northumberland, who was born in 1392. 


We all have family ties with royalty or the historically famous or both. I don't think this is newsworthy at all.


The very nature of modern life dictates that we all come from common ancestors and a bloodline that traces back to someone notable in history, and this is true for all of the cultures of the Earth as well. This is not a white European fact; it's true for people from all over. The fact that they had to go back to 1392 to find a common ancestor is enough for a good laugh. And I don't know what's funnier--going back 619 years or expecting useful information out of People magazine.

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