Insomnia - The Journal of Mark Kraft
"The earth to be spann'd, connected by network,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be cross'd, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together."

Walt Whitman, Passage to India,1871





Date:Sun. Apr. 26th, 2009 - 6:36 am
Subject:Swine flu most lethal for targeting healthy, working-age individuals?!
Security:Public

I was reading a Mexican newspaper on the Swine Flu outbreak, and noticed something disconcerting:

"la “incidencia de los casos graves” involucra a personas en edad productiva, de entre 20 y 50 años de edad."


In other words, seemingly healthy, productive people without weakened immune systems who aren't the typical fatality victims of the flu appear to be among the WORST cases so far.

Could this be a flu which triggers a cytokine storm, using our own immune systems to kill us?!

(Crap.  The Spanish Influenza was similar in that regard, btw.)

This also means that children, who tend to catch and spread flus pretty easily, will quite possibly be a major vector of passing the flu on to their parents. Not good.

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Date:Fri. Apr. 10th, 2009 - 4:05 am
Subject:Insomnia on Steampunk.
Security:Public

Steampunk is neither steam nor punk. It's about using old ideas and old technologies to do things that are either banal, unhelpful, inefficient, or all-of-the-above.
 
As a literary genre, it again is neither steam nor punk. Rather, it's the lazy writer's science fiction, because all the difficult speculation of the future flies right out the window. It's the literary equivalent of fanfic for gadget geeks and goth kids turned high-tech hipsters who get off on nihilistic escapism.

This isn't to say that you won't enjoy it... odd are good that it's very much up your alley. But it's worth remembering that your enjoyment is derived from the fact that you're a deviant tech-fetishist who, when the world around them was on the brink, thought that spinning your wheels and grinding your gears with a piston engine was a good thing.

Next time, try teledildonics or building your own f*cking machine. It has similar technical underpinnings, makes people happier, and once you finish with it, you'll likely take a shower and get on with your life.

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Date:Wed. Apr. 8th, 2009 - 2:20 pm
Subject:Sights, sounds, and thoughts on the Anatolian Festival.
Security:Public

I attended the first Anatolian Festival in S. Cal. over the weekend, and all I can say is that there was a lot to explore, appreciate, and think about. Here's a well put-together video I found on YouTube that shows a bit of what you all missed... 

 



 In short, it was the largest such festival ever held in America... and a very, very promising first year for such an event. 

 

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Date:Fri. Apr. 3rd, 2009 - 6:28 pm
Subject:On the road to SCal...
Security:Public

...on the way to Anatolian Festival, home to 99 delicacies... sure hope they have samplers, 'cause that's too much to do more than a spoonful each over two days. Stopped for gas near Harris Ranch in the middle of the Central Valley... Coalinga. Opened the car door, only to be assaulted by the completely pervasive smell of cow dung. Couldn't smell anything else... and its not even summer yet. Horrid town. I've smelled better whino camps.

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Date:Fri. Apr. 3rd, 2009 - 2:44 am
Subject:An interesting connection...
Security:Public

Project Peanut Butter is a project run by Dr. Mark Manary, who is doing his best to eradicate malnutrition in Malawi and Sierra Leone.

Dr. Manary was the first to conduct clinical trials of RUTF in the region, which offers a 95% recovery rate for severely malnourished children and is administered in the home. This represents a vast improvement over the milk-based formulas of the recent past that offered dismal recovery rates of 25% - 40% and required hospitalization

So, what is an RUTF? Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food. And the most effective RUTF, hands down, is Plumpy'Nut... which is basically peanut butter, powdered milk, and powdered sugar, fortified with a special mix of nutrients. Fat, protein, and nutrient- rich junkfood for the 3rd world.


Peanut butter is an ideal food, under the circumstances. It keeps for up to two years, and the energy and nutrients from peanut butter are very dense -- perfect for those who can hardly eat due to starvation. The nutrients in peanut butter are absorbed at a better rate than other foods. In fact, because people in Africa with HIV/AIDS oftentimes have similar problems, essentially wasting away, a special formula of Plumpy'Nut is being tested on them as well. 

There are several franchises around the world that produce Plumpy'Nut, locally producing the product to proper specifications. There are twenty million severely malnurished children around the world... five million of which die every year. Plumpy'Nut currently reaches about 3% of these kids, but is expanding rapidly.

So basically, peanut butter + added nutrients might wipe out childhood malnutrition as we know it.

Which perhaps is another way of saying that the invention of a former slave might soon eradicate childhood starvation and literally save millions of people per year in Africa and everywhere else in the world... and it will help restore the local soil at the same time.

Kinda cool, I think.


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Date:Thu. Apr. 2nd, 2009 - 2:49 pm
Subject:Obama wins the day in London.
Security:Public

I generally do not like Jake Tapper, as I think he tends to be a gossipy, grandstanding journalist, and a poor choice for being the public face of the network in Washington, DC.

That said, this article comes via various sources at ABC News, and it excellently sums up the best possible reason to have elected Barack Obama.

Here is a clear example of President Obama doing something that Bush couldn't do, and McCain doesn't do anymore... spontaneously diffusing a confrontation that could endanger his goals by appealing to people's self-interest, laying out alternatives, and getting two generally beligerent and disagreeable world leaders to rapidly work out their differences and enthusiastically move forward in a unified way.

While there are obvious unavoidable structural problems with the world's economy, how people respond to the crisis does, in fact, matter greatly.

My retirement savings thanks you. Keep it up, Barack!

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Date:Wed. Mar. 25th, 2009 - 10:30 am
Subject:An Ode to Piyush Jindal.
Security:Public

So, you might have thought "blood for oil" was a swindle?
Perhaps you openly wanted Bush failure in Iraq?
And now, a message from Bobby Jindal...
"Have no fear, Rush -- and fifth columnists -- 'cause Bobby's got your back!"

How is it that *he's* complaining about "gotcha games"?!
And the pressure to say  "no sir, I don't want the president to fail"?
"You're either with us or against us", remember,  Piyush Jindal?
Who cares about America, when there's ideology to rail?

Many thousands of Americans went to jail for protesting,
not against a president or party, but against a needless war.
What of your loyalty, Piyush? Maybe you should ask an Arab-American
What those long lines in 2002 outside INS were for?

You so ideologically white as snow, untouched by reality.
Showing remarkably little consideration for similar others.
People seeking refuge deported, sometimes to violence and jail
from Syria... Iran...U.S.-backed dictators. Daughters, sons, fathers, mothers.

You, who overlooked American heroes, indefinitely detained
and others  pigmentally challenged... thinking there's no sin...
never admitting such notions brought human misery, both here and there,
and now afraid that the other guys -- America -- might win.






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Date:Mon. Mar. 23rd, 2009 - 6:12 am
Subject:Okay... this is too good, so I have to post about it.
Security:Public

We get mail... oh yes, we do!
------------------------------------------------------------

From: Kevin ******** <***********@gmail.com>
Subject: your livejournal blog - insomnia
To: markkraft@*********.com
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009, 7:07 PM
Hi Mark, I'm interested in the topic of
sleep disorders
and would love to
take over your live journal blog because of the
"insomnia" tag and of course
it ranks well in google. Any chance you'd
like to sell
control of your blog?

I know this is a really weird question, but
I thought I'd
ask.

Kevin

------------------------------------------------------------

On Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 4:03 AM, Mark Kraft wrote:


Kevin,

I doubt it... but how much were you talking about, out
of curiosity?!


------------------------------------------------------------

From: Kevin **********
To: markkraft@*******.com
Date: Friday, March 20, 2009, 5:20 AM

 
I don't know why, but your response made me laugh. I
guess I hadn't thought about it that far. Well, what price would get you to part
with it? We could of course take a long time to make sure you get your new
blog home up and running and you could blog from your old one for awhile
telling everyone to move over to your new blog's url etc etc. If there is a
way for you to keep the RSS feed and tie it to your new blog that's cool
(I'm not technical so I don't know if you can do that or not).

Anyway, we could try to make it so you don't lose readers and stuff.
Is there an amount that could get you to consider this?
Also, just curious, I see you posted 4 hours ago. Which is
4am where i live (Philadelphia area). Where the heck do you live? Or just
burning the midnight oil?

Kevin

------------------------------------------------------------

Kevin,

Transferring my blog would be problematic, if only because it's associated with a permanent account for LiveJournal.com , which are rarely sold and go for around $100 for starters. These permanent accounts aren't transferable, I don't believe.

There's also the fact that my blog was ranked as pretty much in the top 40 LJ blogs as indexed by Google when someone still did ratings for such things... see http://l2g.to/top40. That's because I've done some fairly serious reporting on it, and have been linked to by sites like MSNBC, the BBC, the CBC, big blogging sites like Boing Boing and Scripting.com, etc. In fact, I got most of my serious media attention after these lists stopped being compiled, based on my reporting of the stories of bloggers inside New Orleans during Katrina, and from soldiers in Iraq.

There, of course, is all the difficulty to me in migrating all of my years of entries over to another blog. It would probably take me a day or two to do it... and I consider my time to be fairly valuable.

Realistically, if I were a typical domain name holder, we'd be talking about quite a bit of money. But given that I'm not actively trying to sell it, I don't feel compelled to name a price, especially since it has value to me that goes above and beyond such basic concerns.

That said, I'm a practical person and will still seriously entertain any offers. Practically everyone has his price, I suspect.

Best -
m.

------------------------------------------------------------

From:
 
All makes sense. Thanks for the explanation. I understand completely the value of your blog personally. I'm really passionate about sleep disorders and insomnia in particular. Really common, underdiagnosed problem and insomnia is now linked to obesity, heart disease, depression, on and on. So I think putting up information about this topic that people can actuall find would make a little dent in the universe.
 
Anyway, I guess I was thinking like $1,500 to acquire it. If it turns out you can't "sell" your account, maybe you could "rent" the account for 3 years? Meaning, we would just have a contract that you would stop blogging on that account and I would be the "guest blogger" for 3 years and then you get the account back at that time.

Let me know if this is making sense at all or if you have any other creative ideas. Hope you're having a great day.

------------------------------------------------------------


Sooo... hrm. We're talking fairly serious money here... which kind of figures in a way, as my site is actually ahead of several of the major sites on insomnia in Google, such as the American Insomnia Association.

Of course, selling would be eeeevil, wouldn't it?! Aren't I supposed to be Mr. Integrity?! But hey... in a way, it would be amusing and a bit enjoyable to rent it out for a few years, if only because of the novelty of it all... and it would pay for a few nice upgrades. I actually *do* own markkraft  as a permanent account, so it's not as if I wouldn't have somewhere I can post to... and it might be nice to have a bit of a clean break, knowing that the site would probably revert back to me some day... Meanwhile, I would keep all the old content here, where it could still be found by those searching the web. (It would be too huge of a PITA to move it over, really. Last time I tried to use an LJ backup tool, my journal made it choke and die.) 

Best of all, I could sell out without actually selling out everyone else with me. (Take that, Brad!)

Comments are fully screened on this one, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter...

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Date:Fri. Mar. 20th, 2009 - 11:51 am
Subject:How Orwell would likely critique blogging.
Security:Public

... as adapted from his "Politics and the English Language":

"It consists in gumming together . . . strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. . . People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning -- they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another -- but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying."

As for microblogging, twittering, and anything else where you're forced to try cramming meaning into a very few characters... well, that's a form of Newspeak, isn't it?!

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Date:Fri. Mar. 20th, 2009 - 11:25 am
Subject:A brief respite...
Security:Public

As some of you might have noticed, I've been otherwise occupied lately and haven't posted to LJ  in about forty days or so.  Ah well.  It started off as a short gaming and Facebook vacation, and just kind of got longer...

Frankly, it seems to me that the site was becoming noticeably less busy and feedback had dwindled significantly. I've been fiddling with Facebook more, but after giving it a bit of a chance, I have come to the conclusion that it's not exactly a communications solution for me, either.

For one, I'm constrained by the amount of text available at Facebook, which prevents me from doing the kind of thoughtful, multi-linked posts I like to do in order to tell a story or frame an argument... but besides that, ultimately, the community I am looking for isn't there, even if many of the users are.  I'm interested in keeping in touch with others and creating local events within my particular circle of friends, for instance... but Facebook isn't particularly good for anything small, closed, and private.

That said, LiveJournal isn't exactly perfect at that either.

I could be sentimental about things and say you're all a great bunch of people and there's no way of replicating that elsewhere... and I suppose it's true... but the facts are that there are over 700 of you out there, and yet I feel a bit frustrated primarily because I'm not hearing enough from about forty or fifty of you, many of whom are local to me.  And, indeed, I can understand why... in part because I have the habit of talking to all of you at once, rather than specifically targeting any particular group of people lately.   I prefer it that way, in many ways, but the lack of focus also has its own problems.  But a big part of it is that LJ is kind of fading away, at least in the U.S. and amongst friends.  And yet, in the unique, niche communities I am a part of, LJ has been -- and still is -- damn important socially, to the point that there's no real substitute... even though people are moving on or simply posting less often.

It reminds me of a few things in my past... 

Around twenty years ago now, all the odd/geeky/interesting teens in my local area were members of TREX... a local telnet chat site. .. and local chat was good, in a way that web chat and just about everything else that followed on the WWW was not good... it was good for actually getting people together doing things in real life.

Indeed, there isn't a single group chat site out there on the modern internet that can really compare to this 20plus-year-old site, because all the freaks *aren't* together anymore... they're all scattered out there/here/everywhere else nowadays.  There's too much "there" there to come together as a large group, and to build the kind of critical mass required for an honest-to-goodness "scene", of sorts.

Before trex, when I was in high school in a small town, I would bike about two miles or so at night to get to the nearest "scene"... a so-so pizza parlor where there was a Punch-Out videogame, a bunch of young people playing quarters for beer, and a bunch of discontent young teens hanging out in front smoking cigarettes and the occasional clove, listening to music, talking, and occasionally gathering up to go to some dance or nebulous party that hopefully was still happening and not busted before you actually got there.

For all its failings, I miss that. I miss the scene.  I miss the fact that LJ used to be a pretty good place for organizing actual things IRL amongst my local friends and associates. I miss the outside gatherings I'd organize with local LJ friends, with a ton of people in a local pizza parlor, or friends huddled around the chiminea at my house, or soaking in the hottub. And I know I could try organizing regular events again... but it would be increasingly difficult and frustrating, because the critical mass has moved on, or simply moved elsewhere.

I think the scene -- which is *so* integrally tied at the hip to the Internet -- is moving on / has moved on, technologically speaking...  and I don't think many people have given much thought as to the fact that although there are other sites and other communities, there doesn't appear to be much of anything comparable to replace it with.

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Date:Mon. Feb. 9th, 2009 - 9:20 pm
Subject:A great way to help out the victims of Australia's fires.
Security:Public

Over 200 are thought to have lost their lives, over 750 houses have been lost, thousands have had to evacuate... and the fires aren't over yet.

If you'd like to help out, and have your donation quickly get into the hands of those who need it, the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation of Melbourne allows you to make an immediate online donation, and rapidly get help to those who need it. 100% of all donations will be distributed to those directly assisting those effected by the fire. 

If you've got a bit to spare, you might want to send something their way...   

 

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Date:Mon. Feb. 9th, 2009 - 5:11 pm
Subject:Koala aid.
Security:Public



Amidst all the horrible loss of life and nature in the fires on the outskirts of Melbourne, life goes on...

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Date:Sun. Feb. 8th, 2009 - 10:18 am
Subject:Dammit to facebook hell.
Security:Public

Okay. I've officially taken the @!#* Facebook bloody plunge with some degree of semi-seriousness, and now classify it as "unspeakably evil, yet useful."

If you exist on Facebook and want to be reached, let me know where to reach yeh.

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Date:Sun. Feb. 8th, 2009 - 8:38 am
Subject:Michael Steele, unspun.
Security:Public

What Republican Campaign Chairman Michael Steele said to George Stephanopoulos in his defense regarding the feathering of his sister's nestegg with $37K of his senate campaign funds was unfortunately mangled by spin, so I figured I would take a moment to correct it for him...

"Those allegations were leveled by MY FORMER CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN, a convicted felon who was trying to get a reduced sentence on his conviction. . . "The thing about this George that is so frustrating to me, is that the Washington Post elevated this guy MY FORMER CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN. And gave him credibility when no one else would. (EXCEPT ME.) That's disturbing. . .  You're getting ahead of yourselves here. You're trying to make a story out of something that isn't a story. We'll provide you with the information THAT I SHOULD'VE PROVIDED EVERYBODY WHILE I WAS RUNNING FOR MY POSITION.'"

Seriously. If I were a Republican, I'd be pissed. He's trying to disassociate himself from his former campaign chairman. It's as if President Obama were to try disassociating himself from David Plouffe, by saying " Well, I *WOULD* have talked about the charges he made against me earlier when I was running for office, but they simply weren't credible because the guy was a convicted crook!!"

Yes, Mr. Steele... But he was *YOUR* crook, and a longtime, close political associate of yours.  Sentenced to prison for nine years for a $32M fraud / money laundering scheme.

I'm not saying Steele is a crook... I'm just saying that he's been deceptive and monumentally obtuse in how he's handled this issue, to the point of disgracing himself and becoming a big liability to his party from Day One.  



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Date:Wed. Feb. 4th, 2009 - 6:08 pm
Subject:In memoriam.
Security:Public



Lux lascivio pro eternium
ago ex Lectus Mentha Piperita...

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Date:Fri. Jan. 30th, 2009 - 5:19 am
Subject:The Salad Bowl dries up.
Security:Public

Looks like California could face a really horrible drought situation this year, with potentially only 15% of agricultural requests for water approved, due to a record low snowpack and rainfall season.

-------------------------

The state's largest irrigation district, Westlands Water in the major farming counties of Fresno and Kings, told growers on Wednesday to brace for zero water supply this year.

"We thought it was a critical time to tell them, being that it is time for planting tomatoes and a lot of other crops," Westlands Water spokeswoman Sarah Woolf told Reuters on Thursday. "They need to make decisions right now whether they put seeds in the ground." Already, some farmers have left fields unplanted based on anticipated lack of water.

--------------------------

Gah. I hope that none of you appreciate fresh, frozen, or canned produce / juice. I hope like hell that this is cyclical, and not a new trend based on global warming.

California is the top producer of agricultural products in the nation. It is the #1 producer of almonds, avocados, broccoli, celery, dairy products, grapes, greenhouse/nursery grown produce, hay, lemons, lettuce, onions, peaches, pistachios, plums, strawberries, tomatoes, walnuts, artichokes, garlic... It's also #2 in livestock (i.e. beef).

So, I guess I would say that this is not a statewide problem. Going into a major economic downturn with inflated prices and potentially even shortages of basic foodstuffs is not a good thing. 

Realistically, there should be a centralized way of dealing with this. My advice would be to slaughter as many cattle as possible now, in order to greatly reduce the demand for feed grains. If California is a net exporter of feedgrains to other states -- as it appears that it is -- then other states, such as Texas, should also reduce their livestock.

Use that water for plants humans eat instead, as it's a much more efficient and healthy way of feeding people. Pass along the true cost of meat to the public, so that the free market will encourage people to make wise decisions for their future.

No, I'm not a doctrinaire vegetarian about these things... I do eat meat. But the fact is, we need to start thinking about how we prioritize water usage, especially if there's a chance that things will get worse over the next decade. We need to keep agricultural prices low, not only for Americans, but for the rest of the world too. It does our country little good to have food riots destabilizing foreign countries, because American agricultural prices have spiked and exports have decreased. There will be real pain and real death in the next few years because of what is happening economically, even if our country isn't the one most severely effected by it. As always, it's the poorest people who are the first to feel the pinch.  Cows shouldn't come first. People should.

Now would be an *EXCELLENT* time for President Obama to consider government subsidies to farmers who spend money on water-saving irrigation, and potentially for other programs where those who invest in such irrigation are prioritized for water over those who are not. This kind of a program could also be an excellent economic stimulus, in that it increases efficiency, could be rolled out quite rapidly, and would create jobs for producing and installing such equipment that require relatively minimal training, ultimately putting money in the hands of people who need it most and are most likely to spend it, thereby bringing about a multiplicative stimulus effect.

Going into the future, it's vital that we consider water efficiency and raw materials efficiency with the same degree of focus that we currently view energy efficiency, not only because we're dealing with scarce -- and diminishing -- resources, but also because it's ultimately all interrelated. Saving water saves energy.  Saving raw materials / recycling saves energy too. And, on a global economic scale, saving energy while producing abundant amounts of food saves lives. And, if you have abundant, low-priced food, energy, and raw materials, you also tend to have a strong economy too.

Conservation is the new compassionate conservatism!

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Date:Wed. Jan. 28th, 2009 - 10:13 pm
Subject:Latest musical excursion...
Security:Public

After listening to Net Radio Porto on and off for the past month or so, I'm now on a Portuguese alternative binge. There are some really world-class performers in Portugal, such as...



The Gift (See also MySpace ... and search around YouTube for more videos, my favorites being Facil de EntenderElisa, Question of Love, 6.45, and 11.45.   




A Naifa.. (Also see their MySpace and YouTube pages, or search around on YT for even more of their music...)

(There's more I would mention, but it'll have to wait, because it's cuddle time...!)



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Date:Sat. Jan. 24th, 2009 - 10:07 pm
Subject:Satisfaction is Job #1.
Security:Public



Now *THAT* is a face of someone who likes his job, feels confidently on top of his game, and sleeps well at night.
Hopefully, we will continue to see this Obama a year from now, after a few Bad Things have happened on his watch.

Can anyone think of any Bush picture from any time where he looked quite as effortlessly self-assured?! 

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Date:Wed. Jan. 21st, 2009 - 8:20 pm
Subject:The bounce.
Security:Public



83% approval rating?!

Well, given that about half of those are Republicans, it's pretty safe to assume that Obama's approval amongst Republicans is something like 64%, with maybe 22% of Republicans disapproving. Compare this to Bush, who ended his term with 17% approval nationwide... and presumably about 34% approval amongst Republicans.

So.... it sure is nice to see Republicans with a president they can be proud of again, isn't it?!

Oh, and in the words of prominent Republican Grover Norquist, said right after the last presidential election...

"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such."

So... who's unpleasant when not fixed, Grover?! Snip, snip!

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Date:Tue. Jan. 20th, 2009 - 3:45 am
Subject:Sing it, Martin...
Security:Public


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