Fun with GIFs, Partisan Intensity Department

The Washington Post‘s graphics department put its skills to use …

… to prove that we’re not only politically divided, our partisanism is growing more intense, as demonstrated by the intensity of the red and blue on the map:

This is how every single county in the United States has voted vs. the national average since 1960.

The redder the red, the more Republican the county voted than the rest of the country. The bluer the blue, the more Democratic it voted. In 1960, 1968 and 1992, there are some counties that were a flat red. They voted against the Democratic winner and for third-party candidates. (Harry Byrd, George Wallace and Ross Perot, respectively.)

By far the most interesting thing about this animation is how the density of the colors increases. In the late 1980s, most counties were fairly bipartisan. By 2000, there are a lot of very strong red counties — a trend that increases. Keep an eye, too, on Appalachia. Until 2008, it’s a pale blue. Then it quickly grows red.

By the way, don’t bother reading the comments. The Post once again facilitates hatred of non-liberals.





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Presty the DJ for Aug. 20

Today in 1965, the Rolling Stones released the song that would become their first number one hit, and yet Mick Jagger still claimed …

Today in 1967, the New York Times reported on a method of reducing the noise recording devices make during recording. The inventor, Ray Dolby, had pioneered the process for studio recordings, but the Times story mentioned its potential for home use.

Ray Dolby, by the way, is no known relation to the other Dolby …

Today in 1987, Lindsey Buckingham refused to go out on tour with Fleetwood Mac for its “Tango in the Night” album, perhaps thinking that the road would make him …

The band probably told him …

… but look who came back a few years later:

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Great moments in marketing tie-ins … or not

GQ Magazine, whose target demographic is metrosexual men with more disposable income than sense in how and where to  use it, has a feature called “Regrets,” showing off fashion looks that only the blind would have found appealing:

I don’t think Lands’ End has ever had “regrets” of this kind. Lands’ End is known for classic fashion, clothing that is basic and timeless, not even particularly contemporary.

What do GQ and Lands’ End have in common? Good question, based on what the New York Times reports:

The free magazine was meant as a gift from Lands’ End — the retailer known for its conservative, sturdy clothing — to its most valued customers.

But when the July issue of GQ landed in mailboxes across the country, the cover model was not wearing a monogrammed oxford or polar fleece. Instead, she was topless except for a strategically placed white flower lei. And some of the company’s shoppers were none too pleased.

“My 14-year-old son brought in the mail today & was quite disturbed & fascinated by a ‘gift’ Lands’ End sent us — a copy of GQ magazine with an absolutely OBSCENE cover!!!,” wrote one mother on the company’s Facebook page, which filled up with dozens of complaints. “I am appalled that Lands’ End — which I have always thought of as a ‘wholesome,’ family-oriented company — would be the one to expose my son to pornography!”

Another said: “We received your ‘Lands’ End Bonus’ of GQ magazine this weekend, and we are absolutely horrified. How can buying something as family friendly as school uniforms lead to soft porn in the mailbox? I’m thankful my son did not bring in the mail.”

Snapped another, “I ordered Christian private school children’s uniforms from your company and you sold my home address to a magazine company that peddles in soft porn for men???.”

The GQ promotion was part of a yearlong deal that Lands’ End, based in Dodgeville, Wis., had struck with the magazine’s New York publisher, Condé Nast. The idea was to reward its best customers with magazines “highlighting fashion and lifestyle topics.” Previously, as part of the arrangement, the company had sent readers copies of other popular magazines like Self, Vogue and Glamour.

Such partnerships between retailers and magazines are hardly new, but have grown in recent years as magazines have been increasingly eager to find new distribution channels for their product in hopes of gaining new subscribers as fewer people buy print magazines.

But in this case, the promotion backfired, with GQ’s racy cover of the model and actress Emily Ratajkowski offending some of Lands’ End’s customers. By Wednesday, the negative reaction had grown so strong that the retailer issued a mea culpa to its shoppers.

This is the offending cover …

… which is actually one-third more tame than the most recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover:


The main difference, of course, is that when one subscribes to SI, one assumes that includes the Swimsuit Issue. (Which includes models wearing nothing but body paint. No, I’m not going to post one of those; find them yourself, pervert.) These Lands’ End customers apparently didn’t expect to get GQ, or at least a GQ with this kind of cover.

You are free to roll your eyes at the prudery of these offended parents. The bigger issue isn’t that they’re offended parents; it’s that they are offended customers. And that is Lands’ End’s fault. A perusal of just a couple of issues of GQ should have made Lands’ End conclude that GQ was a bad fit for Lands’ End. (As are, by the way, Vogue and Glamour, and perhaps Conde Nast Traveler, which Lands’ End customers apparently are now receiving.)

The Times adds:

A giveaway gone awry is the least of the magazine industry’s problems. Circulation and newsstand sales have declined precipitously over the last decade. And to offset those declines, magazines are pushing into numerous new initiatives and partnerships.

For decades, Hearst Corporation has had ventures with television networks like HGTV Magazine and Food Network Magazine. Just this week, Condé Nast announced that it would work with an e-commerce platform called BeachMint to run Lucky Magazine and with Bravo on a new television series called “Best New Restaurant.”

While many of these partnerships exploit magazines’ brands to sell products — Better Homes and Gardens has a line of curtains and cookware at Walmart, for example — some are an attempt to get their magazines into the hands of new customers and potential subscribers.

Lands’ End’s botched promotion comes months after Sears spun off the retailer into an independent publicly traded company. (Sears acquired Lands’ End in 2002 for $1.9 billion.) As part of an effort to keep its brand fresh, Lands’ End has added a touch more stylishness to its more traditional merchandise in hopes of attracting younger shoppers. Glossy fashion magazines would seem to align with that ambition.

And while GQ is a long-respected voice on men’s fashion and home to narrative journalism, the magazine’s image has evolved in recent years — especially its covers. Until recently, the covers rarely featured women, instead opting for portraits of celebrities like Muhammad Ali or Sean Connery. But now, scantily clad women — Jennifer Aniston, Kate Upton, Rihanna — are routinely featured on its covers. Ms. Ratajkowski first gained notice in the music video for Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines”; in October, she will appear in the film adaptation of the novel “Gone Girl.”

Many angry customers wondered why Lands’ End was not aware of GQ’s risqué photos and provocative content. “In the future, we will work more closely to assess content to make sure it is aligned with our well-known, long-held company values and those of our customers,” said Michele Casper, a company spokeswoman.

Yes, but while babes may not have been on past GQ covers, babes have been inside GQ’s pages, which, again, a perusal of a couple of issues would have confirmed. As it is, even “a touch more stylishness” is unlikely to attract the attention of GQ readers. GQ also takes the fashionably liberal line with its choice of editorial, which again would have been an issue for some Lands’ End customers.

There is, however, some delicious irony to the Times’ snarky reporting, which Smarter Times reports:

The “New York Times Store” is featuring “rarely seen” and “truly historic” photographs of a naked Marilyn Monroe for $3,000 and $1,500 (more if you want it framed). It’s not clear how this fits with the Times Company’s stated core mission of “creating, collecting, and distributing high-quality news and information.” A front-of-the business section Times news article — “Risque Promotion Prompts Outcry From Land’s End Customers” — this week went after Land’s End for a marketing deal with GQ, which was featuring photographs of scantily clad women, but Land’s End wasn’t trying to sell the pictures for $3,000 or billing them as “truly historic.”

The less expensive of the two shows quite a bit more of Ms. Monroe than GQ shows of Ms. Ratajkowski, either inside or outside of GQ.

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What Republicans can learn from Reagan

A lot of Republicans say Ronald Reagan was their favorite president.

It would be helpful if Republicans could learn from Reagan, or so claimed former GOP speechwriter Landon Parvin in an interview with the Ripon Society back in 2006:

RF: Why do words still matter in politics at a time when pictures and images seem to count for so much?

Parvin: Well, words still matter if they mean something. Unfortunately, political speeches are too often empty clichés with no intellectual or emotional content. You can see the true power of words, however, when someone articulates an unarticulated truth, such as when Reagan called upon Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” It was so obvious but no president had ever said it. The logic of its truth was unassailable.

RF: Republicans have been struggling in the polls this entire year. Is that because they’ve been using the wrong words to sell their product, or because they are trying to sell a product the public no longer wants to buy?

Parvin: It’s because they don’t have a product. When the Contract with America passed, I helped Newt Gingrich with the only prime time address to the nation that a Speaker of the House had ever given.  The networks put extra lights on the Capitol that night. I remember there was such excitement in the air. Where is the excitement of Republican ideas today? My ironclad rule of speechwriting, which is based on painful experience, is that the speechwriter is the first to know when a campaign has nothing to say because he is the one who has to put it down on paper. I think that’s why we are struggling.

RF: Ronald Reagan defined modern conservatism, and yet he won the support of many Democrats who had never voted for a Republican before. How did he do this and what lessons does it hold for Republicans today?

Parvin: Before voters trust your message they have to trust you. I think people trusted the sincerity of Ronald Reagan and that extended to the sincerity of his beliefs. They liked his geniality. But there was another element. I think people knew that although Reagan was conservative, he was open to new ideas. I am not sure we Republicans today convey a sense we are open and eager for new ideas. Many of our fall-on-their sword constituencies are not open and flexible, and they have come to define us too much. …

RF: Finally, you are known for not only having a way with words, but for having a way with humor. What is the secret of a good political joke, and why do you think there seems to be so little humor in politics these days? 

Parvin: The secret of a good political joke is that it is based on the vulnerability and humanity of the politician.  The reason for the dearth of political humor is due to two things. One, politics has become incredibly bitter and personal. And two, politicians think that humor means doing zingers on their opponent. Every election cycle I get requests from campaigns to do funny zingers as soundbites for the evening news. I turn all that down. The purpose of political humor is to make yourself more likeable—not to stick it to your opponent.  Once you are perceived as likeable, then you can good-naturedly tease your opponent.

I don’t agree with all of Parvin’s conclusions. If Republicans don’t stand for anything (other than their own reelections), what do Democrats stand for? Guess what: Their own reelections. That is, after all, the purpose of a political party, even in Reagan’s day. And by the definition of polling numbers, both political parties, both houses of Congress, and Barack Obama are “struggling,” and deservedly so.

However, Parvin’s key point, that you have to be for something, not just against everything, is certainly accurate. Paul Ryan, for instance, keeps talking about opportunity. Newt Gingrich hatched the Contract with America, and that’s what Investors Business Daily would like to see return:

Voters see the two parties as power-hungry variations of the same theme: tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

One reason for the ambivalence is that congressional Republicans haven’t given voters a reason to hope they can or will change things in Washington.

We hear chatter, however, that the party may roll out a 21st century Contract with America that lays out what the GOP would do in the first 100 days if it controlled both the House and Senate.

Our view is that this couldn’t hurt.

The original Contract engineered by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich 20 years ago set down 10 planks that excited voters and led to one of the biggest election landslides for the party in history.

Surely the Republicans can find six to eight items they can all agree on that would help clean up the rot in Washington and increase jobs and growth. Such reforms should also be broadly popular with voters.

Among the possibilities:

1. Build the Keystone pipeline to create more than 10,000 jobs, increase energy security and help the economy grow. Two of three Americans already support it.

2. Overturn new EPA carbon rules that jeopardize our oil and natural gas and coal industries. Energy independence requires America developing its homegrown resources. The president’s new EPA rules do almost nothing to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but they put tens of thousands of American jobs at risk as part of the Democrats’ war on coal.

3. Pass job bills already approved by the House but remain bottled up in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid. Among them: a small-business tax relief act, a bill to make the R&D tax credit permanent and bills to minimize ObamaCare-induced job losses.

4. Begin independent and private audits of the spending patterns of every federal agency. Americans are enraged about the waste and fraud in government spending programs. Watchdog audits would help discover where the waste is and let Congress cut this extraneous spending to help balance the budget.

5. Require congressional approval of any regulation with costs to the economy and small businesses of more than $100 million, as called for in the proposed REINS Act. This would end the scam of rogue independent agencies pushing rules and regulations that impose large costs on businesses that far outweigh the benefits.

6. Impose six-year term limits on Senate committee chairmen and leadership positions, as the House has. The longer politicians of either party sit in positions of power in Washington, the more corrupt they become.

7. Slash the corporate tax to a top 25% rate to keep American businesses and jobs in the U.S. The 35% federal corporate tax is chasing corporations out of America.

8. Review the actions of the Federal Reserve Board to preserve the value of our currency. The Fed has taken unprecedented action with money creation that could cause inflation and destabilize the dollar.


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Presty the DJ for Aug. 19

How much money would you have paid for tickets for this concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco today in 1964:

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What are your dinner plans tonight?

WISN radio’s Dan O’Donnell has a suggestion if you’re in the Milwaukee area and haven’t planned dinner yet:

 I think you should head to Maria’s Pizza.

You know, the place at 51st and Forest Home with all the crazy lights and decorations on the walls?

I think you should go there.

Seriously, go there for dinner tonight.  Or tomorrow night.  Or whenever you can.

Especially if you’ve never been there before.  Especially if you’ve never thought of going there before.

And even if you’re not a fan of their pizza; even though I personally think it’s great.

Heck, even if you’re not a fan of pizza, you should go there tonight.

Because I’m betting you are a fan of the First Amendment.  I’m betting you’re a fan of being able to express yourself freely, without fear of retribution.

And I’m betting you aren’t a fan of Stalinist intimidation tactics by the left.

Mark Belling first broke this yesterday, but he didn’t make explicit mention of the business because he didn’t want to cause any more problems for them than they might already be facing.

Some guy, whose name I won’t share because unlike him, I actually have a shred of decency and class, posted a picture of his neighbor’s house with a Scott Walker sign in front of it.

And this was the caption:

“I thought I would share this photo and I hope it goes viral.  You see the woman who owns and lives in this home owns Maria’s Pizza.  She lives up the block from me.  The fact she supports a Governor who has hurt my family and many people I am close too [sic] and displays this.  I will never eat another Maria’s Pizza Again.  ihope this is shared! Done Done Done!!!!!”

Now normally I wouldn’t care about what some idiot liberal posts on his Facebook page, but before this coward took down his post—or Facebook removed it because it was harassing this woman—it had more than 100 shares.

That means all sorts of liberals were planning to boycott Maria’s Pizza—all because the woman dared to put a Scott Walker sign in front of her home.

All because she dared to express her First Amendment right to political speech in her personal life.  Not in her professional life, mind you.  There are no political signs whatsoever outside of Maria’s, or inside, for that matter.  I don’t think there’d be room with all of the lights and Virgin Mary pictures anyway.

But these liberals couldn’t stand this.  The same liberals who put “Coexist” bumper stickers on their cars and constantly tell us how tolerant they are couldn’t stand that a woman had a Scott Walker sign in front of her house, so they had to attack her business.

They had to attack her livelihood.

That’s not only offensive to me professionally.  That’s offensive to me personally. …

Not just because this is the sort of vindictive bullying that I hate most about the left in this country, but because this time they were bullying someone I care about.

So I called up Bonnie, who’s the owner of Maria’s, and we had a long talk about this.

She’s devastated and she’s dismayed that someone would do this to her, especially one of her neighbors.  She can’t believe that putting a yard sign up for a political candidate she supports would ever prompt someone to ever try to organize an effort to damage her business; her livelihood; her, in essence.

But before she said any of that, she answered the phone and said, “Oh Dan, how’s that new little baby?”

Because that’s what kind of person Bonnie is, and so is Joan, who works there, too.  Joan is probably the biggest WISN fan we have there and every time my family comes in she asks about Mark and Jay and Vicki and tells me how much she loves all of us.

So will she be a target of the left’s hate, too?

Will someone try to target her because she dares to be a fan of a politically conservative radio station?

Because that’s apparently what the left does now.  They’re so tolerant that if you dare have a disagreement with them politically, they’ll try to destroy you professionally or personally. …

Seriously, in Iraq, ISIS has been spray painting the homes of Christians with the letter N, for Nasrani, the Arabic word for Christian, to identify them.

In Southeast Wisconsin, Facebook liberals will spray paint a scarlet letter on your business if you have a Scott Walker sign in front of your home.

Because that’s what the left does now when they disagree with you politically. They obviously don’t try to physically harm you like ISIS has been doing to Christians, but they’ll try their best to professionally harm you.

And all because you dare to support a politician they don’t like.  All because you dare to think differently from them.

They want to “Coexist,” alright, so long as you’re intimidated enough to not dare to try and disagree with them.

That’s what’s happening to Bonnie.  They’re trying to intimidate her.  They’re trying to bully her.  They’re trying their best to harm her business.

And this is about as quintessential a Milwaukee business as there is.  You know why it’s called Maria’s?  Because Bonnie’s mom Maria started it 57 years ago.  It’s been in this city for 57 years, and it’s a small, family-owned—make that, woman-owned—business that’s just trying to compete with the big corporations like Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s and Dominos.

Now that’s precisely the type of business that the left says it supports, but only if that business bows down and thinks exactly the way the left wants it to think.

You know what I think?  I think this is part of the left’s ongoing War on Women. Here you have a business that was started by a woman 57 years ago at a time when almost no women owned businesses, and now it’s owned by two women, Bonnie and her business partner, and liberals want them shut down.

Liberals will never eat there because one of those women had a Scott Walker sign in front of her house.  I shudder to think what they’d do if Bonnie had a Sarah Palin sign in front of her house.

But this isn’t just a War on Women, or a War on Pizza; this is a War on Free Expression.  This is a War on Free Thought.

Speaking of which … you may be interested to find that the person who wrote the original post encouraging the boycott — which you can see by clicking here — cannot be found on Facebook. Perhaps he lacks the courage of his original convictions. What’s that phrase about heat and kitchens?


Categories: media, Wisconsin business, Wisconsin politics | Leave a comment

How to be better than ObamaCare

Avik Roy describes the Republicans’ 2016 problem with ObamaCare, and how to get around it:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2016 there will be 34 million U.S. residents on Obamacare-sponsored health insurance: 22 million on the law’s health insurance exchanges, and 12 million enrolled in its expansion of Medicaid. It’s certainly possible that the CBO’s estimates are too high. And not all of those 34 million people will have been previously uninsured. But the 2016 election is shaping up ominously for the GOP.

Imagine this scenario: The Republican presidential contenders spend 2015 and 2016 competing with each other to see who can denounce Obamacare—and pledge to repeal it—in the most full-throated terms. If you thought Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comment was bad in 2012, wait until Hillary runs ads aimed at the tens of millions of voters whose health coverage would be disrupted by repeal.

Republicans aren’t stupid. They know that repealing Obamacare will be a tough political sell outside the conservative base. But they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they believe, doesn’t just mean they’ll run afoul of the Tea Party. It means that they will have accepted the permanence of Big Government, of European-style welfare statism.

It turns out that this isn’t true. Conservatives don’t have to repeal Obamacare in order to advance their principles. Indeed, it’s actually possible to take advantage of one of the law’s core provisions—its tax credits for the purchase of private coverage—to reform America’s entire health-entitlement behemoth, and to finally put the country on a fiscally stable trajectory.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare—giving future retirees “premium support” subsidies to shop for private health insurance—is, in fact, quite similar to Obamacare’s usage of “premium assistance” tax credits to offer coverage to the uninsured. So what if we used Obamacare to reform Medicaid and Medicare, by gradually migrating future retirees and Medicaid recipients onto a reformed version of Obamacare’s exchanges?

I ran the numbers. In a new white paper published by the Manhattan Institute, we estimate that, by 2023, this approach could reduce the deficit by more than $8 trillion over three decades, while also reducing taxes. That’s more than enough in savings to make the Medicare trust fund permanently solvent. Not solvent for another six or eight or 12 years—but forever.

Other reforms in the plan would allow insurers to offer less costly coverage on the exchanges, making health insurance more affordable for the tens of millions of Americans who will remain uninsured under Obamacare. Indeed, we estimate that under the plan, by 2023, 12 million more Americans would have health coverage than under the unreformed Affordable Care Act.

These results may seem too good to be true. But if you look beyond our borders, they’re really not. In 2012, U.S. government spending on health care was higher than all but two other countries in the world: $4,160 for every man, woman and child. In contrast, Switzerland spent about $1,879 per person—55 percent less—while achieving universal coverage. That’s because Switzerland uses a premium-support system that’s quite similar to the one used in the Obamacare exchanges.

The Swiss system works because it’s a true safety net. Swiss premium subsidies are focused exclusively on low-income individuals. In America, by contrast, we spend trillions of dollars subsidizing health coverage for wealthier people. Swissifying the U.S. entitlement system is a way of bringing long-desired means-testing to Medicare and other insurance subsidies.

Switzerland shares many of the ACA’s unattractive provisions, such as its individual mandate. The new Manhattan Institute plan does away with the mandate, and reforms Obamacare’s exchanges in such a way as to make the mandate unnecessary.

From a political standpoint, the new plan has a notable feature. While it is perfectly compatible with the “repeal and replace” framework that Republicans have long supported, it doesn’t require the repeal of Obamacare to work.

There are political benefits to implementing the plan without repeal. Democrats accused Paul Ryan of trying to throw granny over a cliff—but would be hard-pressed to make the same accusation against a plan that migrates future retirees onto the exchanges that Democrats voted to install. Indeed, one advantage of this approach is that it could conceivably appeal to centrist Democrats who favor entitlement reform and coverage expansion using private insurance.

If Republicans focus all their firepower on repealing Obamacare, they risk ignoring the fundamental problem with American health care: It’s already too expensive. Rising premiums are forcing average Americans to choose between paying for health care and paying their mortgages.

Economists of all stripes agree that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t do enough to make the underlying cost of health care more affordable. Indeed, in many ways, the law makes health coverage even more expensive, by requiring consumers to purchase coverage that they might not want or need. This was a conscious strategy for many Democrats in 2009: Expand coverage now, to win votes, and hope that some future Congress would have the courage to tackle American health care’s unsustainable expense.

It’s a defect of Obamacare, but it’s an opportunity for Republican reformers. Patient-centered, consumer-driven health care can achieve two goals at once: putting more money in the pockets of average Americans, and solving our entitlement-fueled fiscal crisis.

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Presty the DJ for Aug. 18

How can two songs be the number one song in the country today in 1956? Do a Google search for the words “B side”:

(Those songs, by the way, were the first Elvis recorded with his fantastic backup singers, the Jordanaires.)

Today in 1962, the Beatles made their debut with their new drummer, Ringo Starr, following a two-hour rehearsal.

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Presty the DJ for Aug. 17

The Beatles were never known for having wild concerts. (Other than their fans, that is.)

Today in 1960, the Beatles played their first of 48 appearances at the Indra Club in Hamburg, West Germany. The Indra Club’s owner asked the Beatles to put on a “mach shau.” The Beatles responded by reportedly screaming, shouting, leaping around the stage, and playing lying on the floor of the club. John Lennon reportedly made a stage appearance wearing only his underwear, and also wore a toilet seat around his neck on stage. As they say, Sei vorsichtig mit deinen Wünschen.

Four years later, the council of Glasgow, Scotland, required that men who had Beatles haircuts would have to wear swimming caps in city pools, because men’s hair was clogging the pool filters.

Today in 1968, the Doors had their only number one album, “Waiting for the Sun”:

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Presty the DJ for Aug. 16

Today in 1962, the Beatles replaced drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr. Despite those who claim Starr is the worst Beatle musically, the change worked out reasonably well for the group.

Today in 1975, Peter Gabriel announced he was leaving Genesis. Despite those who claim Genesis was better with Gabriel in the group, the post-Gabriel Genesis outsold the Gabriel Genesis by an order of magnitude:

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