A TCS Blog
Monday, June 30, 2003
This is a bit of a cheaty first post, since the marvellous Margery Allingham wrote most of it, but I thought I'd do something simple while trying to fathom out how to use this blogger stuff (most of you probably did it quietly with a secret blog you never told anyone about and abandoned after 14 text messages; this is in the full public glare)

I have some more TCS-y things to say soon.

But in the meantime, why oh why didn't everyone realise what Margery did in the 1950s and save us all a lot of (state-subsidised) trouble? Her reasoning seems v. sound to me

Margery Allingham, 'No love lost', 1954:

Percy has not been quite the same since he was 'nationalized', as he is pleased to refer to his position under the new National Health scheme, and of course the change has been a sensational one from his point of view. After a lifetime of behaving like some benevolent and beloved Robin Hood, soaking his rich patients to pay for his poor ones, and preserving a religious impartiality in the treatment of disease wherever he found it, he awoke one July morning to discover himself a paid government clerk as well as an unpaid general practitioner. In fact, instead of having the one master in his sacred calling, he found
he had two, and the second (who held the purse strings) was a vast, impersonal, remarkably uninformed machine with a predeliction for having its million and one qeries answered in triplicate.


Percy was not on duty that night, and when I got back there was a crowd at the surgery. The waiting-room was packed and I cursed socialized medicine. To my mind its weakness was elementary, and I felt somebody might have foreseen it. Since everyone was forced to pay a
whacking great weekly premium for medical insurance, nearly everybody, not unexpectedly, thought they might as well get something out of it.


...the stream of importunates demanding free chits to the dentist, free wigs, postal votes, corsets, milk, orange juice, vitamin tablets, pensions, invalid chairs, beds, water-cushions, taxi rides to hospital, crutches, bandages, artificial limbs, and a thousand and one likely or unlikely requirements dogged us wherever we went. As Percy said, it was almost a relief to find someone who just had a pain.

To make matters more difficult, the more ignorant (and less sick) anong the crowds had lost their old respect for our calling, and treated us as if we were officials trying to cheat them out of their rights.

Sunday, June 29, 2003
Help for the weary

(Posted on behalf of an anoymous TCS parent who likes to be private)

One possible solution for a weary parent is to hire or work out a way to hire help. Help could be in the form of housework help, someone to play with the children, or it might just be someone to help the PARENT with a bit of companionship, encouragement, and/or extra creativity.

Bringing another person into one's life and family can bring up a whole set of new problems. It can be difficult to anticipate all such problems and whether both the family and the individual are in a better situation through the arrangement. In addition to good communication, ideally, one should try to arrange things so that either party can end the arrangement at will - or at least with enough notice for the other party to solve any problems that might come up as a result of changing the arrangement.

Saturday, June 28, 2003
Title Poll

Here are the results of the Title Poll:
Title# of Votes
A TCS Blog7
TCS Unlimited4
TCS Conjecture Site3
TCS Gang3
The Unofficial TCS Blog3
TCS Community2
TCS Unplugged2
TCS Club0

Just for fun, I created a new poll to the right. If you vote for "Other", please explain in the comments of this post.

Friday, June 27, 2003
i tried to fix the title but it won't accept a href="URL" target="new" -or- a href="URL" target"_BLANK" in the description field (with triangle brace things, 'course). wtf!?


ummm, or so it claimed. the title changed anyway and the links still work. stupid blogger.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
A Question

I'm blogging here because I can't blog on my blog because Blogger is upgrading it (why do I feel that means "downgrade it" in Blogger-speak?).

Anyway, it's just a quickie:

An idiotarian who throws himself under a truck to save the life of a child is more good than a great moral theorist who spends a couple of seconds pausing to think, by which time the child is dead. Discuss.

(OK, that wasn't a question, but I couldn't think of a better title).

Monday, June 23, 2003
Time to Change the Title?

Ok, should we call an end to the poll and respect the wishes of those who had such poor taste to vote for "A TCS Blog"?

Or should we just continue to ignore it?

More on self-sacrifice

I agree with what Dawn says below. One way of thinking about the huge constraints that having children and trying to look after them properly brings, is that it's not giving up things for the children, but changing your plans because you chose to have them. A bit like if one chose to go and live on the moon, it would be silly to complain about the lack of green spaces.

People have trouble with this partly because they don't know in advance how much work is necessary for looking after children. In fact, I would say that the conventional memes tell us a pack of lies about it. Then, if we are truth-seeking and care about doing right by our children, we discover that we can't just dump them in nurseries, schools etc and carry on as if nothing much has changed. And we discover that sometimes doing right by our kids is very very hard work. Not many adults actively enjoy every aspect of childcare for its own sake, and/or have easy access to other helpers who do.

When I find myself putting aside what I was enjoying to make mini lego Star Wars ships for the millionth time, I wouldn't say that was fun. But I would say I am happy to do it, and it's what I want to do. I would also say it takes a lot of mental effort to adjust constantly to such things. Because helping kids can be such hard work, we need to take care of ourselves as well, and get help and time off. I think it's about having a good life overall, rather than trying to avoid doing things you don't like. Self-sacrifice avoidance, like coercion-avoidance, is the wrong focus. Improving your resources for being more flexible and mentally resilient enables you to do more for yourself and your children.

I have moved my blog from http://woty.blogspot.com to http://woty.davidsj.com.

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Self-Sacrifice, nothing but a state of mind...

I think of sacrifice as giving something up with resentment and regret. I think it makes much more sense to just revise one's plans.

Nobody knows, when they choose to create a family, just how much they will be able to juggle. Most people think they can juggle more than they can. So they choose to drop some balls. Is that a sacrifice? Or just making a better choice given the situation? I'm calling it a better choice. They are better off with those balls on the ground. And if/when they feel sad about what they've chosen not to do, then they can -- and should, I think -- work on figuring out how they can choose that again, or what they can choose now to find fulfillment the way they originally thought they would be fulfilled before revising their plans... I think it is possible to do this. We don't have to either accept martyrdom or leave our families and run off into the jungle. I think balance is possible, just ever shifting.

I think that having plans, dreams, goals that are open to revision -- and being able to let them go and actually revise -- is incredibly empowering.

Basically it's really important to me to figure out how to get better at taking care of myself. Self-sacrifice, in my opinion, is in direct opposition to that. It just hit me that the huge trap I think it is so critical to avoid is that of the parent setting up to be the victim -- essentially placing the heavy weight of the parent's happiness on the child's small shoulders. I don't think that's fair.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Check this out.

Monday, June 16, 2003
Best theories

My best theory says that there are lots of small observations of anomalous things all over the world which haven't been explained yet. My best theory says that there must be some explanations for these things. My best theory says that people who say anomalies don't exist because they haven't been proven yet are wrong. My best theory is that their best theory, is not as good as mine.

Examples: Why do babies exhibit gender-specific generalised tendencies from birth? Why do nice children generally like having animals as pets, while children with severe emotional damage prefer torturing them? (Why do psychopathic murderers, rather than nurses, tend to have a history of animal-torture?) Why are above-average numbers of TCS-ers and home educators ex-teachers? Why do more than the average number of TCS people practice attachment-parenting methods?

Scientific studies may be flawed, and individual people's observations are not perfect, but how are we to grow knowledge unless we actively seek out anomalies and try to explain them?


Animals are just mobile rocks. It's fine to torture them, if they scream or sweat or anything like that, it doesn't matter. The only thing that counts in life is human beings. When small children decide they love their pets and like to stroke them and make them purr, and when they get upset that their mouse has cancer and is dying, or that their cat got run over, or when they see a dog being kicked by some schoolkids, and find these things upsetting, they are just being idiots. There's no knowledge in being nice to anything other than a human. Humans matter. Nothing else does.

I know all this because it's my best theory. Which means, it can't ever be improved. Which makes it OK to torture animals.

Criticisms from animal-haters, please.

Friday, June 13, 2003
An auction to avoid!

Just seen the following auction on ebay

nothing unusual about an auction for some cudddly doggies - until you read:

sorry pics arent brilliant had to take photos whist daughter at school LOL naughty mum aww dont tell her!!


Education, education, education...

Guest blogger Emma Hornby poses an interesting question about TCS-ers

It interests me that so many TCS-ers or TCS-interested people (judging by a wide scientific survey of reading some of the TCS-list posts :) ) have backgrounds as teachers, lecturers, whatever, or still work in the education industry in some way.

Do we get interested in TCS because we see ourselves co-ercing other people in our classes and think "I wouldn't like that to happen to me/my children"?

Or is it because we are trying to do our best to be friends/mentors/ information sources/whatever, but we come to the conclusion that the way people treat children in general makes it difficult if not impossible to do that cool thing within the system
without being coercive?

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I wasn't sure if the name issue has been settled. So I went ahead and added the poll at the right.

We'll see what happens.


just found an invaluable tool for preprocessing tcs list posts and emails to your boss!

Click here

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
What to Blog on TCS Unlimited!

What's unique and cool and special about this place as opposed to all the zillions of other blogoplaces out there, not to mention all the several other TCS discursive environments?

What should you blog here? Why? Is it moral? What's in it for you, and do you care? And, will there be any free cake involved?

These and many more questions, blahblahblah, alright then, here are some points:

1. This is a unique environment. Nowhere else on the net provides an unmoderated topic-unrestricted environment for TCS people to post and read thought-out articles/ comments about whatever they find interesting.

2. It's more personal and friendly than the lists, but more open and easily accessed than the chat room. It can potentially be a way into TCS, a way for TCS people to further their ideas on all sorts of issues with (or by argument with) like-minded others, and a place for meeting and making new TCS and TCS-friendly people.

3. Group blogs are more varied and fun to read, and can create better debates than single-person ones. We can have debates here which aren't as specialised as they would be on a personal blog with loyal readers, but which are more spontaneous than one usually gets on email lists.

4. Group blogs get better hit rates than individual ones. We can use this blog to generate traffic for other blogs, in a wealth-creating kind of way, which is good for the growth of ideas. If you think your ideas are good, then getting them spread should matter to you, and chatting to the same three people who already agree and/or the same ten million who never agree should bore you. But in places like this (or what this could be), people can turn up who already have TCS-friendly ideas, and who then happen to like something you said about food or politics or relationships, and then you've spread a meme and met an interesting human being.

That's all very long-winded. Basically, what you put on a blog is about the kind of environment it is, which is about the kind of people who read it. And I think this blog can be:

open, unmoderated and free
inclusive of various POVs on things non-TCS related

... in a unique way. And most of all, I think it can be highly original and creative, because I know you people, and that's what you're like.

So, rather than telling you what kind of stuff you should blog here, I'm just going to say: blog anything you like, about anything that interests you, and do it here instead of elsewhere sometimes because this is a place that could be uniquely, valuable, if we want to make it so. Think of it as a new kind of TCS-friendly ideas-growing place, and start making it what you want it to be.

And have fun, obviously (otherwise, we throw you out for self-abusive behaviour).

Soda Stream

When I was young it used to be a real treat when I visited someone with a sodastream and could make my own drinks!

This was despite the fact the drinks were usually a pale imitation of the real shop brought ones!

Must be that things taste better when you make them yourself!!

Computer games

Following the lastest studies showing the benefits of computer gaming eg here I wonder how many households are moving from:

Child: But MUUUUUUM - I'm on level 5!
Mum: Not until you've finished your homework


Child: But mum - I've got homework to do!
Mum: Not until you've got past level 6 of wolfensteim returns to zeldaland!


I just found this website about going barefoot, and thought you all might appreciate it, since most kids I know (and some adults) prefer being barefoot as much as possible. I found the information regarding laws for barefeet in restaurants and stores particularly enlightening.

ok ok, i'll write something.

see, the thing is, i already have my own blog, and put stuff there. so does ne1 have a good theory about what kinds of things i should blog here instead? *points at comments*


Is offline until she gets a new hard-drive, and wanted everyone to know.

What TCS Doesn't Tell Us

(I could have posted this to the TCS List, but put it here instead, for no particular reason other than momentum).

TCS tells us that coercion is bad, and can theoretically be avoided. But it doesn't tell us what is good for kids like most parenting schools try to do (and get wrong in differing degrees).

Yet coercion can only be avoided when parents have sufficiently good ideas about how to help their kids. It is simply impossible to make sure that everyone in a family is content and fulfilled, rather than stressed-out, miserable and prone to dangerous emotions and conflict, if you have little or no idea how to get good things out of the world.

People are capable of dealing with enormously difficult problems without coercing their kids, sometimes. But they are not capable of doing that when the real problem is an entrenchment, ie when they are externalising some difficulty which is actually being perpetuated by their own avoidance of dealing with it. Any serious difficulty of that nature compromises one's creativity and undermines one's parenting and other relationships. A parent entrenched against learning how to enjoy making money, for example, cannot learn about that subject or pass on any useful ideas about it to their child.

TCS tells us that entrenched ideas are bad, but it doesn't tell us which ideas are entrenchments and which ideas are good for families and/or kids. I think this is potentially dangerous.

A person moving from a conventional parenting meme-set that said this:

* families should have a reliable reasonably good source of income, and a comfortable, well-equipped home,
* children should have access to active adult help learning various things, including reading and writing, science, sports and music,
* children should learn about moral ideas,
* children should get lots of active ideas about why a varied nutritious diet is good for them,

...and so on, and which replaces this ideas-set with:

* children should never be made to do what they don't want to do,

...may well end up a lot more coercive than it was before, simply because it has thrown out all the good stuff that TCS doesn't try to define, along with the bad bit that TCS is against. This increases the risk of coercion, which happens when problem-solving has failed, by massively increasing the number and difficulty of problems and removing many of the established ways of preventing and solving them.

I still think TCS is the best educational theory. But a theory is only a theory: for the practical knowledge required to help kids, we must look to the existing parenting institutions. Is TCS really "a way of life"? Or is it more of an add-on for people whose parenting ideas and/or creativity were already good enough to sustain it?

Criticisms please...

Bits and pieces

I blogged more about bitchy women memes here. Then I blogged about table-tennis here to cheer myself up again.

I'm changing the title again to the one which inspired two whole votes of its own, which was a landslide majority in a low-turnout election.

And people aren't blogging much. Institutions don't grow themselves, they require input, and I for one think this blog has a unique potential to reach the parts other blogs and/or TCS/ parenting groups cannot reach. So I'm going to blog here more. Please join in, otherwise people will get heartily sick of being ordered around by me and decide they should start coercing their kids more instead. Which would be evil. Therefore, the future of the world is in your hands!

Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Things to do on the internet when you're bored...

Anyone got any good suggestions?

Welcome to not-the-official TCS Blog: Vote here on our name!

Elliot invited the TCS list somewhat prematurely, while we are all still discussing what the name of this place should be: although it looks like chaos here, we are only one week old today from our inception as an idea, and still finding our feet (or maybe that should be growing our feet...)

But, hello to any TCS-ers who have made it here. We are a bunch of people chatting about anything and everything, sometimes parenting-related, often not. We are various in our political, economical and survival skills, and we are largely still wondering what to blog here and waiting for inspiration!

We are a new kind of TCS community on the net, where people can discuss whatever they like, on any subject, either in blogs or comments (anyone TCS can blog: see sidebar), meet like-minded(ish?) people informally and out of the educational-philosophy context, and see how it grows.

And we still haven't decided on a name. My suggestion is, people vote once each on the comments at the bottom of this post, and the most popular name wins. (For ideas, see earlier comments threads).

Monday, June 09, 2003
Name that meme!

There must be a name to describe that feeling you get when someone offers you "help" and you feel compelled to accept, even though you know that it's actually going to make you worse off!

Friendly person: So you want to get to the train station then?
Me: Yep
FP: Well - I could drop you off at the police station
Me: That'd be super - thanks!

what I really want to say is:
Me: well - actually, thats further from the train station than here - but thanks anyway!

I hope noone ever offers me a lift to edinburgh when I want to get to london!!


So we change to Haloscan and Haloscan goes down...

Anyone here got Haloscan? I do. It's often like this, which is why I've got Blogout on my blog as well. I've found that to be rather a good solution, in fact. Anyone out there want to do something...?

Sunday, June 08, 2003
Blog Title

That is an experimental change I just made, to see how it looked. More comments?

PS Another suggestion: TCS Unlimited?

i just had to refresh 4 times to get the comments to load. and they've been laggy for me. presuming other ppl have the same experience, could we switch to haloscan?

New Title
In the comments, TCS Community Blog has gotten a lot of support. So, what say ye? Shall we switch the name? If not, why not? If yes, but to something else, what else? If you don't give a rat's ass, please tell us that as well...

Halp, i don't know jack sh*t about blogger!

... yeah. as the title said. wheee-hee-hee-hee, see everyone run in fear as i come into blogging... okay, first off this is my first test run of Blogger, since i've never used it before, so don't expect this post to be brilliant. i even bet this one will get deleted at some time. if one can even delete a post here... -_-;;;

okay, here's something for the idiots reading random blogs. if you can't tell, this is a blog with many people's input. so it's a co-blog. so it's not all one person. so WE ARE NOT SPLIT PERSONALITIES!!! we got elliot for that. and now i'm gonna post, and see if this actually works. wheeeee... *clicks the post button*

Saturday, June 07, 2003
Why are women such bitches?

Disclaimer: This post is NOT intended at any individual/s whatever, merely a recurring rant-subject of mine.

I'm sorry, it completely does my head in. Women gather together to abuse men, refute all suggestion that they are in any way responsible for their own problems, talk about avenging themselves against their evil oppressors (men), complain about how crap men are, wallow in self-indulgent bullshit about how they can't do anything positive about their own lives at all or do anything autonomous, it's all the men's fault for forcing them to act like victims, and generally spreading evil in manipulative disgusting horrible ways. God help their kids, growing up surrounded with all these great ideas, for instance.

They don't know they're doing it ("Men are stupid! Ho ho ho!"), men seem largely unaware too (although they do have a general unconscious resistance against getting too intimate, which is probably very wise), and most of the evil-spreading is manipulative and subtle and implicit. Well, I'm fed up with it. Women: get real! Unless you want to end up/continue being a sad bitter twisted old lonely person, stop bitching now, and start criticising yourselves instead for a change!

I think men (as a species) are very nice. If any of them are reading this and feel like going out for a beer sometime, call me instead of one of those horrible women. Rant over.

We are in favor of helping kids to do what they want, but also to help them do good things. So, we are in favor of autonomous education, but we debate the merits of various activities on the list fairly frequently. For example, if someone asks something like "What if children watch way too much television?", we defend their right to choose *and* the merits of watching television. Both points are always raised.

It's not just about helping children do what they want. If TV were actually bad, then the advice to give people who asked about it would be very different. It would involve giving suggestions of better fun activities to offer the kids. Offering kids good activities is always a good thing to do, but "think about what they might like better and suggest it as alternatives" is not always the best suggestion.

For example, if someone posts "What if Ralph is engrossed in Zelda and he hasn't done any maths in days" or "What if Ralph has been doing proofs and doesn't want to write stories?", it's not good to advise them to try to find better non-math/non-video game activities. It's better to try to convince them that the kid is actually doing good things they shouldn't be dissauded from.

But if someone asks "What if Ralph doesn't like school, but goes anyway?" or "What if Ralph thinks TV is fairly boring, but watches lots of it?", then advising them to try to help the kid find better ways to solve their problems is important. In that case, convincing the parent to get over school and TV related hangups may help them to help the kid better -- but it's also likely that the kid needs help finding something else to do. It would be wrong for the parent to focus on trying to be ok with the amount of TV watched or school attended, and not help the kid to do something that would be better for them.

Can someone reassure me please...

...that when we give out people's email addresses we're doing it with their explicit consent? (Thinking of Kolya now, who knows in the future). Thank you.

Friday, June 06, 2003
There Is Nothing Wrong With Showing Porn To Preteens

lookie, i made a new thread. happy now gil?

No Problem

Changing the Title is easy. I just changed it to THE UNOFFICIAL TCS BLOG as proof of concept, and because it was my best theory that the blog definitely wanted to change.

If there's a common preference to change it to something else, feel free. :-)


Sarah Fitz-Claridge is planning to start a blog called "The TCS Blog" and would like us to change the name of this one so she can use it instead.

Any comments/ suggestions for other names/ whatever? Also, does anyone actually know how to change the name of a blog once it's set up, because I don't. I tried it somewhere else before on Blogger once, and it all went horribly wrong.

Thank you!


... I clicked on the link someone put on Kolya's name over there, thinking he had a new website!

But alas, it's just his email addy. I doubt anyone would come here looking for that, which is why I didn't put it on in the first place. But, whatever.

A TCS Mystery!

What is this?! Intriguing!

All the time, we have actually been helped by a bunch of 27 supernatural omnipotent creatures? Or is there some other more mundane explanation?

Here are some things I think it's good for kids to have available, in no particular order:

1) Video/computer games

Video games are really good for learning about thinking.

2) Drawing stuff - paper, pencils, markers, crayons, etc

Drawing is a good way to make ideas more explicit.

3) TV and help finding good shows.

TV gives kids access to knowledge that their parents don't have.

4) Good picture books read to them

This also gives kids access to knowledge that their parents don't have. It also makes it obvious that books have interesting content, which is good to know and isn't obvious to people who don't know how to read and don't get read to.

5) Other books read to them

Some content that kids find interesting is in books that are more complicated than picture books.

6) Books to read themselves

There are a lot of books that have content that is interesting to the child, but not their parent, and reading stuff silently is faster once you learn how.

7) Access to libraries and bookstores

There are a lot of books that are good for a specific kid that it wouldn't occour to their parent to reccomend.

7) Internet access and help finding stuff online

Some information is easier to access on the internet than in book stores and libraries, and some things such as certain games are only available online. It's not obvious at first how to find things, and it's very difficult for someone who does not know how to read to find anything, so it's good for children to have help.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Ok, I've added Enetation Comments. It's almost identical to the one on my blog.

I'll be happy to send the login information to anybody who doesn't think it's perfect and wants to fix it. :-)

OK, I'm going to write a proper blog now...

Tidiness, Beauty and Convenience

I think they are very definitely inter-connected. After years of living in homes that were cluttered and overfull and impossible to move around in without breaking precious Ming vases and/or legs, I have now suddenly grasped the joys of Clean Surfaces! Empty Floors! Organised Belongings One Can Actually Find!

Space really is the final frontier, like they always said.

For more, see my blog yesterday.

Is anyone going to add comments here (Gil?) Someone might have strong opposing views on this subject, maybe fans of this interview with DD from the TCS website (which I also found inspirational).

Extreme Tracking

Ok, I think I added it. We'll see if any results show up!

UPDATE: WooHoo! Results are showing up.

Extreme Tracking

Camille couldn't get it to work, anyone else want to have a go/ problem-solve on this one?

Hi all,

I'm here :-)

Adding in an Extreme Tracking thingie.


This blog is topic-unlimited. But I think it would be good as a links-reference too. If you find things TCS people might be interested in, if you just posted a great thing on your own blog, if you find something TCS people should know about, please link it here!

Extreme Tracking

Can someone put it on here, please? Maybe we'll be the new Glenn Reynoldses, would be nice to find out!

By the way...

All team members are on admin, which means you can make changes to the blog. But before doing so, please make sure that your best theory states that the blog definitely wants to change...


Hi Dawn :-)

Nastiness: it's a kind of immoral antisocial behaviour. It's not accurately described as meta, although meta makes a lot of it possible, and there's no test for it, but it is distinguishable: best theories are all we've got.

However, I doubt we'll get any!


I like the comments on Gil's blog. Can you put them on here, Gil?

i vote against the comment system on my blog, and against ones that have a small character limit for comments. and haloscan .... just reopened signups now that i check.


Do you want to add comments? Or should all comments just be added as posts? If there are a lot, it might get unreadable. Especially if multiple threads get going.

If we add comments, which (free and available) comment system do people prefer? If you have a preference, please enter a post explaining it, or email Alice :-).

I'm here.

Alice, what exactly is nastiness?

OK, I invited some people and would like to invite these people but don't seem to have their email addresses anywhere atm: Woty, Felix, DSJ, anyone else who is interested and TCS can blog. If you're reading this, send us your address (see sidebar) and we'll add you to the members list, or (for occasional blogs) send us the blog and we'll post it (got them now, thanks Elliot).

Posting rules: there are no rules. Nastiness is out, however clever anyone's excuse, methinks, and everything is on-topic. A blog for TCS people (not just a blog about TCS).

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Good idea! Let's see who contributes, and who reads this thing.

Welcome to the Brand New TCS blog! Actually I only thought of it 5 minutes ago. It occurred to me that a TCS blog was what I'd like to read. So I made this. But now I really have to go and eat my dinner *now*.

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