Archive for the 'atheism' Category

Nov 12 2008

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Mana

The Return of the Meme

Filed under Blogroll, atheism

I’m coming out of Blog dormancy to give a shout out to Scepticon and Ben. Scepticon tagged me in a meme to which I will respond below. Ben gave a shout out a while back with a visual compliment to my home, Transylvania. I haven’t forgotten about you my blogging buddies I just haven’t found writing inspiration of late.

Here goes the Meme:

The RULES:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

The SIX:

I still love Charles David shoes

I’m about to have my second shoulder surgery in two years, this Friday

I drive the most beaten up Toyota Corrola and I plan on driving it until it won’t run anymor. However, that Japanese engine won’t give in, so I figure I will drive this car until the frame falls off, at which point I’ll have to choose between driving a go-cart or getting another car

I’m finally reading Devil in the White City

I only started reading Devil in the White City because I fell in love with history while reading Sin in the Second City

After re-reading above statement I realized it’s not love of history, it’s love of Chicago

I’ll do a bit of random tagging at this point–these are good blogs, new on my reading list:
Ayrshire Blog

Ionian Enchantment

Unreasonable Faith

The Conscious Earth

God is Pretend

The Liquid Thinker

28 responses so far

Sep 08 2008

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Mana

The Atheists, The Untouchables

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, atheism

I have my political favorites but regardless of where I find my votes may go I will stay true to my belief that only through separation of religion and politics can we create an environment conducive to economic and intellectual progress as well as freedom and justice for all.  I also believe societies should be inclusive, not exclusive if we are to achieve the most societal and economic health.

While I will not have the time to make a case here on how most except a few religions predominantly promote exclusionary and segregationist ideas (us vs them, black and white thinking, etc) I would like to point to how in the current political discourse Republicans (not surprisingly) and Democrats (somewhat surprisingly) are getting dangerously close to a church-like religion and politics blend, to the potential exclusion of 10-12% of the population who openly claim agnosticism and/or atheism (and those who don’t claim it because it’s not acceptable in the circle in which they live in).

Sally Quinn of the Washington Post illustrates this:

On Sunday, Tiernan attended the first event at the Democratic National Convention, an Interfaith Gathering attended by some 2,000 people at the Colorado Convention Center. Speaking were distinguished priests, rabbis, imams and religion scholars. “I sat through, I guess I’d have to call it, a service,” says Tiernan. “People were responding in unison. In the middle, Leah Daughtry (a pastor and CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee) spoke and said that despite what the media says, Democrats are people of faith.”

Tiernan says he couldn’t stand it any more. “I stood up and said, ‘I’m a democrat but I’m not a person of faith.’ I said, ‘This looks like a church service to me and I never thought I would see the Democrats doing something like this.” (…)

The Interfaith Gathering was the first of several interfaith events scheduled during the convention. The Secular Coalition of America had written to Daughtry to ask that atheists, agnostics and secular humanists be included in these events. The Associated Press reported that she received the request but never responded.

The Democrats are in a real bind this year. In recent elections, the Republicans have owned religion. The evangelical base has helped Republican presidential candidates win elections while the Democrats have stood by helplessly. This year, the Democrats are bound to show they are just as religious as Republicans, but at what cost? (…)

At various times in years past, women, blacks, Jews and gays were the political outcasts in one or both parties. Now it seems the only group of untouchables are the atheists.

15 responses so far

Sep 07 2008

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The Trib on How Religion Guides Palin

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, atheism

Palin has called on people to pray for the cooperation necessary to build a natural gas pipeline across Alaska, labeled the U.S. mission in Iraq a “task that is from God” and argued that students should be taught the creation account from Genesis in public schools.

“I can do my job there in developing our natural resources and doing things like getting the roads paved and making sure our troopers have their cop cars and their uniforms and their guns, and making sure our public schools are funded,” she said in June to ministry students at her former church. “But really, all of that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.”

How Religion Guides Palin, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 6, 2008

We’re looking at another who puts fantasy before reason, fables before reality and … tries to appeal to the uneducated not by educating them but by using bad grammar (”that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God”?) .

The claim that Palin is exactly what the McCain ticket needed to secure the conservatives’ votes is just a testament to how determined the republican party is to continue keeping religion at the forefront of public discourse, to the detriment of more relevant topics such as health care, education and the economy. And even a potentially moderate candidate such as McCain can be beaten into submission by the Republican manipulation machine.

15 responses so far

May 27 2008

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Religion Gets Help From Non-Believers

According to a New Scientist article, “religion only takes hold if non-believers help believers out – perhaps because they are impressed by their devotion.”

James Dow, an evolutionary anthropologist at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, US, wrote a software program called Evogod that predicts religion will flourish. The program is centered on the evolutionary benefits people receive from their interactions with one another.

“If a person is willing to sacrifice for an abstract god then people feel like they are willing to sacrifice for the community,” says Dow. Thus he concludes non-believers will help believers out because of admiration for the believers’ devotion.

Along the same lines, Richard Sosis, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs (whose main area of research is “the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation”) previously wrote on the support believers received in ancient societies, when humans were more reliant in general on the support of the community. He found that in some populations such as the kibbutzim in Israel, more religious people receive more assistance from others in the community than the less religious.

“[Today] you can be a Lutheran one week and decide the following week you are going to become a Buddhist,”  Sosis says.

232 responses so far

Jan 05 2008

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Mana

Huckabee Scores a 10 on the God-o-Meter

Filed under Politics, Religion, atheism

Huckabee Scores a 10 on God-o-Meter

10 responses so far

Jan 02 2008

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OMG, Oh My God, or WOW?

Filed under Religion, atheism

Chicago Tribune published recently a piece on the widespread usage of the im-speak OMG:

there are two kinds of people in the world: those who say “Oh my God!” and those who say something else. Even atheists have been known to cry “Oh my God!” on occasion.

I’m guessing that those who say something else say, “oh my gosh” or another way of saying “oh my god,” without saying “oh my god.”

While the Vatican denounced the taking of god’s name in vane yet again this year, Yahoo launched the celebrity gossip website omg! The Vatican should not worry much as the site is in beta at this time. However, the launch caused quite a bit of debate, according to Chicago Tribune:

A user writes: “This is taking the Lord’s name in vain, and while I’m fairly certain you could care less about that, I can no longer support Yahoo if they insist on keeping this OMG product. It shows the height of insensitivity to people of faith.”

To which another user replies: “Lighten up, it’s just an instant messaging phrase. If you find that kind of thing offensive, you should unplug your ethernet cable right now and stay off the internet.”

And then someone makes the point: “There is no doubt what the OMG stands for. Every Christian should be outraged that the name of the Lord is used with such disrespect. The point is that people use his name as an insignificant figure of speech.”

Officially, Yahoo avoids the conflict altogether. “The name ‘OMG’ is derived from IM speak and means ‘wow!’” says company spokesman Carrie Davis.

OMG!

17 responses so far

Dec 28 2007

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A Very Brawly Christmas Week

Filed under Religion, atheism

The post-Christmas days have been filled with news of conflict, from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to a less noticeable story, but a very entertaining one nonetheless:

Seven people were injured on Thursday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (breitbart.com) … For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.

The Church of the Nativity is physically divided into sections administered by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities respectively. Any encroachment into another’s space can result into conflict.

During the pre-Christmas cleaning yesterday, a Greek Orthodox priest placed a ladder into Armenian territory and the brawl ensued.

The Orthodox church of Jerusalem celebrates Christmas based on the old Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar used worldwide today. In the Julian calendar Christmas falls on Jan. 7, thus the pre-Christmas cleaning.

Seeing that the spirit of Christmas had not seeped yet into the hearts of the Church of Nativity Keepers, Palestinian policemen stepped in to keep the peace.

Let me repeat that, Palestinians had to separate fighting Christians.

12 responses so far

Dec 21 2007

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Is Jesus the Reason for the Season?

Filed under Religion, Society, atheism

Sound Off’s Roland S. Martin wrote a commentary on CNN.com today in which he claims,

Because of all the politically correct idiots, we are being encouraged to stop saying “Merry Christmas” for the more palatable “Happy Holidays.” What the heck are “Seasons Greetings”? (…)

But this seeming backlash against Christianity is bordering on the absurd, and we should continue to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

What is disturbing about paranoid rants such as Martin’s is that he’s making arguments that are unfriendly (when people say Happy Holidays they’re backlashing against Christianity) and unsupported (Jesus is the reason for the season).

When people say Happy Holidays they actually try to be nice and not make assumptions about one’s religion. If I know someone is Christian I have no issues saying Merry Christmas, but when I don’t know, or when I know someone is not Christian I’d rather wish them Happy Holidays than nothing at all. Of course I could come up with something more creative, such as “Happy Winter Time Off!”

To use Martin’s own linguistic choices I must say you have to be an idiot to claim that Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason for the celebration of Christmas as in “the mass of Christ,” the birth of jesus, but he is certainly not the reason why people throughout centuries have celebrated this time of year.It is common knowledge that the Christmas traditions are borrowed from a number of pagan celebrations such as the Northern European Yule and the Roman Saturnalia.

Decorated fir-trees, gift giving, mistletoe, holly, carol singing etc. are all traditions predating Christianity.

So if how we celebrate is a collection of pre-Christian traditions, and what we celebrate is highly varied based on religion why would saying Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays be an attack on Christianity?

25 responses so far

Dec 10 2007

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What I Want for Christmas is… No Violence in the Name of Religion

Filed under Religion, atheism

Broken Glass, Broken HomeEspecially, less violence against women.

I cringe at all forms of violence in the name of religion, be they psychological, or infringements upon personal liberties. I cannot find anything moral or any virtue in teaching children that they must obey a fictional character such as Jesus, or in teaching little girls that their purpose in life is to grow up, marry, obey their husbands and make babies.

But, I can accept that adults may believe in the god of their choice. I can accept that some find comfort in the placebo of religion.

But the brutality some unleash in the name of religion is sickening:

“Khalaf [Iraqi Police chief Maj. Gen] said bodies have been found [in Basra] in garbage dumps with bullet holes, decapitated or otherwise mutilated with a sheet of paper nearby saying, “she was killed for adultery,” or “she was killed for violating Islamic teachings.” In September, he said, the headless bodies of a woman and her 6-year-old son were among those found. He said a total of 40 deaths were reported this year.

“We believe the number of murdered women is much higher, as cases go unreported by their families who fear reprisal from extremists,” he said.”

(International Herald Tribune,  “Police chief in southern city of Basra says religious vigilantes have killed 40 women this year,” Dec. 9, 2007)

Of course, this news is no news, as these stories have surfaced more and more recently. Also, there are plenty organization who deal with violence against women, and some even take a look at the interplay of religion and violence against women.

And then we have those who simply don’t get it, such as conservative Phyllis Schlafly who claims that if the US adopted an International Violence Against Women act it would diminish the benefits that American women enjoy, because:

U.S. women are the most privileged class of people on the face of the earth. That’s because we are the beneficiaries of the Judeo-Christian civilization, including the requirement in the Ten Commandments to honor mothers and the Christian religion that honors the Virgin Mary and respects women.

Schlafly’s words are in line with all other tyrants’ ideas that their regime is good and just, and as a result there can’t be any violence within the confines of their establishment.

Another view religious folk take on the issue of religion and violence is that church teachings themselves are not the perpetrators of violence but rather how people interpret religious teachings and choose to act.

The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women published an article co-written by a reverent and a rabi, that promotes the idea that religious leaders should receive training on how to deal with victims of violence, and secular advocates should have training on how to address religious issues. The article faults religion only for “roadblocks” to handling violence.

So far so good. But they take the issue a step further and state,

Training for advocates should include addressing the religious concerns that women may present and how to make appropriate referrals to religious resources.

Once again, the assumption is that the particular teachings of that religion are not the source of the problem, and the problem can be treated from within the jurisdiction of that religious group.

Certain religious, such as the Mormon church, discourage consulting with psychiatrists or psychologists outside of those recommended by the church leaders themselves.

In reality, if the religious source is the problem, referring the victim back to the perpetrator may not be an option. It would be similar to sending the wife for counseling with the mother of the perpetrator– odds are the victim will get the blame.

Also, if the religious leader has similar opinions with Schlafly, referring the victim back to the religion may result in the amplification of the problem. If the violence is stemming from the religious group itself, yet the religious group leaders are refusing to recognize violence issues within their religion the claims of violence will just be written off and the victim will be pushed back into the circle of violence.

While there are many who appear to present solutions that take respect for religion into consideration, there are very few solutions that accept religion as the perpetrator. Is it time to rethink where to turn for help?

5 responses so far

Dec 07 2007

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No Christmas Doggy Treasts for Christians

Filed under Religion, Society, atheism

Christmas DogPets of Christian families who choose to go with Dr. Dobson’s list of where not to shop for Christmas will be left out in the cold this winter. Petsmart is listed on Dobson’s “The Bad” list and PetCo committed an even more serious crime on Christmas and was listed on “The Ugly” list of stores Christians shouldn’t shop at.

Why is he boycotting these stores? Because Jesus wouldn’t shop there either, after the stores shifted their focus from Christmas to The Holidays.

“The Bad”(Best Buy and Borders etc.) and “The Ugly” (the GAP family of stores, Barnes and Noble, eBay, Discovery Channel Store, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and other), “depend on the Christmas season to generate a high percentage of their profits for the year, and yet they want to do it by distancing themselves from the traditional Christmas story,” according to Dobson.

How deluded do you have to be to think that the stores who use the term “Christmas” in their ads have a different goal in mind than profit. If retailers had data to show that their neutral holiday language was going to drive Christians away from their stores, they would use Christmas instead. All retailers are focused on revenue and based on their customer profile they know what language would work best with the customer without endangering their revenue.

Best Buy, Borders and Barnes and Noble were quoted for their “no-solicitation policy.” In other words, they don’t allow those dudes in funny outfits to shout Merry Christmas and expect donations for it. That was their big crime on Christmas.

However, if you want to do a charity thing this Holiday season, I encourage you to stop by Borders (”The Bad”) and donate to help with children’s literacy, or buy something from the (RED) campaign at one of the GAP stores (”The Ugly”).

5 responses so far

Dec 06 2007

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Romney Redefines Freedom to Include Religion

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, atheism

Romney discussed his candidacy and religion today,…. sort of. He mostly made numerous vague statements and managed to brush off comparisons of Mormonism to other Christian groups.

The most rhetorically shrewd part of his address was his mention of freedom:

“Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”

In other words, you cannot be truly free without religion.

Mormonism prescribes many of these “cannot without religion”–you cannot be truly happy, you cannot be truly free, etc.

Here’s how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views freedom, in the words of LDS General Authority, Elder Enzio Busche:

My dear brothers and sisters, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many new members, specifically when they come from countries other than the United States, learn for the first time the true dimension of the word freedom. Freedom for most people of the world means “freedom from” the absence of malice or pain or suppression. But the freedom that God means when He deals with us goes one step further. He means “freedom to”—the freedom to act in the dignity of our own choice.

Let me summarize this point. Non-Mormons, new Mormons and especially foreigners who are new to the church don’t get the whole truth about freedom.  These folk know what they may be free from but not what they’re “free to.” The probability is that American Mormons who are not new to the church know about freedom best.

It’s this concept of “free to” that appears in Romney’s quote as well when he says, “Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God.” But do not be led to think that by “act in the dignity of our own choice,” they mean that we can do whatever we choose. The word dignity is there for a good purpose, and it’s tied in with Jesus Christ (as you will see below).

Also don’t be fooled into thinking that the mighty genius of Romney come up with this concept. The Mormon church has numerous writings on this topic. Here is how freedom to and freedom of choice are defined by Mormons, in the words of the same LDS General Authority, Elder Enzio Busche:

As we open our hearts to the message of God’s truth, as it was restored in our time, we begin to understand why there was, and still is, so much misery, pain, suffering, and even starvation. In the same dimension as we are learning to accept the revealed truth in our own life, our faith in the living Son of God will grow, and therefore we will receive spiritual gifts of heretofore unknown capacity. We will learn that nothing is impossible for those who believe in Jesus Christ. False bondages will be loosened. Narrow thinking born in tragedies of false traditions will disappear.

In conclusion, Romney’s words are almost perfectly in line with his church’s teachings that one cannot be truly free without Jesus Christ, because only religion can open one’s soul to allow communion with God, and release the bondages false traditions keep us under.

For example, if you have a glass of wine with your meal you are not truly free because you allow a false tradition to bond you. If you choose to express your love for someone of the same sex you are not truly free because you chose to bond yourself in something ungodly.

If Romney replaced Jesus Christ in his speech with a generic term of “religion” he did it for political reasons only.

He said, “I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers — I will be true to them and to my beliefs.”

So, if he is to be true to his beliefs he would have to say that Jesus Christ brings freedom (to) , however, that would exclude all other non-Jesus religions from being able to bring freedom (to).

My final conclusion is that Romney is throwing empty, yet Mormon-influenced rhetorical language hoping to create some “ethos of Romney” and convince the religious folk of America that he’s a freedom and religion loving guy, and he’s non-threatening and he just only sees the similarities in people, not the differences.

The notion that freedom and religion can’t exist one without the other is a fabrication stemming from his church’s moral teachings. And his church’s teachings are nothing but an attempt to manipulate the concept of freedom of choice, by saying that Jesus gives one the freedom to choose what Jesus says is right, and that’s the only true freedom.

6 responses so far

Dec 04 2007

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John Scalzi’s Creation Museum Report

 Novelist John Scalzi published a fantastic write-up of a tour at the Creation Museum. He promptly summarized the museum as “An epic load of horseshit,” after which he discusses both why it’s horseshit and why the museum is popular with those who can consume such horseshit:

 ”The Museum is casually trying to establish an equivalence between science and creationism by accrediting them both as legitimate “starting points” for any discussion of biology, geology and cosmology. This would cause any scientist worth his or her salt to have a positively cinematic spit take, because it’s horseshit, but if you don’t know any better (say, if you’ve been fed a line of crap your whole life along the lines of “science is just another religion”) it sounds perfectly reasonable. And so if you buy that, then the next room, filled with large posters that offer on equal footing the creationist and scientific takes on the creation of the universe and evolution, seems perfectly reasonable, too: Heck, we can both have our theories! They’re both okay. The problem with this is that creationism isn’t a theory, it’s an assertion, to wit: The entire universe was created in six days, the days are 24-hour days, the layout for the creation and for the early history of the planet and humanity is in the first chapter of Genesis and it is exactly right. Everything has to be made to conform to these assertions, which is why creationist attempts at science are generally so damn comical and refutable. “

Scalzi’s visit followed a “Drag Scalzi’s Ass to the Creation Museum” donation drive with proceeds going to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

One response so far

Dec 03 2007

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EXODUS Guitarist on Organized Religion

Filed under Politics, Religion, Society, atheism

The word in music circles these days is that the new EXODUS album, “The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibition A,” attacks organized religion.

Gary Holt, the EXODUS guitarist said on the “The Classic Metal Show” (hinting to the Mohammed Teddy Bear story):

But I have decided that the next rabbit that my snake eats will be named “Mohammed” before I feed it to my snake. I’m going to capture it on film, and I’m going to post it on the Internet so everybody can watch “Mohammed” going down my snake’s throat. Then I will film the shit that my snake lays and point out that that is the remnants of “Mohammed.”

I hope he puts it on YouTube because I’d like to see that. I fear that Holt may get into trouble with PETA before he gets the Islamic death threat he talks about in the rest of the interview.

If there was a celebrity death match for organizations and PETA and some Islamic terrorist organization went head to head, who do you think would win?

2 responses so far

Nov 30 2007

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What Church Jobs Tell us About Churches

Filed under Religion, atheism

The following excerpt from a job posting from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America sheds light on how organized religious groups secure investment funds, that they subsequently use for expanding their church infrastructure :

MIF provides investment opportunities for ELCA members, congregations, synods and related ministries to earn interest on their financial resources while helping to further the mission and ministry of the Lutheran church. With the invested funds, MIF makes loans to new mission congregations for purchases of land and construction of initial church buildings; established congregations for renovation, expansion and relocation projects; and ELCA-related ministries for capital projects.

One response so far

Nov 26 2007

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Famous Evangelists and Their Oddities

Filed under History, Religion, Society, atheism

Chicago Tribune published a list of “10 Things You Might Not Know About Famous Evangelists.”

Some of the ‘things’ are oddities, some of them are plain crazy and corrupted behavior, and some are well known, such as Tammy Faye’s tattooed-on eyebrows and lips (at least I could tell…).

Here are the three that paint a picture of no-common-sense evangelist power-mongery:

1. Zion, a city north of Chicago founded by Scottish evangelist John Alexander Dowie in 1902, at various times banned circuses, theaters, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, pork, politicians, doctors, drugstores, jazz, oysters, chop suey, tan-colored shoes, flirting, dancing, swearing, spitting and whistling on Sunday.

Ouch, imagine not owning a pair of tan-colored shoes. And what was this dude’s problem with doctors and drugstores?

5.  Georgia’s Rev. Creflo Dollar, whose ownership of a Rolls-Royce harks back to the quintessential “prosperity preacher” of the ’70s, Frederick Eikerenkoetter, better-known as Rev. Ike. The now-retired Ike owned a fleet of mink-appointed Rolls-Royces and said,”The best thing you can do for the poor is not to be one of them.”

Yeah, that’s one way of putting it….

8. Oral Roberts’ most famous fundraising effort came in 1987, when he said God would “take me home” if he didn’t raise $8 million for medical scholarships. Less well-known was another life-threatening experience he revealed the same year. Roberts said Satan had entered his bedroom and tried to strangle him, only to be chased away by Roberts’ wife, Evelyn.

I bet he was a feminist too.

13 responses so far

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