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Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl

Wallace & Gromit are returning for a feature-length film later this year — and so is Feathers McGraw, the scofflaw penguin that made off with the wrong trousers in, um, The Wrong Trousers. Here’s the premise of Vengeance Most Fowl:

In this next installment, Gromit’s concern that Wallace is becoming too dependent on his inventions proves justified, when Wallace invents a “smart” gnome that seems to develop a mind of its own. When it emerges that a vengeful figure from the past might be masterminding things, it falls to Gromit to battle sinister forces and save his master … or Wallace may never be able to invent again!

Timely! Vengeance Most Fowl will debut on BBC in the UK in late December and at some later date on Netflix in the US and elsewhere.

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An analysis of the easiest & hardest puzzles from the NY Times' Spelling Bee. (The highest-possible Spelling Bee score is 2061 with 26...
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Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl
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Seven Samurai's 4K Restoration
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Maris Kreizman argues for adding full credit pages to books acknowledging everyone who worked on them. "How lovely it is to be seen and...
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What Does 'Havering' Mean?
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Boston Should Rename Its Airport for Bill Russell. "He was Boston's greatest sports champion, and as a brave and steadfast civil-rights...
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From Palestinian-American Mo Husseini, a list of 50 Completely True Things, including "You can advocate for Palestine without being a...
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Every Kind of Bridge Explained in 15 Minutes
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Gone Swimming, With Tara Booth
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Diary Comics, Jan. 2 & 11
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Is everyone really taking steroids? Rosecrans Baldwin says yes: "Someone in your life is using performance-enhancing drugs. I feel...
1 comment      Latest:

The Day After Tomorrow turns 20. "Twenty years after its release, it remains a unique specimen: a climate disaster blockbuster that...
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Auriea Harvey’s pioneering site Entropy8 has been restored as part of a retrospective of her work at the Museum of the Moving Image. Harvey’s work was a huge inspiration for me — like, you can do that on the web?!

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From Palestinian-American Mo Husseini, a list of 50 Completely True Things, including “You can advocate for Palestine without being a racist, antisemitic piece of shit” and “You can advocate for Israel without being a racist, anti-Arab piece of shit.”

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The kids who were 1st graders when 20 of their classmates were murdered in Newtown, CT are graduating from high school. “There is a whole chunk of our class missing.” More than 4200 mass shootings in the US since then, several of them at schools.

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Seven Samurai’s 4K Restoration

A 4K restoration of Akira Kurosawa’s epic Seven Samurai is heading to theaters this summer. The film screened at Cannes in May and screenings in the US start in July:

Janus will open the restoration on Friday, July 5 in New York at Film Forum after which a Los Angeles premiere will take place at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre on Sunday, July 7. The film will open wide on Friday, July 12 in Los Angeles at Laemmle Royal.

Here’s the official poster for the restoration:

poster for the 4K restoration of Seven Samurai

On a personal note, I’m pretty disheartened there’s a 99% chance this won’t be playing anywhere near me in Vermont. Run Lola Run was rereleased in theaters last week and I couldn’t find it anywhere within a reasonable drive. And the nearest IMAX is 2h15m away. I’m thankful that I can get all sorts of culture pumped into my house at gigabit speeds, but per contemporary wisdom, “we’ve got Seven Samurai’s 4K restoration at home” is just not the same.

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Boston Should Rename Its Airport for Bill Russell. “He was Boston’s greatest sports champion, and as a brave and steadfast civil-rights leader across half a century, an even greater man.”

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Gone Swimming, With Tara Booth

who else is ready to get beat tf up by the ocean?

“who else is ready to get beat tf up by the ocean?” asks artist Tara Booth on Instagram. (If you click through, it’s a whole mini-story.)

More of Booth’s awesome work can also be found on her website. Is this the day I buy her art on a tote bag? Or a hoodie? Or a pillowcase?

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Paul Theroux: “In the short run, criticism seems to have merit; in the end, criticism is useless—a good book has a long life in spite of anything said about it.” I’m not sure I agree, but I did find this idea somewhat thrilling.

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Is everyone really taking steroids? Rosecrans Baldwin says yes: “Someone in your life is using performance-enhancing drugs. I feel comfortable making that bet because I recently discovered how many people in my life are using performance-enhancing drugs.”

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What Does ‘Havering’ Mean?


“If I haver, well I know I’m gonna be — I’m gonna be the man who’s haverin’ to you.”

It’s only the 9,000th time I’ve heard this perfect song, but for whatever reason today was the day I looked it up. (Apologies to everyone who already knows.) Per Wikipedia:

In Scottish English, haver (from the Scots havers (oats)) means “to maunder; to talk foolishly; to chatter,” as heard in the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

This song rules so much. It came on the other day while my daughter and I were goofing around — sorry, while we were havering (?) — and it was such a joy to watch her get into it.

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Pretty dark but also fascinating: “ancient DNA extracted from 64 of the children is offering new insights into the religious rituals of the ancient Maya and their ties to modern descendants.

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Diary Comics, Jan. 2 & 11

Hello, and welcome to another Thursday Afternoon With Edith! I was off for a while in part because everyone in my family got Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which was horrible. I’m also going through some crises of purpose and trying to figure out what to do with my life. 🤔 Solution forthcoming. But here are a couple comics from earlier this year; I’m skipping around a bit because the journal itself became pretty disjointed. (Previously.)

jan2introC.png
jan2update2.jpg
jan11a.jpg

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An analysis of the easiest & hardest puzzles from the NY Times’ Spelling Bee. (The highest-possible Spelling Bee score is 2061 with 26 pangrams! WAT?!)

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“How the Fridge Changed Flavor”

In an adaptation from her forthcoming book, Frostbite: How Refrigeration Changed Our Food, Our Planet, and Ourselves, Nicola Twilley shares how refrigeration changed the food we eat and even how it tastes (you tomato and strawberry lovers know what I’m talking about):

The opportunity to consume frosty drinks and desserts opened up an entirely new vocabulary of sensation. Some found the cold shocking at first. “Lord! How I have seen the people splutter when they’ve tasted them for the first time,” a London ice-cream vender recalled in 1851. One customer — “a young Irish fellow” — took a spoonful, stood statue still, and then “roared out, ‘Jasus! I am kilt. The coald shivers is on to me.’” The earliest recorded description of brain freeze seems to have been published by Patrick Brydone, a Scotsman travelling in Sicily in the seventeen-seventies. The victim was a British naval officer who took a big bite of ice cream at a formal dinner. “At first he only looked grave, and blew up his cheeks to give it more room,” Brydone wrote. “The violence of the cold soon getting the better of his patience, he began to tumble it about from side to side in his mouth, his eyes rushing out of water.” Shortly thereafter, he spat it out “with a horrid oath” and, in his outrage, had to be restrained from beating the nearest servant.

And I wasn’t aware of this:

Leaving aside its suggestion that one serve “Molded Lamb with Fruit,” Kelvinator wasn’t wrong to claim that refrigeration could make leftovers taste better. After all, chemical reactions continue in the cold, albeit slowly, and some of them improve flavor. Several years ago, Cook’s Illustrated investigated this process by serving fresh bowls of beef chili, in addition to French onion, creamy tomato, and black-bean soups, alongside portions that had been made two days earlier. Testers preferred the fridge-aged versions, describing them as “sweeter,” “more robust-tasting,” and “well-rounded.”

Twilley also recently shared a preview on the podcast she co-hosts, Gastropod: The Birth of Cool: How Refrigeration Changed Everything. Frostbite is out on June 25 and is available for preorder on Amazon or Bookshop.

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A short oral history of pioneering Chicago house anthem Move Your Body. “It was cooked up in just 30 minutes by four postal workers after a tough shift on the letter-sorting machine.”

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How Tennis Balls Became Yellow, Feat. David Attenborough

Somehow, I didn’t know that until quite recently, tennis balls were white instead of yellow (Wimbledon used white balls until 1985). Here’s a British Pathé film from 1961 that shows how tennis balls were made, along with Wimbledon ball boy training:

I also didn’t know that many people think tennis balls are green when they are actually a color called “optic yellow”. Oh and that David Attenborough had a hand in the switch from white to yellow.

The change in color happened due to the demands of television transmissions. In 1972 television was already in color all over the world (although in Spain it was not generalized until five or six years later). At the end of the 1960s, the person in charge of the BBC broadcasts (which, of course, was in charge of Wimbledon) was the renowned documentary filmmaker David Attenborough. And he noticed that the visibility of the traditional white ball was not perfect, especially if it approached the lines of the rectangle of play.

In that year of 1972, tennis was in full growth: the professional and amateur circuits had unified and women’s professional tennis was also growing. Tennis was becoming a great world spectacle and in this context television was fundamental. The International Tennis Federation, in charge of the rules, commissioned a study which showed that the yellow ball was more visible and therefore easier for viewers to follow. The courts, moreover, began to be multicolored once the use of synthetic materials in official tournaments was approved.

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The Day After Tomorrow turns 20. “Twenty years after its release, it remains a unique specimen: a climate disaster blockbuster that adheres to all the tenets of the genre, while also explicitly attributing its carnage to the greenhouse effect.”

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The Birth of Breaking News

The completion of the US transcontinental railroad in 1869 in Utah was also the birthplace of the newsflash. The news was delivered via telegraph through a clever scheme: the famous golden spike and a silver hammer were each wired to the telegraph so that when hammer struck nail, the circuit completed and the news raced out along telegraph wires to the rest of the nation.1

Where were you when you heard the news of the completion of the transcontinental railroad?

  1. At least, that was the plan. It is said the hammer swingers missed the spike and so the telegraph operator had to message “DONE” instead.


Are You an NPC? (Or Do You Have Free Will?)

Kurzgesagt attempts to answer the question (from the perspective of physics): Do we have free will? Here’s the deterministic perspective (from the show notes):

Now imagine that if right after the Big Bang, a supersmart supercomputer looked at every single particle in the universe and noted all their properties. Just by applying the deterministic laws of physics, it should be able to predict what all the particles in existence would be doing until the end of time.

But if you are made of particles and it’s technically possible to calculate what particles will do forever, then you never decided anything. Your past, present and future were already predetermined and decided at the Big Bang. This would mean there is a kind of fate and you are not free to decide anything.

You may feel like you make decisions, but you are on autopilot. The motions of the particles that make up your brain cells that made you watch this video were decided 14 billion years ago. You are just in the room when it happens. You are only witnessing how the universe inside you unfolds in real time.

And the other side of the argument (in favor of free will):

We know that we can reduce everything that exists to its basic particles and the laws that guide them. While this makes physics feel like the only scientific discipline that actually matters, there is a problem: You can’t explain everything in our universe only from particles.

One key fact about reality that we can’t explain by looking just at electrons and quantum stuff is emergence. Emergence is when many small things together create new fundamental traits that didn’t exist before.

Emergence occurs at all levels of reality, and reality seems to be organized in layers: atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, you, society. Put many things in one layer together and they’ll create the next layer up. Every time they do, entirely new properties emerge.

Having thought about this for all of 20 minutes (or, practically all of my life), the emergence argument against determinism makes a lot of sense to me. Then again, James Gleick’s Chaos and Steven Johnson’s Emergence both made a huge impression on me when I read it more than 20 years ago.

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Some people with insomnia think they are awake but they’re actually asleep. But scientists are discovering that their sleep is not as rejuvenating as normal sleep.

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What’s the Rarest Move in Chess?

YouTuber Paralogical downloaded data from over 5 billion chess games to find the rarest move in chess. Slight spoiler: there are many possible moves that weren’t played in any of the games analyzed. The data and analysis programs used are available on Github:

This is a lil’ code to analyze chess .pgn files, with the goal of finding the “rarest” move in chess.

That is, the rarest move notation (standard algebraic notation) given a large number of input games (e.g. every rated game from lichess) in pgn format.

However, since there are many moves that never happen, this is moreso counting and categorizing moves of various types rather than finding one specific rare move.

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David Pierce reports on the Excel World Championship from Las Vegas. “There is one inescapably weird thing about competitive Excel: spreadsheets are not fun.”

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Ask a Manager update about a guy who told his interviewer during a job interview that “maybe she made mistakes as a developer but since I actually went to school for it, I didn’t have that problem.”

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Lots of good responses to this thread: “What is something someone who has never been poor wouldn’t understand?” E.g. how expensive it is to be poor, like paying more for daily subway tickets bc you don’t have the cash on hand for a monthly.

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Of course Kenji López-Alt had a friend come up with a computer model that determined the ideal way to chop an onion. How can you resist reading an article with the phrase “exactly .557 onion radiuses” in it?

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Chaka Khan’s Tiny Desk Concert

NPR recently welcomed Chaka Khan into the office for a Tiny Desk Concert.

When the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka Khan, began to sing her hit “Sweet Thing” at the Tiny Desk, she seemed surprised at how the audience enthusiastically joined in. It’s just one example of how ingrained her work is in the fabric of music history. Since she emerged in the 1970s with the funk band Rufus, Khan has crafted a legacy that includes 22 albums, 10 Grammys, forays into jazz and theater and collaborations with Prince, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Quincy Jones. Her 50 years in the music industry recently culminated in a long overdue 2023 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This was great right from the jump…one of my favorite Tiny Desks for sure.

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Care to play a game of Probabilistic Tic-Tac-Toe? “What gives us the right to claim responsibility for our victories? Do we ever truly win? Or do we just get lucky sometimes?”

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The myth about cars that’s hurting cities. “In study after study in city after city around the world, researchers have found that merchants exaggerate the share of patrons who arrive by car and undercount those who walk, bike, or ride transit.”

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According to a new report from the FBI, murders, rapes, assaults, robberies, burglaries, and vehicle theft all dropped by double-digit percentages in the US during the first three months of 2024 (compared to Q1 2023).

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The 2024 Drone Photos Awards

The nominees for the 2024 Drone Photos Awards have been announced; here are a few that caught my eye:

drone photo of a highway crossing a frozen lake

drone photo of a crowded bull ring in Mexico

drone photo of a flock of white birds flying across a green expanse

drone photo of a small town in the snow

Photos by (from top to bottom) Sheng Jiang, Roberto Hernandez, Silke Hullmann, and Hüseyin Karahan.

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Sacha Greif recently made the decision to pause his excellent design site/newsletter Sidebar. “Design content seems to have either dried up, or else been driven to platforms like Medium and Substack.”

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Neutrinos “hold the keys to new physics” but are “driving scientists crazy”. “Somehow, neutrinos went from just another random particle to becoming tiny monsters that require multi-billion-dollar facilities to understand.”

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Backcountry biker Laura Killingbeck thoughtfully weighs in on the “man or bear?” debate. “I’m literally a woman who left mankind behind to live in nature with bears. This is my actual life.”

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The Cookie Monster Alphabet

In case you or someone you know needs a little levity or pick-me-up today, might I suggest what might be the cutest thing that’s ever aired on television: a little girl named Joey and Kermit the Frog saying the alphabet.

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An in-depth look at the Etak Navigator, the first practical vehicle navigation system from 1985. GPS wasn’t available then, so the Etak used something called “augmented dead reckoning” to determine the vehicle’s location.

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The View From Earth of Different Planets Replacing the Moon

What if Mars orbited the Earth at the same distance as the Moon…what would that look like? How about Neptune? Or Jupiter? Like this:

See also what the Earth would look like with Saturn’s rings. (via @stevenstrogatz)


The “Coming to Apple TV+” reel shown at WWDC contains some tantalizing first-look clips from the second seasons of Severance and Silo.

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Three Bags Full, about a flock of whodunit-solving sheep, has been adapted into a movie written by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) and starring Hugh Jackman & Emma Thompson. The 2005 book went tiny-viral on Bluesky last year.

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A scientific investigation into bears, the cuddly apex predator: If Not Friend, Why Friend-Shaped? “Some of bears’ features-especially their chubby, rounded face-might also remind us of our own babies.”

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Cotino is a “Storyliving by Disney™ community” in the greater Palm Springs area. “Parks, pathways and a promenade will reflect the imagination of Disney Imagineering.”

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AI Can Ruin Movies Now, Too

YouTuber Nerrel takes James Cameron to task for releasing 4K remasters of Aliens and True Lies that have been, well, ruined by using AI to clean them up.

The best 4k releases tend to follow a pretty simple template: clean and scan the negative, repair any obvious signs of damage, and restore the colors to match the original grading, with as little meddling beyond that as possible. The process should not be about modernizing the style or forcing film to look like digital video. 35mm film was capable of incredible picture quality, and 4k is the first home format capable of delivering most of that detail — that should be enough. A well done 4k is like having a pristine copy of the original negative to watch in your own home, with the full data from that celluloid — grain and detail alike — digitally preserved forever. And that’s the problem with deep learning algorithms — they can’t preserve details. They make their best guess about what an object is supposed to be, then pull new details out of their digital assholes and smear them across the screen.

If Hollywood and one of its best directors don’t care enough about their movies to do them right, how are they supposed to convince us to care about their movies?

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The Verge: the 13 biggest announcements from Apple’s developer conference, including their AI plans and new OS features.

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“There have been more gun suicides than gun homicides in the United States every year for the past 25 years. Yet the harm inflicted on communities by suicides rarely registers in the national debate over guns.”

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“Elephants call each other by name and respond when they hear others call their name, according to new research.”

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1982 DC Comics Style Guide

color palettes of DC superheroes

Wonder Woman from three different angles

Batman from three different angles

Standards Manual is gearing up for a new release: a reproduction of the DC Comics Style Guide from 1982.

Reproduced from a rare original copy, the book features over 165 highly-detailed scans of the legendary art by José Luis García-López, with an introduction by Paul Levitz, former president of DC Comics.

First issued in 1982, the Style Guide aimed to assist licensees in delivering a consistent look for DC’s Super Heroes. The reissue is based on the original copy held by Standards Manual, containing an amalgam of pages added by the owners of the original from ‘82 to ‘85.

Comics nerds, get in there.

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Tapping the sign: the important differences between patriotism & nationalism. “Patriotism: pride in who you are. Nationalism: pride in who you aren’t.”

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Guy Who Sucks At Being A Person Sees Huge Potential In AI. “Deep down [he] has absolutely zero understanding of what makes things good, enjoyable, or rewarding.”

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Maris Kreizman argues for adding full credit pages to books acknowledging everyone who worked on them. “How lovely it is to be seen and appreciated.”

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Wake Up Dead Man will be the third film in the Knives Out series, starring Daniel Craig as Benoit “CSI: KFC” Blanc.

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Surprise! These Cardboard & Scotch Tape Vases Are Actually Ceramic Pots.

ceramic teapot that looks like it's made out of cardboard

ceramic pitcher that looks like it's made out of cardboard

ceramic vase that looks like it's made out of cardboard

French potter Jacques Monneraud makes ceramic pots that look like teapots, vases, and pitchers made from cardboard and scotch tape. He offers these pots for sale, but they’re unsurprisingly sold out right now. More about Monneraud & his work on his website and Instagram. (via @presentandcorrect)

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