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Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part One

May 13, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part One
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“People are reluctant to believe physical systems and human systems are of the same kind. Although social systems are more complex than physical systems, they belong to the same class of high-order, nonlinear, feedback systems as do physical systems.” Jay Forrester

Economist Steve Keen writes in Debunking Economics that his discipline is broken and needs help from other sciences. Interestingly, he does this by demonstrating inconsistencies and bad assumptions within economics. Jay Forrester proposed a “systems economics” approach and indeed his collaborators produced perhaps the most accurate long term economics forecast to date with the publication of Limits to Growth in 1972. Using systems biology as a model for reconstructing economics and borrowing from these past efforts I propose integrating into economics the hard sciences: physics and chemistry, the soft sciences: biology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and the softer sciences: anthropology, history and the more rational schools of economics. … Continue Reading

Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating

March 5, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating
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“Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. … Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall, the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider.” – Jeff Masters [1] … Continue Reading

The Party of Lincoln (Part Two)

January 23, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Party of Lincoln (Part Two)
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“The physical sciences, often called the ‘hard sciences’, are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences.” Robert M. May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, [1].

Climate Reality

On the most basic level and referring to the Robert May quote above, the study of planetary climate systems is a physical science. I’ve described most of the forcings and feedbacks previously [2]. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and has certain other physical properties which result in its being the principle greenhouse gas or thermostat of any planet similar to Earth [3]. At the temperature and atmospheric pressure at the surface of our planet carbon dioxide is a gas and is well-mixed in the atmosphere. Water by contrast is a liquid and only very reluctantly vaporizes. We have oceans of liquid water on our planet’s surface and yet very little water vapor. It is not well mixed in the atmosphere. There is very little water vapor over the Sahara or Antarctica or over any other desert. Since the temperature falls precipitously with altitude over the surface the percentage of water vapor falls dramatically as well. … Continue Reading

The Party of Lincoln

January 13, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Party of Lincoln
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“The physical sciences, often called the ‘hard sciences’, are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences.” Robert M. May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, [1].

Tony Noerpel

Executive Summary

I’ve done it again. I’ve taken a very simple theme and went crazy with it. Since this piece is much longer than anybody’s attention span, it needs an executive summary.

There is a myth in American politics that both political parties are the same so it does not really matter which one we vote for. This is not true. It is my experience that two groups of people hold this view. Those of us who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 hold this view because voting for Nader helped put George W. Bush in the White House and of course we would agree that Bush was one of the worst presidents our country ever had. Even the Republican Party did not invite the sitting president to John McCain’s nominating convention in 2008. We just don’t want to admit we made a mistake. There are many moderates who voted for Bush in 2000 who aver that both parties are just as bad, too. Those of us in this camp are also reluctant to admit we blew it. Nobody likes to admit being wrong. I certainly don’t. Well, grow up everybody. Admitting we were wrong is cathartic. It actually feels good to fess up that we screwed up. … Continue Reading

Are We Sufficiently Science Literate?

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“The only thing that stands between a man and being free is this foolish thing called greed” – “Greed”, a song by Buddy Dunlap.

The widening gap between the reality of human-caused or anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and its eventual severity on one hand and public opinion on the other in the United States is confounding. The debate is not between advocates of multiple competing hypotheses attempting to explain the observed phenomena, which is what happens in science. Rather it is an asymmetric confrontation between scientists using evidence to discover a signal and ideologues generating noise. Finding a denier signal if it exists within their noise is much more difficult than one might think [1]. However, it has been my personal experience that anybody with sufficient scientific literacy who may have been skeptical can be easily convinced of the truth of AGW by the evidence as well as by lack of evidence supporting whatever skeptical views they might have previously held. By contrast it is not easy to convince deniers because they do not know what evidence is, a sad reality which the fossil fuels industry exploits [2]. It is only by meticulously avoiding evidence that deniers can frame their case at all. … Continue Reading

Taking It Slow

December 2, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Taking It Slow
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“And I have made much more progress in recognizing the errors of others than my own.” – Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow [1].

Isn’t that the truth? Kahneman is not writing about perceiving what others do or write as errors when in fact they are not. He is describing how much easier it is to objectively observe the mistakes of others which if we committed we’d never notice. When I noticed that Nate Silver applied Bayes statistics incorrectly in his chapter on global warming in his book The Signal and the Noise, I was on it like a hawk on a small rodent [2]. I might have misapplied Bayes Rule a hundred times without noticing the errors I might have been making if I had the chance. If Silver had gotten it right in the first place, I may have never studied Bayes Rule on my own and I may never have actually applied it at all to anything. This effort on my part was very intense and exhausting but immensely rewarding. Expending considerable effort for a rather long period of time without having to exert will power is described by Kahneman as being in a “flow”. I have heard it called being in a zone. And that is where I was for the last three weeks. It was awesome; way superior to video games, television or drugs. … Continue Reading

To the Arctic: Amplified and Bayes Applied

November 27, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on To the Arctic: Amplified and Bayes Applied
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“In accordance with Bayes’ theorem, prediction is fundamentally a type of information-processing activity – a matter of using new data to test our hypotheses about the objective world, with the goal of coming to truer and more accurate conceptions about it.” Nate Silver

Forward

I like Nate Silver and I feel bad about criticizing his book “The Signal and the Noise”. But after reading his global warming chapter twice through I have to admit that he deserves the criticism. Without a doubt, when he writes about the physics of climate change for the most part he is spot on. And I applaud his effort to try to understand it. However, my critique is technically valid, no apologies there; Silver blew his Bayesian analysis. He missed a perfectly good opportunity to contribute to a reduction of the noise level of the discourse increasing it instead. This is exactly the goal of the fossil fuels industry. So long as there is lots of noise, nobody sees the signal. I sent a draft to Silver and asked for comments so he has had a chance to defend himself or do the mea culpa. He did not respond so my conscience is clear. The mistakes he makes in applying Bayesian analysis to the global warming problem include:

  • He uses false new data introducing misinformation, which has been comprehensively debunked. See ref [17].
  • He ignores true information.
  • He assumes that the climate system is memoryless.
  • He only applies the analysis to the IPCC consensus hypothesis and not to the myriad denier hypotheses.

… Continue Reading

Energy Summit Comments

November 13, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Energy Summit Comments
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Both Sustainable Loudoun’s 2013 energy summit and climate discussion went well. Kent Klitgaard the featured speaker at the energy summit, held on October 25 at GWU, called me the night before from a hospital bed in post op. He had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Obviously, he was not going to be able to travel and deliver his talk the following evening. I told him not to worry. He could send me his charts in the morning. I could review them and call him with questions and deliver the talk myself. What else was I going to do? A friend Kenneth Davidson, an antitrust lawyer who has written several books would be attending and I would invite him to participate in the Q and A discussion afterwards. We would muddle through. … Continue Reading

Climate Discussion with Climate Scientist Jennifer Francis

climate discussion

Rapid Arctic Warming and Extreme Weather Events in Mid-Latitudes: Are They Connected?

Wednesday – November 6, 2013
Music and Refreshments start at 6:00 p.m. – Program begins at 7:00 p.m.
Music by Tara Linhardt and Buddy Dunlap
Hosted by REHAU
1501 Edwards Ferry Road, NE, Leesburg, VA

Featured speaker: Jennifer Francis, PhD

“Extra heat entering the vast expanses of open water that were once covered in ice is released back to the atmosphere in the fall. This has led to an increase in near-surface, autumn air temperatures of two to five degrees C (3.6 to nine degrees F) over much of the Arctic Ocean during the past decade. All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather, both locally and on a large scale. And there are growing indications that some weather phenomena in recent years — such as prolonged cold spells in Europe, heavy snows in the northeastern U.S. and Alaska, and heat waves in Russia — may be related to Arctic amplification.” Jennifer Francis [1] … Continue Reading

Sustainable Loudoun’s Energy and Economic Forum

energy summit

“I made a mistake.” FED Chair Alan Greenspan in testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008.

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession …We have sort of become a nation of whiners” John McCain’s economic advisor, and former senator Phil Gramm in an interview with the Washington Times, July 9, 2008, eight months after the recession officially began.

“As of 2011 there is no clear agreement of what kind of economics works and what does not.” Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard, “Energy and the Wealth of Nations”.

“We often underestimate how much uncertainty there is in terms of our understanding of the economy. If you pretend that we know more than we do, you are in danger of constructing policies that can be counter-productive.” 2013 Economics Nobel Prize winner, Lars Peter Hansen [1]. … Continue Reading

Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?

August 28, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?
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“Since we have expanded by use of intelligence and detection of not necessarily sustainable gradients, continued civilization is not a foregone conclusion…. Our oil economy freeloads on photosynthetic fossil fuels, buried treasures that the rest of life passed by. But these treasures are running out.” Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan, Into the Cool, 2005.

There are at least two very good questions a reader might want to ask me, inquiries which I encourage. Why am I writing this column? What do I expect to accomplish or do I have a purpose? The short answers are that I write these columns to clear my head and my purpose, what I expect to accomplish, is to come as close to understanding reality or truth as I possibly can. It would be great to anticipate the future of Homo sapiens and to discover if we have a purpose. The latter is a quest that is limited by my own intellect and also by the information which is available to me within the time frame of my sojourn in life. The long answers are not just much longer but raise more questions. … Continue Reading

Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!

March 21, 2013 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!
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Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards Results and Ceremony Announcement

Every year REHAU, Inc. of Leesburg Virginia along with Sustainable Loudoun sponsors four awards for the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The name of the award is the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Award. The presentation ceremony will be on Wednesday April 24 at REHAU’s North America headquarters at 1501 Edwards Ferry Rd. in Leesburg. The students will display their winning projects and be available to discuss them at 6:00 p.m. Between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. entertainment will be provided by the Potomac Falls High School (PFHS) Guitar Quartet sponsored by Sand Energy. The formal program begins at 7:00 p.m. with a talk by NASA astrophysicist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools will present the awards. Refreshments will be provided by REHAU. This event is free and open to the public. … Continue Reading

The Con in Economics

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“In so far as a theory can be said to have assumptions at all, in so far as their realism can be judged independently of the validity of predictions, the relation between the significance of a theory and the realism of its assumptions is almost the opposite of that suggested by the view under criticism. Truly important and significant hypotheses will be found to have assumptions that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality and, in general, the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions.” Milton Friedman [1].

I first read this remarkable passage by Milton Friedman a few years ago in Steve Keen’s book Debunking Economics [2]. Keen is one of only twelve economists to have predicted the recent great recession [3] so he is entirely credible. Still I’m a skeptical person and with due respect to Friedman I had to read the original paper. Even assuming Keen’s quote is accurate and it is; it may have been taken out of context, and it is not. I found Friedman’s remark so outrageous that I had to comment on it, and apparently so did a whole lot of other people. I came across the original paper along with several critiques by other economists, including Paul Samuelson, and philosophers, including Ernest Nagel, in Bruce Caldwell’s book Appraisal and Criticism in Economics, A book of Readings [4]. Economic methodology is an esoteric subject even for economists but the selections in the book are interesting and expose us to yet another example of how not to think. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

Columns

The Grim Reaper and the Great Barrier

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(to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in January) “The recent frequency and intensity of mass coral bleaching are of major concern, and are directly attributable to rising atmospheric greenhouse gases.” [1]

Pearl Harbor

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By Nicholas Reid Seventy-five years ago this December 7, to quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” It will have been 75 …

Early Returns: How U.S. Markets Reacted to the Presidential Election

Smith0035

On November 8, 2016, Republican candidate Donald J. Trump won a closely contested election for president of the United States. Late on election night, when it became evident that Trump was likely to win, despite consistently trailing in the polls, …

America: Worthy of Our Trust

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel My friend and I sit in a bar near our office. He is upset, bags under his eyes due to lack of sleep. Thursday, our weekly night to meet is usually a happy hour filled with intellectual …

South Riding

South Riding

I should have known that this one would take me far from my contemplative, Zen-inspired comfort zone; after I’d traversed more construction projects than I wanted to tally, competed with hurried, coffee-driven commuters with no time for mere existence, and …

Support Group Help Needed

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Dr. Mike, My son was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago, and his pediatrician at that time recommended we try a social skills group for his “immaturity” and “impulsivity.” We did that, and our experience was horrible. The kids in …

The State of Corals

Figure 3 close up view of healthy coral polyps. [9]

(Presented to the Board of Supervisors December 6, 2016) “Events as severe as the 1998 event, the worst on record, are likely to become commonplace within 20 years.” – Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, 1999 [4] Tony Noerpel

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

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Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

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Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

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Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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Calendar

December 2016
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
November 28, 2016 November 29, 2016 November 30, 2016 December 1, 2016 December 2, 2016 December 3, 2016

Holiday Open House

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

December 4, 2016

Holiday Open House

December 5, 2016 December 6, 2016 December 7, 2016 December 8, 2016 December 9, 2016

Christmas Market and Trolley Tours

December 10, 2016

Holiday Open House

13th Annual Purcellville Christmas Parade

Barrel Tasting Event Saturday

December 11, 2016

Christmas Market and Trolley Tours

December 12, 2016 December 13, 2016 December 14, 2016 December 15, 2016 December 16, 2016 December 17, 2016

Intro to Essential Oils

December 18, 2016
December 19, 2016 December 20, 2016 December 21, 2016 December 22, 2016 December 23, 2016 December 24, 2016 December 25, 2016
December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Family New Year’s Eve Celebration

January 1, 2017

New Year's Day Musikabend

Restore & Renew

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Lifestyle

Farm Bureau President Hopes for Immigration Reform

5 Dec 2016

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Virginia Farm Bureau President Wayne F. Pryor told county delegates at the organization’s annual convention in Hot Springs that immigration reform “is an issue that has been delayed too long.” He noted that: “Work will begin on the 2018 Farm Bill next year. This is the most complex federal legislation farmers face, and it typically takes at least two years …

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Northern Virginia Chamber To Host Congressional Roundtable

5 Dec 2016

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The Northern Virginia Chamber will host its annual Congressional Roundtable on Monday, December 12, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Northern Virginia Chamber in Tysons (7900 Westpark Drive, Suite A550). The dialogue will cover several issues at the intersection of federal policy and business – federal spending, energy, trade policy, the sequestration and the effect on Northern Virginia, transportation, …

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Ugly Christmas Sweater Fad Keeps Growing

30 Nov 2016

uglysweater

Since 2012, the Re-Love It consignment shop, at 138 N. 21st Street in Purcellville, has developed the reputation as the place to get your Ugly Christmas Sweater in the Metro D.C. area. In that time, Re-Love It has sold more than 3,000 vintage Ugly Christmas Sweaters.

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Editorial

Grief and Greed

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By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

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– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

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– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

catesbyproposal

We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

It’s Our Right

catesbyproposal

On December 6, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a “Minor Special Exception” proposal we submitted earlier this year concerning our Catesby Farm property. Unfortunately, our limited …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

blueridge2

By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Warner Introduces Bill To Help Wells Fargo Victims Get Their Day in Court

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U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced legislation to give Wells Fargo customers who were victims of a fraudulent account scheme their day in court. The bank was involved in a scandal this year after it was revealed that Wells Fargo employees secretly …

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History’s Holy Places: Four Local Sites Worth Exploring This Fall

outandaboutloudoun

The Journey through Hallowed Ground is a 180-mile long, 75-mile wide trek from Gettysburg to Monticello, encompassing nine presidential homes and places, 18 national and state parks, and thousands of small and large historical sites. Dozens and dozens of these sites and related museums are short ride from just about …

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Land Trust Receives Large Donation

land trust

On August 22, The Land Trust of Virginia received a $10,000 gift from the Sharon D. Virts Foundation, based in Herndon. The presentation of this grant was part of the Foundation’s official launch event, held at Selma Plantation in Leesburg. Notable speakers included Sharon D. Virts, FCiFederal Founder and Chair, …

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Sports

Accepting Applications for Sports League Funding

30 Nov 2016

basketball

Purcellville is accepting applications from local organizations for its annual sports league funding program. Organizations must serve the Town of Purcellville area, have citizens of the Town of Purcellville as players, and provide a letter to the Town from the IRS confirming the organization’s tax exempt status in order to …

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Woodgrove High Student Will Pursue Track and Field at George Mason

30 Nov 2016

woodgrove

Puneet Kaur of Woodgrove High School has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her track and field career at George Mason University. Kaur has held the school record in shot put since her sophomore year and is looking to throw shotput, hammer, discus and maybe even the javelin …

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