a little east of reality

Friday, October 31, 2008

so far in the future it's like fortune telling

I just bought two tickets to see P!nk in June of next year. Yes, tickets for her June 2009 Funhouse tour Sydney show(s) went on sale this morning. Are they trying to catch everyone before they spend all their money on Christmas presents?


Anyway, I saw her 'I'm Not Dead' tour last year and she was fantastic. Sadly I had to be at a first aid course when those tickets went on sale and my online-purchasing-challenged friend got us tickets that were almost in the nosebleed section. Not this time, baby!

I'm giving the other ticket to Dancer Boy (aka Keyboard Kid) for Christmas and his birthday (they were bloody expensive tickets). His birthday is actually in June and he'll be fifteen, so about time he went to his first arena concert. We both love P!nk. She's so fierce!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

this may be my favourite tv commercial ever

I've always loved clever advertising. If I could draw (like, at all) that's what I would have studied at uni. This ad is so beautifully nuanced and technically sound, and it must have had a great director. In a sea of car ads babbling on about power and sleek design, the slogan 'have fun out there' is light and endearing and perfect for a car named after freedom. As for the actor, I want to drive with him to a place where you can see the sun set and then make out with him in the back of his Jeep Liberty. And I don't even care for four-wheel drives...

baby! baby! rock me gently, rock me slowly
take it easy. don't you know
that I have never been loved like this before?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

orson scott card is an idiot...oh sorry, was that unkind?

Craig posted this document (Disagree But Don't Be Unkind) from Orson Scott Card. It should not be understood from that sentence that Craig agrees with the document. I had too many problems with it to contain within one comment on his post, so I'm writing my thoughts here. I'm also including some TG/GID-related thoughts, because that's something I've been looking at a lot lately and I think there are some connected issues. This post is way long...apologies in advance.

From the document:

Legalizing gay marriage has huge legal implications far beyond letting same-sex couples enter into marriage contracts. Once "marriage" has been so radically redefined, it will become unlawful and discriminatory for schools or any other public facility to favor, for instance, heterosexual dating or dancing.
Okay firstly, as to the (largely misunderstood and sometimes made up) legal implications, OSC really needs to read this document. It is written by a member of his church and very aptly deals with the misconceptions under which he is clearly suffering. Secondly, same-sex marriage has already been legalised in many places and the things he is describing DIDN'T HAPPEN.

Homosexuality itself is simply not understood. The available evidence suggests that bisexuality is far more common than exclusive homosexuality, that same-sex attraction may be a phase in some individuals and is merely an option for others. Even where individuals feel they have no option except same-sex attraction, we do not understand the cause.
I agree. We don't know the cause. He is using that idea to argue that we shouldn't be 'rushing into' legalising same-sex marriage. In doing so he is really arguing that we cannot allow what we do not understand. I think he is missing an important point. We cannot identify the causes of sexual orientation (there are theories, but nothing definite) - which means that we therefore can no more identify how heterosexual attraction is caused than we can how homosexual attraction is caused. We understand the purpose of (hetero) attraction (to propagate the species...some people even think homosexuality is Nature's way of doing the opposite, though Nature should really take away the parenting instinct with it if it wants to achieve that goal...) but that's not the same as defining what causes a particular orientation to occur in one and not another. Card may consider heterosexual attraction a gift from God, but wouldn't that mean that, by implication, homosexual attraction is, too? Not that his religious beliefs are the defining marker here, even if he wants them to be.

According to some members and leaders in the LDS church, homosexuality is indeed from God, but not so much a gift as a burden that will bring reward if the person can only bear it long enough. (Being born with a disability is sometimes explained the same way, except of course for the major difference that acting on a handicap isn't considered a sin, whereas acting on a homosexual attraction is.) This is the most common explanation I have been given (that it's a test) and I've been a member almost my whole life. I've been thinking a lot about this issue lately - the concept that some things are just meant to be borne and do not instead indicate flaws in religious thinking- and not just in relation to homosexuality, but also in relation to gender identity disorder (the Mormon church also believes that gender is fixed, eternally. The official church handbook used by ward and stake leaders, I just found out today. indicates that persons who are considering an elective transsexual operation should not be baptized and that while persons who have already undergone an elective transsexual operation may be baptized if they are otherwise found worthy, such persons may not receive the priesthood or a temple recommend. I have no idea what the official policy is (if one exists) on people who are intersexed). Overall, the conclusion I have come to is that homosexuality (or GID) makes no logical sense as a trial, temptation or life burden. The implied personality of God in that scenario is disturbing.

In the interests of being honest, and also describing how my thinking has changed, I used to see these issues like this:
Homosexuality can be accurately described as unnatural because it denies the biological imperitive on which so much of our instinctual human behaviour is based. Therefore the LDS doctrine on homosexuality as a wrong seemed logical to me on the basis that it was unnatural. GID to me was also an anomaly, even an aberration, to nature, to the way things were supposed to happen. Often I felt that GID was caused by imposed conformity to unnecessary and often illogical society-defined gender roles (and I have to admit that in thinking this I pretty much ignored the relevence of how the Church teaches and continually reinforces traditional gender roles in its doctrine and policy). I knew very little about GID and had no understanding of the way the physical body itself (its shape, development and function, which of course is defined by biology not society) can be a major part of gender dysphoria. I think I just put both of these things in the 'too hard' basket and forgot about them. I think that was the wrong approach.

The flawed underlying premise in my previous thinking, whether I saw it or not at the time, was that 'difference is wrong'. Over the last several months I've come to the realisation that difference is...well, different. And that's all. Difference doesn't need to be threatening, or wrong. I knew that logically, and I didn't see myself as a person who feared or rejected difference, but I think I still believed it on some other level, perhaps because my belief system didn't make sense otherwise. I don't even think it (difference) is inherently good (though it is often positive and productive for various reasons).

Something that is different to the norm ('norm' defined only as what the majority of the population experience) can be described as an anomaly...it's technically accurate...but so what? I mean seriously, people born with six fingers used to be considered in some societies to be cursed or of the devil and killed at birth. In other societies these things were seen as signs of a person destined to be a shaman or spiritual leader. My point is, sometimes (often even) societies assign meaning to things that have no meaning. This is especially true in terms of religion. We want an explanation. We want to understand why things are not as we expect them to be. Because uncertainty ~ lack of a discernable reason for something happening or existing ~ makes us nervous or afraid. We start to contemplate just how little we really know or control in this life and we don't like it.

Some people think difference is to be celebrated, others that it is to be tolerated, and still others that it is to be shunned or hidden. I think it depends on the difference at hand. I also think that there is a big difference between believing something (which everyone has the right to do as they choose) and legislating it. I like to use Mill's harm principle for these decisions. It's not strictly applicable in the sense that the principle refers to personal choices, and there's no denying that homosexuality and GID in almost every case is not a choice (I say 'almost' only as an acknowledgement that the feminist movement in its more radical forms did spawn a small number of 'political lesbians'). But the point is that if it doesn't harm other people (and causing offence is not considered a harm), it shouldn't be legislated against. Even if people really believe that a person is hurting themselves in doing some particular thing, they should not legislate to prevent the action.

And to be clear, my understanding of these issues, apart from what I've already explained above, is now is more like this:
I do not know why some people are homosexual or experience GID. I have not seen any convincing evidence that either of these things are caused by environment or upbringing. I assume there is a cause just as there are causes for all matters to do with human development and exceptions to the usual course of human development, but I acknowledge that we may never be able to define what that cause is. I don't think it matters, morally, if we ever can. Regardless of whether or not they are statistically anomalous, these things are real. That is a truth.
Religious belief should not be legislated. The Harm Principle should determine whether or not an action is allowed or forbidden in the law. (For the record, this is not something that has changed. I've never believed that religious beliefs (mine or anyone else's) should be imposed on others by law.) Impact on religious belief is not a valid reason to prevent an action or state that does not violate the Harm Principle. As an example, the above reasoning would allow marriage between two adults of any sex (and actually more than two as well), but wouldn't allow marriage to a cat or a child, because neither a cat nor a child can give legal consent and others are responsible for protecting them from (in the case of children even self-inflicted) harm.

The best evidence is that children are most likely to be reproductively viable -- i.e., able to mate successfully in circumstances likely to produce children who grow up to be reproductively viable -- when they have two parents, one of the same sex, and one of the opposite sex.
Given that statistically most gay people have straight parents, I do not see how this can possibly be true.

Growing up with opposite-sex parents, but in a society that has normalized and actively promotes one-sex marriages, will certainly affect the children of opposite-sex parents, potentially tipping the balance for children whose sexual identity is still formable.
I am stomping my feet under the desk.
1. No-one is talking about 'actively promoting' same-sex marriage. And even if they were, they would only be promoting it to people who are already gay, because hello, straight people are not going to consider same-sex marriage just because the advertising is good ~ this isn't a decision between holidaying at the beach or in the mountains, for crying out loud ~ and that being the case they would actually just be promoting the idea of marriage, full stop. That's wrong how?
2. 'will certainly affect the children of opposite-sex parents'
By itself, I agree. They may become more tolerant and less likely to bully other children for their sexual orientation or for the situation of their parents. I'd be cool with that.
3. 'will certainly affect the children of opposite-sex parents, potentially tipping the balance for children whose sexual identity is still formable'
With the rest of the sentence, that's a crock. Sexual identity is not formable in the way he's claiming it is.
Yet we are proceeding headlong into a vast social experiment whose consequences, as far as we can see, risk serious damage to many in order to create only the most marginal benefit for a few.What's the hurry? Why the hostility toward even the slightest opposition? Can't our opponents wait to get their way until they have persuaded a clear majority?
Setting aside the obvious point that no, as far as we can see, legal same-sex marriage does not 'risk serious damage to many in order to create only the most marginal benefit for a few'...wait for what? How should that persuasion take place? Political action is appropriate and seeking rights and recognition in the law IS a form of persuasion. It brings issues to the attention of society and allows a decision to be made. If Proposition 8 fails in November, it will be because a majority HAVE BEEN persuaded.

Can't they listen to people with ideas that are different from theirs?
Can you, OSC?

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What Debi, and her friend Brian, said.

I've been pretty absent lately. Uni ends this weeks and I am so behind I'm kind of reverse lapping myself. Next week all the many thoughts in my head will come a-blogging out, never fear.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

twilight movie

Okay, I've been as wicked an anyone else at mocking the Twilight books. Regardless (does anyone else hate it when people write 'irregardless' when they mean 'regardless'?) of the fact that I've read all four of the books and can honestly say I enjoyed them, I did it in spite of Bella being a whiney girl and the author totally wimping out in the fourth (and last) book of the series when it came to giving Bella everything she wanted without any real sacrifice. She was prepared to give certain things up, but was never called upon to do so. She also never had to take responsibility for the selfish side of her choice (Meyer gave her extraordinary control and therefore the fact that she willingly chose to become a vampire knowing it could mean that she killed humans as an out-of-control newborn vamp was conveniently brushed under the carpet). And don't get me started on the huge build-up to the war that never happens. The book was much weaker for her (Meyer's) cowardice.

Having said all that, can I just say that the Twilight trailer rocks and I can't wait to see the movie?!! I admit I was concerned when the first poster I saw (<---this one) made the supposedly beautiful-beyond-comprehension Edward look sick and pasty, but he looks decent in the trailer. I think Bella is perfectly cast. She actually comes across in the trailer as being stronger and more confident than the character is in the book, but I have no issue with that alteration. It will be a better movie that way.

What the heck is up with the Australian cinema release being 11 December...almost a full month after the US (17 November)? Too cruel.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

sequined speedos?

I've been watching the first season of Project Catwalk, the UK version of Project Runway. One of the judges was particularly nasty: Julien McDonald (pictured here with the finalists). The man described as 'Britain's top designer' was a right bastard pretty much all the way through. Some of his insults include:

It's probably one of the most horrendous things I've ever seen in my life...It's terribly made, it's ugly, it's unflattering to the female figure...

It does nothing for your model. It looks like a...sausage really.

I hate this dress. You look frumpy in it.

This, it's so boring. It's bland. It looks like a white sack. It's really, really bad.

It looks like your model has eaten a couture gown and then been sick all over it.

Put this jacket where it belongs - in the bin - and focus on things that you're good at.

Now after listening to this top designer grind the contestants into dust on the catwalk, I was pretty excited to learn that in the last episode we would get to see part of his London fashion week show. He must be brilliant, right?

Wrong. This is a screenshot from the show. Not everything in the show was horrible, but there were some truly ugly pieces, and the collection as a whole was not very coherant. I liked the final collection from every one of the three finalists (Deb, Matthew, Kirsty) better than Julien's collection.

You're thinking those speedos are pretty colourful, yeah? Well check out the back of them. If that was a costume for Sydney Mardi Gras I'd be nodding in agreement, but no, it was a 'fashion' piece. I mean the fact that he was making a fashion piece of a pair of budgie smugglers says it all really.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

look and choose not to leap

The most important thing Matt says here is, "I don't understand why more people aren't talking about how absurd it is".

I honestly think that even Republicans should be rejecting this woman, and rejecting McCain because she is the string attached to his presidency and he allowed that to happen. Nobody...NOBODY... in the US (and countries like mine that are directly affected by the decisions of the US government) is going to benefit from having this woman as president. It's just a very, very bad idea.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

extra! extra! read all about it!

Gemma Arterton has revealed she "was born with the condition known as polydactyly, which affects one in every thousand children." Actually Wiki claims the figure is more like 1 in 500, but the number is predominantly high amongst Africans and the article may have been giving the figure for Australia, or maybe the UK from whence Arterton hails.

Okay, so the most recent births figure I could find was for 2006. In that year there were 265,900 births in australia. That means that in one year, around 265 babies are born in Australia with extra fingers or toes. I find that flabbergasting. How is it that I have never heard of a single baby with this condition? You'd think word would get around. I know one person who was born with six fingers on each hand (Garry Sobers...six toes on each foot as well), but he's in his 70s and he was the only one I ever knew, so I always thought the condition was much more rare.

Apart from garden variety genetic flaws like myopia (short-sightedness), I only have one interesting-ish oddity ~ an extra vertebrae. My dad and my sister are both missing the two teeth in between the front teeth and the canines. My dad never got wisdom teeth. I only had one before it was taken out, and it was small and thin. My mum's right hand little finger is bent and two of her sisters have exactly the same feature.

Genetics is so fascinating. Anyone else got any interesting genetic oddities or extras?

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

fabulous advice for anyone dealing with debt

I may need to email this like spam to everyone in my address book.

Okay I won't. But I want to.
I got the link from someone's blog. I'll credit them properly when I figure out whose it was.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

10 out of 10 people like me enjoy 8 out of 10 cats

Ahhhh, so nice to have the new season of 8 Out of 10 Cats back to delight me. This line from host Jimmy Carr re Sarah Palin:
Sarah Palin brings beauty, enthusiasm and charm to a job that requires experience, integrity and common sense.
Very nice. My only problem with that sum-up is that I find her neither beautiful or charming, and enthusiastic about all the wrong things.

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speak to me in the language of molière

Last night I watched Molière. (Yes, I do sometimes follow up a movie in the cinema with a DVD at home. Because I can.) It's made me want to read/watch/find out more about his plays, mainly because of the implication in the movie that he reinterpreted comedy (of the time) to transform it from mere farce to something that exposed the tragedy of life and allowed people to laugh in spite of it. This is such an important element of good comedy plays/movies today that it intrigues me, the idea of who did it first and how they did it.

It's like when I found out that I Love Lucy was the first American sitcom. It was the first time I'd ever considered that (of course...duh!) someone had to have done this first. When something becomes so mainstream, it's easy to forget that someone pioneered it. I remember a friend saying that she didn't enjoy reading Tolkien because he seemed so derivative (not realising at the time that all the other similar fantasy she'd read was actually derivative of him (not that he didn't borrow from older mythologies, but still...).

I felt the same when I saw a (wonderful) Vivienne Westwood exhibition a few years ago. The first section was all punk fashion and it looked so genuine, but also so typical...until it suddenly dawned on me that she was designing these clothes when nothing else like it existed. Her clothes reflected a sentiment, eventually a movement, represented in emerging music at the time, but not yet captured in fashion. The wearers, who nowadays would barely rate a stare from passersby, were often threatened in public. Train guards sometimes had to protect punks from being bashed on public trains. Imagine that scenario now! But punk (music, later fashion) represented not only rebellion against conformity, but a sharp, critical honesty that people resented about UK society at that time.

So interesting, too, this relationship between music and fashion. I was explaining grunge fashion to Keyboard Kid the other night (he's so young! Imagine being so young that you don't know what grunge is...freaks me out), not only what it was, but how it grew initially out of the desire of bands in the Seattle music scene to return something more real and honest and unprettied (music-wise) after the synthetic, over-synthesised glam of the 80s. The clothes didn't represent that (initially) but was just what the bands wore because it was cheap and easy and they were more focussed on the music. It's almost ironic that it became a fashion in the first place.

I had an idea recently for a novel, something I haven't seen anywhere else. I have no doubt that someone else has probably done it before, but it's such an intriguing daydream, to picture sending something to a publisher that is entirely new to them. Entirely new and intriguing.

Which brings me back to Molière. Lovely film if you're in the mood for reading subtitles ~ funny, poignant, occasionally heart-wrenching. But mostly funny.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

movie review: angus, thongs and perfect snogging


Monday was a public holiday here, so I got along to the flicks with a friend from work.

I had pretty high hopes for this movie (here's the trailer) as it was made by the same people who did Bend it Like Beckham. Where that movie was clever, funny and offbeat, this one was insightful, but a little over-directed. It actually reminded me of Bridget Jones' Diary, but of course BJD is told from the wry perspective of a single woman in her early thirties who knows how the world works (even if she is a little proud or cynical), whereas the wisdom imparted in A, T & PS is the 'wisdom' of 15-year-olds who think they know how the world works, except of course when they're obsessing over not knowing how the world works. Therein lies most of the comedy.

What I liked:
  • This was an accurate (albeit scary) flashback into the mind and life of the inexperienced 15-year-old high school girl. They have a lot of plans, based on theories, that never quite pan out the right way. And total embarrassment is always looming just inches away...daring you to try to be cooler than you are.
    The total sex god (read: guy she likes) is truly wow. When I first saw him I was a bit 'meh', but then he started talking and later we see him play bass in his band, and then I was wistfully wishing I was fifteen again and could legally drool over him. His brother is hotter, but less attractive. Coolness is so much more than looking pretty. ^_^
  • Her Emma-style comeupance (see below).

What I didn't like:

  • Her Emma-style comeupance came too late in the piece and the prerequisite Sixteen Candles happy ending followed it too conveniently and soon. It felt like it just got real and deeper...and then it was gone. Don't get me wrong, I expected (and wanted) the happy ending, but the timing (whether of the writer or the movie editor) wasn't perfect.
  • The over-direction. What I found was the dramatic parts of the movie were lovely, and very naturally acted, whereas the comedy sometimes felt contrived or manufactured, which I attribute to the too heavy hand of the director trying to make it funnier and instead stifling it. This is where the film compared least favourably with Bend it Like Beckham, because the comedy in that movie came right out of real life and real cross-cultural/dysfunctional family mayhem, and never felt contrived. Ditto for Bridget Jones' Diary, where even the ridiculous seemed entirely plausible.
Still, there were moments in this movie that were perfectly done. The scene where she's learning about snogging (from a guy whose hair is just awful) had us convulsing in our seats and every scene where Georgia and Robbie speak alone is wonderful. I came out of the theatre having one of those 'if only I could go back to high school knowing what I know now' daydreams. So many cool things to relive and so many mistakes I could now avoid. I also feel like I would know exactly how to handle that bitchy girl. You know the one.

Big plug for the band from the movie, the Stiff Dylans:

Extra song for fans: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj15INiHT5o

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging: Save it for DVD and a night when you feel like a bit of silliness. 3 stars (and maybe an extra half a star for the British accents and slang).

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

“for the female of the species is more deadly than the male.” apparently...

From the movie I just watched:

Steve (who is gay) comes in and throws his coat at his flatmate, Michael, because Michael told his girlfriend a huge secret of Steve's.
Michael: It's not my fault!! You wouldn't understand. She's a woman! They have their ways!
Steve: Oh what, she hypnotised you with her feminine wiles?
Michael: [Wide eyed and desperate.] Yes! Yes! Yes she did. She did actually.
I don't think I got to that class in girl school. Hmmm. Gotta get me some of them there wiles. What aisle are they in again?

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just in case

From Sean's blog, the best advice any American is going to get this year:

Just in case you forgot, just in case you don't know when the deadline is, just in case you know someone who turned 18 this year and might not realise the power of the people that exists in voting.

Just in case there's anybody reading this who hasn't yet realised that the people who control the world really do not want the average person (let alone the poor) to recognise the power of the vote.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

the pen is mightier than the keyboard

A friend sent me a bookmark today, a real flower with five loose petals. He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me...you get the picture. It was sweet and slightly goofy. I like it. It came with a birthday card (I haven't mailed hers so we're about on par) and in an envelope made out of a map of Denver (which is where she lives).

I'm expecting a postcard soon from Ireland. I'm kinda hoping it has pictures on it, but not holding my breath as the sender was in a big hurry getting organised to leave for home. I'm really just wishing for art because he sent me another letter one time that was, letter and envelope, a fun, arty little one-off.

There's a guy I adored in high school ~ first love and all that. I still have every note he wrote me in class. Every five years or so I get nostalgic and read them. Most are completely random and very high school, but they're in his handwriting and although I left him behind a long time ago, I have no desire to throw the notes away. Too much lovely history in their small, folded pages. I don't have the one letter he wrote me (I suspect my mother found it!) O_O!

Handmade, hand-written, hand drawn. I light up when I get an email from someone I love or miss, but even if I print it out, it's not the paper they touched, penned, shaded. I think this holiday season the e-card is out. I'm sitting down with the big pile of blankness and writing some love.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

editing project crunch time

This semester my major editing project is (we choose/create our own) to create small training manual specifically targeted at coaches teaching wheelchair table tennis players. My dad is the author and is therefore providing the bulk of the content. He's been coaching wheelies for over thirty years and has coached some players all the way to the Paralympics, so he knows what he's talking about. My role is managing editor, which is basically an editor and project manager rolled into one.

Well, the thing is due in a few weeks and I am SO BEHIND. Maybe everyone is experiencing similar panic to do all the last minute stuff, but that's not going to help my grade any.

Getting the content was initially like pulling hen's teeth. My dad is great verbally, but with the written not so much. Luckily my superhero mother stepped in and offered to type as he dictates her. She is also helping with a lot of the re-writing (when the edits go back from me) and has been generally so excellent that she's going to be the subject of a glowing acknowledgement.

Anyway, it's definitely getting to the pointy end of the project. Apart from the editing itself, I have a number of copyright permissions not yet received for photos and illustrations we want to use. Etc, etc, etc. Lots of fiddly stuff. Suffice it to say that I will be spending my long weekend (Monday is a holiday here) up to my eyeballs in editing work.

I like editing, but it's not so much fun when you're under the gun. I am looking forward to making better progress with it though.

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