Vaccine misallocations only increase Americans’ faith in bigger government?

Compared to a purely private system, in which vaccine vendors merely shipped product to customers who’d ordered it, you might think that one advantage of top-down centrally managed vaccine allocation would be that vaccines would be rushed to the states that are suffering the worst plague at any given moment. “CDC director says Michigan can’t vaccinate its way out of COVID-19 surge” (ABC):

The answer to Michigan’s COVID-19 surge is “to close things down,” according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, not an increase in vaccine supply that the state’s governor and other public health experts have called for.

Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared her state a “COVID hotspot” as cases continue to rise and has asked the federal government to increase vaccines in response.

“I believe government’s role is, when we can’t take action to protect ourselves, the government must step in,” Whitmer said on Monday. “That’s where we were a year ago. That’s where we were four months ago. We’re in a different moment. Every one of us has the ability and knowledge to do what it takes.”

“If we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening is Michigan, we will be disappointed it took so long for the vaccine to work,” said Walensky. “We know that if vaccines go in arms today, we will not see an effect of those vaccines, depending on the vaccine for somewhere between two to six weeks.”

(The comment shows that #Science is completely different in the UK and the US. In the UK, the two-dose vaccines work well enough after one shot that the second can be delayed (in order to maximize the number of people who get the first dose). In the U.S, a shot that is considered effective in the U.K. is considered useless until 6 weeks later (two weeks after the second shot.)

Meanwhile, the New York Times says that Michigan is unable to use the vaccine that it has been sent: “Ms. Whitmer has pleaded with the White House to send extra doses, even as her state has used just 78 percent of those delivered so far.” Maybe this is an example of “The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous.” (Screenplay for an adaptation of Orwell’s 1984). The federal government would rather see a governor closing schools, businesses, etc. than actually stop the virus. If not, though, refusing to send extra vaccine to an extra-plagued state seems to contradict common sense. Why not send vaccines and, if necessary, personnel qualified to deliver them, to the areas of the U.S. that are suffering from the highest case/death rate? Then wait two weeks (UK #Science) or six weeks (US #Science) for the plague to recede.

How about when there is no crisis? Can we still generate a mismatch between supply and demand? “Want a COVID shot now? You may have to leave the Bay Area” (Mercury News):

Anxious for a COVID shot? The state will open appointments up to everyone in another week, but you may not even have to wait that long — if you’re willing to drive a few extra miles to get the jab.

A handful of vaccination sites, faced with a surplus of shots, have opened their doors wide to all adults, regardless of age, employment status, medical history or where they live. All California adults 16 and older will be eligible starting April 15, but until then, demand for vaccinations and rules for who can get one vary widely from county to county and even clinic to clinic. That means finding an appointment has turned into something of an Easter egg hunt for determined Bay Area vaccine seekers, many of whom are too desperate to wait another week or worry shots will become even harder to come by once everyone in the state is eligible. Plus, the state has confirmed it expects its supply of vaccines to drop in the coming weeks, likely slowing first-dose appointments and adding to the anxiety.

UC Davis Medical Center this week began offering vaccines to all California residents 16 and older after as many as 1,500 appointments were going unused each day.

“We decided it was better to fill those appointments with people eager to be vaccinated, rather than leave slots unfilled as we waited for the calendar to turn to April 15,” spokeswoman Tricia Tomiyoshi wrote in an emailed statement. “Every vaccination is a step closer to ending this pandemic.”

It turns out that California state government, one of the most lavishly funded enterprises in human history, is no better at allocating scarce items than was the Soviet government. Thus, we have the scenes that Americans used to deride the Soviets for, e.g., people lining up once they hear that something is available, one traveling to obtain a scarce item for which a surplus exists somewhere else.

See also this Washington Post article on how vaccine doses are piling up in federal government warehouses (like at the end of Indiana Jones) because states, e.g., plague-ridden Michigan, aren’t ordering them (due to an inability to organize and use the vaccine doses that they already have). North Carolina didn’t order their vaccine doses because it was spring break and a worldwide emergency severe enough to shut down education, social life, work, gym, suspend the Constitution (e.g., First Amendment right to assemble), etc. wasn’t enough of an emergency to force a change of plans.

One might think that the above would shake Americans’ determination to expand the size and role of the government, but instead the opposite seems to be occurring. It is a mystery to me!

(On the other hand, we could also argue that the toilet paper, paper towel, and hand sanitizer shortages of spring 2020 show that the market economy can’t cope either. The big stores weren’t willing to raise prices such that the market cleared in an Econ 101 fashion. To sell Charmin at 2-3X the regular price would have tarnished their reputation via an accusation of price gouging and profiteering. On the other hand, paper towels and toilet paper were never truly unavailable here in the Boston area. We had to buy brands we weren’t familiar with and in small quantities, e.g., at CVS and the local small grocery store, because the big box stores were sold out at their regular prices.)

Related:

  • American central planners tackle vaccine scarcity (December 31, 2020): I wonder if something more like a market economy could have done this better. The bureaucrats can send free vaccine doses to hospitals, medical and dental offices, and nursing homes. Whatever is left over goes to whatever clinic or facility bids the highest. The bidding process is necessary to ensure that clinics that have the most streamlined and efficient procedures are the ones who will get the vaccine and also to ensure that clinics won’t let doses get spoiled or expire. … At least to judge by my Facebook feed, there are a lot of suburban white and Asian Americans who feel that the cost of lockdown is negligible. They’re happy to work from home (4,000 to 6,000 square feet), order deliveries, refrain from socializing in person. These folks don’t need a vaccine because if the government recommends that they stay home for the next 5 years they will cheerfully comply. But, on the other hand, there is no central database of the Happily Shutdown. Thus, the market would be the best way to keep these folks from clogging up the vaccine line. They know that they’ll be home for another year or two, so why should they pay $500 for a shot? They’ll wait for the price to come down to $100.
  • “Nearly 40% of Marines decline COVID-19 vaccine, prompting some Democrats to urge Biden to set mandate for military” (USA Today)
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If it takes weeks of paperwork to get across a border, what’s the point of a supersonic airliner?

Some of my aviation friends are excited about “Aerion is working on a Mach 4+ supersonic airliner for 50 passengers”:

Aerion is looking beyond the 2027 launch of its AS2 supersonic business jet for the ultra-rich, to something for the rest of us. The AS3TM, if it gets built, would be a 50-passenger supersonic commercial airliner capable of speeds over Mach 4.

That’s at least twice the maximum speed of the venerable Concorde, and represents a ground speed somewhere over 3,000 mph (4,800 km/h). That would mean LA to Tokyo in under three hours, according to Aerion, instead of nearly 12 hours on today’s airliners.

The AS3TM would have a range around 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km, 8,055 miles). If that’s a genuine, usable range figure and doesn’t include mandated fuel reserves, it’s enough to handle most long-haul routes outside the top 10 longest flights in the world. Aerion eventually wants to let people travel between any two points on the globe in three hours or less.

I don’t get it. If we assume that Covid variants are with us forever, thus rendering vaccines only partially effective, then coronapanic will be with us forever, thus rendering borders mostly closed except to those with a lot of patience for paperwork, time for testing, etc. If you have several weeks to spare on the paperwork effort, why don’t you have a few extra hours to stretch out in the First Class cabin of a big Airbus or Boeing?

Maybe this could be useful for the super-rich? If a rich guy/girl/other bought a Boeing Business Jet or Airbus Corporate Jet, why wouldn’t he/she/ze/they buy an AS3 in executive configuration when it is time to go supersonic?

Related:

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How to run a quota-based operation in a transgender-friendly manner?

Pilot friends are still talking about the new United Airlines training operation in which half of the slots are reserved for people who fall into one or more victimhood categories (white women, Black men, anyone “of color”, etc.; see Fly the Quota Skies).

I’m a little confused as to how this can operate in a world where we recognize that gender ID, and therefore victimhood group membership, is fluid, transitory, and unmoored to our DNA and anatomy.

Suppose that Larry Localizer identifies as a “white male” through age 18. She decides, shortly before applying to train/work at United Airlines, that Loretta Localizer is a better fit for her current gender ID. If questioned, Loretta says “I am large, I contain multitudes [of gender IDs].” Loretta qualifies under whatever reduced standards United has for the “quota half” of the pool and is admitted. When she arrives on campus, however, she says “Call me Larry. I experienced some gender dysphoria over the summer and now I identify as a man.”

Now United’s carefully chosen mixture of trainees is messed up due to an excess of student pilots identifying as white males. I can see how a skin color-based quota system could work, assuming that applicants are denied the use of makeup or tanning beds, because United could apply an objective test with a color temperature meter. But how does a quota system based on gender ID work at an employer that #FollowsScience regarding LGBTQ?

United Airlines supports the “Transgender Law Center”, from which they might be hearing if they were to terminate Loretta/Larry due to her/his/zis/their gender fluidity.

Related:

  • “What it means to be gender-fluid” (CNN): For some people, gender is not just about being male or female; in fact, how one identifies can change every day or even every few hours. Gender fluidity, when gender expression shifts between masculine and feminine, can be displayed in how we dress, express and describe ourselves. [and how we apply for jobs at United!] Everyone’s gender exists on a spectrum, according to Dot Brauer, director of the LGBTQA Center at the University of Vermont. Progressive gender expression is the norm for the university, which offers gender-neutral bathrooms and allows students to use their preferred names.
  • “What Does It Mean to Be Gender Fluid? Here’s What Experts Say” (Health.com, reminding us to listen to “experts”): Because gender fluidity means not having a fixed, single sense of your gender, that gender could shift over time—during the course of a day, weeks, months, or years. “Whatever form gender fluidity takes, it is important to remember that it is a valid gender identity. It is not being flaky or ‘going through a phase,’” says Eckler. “So many other aspects of ourselves ebb and flow and shift that it only makes sense that our gender can, too.”
  • Facebook uses a Malibu-flying engineering manager to promote careers in engineering… (in which Facebook sends a pilot who identified as a “man” for 51 years to show teenagers identifying as “women” how easy it is to succeed in the world of nerds)
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Hyundai electric cars actually do have dog mode

Although I have new respect for Elon Musk due to his scorn for coronapanic and his success with SpaceX, I still don’t love the idea of driving a Tesla (no Apple CarPlay, dashboard replaced by an oddly-placed screen, the image of being a climate zealot (like the jet fuel-pumping Bill Gates!)). Hyundai has all of the bones for a good dog mode, so to speak, e.g., a big battery and an efficient heat pump. This presumably extends to Hyundai’s sister car company, Kia, which just released the EV6 (charge for 4.5 minutes to drive 60 miles… after driving 60 miles to the nearest high-speed charging location).

The clever British have figured out that dog mode already exists in Hyundai EVs. It is buried in the menu structure as “utility mode” and locking the car while in this mode requires using the mechanical key (buried inside the electronic key).

I don’t think I would buy one until I had verified at the dealership that this works on a U.S.-spec car.

One good thing about Hyundai and Kia is that they remain eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, unlike Tesla. So if you’re a high-income person you can enjoy the spectacle of low-income Americans being forced to work longer hours to pay for a portion of your shiny new car.

Tesla anecdote: I asked an engineer friend if he still liked his Tesla 3. He said that he did, but his wife (a doctor) hated it, finding the “autopilot” jerky/scary. “I enjoy monitoring the system,” he said. I’m consistently confused by the conflation of attempted self-driving and electrification. Why should we expect an electric-powered car to drive any differently than a Toyota Camry? We used up so much energy plugging the thing in every night that now we’re too tired to turn the steering wheel?

Where will we charge this thing? “Biden’s spending plans could remake the economy, says Nobel Prize winner Stiglitz” As in Aladdin, it will be A Whole New World:

A Nobel Prize-winning economist says he not only endorses President Biden’s expected $4 trillion infrastructure spending plan, but expects that it could break the U.S. out of the low-growth, low-inflation environment that has existed for the past 20 years.

See also “Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan calls for EV rebates, 500,000 charging stations”.

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The idiots who said that marijuana legalization would be the gateway for harder drugs…

For those fools who objected to legalizing marijuana because it would open the door to social acceptance of more harmful drugs…. “This Heroin-Using Professor Wants to Change How We Think About Drugs” (New York Times, April 10, 2021):

Carl L. Hart, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, … confides that he has used heroin regularly for the last four years and describes the time he took morphine daily for three weeks in order to experience withdrawal.

Dr. Hart argued that most of what you think you know about drugs and drug abuse is wrong: that addiction is not a brain disease; that most of the 50 million Americans who use an illegal drug in a given year have overwhelmingly positive experiences; that our policies have been warped by a focus only on the bad outcomes; and that the results have been devastating for African-American families like his own.

Unlike past academic advocates for drug use, like Timothy Leary and Baba Ram Dass, who both experimented with L.S.D. at Harvard University, Dr. Hart rejects as “self-serving” the distinction between so-called good drugs, like psychedelics, and more maligned substances, like heroin and methamphetamine. All, he said, have their place.

What to do with all of the COVID vaccination sites once smart humans have shown the dumb virus who is boss?

A next step, Dr. Hart said, should be setting up testing sites nationwide where users can determine the purity and strength of their drugs — anathema to researchers like Dr. Madras, who say that anything that “normalizes” drug use leads to more use by adolescents — but essential for saving lives, Dr. Hart said.

He held out little hope that such sites would appear any time soon.

But he noted a twist during his time in the field. When he started, his students wanted to explore the dangers of drugs. Now they see more harm in drug prohibitions, he said.

(For the record, I am personally against the War on Drugs because it leads to an expansion of the government in general and the police state in particular. But I do think that alcohol should be cut way back (see Reintroduce Prohibition for the U.S.? and Use testing and tracing infrastructure to enforce alcohol Prohibition?) and I wouldn’t be telling folks to pick up heroin at the Safeway.)

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Pacific Islanders won’t be safe on Uber?

Email received from the Righteous of Uber:

Let’s break this down a little…

The hate and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is heartbreaking.

There is hatred and violence against Group A and Group B.

We stand with our Asian-American friends, community, and team to strongly denounce these frightening and painful acts of hate.

Uber stands only with Group A (Asian Americans). Group B (Pacific Islanders) can fend for itself with private cars, public transit, walking, or perhaps sheltering in place? (14 days to flatten the curve on racism?)

Separately… “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber.” (is this another way to say “intolerance will not be tolerated” or is it more complex?)

Related:

  • Uber stands with the Black community (but won’t hire more than 0.8 percent Black “teach leaders”); Uber’s only email to me on the subject of #BLM was in June 2020. Apparently it was “one and done” for what Uber said were “problems we have faced for centuries”.
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Should one stay off Facebook, Instagram, et al. following the death of a parent?

Judaism requires that one refrain from attending social gatherings for a year following the death of a parent. From “Shiva and Other Mourning Observances” (Chabad):

Even as the mourner resumes his or her everyday routine after the Shivah, certain mourning practices, such as not purchasing or wearing new clothes, cutting one’s hair, enjoying music or other form of entertainment, and participating in joyous events (weddings, etc.), are continued for a period of thirty days (beginning from the day of the burial).

In the case of a person mourning the passing of a parent, these mourning practices extend for a full year.

Other sites clarify that “purely social gatherings”, “parties”, or any event in which music is played are off limits.

How do we translate this into our modern world that was increasingly anti-social even before coronapanic? What are the best examples of frivolous social activities that are incompatible with the status of mourning a relative (for a month) or parent (for a year)? My vote: Facebook and similar social networks.

Prior to my father’s precipitous decline (perhaps coincidence, but it was a week after receiving Pfizer Covid vaccine shot #2), my own Facebook presence was certainly frivolous. Some examples:

If Facebook had been around in 1599, surely Hamlet would have reproached Gertrude for posting on Facebook so soon after the death of his father:

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

might have been

Likes, Likes, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
Did go positively viral on Instagram.

Facebook makes people unhappy (New Yorker, 2013; and also a 2019 study), so we could perhaps argue that using it doesn’t violate the letter of the Jewish law against participating in joyous gatherings. I’m not an Orthodox Jew, but I think that the law makes sense and that social media is against the spirit of the law if not the letter.

Readers: What do you think? Should the mourner of a parent be on Facebook? If so, after how many months?

Related:

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Fact-checking Donald Trump’s predictions regarding COVID vaccine availability

From September 18, 2020, an Unscientific American who was “without evidence” and who contradicted “experts”:

From the linked-to article

President Trump said Friday that every American would have access to a coronavirus vaccine by April, contradicting his own statement of two days earlier and sowing deeper confusion about the process and timing of vaccine approval and distribution.

When Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said earlier in the week that the general public was unlikely to get access to a vaccine until the second and third quarters of 2021, echoing other scientific leaders in the administration, Trump said he’d misspoken.

“I think he made a mistake with that statement,” Trump said Wednesday. “When he said it, I believe he was confused. I’m just telling you we’re ready to go.”

Trump then said a vaccine would be ready in weeks and swiftly made available, despite the fact that no one knows yet when sufficient data will be collected from clinical trials to show that one of the vaccines in late-stage trials is effective or safe.

What do we have from science-guided leadership (and we are assured that leadership is important in determining COVID-19 death rate)? “Biden announces April 19 deadline to make all adults eligible for Covid vaccine” (NBC):

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19 … The new deadline to expand eligibility — which is two weeks earlier than Biden had previously targeted — should not be difficult to meet since several states have already begun administering the vaccine to anyone over 16 who wants it.

“The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight think we are at the finish line already,” Biden said. “Let me be deadly earnest with you, we aren’t finished. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still in a life and death race against this virus. Until we get more people vaccinated we need everyone to wash their hands, socially distance and mask up.”

Asked why Biden was announcing the new timeframe when nearly every state has already moved up eligibility to the April date, Psaki said the president wanted to provide clarity and remind seniors to hurry to get their shots before the lines get long.

In case the “Experts say the president’s latest timeline is nearly impossible to confirm since none of the vaccines in development have been proved effective…” is cut off on mobile, here’s a screen shot from the desktop Twitter:

Related:

  • U.S. should approve a saline injection as a Covid-19 vaccine? (my idea from June 2020 that would have reassured a lot of folks)
  • “Italy Pushes Back as Health Care Workers Shun Covid Vaccines” (NYT, March 31): Prime Minister Mario Draghi issued a decree requiring that workers in health care facilities be vaccinated, a move that will test the legal limits of his government’s efforts to stem coronavirus outbreaks. … “Unfortunately there is huge part of doctors who are deeply ignorant,” said Mr. Burioni [a virologist with a Ph.D., but not a “Dr.” like Dr. Jill Biden, M.D.], who suggested that perhaps “the selection process for bringing people to gain a medical degree and then the medical license is not effective enough.” … Salvatore Giuffrida, the director of the hospital, Europe’s fourth largest, said he favored a vaccination requirement because it would also keep medical workers healthy and would strengthen defensive lines as a brutal third wave spreads through northern Italy.
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How’s the Derek Chauvin trial going?

How’s State v. Chauvin going? I haven’t been paying attention to this trial because I assume that conviction is guaranteed. If nothing else, since the judge denied a change of venue to somewhere outside the city, jurors who live in Minneapolis will have to convict Chauvin or risk having their houses burned down in a wave of post-acquittal mostly peaceful demonstrations (see also the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which followed an unwelcome acquittal).

Readers: Has anything new been learned?

It is a little unclear why taxpayers must fund this trial. Mr. Chauvin has already been convicted here in Massachusetts. From the Harvard Art Museum director, in an email regarding “Anti-Asian racism”: “It feels only moments ago that I was writing to you about the murder of George Floyd and so many others and the importance of banding together in support of our black and brown communities.” From our town’s “Selectmen” (one of whom is named “Jennifer”, so don’t take the “men” part literally): “Embedded in our town vision statement is a commitment to fostering economic, racial, ethnic, and age diversity within ***Happy Valley***. This longstanding commitment was brought into sharper focus and scrutiny last spring after the murder of George Floyd.” (the 2-acre zoning minimum is the cornerstone of our commitment to economic diversity, enabling us to welcome anyone able to afford a $1 million vacant lot) From the school superintendent: “Following George Floyd’s murder you received messages from [a diversity bureaucrat], me, and recently a statement from the School Committee expressing a commitment to focusing on race, inclusion, equity, and diversity in all aspects of our schools.”

Mr. Chauvin was also quickly convicted by our best and brightest nationwide. An email received July 4, 2020: “… more than 200 years of systemic racism. And just weeks ago, the murder of George Floyd. … We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country. … Happy Fourth of July, Joe Biden.” An email received February 9, 2021: “Black History Month is a time to celebrate, reflect, and be inspired to action. … from the wrongful murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, to the treatment of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, to the attempts to diminish Black votes and Black voices in last year’s elections. … Happy Black History Month! Jaime Harrison, Chair, Democratic National Committee.”

[Regarding the unfortunate Breonna Taylor, note that a Grand Jury came to the opposite conclusion.]

Related:

  • a 2015 post in which I noted that “Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted by an impartial jury of 12 locals wearing ‘Boston Strong’ T-shirts.” (the trial judge’s and prosecution’s failure to agree to the seemingly obvious need for change of venue has now resulted in years of litigation all the way up to the Supreme Court and, 8 years after Mr. Tsarnaev’s jihad, his fate remains uncertain)

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Success story for general aviation: transporting plague-ridden 2-year-olds

“Family catches private flight to Austin with pilot friend after getting booted off Southwest plane when their two-year-old couldn’t keep his mask on” (Daily Mail):

A family kicked off a Southwest flight after their two-year-old could not keep his face mask on turned to Facebook to complain and were offered a private flight by a family friend.

He said his family woke up at three in the morning to prepare for their flight out of Denver, Colorado.

‘I practiced with him at least two or three times at the house and every time he threw it off, but I figured that [Southwest] would work with us on the plane because he’s two,’ Michelle Harvey said.

FOX 7 reports that Peck flew his twin-engine airplane to Denver, picked up the family, and flew them to Austin at no charge.

There are already pilot groups for flying medical patients (Angel Flight and PALS), dogs (Pilots N Paws), sea turtles (Turtles Fly Too; see also Merry Christmas to the Sea Turtles and Merry Christmas (again) to the Sea Turtles). If we assume that coronapanic never ends and that recalcitrant toddlers remain recalcitrant, could it be time for a new volunteer pilot group for transporting families who don’t want their trip to turn into a mask fight? Light planes are at their best when some of the seats are occupied by children (reasonably low in weight despite one or more years of lockdown, unlike their adult counterparts).

Readers: What should the group be called? Winged Unmasked Brats (“WUB”)? Terrible Twos Take To The Skies (“TTTTTS”)?

As Joe Biden is discovering, sometimes it is best to put children in a cage…

And, in case anyone wants to see just how effective masks (for which we will fight to the death, if necessary), lockdowns, and vaccines are against our viral nemesis, here’s Sweden (unvaccinated, unmasked, unlocked) versus Israel (fully vaccinated (older/vulnerable), masked, and locked-until-recently; source):

From the above, applying the principles of coronascience, we can infer that masks, lockdowns, and vaccines work so well that applying these interventions in Israel stops a plague 2000+ miles away in Sweden.

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