California innovation: Gun safety freedoms

From Governor French Laundry:

I am in love with him/her/zir/them referring to these restrictions as “freedoms”.

Separately, I can’t figure out why the proposal is so weak. He/she/ze/they says these tweaks will “end our nation’s gun violence crisis”. But if the government continues to allow private citizens access to firearms, won’t there still be plenty of gun violence? Governor French Laundry promises to ban “civilian purchases of assault weapons”, but that still leaves approximately 6 percent of Americans in possession of an AR-15. If any one of those 6 percent wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, that’s high potential for gun violence!

Also, though Americans under 21 will be restricted by these freedoms from legally purchasing a gun, those 21+ will still be able to do so. Aren’t there enough Americans over 21 committing gun violence that we would still be suffering from a “gun violence crisis” even if nobody under 21 ever did any shooting?

Readers may recall Seal off criminal-rich neighborhoods to tackle the public health emergency of gun violence? in which residents of some neighborhoods would be locked down and walled off. Could being forbidden to leave the house/neighborhood also be considered a “gun safety freedom”?

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Cowering at home for three years as Burning Man prep

Most of the folks whom I’ve met at Burning Man (attended in 2014 and 2015) were California residents. Thus, some of the Americans who most enthusiastically embraced school closures and lockdowns have found themselves stuck for an extra day or two on the Playa. Cowering at home from 2020 through 2022 could be considered prep for this year’s Burning Man, in which the car gate was closed by authorities due to deep mud.

A couple of tweets from the organizers:

The airport closed on Saturday, supposedly, but there are no NOTAMs for 88NV in the official FAA system. An AvWeb story:

(Note the “shelter in place” phrase, mirroring the language of the San Francisco mayor in 2020: “Homeless individuals are not subject to the shelter in place order”)

From 2015, not the best leggings for mud… (my original caption: “Russian journalist”):

Maybe a good mud vehicle?

A hard “no” on this one:

This probably wouldn’t work either…


  • Burning Man for turboprop pilots (links to the rest of my photos)
  • the New York Times, which said that a 12-18-month lockdown was the best thing that ever happened to K-12 kids, now reports that a 2-day lockdown requires near-divine intervention: “By Sunday afternoon, a White House official said President Biden had been briefed on the situation and that administration officials had been in touch with state and local officials.”
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Who will sell me an office building in San Francisco?

Everyone agrees that the city of San Francisco is in a “doom loop” (see “San Francisco suffering ‘Doom Loop’ amid large vacancy rates” (NBC, August 16), for example). Based on an August 2, 2023 visit, I think it is time to buy!

Office space that used to rent for $80 per square foot per year is now selling for $120 per square foot for the entire building (source). If rental rates go back to where they were, in other words, a buyer could make his/her/zir/their money back in two years.

There is no question that San Francisco is suffering from a deep self-inflicted wound of shutting down during coronapanic, which emptied out the city as the elite righteous fled to their suburban bunkers. The children who lost 1.5 years of school will live shorter lives, statistically, due to their curtailed education, and also suffer from a lower lifetime income. But that suffering and those premature deaths are a long way off. Meanwhile, the negative economic effects of lockdown are already priced into the real estate in SF.

What about the disorder, crime, etc. that gets so much press? Those aren’t being addressed because the elite neighborhoods aren’t significantly affected. The elites don’t care what happens in the Tenderloin because they never go there. Similarly, the elites in government shouldn’t be starved for property tax revenue because of Proposition 13. The typical building in San Francisco has been owned for a long time and is paying property tax on a 2005 value, for example. Thanks to inflation and a period of sustained economic growth before coronapanic, nominal property values are still higher than the Prop 13 tax value for the typical building. Thus, if a building sells, even for half what it was worth in 2019, the city’s rulers get a boost in revenue.

My theory is that eventually the crime and disorder will begin to hurt the elites and they’ll fight back with an oppressive clean-up like what Giuliani did in 1990s New York City. California Democrats have already shown that they will disregard all of their stated principles, such as providing housing for the unhoused, when expedient. Thus, nothing would stop a California Democrat from rounding up all of the unhoused in San Francisco, exporting them to “protection camps” in the Central Valley, and prosecuting and imprisoning anyone who commits what today are considered minor crimes.

In other words, San Francisco peasants don’t have to wait for some kind of improvement in government efficiency or other unrealistic change. The peasants’ lives will improved just as soon as the elites’ lives are touched. This is the same mechanism that operated in 2020. The elites had insulated themselves from every conceivable bad thing. They had schedule flexibility so they didn’t have to share the jammed roads with peasants. Their neighborhoods were untouched by crime. They had private jets and helicopters so they could move around freely. Then SARS-CoV-2 came along, a virus that had the potential to kill both the rich and the poor. The elites took previously unthinkable actions, such as closing schools for peasant children, in hopes of saving their own skins. Sweeping through the city and removing anyone living in a tent is a much less difficult policy to implement than locking down peasants and their school-age children for 1.5 years.

What are the forces in San Francisco’s favor? The U.S. is headed for a population of 450 million (Pew), entirely driven by low-skill immigration. The U.S. hasn’t succeeded in building any new cities. With a larger population, therefore, the price premium for an existing city should increase. Existing cities are at the center of transportation systems.

The huge flaws in my argument: Detroit and Baltimore. Despite massive population growth for the U.S. as a whole, these cities remain poor and depopulated. The Rust Belt cities of Upstate New York and Ohio also can be considered counterexamples. I don’t have an argument for why San Francisco can’t become Detroit.

A potential flaw in my plan to get rich by purchasing an office building is that residential can come back without commercial coming back. The academics who provided the necessary intellectual cover for elite policy in 2020, by saying that work from home was actually more productive than in-office work (i.e., the companies that paid rent on office space were stupid) have now been drafted to say that work from home is 10-20 percent less efficient (paper from 2023 versus paper from summer 2020; same author at same institution, but different Science as necessary). If we believe the 20% number, therefore, even a company with moderately paid workers might find it efficient to pay 50 Bidies per square foot per year in rent (assume 200′ per worker, that’s $10,000 per worker per year).

Leaving Detroit and Baltimore aside, there has to be some price at which renting office space in the heart of a city is a smart business move. It can be used for light manufacturing, for shipping and distribution, for collaboration, for running 3D printers, etc. The most desirable workers to hire are the young, who typically don’t have big comfortable houses in which to spend all day every day. Escaping roommates and a dark apartment to look out the window of a skyscraper should have some value to a 25-year-old.

Readers who are closer to San Francisco than I am: what’s your guess about the future of the city’s office space market?

Let’s look at some photos…

One of my first images, after getting out of BART, is a building-sized quote from a trans person (originated in state-sponsored PBS):

The Westfield Mall does indeed seem troubled, but not dangerous:

The elites can still buy their Rolex watches in the neighborhood and IKEA opens TODAY to serve the peasants.

If you don’t like Swedish meatballs after shopping for no-longer-that-cheap furniture, you can get trans-enhanced-plus-intersex-circle chicken and rice:

I already covered my grip to the Transgender Cultural District in Tenderloin thoughts from San Francisco.

We circled back to find a Four Seasons Hotel next to some empty retail space and an ornate Hearst building:

Pedestrians are righteously masked outdoors while the robotaxis clumsily poke their way through traffic:

(Why wouldn’t a robotaxi company want office space?)

What if the Islamically covered folks in the above photo want to purchase a notebook?

Shopping at Target is a slightly different experience than what I found during a May 2023 visit in Bozeman, Montana. The store offers “secured shelves” that only employees can open. Shoppers were reminded at the rainbow-free front door that they needed to follow the orders of California Covidcrats, “including wearing a face covering,” but the majority of the folks inside the store were mask-free.

Our next stop was Fisherman’s Wharf. The Musée Mécanique displays a machine that associates providing and using opium with being Chinese:

There were plenty of vacant stores in what used to be a prime tourist area.

The tax-avoidance champions at Patagonia say that our home planet is imperiled. Like other climate change alarmists, they simultaneously fret about comparatively minor issues. If they think the Earth needs to be “saved”, as they write on their front window, why did they buy an “intersectional Pride flag” instead of a solar cell array? Won’t the manufacturing and shipping of the Pride flag actually accelerate climate change? If all humanity will be wiped out soon, along with the planet itself, does it matter whether their LGBTQ+ employees enjoy “equality” at the time that they’re incinerated?

My host lives in North Beach and can purchase equality-enhancing Patagonia clothing all day every day. What if he wants groceries? The Safeway shut down and then most of the other stores in the mini-mall died:

We headed west before my redeye flight from the Harvey Milk Terminal at SFO.

After enjoying observing outdoor masking in the city, we were treated to visions of outdoor masking in the woods:

The beach that would be busy with swimmers near our house was empty due to cold water and big waves:

My friend and I had a great meal at a Korean place (Toyose) in the Sunset:

(The clientele was about 90 percent Asian and the place was full at 8:30 pm on a weekday.)

Circling back to the main theme of this post…. San Francisco still has a lot of creative people who start companies. Space gets tighter in the U.S. with every immigrant who comes across the border. How can city’s real estate not recover?

What if wrong as usual and the righteous stay in the suburbs? (i.e., Detroit and Baltimore turn out to be the models, not Manhattan) Below is what I found on the coffee table of a Democrat who says that his #1 passion is helping people of color. As it happens, 20 years ago he chose to isolate his family from people of color by moving to Piedmont (just above Oakland and a world away as far as the schools are concerned).

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Taxpayer-funded Rainbow-First Retail in Pasadena

Loyal readers may remember some Pride Month scenes from Park City, Utah in “If Rainbow Flagism is the state religion, why do individuals and businesses need to buy their own rainbow flags?“:

if 2SLGBTQQIA+-ism is our state religion and the trans-enhanced rainbow flag is our sacred symbol, why do private businesses and individuals need to organize worship?

I took a trip to Pasadena, California on July 30, 2023, a month after the official end of Pride. I found a great bank for elites that offers much better interest rates than Bank of America and other banks that serve the peasantry.

They’re supervised by the diversity-crisis-tackling San Francisco Fed, so I’m sure that my money will be “safe as houses.” On the sidewalk in front, one see the result of Californians’ commitment to eliminating inequality:

Pasadena offers a conventional American Rainbow-first Retail experience. The observant Muslim, for example, must pay obeisance to the merchant-displayed rainbow flag if he/she/ze/they wants clothing to wear, shades for his/her/zir/their house, or a car to drive:

In case a merchant forgets, however, just as in Park City, Utah, the city has stepped up with tax dollars. Sidewalks and transformers are painted with the sacred rainbow (this would be contrary to the law in Muslim-governed Hamtramck, Michigan):

If these sacred messages were still up on July 30, 2023, a full month after the nominal end of Pride, when do they get removed?

The city government’s convention center and tourism org explained how the symbols went up in a June 1, 2023 press release: “All Are Welcome in Pasadena” Kicks off June in Pasadena, California”:

The enchanting rose gardens are in full bloom, pride events paint the town, and Visit Pasadena, the city’s official tourism organization, celebrates pride with a citywide Pride campaign with the simple, yet powerful message that “All Are Welcome in Pasadena.”

History is hardly ever tidy, but Pasadena, California has been proudly celebrating all identities since The Boulevard Bar was established over 40 years ago. Today, it remains one of Pasadena’s staples. In 2014, Pasadena was recognized as the “Second Gayest City in America” by The Advocate. This marked a historic moment, when a gay couple exchanged wedding vows on a wedding float during the Tournament of Roses® Rose Parade for the first time ever during live broadcasts around the world.

This year, The City of Pasadena raises the Pride Flag once again at City Hall this June, with a flag designed by non-binary artist Daniel Quasar and made by San Diego-based Pride Flag SD, followed by a series of interactive and family friendly events. In historic Old Pasadena, visitors will experience the district’s powerful “commUNITY” campaign and “All Are Welcome” messaging while enjoying romantic and diverse shopping and dining experiences. In October, SGV Pride will celebrate National Coming Out day with a celebration at Central Park, with the historic Castle Green and the majestic San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop.

Here’s something unfortunate… the City implies that there is something unhealthful about the 2SLGBTQQIA+ lifestyle that requires additional vaccines, e.g., against Long Monkeypox:

It’s a “family-friendly event” for kids to watch adults get injected?

A few more photos from July 30… (note that some stores have two “all are welcome” rainbow stickers on the front door):

What if you need a bonus hole in your body? That can be done with Pride (sticker lower left):

Here’s a restaurant with three pride stickers (the multi-colored rose is an official City of Pasadena Pride symbol):

Also, it doesn’t have to be the official Pride month for Californians to take pride in wearing masks. A restaurant:

What if you are injured by COVID-19? These billboards across from the Burbank airport offer legal help and healing cannabis:

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Where are the gardens and museums created by the Silicon Valley rich?

Below are some recent photos from the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. A railroad, streetcar, and real estate baron left this gift of beautiful gardens and arts to Californians and tourists. Today’s Silicon Valley rich are much richer than Henry Edwards Huntington was. Why aren’t they creating amazing art museums and gardens? A Walmart heiress did that in Arkansas with Crystal Bridges, but I haven’t heard of the tech billionaires doing anything similar. Why not? Is creating a world-class garden and/or museum not sufficiently ambitious for today’s elites? They want to instead say that they saved humanity from disease or landed humans on another planet?

Some inspiring bonsai:

Inspiration for your golden retriever and a room in which to relax after the kill:

An all-gender restroom before you venture out into California gridlock:

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Polestar 2 and BART

In Los Angeles, I rented a Chinese-made Polestar 2 electric vehicle from Hertz. Here’s one of their PR images:

The experience of driving my Nevada-registered car in California was wonderful. The car crushes the road at 4,500 lbs., doing far more damage than a (much lighter) Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Had the car been California-registered, it would have been subject to an absurdly low $100 fee for use of the roads, nowhere near what a peasant driving a 2010 Toyota Camry pays in gas tax. But because the car was registered in Nevada, my laptop-class use of the highways was entirely paid for by peasants who will never be able to afford a fancy new EV. This is part of California’s plan for addressing the inequality crisis (of not enough inequality?).

I wouldn’t personally buy this fine Swedish/Chinese machine because it lacks a Dog Mode and, therefore, Mindy the Crippler would never forgive me. However, the car is nicer in many ways than a Tesla. There are more buttons for critical controls, for example. Instead of sticking an touchscreen in the middle and calling that a dashboard, there is a virtual instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. This can be set to display mostly a map with directions.

The Polestar 2 seemed quieter than the Tesla 3 and CarPlay support, which Tesla lacks, made it easy to jump in and go. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the automatic steering (there was no hardcopy manual in the car; there is an online explanation, but I can’t understand it). The adaptive cruise control seemed to be somewhat smoother and smarter than what we have on our beloved 2021 Honda Odyssey. If you’re accustomed to a conventional car, the transition to the Polestar 2 is quicker and easier than with a Tesla (see Douche for a Day: a Tesla 3 from Hertz).

I’m glad that Hertz didn’t try to kill me with a gas-powered BMW, which California’s public health experts say is deadly to the person who dates to “operate” it:

Los Angeles traffic seems to be as bad as ever, despite the large number of people who pretend to work from home. The locals who joined me for an 8 am business meeting had all left their houses before 6 am and then waited at coffee shops near the destination for an hour so as to avoid being stuck on the freeways. Everyone who had gathered then wanted to flee no later than 2 pm so as to avoid the afternoon gridlock. Is reliance on private cars rational? Any time that I checked Google Maps it showed that public transit would take more than twice as long as driving, no matter how bad the traffic.

After my JSX trip BUR/OAK, we had a small gathering of readers of this blog essentially at the Rockridge BART station. A sign from the Rockridge Market Hall:

They serve food and claim to be passionate about avoiding infection, but I couldn’t find any bathroom for handwashing. Eventually a couple of us ended up across the freeway at Trader Joe’s in the all-gender restrooms:

I decided to take BART into the city, another way for elites to collect subsidies from peasants (mass transit riders earn more than the average American). Payment is not as advanced as in the Netherlands (tap in with any credit card and tap out once you reach your destination). You can create a virtual Clipper card for free in Apple Wallet, however, and then fund it. A BART employee came out of his booth to show me, carefully donning a cloth mask before emerging (I noticed the same behavior among other BART workers in booths).

BART runs so infrequently at mid-morning that it would actually have been faster to get an Uber from station to station than to ride BART from station to station. (Bonus: Ubers can use the HOV-2 carpool lanes because there are always at least two humans in an Uber.) The Google Map calculation below was done while actually on an elevated BART platform.

While waiting, I was assaulted by noise from the adjacent highway and exhorted to consume pharma:

Once on the BART train fueled by a river of taxpayer cash, I learned that it is conventional to carry a large tub of Vaseline:

At the Embarcadero station, riders are informed that “We all deserve respect”:

January 6 insurrectionists? Harvey Weinstein, accused by California’s first lady of rape? (note that a jury was not persuaded by Jennifer Newsom’s dramatic testimony about being unable to escape the obese elderly aggressor) The haters who say that Harvey Milk did something wrong by having sex with a 16-year-old? Do they all deserve respect?

A friend picked me up downtown and we proceeded in his car to a parking garage, where we were warned by public health experts and also about the potential for noble locals to liberate anything left in the car:

Nordstrom is scheduled to close at the end of August, but we found it well-stocked:

Then it was time to use our feet to head into what the City of San Francisco officially designates “The Transgender District”:

(Why isn’t the entire city designated as a transgender district?)

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Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at SFO: the country’s best airport terminal for gay people…

… and also the best airport terminal for straight people. The Harvey Milk Terminal began to open in 2019, but construction was paused for coronapanic and the $2.4 billion building is scheduled for completion in “late 2024”.

I visited at 10 pm on a Wednesday evening and the terminal benefitted by being only about 20 percent full. Due to the high ceilings, the claustrophobic Fall of Saigon feeling should be avoided even at 100 percent. The architects and planners put some effort into making the airport quiet and seem to have succeeded in the carpeted gate areas.

What if you’re stuck for a while and need WiFi and a desk? The free WiFi is available without an annoying advertisement or an acceptance of terms process:

How about the work surface?

(Nit: It’s been only a few years, but the power outlets (“loose like wizard sleeve”) and USB-A jacks (loose and/or broken) haven’t aged well.)

What if you want to lounge instead?

What if you want to play?

There are a lot of restaurants, but maybe not enough to deal with a capacity crowd:

What if you want to teach the kids about Harvey Milk? Certainly, the airport is more forthcoming than ChatGPT. If you ask, based on the Wikipedia article, “Was there anything wrong about Harvey Milk having a relationship with a 17-year-old boy?” ChatGPT says “This content may violate our content policy”:

The airport features larger-than-life images on the walls from which teenage boys are absent:

(Regarding Scott Smith, Wikipedia notes “18 years his junior” while the caption at the airport is silent on the age difference between Messrs. Milk and Smith.)

If you’d like to sip coffee while studying the exhibits…

Need a gender-neutral restroom after the coffee?

Thirsty again after learning about the importance of Harvey Milk? There are water-refill islands:

One proposal was to rename the entire airport “Harvey Milk International” (USA Today), but that was rejected. For now, therefore, it is only the magnificently designed Terminal 1 that bears the hero-to-almost-all-Californians’ name:

(Why not a hero to all Californians, full stop? See “Temecula school board president calls Harvey Milk a pedophile, sparks outcry” (June 5, 2023; even Governor French Laundry cannot eliminate hate in California).)

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Tenderloin thoughts from San Francisco

What if we just gave each resident of the U.S. either a basic income or the necessities of life such as shelter, food, and clothing? Poverty wouldn’t be eliminated in the technical sense as defined by the poverty-industrial complex because people who did not work wouldn’t have any cash income, but poverty would be eliminated in a practical sense because nobody would be without the necessities of life.

The Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco comes pretty close to the universal basic lifestyle utopia. Nonprofit organizations (the “homeless-industrial complex”) own buildings and give away shelter. Taxpayer-funded meals are also provided by nonprofits. From the Tenderloin Museum:

As a sign in the Museum gift shop notes, almost everyone is taken care of:

(Exercise for the reader: What class of humans are left out and should be denied care?)

Predatory capitalism has been kept at bay via zoning restrictions:

What happens when you give Americans everything that they need to live, by historical standards, an extremely comfortable life? They take a lot of drugs and live in tents on the sidewalk:

(See also, this New York Times article about Portland, Oregon, three years after drug use was decriminalized: “Oregon’s overdose rates have only grown. Now, tents of unhoused people line many sidewalks in Portland.”)

Related… Dianne Feinstein made cleaning up the Tenderloin a top priority during her tenure as mayor of San Francisco:

(In a great example of American polygamy, Feinstein was the third wife of a rich guy and is now involved in a fight with the dead rich guy’s children with another wife (NYT).)

Loosely related, a sticker on display at Oshkosh that I wouldn’t expect to see in the Tenderloin or anywhere else in San Francisco:

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California says inequality is bad and also participates in Powerball?

From Governor French Laundry, 2022:

“In California, we recognize that our incredible diversity is the foundation for our state’s strength, growth and success – and that confronting inequality is not just a moral imperative, but an economic one,” said Governor Newsom.

It’s a moral imperative to reduce inequality. Therefore, anyone who increases inequality is evil (immoral).

From a government agency run by Governor Newsom:

Middle- and working-class Californians became poorer so that one Californian could become a billionaire. It is tough to think of a better-targeted method of increasing inequality. Why does California do this? Nothing requires the state to participate in Powerball or, indeed, run a lottery at all (Alabama, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada do not have government-run gambling (CNN)).

Florida runs a lottery, of course, and it funds college tuition scholarships for the academically inclined. But Governor DeSantis does not say that it is a moral imperative to reduce inequality. Ron D. might be the terrible person that NYT and CNN say he is, but he isn’t a hypocrite on this issue.

Loosely related… a tax question… California exempts winners of its government-run lottery from paying the 13.3% state income tax (calculation for each state). What if the payout chosen is annual, though, and the winner moves? If he/she/ze/they doesn’t move to a tax-free state (e.g., NV, FL, TX) does he/she/ze/they have to pay the new state of residence’s income tax on the payouts? Suppose the winner had lived in Maskachusetts and bought the ticket in Maskachusetts. If he/she/ze/they moved to Florida after winning, would he/she/ze/they have had to continue to pay MA state income tax every year? I’m guessing the answer is “yes” because the money is actually coming from a Massachusetts state government agency so it is obtained in Massachusetts. (It still might make sense to move, however, because investment income on the newfound wealth would then be tax-free. See Effect on children’s wealth when parents move to Florida for an example, noting that it doesn’t include the new 9% income tax rate for successful people in MA.)

(On reflection, the tax policy is interesting. California does not tax people who enjoy taxpayer-funded housing, health care, food, smartphone, and home broadband. California does not tax people who collect child support or alimony. California does not tax people who decide to buy a lottery ticket instead of their daily cigarettes and marijuana. If a person chooses to work and/or invest, however, he/she/ze/they will be taxed.)

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The Californian comments on the marvels of Europe

Overheard in Delft… a chubby California blonde was on her iPhone describing the marvels of the city to friends back in Sacramento and San Francisco: “It’s incredibly clean, not like the cities in our country.”

This was late on a Sunday afternoon and, in fact, the streets and sidewalks were somewhat trashed by all of the weekend tourists and strolling locals. Trash cans are relatively sparse, takeout food is common, and smoking is more common than in the U.S. In fact, even before the weekend I had noticed that the city was dramatically more littered, especially with very small items, than what we’re accustomed to in the parts of Florida that we visit.

A potential source of trash (my host forced me to eat fries with mayonnaise):

Locals eating just outside the shop:

Three tourists (background left) eating/drinking outside of the old city hall:

A lot of the houses in the center are tidy:

For fans of 1980s Artificial Intelligence:

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