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Head Cases

Good for Zidane? Bad for the sport? Also: Israel's necessity and proportionality. More annoying phrases. More thanks to Ben. Plus much else.

7.19.06

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HONOR THY CULTURE
Re: James Bowman's Fighting Words:

Thank goodness someone has said exactly what I have felt all along about the now infamous head butt! I have played sports for most of my life and while there are insults hurled around on the field of play, they are usually not really personal. Usually they are comments about your ability, how you look, act, etc. but they generally do not cross over into attacks on family members or loved ones because this is generally seen as out of bounds. When you see fights in professional sports can almost always be traced to those boundaries being crossed. So I say good for Zidane, he should have done worse to a man that insults someone's family to try to gain an edge in a soccer match. Every so often a man has to stand up and be a man, even if the wimps and wussies of the world cringe at the sight of a man reacting harshly to the unacceptable.
-- E.D. Edwards
North Carolina

James Bowman's defense of Zinedine Zidane's head butting in the World Cup final is very interesting, but flawed in several ways. In my opinion, it was very "wussy" of Zidane to let the Italian defender provoke him into an act that threw him out of the game, left his team one man short, and probably led to the defeat of his team. It is unfortunate that in the world of sports today, there is no honor on the field -- anything goes, and you can say anything of you think it will give you an advantage over your opponent. A "manly" man would have not fallen for this cheap and very "wussy" ploy of verbal intimidation. A gentleman would have shown restraint, not ignoring the comments, but setting them aside for later defense of his honor. He would not have acted so recklessly, without concern for his team and, let's face it, his country. The so-called honor society of much of the Islamic world, as described by Dr. Ahmed, involves impulsive, thoughtless, reckless and terrorist acts, and then hiding among the civilians for self-protection. This is neither honorable nor courageous, but instead, it is my very definition of cowardliness. Instead, Zidane should have used these insults to help motivate himself to kick Materazzi's *** on the field, within the rules of soccer, thereby bringing honor and victory to his team and to his country. But, whether France won or lost, Zidane would be more than justified in confronting Materazzi and settling the matter after the game.

My other point of contention is that a gentleman would never strike an opponent without warning and without a chance for self defense. In my opinion, sucker-punching, or "sucker-butting," is a cheap and dishonorable act. It is similar to the terrorist that blows up defenseless women and children civilians, but on a much lower level, of course, since it is not a murderous act (although a blow to the chest like that could have been fatal). If restraint during the game is not possible, then perhaps Zidane should have confronted Materazzi verbally on the field, challenging him to take his best punch at him. If Materazzi responded with the first punch, then Zidane could have attacked Materazzi in self-defense and it would have been excused as such. Materazzi would have been thrown out of the game. At worst, both would have been red carded, and the French team would not have been put at a disadvantage by Zidane. Showing some restraint during the game, so as not to put your team at a disadvantage, would have been the most difficult and most "manly" thing to do. Instead, Zidane was weak and a fool to fall for Materazzi's cheap trick. Neither man deserves our respect. Now if you will excuse me, I have a few windmills to attack...
-- Mike Spencer
Midland, Michigan

Mr. Bowman is quite correct. The quickest way to start a fight with a man is to impugn his manhood. And the quickest way to impugn a man's masculinity is to call him a coward (or its various permutations: wimp, cuckold, etc.). On the other hand, questioning a man's masculinity can be a very effective method to motivate men to greater efforts, as any coach or drill sergeant knows. It is in the nature of masculine honor that it needs to be demonstrated repeatedly. Once a man reaches maturity and his masculine status is established, the need diminishes but does not disappear. Most men would prefer to die with their boots on than not. This is not, as the feminists would argue, "merely" a cultural artifact that can be discarded as humanity "evolves." (In any case, culture is never "merely;" there are usually very deep reasons for a human culture to be what it is.)

Masculine honor is "pre-cultural"; it is primordial. I believe it is in the Creator's original blueprint for men. Honor is the cultural expression of the very essence of manhood. The Greeks called it thumos; we could call it passion. (It was also a Greek saying to "die young, live gloriously.") This masculine passion evinces itself in the focus, intensity and energy which men typically devote to what occupies them, whether it be model railroading or warfare. Honor or thumos stands at the heart of the masculine paradox, for it is this very quality that goads us to do both great and glorious deeds as well as commit acts of utter depravity. Yet without it, and its offspring courage, virtue and ultimately life, would be impossible. Wise cultures respected thumos and understood that it needed to harness this masculine energy for the good of is members.

Perhaps the modern war on honor, and in consequence, manhood, lies at the bottom of the demographic catastrophe now enveloping the West. Perhaps if we kill honor, we kill the life force as well. I recall reading many years ago of how the native men on one of the Caribbean islands were forced into farming by the Spanish colonizers. This was considered women's work and as a result, the men literally died of shame and dishonor. As for Mary Ann Sieghart's line that "Walking away from insults isn't wussy, it's mature," only a feminist would be obtuse enough say that. A woman rooted in reality (tradition) would understand that sometimes walking away from an insult is folly and a man who cannot defend himself or his women and children is not worth bothering about. Feminism will be the death of us.
-- Stephen Cianca
Dublin, Ohio

Zidane's sudden head-butting in response to an insult hardly seems a matter of honor, at least in any sense that's ever been held in Western societies. There, honor was to be recovered by a duel, formally demanded and formally accepted. Honor wasn't recovered by shooting the insulter in the back without warning. You can hardly correct an accusation of cowardice with a cowardly murder.

There's little need to seek a rationale for this behavior. It's a product of a sick and twisted culture. It's madness born in a world where raped women are killed by their relatives, and where legitimate military actions are met by sending one's teenage son to blow up children at a Bar Mitzva. It's the behavior of thugs devoid of honor and obsessed with a terribly perverted sense of vanity or vengeance.

There's no need to excuse the inexcusable and little reason to even try to explain it. Insults are the best response. This nasty little twit should be laughed off the world stage.
-- Michael W. Perry, Seattle
Editor of the soon-out: Chesterton at War: Militarism and Pacifism in the Writings of G. K. Chesterton

Jesus said that if someone strikes you on the one cheek, to turn the other. It is unnatural, but is that wuss or power? Note that it is a personal response. Governments don't have a cheek to turn, and are responsible for punishing evildoers. "Thou" in "thou shalt not kill" is singular, as opposed to Leviticus 20:2"...he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones."
-- John Denney

ADDING FEUD TO THE FIRE
Re: Matthew Omolesky's Israel and International Law:

It's my opinion that the term proportionality has been misconstrued, particularly in ways that depart from its original meaning in "just war" discussions. In current use, the term seems to avoid or even exclude a purpose of war other than proportional revenge. My understanding of proportionality in its "just war" sense is that force should not exceed that which is necessary to destroy the enemy’s ability and will to persist in his aggression. To engage in a series of like-kind reprisals (the approach that the UN seems to advocate) only invites continuing conflicts and what become no more than feuds.
-- Pat B'ham

As a regular (if more often that not erstwhile) correspondent to The American Spectator, I cannot allow Matthew Omolesky's commentary "Israel and International Law" to pass without critique.

From whom is Israel defending itself by attacking Lebanese civilians and infrastructure? Hezbollah, a non-state entity. If Omolesky's analysis is correct, then the United Kingdom would have been perfectly within its rights to have invaded the Republic of Ireland and razed Dublin to the ground after the Provisional IRA perpetrated the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974, murdered Captain Robert Nairac in 1977 or attempted to assassinate Baroness Thatcher in 1984.

We should all be grateful that self-restraint was shown, if only because it spared the American public the sight of wall-to-wall Ted Kennedy in a small green St. Paddy's Day hat forever after.

Being no scholar of the Second Amendment, even I can see that Omolesky's citation of (now discredited) analyses of homeowners' rights is a casual effort to conflate legal issues likely to be clear in the minds of The American Spectator readers (that they can shoot when MS-13's in the hallway) with others which might not be (wars and stuff).

His application of the "Naulilaa" criteria to the current Middle Eastern crisis is all slippery and lawyerish. Yes -- the return of the captured soldiers is an "unsatisfied demand," although it is not clear what diplomatic steps had been taken to resolve the issue before the F-16's were scrambled. Playing devil's advocate sometimes involves really getting down in the dirt; so, does Israel negotiate with Hezbollah? If Israel putting out the lights in Lebanon is a proportionate response to the actions of Hezbollah, then Israel must accord to Hezbollah the status of a nation. How many Hezbollah are imprisoned in Israel? And have their captors been willing to negotiate their release? If not, then Hezbollah's capture of Israeli soldiers might also be deemed "proportionate," given the quasi-recognition it receives from the business end of smart bombs.

This was a not particularly clever attempt to justify the unjustifiable. Omolesky needs to get his nose out the books and take in two great works of art which take as their subject matter the manipulation of the law for illegal ends.

In A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt ascribes to Thomas Cromwell the words, "What Englishman can behold without awe, the canvass and the rigging of the law." Enough said.

The second comes from the imagination of one of the greatest conservative philosophers of our age -- George Lucas.

In The Phantom Menace, the Sith practice entryism with skill beyond the dreams of Trotsky. Prior to the invasion of Naboo, the Trade Federation queries its legality; Darth Sidious snaps the reply, "I will make it legal!"

"I will make it legal." There's a moral in there somewhere.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

There is a very important point not mentioned in the article. Israel is a functioning democracy with an effective legal system. That means that its military decisions are self-policing, both as to acceptability by the public and to review by the courts. Although difficult to quantify, it is not difficult to observe that Israel is a country of moral integrity.

Yes, that cannot be written into international law, in part because there are so few countries that would meet that standard. But to rush in with a question of proportionality of response is insulting to the history of Israel which is there for all to see. Yes, I've got it that it is MEANT to be an insult. But vocabulary is important, and it is important for Israel itself, pompous as it may sound, and those of us -- few as we are -- who are her allies, to remind the world of the fact of the moral integrity of Israeli society.

Lastly, we cannot forget or ignore the vocabulary of war. The purpose of a military offensive is not to be proportional -- that is a formula for statement and therefore for perpetual war. The purpose of a military offensive is to be victorious and thus to end the war. American military doctrine summarizes this idea in the saying that the last thing we want is a fair fight!

Israel should (a) declare its policy to be victory, exactly as Winston Churchill did for Britain at the beginning of World War II and (b) to make one concession -- to offer to send a special commission to Teheran to negotiate the surrender of Hezbollah with President Ahmadinejad in order to avoid the further effusion of blood.

In fact, it should repeat the offer to send a commission to Tehran to negotiate the surrender of Hezbollah with President Ahmadinejad EVERY DAY so that the world and the Iranian people can understand how to end this engagement quickly and mercifully.
-- Greg Richards

WHAT'S IN A EUPHEMISM?
Re: David Hogberg's Annoying Phraseology:

Mr. Hogberg's list of euphemisms and loaded language is all too short. Here are some more:

Quotas -- also referred to as affirmative action, positive discrimination, goals, timetables, reservations, ceilings, limits, consideration, and diversity. The list is endless.

Lowering university admission standards to fill up quotas -- taking into account other life experiences.

Illegal immigration -- undocumented Americans.

No border fence, just more cameras -- virtual fence.

Keep the borders wide open -- immigration compromise.

Amnesty -- work program.

Spending -- investment.

Raising taxes -- gathering resources.

Price increase -- adjustment.

Service cutback -- adjustment.

Loan -- cash advance.

Vanity publishing -- self publishing.

Protectionism -- fair trade.

Jungle, disease-ridden -- rainforest.

Marsh or swamp, disease-ridden -- -wetlands.

Liberal -- moderate, centrist, middle-of-the-road.

Fake -- authentic replica.

Drawing down your equity -- getting money out of your house.

Artificial food -- made with (not of) chocolate, fruit juice, whatever.

Congressional automatic pay raise -- cost of living adjustment.

Die -- terminate.

Drug addiction -- substance abuse
-- John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

Editors' note: For further responses to Mr. Hogberg's column, check yesterday's entries at AmSpecBlog.

EXTENDED BLESSINGS
Re: Ben Stein's Eretz Israel:

And God bless Ben Stein. No bull...he gets right to the heart of the matter. His latest should be splashed all over every front page in the country. But don't hold your breath.
-- Al Markel
San Francisco, California

In your article "Eretz Israel" you lauded, correctly, Bush and Rice. What about Prime Minister Harper of Canada? Harper stated:

"Israel has the right to defend itself," the prime minister told reporters aboard a Canadian Forces Airbus en route to London, where he's starting a week-long diplomatic mission.

"I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured."

And today, after seven Lebanese-Canadian citizens were accidentally killed in Lebanon Harper said:

"We are not going to give in to the temptation of some to single out Israel, which was the victim of the initial attack."

Now that is worth noting, don't you think?
-- Tim Dormain
Alberta, Canada

Kudos to Ben Stein for writing the truth about whom we and Israel face. They are murders and belong to a religion that has been built on the blood of its victims. Islam is a cult that desires no peace, only the annihilation of all other religions. I have read the history of Islam. Islam is no friend of Western (Christian) Civilization.
-- Mark Sauser
Memphis, Tennessee

We are told that the situation in the Middle East is "complex" with too many intricacies for a "simple" resolution. If we're talking about a "diplomatic solution" the punditry is probably correct. At this point we've exhausted endless "protocols," "accords," "negotiations," "summits" and other such diplomatic pomp followed by blizzards of UN paper filled with rules that apply to western democracies only. The thugs are again excepted because they chose the bullet and the middle finger and their signature along with their word is ****!

I applaud Israel's "bunker-busting" diplomacy because we've made ourselves insane trying to be "reasonable" by elevating street gangs from the jail cell to the negotiating table. The time for "talk" is over. We barely flinched as a nation when we fire-bombed Dresden and Tokyo killing tens of thousands of civilians. We have let our media control our behavior when the occasional missile strike at some al Qaeda stronghold kills a few bystanders stupid enough to be hanging around the gang hideout.

It's time for us to feed Iran and Syria what they have been producing as an export for decades. The message needs to be sent, and words of "diplomacy" have failed. It's time for us to join with Israel for real and "engage" in some of our own "bunker-busting" diplomacy.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

PRESIDENTIAL PROMISE
Re: David Holman's The Jeffersonian:

Mr. Holman's article is very well put together and, generally, favorable to Sen. Allen, it seems. I have read some opinion that Sen. Allen is too smooth and that the writer doesn't trust people that are that smooth and easy with "just folks." I have seen some compare the Allen style with Bill Clinton. Now I am a George Allen fan, so of course, I would disagree. I would think that the antithesis of Sen. Allen's style would be the way that Nixon was never at ease with anyone that he did not know well, and a bunch that he did know well. I don't think we want that.

It is extremely interesting to me that political analysts are all too willing to discount Sen. Allen in a race for high political office. We see McCain or Rudy praised and put forward as the front running contenders for the 2008 POTUS contest. I note that Sen. Allen has lost a grand total of one (1) significant political election, and has had to come from behind in the polls each time. Let us see how he does against Mr. Webb, a solidly backed, well financed challenger in the 2006 Senate race in Virginia.

One of the things that I like most about George Allen is his mixture of conservatism and libertarianism. Over the last almost 6 years, we have seen that a mixture of conservatism and liberal compassion is a brew made in the opposite of Heaven. Sen. Allen will have to internalize an effective argument against the charge of racism, as it will be hurled at him by both political opponents and reporters hoping to goad Sen. Allen into an unfortunate reaction.

I do not, as yet, see anyone on the horizon that I could actively support with even the slightest enthusiasm except George Allen.

ALLEN FOR POTUS IN 2008
-- Ken Shreve

JED, JIMMY, AND JIHAD
Re: Jed Babbin's Endgame Conservatives, Chapter Two:

While I appreciate Jed Babbin's insights on the GWOT he fails to recognize that America's prevailing method of fighting terrorism and militant Islam has been ignore the threat and do nothing. A review of American history makes this clear. In fact, this is a bipartisan failure only interrupted by Bush 41 & 43 the only American Presidents to confront Arab/Muslim extremism and aggression head-on.

From Truman to Nixon America followed a strategy of varying support for Israel while trying to mollify Arab/Muslim tyrants. We were content with confining Arab/Muslim terrorism and extremism to the Middle East with some overflow in Europe. That all changed with America's worst President -- Jimmy Carter.

The modern war with militant Islam began when anti-Semite Jimmy Carter installed a reactionary Muslim theocracy in Teheran in the name "human rights." If BS were statesmanship Carter would deserve the Nobel Prize his Saudi friends bought for him, but it isn't. What Carter deserves is scorn, but among Democrats and their media hacks stupidity and failure are viewed as brilliance. Thus, Carter's failures are glossed over and he's being rehabilitated as a folksy defender human rights and champion of "democratic" elections (i.e., friend of terrorists and tyrants).

While conservatives try to sweep this under the rug things got worse when President Reagan refused to retaliate against Hezbollah and Iran for killing over 241 Marines and US military personnel in Beirut. This mistake was compounded by his saving the PLO from annihilation and ending the war between Iran and Iraq. Military strikes against Libya may have alleviated some of the pressure, but the failure to take on Iran in 1983, stopping Israel from destroying the PLO and helping end the fratricidal carnage of the Iraq-Iran war (when they're killing each other they're not killing us) were major blunders that we are paying for today.

There was a brief respite following the first Gulf War, but things took a decided down turn with the pro-Muslim Clinton. One need only read Osama bin Laden's 1996 fatwa to realize that Clinton's cut and run strategy in Somalia, fawning over Arab despots and "burying his head in the sand" in regards to Islamic militancy led to the intensifying of the war and directly to 9/11.

Post 9/11 under the leadership of George W. Bush America took the fight to the terrorists. Quite honestly had it been any other President the chances of blustering and do nothing were quite strong. Despite a down turn in the polls because of America's growing boredom with the war in Iraq (the excuse of war weariness by a public that has made absolutely no sacrifice in the war is a slap in the face of the men and women in harm's way) this President has not relented in his "crusade" to defeat Islamic terrorism. His current unflinching support of Israel in its fight against Hezbollah and Hamas (backed by Syria and Iran) stands in marked contrast to over 30 years of failed Democrat and Republican Middle East foreign policy.

Believing democracy is the best counter for Islamic militancy and extremism may be naiveté, but what is the real alternative? Based on this country's unwillingness to pay the price in blood or treasure to win decisively (Democrats want defeat and "Wm F Buckley conservatives" have embraced John Murtha) leaves us with few options, but to attempt a change in Arab/Muslim thinking. Why are the religious fanatics (this is first and foremost a religious movement with political overtones) in Iran and its surrogates (Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda) fighting so hard to undermine democratic experiments in Iraq and Lebanon? They know success there spells their ultimate defeat.

If one reviews recent electoral changes in Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and even Saudi Arabia they will find fledgling moves towards democratic reform -- reforms that scare the fecal material out of Iran, Syria and Muslim fundamentalists.

Who would have believed the Arab League and Saudi Arabia would be condemning Hezbollah? It is almost like they are "supporting" Israel. The Bush Doctrine is changing the Arab/Muslim world like the Reagan Doctrine changed Eastern Europe.

In the 1980's Democrats, a minority of Republicans and even some conservatives chastised Ronald Reagan for his naiveté in believing that democracy was the answer for Eastern Europe and defeating the Soviet Union. Today, despite the critics Eastern Europe is free and the Soviet Union is history (this is why Reagan is a great President). The Bush doctrine of defeating Muslim extremism with democracy is not Wilsonian it's the modern incarnation of the Reagan Doctrine on steroids â€" that democracy defeats totalitarianism, authoritarianism, terrorism, fanaticism and extremism.

If Bush's vision fails then we can (1) do as Terri Heinz Kerry suggested and learn to live with terrorism, (2) surrender or (3) use all those nukes left over from the Cold War because that's the only way we're going to kill enough of the Muslim fanatics to decisively win in an America lacking the stomach for a long conventional war.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Why have we not urged Iraq and Turkey to deny Iran overflight privileges over their countries? Would this not severely restrict Iran's ability to resupply Syria, and by extension, Hezbollah?
-- Glenn Smith
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

PLAYING THE PLAME GAME
Re: Diane Smith's letter (under "Shark Bites") in Reader Mail's Creatures of Habit:

Thanks Diane, but my humble judgment isn't always better. Your humor trumps it nearly every time. Besides, we all must 'move on' at our own pace. You see, I couldn't care less about Valerie Plame, her nose or her face, her husband or his haircut, or his escort business. And, since the whole fiasco is all but over, except for some of her supporters who think American history began just last week with that stupid law suit, I was ready. I'll bet Mr. Soros will be 'moving on', as well, looking for some other losers to throw darts at the President, since these two fools have used up their celebrity status credit cards! The CIA needs to review its hiring practices. Ta-ta Val, oh, and giggles, Joe!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

ELECTED TERROR
Re: Michael Tobias's letter (under "") in Reader Mail's Creatures of Habit:

This from Michael Tobias letter is a key to the Bush strategy of democracy in the Middle East.

"Hamas is a governing body of a territory and Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government and acts as a controlling body of a territory. By attacking Israeli territory and citizens, they are engaged in acts of war under international law. By supporting them with men and material, Syria and Iran have allied themselves with a faction of warring nations and have become de facto participants in this war and enemies of Israel."

Before Hamas and Hezbollah both swam in a sea of "innocent" parties. To attack and destroy either would cause many deaths among these so called innocents. Now that these terror organizations are seen as sovereigns, the people who "elected" them have to accept responsibility for the actions of the sovereign. They and their allies can now be treated as enemy nations. This doesn't mean Israel should or will indiscriminately kill civilians any more than we did in WWII. It does free them to now totally destroy both Hamas and Hezbollah. Call it a "work-around" for international law.
-- Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

POLITICAL KICKS
Re: William Tucker's I Don't Know Much About Soccer, But... and Reader Mail's Proud Moments, Penalty Kicks, Still Kicking, and Creatures of Habit:

Aside from the, umm, European charm, of the game itself, I was always intrigued by the politics of soccer, especially women's soccer. When I saw the news coverage of Brandi Chastain at the U.S. Women's Team victory in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, waving her sports jersey over her head in celebration just like the men do, and we were told how we had finally realized all the fabulous Title 9, 'you go girl', cultural benefits of the game, I understood. For too many, it's not just a game, but a means to an end, a political end. Thanks, but when I want to indulge in watching sports events, I'll take the less politically motivated NBA, NBL, NHL, and NFL, instead. There you are TAS, I'm sure that will stir a hornet's nest of continued soccer commentary.

Dorell for U.S. Soccer President!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Mr. Tucker: A couple of points on off sides in football.

A player may "get in front of the defense while running down the field." but he either must bring the ball with him or get behind after the pass has been sent. Anyway, the analogies to American football and basketball do not hold up very well.

Be that as it may, canning the off sides rule would not lead to more scoring. Defenses currently play the trap because it is available, but if it were not they would adjust. It is doubtful that defensive players would be in a position to support the offense if they could not count on an off sides call. Therefore, this would likely diminish a teams offensive ability. Whereas an offensive player can without fear move in to support the defense in trouble, the defense would not be able to bring the line any further up than the opposing offense lets it.

I fear that if you are to enjoy the game at a high level (since the score seems to go down as the skill goes up) you must learn from baseball fans that enjoy a no hitter, or an American football fan that can understand line play and gets a kick out of a 10 - 3 defensive struggle.

BTW -- Isn't an American Football game that ends up 10 -3 really just 1 - 0 with the 3's awarded for getting close?
-- AR Watson
Chicago, Illinois

STINGERS
Re: the "Mensa Meat" letters in Reader Mail's Creatures of Habit:

"Mensa meat" -- has an Italian flair -- mincemeat with Dorell as the prime ingredient. Mr. D. must wonder where all the champions of his cause reside, at this point. Charlie Rangel is about the only cheerleader for returning to the draft. Rangel plays the race card so often on that subject, he can shuffle it to the top quicker than Paul Newman in The Sting. Ask the volunteer military how they would enjoy depending on a surly draftee.

My compliments to Mike Showalter -- always cuts to the chase and to the quick.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

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