Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stay warm and dry - play a quiz

Tuesday, March 30, 9:00pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)
Subject Round: THE 1970s

Wednesday, March 31, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: SCIENCE

Thursday, April 1, 9pm
The Draught Horse
Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(Temple University campus)
Subject Round: FOOLS

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Your five-week quiz tournament standings after Week 1

These are the overall standings after one week. Cumulative totals will be posted weekly.

I sifted out low-scoring teams we don't see at most quizzes on the assumption that they wont be factors, but still have a record of their scores should they return with some degree of success. Much to the shame of some regulars, I do expect to see you again soon and thus posted your lower-than-potential scores below. There are gobs of points still available so no one should feel as if they've been mathematically elimated yet because of a weak debut.

Thus far I've locked down some cool trivia-related games and books as part of the prize package, which I think you quiz geeks (and I use that term with fond regards) will appropriately spazz over.

Below I've color-coded the teams by bar; keep in mind there will be one overall winner. In the cases in which teams have a general tendency to re-use aname or variations on a name I've listed them below by that usual name instead of what they happened to use this week.

You all played the same quiz this week except for the 40-point Subject Round. The Draught Horse team Dr. Green Thumb set a new low this week with 15 points through 6 rounds of what appeared to me to be an earnest attempt to answer all questions, and I'd be surprised to see them again. If we do, I'll add 'em in.

Red = El Camino Real
Orange = 12 Steps Down
Green = The Draught Horse

Nation of Quizlam 152
The Nudist Balloonists 145
Boston Tea-Bag Party 138
Parent Thesis 130
Lil' Roy 125
Northern Iowa Killed Our Brackets 114
Wanton Negligence 113
Thundercats Ho! 112
Just Because I Dress Like a Nazi... 112
King Shit of Fuck Mountain 109
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper 107
Big Bushy Beard Like Merlin 102
Kensington Hookers Against Cockfighting 101
The Booyesses 98
Those Four Assholes at the Bar 94
Wallbangers 93
Zeta Jota 91
Shrine of the Silver Monkey 89
Evile Ukrainian Penguins 88
Rape Factory 76
Pies = Punches 70
Clumsy Pelicans 66
Quizzie McGuire 61
NcNutt 44
D.T.s 35

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 2014 healthcare system as simple subroutine

This is awesome, posted by a commenter on CommonDreams.org with user name Galenwainwright:

"How to participate in the new CSA (Corporate States of America) Healthcare system:

1) Open your wallet.

2) Show approved mandatory Insurance Corporation policy coverage card.
.1)Fail to provide mandatory Insurance Corporation policy coverage card.
.1.a)Be denied medical care. Await eventual arrival of IRS investigation team.
.1.b)Prepare to go to prison for failing to have mandatory Insurance Corporation healthcare policy.

3) Demonstrate ability to pay.
.1)Show that you have Government Welfare or Social Security.
.1.a)Be given absolute minimum medical treatment mandated by law.
.1.b) Go home, hope you recover on your own.

4) Receive treatment appropriate to your income and social status.

5) Receive prescription for medication, as provided by Pharmaceutical Corporation.
.1) Pay for prescription.
.2) Be unable to pay for prescription, prolonging recovery or treatment.
.2.a) Suffer possible relapse or continuation of condition, leading to further visits for treatment.

6) Receive bill.
.1)Pay bill.
.2)Attempt to pay bill, but fall behind on rent, mortgage, car payments, credit card payments, utilities payments.
.2.a)Go into bankruptcy. Lose everything you have worked for.

7) Receive notification from Insurance Corporation that, due to your requiring medical treatment, your premiums are being increased.
.1)Pay increased premiums.
.2)Be unable to pay increased premiums.
.2.a)Drop policy.
.2.b)Await arrival of IRS investigation team.
.2.c)Prepare for prison term."

Sounds about right, unless things are changed drastically. One can only hope that the 13 Republican State Attorneys General are successful in their challenges to the constitutionality of forcing people to give private corporations money. It's kinda funny, because over the past several decades the Republican Party has lived and breathed the idea of the general pool of taxpayers forking over enormous amounts of welfare to corporations (this is somehow known as "advocating free market capitalism", depsite being not free, not a market and not capitalism). In this case the party is objecting to specific people being ordered to give specific amounts to specific corporations, although the practice of (one example of many hundreds available) all of us paying for roadbuilding with public funds so Big Timber can steal trees from our socialized National Forests is hunky dory.

The objection seems to be that - crediting insurance companies with the best intentions, a questionable approach in and of itself - this system cornholes the consumer once. In theory the taxpayer is directly, manditorily assfucked in Obamacare... assuming you do receive health care with your insurance. (I run on the assumption that the assfucking will be more severe than that because private health companies will still dick us out of the care we're forced to buy, but again I'm trying to understand the objection from the pseudo-conservative side).

Republicans seem to enjoy the double- and triple-reaming. Using the trees example again, a great typical Republican program (and for the most part a Democratic one as well since 1980 or so) is that we all pay for the US Forest Service to build roads for timber corporations. So they can cut down our trees... sometimes even trees we told them they're not allowed to have. And then we buy the paper from the corporations without any taxpayer discount, even though those were trees we paid collectively to plant, maintain and partially to cut down. And then we cut taxes for the timber companies as a "job incentive." And we cut taxes for the executives of the timber companies even more, because rich people are Jesus' favorite special little freaking love children.

Now that's fucking the consumer/taxpayer. That's impressive. You have this with coal, oil, food, etc etc down the line. Socialized expense, privatized profit. Again, we somehow call this "free market capitalism."

Requiring specific people to pay specific amounts to specific corporations, however... well, this somehow puts our pseudo-"conservatives'" knickers in a twist. I think the issue is that the product is health care and not paper, and America's right wing finds it extremely important that health care not be viewed as a right. Certainly nothing to be American-style backassward "socialized." Fuck you, you diseased leech. Earth is for healthy and/or rich people. Didn't you know that?!

Regardless, I wish the GOP godspeed with the quite correct argument that it's not constitutional to force specific people to buy specific products. (I would add specific products that are likely defective, unreliable and that require additional inputs that you still might not be able to afford... although the GOP wuvs the health insurance industry and would never append that bit.) When will Republicans, then, start supporting war tax resisters? Anyone...? Anyone...? Bueller..? At least the status quo lets you need insurance and lets you pseudo-"decide" you might prefer to die with dignity instead of crapping your adult diapers at a last-ditch bake sale while trying to raise money for Aetna to let you finally take the fucking tumor out.

It seems odd that after several years of undeclared war, torture, suspension of habeus corpus, and spying on the American public that GOP lawmakers would suddenly flip to the back of their Texas-approved civics textbooks and start reading the fucking constitution, but better late than never. I'll take it.

Ah, the two party system.

On a related note, CommonDreams.org is one of the larger left-leaning news and opinion sites. Not "left" really, not the way the nicer neighborhoods of the non-Idiocracy world have a left. Not a Swedish nor Irish nor German nor Greek nor even Canadian left. Not an effective left, with a track record and a spine, that's given its people five weeks paid vacation, no college debt, no hospital bill bankruptcy. I mean the mamby-pamby "progressives" who support the Democratic Party first, left ideals third and whatever defeatist BS the Democratic Party wants them to believe this week that hobbles left ideals second.

What happens on the site is that they print mainly mainstream "liberal" stuff that paints the Dems in a pretty positive light (the spinal flexibility some professional columnists have one needs to do this is a wonder to behold). And there's a few hardercore leftie articles mixed in too for street cred, the same way boy bands get an actual rapper to do a cameo on one song per album. During the 2008 campaign, as the first week of November approached, they had a Stalinist-style purge of all of the registered commenters who trashed Obama (because we said that Obama would do exactly what he's done thus far) and counselled voting Green or Nader, or Libertarian, or writing in Mickey Mouse. They not only banned many of us from posting on the site, but Orwell-style unpersoned/memory holed us by removing all of our previous posts on every topic and even - this is nutso - barring our IP addresses from even reading the site any longer!

I moved after the election, had a new IP address and began posting again under a different user name. This time Kucinich came up vis-a-vis the healthcare debate, and those of us who correctly predicted that Kucinich would be a turncoat weasel - because that's the nature of the modern Democratic Party - got purged again before it even happened. Posts gone, IP banned. The only way I can read CommonDreams articles from home now is through the Google cache (or through some IP hiding service, until I'd get banned again...). These are your "liberals", consigning all the Winston Smiths to Room 101 until we learn to love Big Obama.

If you're wondering why I bother reading the site at all, a valid question, it's really always been for the discussion in the comments section. That's where I get to gauge what America's unrepresented lumpen-left - the people who aren't crippled by excuse-making for a failed major party - are thinking. In 2004 maybe 10% were in revolt against Kerry, in 2008 about 20% were against Obama before he sold us downriver to Wall Street and maybe 40% after. Now with this healthcare turd passed about 80% of the commenters have vowed not to vote for any Democrat in 2010 or 2012. And the majority of the regular commenters are finally getting serious about voting Green or Nader, or Libertarian, or writing in Mickey Mouse.

Buckle your seat belts, we're in for a wild ride.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Announcing the Spring QuizmasterChris All-Quiz Tournament

Starting tonight, and for the next five weeks, all teams' quiz scores will be cumulatively totalled.

The team with the top overall score at the end of that period among all teams playing at all venues will win a very cool prize package that I'm currently putting together. This is in addition to our usual venue-based quiz prizes. Expect better than the usual consolation-prize books. I may reveal the exact contents of the prize package as the weeks progress.

Watch this blog for weekly updates, and let the games begin!

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Some random images of Guatemala

I really like Guatemala. I've been three times for vacation, back in 1997 or so, in 2005 I believe and again just a couple of summers ago. Guatemala City (or more acurately Antigua, the charming hamlet - and original Guatemala City until ruined by a series of earthquakes - which has become one of Latin America's backpacking tourist centers 45 minutes away) is about the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the Mayan world/northern Central America.

I've bought a couple of external back-up drives lately to store my photos and music, and in doing some file maintenance it occured to me that maybe I could make this site a little more interesting by dipping into my archives of thousands of images. Enjoy. If I get feedback on this I might post some other shots of other places later.

The privately-owned inter-city buses that form much of Guatemala's transport system are individually and brightly decorated

Men in the traditional garb of Solola state preparing for the Sunday market in Chichicastenango

Scene from the Sunday market in Chichicastenango, in a rural mountain area where Spanish is a secondary language to local Mayan dialects

Guatemala City street performer in the Parque Central... wait for it... waaaaait foooor iiiit...


Goats being led down the middle of the street, Guatemala City, on a Sunday, about 1 block from the center of national government

Catholic Sunday procession, Antigua

Mayan ladies enjoying a ferris wheel in Antigua.
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Prepare yourself for this week's quizzes

Tuesday, March 23, 9:00pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)

Wednesday, March 24, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: THE 1950s

Thursday, March 25, 9pm
The Draught Horse
Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(Temple University campus)
Subject Round: EUROPE

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Monday, March 22, 2010

America's health insurance industry is corrupt and defective - so now the IRS will force you to give them money

Only the Democratic Party of the United States would call this enormity "reform." I call it 535 Congresspeople, One Cup.This is why I vote for Ralph every four years. If you want to see something with British The Office-level discomfort, watch Dennis "Droopy Dog" Kucinich get torn a new one by Nader on Democracy Now!. Dennis looks like a Soviet official in 1953 admitting to his crimes against the state before being shipped off to an accidental death in the gulag. Such are the wages of major party loyalty. The Obama people bludgeoned Kucinich because he was going to be the only left-leaning vote in both houses of Congress on this shit, and when they tallied everything up it turned out they didn't even need his vote! How bad is it? Kucinich is offering rebates to people who contributed to his campaign because he campaigned as a foil of the insurance industry who'd vote against them. Rebates. When will the Obama people return the "hope and change" campaign money? Even in an act of treachery and cowardice, Kucinich still manages to out-honest Obama on that one.

People like to say Nader's a straight shooter because he isn't in office. This is precisely backward; he isn't in office because he's a straight shooter. In the land of liars, the guy telling the truth is the one who's going to be maligned.

This excellent checklist (written by single payer advocates, not Teabaggers) is a wonderful synopsis of why this bill is literally worse than nothing. And even that list doesn't get into any detail of the Howard Dean-engineered gifts to the biotech industry in the fine print. The icing on the cake is that the bill calls for Medicare cuts, which in a sidelong way is actually proving one of the Teabaggers' charges correct.

Remember, folks: Republicans stab you in the front and Democrats stab you in the back. It's the two party system!
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

No green beer will be served at this week's quizzes

Tuesday, March 16, 9:00pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)

Wednesday, March 17, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: AIR TRAVEL

As a special St. Patrick's Day service to the community, no Irish crap will be asked.

Thursday, March 18, 9pm
The Draught Horse
Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(Temple University campus)

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Welcome Spring with a quiz

Tuesday, March 9, 9:00pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)

Wednesday, March 10, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.

Thursday, March 11
The Draught Horse
Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(Temple University campus)

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Fear and loathing of the Academy Awards

I generally pay a small amount of attention to the Oscars because 90% of what Hollywood craps out is lousy and I usually haven't seen more than one or two nominated films in any given year. Of course doing this job I have my head in the Oscars section of the almanac all the time, so I always catch up to who won what a year or two later. AA questions make for good trivia questions because they have definitive answers, and there's a certain level of movie fame implicit in an Oscar. It's hard for anyone to complain that I'm going too obscure if a movie won something.

I expected an oversized suckfest this year because I expected Avatar to win 63 awards, including Best Picture Titled Avatar, based in the size of the budget and the take. I had no intention of seeing Avatar and I still haven't. The initial turn-off was the constant commercials ruining the Phillies' playoff run, most irritatingly the attempt to tie the movie in directly with MLB literally while the games were being played. Next was the CGI-based nature of the movie. CGI still sucks and still looks like a bad cartoon. Give me Ray Harryhausen any day. Finally, I love good sci-fi... but good sci-fi is story-driven and usually contains some powerful parables about present-day Earth. Retooling the condescending Dances with Wolves story in space is not good storytelling. They spent $500 million on special effects and seem to have left the plot to whoever would work for tips.

Decent sci-fi starts with solid sci, which is to say that some of the presumptions in the film should make sense. Among the things that don't make sense in this film are creatures that move by flapping their wings flying in between asteroids held in place by a relative lack of gravity. Huh?

Much was made of the movie having created a language for the aliens. All I have to say to that is Klaatu barada nikto. Hasn't Star Trek been doing this since the mid-'60s as well?

Suffice it to say I wanted just about anything to bump Avatar from center stage. Unfortunately, just about anything did. The Hurt Locker is another film I wanted to avoid, and did. Any war movie that focuses on the invading occupier to the point that the people who live in the wartorn land are a mixture of afterthought and nuisance is a highly misleading piece of shit. Add to this that the movie was made while the war is still ongoing, and an apparently conscious decision was made to avoid any historicality by not attempting to provide any context for why the invaders are there, or why the locals are trying to kill them with IEDs to begin with... well, at that point, the filmmakers are pretty much in league with Satan. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, THL got 97% positive reviews, the other 3% of the reviewers questioning how it could be possible to make a movie ostensibly about the Iraq war which could have been set in a SWAT unit back home for all it said about Iraq. A couple of reviewers noted that the only social impact of the movie would be as a more subtle than usual "men jus' doin' their job" Pentagon tool for recruitment. "Liberal" Hollywood does it again!

You could tell that the screenplay was from an embedded "journalist." The plain fact of the matter is that it's a lot more dangerous to be an 10 year old kid in Iraq than it is to be an American disposing IEDs there (IEDs which, incidentally, probably wouldn't be there if you weren't). Who has potable water, nutritious and clean food, free medical care, body armor, military training, all the advantages of modern technology and is backed by a force of 200,000+? And who has none of those things and has to deal with a religious war backed by American bribery? Make a movie about that kid, you'll deserve an Oscar. Make an Army recruitment commercial, you deserve a contract for a detergent commercial or an ambulance chaser or used car dealer, whatever comes down the pipe next.

Apparently now too we have the pseudo-liberal bait and switch in which a woman is awarded an Oscar because she's not only a woman but the ex-wife of the guy with the blockbuster film. Giving her an award for this is somehow supposed to be a victory for all women, although I see it as setting women back a few decades. Alimony awards... literally? Ironically among the few negative reviews a couple noted that there were no female members of the military depicted in the film and there was no indication by that nor anything else that a woman was in charge of the movie and brought any new perspective to the genre. That the impact of the war on Iraqi women - far more severe than that on American men - went completely ignored to the point of invisibility is so obvious that so far as I know no one else has bothered stating that explicitly.

The movie was praised for the action sequences if nothing else. According to Iraq combat vets, those were laughably unrealistic.

Special revulsion is reserved for Precious, a film which African-American social critic Ishmael Reed is getting pounded for correctly having criticized as a psychological assault. Only American
pseudo-"liberals" - i.e., people who think that electing a half-African man for a "change" to suck off Wall Street and ramp up the war budget for four years is somehow progressive - could smugly congratulate themselves for enjoying a film depicting two morbidly obese welfare recipients getting dicked over literally and figuratively by brutal sex-crazed Sambo, and then on top of that congratulate themselves specifically for being so damn compassionate.

Reed points out that there isn't any particular pandemic of daddy-rape in the black community, and that the film would get praised for "bringing attention" to a fake crisis involving black men not being able to hold back from daughter-fucking is kinda sick. He points out that what we actually have is one instance of this, and that instance is purely fictional. Not a good base for social policy. I mean, there have been five Chucky movies and where's the outcry against possessed murder dollies? I demand to know!

Things got more perverse when uni-nomenclatured Mo'Nique - how's that name for breaking stereotypes... and am I supposed to pronounce the apostrophe as a glottal stop? - invoked Hattie McDaniel's name and "what she had to endure." According to Ms. McDaniel, she'd rather have played a maid for $7000 a week than been a maid for $7 a week. The one racial incident that she seems to have suffered was being barred from the Atlanta premier of Gone with the Wind, and when Clark Gable offered to boycott the premier in protest she insisted he go.

McDaniel was a resourceful daughter of slaves who actually worked as a maid in the early years of the Great Depression, and was able to have a four-decade showbiz career, a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1939, a US postage stamp in 2006 (consider you need to be dead for a decade to get one, and the USPS wasn't doing actors 50 years ago when she died... this isn't as delayed as it reads at first glance), her own radio and TV shows and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That's what the woman "had to endure." How is playing a maid worse than being one? And what's the shame in being a working person?

Ironically southern audiences were scandalized by the fact that she played sassy, disrespectful
maids who were deemed too familar with the white stars of the film. This was pretty much the most dignified work a black actress could get at the time. I say this is ironic because the black family depicted in Precious may as well have come out of a KKK newsletter comic strip, and seems to me to do far more harm to the majority image of black folks in America than the maid thing.

In this case it's the condescending pseudo-liberal notion of class problems actually being race problems. America loves to talk about race - we especially like to claim we never talk about race - because the "solution" is for individuals to "open their minds" and "be nice" and "have a positive mental attitude." Somehow poor people get more responsibility in this scenario! Families like the one depicted have class problems, which would require a retooling of government, business, tax and social priorities, and would require people like rich Hollywood fucks to lose many of their privileges. Thus we'll keep the proles talking about race and rapey black men, and keep voting for California's suicidal property tax breaks for billionaires.

Mo'Nique made the stunning claim that the Oscar was a triumph of substance over "politics", as if every decision made by the voting members of the Academy isn't exactly just that. Presumably her performance (as a racial stereotype no less) was so awesome that racism could be the only way she would have lost..? Is that seriously what she was saying? If I were up for that award too I'd tell her to go fuck herself.

The Oscars have become all about pseudo-liberals assuaging guilt by awarding themselves for playing the roles of other people with serious problems. The problems themselves go unsolved.

In an episode of the hilarious British comedy Extras, Ricky Gervais and Kate Winslet have a great little interlude stating that Holocaust films get you Oscars.

Needless to say, Winset later did do a Holocaust film and won an Oscar for it. Nazi depictions are best for Best Supporting Actor Oscars, as we saw again last night. The moment I saw the nominated documentary short subjects clips, I figured the one with the African in a wheelchair was the winner, because African + wheelchair = Oscar. You'd need something on the order of a breast cancer + Holocaust survivor + lesbian to trump that one. Of course the documentary maker isn't solving the problem and for the most part isn't even addressing the structural problems of African poverty in a world economy... but hey, their career is taking off. Make a film about a wheelchair in Zimbabwe (and make no mistake, the film was all about the wheelchair and not the person in it), win an Oscar. Zimbabwe itself remains fucked.

I mention all of this because of Mo'Nique's farcical assertion that "politics was left out" of giving her an award. Was politics left out of calling Morgan Freeman (who I still think of as Easy Reader) the lead actor in a movie in which Matt Damon was clearly the lead, and Freeman played a supporting role? If Freeman played anyone other than Nelson Mandela, would that have happened? This coming from a bunch of movie studios that probably had money invested in Krugerrands until 1985.

A country whose dream factory can't crank out better than this is on the shitslide to being the next Britain, a class-divided post-colonial has-been state filled with a decaying terrible history, misremembered as a charming, fun empire for foreign tourists. "See you at the movies... save me the aisle seat!"
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Removed once again from the Wikipedia "Quizzo" entry... and self-reinstated

For about the fifth time in the past couple of years, the link to this URL in the External Links section of the Wikipedia entry for quizzo was removed. I'm usually targeted for removal by the National Trivia Association because I'm the only web presence who periodically points out that the NTA is not national, is not an association, and sucks at generating trivia.

I check once every few months and, when I remember to do so, the link to this blog is usually missing. This time I caught it after a week, but sometimes the link goes missing for months. I simply don't have the kind of time to undo the NTA's douchebaggery that they have to enact it. The high irony here is that the current, coherent entry with correct spelling and full English-language sentences you see today was largely my work. If any of you folks are Wiki-regulars, I'd appreciate the restoration of the link to here if you check in on "Quizzo" every now and again. QuizmasterChris does exist here in the city where American quizzo started, I have maintained this blog for 3 years, I have played and/or hosted the game regularly in this city since 1996 and goddamn it, I have the tiniest of promotional links here due.
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March into the future with a quiz

Tuesday, March 2, 9:00pm
El Camino Real
1040 N. 2nd St.
(2nd St. below Girard Ave.)
Subject Round: 1990s MOVIES

Wednesday, March 3, 7:30pm
12 Steps Down
9th & Christian Sts.
Subject Round: MARINE LIFE

Thursday, March 4, 9pm
The Draught Horse
Broad St. & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
(Temple University campus)

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