Weekly Open Thread with Hedgehogs and Otters

This week’s Open thread is brought to you by me only just discovering the Hedgehogs That Look Like Martin Freeman meme (I knew about Otters looking like Benedict Cumberbatch). Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

A 4x4 grid of pictures of Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson with matching hedgehogs, and pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes with matching otters

Freeman Hedgehog Otter Cumberbatch
aka Sherlotter Johnhog

Otterlock on a Case by FightingForNothing on deviantART

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

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70 comments for “Weekly Open Thread with Hedgehogs and Otters

  1. RenoTerror
    February 7, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    So Martin “Rape jokes are funny” Freeman and Benedict “R Kelly Fan” Cumberbatch are cool here?

    • February 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Er. Yeah. I was kind of wondering that myself.

    • February 7, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      I don’t know anything about either of those situations. Off to google to find out.

    • ldouglas
      February 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Benedict “R Kelly Fan” Cumberbatch are cool here?

      Pretty sure reading R Kelly lyrics on a comedy show isn’t tantamount to supporting sexual assault, but sure, let’s get up in arms. It’s fun!

      • Lolagirl
        February 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

        I am so side-eyeing the Cumberbatch criticism up thread.

        It was a sketch, on Jimmy Kimmel live, intended as a satirical send-up of Kelly and his oeuvre. That’s not apologism or fanboying, but it may just be criticism cloaked in comedy.

        Context is an actual thing, as is nuance. Really, I don’t see how one could watch the sketch and think it was R Kelly Is An Awesome Artist!!!

      • bookshopcat
        February 9, 2014 at 10:04 am

        Yeah, it’s certainly not like he’s ever done anything else that might cause some serious side-eye, like, oh, I dunno: misgendering Chelsea Manning, saying that Julian Assange is an awesome not-rapist, or bemoaning the end of the good ol’ days when everybody “knew their proper place, but there was a sort of duty of care from the top down”. (Apparently now the ignorant poor are out to ruin the lives of the rich because they Just Don’t Understand How It Is or something.)

      • ldouglas
        February 9, 2014 at 10:30 am

        And we can talk about any of those things (which I haven’t heard about), but it’s not what we were talking about. Do you want to provide links to his quotes?

        If someone told me John Beohner was terrible because over the recess he went to a small island of Thailand to hunt human beings for sport, my response of “no, he doesn’t” does not endorse John B. So many people seem to forget that.

      • ldouglas
        February 9, 2014 at 10:36 am

        For example, I found that “proper place” quote, and not only did you misquote him, it came in a longer interview talking about his struggles coming from a lower-class family

      • ldouglas
        February 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

        Seriously, if the message you got from “The Fifth Estate” was “Julian Assange is awesome,” uh, I assume you felt like Darth Vader was tragically misunderstood?

      • trees
        February 9, 2014 at 11:21 am

        For example, I found that “proper place” quote, and not only did you misquote him, it came in a longer interview talking about his struggles coming from a lower-class family

        He’s not lower-class, his family is a member of the moneyed elite.

        In the context of a discussion of the popularity of Downton Abbey:

        Part of the appeal, he says, is that “there was a social structure that had to be adhered to”, from aristocrat to tenant and so on. But if that makes the former Harrow pupil sound like a raging right-winger, he’s having none of it.
        “Everyone was held in their place, but what was honourable about it was that there was a duty of care from the top down. That shouldn’t be tied in with any sort of fat-faced, flatulent Cameron effort at what Toryism—horribly—is now.”

        There’s been some talk of his family in the past couple of weeks:How Benedict Cumberbatch’s family made a fortune from slavery (And why his roles in films like 12 Years A Slave are a bid to atone for their sins)

        From this article New York City commissioner’s ancestors were slaves of Benedict Cumberbatch’s family:

        In 2012 he courted controversy by lamenting that he was a victim of “posh-bashing”, saying he might move to America to escape being “castigated as a moaning, rich, public-school bastard, complaining about only getting posh roles”. In an interview with the Radio Times, Cumberbatch insisted he was middle class, saying that despite his public school education and classical training, “I wasn’t born into land or titles, or new money, or an oil rig.”

      • ldouglas
        February 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        You see the a huge difference between

        “Everyone was held in their place” and “knew their proper place?” The first implies coercion and injustice, despite some redeeming features; the second implies that it was actually a better way for society to be set up.

        re: the lower-class family bit, I didn’t mean to post that comment; that’s why it cuts off partway through. I misinterpreted an article and then realized my mistake. Thanks for pointing it out, though.

      • trees
        February 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm

        You see the a huge difference between

        “Everyone was held in their place” and “knew their proper place?” The first implies coercion and injustice, despite some redeeming features; the second implies that it was actually a better way for society to be set up.

        No, not really; the significance of the difference is lost on me. They both imply coercion and injustice. He follows with “but what was honourable about it was that there was a duty of care from the top down.”

      • ldouglas
        February 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm

        They both imply coercion and injustice.

        When someone says people of an oppressed group should “know their place,” you think they believe that the subordination of said group is wrong and unjust? Pretty sure that’s not how the phrase typically gets used.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        February 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm

        No. The difference isn’t significant when he goes on to talk about paternalistic actions designed to keep the lower classes dependant on the elitist class and calls those actions honorable. It’s the typical white well off dude romanticizing a time that was only nice for other white well off dudes. Only a privileged ass would find that honorable, especially when its just another tool to keep the oppressed stuck where they’re at. It didn’t encourage social mobility.

  2. February 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    That said, it’s a meme, not an actual endorsement of the guy himself, so wev.

    This week, I finished a MAJOR huge-ass assignment that I needed to get done, for work. It was grueling and I’m really pretty proud of myself for getting it done! ^__^

  3. February 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Well, going back to my dad’s place is definitely out of the question now, in light of his recent attempts to stalk me and trace my cellphone. After taking a few more measures to ensure that he can’t get to me, I will probably leave for my mom’s place very soon, stay there for a while, and come back to the Bay Area whenever it is safe and continue school. It’s important for me to go back to school because I need to finish my B.A. for the sake of economic prospects and affordable trans healthcare.

    • EG
      February 7, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      Please get yourself someplace safe where your father can’t trace you, Ally. I read the letter before the site went down and it was quite scary–that bit about how you can’t hide from Allah by using Skype. And the “we” that Donna and pheeno have already mentioned. It sounds to me like he might’ve been waiting outside to grab you if/when you came out.

      You are kind, smart, and brave. You have taken a huge step towards happiness. Please get there safely.

      • February 7, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        Everything EG said. Please take care, Ally.

    • February 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      Also, here is me and the sweetest kitty ever hanging out close to my laptop (she loves sitting next to the vents on my laptop because of the warm air). We both say (or meow) hi.

      • Donna L
        February 7, 2014 at 11:11 pm

        It’s a beautiful picture of both of you, Ally.

        Take care of yourself.

      • February 8, 2014 at 1:27 am

        My frivolous mind said “Curls. You’ll look gorgeous with shoulder-length curls” when I saw the first pic.

        (I spent half the day at the hairdresser, my mind is on the hair track.)

      • February 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        Curls, eh? That’s an interesting idea for sure. I’m already satisfied with the waviness of my hair, though. I would show how wavy my hair is but I don’t know if I can avoid taking a picture of my hair that isn’t awkward.

      • February 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm

        I’m talking curls like mine, open curls I think they’re called – curlier than wavy hair, but not the tight curls or ringlets that seem to monopolise the meaning. ;)

        When you grow your hair out, getting it layered might let the wave/curl show, because it won’t be straightened out by its own weight. I’m guessing your hair’s fairly strong?

      • February 8, 2014 at 8:04 pm

        Does that kitty have a tipped ear? I used to do TNR and am intrigued.

      • February 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

        She does. It’s because she’s a feral cat, I’ve been told.

      • Sharon M
        February 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        Ally S: sending you and your kitty good vibes.

      • khw
        February 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        stay safe Ally, good luck!

    • February 8, 2014 at 1:28 am

      Will it be wise to go to your mum’s? Wouldn’t shitstain be expecting that? Does he respect (ha) the restraining order your mum has against him?

  4. February 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Not a fan of cummerbund bandersnatch myself.

    Nice surprise today.. My work held a contest to choose a new company tag line before a big old convention that is coming up, and somehow my last minute, off the top of my head, attempt to look like I’m making an effort got the highest score, and i won! I get a $100 amazon card out of the deal. Pretty freaking sweet, and a nice surprise after a shitty couple of weeks. So yay books!

    • February 8, 2014 at 1:29 am

      I’ve never seen him in anything, and the pics just leave me thinking “This guy is supposed to be so good looking?”

      • February 8, 2014 at 8:43 am

        I hear some people like him for his acting, not for his looks. Pretty weird, huh?

      • smoketree
        February 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm

        I think most of his legion of admirers come from his role on Sherlock, which is fairly troubling in itself, as his character on that show is a serious asshole

      • February 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm

        People like an actor’s acting, but they’re bad people because… he portrays… an asshole? Wat.

      • Ledasmom
        February 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        I enjoy watching “Sherlock”, and I enjoyed watching “House” (well, most of the seasons); doesn’t mean I’d want to deal with either character in real life. I mean, I have no interest whatsoever in watching anything on TV that’s close to my actual life.

      • smoketree
        February 8, 2014 at 4:38 pm

        Sorry, I phrased that badly. To clarify, I don’t think anyone’s wrong to like the show or find the actor attractive. I just think there’s a tendency on television to glamourize (male) jerks and play off the “he just acts like an asshole because he needs the redeeming power of the right woman’s love!” trope, which I can’t stand. Although I might be reading too much into this particular show.

      • February 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        While I agree that pop culture has a tendency to glamourise know-it-all arseholes such as Sherlock and House, I think it’s wrong to lay that at the feet of any particular actor.

        For the record, I think he is a good actor, but he hasn’t acquitted himself especially well in the burst of stardom that has resulted from his success in Sherlock. Although that may be because writers and directors don’t really seem to know how to use him.

      • February 8, 2014 at 5:59 pm

        Hugh, I suspect BC’s navigating offers from Hollywood exceptionally carefully in a “build my nest egg” way rather than in a “build my acting credibility way”. He’s already got a British “serious actor” reputation from earlier work which means that he’ll never lack opportunities in Britain and will always be able to earn a good living there, and no matter what happens in Hollywood now the reality is that so long as he keeps getting lead roles in Britain he will also continue to get some offers (even if they’re only Villain Du Jour offers) from Hollywood. What Hollywood offers BC at this stage in his career is buckets of what David Niven referred to as “Fuck You Money” to salt away for a rainy day – always having enough in the bank to be able to say “No” to scripts/projects one has a bad feeling about.

      • February 8, 2014 at 5:39 pm

        Come to think of it, I think part of gradually turned me off House is that the character concept went from “He knows he’s an arsehole and won’t do anything about it, but is able to help people regardless” to “He’s an arsehole who revels in being an arsehole, and uses his talent to avoid the consequences”.

      • Ledasmom
        February 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm

        Well, “House” suffered from wildly inconsistent writing and characterization. In the last few seasons I found it necessary to not insist to myself that I was watching the same show as I had previously been watching, in order to enjoy it at all.

      • ldouglas
        February 8, 2014 at 9:28 pm

        because he needs the redeeming power of the right woman’s love!

        Fortunately, Sherlock explicitly defies this trope, so you can rest easy.

      • February 8, 2014 at 11:46 pm

        ::rolls eyes::

        I was talking specifically about people who find him physically attractive and never actually mention his acting.

      • February 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm

        One of my favourite Cumberbatch roles is in “Cabin Pressure”, where he’s not even visible.

      • DouglasG
        February 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        [Fortunately, Sherlock explicitly defies this trope, so you can rest easy.]

        It would nice be to be certain about that. I shan’t bet that those trickster writers will head in such a direction, but, if they were planning to have SH decide to choose normality and forensic pathologist Molly, the third season made a decent start at setting the table for it.

      • DouglasG
        February 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

        He always looks so different every time I see him that I was surprised to recognize him on the cover photo of the audiobook version of Parade’s End.

        (For anyone else who buys audiobooks, the tracks on this one average over 20 minutes long – strange and inconvenient.)

  5. February 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I have good news to share. A literary journal indicated they will publish me, provided I submit a revised draft of the short story I sent to them. It is currently in competition in several writing contests, but should I not place, I know at least someone is willing to put me in print.

    Certainty is often an elusive concept when it comes to writing. I’ve put years into the craft. This particular story took four months to write and went through at least ten revisions. I can complete a short essay in three or four hours, by comparison.

  6. February 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    My dad just said this in an email:

    I want to advise to reduce thinking about gender identity. Get your mind busy in other things. This is a private matter and no one needs to be curious about these matters. Find positive company and stay away from negative people because depression can be contagious.

    Oh dear. I really was naive about trusting him.

    • pheenobarbidoll
      February 9, 2014 at 1:02 am

      Well, you ARE staying away from negative people. He’s just one of them.

      • khw
        February 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        hugs from afar

    • Donna L
      February 9, 2014 at 1:49 am

      Ugh. I’m sorry, Ally.

      • Donna L
        February 9, 2014 at 1:50 am

        I guess he “accepts” you as long as you think about it less; never, ever tell anyone about it; and, of course, never do anything about it. Wonderful.

      • February 9, 2014 at 3:52 am

        I think it sounds like he doesn’t even want me to be trans, given his choice of words. :( He must be trying to stop me from coming out to the rest of the family…

  7. khw
    February 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I just wanted to repeat this (sorry for those who have seen my original comment):

    The name “Pantigate” has been coined for the whole matter; while I usually find the -gate suffix for scandalous happenings rather tedious, in this case, I have to smile!

    I want to show my support for Panti Bliss (Ireland’s most famous drag queen):

    She stated on RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) that actively working to reduce gay rights is homophobic and mentioned the Iona Institute, which is very Catholic, as you may imagine.

    When the Iona Institute formally complained and threatened legal action, RTE caved and removed the clip from the webpage and paid an undisclosed amount of money to those who felt verbally mistreated.

    She arrived on stage at the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s national theatre) and gave a ten minute speech.

    Her words:

    “Now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia, homophobes are the victims of homophobia. Let me just say that it’s not true. Because I don’t hate you. I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you are probably homophobes, but I am a homophobe, I mean, it would be incredible if we weren’t. I mean because to grow up in a society that is overwhelmingly and stiflingly homophobic and to somehow escape unscathed would be miraculous. So I don’t hate you because you’re homophobes; I actually admire you. I admire you, because most of you are only a bit homophobes, and considering the circumstances, that’s pretty good going. But I do, sometimes, hate myself. I hate myself because I fucking check myself when standing at pedestrian crossings. And sometimes I hate you for doing that to me.”

    This is the link:

    there’s another interesting take on it:

    • ldouglas
      February 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      So sick of Ireland and the UK’s bullshit religious supremacism. In many ways it’s even worse than the US; at least we have the First Amendment to prevent abominations like their blasphemy laws.

  8. February 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    [Content note: anxiety attacks]

    Today my brother informed me that my dad “started going crazy” and looked all over Santa Cruz for me. He pressured me to call my dad because apparently my dad was acting the way he was because he was panicking and wanted to hear my voice.

    So I called my dad (via Skype, so that he couldn’t track me), and throughout the entire conversation I could tell that he was going through intense psychological delusions. He congratulated me for hiding from him effectively. He kept talking about how he found me under the bed, and every time I alluded to the fact that I wasn’t there with him in the car, he said “What are you talking about? I’m not crazy! You’re in the car right now! I don’t know who is telling you that you’re somewhere else.” He also said that I looked very sick and weak – despite not even seeing me – and exhorted me to eat regularly.
    Lastly, he repeatedly asked me to kiss my mother’s feet (an Islamic expression for treating one’s mother well).

    It was a very scary conversation. I ended up getting a self-loathing anxiety attack and felt very unsafe. I felt (and still feel, to some degree) horrible and selfish for not calling him earlier, but it was really hard for me to call him because he makes me anxious every time I talk to him over the phone. Fortunately, he’s back in San Jose and has calmed down considerably. Hopefully his delusions are gone, too.

    • pheenobarbidoll
      February 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      That’s….odd. As if someone else was listening in and he was trying to make them think you were with him. Honestly, I’d just avoid contact. And I’d tell that brother he can be next on the no contact list if he pressured me again. And you may want to think about restraining orders, and inform them both that you will not hesitate to get one if needed.

      • February 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm

        Okay, I should clarify that my brother pressured me only because my dad was going out of control and he was afraid of what my dad could do. So I have no hard feelings against my brother. I will, however, stay the hell away from my dad for a while.

      • February 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm

        Seconded. Even if things are exactly as they seem and Ally’s dad is having a nervous breakdown, then your brother making you keep contacting him might do your father more harm than good. There is no reason to give in to the pressure and many solid reasons – that are kind to everyone concerned – not to.

      • February 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm

        Thirding all of that, pheeno. I’m very much of the “cut him out of your life completely and permanently” frame of mind with douchebag relatives, even when they aren’t fucking abusers who put your life at risk.

    • February 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Wow. Ally, he sounds like he’s having a severe breakdown. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it – hell, I’m sorry he’s having to deal with it, Crazybrain isn’t something I’d wish on anyone, as someone who’s dealt with it. Either way, you should definitely stay away from him, as going to see him right now really might push him over the edge. *lots of hugs if you want ’em*

    • February 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      So I called my dad (via Skype, so that he couldn’t track me), and throughout the entire conversation I could tell that he was going through intense psychological delusions. He congratulated me for hiding from him effectively. He kept talking about how he found me under the bed, and every time I alluded to the fact that I wasn’t there with him in the car, he said “What are you talking about? I’m not crazy! You’re in the car right now! I don’t know who is telling you that you’re somewhere else.” He also said that I looked very sick and weak

      Obviously this isn’t great news, but I think you can rest easy about him being outside the house where you are at 5am like he said the other day.

  9. Sharon M
    February 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    CN: death threats, homophobia

    5 year old girl gets death threats. Why? Because the show she stars in featured a (adorable) lesbian couple.

    Hopefully the police can find them. I’m betting they’ll be a anti choice, fundamentalist conservative Christian. Oh some of the comments on the Huff. Post blamed the mother (of course) for having an Instagram of her daughter.
    What a fine world we live in. :(


    • PrettyAmiable
      February 12, 2014 at 11:15 am

      I saw this! WTF! That poor kid. Not to mention everyone involved who probably now feels responsible for what’s happening to her.

  10. karak
    February 12, 2014 at 12:39 am

    There’s a woman about my age (late 20s early 30s) in one of my classes that I took something of a dislike to when we first met. My introduction to her was her making snide, unpleasantly self-pitying remarks about her difficulties with her PhD dissertation being rejected because it had major flaws.

    It’s a once a week class, so at this point I’ve only had three classes with her. In every class, after I speak, she makes a little smile, rolls her eyes, and in a fake sweet voice, dripping with condescension, explains why I’m wrong and she’s very smart and going to explain to me why and guide my stupid little self. I call it “pulling an Umbridge” (Harry Potter reference).

    I think she’s targeting me because I’m a first-year Master’s student, and the other two first-year students are married and more “serious” looking than I am (I wear lots of brightly colored makeup and jewelry, they both wear neutral office wear with little or no makeup).

    I have no idea how to deal with her. Ignoring her does nothing, combating her just makes her louder and more obnoxious. I’m getting angry enough to say something highly inappropriate to her.

    I don’t even know how to approach this issue. How do you deal with this kind of bullying? I’m not even sure anyone else notices it’s happening.

    • BBBShrewHarpy
      February 12, 2014 at 10:25 am

      “Thank you so much for your input, . I’ll take it into consideration” is a good phrase to just about anything she might say. Repeating it after every snide put-down will make your point to everyone in the room without appearing unprofessional. Easy for me to say this… I know it must make your blood boil but there’s no winning with these people.

      • PrettyAmiable
        February 12, 2014 at 11:13 am

        That’s the grown-up version! I tend to be a bit more direct because I find it gets results to call people out on treating you poorly. If it were me (and thankfully for this woman, it’s not), I’d say this:

        I don’t appreciate the way you’re talking to me. Please treat me with respect, and I’ll do the same.

        (And without fail, the person denies they’re doing anything, to which I’d say)

        The eye-rolling makes me uncomfortable. When you combine them with a smile, it’s deeply patronizing. You don’t treat the others this way, and I certainly do not do it to you, so please stop.

        In my experience, it gets awkward for 2.3 seconds, but it always stops. I’ve gotten apologies when being this direct (not immediately, but either later in the day or the following day). Plus, honestly, if you don’t get anxieties over being this direct, it frankly feels good to put words to what’s going on.

      • Sharon M
        February 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

        She enjoys getting a negative reaction out of you, so don’t let her know you’re upset.

        Tune her out, and when she’s done with her little spiel, say any or all of these phrases” I see”, “Huh” “Interesting”

        Kill her with kindness if you’re up to it: “ I like your shoes” “that was a good point about…” (if it really was a good point), or the good old Southern standby: “Bless you heart” :D :D

        I’ve done all of the above, and it deflates them fast. Let us know and good luck.

      • BBBShrewHarpy
        February 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        This is another good option if you can do it without showing anger in your voice and can remain professional and non-accusing (i.e. “I feel like…” rather than “You do this annoying thing…”). Personally I can’t and I start getting snarky and making others uncomfortable, so I prefer the “Thank you so much” option.

    • EG
      February 12, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Hmm. I’d wonder why, if she’s at the dissertation level, she’s still doing coursework. You could always ask her…

      You could also go the prof’s office hours, if ze seems sympathetic, and express discomfort with the dynamic. It is the professor’s responsibility to maintain a welcoming classroom climate for all students who are not doing anything disruptive or hostile, after all.

    • February 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      I’m getting angry enough to say something highly inappropriate to her.

      That is exactly what I would do. I would also probably dress doubly brightly, if I thought that was pissing her off, and I would roll my eyes at everything she said, until ultimately it came to a head. I would do all those things, but if you saw my school record, and consider the fact that I never even graduated college, perhaps it would be best to look at what I would do and then do the exact opposite. Putting aside the joke about my poor school record, you may not be the sort of person who prefers a big confrontation to a silent war, so this may not be the ideal way to approach it anyway.

      However, every second that you have to think about this woman’s shitty attitude is a second you could be focused on your class (that you paid for) and as such she is pretty much stealing from you, by preventing you from getting the full education you deserve from the class. It is up to the professor to do something about it.

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