Tuesday’s Forum

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Results are in for my latest cooking experiments.

    1) Adding around 20% allulose by volume to a mix of coconut water and lime, did result in a sorbet consistency after spinning it in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes, and freezing it overnight.

    It wasn’t too sweet, and it’s definitely less sweet when cold (as compared to tasting it while adding allulose). But the flavor wasn’t quite right. For now it’s good enough that I will try it with something else.

    2) reheating chicken thighs in the air fryer does not restore the crispiness to the skin. On the plus side, they felt more moist that when reheated in the microwave. But, the air fryer takes 5 minutes rather than 90 seconds (not a huge deal), and it gives you one more thing to wash (bigger deal).

    On other things, I woke up a few minutes ago feeling cold. That’s completely ridiculous. So I assumed I’ve a fever. But the thermometer is showing 36.3-36.6 C consistently, which is as close to textbook normal as it gets.

    The weather app shows 14 C, which is cool but not cold. It may be at the apartment building it’s colder, say around 10-12 C, which is a bit cold. It was cloudy yesterday since late afternoon, and there was some rain. So maybe that’s it.

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    Primary day here in Baltimore, which given the Democratic nature of the town is essentially the general, except for the US Senate Seat. The Mayor is up for reelection and I have not been impressed. He seems inexperienced and out of his depth, reacting instead of getting on top of things. Unfortunately his main rival is a previous mayor who has been convicted of embezzling funds while in office and is sponsored by the “I Hate Baltimore” Sinclair Media/Fox billionaire, a real POS, so I’ll hold my nose and vote for the incumbent. In the Senate race on the Dem side, we have a wealthy businessman turned US Representative who is fine, but also the current Prince Georges County Administrator who seems to have done a good job there. That executive experience is much needed in Congress so I’m going with her. The rest are local races, important to me by of no national note.

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  3. charontwo says:

    Here is a good recap of Stormy’s testimony:

    Link

    It might not be Necheles’ fault though, the line of questioning may have been dictated by the client, TFG

    A review of how NYT reported the NJ rally:

    Bulwark

    The paper of record is worse than you thought.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Weird: Hundreds of ‘emaciated’ and stranded pelicans turn up along California coast

    State’s department of fish and wildlife says the brown pelicans are showing signs of malnutrition, but that the cause is still unclear

    Many pelicans have died. The cause is still unclear, though the CDFW said the animals appear to be succumbing to problems related to starvation. Some wildlife experts have pointed out that the birds are malnourished despite the bounty of marine life along the Pacific coast.

    In 2022, a similar event saw nearly 800 pelicans admitted into wildlife care facilities – about half of which were released, according to the CDFW.

    The agency said it was conducting postmortem exams of the birds who died this year and testing those currently under the care of wildlife rehabilitation centers.

    Why do I feel certain that a fair amount of the blame lies at the feet of humanity?

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ha. haha. This is my laughing face.

    Johnny McEntee, the former White House Trump aide closely linked to plans for radical federal government reform should Donald Trump win re-election, stoked outrage with a TikTok video in which he claimed to give unhoused people fake money, thereby to ensure their arrest.

    “So I always keep this fake Hollywood money in my car,” McEntee said in the video posted last week by The Right Stuff, a dating site for rightwingers of which McEntee is a co-founder.

    “So when a homeless person asks for money, then I give them like a fake $5 bill. So I feel good about myself. They feel good. And then when they go to use it, they get arrested. So I’m actually like helping clean up the community, you know, getting them off the street.”

    The video included a caption: “Just a joke. Everyone calm down.”

    I hope he really was that stupid. Regardless, I suspect the Secret Service will have some fun at his expense.

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  6. charontwo says:

    Really interesting account of 1988 Biden health crisis:

    Post_Gift_Link

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  7. Kathy says:

    @charontwo:

    I don’t know. If she had told her story in the media instead of waiting for hush money, she might have been the hero the world didn’t even know it needed in 2016.

    It might not be Necheles’ fault though, the line of questioning may have been dictated by the client, TFG

    Have you noticed how representing Lardass has the same effect as representing one’s self?

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    Preet Bhahara interviews Michael Kruse, a biographer of Roy Cohn, a scumbag but once powerful lawyer who mentored Trump and helped him achieve some of his biggest victories. The podcast is only 20 minutes and focusses mostly on Trump’s endless search for a lawyer will to be “my Roy Cohn”, but there is a small part that details what happened when Roy Cohn got sick and lost a lot of his power. One source said Trump and Cohn talked 15-20 times a day, but once Cohn was disbarred and then diagnosed with AIDS, Trump ghosted him, never visiting in the hospital and although he attended Cohn’s funeral, he didn’t speak, didn’t even sit down, but just stood in the back.

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  9. mattbernius says:

    Someone’s “sense of humor’ tells you a lot about a person.

    In this case–
    “Ha Ha joking about tricking homeless people to get them in jail to remove them as a nuisance… JK jk just triggering the libs.”
    –it says worlds about their cruelty.

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  10. Kathy says:

    Having developed a narrow body midrange airplane, COMAC, the least imaginative named company, is working hard on two wide bodies.

    One, the C939 is big, and meant to compete with the B777 and A350. The other, C929, is smaller, and meant to go after the A3330 and B787.

    Other than the fact this is being done in a totalitarian dictatorship, well, there’s really not getting past that, is there? But who else can take on the duopoly? Japan could, but lacks a major aeronautical industry, and Mitsubishi failed at getting a regional jet to market. Canada could, but the one major aviation company got out of commercial aviation entirely. Brazil might, but the one commercial aircraft maker is not interested in going past regional jets. Russia totally could, but they remain as incompetent in consumer related industries as they were under Communism.

    COMAC has three problems with its narrow body, the C919.

    One, it’s not as efficient nor has the range of the MAX and A320 families it intends to compete with. This can be solved by selling the plane for less money than Boeing or Airbus do for theirs, at least for a few years. But the long term solution is a second generation plane that improves on the original.

    Two, they lack sufficient production capability. The backlog is over 1,000 planes, of which they’ve delivered a grand total of 5 (five). They intend to build production facilities, and ramp up to 150 planes a year… by 2028.

    Three, the plane’s not been certified by anyone outside China. This means that no airline in any other country could legally buy one and operate it. It might also mean, not sure on this, that it can’t be flown by a Chinese airline outside of China (one was flown, by COMAC, to the Singapore airshow for display; special permissions often apply for these things).

    So where do over 1,000 orders for this thing come from? From Chinese airlines, a captive market if there ever was one.

    Russia, meantime, is busy making its homegrown narrow body, the MC-21, more Russian than a Czar stuffed with caviar and drunk on vodka.

    Built by yet another unimaginatively named company, the United Aircraft Corporation*, it can’t use any components made in the west, or covered by sanctions imposed after Mad Vlad’s adventure in modern imperialism. So they have to substitute Russian components, from engines to the little useless ashtrays that go on the lavatory doors.

    The result is a plane that’s much heavier than it needs to be, which therefore lacks the range it should have, and makes highly inefficient use of fuel. I don’t think even Soviet designs were this bad, except for the Tu-144 better known as Concordskyi.

    *I’m not crazy about the name of United Airlines, either.

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    I haven’t tried ChatGPT or the other generative AI’s in a while so I thought I would check it out again. I typed in “did Donald Trump ever visit Roy Cohn in the hospital” and got back

    Yes, Donald Trump did visit Roy Cohn in the hospital during his illness. Roy Cohn, a prominent lawyer and mentor to Trump, was diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s. Despite their close relationship, there are conflicting reports about the extent of Trump’s visits and support during Cohn’s illness. Some sources suggest Trump distanced himself from Cohn after his AIDS diagnosis became public, while others claim Trump did visit him in the hospital. The exact details may vary depending on the source.

    So basically, nothing. It states outright that Trump did visit Cohen in the hospital but provides no source (from the reputable sources I could find, he didn’t), but then in the next sentence says there are conflicting reports about whether he did or didn’t. No link to those sources or even a description of who they were. The cadence and wording has improved from the last time I tried it, but the results are as useless as ever.

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  12. Tony W says:

    @mattbernius: Punching down. Always punching down.

    Strong people don’t need to do that.

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  13. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    ChatGPT is stuck on data from 2022 or before, and does not access the web. Copilot, powered by some version of GPT, does access the web and cites sources. I repeated your question to it, and let’s see what happens when I paste it here (I predict moderation for excessive links, so I may cut a few):

    Donald Trump had a close relationship with Roy Cohn, who was his mentor and lawyer for many years¹². However, it is reported that when Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS, Trump decided to sever his ties with him³. There is no public record indicating that Trump visited Cohn in the hospital. Please note that this information is based on publicly available sources and there might be more details that are not publicly disclosed.

    Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/14/2024
    (1) A mentor in shamelessness: the man who taught Trump the power of …. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/20/roy-cohn-donald-trump-joseph-mccarthy-rosenberg-trial.
    (2) The Final Lesson Donald Trump Never Learned From Roy Cohn. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/19/roy-cohn-donald-trump-documentary-228144/.
    (3) Donald Trump turned his back on his closest friend when he heard he had …. https://theweek.com/speedreads/617343/donald-trump-turned-back-closest-friend-when-heard-aids.

    I cut off three links. the ones cited in the answer I left.

    The test to try next is to repeat the question later and see what it says then.

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  14. MarkedMan says:

    I asked ChatGPT 3.5 a couple of more questions, technical ones that I understood well.

    “At what diameter can particles form an aerosol” That answer was good. It gave me two choices, very similar, but one more conversational and one more bulletpoint-y. I preferred the bullet point one and told it so.

    I next asked it to create an image of a photometer scanning a filter. It told me it “might be difficult” but it would explain what it would look like, and proceeded to do so. It is worrisome how confidently it spewed utter nonsense. It had seven bullet points and a caption. All but one of the bullet points contained at least one grevious error. Not just wrong in fact, but demonstrating that it had no understanding of what a photometer was, its operating principles, how it is deployed, or what it is used for. It was well written from a grammatical sense, and used precise numbers in some places, which to me makes it worse. If you were to try to learn anything by asking it questions it has the demeanor of someone knowledgeable in the arts, with the actual understanding of a hollywood screenwriter churning out a parody of Star Wars. “James, set your retro blaster to 7 Gigahertz! Ameliorate the temporal neuron!”

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  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: That looks much more promising.

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  16. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    @mattbernius:

    If he did do it, I have to wonder if it’s not passing counterfeit money. While he made no purchase or payment, he used it in a way that implies a genuine monetary use.

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  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I used to do consulting with the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing and although most of my consulting had to do with detecting misprints of currency and stamps, a small amount was security related and I talked a number of times with Treasury Agents tasked with investigating counterfeiting. Unless something has changed drastically, I am sure they would consider this counterfeiting, which is a Federal Offense. And since he is on the record of doing this in the hopes of getting someone arrested, he has made it clear that he is well aware it is a crime, which would help inform the judge when it is time for sentencing.

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  18. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @mattbernius:
    And/or implanting the idea into some people’s minds.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: From the article:

    Under 18 US Code section 480: “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly and with intent to defraud, possesses or delivers any false, forged, or counterfeit bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, promise to pay, bank note, or bill issued by a bank or corporation of any foreign country, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

    Hence my hope that he did in fact engage in this particular idiocy.

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  20. Bill Jempty says:

    @Kathy:

    *I’m not crazy about the name of United Airlines, either.

    There are some people that call it Untied.

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  21. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I find the citing of sources and links most useful. Most times I won’t feel the need to check them out, but sometimes I do. The other day I asked about a time range for continued star formation in the MIlky Way, and got an answer for a range between 1 and 100 trillion years. That was a lot more than I thought or knew about, but the links were reputable sources giving such estimates.

    @MarkedMan:

    Thanks, good to know.

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  22. CSK says:

    I hope this is accessible, since it’s interesting and funny. George Conway III has a way with words:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2024/05/stormy-daniels-on-stand-trump-trials/678373/

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  23. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan: You have to remember that it’s just a glorified next word predictor – it has no idea what words mean. Think of the output as a somewhat randomized average of everything anyone has ever said on the Internet or in print about that subject. There is nothing like enough content on photometers in its training set for it to fake an understanding of them.

    If you want an AI that might be said to actually understand what it’s talking about, you need Cyc.

    (And if you want to see just how badly comprehension fails in generative AI, ask DALL-E or similar to produce calligraphy…)

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  24. Beth says:

    @CSK:

    I couldn’t read it, but I think I’ve hate read a bunch of Atlantic nonsense this month.

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  25. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    That’s a bit like saying the Little Boy bomb was a glorified explosive device…

    Is Cyc still around? I’m surprised. I first read about it sometime in the 80s.

    The stand alone GPT is not very useful. Copilot does rather well with web searches, albeit using Bing (caveat emptor and all). The thing is when you ask it a question, like for example, “Do you know anything about Cyc?” It replies with a summary of part of the Wikipedia page on Cyc.

    That’s not bad, even if it provided links to cycling organizations along with the relevant Wikipedia page 🙂

    I figure it looks up websites and “reads” them, or parts of them. It can then summarize info that answers one’s question. This makes for better web searching as far as I’m concerned.

    At least for now. We’ll see what happens when people game the Copilot to get their search results high on its list.

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  26. Mimai says:

    Among the potential best use cases for ChatGPT, substitute for google is low low low on the list. The irony is that, for the vast majority of people, this is the primary (only?) way they use it.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: My concern is that for so many people the illusion of competence will cause them to deploy these systems and seriously break stuff. Over the past year I’ve had a few interactions with things that were obviously generative AI driven and the results have ranged from mildly frustrating (“Live Chat” help that doesn’t provide anything you can’t get from tooling around on the web site itself) to extremely frustrating (real people in Latin America reading T-Mobile help scripts from their display monitors and spinning down into nonsensical advice that had nothing to do with anything that had gone before, mingled with offensively over friendly asides) to the potentially catastrophic (board members for a non-profit sending out invites and sponsorship requests that were obviously straight from a generative AI bot. So far it has only been ludicrous and non-understandable, but considering that it is for a charity dealing with child sexual abuse, the potential to send out something seriously offensive is always there, but these people will not be deterred.)

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  28. CSK says:

    @Beth:

    I’m sorry. I know you hate The Atlantic, but I think you would have gotten a good laugh out of this.

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  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: We already have legitimate looking websites spontaneously generated in response to specific queries (and full of useless nonsense or worse) being incorporated into the database of “stuff on the web” these generative AI programs are using. How long before such useless crap makes up the majority of the Web and therefore the majority of what the AI bots draw on?

    I’m not saying generative AI doesn’t have good uses and there may well be future ones. But we are in the “It’s 1996 and Everyone Needs A Web Presence!” stage of enthusiasm, with everyone throwing money into it before anyone has figured out how to keep it on the useful side of the line.

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  30. Joe says:

    @CSK: I could not read it and haven’t been to The Atlantic in over a year.

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  31. CSK says:

    @Joe:

    Again, my apologies.

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  32. just nutha says:

    @Joe: I don’t understand why, but a while ago, Atlantic stopped allowing non-subscribers to read any sample stories. And even subscribers needed to log in every time–even when the magazine sent the link to the article in the first place.

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  33. CSK says:

    Author Alice Munro has died at 92. RIP.

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  34. Beth says:

    @CSK:

    Oh no worries. I don’t know how I feel about George Conway. It seems to me he’s spent his life stewing in reactionary Republican nonsense and seems to only have become incensed because Trump is a chaotic scumbag and bore. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’d be perfectly fine with someone who did everything Trump did/wants to do, just orderly.

    @just nutha:

    Maybe they think that if I can’t get in, I’ll eventually wander away.

    More seriously though, I started reading the Atlantic roughly the same time as this blog (law school, 2004-ish)*. Now, while I would prefer to be more of a moderate, I have sprinted leftward these last 20 years (shit). It seems to me that on a lot of issues our hosts have strayed in a lefterly direction as well. I think a lot of us finally got sick of the lies, distortions and just general awfulness that the Republicans and the right have been force feeding us since at least the 80’s.

    Meanwhile, over at the Atlantic their deathgrip on reactionary Centrism has steadily pulled it rightward. The center never holds and if you’re absolutely committed to some sort of bogus Centrism, you’re eventually going to get subsumed. I suspect a lot of the people at the Atlantic would rather call themselves Conservatives, but the Republicans ruined that term.

    * I was also a daily reader of Ann Althouse’s blog but left when she became (or just gave up the pretense) a reactionary crank. Compared to where I was before, I’m practically a bomb-throwing leftist.

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  35. Joe says:

    @just nutha: Too bad, too. A couple of occasional sample stories was just about my interest in The Atlantic.

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  36. Mimai says:

    @just nutha:
    @Joe:

    Forgive me if you already know this, but you can take the url to the Atlantic piece, paste it here, and get access to the article.

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  37. CSK says:

    @Beth:

    My impression, FWIW, is that Conway is appalled by a lot of Trump’s goals, such as being a dictator, abandoning our allies, sucking up to autocratic tyrants, etc. It’s a looooong list.

    I really enjoy reading Republican writers who routinely and gleefully dump buckets of shit on Trump’s head.

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  38. Joe says:

    @Mimai: Good to know. Thanks.

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  39. CSK says:

    I suffer from vicarious embarrassment on behalf of these jerks. At what point will they stop groveling to this disgusting freak?

    http://www.rawstory.com/trump-hush-money-2688260392/

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  40. dazedandconfused says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That prompted a thought..

    “Four or five moments – that’s all it takes to become an asshole. Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job. Wake up an asshole. Brush your teeth an asshole. Go to work an asshole. Not true! Over a lifetime there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you’re offered a choice. To a cut in line, to fart in an elevator, to hand fake cash to a poor beggar…and in those moments everything else falls away…”

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  41. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..groveling jerks

    I get Error 404! when I click on your link.

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  42. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Dammit, I’m really batting zero today. Try this:

    http://www.rawstory.com/trump-hush-money-2668260392/

    Seems to work.

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  43. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    I want to know if they wore coordinated diapers as well. And do they favor cloth or disposable?

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  44. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    If Trump had suggested they wear diapers, they would have.

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  45. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..

    this one works thank you

    I am keeping my thoughts to myself

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  46. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Oh, go ahead and share them. I could use a laugh.

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  47. just nutha says:

    @Beth: @Joe: I suspect that the reason has more to do with the purchasers of The Atlantic having misjudged how much money the magazine is capable of hemorrhaging than any other factors.

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  48. a country lawyer says:

    @Kathy: Trump’s mini me. Largest meeting of sycophants since Trump’s first cabinet meeting.

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