Wednesday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘I was handed to a complete stranger’: the survivors fighting to end child marriage in 37 US states – and the people who want to keep it legal

    When Michigan banned child marriage in September, raising the minimum age to 18, Kosnik and her fellow survivors watched the senate vote in the galley. They were careful to sit in a section that would be in full view of the senators they’d spent two years lobbying as they walked up to vote.

    “It was powerful,” Kosnik said. “It was the first time in my life that I felt like I had actually taken back control.”

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    James Inhofe, former Republican senator who called climate change a ‘hoax’, dies aged 89

    If karma has it’s way, he will burn in hell for all eternity. Being an atheist the best I can hope for is that he is soon forgotten.

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  3. Kathy says:

    Cooking rice in coconut milk has produced good results every time. This weekend I want to tweak it, and try coconut water instead. For one thing it’s much cheaper, and for another it’s much lower in fat.

    The plan is to pair with chicken thighs in a soy and ginger marinade and sauce, with roasted green onions.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: That sounds good. Let me know how it turns out.

    eta: how do you make the sauce?

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Indian Jones’ worst nightmare: Man in China caught smuggling 100 live snakes in his trousers

    They only caught him because he had to keep shoving them back into his pocket.*

    * not true, I just couldn’t shake that image

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  7. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I don’t have the proportions with me just now.

    You mix soy sauce (I think 2-3 tbsp. the juice from one orange (about 1/4 cup), ground white pepper, 1 tsp. honey, grated ginger, minced garlic. Marinade the thighs in it for a few hours, then cook them. I take the leftover marinade and add it to a pot with sauteed onions and garlic, and reduce it. Sometimes I add a tsp. of cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of cold water after the sauce has reduced.

    I cook the thighs in the air fryer, as it makes for very crispy, well-browned skin. This time I may go with skinless thighs (the skin doesn’t crisp back up on reheating, even in an air fryer), and bake them in the oven with all the marinade. this time in the meantime I think I’ll roast/char green onions, and if needed reduce the sauce in a separate saucepan.

    I think I’ll also shred the meat off the bones after, mix it with the sauce, and save the bones for stock.

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  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    I missed the phone calls all night; no one had informed my parents to call twice in a row to break through “do not disturb.”

    My sister went to the hospital at 2 am, with news that she had a heart waiting for her. Operation started at 6 am. The doctors just let us know the heart is in and she’s doing well. Now a few days of a medically induced coma followed by a month or so of recovery in the hospital. It’s been a long 11 years for her.

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  9. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Oh, best wishes to her!!! I hope recovery goes as smoothly as possible!

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  10. Bill Jempty says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Good luck to your sister and family.

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  11. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Hoping for the best.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Hooray! I hope the recovery goes well.

    Also, you got a good night’s sleep when all you could have done otherwise is sit up and worry. You’ll be doing enough of that for the next few days.

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  13. Kathy says:

    It turns out, and has been known a long while, that hydrogen contains more energy than most fuels we use regularly. In particular, more than gasoline and kerosene (aka jet fuel). Burning it produces mostly water vapor*. So why don’t we switch en masse to hydrogen?

    Because it has a low energy density.

    Paradoxes are neat. Contradictions are infuriating. So which is it?

    A kilo of gasoline contains energy of about 44 megajoules. Hydrogen contains about 120 megajoules per kilogram. However, hydrogen takes up a lot more room than gasoline. It does this in all states (gas, liquid, solid, and metal**). If you look up a diagram of the Space Shuttle external tank, you’ll see the liquid hydrogen inner tank is about twice as large as the liquid oxygen one. If you could use hydrogen gas for the shuttle, and you can’t for various technical reasons, the hydrogen inner tank would have been even bigger.

    Also, gasoline is liquid at room temperature (though it evaporates easily), while hydrogen requires high pressures and cryogenic temps to stay liquid. Hydrogen makes a very small molecule (in fact, the smallest molecule possible), so it leaks a lot in any state as well.

    the only reason hydrogen, or its isotopes, would work as fuel for a fusion plant, should one ever be built, is that you need ridiculously small amounts of it to produce ludicrously large amounts of energy. I don’t have the numbers handy, but a multi-megaton H bomb uses up mere grams of tritium.

    We’d do much better decarbonizing by using renewables, EVs, and fission plants (which are expensive but have been built). This leaves out aircraft and ships. Hydrogen is a possible solution to both, ut problematic. I don’t know much about ships, so I won’t comment on that.

    As for aircraft, hydrogen compressed to 5 to 10 thousand PSI would power a jet perfectly well, but for shorter distances than those available today. Meaning a lot of long haul routes would require refueling stops, as they did until well into the 1970s.

    * Water vapor is actually a greenhouse gas as well. But it’s less problematic to dump in the atmosphere. For one thing, it condenses in clouds, which reflect sunlight, and then precipitates as water or snow. It won’t accumulate tot eh same extent CO2 does in the atmosphere.

    **Metallic hydrogen requires very high pressures, and is mostly a scientific curiosity.

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  14. Kathy says:

    What if a hurricane hit Texas after wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, and then there was a NATO summit in the middle of the largest European war since WWII, and Biden were still old?

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  15. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Kathy: I have come to realize I don’t know what a healthy coping mechanism is for where we are now and where we are going.

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  16. Beth says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    That’s awesome! Congrats for her and her new heart! Science is amazing.

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  17. Beth says:

    In other medical news, I’ve started getting served ads for gender affirming hormone replacement therapy for menopausal cis women. They don’t call it gender affirming care, cause, well, cis people don’t think about gender like that cause they don’t have to. Lucky you guys. Cis women get all sorts of breast reductions, breast enlargements, breast reconstructions, all gender affirming care. Cis men get HRT and hair replacement all the time, all gender affirming care.

    I got a little pissy and did a screenshot and posted to my insta story. The caption I put was:
    “There is something so darkly hilarious to me about how hard companies are pushing gender affirming care HRT for cis people while our country works overtime to keep this life saving medicine away from trans people. @Bywinona could you prescribe my HRT? I’m a 46 year old woman. Seems like your target demographic.”

    Lets see if they respond.

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  18. Kathy says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    All that comes to mind is “god grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    Wisdom has always been in short supply in the world.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Thanx. I’ll have to give that a try.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @Kathy:

    I forgot a tbsp peanut butter in the marinade. You gotta have peanut butter. Everything’s better with peanut butter.

    On other light topics, yesterday I elected to keep on watching Prodigy season 2, rather than the new ep of The Acolyte. I’m not entirely happy with the former. There’s been more than a bit of idiot plotting. That is, things happen because someone did something stupid.

    Spoilers follow:

    Not The Doctor spilling the beans on shuttle bay 3, nor said bay not being guarded better, but the super-secret, special rescue shuttle that “breaks several federation treaties,” is accessible to anyone, without even the basic protections found on today’s misnamed smart phones.

    I’m also a bit tired of Dal’s egotism and propensity to treat learning as torture. Seriously, what does Gwyn see in him?

    I may give Prodigy a rest today in favor of the latest ep of My Adventures with Superman.

    Spoilers follow: at least Jimmy can claim he lost his fortune saving the world.

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Beth:

    Science is amazing.

    It really is. Two weeks ago they cut a hole in my wife’s ass, yanked out a fist-sized bone, stuck in a big metal door hinge, and she’s walking (carefully) without a cane and no pain-killers. It is astonishing to see.

    I hope @Neil Hudelson’s: sister does as well.

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  22. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Of course to some degree, water vapor is the greenhouse gas for creation of which greenhouses were constructed to begin with. 😉

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  23. Kathy says:

    @Beth:

    If there’s one thing we could get rid of that would improve the world, it would be double standards.

    Perhaps in particular with transgender people. I’m always angered when someone claims a trans minor can’t possibly know their gender identity, but no one questions that a cis minor does beyond any possibility of doubt.

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  24. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Kathy: Wisdom. If the GQP wins in November, things I enjoy, like OTB, will disappear and be replaced by bot propaganda while other things I take for granted will vanish. I think I’m going to re-read Solzhenitsyn and Martin Cruz Smith for basic survival tips.

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  25. CSK says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    What great news! I’m so pleased for your sis, you, and your family. Keep us posted on her progress.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    All my best to Katherine.

    I had my femoral enderectomy today at 9:30 a.m., and am at my sister’s place lounging and guzzling cranberry juice. Happily, the bandage isn’t the size of a diaper. Unhappily, I can’t take a shower till the doctor checks it next week. Every person in the hospital was grinning and giving me a thumbs-up, so the procedure went well.

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  26. Kathy says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    Should OTB survive, chances are, outside the open fora, for the next four years half the commentariat will be telling the other half “I told you so!”

    So, for the sake of content here’s another anecdote about Alexander:

    Before he assumed the throne, while on a visit to Corinth to gather support for a campaign, Alexander located the philosopher Diogenes whom he found him relaxing in the sunlight. Alexander approached and asked if he could do anything for Diogenes.

    The philosopher replied, “Yes, please move a little. You’re blocking my sunlight.”

    This caused no small amount of laughter in Alexander’s entourage. He told them “Laugh if you will. But if I hadn’t been alexander, I would have wished to be Diogenes.”

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  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    The Senate Democrats have apparently decided to completely throw trans people under the bus, and are already voting in anti-trans planks from Project 2025:

    Project 2025 Policy Targeting Trans Service members Passes Dem. Senate Committee

    The document, uploaded Monday night, contains the committee report for the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act, including key amendment votes on what would be included in the Senate’s version. In it, two policies appeared to pass the Democratic Senate Committee: a policy barring public funding from being used to “perform or facilitate sex change surgeries” in the Department of Defense. The second would bar Tricare, the military health insurance plan, from covering any gender-affirming care for minor dependents. Both of these amendments were passed with Senator Joe Manchin’s support.

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    If there’s one thing we could get rid of that would improve the world, it would be double standards.

    Perhaps in particular with transgender people. I’m always angered when someone claims a trans minor can’t possibly know their gender identity, but no one questions that a cis minor does beyond any possibility of doubt.

    It’s a lot easier to notice that the default fits than it is to figure out what is wrong when the default doesn’t fit. I’d say that goes for gender, sexuality, lifestyle and clothing.

    How many gay or lesbian folks thought they were bisexual first? It’s a lot of them. Maybe not a majority, but a very sizable number.

    I expect the same thing goes on for gender — a struggle for individuals to figure out who they are, lacking the words and the reference points they need. Something the kids need space, time and the opportunity to work out, and need to be protected while they do so.

    But there’s good faith caution and bad faith using caution as an excuse to prevent care and try to shove kids back in the closet and just make them not exist (either through explicit violence or just not letting them be themselves)

    Anyway, we often make kids play an instrument even though they don’t want to, so I think we should make every 8th grader wear clothing for the opposite gender for a year. Social transition for every child in America, and then in the 9th grade we can check and see what stuck. I’m open to slight modifications, if someone who knows more about kids thinks 6th or 7th grade would be better.

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  29. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    You bring up another pet peeve. that trans minors shouldn’t be allowed to socially transition or take hormone blockers, because they may change their mind.

    No one ever thinks a seemingly “normal” boy or girl may change their mind alter on, do they? Shouldn’t they socially transition and take hormone blockers just in case. Arguably many who realize they are trans later in life did change their minds.

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  30. Kathy says:

    Ukraine at last is getting F-16s from some NATO countries. It only took 18 months of lobbying by the Zelenskyy administration.

    Part of the delay involved training Ukrainian pilots. But mostly it was hesitation from the West about escalating the conflict.

    I’m reminded of something Mike Duncan observed about the 1830 July Revolution in France. The king, Charles X (no relation to data mining apps), several times responded with the right move, but days too late to prevent trouble from growing.

    More weapons systems already in Ukraine are now allowed to strike targets in Russia.

    You’d think once the shooting started, the right move would have been to send every weapon system over at once, and allow Ukraine to use it as its generals saw fit. Granted this would not mean every weapons system, as some do require training and may be worse than useless in inexperienced hands.

    And yes, I can see the fear of escalating the conflict is not irrational. Mad Vlad could claim he was under attack from NATO. That would be a lie. Coming to the defense of an invaded country is not a hostile act to the invading country, but legitimate defense.

    Anyway, I wonder how Ukraine will use the F-16s. They are multi-role fighters. Meaning they can try to take out Russian aircraft, or shoot down cruise missiles, as well as attack targets on the ground (in separate armament configurations). I suppose in large part it depends on what weapons NATO provides for the F-16s.

    What I don’t know about military tactics and strategy, would fill libraries dedicated to military strategy and tactics. Still, I wonder if Ukraine would be more successful in removing the Russian infestation by attacking supply lines and depots inside Russia.

    I do know one thing for certain. Other than the atomic bomb, no single weapon has ever turned the tide of war nor ended a long stalemate. So it would be folly to think of a few F-16s as the crucial system that will end the war once and for all. We don’t live in a sci-fi movie.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Puberty blockers and social transition are entirely reversible, and should be part of the “give the kids the time and space to figure things out.”

    The blockers are handed out to cis kids all the time who are developing too soon, so we know they’re basically safe. And roughly no one was ever harmed by clothing, haircut, pronouns and a new name.

    Forcing kids into the closet — gender, sexuality, fondness for theater, whatever — is basically just torturing kids.

    Also, gender reveal parties should be held no earlier than the kid’s 18th birthday, when they are legally allowed to make up their own mind without their parents’ approval.

    I’m not thrilled with some recent comments by the Biden administration on kids access to gender affirming care. I’m hoping it’s just stuff that gets said to make certain people relax for the election, but never becomes a real policy… just spend a few years working on the exact rules and never finish them, or just drop the whole matter when no one is looking.

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  32. Beth says:

    @Gustopher: @Jen:

    Moved this over here so I can beat up on Pete Buttigieg without messing beating up on Biden.

    Anyway, the thing about Pete is his performative “normalcy”. He is the dream of those normie gays that went out of their way to stick it to trans people, gender non-conforming gays, and anyone who wasn’t a 1950s clean cut type.

    Dick Leitsch, president of the Mattachine Society of New York, explained that a strict dress code was enforced: “We wore suits and ties because we wanted people, in the public, who were wearing suits and ties, to identify with us. We didn’t want to come on, you know, wearing fuzzy sweaters and lipstick, you know, and being freaks. You know, we wanted to be part of the mainstream society.”

    https://jmellison.net/if-we-knew-trans-history/the-annual-reminder-pickets-a-beginning-to-trans-exclusion/

    To steal an amazing joke: Pete Buttigieg makes RuPaul look like Sylvia Rivera.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is so depressing. I’m glad that Duckworth voted against the amendments, but fuck.

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Excellent. I suppose no booze, either?

    K just took her first shower today, more than 2 weeks after. Daily shower is one of my hang-ups, gotta have it. The day cannot start without a shower.

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  34. Beth says:

    @Kathy:

    Data from the Times article estimates there were 203 gender-affirming surgeries performed on minors in the year, at only eleven different clinics. In contrast, 3,200 girls ages 18 to 19 received cosmetic breast implants in 2020. While data is not available on the number of minors who received breast augmentations, the procedure is available through some surgeons with parent permission.

    A quick googling showed a study that said some 4000 women under the age of 18 got breast implants in 2011. I’m assuming almost all of them were cis. I would guess based on those two numbers that it’s fairly stable that between 3000 and 4000 teenagers get implants. None of them thought that they were getting gender affirming care, even though they were.

    They were just told they were normal and this would help them feel more normal.

    @Gustopher:

    Forcing kids into the closet — gender, sexuality, fondness for theater, whatever — is basically just torturing kids.

    I’m pretty sure I told my mom/grandparents that I was a girl when I was a kid and they beat the shit out of me.

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  35. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Glad everything went ok.

    Things must be very different in the US. I had the surgeon check me the day after the surgery, and one of his associates about an hour after I woke up from the anesthesia.

    And I showered the day after surgery,e ven before getting breakfast. It was an odd shower, sitting down and with a nurse helping me. I didn’t think I needed help or had to sit down, but I figured the nurse knows best.

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  36. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    That’s what makes the refusal to give trans kids hormone blockers so infuriating.

    You’d think kids are forcibly having their genitals ripped off, then pumped full of estrogen or testosterone. This happens only with some intersex children who aren’t even consulted, or often even told about their condition.

    @Beth:

    I bet by minors they mean teenagers, who are capable of making decisions about their lives. Not children.

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  37. dazedandconfused says:

    @Kathy:

    There are some issues with the F-16s. First off is a lot of ex-F16 USAF pilots say that while it is plausible to get a guy with SU-29 or some other semi-modern fighter jet experience checked out to fly one in perhaps a 3-4 week crash training program…being ready to fight with it is another ball game. You have to master everything that can be hung from the wings in an array if scenarios before you can be deemed fully competent, and that’s a LOT. Typically one must spend a year as a wingman before being considered ready.

    They also generally have a very high opinion of the Russian S-300 and above AA systems and many express deep respect for Russian AF electronic warfare capabilities, so it seems taking at least six months with this handful of Ukrainian pilots is to be expected. Sending those guys out half-trained in this AA environment would be a recipe for failure.

    The other issue is where are these planes to be based? It’s a sure thing Putin will go all out to get them and there is no base in Ukraine that has been safe. Where ever it is, it must be ringed by a lot of sophisticated AA gear, Patriots at minimum, of which Ukraine is already very short of and the world’s supply is quite limited. I strongly suspect the recent offer of the Poles to protect western Ukraine, right on the cusp of F-16 delivery, with their AA systems is due to this.

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  38. Gustopher says:

    @Beth: I was vacillating on Buttigieg in 2020 because I don’t really trust anyone who has been in the closet that recently to have their head on straight, but I otherwise really like him.

    The closet is awful and does awful things to people, and the Presidency is stressful, and I’d like those two kept apart as a rule of thumb.

    As for the rest: Buttigieg isn’t a gay activist. He just isn’t.

    But I don’t think every queer person has to be an activist beyond just living their lives. It’s a little odd that he’s both gay and in politics, but so far from being a gay activist — but that’s his life.

    I don’t even think he is playing respectability politics. He’s just being his small-c conservative self with Neoliberal values.

    The most radical thing he is doing in his recent political career is being a high profile gay man, married to another man, raising two kids. Showing the gay kids out there that they don’t have to give up on a normal suburban life if they’re some flavor of queer.

    And that’s honestly a very important thing. Really, really important. Do you remember any prominent normal, boring gays with families when we were growing up? I don’t. I’m glad this generation has that.

    I don’t know if being gay is a barrier to him being able to make inroads into the religious Black communities that are a good chunk of the Democratic base. I think his general mayo-based white-boy cluelessness is probably more of an issue. I remember him saying that all lives matter, before learning that it was a racist dogwhistle — he’s just that clueless on race.

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  39. Gustopher says:

    Recent music find — a cover of REO Speedwagon’s fairly insipid ballad “Keep On Loving You”, performed by Cigarettes After Sex as a slow, depressing dirge that takes all the overblown lyrics at face value.

    https://youtu.be/PDJPpG8e4n4

    Sample comment from YouTube: “it’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m alone with the fact that I’ve never been loved in my whole life.”

    It’s wonderfully sad. I have a playlist called “Those Wrists Ain’t Gonna Cut Themselves” and it’s a shoe-in.

    Also, Dolly Parton does a cover. I love Dolly, but it’s not good. It’s fun, but not good.

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  40. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: Interesting interpretation of a mediocre pop tune by a pseudo rock group. Certainly not worse than the original. Brings an ennui to the song the original misses. I’ll give it a 73, Gus.

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