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One of the great mysteries of recent years is the exact rank ordering of the Intersectional Pyramid of Privilege. We know that it was invented to elevate black women over black men and white women. And it goes without saying that straight white men are at the bottom.

But what about more subtle questions like how does a Muslim immigrant straight man from a fairly white-adjacent place like Malaysia match up with a Jewish lesbian from Park Slope? Who wins?

Market researchers have been using conjoint analysis for generations to measure consumers’ preference tradeoffs when shopping.

Has conjoint analysis _ever_ been used to nail down the status rank order on the Intersectional Totem Pole.

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From the New York Times news section:

How Much Racism Do You Face Every Day?

JAN. 20, 2020

To see how your experience with discrimination compares with others’, answer some of the questions that were posed to 101 black teenagers as part of a study measuring the racism they face on a daily basis.

Anti-black bigotry in America can take many forms, some overt and some harder to measure. To find out just how pervasive racism is, a team of researchers tracked the experiences of 101 black teenagers in Washington, D.C., for two weeks.

Here are some of those questions presented to the teenagers. See how your experience compares. Your tally will appear at the bottom.

In the past two weeks,

How many times were you mistaken for someone else of your same race/ethnicity (who may not look like you at all)?

How many times did you see a racist image online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in a comments section)?

How many times did a teacher assume that you were an expert on people of your same race/ethnic background? (If you are not a student, consider a co-worker.)

Collectively, the 101 black teens participating in the study reported more than 5,600 experiences of racial discrimination over two weeks. That boils down to an average of more than five instances per day for each teenager. That’s more than 70 over two weeks.

Those findings may not be surprising to those who face routine discrimination, but they reflect a higher frequency of racism than has previously been reported.

What caused the increase? Researchers say that the study was the first to include so many expressions of racial bias, 58 in all, and to ask participants to record them daily. Previous studies have typically asked participants to recall experiences from the past, which researchers say is not as accurate.

Although there has been an increase in hate crimes during the Trump administration, this study measures incidents that occurred when Barack Obama was in the White House.

The teens who participated in the study were students at a middle school, a high school and a summer program in Washington. Those who experienced more instances of discrimination over the two weeks also showed more symptoms of short-term depression, the study found, such as difficulty sleeping, loneliness and anxiety.

“Part of why these types of microaggressions are so insidious is that a lot of times, white people can see them as not real, or not a big deal,’‘ said Devin English, a psychologist at Rutgers University who led the study. “But this is showing us the magnitude of the discrimination faced by black adolescents. It’s happening all the time. And it’s affecting how they feel.’’

Witnessing Racism

… How many times did a peer joke about the texture of your hair because of your race/ethnicity?

How many times did a peer tease you because of your skin tone?

Racial teasing is common among adolescents and often it is seen as harmless. But previous studies have shown that it can lead to increases in anxiety symptoms for black adolescents.

In the research team’s interviews with black teens, Dr. English said, being teased about hair and skin tone was cited as a frequent way that they were treated differently because of their race.

… Measuring Microaggressions

How many times did a peer tease you because you wear your hair natural? 4
How many times did a peer joke about the texture of your hair, because of your race/ethnicity? 6

And so forth and so on …

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From FBI crime statistics for the 71% of murder victims of 2014-2018 (sample size 49,808) for which there is a known and specified weapon:

Murder Victims 2014-2018
Known weapons 100.0%
Handguns 64.1%
Rifles 2.9%
Shotguns 2.5%
Knives or cutting instruments 15.6%
Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) 4.5%
Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)1 6.7%
Poison 0.1%
Explosives 0.0%
Fire 0.7%
Narcotics 0.9%
Drowning 0.1%
Strangulation 0.9%
Asphyxiation 1.0%

Murder victims are 22 times more likely to be killed with a handgun as with a rifle, but most of the gun control energy in recent years has been paid to rifles.

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As I’ve often pointed out, the existence of official government reports is important in establishing the respectability of a topic. For example, before the release of the Rotherham Report in 2014, it should have been obvious to anybody who didn’t have his head buried in the sand that England had a massive problem with Pakistani pimps sexually abusing underage English girls. But the abundance of different kinds of evidence wasn’t getting the issue talked about in the Respectable Media, until the city of Rotherham issued an official report on the subject.

Similarly, the statistical fact that African-Americans commit murder at a vastly higher per capita rate than do white Americans is not something you are supposed to mention in the press, but at least dissidents in the comments can cite a PDF issued by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistic s back in 2011 that found that blacks were, per capita, 7.4 times as likely to be murder offenders as whites, with whites, curiously, including almost all Hispanics.

The Bush Administration posted homicide by race trend graphs in easy to use HTML format. The Obama Administration memoryholed the more user-friendly version of the report, but at least issued an update in 2011, even if it is in hard to use PDF format. The Trump Administration hasn’t done anything.

But the black-white gap in murder offending might be worse than the Obama Administration’s 2011 report suggests. One obvious problem with the Bureau of Justice Statistics “Homicide” report is that it doesn’t break out Hispanics from whites, unlike almost all other government reports since c. 1970.

Back in 1945-1965, Latin American pressure groups such as LULAC asked government agencies to lump Latin Americans in as white/Caucasian, which is how they were treated on the 1950 and 1960 Censuses. Police forces like the LAPD went along with it, in part because having a huge Caucasian category in which to lump Europeans, Latin Americans, Arabs, and Asian Indians reduced the amount of outright error in suspect descriptions.

Crime statistics, unlike other government statistics, tended to have three racial categories: Other (East Asians, American Indians, and maybe Polynesians), Black, and White (everybody leftover with some claim to be at least kind of Caucasian).

But after the introduction of affirmative action in 1969, pressure groups reversed course and demanded to shed their new Caucasian Disprivilege in favor of some that sweet, sweet Nonwhite Privilege.

Except in crime statistics … For example, from NBC News in 2018:

From Criminology, a 2011 study that tries to figure out what % of “white” murder offenders are actually Hispanic:


First published: 24 February 2011 Citations: 52

Recent studies suggest a decline in the relative Black effect on violent crime in recent decades and interpret this decline as resulting from greater upward mobility among African Americans during the past several decades. However, other assessments of racial stratification in American society suggest at least as much durability as change in Black social mobility since the 1980s. Our goal is to assess how patterns of racial disparity in violent crime and incarceration have changed from 1980 to 2008. We argue that prior studies showing a shrinking Black share of violent crime might be in error because of reliance on White and Black national crime statistics that are confounded with Hispanic offenders, whose numbers have been increasing rapidly and whose violence rates are higher than that of Whites but lower than that of Blacks. Using 1980–2008 California and New York arrest data to adjust for this “Hispanic effect” in national Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data, we assess whether the observed national decline in racial disparities in violent crime is an artifact of the growth in Hispanic populations and offenders. Results suggest that little overall change has occurred in the Black share of violent offending in both UCR and NCVS estimates during the last 30 years. In addition, racial imbalances in arrest versus incarceration levels across the index violent crimes are both small and comparably sized across the study period. We conclude by discussing the consistency of these findings with trends in economic and social integration of Blacks in American society during the past 50 years.

The researchers come up with a finding that adjusting out Hispanic murderers from whites raises the black/white murder offender ratio from 7.4 X to 11.7 X.

From a press release from Penn State writing up this study:

… The rise in the U.S. Hispanic population and the sharp jump in black violent crime during the late 1980s and early 1990s may skew statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey that appear to show a recent drop in black violence, said Darrell Steffensmeier, professor, sociology, and crime, law and justice, Penn State.

The researchers, who released their findings in the current issue of Criminology, indicated that studies on black violent crime — a crime that involves force or the threat of force — often fail to account for the rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S. Since there is no Hispanic category in the UCR and approximately 93 percent of Hispanics identify themselves, or are identified by law enforcement officers, as white, most arrests of Hispanics are added to white violent crime rates.

“The result is that the violent crime rates for whites are inflated and the black rates are deflated in these studies,” said Steffensmeier, who worked with Jeffrey T. Ulmer, associate professor, and Casey T. Harris, graduate student, both in sociology and crime, law and justice, Penn State and Ben Feldmeyer, assistant professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

When the researchers adjusted for the Hispanic effect, there was little overall change in the black percentage of violent crime, said Steffensmeier.

Using arrest statistics from 1980 to 2008 in California and New York, two states that include a Hispanic category, the recalculated national figures indicated that the black percentage of assault increased slightly from 42 percent to 44 percent and homicide increased from 57 percent to 65 percent. There was a small decline in robbery, from 57 percent to 54 percent.

“It is the case that violent crime rates are lower today for blacks, as they also are for other race groupings, but the black percentage of violent crime is about the same today as in 1980,” Steffensmeier said.

According to Steffensmeier, studies that purport to show declines in black violent crimes may also rely on timelines that are too short to be effective. For instance, studies that start in the late 1980s and 1990s cover a period of rapid increase in black violent crime fueled by crack cocaine use in the inner cities. According to Steffensmeier, the recent decrease is more likely a return to average crime rates.

“A study that uses statistics from a short time period can lead to a regression to the mean effect,” said Steffensmeier. “Which basically means, when a trend rises quickly, it can fall just as quickly.”

On the other hand, the researcher’s choice of adjusting the national statistics based on arrest statistics in New York and California might exaggerate the amount of Hispanic crime.

Most of New York’s Hispanic murderers tend to be mulatto Puerto Ricans or Dominicans, ethnic groups who tend to have higher homicide rates than the more common mestizos from Mexico.

And my vague intuition is that California developed a pretty homicidal Chicano mestizo class back in the 1970s when Mexican-Americans formed some pretty imposing gangs on the streets and in the prisons. I think Mexican-Americans in California were more crime prone than in Texas.

Since then, the newer Mexican immigrants tend to be smaller and more docile.

Of course, another issue are all the murders that are never closed. The closure rates tend to be lowest in black neighborhoods, especially in black-run cities. So, the number of black murder offenders might be understated due to fears of witness-murdering by black gangs and other problems.

Finally, counting “murder offenders” rather than their victims might drive up the black percentage because, if my suspicion is correct, on average murders committed by blacks tend to have slightly more murder offenders involved than murders committed by whites. Generally, white murderers tend to act alone. They generally don’t have some friends who might think that helping them commit murder is a good idea.

For example, white mass shooters are almost always lone gunmen (Columbine being a famous exception). Black mass shooters, in contrast, are often two guys.

So, this might tend to exaggerate the percentage of murder victims murdered by blacks.

All in all, I’d probably guess somewhere around 10X as the most accurate black / white murder ratio.

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The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, retired 4 star admiral Harry Harris (appointed by Trump a couple of years ago), has recently grown a mustache, which has become a flashpoint in South Korea.

Harris is half-Japanese and many personages in Imperial Japan during the era when Japan ruled Korea, 1910-1945, such as Hirohito, Tojo, and almost all Japanese governor-generals of Korea, wore mustaches. Of course, being half-white, Harris’s mustache is more impressive than that of most of these Japanese figures.

From CNN:

Racism, history and politics: Why South Koreans are flipping out over a US ambassador’s mustache

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT) January 17, 2020

(CNN) It might just be the most bizarre criticism of a US ambassador in recent memory.

Harry Harris, Washington’s envoy to South Korea, has been subjected to heated vitriol on social media and by anonymous netizens for his mustache.

That small piece of facial hair has, as Harris put it, “for some reason become a point of some fascination here in the media.”

“If you watch social media it’s all out there,” Harris, the former head of US Pacific Forces, told a group of foreign reporters Thursday.

On the surface, the critiques border on ridiculousness. It’s just a small patch of hair.

But Harris’ ‘stache has sparked discussions on topics much bigger than the ambassador himself: the still-raw emotions among many Koreans about the legacy of Japanese occupation; the prevalence of racism in such a homogenous society; and cracks appearing in the future of the decades-old alliance between Seoul and Washington as the two sides attempt to reach a deal on how to cover the cost of US troops stationed in South Korea, amid reports that President Donald Trump demanded a 400% pay increase.

I once got a randomly dialed abusive phone call from South Korea blaming a Nippo-American conspiracy after Apolo Anton Ohno edged out a South Korean skater for a short track speed skating medal in a Winter Olympics. Generally, short track speed skating races would always end with everybody falling down and the South Koreans failing to finish while the American Ohno would sneak his skate across the finish line for a medal.

The gist of the criticism is that with the mustache, Harris resembles the reviled Japanese leaders who ruled the Korean Peninsula with an iron fist during the Japanese occupation.

But Harris isn’t Japanese, he’s a US citizen. And calling him out for his Japanese ancestry would almost assuredly be considered racist in the United States.

South Korea is a homogenous society without racial diversity like the United States. The CIA World Factbook doesn’t even list other ethnic groups living in South Korea on the country’s page, instead just referring to the country as “homogenous.” Mixed-race families are rare and xenophobia remains surprisingly common.

“I didn’t grow a mustache because of my Japanese heritage, because of the independence movement of Korea or even because of my dad. I grew it because I could and I thought I would and I did,” he said.

Harris explained that he grew the mustache to mark a new phase in his life, after he retired as commander of the US Pacific Fleet and began working as a diplomat.

“I couldn’t grow taller, I couldn’t grow hair on top of my head, but I could grow it on front of my head and so I did that. Nothing more nefarious than that, I wanted to have a change,” he said.

Growing facial hair allows a man to feel he’s accomplishing something every day. He may not have got much else done, but by God, he’s added another day’s growth to this mustache/beard/sideburns/whatever.

On the other hand, the job of an ambassador is political not meritocratic, so being sensitive to local sensitivities is an important part of the job.

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From the opinion section of The Guardian:

I co-founded Occupy Wall Street. Now I’m headed to Davos. Why?
Micah White

Micah White is the co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, author of The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution and founder of Activist Graduate School, an online school for activists
Rejecting Davos is easy when one hasn’t been invited. Now that I have a chance to go, I want to discover its revolutionary potential

Sat 18 Jan 2020 02.00 EST

Last year in Taki’s I pointed out that it’s interesting that the Great Awokening began not long after the collapse of Occupy Wall Street in late 2011. Perhaps the rise of Woke Capital was a response to the Occupy movement to exacerbate Occupy’s tendency to fragment into identity politics squabbles instead of focusing on expropriating the rich. If so, Davos might be a natural place to organize Woke Capital.

But I haven’t noticed much new evidence for this conspiracy theory since I published it.

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From BioRxiv:

Hispanics/Latinos are a diverse group of admixed populations with African, European, and Native American ancestries. They remain understudied, and thus little is known about the genetic architecture of phenotypic variation in these populations. Using genome-wide genotype data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, we find that Native American ancestry has increased over time across Hispanic/Latino populations, particularly in Mexican Americans where Native American ancestry increased by an average of ∼20% over the 50-year period spanning 1940s-1990s. We find similar patterns across American cities, and replicate our observations in an independent sample of Mexican Americans. These dynamic ancestry patterns are a result of a complex interaction of several population and cultural factors, including strong ancestry-related assortative mating and subtle shifts in migration with differences in subcontinental Native American ancestry over time. These factors have shaped patterns of genetic variation, including an increase in runs of homozygosity in Native American ancestral tracts, and also influenced the genetic architecture of complex traits within the Mexican American population. We show for height, a trait correlated with ancestry, polygenic risk scores based on summary statistics from a European-based genome-wide association study perform poorly in Mexican Americans. Our findings reveal temporal changes in population structure within Hispanics/Latinos that may influence biomedical traits, demonstrating a crucial need to improve our understanding of the genetic diversity of admixed populations.

T hey find that Mexican Americans born in the 1930s averaged 43% Native Americans vs. 54% Native American for Mexican Americans born in the 1990s, based on the smoothed graph above, although perhaps the peak Amerindian ancestral percentage was those born in the 1980s.

This helps explain the curious fact that Mexican-Americans used to be included more in the ranks of top athletes back when they were less numerous. For example, consider Southern California-born Pancho Gonzales, the world’s top pro tennis player of the 1950s, and Anthony Munoz (right), often ranked the best offensive lineman in NFL history. San Diego’s Ted Williams, probably the best baseball hitter of all time, was half-Mexican. (Tony Gonzalez of Southern California might be the best NFL tight end of all time but I don’t think he’s Mexican — but in any case I still want to see a reality TV show where he hangs out at Jeff Bezos’s house to toss the football around with his son, Bezos’s new stepson).

I don’t know the specifics of the study of Hispanics (sample size a little over 10k) used in this study, but the U.S. government doesn’t let you pick more than one ethnicity the way you can pick more than one race on the Census. You either pick Hispanic or Non-Hispanic, not both. Presumably, this means that individuals of some but not high degree of Mexican descent don’t identify as Mexican-American. For example, Ted Williams didn’t. These days there are rewards for identifying as Latino, but I’m sure some people who are 1/4th or 1/8th don’t bother. This would cause highly European people to tend to drop out of the Hispanic pool.

Another thing is that Mexican-Americans used to be Anthony Quinn-types from Northern Mexico, which was a desert largely unpopulated until irrigation techniques developed in the later 19th Century, so it was populated by more European individuals. In contrast, recent immigrants from Mexico have tended to be from ancient southern Mexican corn-growing villages disrupted by NAFTA.

And new Mexican immigrant women tend to have high fertility in, roughly, there first decade in the U.S., only noticing after they’ve had a passel of kids here that raising children in the U.S. is very expensive.

It’s also likely that there is a height gradient among Native Americans. The tallest, such as the Blackfeet, appear to be up around the Canadian border with the shortest in North America down in Central America.

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From NBC News’ opinion section:

Noah Berlatsky Trump voters motivated by racism may be violating the Constitution. Can they be stopped?

Republicans and Democrats alike have been unwilling to reprimand voters or to hold them accountable. But racist voting isn’t an accident.
Image: Donald Trump

Jan. 17, 2020, 1:30 AM PST
By Noah Berlatsky

If the Trump era has taught us anything, it’s that large numbers of white people in the United States are motivated at least in part by racism in the voting booth. …

Terry Smith, a visiting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, offers a different response in his new book, “Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box.” Rather than excuse racist voters or try to figure out how to live with their choices, he argues that racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal. The government, Smith says, has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.

This sounds radical. But Smith argues that it’s in line with the Constitution and with years of court rulings. For example, Smith points out that racist appeals in union elections are illegal and that an election in which one side uses racist appeals can be invalidated by the National Labor Relations Board. Similarly, in the 2016 case Peña v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled that when a juror expresses overt bigotry, the jury’s verdict should be invalidated.

“When voters go to the booth, they’re not expressing a mere personal preference,” Smith told me. According to Smith, voters who pull the levers to harm black people are violating the Constitution. If the Constitution means that overt racist appeals undermine the legality of union elections, it stands to reason that they undermine the legality of other elections, as well.

So how can you tell when voters are acting out of prejudice? Again, Smith says, employment discrimination law provides a useful analogy. In discrimination cases, courts look for pretexts. If someone gives a reason for a hiring decision that is obviously false or makes little sense in context, the court has good reason to believe that prejudice or bias may have influenced the hiring decision.

Trump’s unprecedented, compulsive, easily documented lying during the 2016 campaign made him an irrational choice. It’s reasonable to conclude that voters were willing to swallow the falsehoods because they liked what they heard: overt racist appeals and incessant lies about rising crime rates.

The total number of murder victims in the United States increased a record-setting 24.8% during the Black Lives Matter era of 2014 to 2016.

No lie.

… Even more ambitiously, Smith suggests expanding the Voting Rights Act to address the racist patterns of voting in Senate elections in the South. Because the majority of white voters in the South vote Republican, and because they outnumber black voters, there isn’t a single Democratic senator from the Deep South other than Doug Jones in Alabama, who may well lose his seat in 2020.

… Still, Smith points out, in the long term, “these remedies are a lot more practical than a lot of people might think.” Republicans won’t always control the presidency and the Senate, and judges don’t live forever. Democrats could also expand the number of seats on lower courts or even on the Supreme Court — another controversial proposal known as court-packing. If Democrats decide that responding to racist voting is a vital priority, they could, in time, take steps to do something about it.

Why not just arrest voters red-handed for voting Republican? Haul them out of the voting booth in handcuffs.

… Racist voting isn’t an accident. It’s a choice that may violate the principles of our Constitution and our legal system. We should say so, and then we should find ways to reduce the harm it causes.

Noah Berlatsky is a freelance writer and cultural critic based in Chicago. He edits the website The Hooded Utilitarian and is the author of several books, including most recently “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948.”

Okaaaay …

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From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Oak Creek man, alleged member of neo-Nazi group ‘The Base,’ charged with vandalizing Racine synagogue

Ashley Luthern and Bruce Vielmetti, Jan. 17, 2020

A 22-year-old Oak Creek man charged with vandalizing a Racine synagogue was arrested Friday as part of a nationwide investigation into The Base, a neo-Nazi, racially motivated extremist group, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Yousef O. Barasneh spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic words on Beth Israel Sinai Congregation in Racine last September and plotted other acts of vandalism against minority residents with the hate group, according to a federal criminal complaint. …

Yousef Omar Barasneh appears to be the son of a Jordanian Muslim immigrant father and a head-covering wearing Muslim mother. Mom looks like she might be a native Wisconsinite who converted to Islam for her husband. I won’t link to the online evidence for their being Islamic (they have enough problems at the moment), but it’s obvious.

According to court records:

One of the group’s ringleaders became an informant and gave investigators details over the past several months.

The man admitted he directed the group to vandalize minority-owned properties, calling it “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to Nazi Germany and the night Jewish homes, hospitals and other properties were ransacked and destroyed.

The man told investigators he said: “If there’s a window that wants to be broken, don’t be shy.”

He said a man known as Josef or Joseph in the group’s chat room later sent a message with a news article about the Racine synagogue vandalism and claimed credit for the damage. …

Barasneh was seen going to and from that meeting, which included a goat sacrifice …

His arrest was among at least six others in the U.S. Thursday and Friday of men authorities believe were advancing The Base’s goal of accelerating the collapse of the federal government, inciting a race war and establishing a white ethnostate, according to one agent’s affidavit.

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From the New York Times news section:

How Hard Is It to Quit Coal? For Germany, 18 Years and $44 Billion

By Somini Sengupta and Melissa Eddy
Jan. 16, 2020

Germany announced on Thursday that it would spend $44.5 billion to quit coal — but not for another 18 years, by 2038.

The move shows how expensive it is to stop burning the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, despite a broad consensus that keeping coal in the ground is vital to averting a climate crisis, and how politically complicated it is.

Coal, when burned, produces huge amounts of the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming.

Germany doesn’t have shale gas, as the United States does, which has led to the rapid decline of coal use in America, despite President Trump’s support for coal. Germany also faces intense opposition to nuclear power. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, that opposition prompted the government to start shutting down the country’s nuclear plants, a transition that should be complete by 2022.

If Germany really wanted to do the world a huge favor to make up for certain unfortunate events of the 20th Century, it would undertake to show the world how to make nuclear power safe. If anybody can make nuclear power work safely, it is Germans, with their world’s highest combination of engineering skill times neurotic worrywart personalities.

Solar and wind are all very well, but in the long run they will still need to be complemented with an on-demand source of energy, which is either going to be some kind of fossil fuel or some kind nuclear power. Germany ought to be the world leader in resolving exactly how best to use nuclear power. Instead, they are turning their backs on nuclear energy in a cowardly fashion, while continuing to burn coal.

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For thou shalt worship no other god: for Diversity, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god.

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The first wave of advanced baseball statistics analytics coincided with the Steroids Era, which the ambitious sabermetricians were curiously unable to detect despite their statistical sophistication.

The second wave of analytics, as exemplified by the Houston Astros, seems to be coinciding with a bunch of old fashioned ways to cheat like stealing signals and using pine tar.

Back before the World Series, I pointed out in a review of the recent baseball book The MVP Machine that the Houston Astro’s superstar pitcher Gerritt Cole had been credibly accused by his arch-enemy, pitcher Trevor Bauer, of being instructed by Houston’s ex-McKinsey Brain Trust to use pine tar to cheat:

With his Asperger-y personality, Bauer makes for an interesting if insufferable hero for The MVP Machine, as if Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory had honed himself into a pitcher who can throw 95 miles per hour through sheer know-it-allness.

The MVP Machine points out that the new ability to measure spin on pitches may be encouraging a novel form of cheating by pitchers to increase their spin rate. Some pitchers long applied spit, Vaseline, or other slippery substances to one side of the ball to make it dip unpredictably. But if you use something sticky on your fingers, such as pine tar, you can put more spin on the ball.

Increasing backspin on your fastball makes it sails higher than the batter expects. Increasing topspin on your curveball makes it dive down out of the strike zone. Do both and you’re Sandy Koufax in 1963.

While umpires try to police spitballs, they don’t care about sticky substances, agreeing with the pitchers that pine tar, while technically illegal, makes hurlers less likely to lose control of a pitch and hit a batter in the face.

Last season Bauer of the Cleveland Indians more or less implied on Twitter that his old teammate from UCLA, Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros, must have been putting stickum on the ball to boost his spin rate. Bauer and Cole had hated each other while on the Bruins, carrying out a classic nerd vs. jock feud.

Statistics on spin rate on every pitch thrown in the big leagues have only been available for the last few years. Bauer argues that there is no known way other than using a pine tar like sticky substance to add about 10% more spin the way Cole did after he arrived in Houston from Pittsburgh. To make his point, in the first inning of one game, Bauer demonstrated that he could achieve Cole like spin rates, presumably using stickum.

So far, nothing new has turned up on this Spingate question, other than free agent Cole signing a $324 million nine year deal with the New York Yankees.

But lots of other allegations have been leaking about Houston, and now other clubs. Houston’s sabermetrician general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch have been fired for a sign-stealing conspiracy during Houston’s world championship year of 2017. Two other clubs, the 2018 champion Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets, have fired their managers, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, respectively, who were with the Astros in 2017.

What is sign-stealing?

The catcher needs to know what pitch the pitcher is going to throw so he knows where to catch it. So the squatting catcher puts his bare hand between his legs where the batter can’t see it and flashes signals with his fingers: e.g. one finger might mean fastball, etc. The pitcher can shake his head no if he disagrees until the catcher calls for the pitch the pitcher wants to throw.

If the batting team gets a baserunner to second base, he is legally entitled to look over the pitcher’s shoulder at the signs the catcher is flashing and relay them to the batter.

Teams have systems to make signs not quite as simple as One Is Fastball, but these aren’t Claude Shannon and Alan Turing out there communicating, so the complications can’t get too complicated.

Presumably, many sabermetricians of the kind Houston employs in great numbers could crack each day’s code pretty quickly.

But what about when there isn’t a runner on second? The batting team could put a staffer out in central field with binoculars and some kind of electronic communication device to signal to the dugout. It has been alleged that Giant Bobby Thomson’s 1951 Shot Heard Round the World off Dodger Ralph Branca to win the 1951 National League pennant was part of a cheating system set up by Giant manager Leo Durocher.

Since the early 1970s, baseball has largely been televised mainly using a telephoto camera in centerfield that allows anybody watching to see the catchers’ signs. Baseball’s rules say that while batting teams can spy on signals by getting a runner on second base, they can’t use technology to spy on signals.

Houston, in 2017 put a staffer in the dugout to clubhouse hallway with a computer to watch the catcher’s signs. He signaled them to the batter by the simple expedient of pounding on a bucket: no bang = fastball, one bang = changeup, two bangs equal breaking ball.

Did Houston have this system in place on the road or just at home.

For example, in the 2017 World Series, the L.A. Dodgers great pitcher Clayton Kershaw gave up one run in 11 innings pitched in Dodger Stadium. But in the famous 5th game Kershaw couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead in Houston, with the Astros ultimately winning 13-12 in 10 innings.

Lots more rumors are flying today, such as that Houston’s 5’6″ slugger Jose Altuve was wearing a buzzer under his jersey on a crucial postseason homer.

And somebody is alleging that the California Angels superstar Mike Trout has a secret loophole that allows him to legally take Human Growth Hormone for a thyroid condition. (This would be a little like how Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi was given HGH as a child for extreme shortness.)

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With little in the way of news coming out of Manchester, England recently, the Manchester [UK] Evening News reports:

Coronation Street fans feel ‘physically sick’ watching the Geoff and Yasmeen abuse storyline
Some Corrie viewers have been switching off and others have praised the harrowing storyline

By Katie Fitzpatrick
16:32, 16 JAN 2020

It’s been a tough watch and Coronation Street fans say they’ve felt ‘physically sick’ watching the Geoff Metcalfe and Yasmeen Nazir storyline.

Some viewers have reached for the off-switch and are begging for the story to come to an end while others have applauded the soap’s decision to explore the harrowing subject of coercive control. …

Coronation Street announced in June last year that it was to explore the disturbing effects of coercive control relationships and raise awareness of this form of domestic abuse through the story of Geoff’s behaviour towards his partner.

Viewers have seen Geoff, the father of cabbie Tim Metcalfe, become increasingly manipulative and controlling towards Yasmeen, persuading her to spend time alone away from friends and family including her granddaughter Alya, while appearing jovial to their friends and neighbours.

As his controlling behaviour escalated he even staged a robbery and followed Yasmeen so he could be seen to protect her, taking over her bank account and setting up CCTV equipment to watch her every move around the house.

In December the couple announced that they had married in Las Vegas and Geoff stepped up his plan to manipulate Yasmeen by drawing up an exhausting cleaning rota and buying her a state-of-the-art vacuum cleaner.

Things have now taken another dark turn with him accusing his wife of being an alcoholic and taking away her credit cards.

Since 2015 this form of abuse has been classed as a criminal offence and underpins 95 per cent of all abusive relationships.

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The Theory of Intersectionality: The less you resemble Shakespeare, Newton, or Einstein demographically, the more you are a Hidden Figure with genius insights that have been marginalized since 1619.

The Reality of Intersectionality: Black women talking about their hair:

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From The Guardian:

Stephen King faces backlash over comments on Oscars diversity
Ava DuVernay and Roxane Gay criticized author after he said he ‘would never consider diversity in matters of art’

Poppy Noor

Tue 14 Jan 2020

In yet another year of Oscar nominations that saw a paucity of recognition for women and artists of colour, the response has been almost exhausted – after all, hasn’t it all already been said?

All this emotional labor is exhausting!

Stephen King took a different stance. Early on Tuesday morning, he spoke about the three Oscars categories in which he is able to nominate: best picture, adapted screenplay and original screenplay. He said that diversity is not a consideration for him when he votes as a member of the Academy. “I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,” he said on Twitter.

He has since been criticized by leading Hollywood names and authors saying his argument centers on the idea that quality and diversity are mutually exclusive.

No, his argument centers on the idea that quality and diversity are different concepts.

The director Ava DuVernay called King’s comments “so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed”.

Ava DuVernay

When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed.

The writer Roxane Gay tweeted that she was disappointed that King only believed in “quality from one demographic”.

Getting out of bed is indeed exhausting for Roxane Gay. From the New York Times in 2017:

Roxane Gay, an internationally known feminist writer and professor, released a memoir on Tuesday that focused, in part, on what it is like to move through the world as an overweight woman.

So it was both annoying and somewhat fitting, she said, that she had gotten attention this week not only for her work but also for a podcast that provoked a backlash for suggesting that it was difficult to arrange an interview with Ms. Gay last month because of her weight.

“Will she fit into the office lift?” asked a description of the podcast, which was broadcast on Sunday and hosted by Mia Freedman, creative director of an Australian website called Mamamia. “How many steps will she have to take to get to the interview?” …

In the edited version of the podcast that was online on Tuesday, Ms. Freedman can be heard introducing Ms. Gay before the interview:

“You see, Roxane Gay, well, I’m searching for the right word to use here. I don’t want to say fat, so — even though she uses the word fat about herself — so I’m going to use the official medical term, super morbidly obese. There’s obese, then there’s morbidly obese, and then there is super morbidly obese. I don’t think the scale goes beyond that, quite literally. But it’s not just that Roxane’s overweight; she’s 6-foot-3, or about two meters tall. Her size is incredibly imposing. And this is a logistical nightmare for her. There’s no other way to put it.”

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From Nature in 2015:

The myopia boom
Short-sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions. Some scientists think they have found a reason why.

Elie Dolgin
18 March 2015

… East Asia has been gripped by an unprecedented rise in myopia, also known as short-sightedness. Sixty years ago, 10–20% of the Chinese population was short-sighted. Today, up to 90% of teenagers and young adults are. In Seoul, a whopping 96.5% of 19-year-old men are short-sighted.

Other parts of the world have also seen a dramatic increase in the condition, which now affects around half of young adults in the United States and Europe — double the prevalence of half a century ago. …

They are challenging old ideas that myopia is the domain of the bookish child and are instead coalescing around a new notion: that spending too long indoors is placing children at risk. …

For many years, the scientific consensus held that myopia was largely down to genes. Studies in the 1960s showed that the condition was more common among genetically identical twins than non-identical ones, suggesting that susceptibility is strongly influenced by DNA1. Gene-finding efforts have now linked more than 100 regions of the genome to short-sightedness.

But it was obvious that genes could not be the whole story. One of the clearest signs came from a 1969 study of Inuit people on the northern tip of Alaska whose lifestyle was changing2. Of adults who had grown up in isolated communities, only 2 of 131 had myopic eyes. But more than half of their children and grandchildren had the condition. Genetic changes happen too slowly to explain this rapid change — or the soaring rates in myopia that have since been documented all over the world (see ‘The march of myopia’). “There must be an environmental effect that has caused the generational difference,” says Seang Mei Saw, who studies the epidemiology and genetics of myopia at the National University of Singapore.

There was one obvious culprit: book work. That idea had arisen more than 400 years ago, when the German astronomer and optics expert Johannes Kepler blamed his own short-sightedness on all his study. The idea took root; by the nineteenth century, some leading ophthalmologists were recommending that pupils use headrests to prevent them from poring too closely over their books.

… In the 1990s, for example, they found that teenage boys in Israel who attended schools known as Yeshivas (where they spent their days studying religious texts) had much higher rates of myopia than did students who spent less time at their books. On a biological level, it seemed plausible that sustained close work could alter growth of the eyeball as it tries to accommodate the incoming light and focus close-up images squarely on the retina.

Attractive though the idea was, it did not hold up. In the early 2000s, when researchers started to look at specific behaviours, such as books read per week or hours spent reading or using a computer, none seemed to be a major contributor to myopia risk5. But another factor did. In 2007, Donald Mutti and his colleagues at the Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus reported the results of a study that tracked more than 500 eight- and nine-year-olds in California who started out with healthy vision6. The team examined how the children spent their days, and “sort of as an afterthought at the time, we asked about sports and outdoorsy stuff”, says Mutti.

… Close work might still have some effect, but what seemed to matter most was the eye’s exposure to bright light.

… And Ian Flitcroft, a myopia specialist at Children’s University Hospital in Dublin, questions whether light is the key protective factor of being outdoors. He says that the greater viewing distances outside could affect myopia progression, too.

Are there state-by-state differences in myopia? Are kids in cold, wet Massachusetts more nearsighted than kids in balmy California or Hawaii?

Baseball batters benefit from sharp eyesight. David Epstein reported in The Sports Gene that when the Los Angeles Dodgers hired an optometrist to check their players, he had to create new, harder eye charts because most of the hitters could easily read the smallest print on the standard charts. Many big league batters scored 20-12 and one 20-9.

This might help explain why so many major leaguers these days come from Sunbelt states like Arizona and Florida: they are sunny.

That perhaps ties into the often discussed conundrum of how Mike Trout of New Jersey was still around for the Angels to get him with the 25th pick in the first round of the amateur draft. He was the best high school player in New Jersey, but how good are New Jersey high school players? In the case of Trout, who has finished first or second in A.L. MVP voting eight times in his first nine seasons, really good.

This also raises the question of how good old time baseball players were. In a nation of farm boys who grew up working outside, maybe a larger percentage of young men had excellent eyesight. (There might be data on this from conscription in WWI, WWII, and up into the 1970s.)

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From Human Nature in 2012:

The Importance of Physical Strength to Human Males
Aaron Sell & Liana S. E. Hone & Nicholas Pound

… Warfare and the Hollywood Action Star

If attitudes about warfare are causally tied to a man’s own sense of fighting ability, we would expect professions, industries, and coalitions of strong, powerful men to be more likely to endorse attitudes about the utility of political aggression as a means of resolving conflicts of interest. More interestingly, even among professions that are typically left-leaning with respect to attitudes about war,1 we should expect to find exceptions among those who are physically formidable. We tested for this pattern among a small group of

(Where the terms “left” and “right” are used in the present manuscript they are intended to refer to their commonly understood meanings in the contemporary United States, where “left-leaning” refers to beliefs typically associated with the Democratic Party, including a more “dovish” approach to war, whereas “rightleaning” refers to beliefs associated with the Republican Party, including a more “hawkish” approach to war.”

physically strong men, Hollywood action stars, who work and reside in a culture that is left-leaning compared with contemporary America, particularly when it comes to views on the utility of warfare. If physical strength in men leads to more positive views of the utility of war, then even in a population with predominately leftist attitudes, such as Hollywood actors, those actors known for their physical strength and formidability should be more likely to be supportive of military action.

Each actor was then put into one of two political categories regarding the utility of warfare: left-wing (i.e., warfare leads to more problems) or right-wing (i.e., warfare solves problems). Because the actors were largely American citizens and working in America during the late twentieth century, the “antiwar” position was indicated by support of the Democratic Party, which, to a large extent, opposed the Vietnam and Iraq wars, America’s most significant foreign military actions in the latter part of the century. The complications of history make this a simplification, but for the purposes of this study what matters is the public perception of the parties’ platforms. The Democratic Party has been the party supported by those who wish to end foreign incursions and the Republican Party has been the party supported by those who wish to use the U.S. military to attack America’s enemies (Aldrich et al. 2006). The actor’s political affiliation was assessed using a five-step ordered procedure:

  • if the actor had run for office as a member of a political party, he was classified as a supporter of that party. One actor was classified by this criterion. & if the actor’s political donations to one party were more than double those to another, he was classified as a supporter of that party. Thirty-eight actors were classified by this criterion. & if the actor made direct statements regarding a military action by the United States he was categorized accordingly. Eight actors were classified by this criterion.
  • if the actor made direct statements of support for a party or a politician, or if they
    spoke at a party fund raiser or convention, they were categorized accordingly.
    Eleven actors were classified by this criterion.
  • finally, if not classified by any previous criteria, actors were classified by any
    stated support they had for left-wing or right-wing causes. Only three actors were
    classified according to this criterion based on support of these left-wing causes:
    desire for more regulation of free market capitalism, support for Che Guevera, and preference for government-provided universal health care. …

As expected, Hollywood actors are generally more supportive of left-wing politics and politicians, with 47 [of 61] of the actors (77.0%) being categorized as left-wing and 14 (23.0%) as right-wing. Despite that general pattern, a chi-square test indicated significant differences in the distribution of political attitudes between different categories of actors (χ2 015.0; df02; p<0.001). As shown in Fig. 2, actors known for their physical strength and formidability—action stars—were the exception. More than half of Hollywood action stars in our sample (56.3%) were right-wing according to our categorization process. These included such imposing figures as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne Johnson (“the Rock”), and Charlton Heston. Post-hoc comparisons indicated that right-wing categorizations were significantly more common (χ2 013.9; df01; p<0.001) among action actors (56.3%) than dramatic actors (4.2%). Similarly, right-wing categorizations were more common (χ2 05.5; df01; p<0.05) among action actors than comedic actors (19.0%).

Consistent with the hypothesis that physical strength is linked to positive views of the utility of warfare, many of the action stars categorized as left-wing were indeed physically less imposing than their right-wing counterparts. For example, Nicholas Cage, Tom Cruise, Pierce Brosnan, and Keanu Reeves are prominent left-wing action stars but do not appear to have the same physiques as Schwarzenegger, Stallone, or Chuck Norris. Furthermore, several of the right-wing comedic and dramatic stars were also physically formidable, such as Matthew McConaughey and Vince Vaughn. Though they were not mentioned repeatedly by our subjects, and thus did not contribute to our analysis, many other physically formidable actors contributed to or supported right-wing political causes, including James Earl Jones, Tom Selleck, LL Cool J, Lorenzo Lamas, Dean Cain, Mickey Rourke, Clint Walker, Clancy Brown, Chuck Conners, Ronald Reagan, “Hulk Hogan,” and Kurt Russell.2 …

A simple independent t-test compared the height of right-wing actors (mean 72.7 inches) with the height of left-wing actors (mean 70.3 inches) on our list and showed that the right-wing actors were significantly taller …

The authors say they have posted the list of all 61 actors, but I can’t find it online.

I did a similar analysis in 2000 using campaign contributions:

Where have all the GOP celebrities gone?
BySTEVE SAILER, UPI National Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29, 2000 — … In 2000, however, Oscar-winning actors, actresses, and directors donated 40 times more money to Democrats than to Republicans. …

Although Republicans have sometimes appealed to action stars, Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage followed his uncle, director Francis Ford Coppola, into the Democratic column. Texas tough guy Tommy Lee Jones gave $2,000 to his old college roommate, Al Gore. And, while Kevin Costner once contributed to conservative Senator Phil Gramm, in 2000 he was back with the Hollywood herd, handing over $3,000 to the Vice President.

In case you are wondering, part-time Republican politician Clint Eastwood (who won an Oscar for directing “Unforgiven”) does not show up in the Center for Responsive Politics’ database as a contributor. (You can access their trove of Election Commission reports at While Clint couldn’t be bothered, his ex-wife Maggie Eastwood did send $1,000 to Republicans, however.

In contrast, only seven Academy Award winners gave to Republicans. And that number includes big Democratic donors Michael Douglas and Sidney Pollack, who each tossed $1,000 to maverick Republican challenger Senator John McCain. Other McCain donors include grizzled actor Robert Duvall and Milos Forman (director of “Amadeus”), who came to America as a refugee from Communist Czechoslovakia.

Just three award winners contributed to any Republicans besides the briefly trendy McCain. Renegade director Oliver Stone (“JFK”) split his contributions between Gore and Republican Congressman and Impeachment Trial manager James Rogan…

The other GOP givers were William Friedkin, who directed “The French Connection” way back in 1971, and, of course, National Rifle Association leader Charlton Heston.

No Academy Award winner gave to President-Elect Bush.

The Republicans also did poorly among non-Oscar winners with big fan bases. Several action movie actors are rumored to have Republican sympathies, but Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone were no-shows in the 2000 donation database. Superstar Harrison Ford did give $1,000 to McCain, but he also handed $2,000 to Democrats. The only rock-ribbed Republican donor among action heroes is Chuck Norris, star of TV’s “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Hone, Pound, and Sell (which sounds like advice) argue that height is of interest because it’s almost pure nature.

I wrote a 2012 column making a similar point about actors: Hormonal Politics.

One interesting question is whether it’s pure nature or part nurture. Hollywood stars exercise a lot, and it’s possible that choice of exercise regimen might influence political views. I pointed out a Sample Size of 2 experiment:

Here’s an extremely anecdotal Hollywood example of the political correlates of lifting v. running. Consider two television stars of highly rated cop shows: Gary Sinise (CSI: NY) and Mark Harmon (NCIS). These two actors strike me as reasonably comparable, perhaps because I used to see them around my old high school where their children went. And, I’ve admired both Sinise and Harmon for their work long before they became television leading men. Sinise was the artistic director in the 1980s of Chicago’s great Steppenwolf theater. And Harmon had a 17-5 won-loss record quarterbacking my favorite college football team, UCLA, in 1972-73.

If I’d had to guess their political causes based on their biographies — Sinise the Chicago theater kid whose father was a film editor v. Harmon the Bel-Air jock whose dad, Tom Harmon, won the 1940 Heisman Trophy — I would have bet on Sinise as a liberal and Harmon as a conservative.

In reality, their political activism is closer to the body types they’ve worked to develop and maintain. Neither is a big man, but Sinise looks like he lifts weights. Even though Harmon is the rare Hollywood star who was a genuine football hero — his slight frame must have taken a tremendous beating as the running QB of the Bruins’ wishbone offense — he hasn’t been much into putting on muscle since. Instead, he’s a distance runner.

Sinise is one of Hollywood’s most outspoken activists in a variety of conservative and patriotic causes. More than a few Republican operatives would like Sinise to carry on the Reagan-Schwarzenegger tradition by running for office.

In contrast, Harmon has been a gun control activist since his wife Pam Dawber’s costar Rebecca Schaefer was murdered by some stalker with a gun in 1989.

I don’t expect anybody to be terribly persuaded by this Sinise-Harmon comparison. My point, though, is that the proposition that different types of exercise could drive political views could be ethically tested on college students by offering free personal trainers. Randomly assign some volunteers to the weightlifting trainer, others to the running trainer, and measure if their attitudes change along with their shapes.

As Obama’s calculatedly divisive 2012 campaign demonstrates, the future of politics may look much stranger than what we’re familiar with. The parties will likely want to research how they can mold their own voters.

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Not Buster Keaton

Here’s my movie review in Taki’s Magazine:

Call of Duty: ‘1917’
Steve Sailer

January 15, 2020

2019 turned out to be a good year for quality guy movies after all, as several veteran directors ignored the anti-male zeitgeist and just shot the films they’ve long wanted to make, such as Joker, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Irishman, and Ford v Ferrari. Sam Mendes, for example, delivers in 1917 an admirable if gimmicky videogame-style World War I movie inspired by his beloved grandfather’s stories of two years of fighting as a lance corporal in Flanders Fields. …

The Corporal Scofield character is portrayed by George MacKay, who looks like Buster Keaton in Dough Boys, with the kind of pale, immobile face that movies liked a century ago. In fact, much of the movie resembles an unfunny Buster Keaton movie in which Buster is constantly running past catastrophes.

Read the whole thing there.

For an example of Buster Keaton running:

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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