Let's coexist, shall we?

Or maybe not.

This is how tolerance is often depicted in these parts:
And a popular colorful poster states, "Tolerance is appreciating and respecting differences in people." Who could possibly be against tolerance?
Like many things, though, it's not quite that simple.  
St. Paul listed the major theological virtues as faith, hope, and love. They are ends, or goods, in themselves. There are several minor virtues, including tolerance. Being a virtue, you might think that tolerance is automatically a good thing, but actually tolerance depends on the nature of what's being tolerated for its moral goodness--or lack thereof--and on whether what is being tolerated inherently requires intolerance of the opposite.
So unlike the major virtues, minor virtues are not ends in themselves, and there very definitely can be too much of a good thing when it comes to a minor virtue...such as tolerance.
In the current cultural milieu, the rationale for giving the societal heave-ho to those judged intolerant seems to come down to one thing: how likely is the person being shunned or punished (or just plain told to sit down and shut up) to react violently?  Think about it.  Here is a recent example, from CA…the victory (for now) of the "heckler's veto" over free speech:
Rejecting free speech arguments from parents, Republican lawmakers and conservative groups, a federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to reconsider a ruling that found a South Bay high school had the legal right to order students wearing American-flag adorned shirts to turn them inside out during a 2010 Cinco de Mayo celebration.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand its February ruling in favor of Live Oak High School administrators, who argued that a history of problems on the Mexican holiday justified the decision to act against the American flag-wearing students…
...9th Circuit Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, who wrote Wednesday's dissent, may have provided fodder for conservatives on the Supreme Court to consider the case, calling February's ruling "regrettable."
He warned that the decision opened the door for schools to stifle speech for any threat, saying, "The demands of bullies will become school policy."
As many have pointed out since this incident occurred, if school were in session on Independence Day--which may be the case soon enough--the opposite would likely not be true, i.e., students wearing Mexican flag t-shirts would not be forced to remove them or turn them inside out. Unless this decision is overturned in the Supreme Court, cowardice will have become official school policy. Tolerance is often a one-way street resulting from the tyranny of a majority, or a loud and obnoxious minority; it ends up a bumper-sticker slogan that is invoked by intolerant people as an excuse for eliminating certain topics and people from the public square.
Eventually, though, the masks slip; those who try to portray themselves as the very soul of tolerance have a cat-outta-the-bag moment…like NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo, earlier this year:
Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay? Is that who they are, because if that’s who they are and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.
We on the right make easy marks…we're often unwilling to strike back but have been more than willing to allow ourselves to be silenced into compliance. We're unwilling to publicly criticize POTUS, the Attorney General, and others for fear of the race card being played. Similarly, we've allowed debates over good and evil to be stifled by opponents playing the tolerance card as though it's trump by definition. We don't have the spine of abolitionist Charles Sumner who was nearly beaten to death on the floor of the US Senate by a fellow member of Congress incensed by Sumner's anti-slavery speech in 1856.
Because tolerance may be good or bad based on the nature of the thing being tolerated, playing for a tie is a losing strategy. We must not tolerate things that we are morally opposed to--some things in life are simply non-negotiable. In certain instances, tolerance is not the goal. We want an acknowledgment that right is right and evil is evil.
We ought to fight for this in a moral way and refuse to use despicable tactics--but fight we must.

Confucius says...

A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.

Emphasis mine.

What Confucius recognized, of course, is that what we call things actually matters.  Indeed,

One begins to see what Confucius meant when he said, 2,500 years ago, that the first thing to do to restore a state to health was to rectify the names—in other words, to call things by their right names rather than by euphemisms.
Now if you've ever been to a meeting--at church, at work, in the community--where they have you break out into small groups and then come back together and where you have the feeling that the "consensus" arrived at seemed predetermined from the get-go, you've experienced the Delphi technique…it's not new but it's still making us crazy after all these years (stay with me here, all will become clear):
More and more, we are seeing citizens being invited to “participate” in various forms of meetings, councils, or boards to “help determine” public policy in one field or another. They are supposedly being included to get ”input” from the public to help officials make final decisions on taxes, education, community growth or whatever the particular subject matter might be.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, surface appearances are often deceiving.
You, Mr. or Mrs. Citizen, decide to take part in one of these meetings.
Generally, you will find that there is already someone designated to lead or “facilitate” the meeting. Supposedly, the job of the facilitator is to be a neutral, non-directing helper to see that the meeting flows smoothly.
Actually, he or she is there for exactly the opposite reason: to see that the conclusions reached during the meeting are in accord with a plan already decided upon by those who called the meeting...
If you need a review of Agenda 21, comprehensive planning, sustainability, etc., etc., see an earlier post, "Unsustainable sustainability," from a couple of years ago.
So, class…what are some of the euphemisms that controlling controllers commonly use these days when they don't want you to realize what they're up to?
Here's a handy-dandy list of terms that are Agenda 21-related and that should make any sentient person's alarms go off, courtesy of Rosa Koire of Democrats Against Agenda 21:
Affordable housing
Ballot Box Planning
Benefit of all
Buffer Zones
Cap & Trade
Climate Change
Common Core Curriculum
Common good
Community Protocol
Comprehensive planning
Conservation Easement
Direct instruction
Endangered species
Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
Environmental Justice
General Plan
Global Warming
Good Business Sense
Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions
Growth management
HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Communities
Healthy Communities Strategy
High Speed Rail
Historic preservation
Housing Element
International baccalaureate
International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
Invasive species
Jobs-Housing Connection
Land Use Policies
Lifelong learning
Livable communities
Livable Communities
Local Governments for Sustainability
Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Mixed Use Development
Multi-Use Dwellings
New Economy New Urbanism
New World Order
One planet communities
Open Space
Outcome based education
Parking Policy
Precautionary approach
Precautionary Principle
Priority Conservation Areas
Priority Development Areas (PDA)
Public/Private partnerships
Quality of life
Resilient Cities
Responsible development
Safe Routes to Schools
Scenic views and vistas
School to work
Sensitive Lands
Smart growth
Smart Streets
Social justice
Stack and Pack Housing
Sustainable Communities Initiative
Sustainable communities partnership
Sustainable communities strategies
Sustainable development
Sustainable Economic Development
Sustainable medicine
Three "E"s of Sustainablity-Equity, Economy, Environment
Traffic calming
Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Transportation Justice
Triple bottom line
Urban Growth Boundary
Urban revitalization
Vehicle Mileage Traveled Tax
Vibrant Neighborhoods
Visioning Meetings
Walkable Communities
Got it? Good. Take a gander at the Tompkins County Planning Commissioner's column…and see how many sustainability terms you can pick out or infer:
...How we make Tompkins County a place where:
• housing is affordable, safe and appealing?
• transportation choices are affordable, efficient and healthy for people and the environment?
• economic prosperity is accessible to all?
• natural features and working rural landscapes are preserved and enhanced?
• water resources are protected?
• the energy system is carbon neutral?...
But guess what? People are realizing that the controllers begin controlling people's lives at the local level and are therefore pushing back at the local level:
June 27, 2014
Tompkins County Planning Department
121 E. Court Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
The purpose of this letter is to submit the official position of the Tompkins County Republican Party in regard to possible revisions in the comprehensive plan, as requested in the Ithaca Journal on June 17, 2014.
In his guest column in the Journal on June 17, Ed Marx, signing the column in his official role as Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning, makes several assumptions of the issues facing Tompkins, the sentiments of its residents, and assumes consensus among them on what needs to be done.  The posing of the questions to be considered suggests that the answers follow a politically correct agenda dominated by environmental interests over development and job growth.  In other words, the questions suggest their own answers, answers the planners want to hear.  We believe that the questions asked are the wrong questions, designed to steer the outcome into a pre-ordained mold in which individual choices will increasingly be subject to government interference and control.  Our basic beliefs include respect for individual choices and a smaller, less powerful government.  The comprehensive plan changes suggested in the Marx column move us more deeply into a government controlled world.
Marx says that “there has also been an increasing interest locally in linking efforts to address climate change with the need to address social equity ….”  While the Tompkins County Republican Party would agree that some local environmental activists have embraced both the theories of global warming and climate change, their disdaining all who question the effort to link climate change theories with “social equity” is of deep concern to our Party.  Much like the deceptive statement that, “The science is settled”,  these theories have become a license for advocates to try to force significant lifestyle changes on the public, in line with the Agenda 21 and Cleaner, Greener New York plans to coerce residents to live their lives in a sea of government dictated patterns.  Our Party rejects this effort in favor of individual freedom, personal choices, and property rights.
Climate is a long term concept, well beyond a single human lifetime, not measurable in a few years or even decades.  Geologic history shows our planet has undergone climate change many times without human causation.  Grapes grew in the Viking settlements in Greenland.  George Washington’s troops experienced deep winters.  Neither of these events marked man made climate change.  The Earth has long term natural variations.  Some climate scientists believe these variations can occur quickly.  Accordingly, we do not accept global warming or climate change as a basis of a sweeping political agenda based on current short term data.  Moreover, some of this data has been known to have been altered or interpreted to satisfy its authors’ theories.  When scientists alter or slant data, they do science a huge disservice.
There were a number of specific points in Marx’s guest column we would like to address:
1.  Housing.  We believe the high cost of housing in Ithaca and Tompkins (one study showed we are the twelfth highest cost housing market in the U.S.) is due primarily to one of the highest property and total tax burdens in our country.  Giving tax breaks or assistance to some comes at the cost of others.  Subsidies for low cost housing exacerbate the problem.  Taxing residents, including those of marginal and low income, to subsidize the housing of others is a zero sum game.  As more people enjoy subsidies, more people will then need subsidies because the taxes they pay will become unbearable. In addition, our area imposes extensive zoning and other regulations that impede development.
2.  Transportation Choices.  We believe that people should be free to make their own transportation choices without the heavy hand of government tipping the scales to what planners consider desirable.  We believe government should serve private choices, not dictate or channel those choices.  It is an individual’s choice to live in tightly concentrated dense urban areas – or not.  But we should not pick winners and losers and punish those who choose to live in private homes with large lots, outside sub-divisions.  Government policy should remain neutral and honor individual choices in the housing marketplace.
3.  Economic prosperity.  We strongly favor economic development, with due regard to the environment as a factor, but not the only factor, in decision making.  The major obstacles to economic prosperity are high taxes and burdensome state and local government restrictions that provide reasons for businesses to seek to operate outside the U.S. or, if within it, in states that offer lower taxes and a favorable regulatory climate.  The more we plan and regulate, the more we tax and redistribute wealth, the less attractive we become to job makers.  One example of a society with “social equity” is Cuba, where there is so much equity that everyone is equally poor.
4.  Rural landscapes.  If there is one thing we in Tompkins have in abundance, it is land.  Given that our population growth is very slow (perhaps due to the factors we’ve discussed), there is relatively little pressure on our land availability.  While we favor preserving those few truly unique natural areas, we do not support massive land preservation planning and controls.
5.  Water resources.  We have abundant fresh water in our region.  From the Great Lakes to our normal rainfall, we are blessed with natural water supplies, trillions of gallons of water.  The principle of dilution applies in such circumstances keeping our water safe.  We do not oppose reasonable health and safety based water regulation but we do oppose declaring every drop of water as subject to EPA regulations and government controls.  Lest anyone forget, we too drink the water and we too want it safe.
6.  Carbon neutrality.  We don’t buy this.  It is virtually impossible for one county or even for the U.S. as a whole to change global patterns.  While we cut back on carbons, taxing ourselves to do so, foreign governments take our manufacturing jobs and continue to pour carbons into the atmosphere.  Until there is world-wide compliance, (an impossibility) such compliance efforts are doomed to be ineffective and costly to our own economy.  Further, cut backs in coal production for electric use, unless done very gradually, hurt large portions of the U.S. economy and may cause brownouts and blackouts, particularly in very hot, summer months, when electricity is in peak demand. Ours is a computer based society, a grid that is unreliable will kill many jobs.
7.  Preparation for “climate change”.  We have already discussed this.  Why are we preparing for something that may or may not happen?  Why do we attempt to change the social, life style, and political behavior of large parts of our population via government coercion unless there is reason beyond a doubt?
8. Lifestyles.  We believe individuals should choose their own life styles, free from coercion by planners and by the state.  When government puts its heavy hand on the scales of what is a “good” or “bad” life style, it is no longer serving the people but having the people serve the ends of government.  Politicians and bureaucrats in state and federal capitals are often out of touch and do not understand local issues.  Even if such actions are supported by a majority of the community, they should not be able to coerce the minority on details of how they will live.  We prefer freedom to the tyranny of the majority and heavy handed “protection.”
9. Concentrated communities.  Planners by nature and governments love concentrated communities because it is easier for them to provide infrastructure and to regulate life styles.  Forcing people to live in dense urban areas may be pleasing to some but it is repugnant to others.  Interestingly, when people retain their right to choose their lifestyles, many people prefer “sprawl” to density.  If that is what people choose, government needs to accommodate itself to those choices, not attempt to change them.  A free people are not over regulated by either government or by over-zealous radicals determined to force people to live in planned sub-divisions, neatly arranged, to satisfy planners and make life easier for infrastructure engineers.
In summary, our Party, representing a substantial portion of Tompkins County residents, believes your planners are asking the wrong questions and addressing the wrong problems in the wrong way.  The comprehensive plan should support development along the lines people choose for themselves, individually, not collectively, and with respect for differing views and priorities.  Zoning and government controls should be limited to true and immediate health and safety concerns, not broad environmental theories and speculations used as a cover to introduce politically correct life style and social changes.
The agenda in our community has been dominated by a highly organized, activist, and vocal “save the planet” extreme environmentalist lobby, who cannot balance jobs and the economy with the environment.  Both are important, we should not allow one interest to be entirely predominant.
The comprehensive plan should not impose new government requirements on the people of Tompkins County.
Respectfully submitted,
Tompkins County Republican Party
By James Drader, Chairman

Learning from mistakes

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." – Mark Twain

"There's no such thing as a free lunch." -- Milton Friedman
To pick up where we left off after an earlier post on the relationship between numbers of humans on earth and human nature….baby boomers such as we denizens of Redneck Mansion deserve to be roundly criticized for not fixing the Social Security problem--that problem being a greater and greater number of older people living longer and longer lives reaching into the pockets of younger people and taking their stuff.  The entire generation (as well as all those who came between FDR and now) has been a collective Captain Renault:

No one should be as surprised as the Austin, TX woman who voted in favor of every municipal expenditure under the sun but then was shocked, SHOCKED to discover that she would be expected to help pay for them:
She ordered a nine course meal and does not want to pay for any of the dishes that showed up after the Gazpacho. When she ordered the whole, entire smorgasbord, she never stopped to ponder how this was actually going to be financed.
Some of what might inelegantly be termed the selfishness and thievery of Social Security recipients since FDR can be forgiven--after all, the program was sold from the get-go as "insurance" and for many years people believed that it was and there are surely some who still do believe it. And it isn't as though you had any choice about paying those taxes. Many of us would have been better off all these decades saving for our own old age and contributing to a pot for those truly needy folks--that's what a safety net is supposed to be. But that would have been hard politically.
Anyway, even once it was better understood that Social Security was yet another income redistribution program, there was some reason to keep on playing the game of taking from Peter to pay Paul.  People paid it forward when they were working, supporting the older members of society, and then expected, not unreasonably, that the same would be done for them. 
There were essentially two bases for this expectation: 1) the continued growth of the US economy in general, and 2) a sufficient number of American workers with incomes large enough to be able to part with some of that hard-earned brass to support the folks who had come before them without simultaneously impoverishing themselves.
Basis #1 isn't happening and hasn't been for the last few years. One way to make sure that the children of baby boomers benefit from a system that at least for now they are forced to pay into is to grow the economy. The current administration doesn't appear to believe that a growing American economy is a good thing although they pay lip service to the idea. The kids of baby boomers are going to have to decide what it is that they want going forward, but for right now the economy is stagnant, even shrinking. Oh, and kids? You may want to take some earlier wisdom into account (emphasis mine):
Q: There are those nasty critics, of course, who suggest that you don't really want to bring [the Labour Party] down at the moment. Life is a bit too difficult in the country, and that ... leave them to sort the mess out and then come in with the attack later ... say next year. 
A: I would much prefer to bring them down as soon as possible. I think they've made the biggest financial mess that any government's ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they're now trying to control everything by other means. They're progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.
That was Margaret Thatcher in a 1976 interview. The more things change... 
So that takes us to basis #2.  We can argue 'til the proverbial cows come home about immigration, means testing, and so on as ways of ensuring the continued viability of Social Security but that isn't the point of this post. The point here is simply that the number of American workers available to support the old geezers is shrinking.
In fact, no sooner had the earlier numbers-and-nature piece been posted than this appeared:
U.S. fertility is not recovering from the financial crisis — and demographers aren’t sure why….
...The consequences of America’s recession baby bust are already significant. “We’re getting to the point where it’s dropped far enough and for a long enough period of time that it’s going to have serious implications” for the population and the economy, Mather said. With declining fertility, the U.S. population would age, and ultimately the labor force would decline as older workers retire — a trend already well underway with the Baby Boom generation reaching their mid-60s.
The financial crisis “has had the most punishing impact on demographic trends of anything since the Great Depression,” Johnson said.
That's not to say that people should just close their eyes and think of England solely so as to produce children for their future economic well-being.  But the interesting thing here is that apparently demographers seem to be focused only on economic explanations of people's behavior. To paraphrase Andrew Breitbart, though, everything is downstream of culture. Those demographers just might want to take a peek at the culture. If they did, it might become apparent that Friedman's "free lunch" idea has a broader application than just the obvious economic one.
At age 17, George Washington was appointed Surveyor General of Virginia and he was hardly unusual in having adult responsibilities at what we now regard a fairly young age. Indeed, an article a few years ago in the NYT about the long road to adulthood ends thusly:
We have not developed and strengthened institutions to serve young adults,” Mr. Furstenberg said, “because we’re still living with the archaic idea that people enter adulthood in their late teens or early 20s.
Wow. Just wow.
Of course, those same people who haven't entered adulthood by their late teens or early 20s can, unfortunately, vote as well as engage in all sorts of activities that are usually regarded as "adult." Hmmmm…..
In fact, how many Americans currently in their 20s, 30s, or even 40s have emerged from adolescence and arrived at the conclusion Mark Twain did? Might it be the postponement or complete abandonment of the ideas of marriage and children that makes it seem as though mom and dad are hopeless know-nothings well past the teenage years when one expects such thinking?  
That old chestnut, "Honor thy father and thy mother," has been around for at least 3,000 years but the deconstruction of familial roles is just one of the caustic effects of progressivism--and it's happened in a little over a century.  "The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible," wrote Woodrow Wilson in 1909.  Academia has certainly succeeded in that regard.
And what is one result?  An entire cohort of people many of whom eschew marriage and children. There is a cultural cost involved here, not just an economic one.  While the baby boomers and their predecessors may have a lot of faults, in some ways their children and grandchildren may have even more to answer for...for, unless they take a different tack, they run the risk of being parasites who don't transmit culture, don't transmit knowledge, and--even worse than robbing from their own children as the baby boomers have--rob from other people's children. A whole generation is not learning from their parents' mistakes and making short-sighted, self-serving decisions that will come back to bite them in the tuches.
Those old fogies that expect 20- and 30- and 40-somethings to have given up membership at Our Lady of Perpetual Adolescence might know a few things and have something to offer.  And those 20- and 30- and 40-somethings might have something to offer to the next generation after them--but first there has to be a next generation.

Nature and numbers

From Allahpundit:

In a death match between consciousness-raising and inconvenient facts, you can always count on cognitive dissonance to protect the former.
What impelled that observation was a recent comment by Paul Ehrlich--author of The Population Bomb which, thanks to Ehrlich's being spectacularly off-beam, turned out to be an unintentionally hilarious title--that we're heading for mass cannibalism at an alarming rate thanks to all us pronatalist humans selfishly producing little clones of ourselves. 
The only problem is that it's not true. And in fact if we don't start reproducing ourselves, at least in developed countries, at a greater rate, society will be in deep doo-doo.
What keeps these Malthusian gloom-and-doom predictions alive decade after decade in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? It ain't numbers, it's nature, human nature.
In an op-ed piece three years ago in the LA Times, the Ehrlichs even took hallowed NPR to task for their "sparse record of population pieces, just one or two [of which] actually address unsustainable population growth." 
But the fact of the matter is that while the current world populations stands at about 7.2 billion people, birth rates are falling around the world to the point that some economies will have increasing trouble caring for aging populations. In the US, for example, there is no Social Security "lockbox"--there never has been. Those currently working support those currently not working.  It's simple income redistribution. If you add to insane administration anti-growth policies the reality of fewer and fewer younger workers coming up to pay taxes that support their elders, it doesn't end well.    
But…but…but what about the grinding poverty in parts of the world?  Surely that's a result of too many people vis-a-vis too few resources. Don't we have a moral obligation to produce fewer humans?
Obviously there are places in the world where the absolute poverty is mind-numbing, particularly when compared with whatever relative poverty exists in the US. But as one example
Infectious disease, corrupt governance, and lack of access to global markets are Africa's biggest problems.
Not overpopulation. In fact,
The conditions that sustain humanity are not natural and never have been. Since prehistory, human populations have used technologies and engineered ecosystems to sustain populations well beyond the capabilities of unaltered “natural” ecosystems.
In other words, it's not a zero-sum game.  Thanks to God-given human ingenuity, the pie can--and indeed does--grow. All the time.
So why is it that otherwise intelligent, well-educated people insist that humans are really no different than bacteria in a petri dish with a limited carrying capacity? Here's one explanation:
Trained as a biologist, I learned the classic mathematics of population growth — that populations must have their limits and must ultimately reach a balance with their environments. Not to think so would be to misunderstand physics: there is only one earth, of course!
It was only after years of research into the ecology of agriculture in China that I reached the point where my observations forced me to see beyond my biologists’s blinders. Unable to explain how populations grew for millenniums while increasing the productivity of the same land, I discovered the agricultural economist Ester Boserup, the antidote to the demographer and economist Thomas Malthus and his theory that population growth tends to outrun the food supply. Her theories of population growth as a driver of land productivity explained the data I was gathering in ways that Malthus could never do. While remaining an ecologist, I became a fellow traveler with those who directly study long-term human-environment relationships — archaeologists, geographers, environmental historians and agricultural economists.
Read the whole thing. And see these brief videos on why Malthus was wrong:

In other words, numbers alone--billions of people, hectares of land--can't explain poverty. Like life in general, it's just more complex than that. Poverty involves negative aspects of human nature--corruption, sloth, greed--that aren't going away even given a shrinking population. Politics, war, and economics have much more to do with whether or not people have enough food to eat than does the number of people on the planet.  But those kinds of problems are really hard to solve--it's much quicker and easier to prescribe abortion, say.
Another explanation of the continued but misplaced popularity of the petri-dish theory of human population is some less-than-flattering--but human--facets of a society that suffers from affluenza…such as self-centeredness and joylessness. 
When it comes to unmitigated joylessness, no one can top Corning, NY native Margaret Higgins Sanger, who was one of 11 kids and spent much of her time taking care of younger siblings. Ultimately, that life experience translated into statements such as, ""The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." Of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, joy was not one that darkened Margaret's personal doorstep. Miss Congeniality went on to found Planned Parenthood and influence generations of US feminists--but not in a good way.
For post-modern self-centeredness, see the Time magazine article
If people don't want to have children, that's a choice with not just personal but societal ramifications.
Don't justify that choice with some high-sounding reference to poor Gaia staggering under the weight of too many people. That's intellectually dishonest. 
And because it's intellectually dishonest, it should not be used as a basis for making policy that will affect not only the "childfree" but the rest of society as well. That's immoral. So--and this is just one problem associated with not replacing ourselves--be prepared to figure out how older people will be supported, morally, by an ever-shrinking pool of younger people who are not kin to those elders.
You see, it's really not about numbers.  It's about human nature.
To be continued...

No beer for you!

Remember this?

Let's bring back the Volstead Act, shall we? And while we're at it, I suppose we denizens of Redneck Mansion should simply be thankful that Walmart didn't call CPS and have our 17-year-old taken away, à la Justina Pelletier.
Not only does my husband--he of the white hair and white beard--need to provide proof of age to buy beer (as I do, too--I'm lacking the whiskers, though, thank God), but he was nearly forbidden by the beer nazis at Walmart to actually purchase a 12-pack of Saranac because he had our daughter with him.  See, she was asked to produce ID, too, which revealed that she's--gasp!--a minor. He was about to leave the Saranac and the rest of his attempted purchases there and walk away when some employee higher up the food chain gave the requisite permission for him to buy beer. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, minor Walmart functionary!
All the employees were wearing patriotic gear in honor of Memorial Day--the irony of that wasn't lost on our daughter, bless her heart. 
I'm waiting for CPS to cart off some kid who has the misfortune of having a clearly negligent parent--who's a sorry excuse for a role model to boot--with the audacity to purchase something frowned upon by the nanny staters while in the presence of said offspring. After all, didn't Melissa Harris-Perry spell out the new and accepted thinking on this?

Some people are sure that present-day conservatives take their cues from our Puritan forebears and in a very negative way--you know, that conservatives are the kind of people who fear that somewhere, somehow, people are enjoying themselves.
Not so much.
Present-day progressives are themselves the neo-Puritans, a repressive, self-righteous, suffocating, self-designated elect, all in the name of protecting us from ourselves and children from their parents--all in the name of control.
Want to be able to buy a light bulb that doesn't make you look jaundiced and reasonably-priced electricity to power it? Sorry, no incandescent light bulbs or fossil fuels for you.
Want to be able to raise money for your high school cheerleading squad? Sorry, no car washes for you.
Want to be able to offer advice based on your personal experience? Sorry, no recipe sharing for you.
Want to be able to take your child with you to the store to buy a beverage that humans have been making and consuming for at least 7,000 years without having to produce proof that not only are you not some adolescent whose skin has only recently cleared but are not some reprobate gleefully anticipating providing alcohol to underage drinkers?
Sorry, Charlie.
No beer for you.

"Sustainable development" in Tioga County, NY

Who could possibly be opposed to it? It sounds so good.

Those chartreuse areas highlighted on the map to the left are "Areas in the Town of Spencer with potential for having one or more rare or endangered plant or animal species." It's a fact that it's a possibility! Delta smelt, anyone?

Here's the latest iteration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan for the Town & Village of Spencer NY (click on the image below to open the doc). Please read and contact town council members with your thoughts:



CT has UConn, NYS has...UCon?

Who could possibly object to this?

ALBANY — A statewide initiative will start to expand opportunities for prisoners to get college degrees, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday...

Read the whole thing and the comments, too.

From our own inimitable contributor, Publius:


To obtain your free college education, courtesy of Governor Cuomo, just commit a felony and go to jail!  Do not accept probation or parole.
Our experts can help you find a crime that carries a four year sentence so you can get that four year college degree.  And, don't worry about distractions.  You'll be free to concentrate on your studies in your own "room" in the prison while receiving three meals a day at State taxpayer expense.  Good prison libraries and high speed access to the web guaranteed.
We know prisons and can help you apply to the right one.  Just fill out our form and tick off the boxes of the Cuomo supplied amenities.  Need tennis courts?  Weight lifting rooms?  We can tell you how to get to the right accommodations.  For just $1,000 we can help you stage a felony that will open the door to these riches.
If you have children in need of free college educations, our experts can tell you which crimes are most likely to enable them to join in this program.
NY is open for felons.  Get tax breaks, free food and lodging, free degrees.  Cuomo loves you.
Show your thanks to our governor, send money to the Cuomo campaign, DeBlasio Street Lefties Asylum, South Bronx, NY.

Solar plexus

I hear a blow to this area can cause a loss of consciousness. That's what must have happened to the guy who wrote a guest viewpoint that appreared recently in both the Ithaca Journal and the Elmira Star-Gazette--he doesn't appear to have been conscious when he composed it:

Solar panels on your roof? Create your own electricity? Why not? Especially if your roof is not totally north-facing and not shaded by trees or buildings.
My wife and I as well as our daughter and son are all scheduled for installation by a local contractor late next spring. Cost? $0 down with a 20-year lease. The best part is not that New York and the federal government offer a zero-cost subsidy to any home owner, nor is it the electric cost savings achieved in one’s monthly bill. The best part is each solar house will reduce greenhouse gases that are killing our planet....
Look--I have no problem with "alternate energy" (or people who feel virtuous about using it) as long as it can stand on its own financial feet and doesn't amount to yet another form of income redistribution in the form of taxpayer subsidies.
Here's Tom Reynolds' take on it:
The anti-fracking crowd continues delivering half-truths and deceptions; facts cause them enormous problems.
Gilroy spends half his opinion scaring people about coal mining in Pennsylvania, which has as much relevance to hydro-fracking as a party line telephone has to today’s cell phones. Perhaps he learned this technique from “Gasland”, which was as much of a documentary as “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”.
His comments on gas drilling are the usual talking points which do not bear up under closer scrutiny. They are great scare tactics to use on the uninformed since they deceive readers with half-truths and misconceptions. 
He brags about Germany’s solar industry, but here are additional facts about Germany worth noting. According to studies by the Fraunhofer Institute, only 5.3% of Germany’s electrical power comes from solar, and their national goal is to get 80% from solar by…2050. (Solar power would power the entire country from about noon to 2 pm). It is the smallest “major” source of Germany’s electricity. 
Solar is also heavily subsidized in Germany, as it is in the US, but it has a big financial problem in that their electrical grid faces a costly expansion to accommodate further growth. (That same electrical grid expansion in the US is estimated to cost as much as $2 trillion.) And Gilroy concludes by saying the “price is right” to go solar in 2014; that sounds like the same economic timeliness we heard about the Obama’s UNaffordable Care Act. But the green energy folks have never let economic and budget consequences be a factor in their position.
Oh yes, the US is poised to add more solar power than Germany will add in 2014. Of course, none of it will be produced by Solyndra!
Upstate New York is economically dying because the “Greens”' deceptions have paralyzed the governor. Green advocates such as Gilroy should be thanked by the unemployed and underemployed for keeping them unemployed, underemployed--and leaving NY for jobs elsewhere.
As for "the greenhouse gases that are killing our planet", well...

Not only do words matter...

Your word matters.

Tolkien is a never-ending source of inspiration.


About 8 months ago, I wrote a post concerning the use of his Lord of the Rings in a graphic from New Yorkers for Life. And I just saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and something occurred to me as I was peering through the 3D glasses--the regularity with which the idea of giving one's word occurs in The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy.


It used to be a common expression: "You have my word." Gandalf puts it in question form: "Do I have your word?" Which while it might be answered somewhat grudgingly in the affirmative is not a question whose answer would be thought of or taken lightly.


At least at one time.


One friend said that he hadn't heard anyone use that expression--to give one's word--in a very long time.  Another said that in the past his family would settle business dealings on the strength of a handshake, the physical manifestation of giving one's word--but that those days were gone.


And that's a big problem. Because if my word is meaningless, why would anyone trust me?


Trustworthiness seems to be one of those virtues that has lost its lustre at best, or largely disappeared at worst. One need only look at the political realm to see that this is so. People continue to vote for politicians who claim to have principles but whose word is worthless and who demonstrate again and again that they simply cannot be trusted. No matter--they get re-elected again and again.


But while the political class's unethical and immoral behavior is clearly an issue, it's a broader societal problem. Wouldn't it be refreshing if regular people would, for instance, be principled and say what they mean and mean what they say?


As an example, in a book entitled The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism, author Jeffrey Bell helps dispel

…a long-held myth, typically perpetuated by self-described liberals in the mainstream media but also by self-described libertarians, that whenever the moral issues are prominent in elections, conservatives lose...

But, as Bell wrote

…Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964. The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix -- I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.

So contrary to what friends on our own side would have us believe, 

…if conservatives simply shut up about issues like abortion and marriage and focus on things like debt and fiscal responsibility, there's no guarantee when it comes to election time.

This is often not simply a matter of a difference of opinion--it's a conscious tactical decision on the part of those who are supposedly on our side. They want us to believe, in this and in other matters and despite all their protestations to the contrary, that there's only one way to skin a cat--their way. For the most part and speaking only for myself, it's a tactic that's worked.  I've been naive and actually quite gullible.  No more.


Now other friends might see this conclusion as being overly critical and harsh--too judgmental.  But there's nothing wrong with judging people. In fact there's nothing wrong with--gasp!--discriminating.  It's considered a plus to have discriminating taste or a discriminating palate.  And speaking as someone who grew up in NYC constantly being admonished to be "situationally aware," if you can't discriminate between a situation that's safe and one that isn't, you won't survive very long.


Chrissy the Hyphenated has a interesting post on the question of judging--and I maintain that "lefties" are not the only ones who use this technique:

Lefties are big on throwing, “Judge not” at Christians in a way that really means, “Shut the hell up...”

...Jesus also said specifically that we are supposed to judge … not that Lefties know or quote that one. It’s John 7:24.

  • Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly. [NABRE]
  • Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. [NIV]
  • Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly. [NLT]
  • Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. [KJB]

His words here are based on God’s law as given to Moses:

Leviticus 19:15 – You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your neighbor justly. [NABRE]...

In the political world especially, not holding to principles, not keeping one's word, betraying a trust, are often excused in the name of "prudence."  It's possible and definitely laudable for people to forgive others, especially friends, for exercising this sort of faux prudence. But those friends should not be surprised to find that they are not entirely trusted again. That's just prudent behavior on the part of the betrayed. It's an inconvenient and poignant truth that forgiveness and trusting again are not the same things.

And do read the rest of Chrissy's post here

So it is not only OK but absolutely essential for our survival as a country to use our God-given faculties to discern what's REALLY going on--even with people we count as friends or consider to be allies--and draw conclusions appropriately. The conclusions may not always be flattering and may run contrary to what the other members of our own tribe believe to be true.

But it's critical as we start a new year facing what appear to be insurmountable challenges that we engage in this kind of discrimination and not simply accept what we're told to think, sometimes by those we like to count as friends.

Tom Shippey, author of JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century, wrote of the vile orcs:

"…Orcs…have a clear idea of what is admirable and what is contemptible behavior, which is exactly the same as ours. They cannot revoke what [CS]Lewis calls 'the Moral Law' and create a counter-morality based on evil, any more than they can revoke biology and live on poison.  They are moral beings, who talk freely and repeatedly of what is 'good', meaning by that more or less what we do.  The puzzle is that this has no effect at all on their actual behavior, and they seem…to have no self-awareness or capacity for self-criticism. But these are human qualities too… (p.133)

No kidding.

A New Year's resolution? Perhaps to keep the channels of communications open, where possible.  But to also realize that it may just be the case that [Luke 12:52-53] :

…52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 "They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

From The Hobbit…Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire":

Wolves in sheep's clothing

[Note: you can click on the first three images to embiggen]

Doug Wilson has a dandy post, "The Scars on Your Forearms," re: the Phil Robertson controversy but which also has much broader application methinks. Speaking of "sophisticated" Christian leaders--shepherds--he writes:

...When shepherds have neglected the flock for so long, and the wolves are ravaging them, and the sheep come up with some kind of strategy to defend themselves, and the shepherds sit up on the ridge, laughing at the tactical inadequacy of what the sheep are attempting, what shall we call that?


So what do we need? We don’t need generals. We have that. We need generals who fight. We don’t need leadership councils. We have those. We need national leaders who fight. We don’t need pretty boy preachers. We have those. We need preachers who fight. We don’t need evangelical regiments of pajamaboys. We have that. We need fight, and we need to fight with everything we have — heart, strength, and brains. All in.


Show me your forearms. Unless there are scars all over them, then I honestly don’t want to hear your views of the inadequacy of these cultural clashes (Gal. 6:17). When the barbarians are throwing their scaling ladders against the city walls, if the only defenders at the top of those walls are Chick Fil A employees in paper hats and hot grease from the deep fryer, and rednecks with their beards and shotguns, and nobody at all there from Red Brick Memorial Reformed, Rev. Forsythe P. Snodgrass, D.Min, minister, then let us be frank. We shouldn’t blame the folks who are there.

Definitely read the whole thing.


So, you ask, what of this broader application beyond merely the cultural clashes that Wilson refers to here?


Well, as they say, when a door closes, a window opens.  Having recently closed a door--slammed it shut, actually, but it was necessary; it had been slightly off its hinges and allowing heat to escape at an alarming rate for quite some time--I started thinking about windows.  So naturally I thought of the London School of Economics.  Doesn't everyone?


Before you conclude that the aforementioned door isn't the only thing off its hinges...the London School of Economics was founded by a group of Fabians who are "depicted in the famous stained-glass Fabian Window designed by George Bernard Shaw. The window was stolen in 1978 and reappeared at Sotheby's in 2005. It was restored to display in the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics in 2006 at a ceremony which Tony Blair, PM at the time presided over, emphasizing New Labour's intellectual debt to the Fabians."


Who were the Fabians? To put them in contemporary context,

The attempt to fully nationalize health care has been rightly criticized as a “Fabian” move on the part of President Obama and his cohorts. The term evokes Fabian Socialism, the influential group behind the British Labour Party and the London School of Economics who wielded the power of some of the 20th Century’s most famous authors to sell not only a socialist-collectivist system, but one run on behalf of the oligarchical elite and managed by technological experts…


...Founded in 1884, the Fabian Society boasted such writers (propagandists) as H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, Jack London, Virginia Woolf, Annie Besant and plenty of influential and wealthy ideologues.


George Orwell, a co-mingling socialist who became disaffected with the aims and methods of the Fabians...exposed much of this in his infamous 1984 – curiously placed a full century after the founding of the incremental Fabians began in 1884. Among the many clues left in his most powerful novel is “INGSOC” a newspeak abbreviation for the ruling party who practiced English Socialism…


…Orwell spotlighted a tyranny that would progress from and ‘improve’ upon the socialist systems of the Soviets and Nazis by admitting to themselves that their ultimate goal was power [ed. note: 1984 was published in 1948]…


…The Fabian Socialists had indeed committed to a gradual takeover by any means necessary, preferring the use of gradualism and deception, and taking for its two logos a turtle (carrying the slogan: When I strike, I strike hard) and that of a wolf in sheep’s clothing…



At Canada Free Press (unfortunately, we don't seem to have a US Free Press) over 4 years ago:

…The Fabian Window is a beautiful, if sinister, thing…

...Built to commemorate the founding of the Fabian Socialist Society, the Fabian Window contains images that are clear, unapologetic and, as a friend of mine once said—brazen. It is one thing, as Lenin said, to howl like wolves in order to live among wolves; however it is quite another to advertise the fact that you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Yet, the socialists who constructed the window had no qualms about advertising the fact that they had a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda when it comes to reshaping the world.

The window contains the image of two men—founders of the society—hammering the globe (from the top down no less) with sledgehammers—imposing their will on the world so to speak. They are not voting; they are not persuading; nor are they preaching to the masses. They are hammering the world with very big hammers...

…More ominous still—the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Amazingly, the Fabian Window contains an image—just above the fellows hammering the world—that is as clear as it is foreboding: the socialists are wolves in sheep’s clothing. I often wonder why they did not choose a less ignoble animal. What about a courageous lion? A proud bull? A vigilant hawk? A noble horse? No, they chose a wolf—a cunning, ravenous, devious, and scary critter—and cloaked him in a sheepskin. Why? Because, as Lenin taught, if you want to operate in a capitalist society you must disguise yourself. Put the sheepskin on and you can easily mingle with the flock. Until you decide to shed the skin and consume the flock. The most frightening thing about the image is that the socialists make no apology about being wolves and living among sheep…

…The current occupants of the White House look and dress like capitalists and profess to believe in freedom—all the time hammering the world and remoudling it nearer their heart’s desire—which, of course, is the motto inscribed on the Fabian Window. Does it say, “remould it nearer the will of the people?” Or, “remould it nearer the will of the voters?” No, the socialist window commands them to: “remould it nearer [their] heart’s desire…

There's more to that window but you get the idea.

Today's Fabians are progressives (some would call them "liberals," but I think that does a disservice to actual liberals) and they come in both flavors--Democrats and Republicans. We do ourselves no favors if we pretend that the Republicans in sheep's clothing are any different than Democrats in the same attire. Either way, they are convinced of the superiority of both themselves and a big, all-encompassing government, despite routinely clothing their wolfishness with sheep-like language.  

In other words, they lie. 

In an American Thinker post on school bullying, a psychotherapist (who parenthetically says, "I tell clients that being surprised by another person's behavior often results from erroneous assumptions about the person, usually because you see them as you want them to be rather than as they are"--another point that has relevance here with respect to the political class) writes about moral intelligence:

…Moral intelligence is the foundation of human achievement. Without a basis in moral intelligence science is used for destructive purposes and art ceases to uplift. Moral intelligence comprises three mental faculties: 1) intuition about the significance of life; 2) understanding a code that distinguishes good choices from bad, and; 3) the courage to take individual responsibility to combine intuition and understanding into moral action. Moral knowledge is collective wisdom passed from generation to generation…

Fancy that--there's actually a wisdom we humans have acquired over millennia. And contrary to the prevalent moral relativism, that wisdom tells us that lies are lies, no matter what the source. As Rudyard Kipling pointed out in 1919 in "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," there are those who will try to convince us that water doesn't make us wet, fire doesn't burn us, and that two plus two doesn't equal four:

...In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, 
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; 
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, 
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began. 
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, 
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, 
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, 
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! 

So what are our choices?

We can keep on making excuses for the lies of the political class--both parties…"our guys understand but CAN'T be entirely truthful because then they won't get elected and then we can't govern"…"we know our guys lie but at least they lie less than the other side does!" The lesser of two weevils argument. Cold comfort to know that they realize the danger but can only play "Nearer, My God, To Thee" whilst simultaneously running for election or re-election. That does takes a certain amount of talent, I'll grant you.

But we're enabling substance abusers. It helps neither the enabler nor the abuser in the end. 

Or we can hang around waiting for Kipling's terror and slaughter to return and bring with it a resurgence of the gods of the copybook headings, a return to common sense and moral knowledge. 

A little late. Talk about learning the hard way. And simply hanging around waiting for bad stuff to happen doesn't sit well with many people.

Or we can try to do better by taking George Washington's approach:

If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God.

What a concept--standards! Principles! Imagine that. But having principles engenders more work, like holding the feet of those who are supposed to be representing us and keeping the ship of state on course but away from icebergs to the fire.

If that seems rigid and unbending, so be it.  As Iowa radio host Steve Deace wrote recently in a Facebook post addressed to inside-the-beltway "conservatives":

We in the grassroots are not irrational purists. We are against compromise because there is nothing left to compromise. This is no longer the America of a by-gone era, when a slightly left-of-center Democrat Party and a slightly right-of-center Republican Party negotiated and duked it out within basically the same moral value system. This is now an era when basic Constitutional freedoms once taken for granted are discarded and ignored, when lawlessness reigns instead of the rule of law, and when those who believe in even a modicum of moral restraint are lumped into the same septic tank as the notorious hate-monger Fred Phelps…

…There are two distinct ideas of civilization wrestling for control of these United States. Sure, not all of us who disagree with what's happening to our country agree with each other on everything, and hopefully one day we'll have enough freedom and liberty again to actually have that debate. But for now the Red Coats are on our shores, and the Visigoths are surging over the wall. We are fighting for the survival of our very way of life here. We need your help, not promises to fight some day in a future that never comes, or endless droning on about process on Fox News or in interviews with National Review…

I would hope that pols who profess to NOT be 21st-century Fabian Socialists would be making the danger we're in crystal clear at every opportunity since the iceberg IS looming. And it's true that many of them--most of them--tack right as elections also loom, and that we need to treat them like puppies who manage to do their business on the newspaper (what an apt image) and give them attaboys and attagirls when they say--but much preferably do--the right thing.

But how do we keep them crapping on the newsprint and not the carpets beyond Election Day?

Doug Wilson has another essay in which he makes the point that "Organized labor is piracy without the boats and eye patches." 

In a more general political sense, some would say that the way to fight progressivism is to be aboard the pirate ship with the thieves themselves and their crew of enablers--ineffective, dense shepherds and sleeping dogs--and rot the piracy from within.  After all, that slow and steady takeover of the system from within is what the other side has done so successfully.

If that works for some, great. Do what ya gotta do. Doesn't work for me. I find that for a whole host of reasons, being on the inside encourages being vocal--but not necessarily verbal. Those two things are not the same at all.

I'd rather be on a frigate with the leathernecks. And I never did like how I looked in an eye patch. 

Somebody needs to make clear the danger we're in. Most of our fearless leaders either don't believe we're in that much danger, don't much care, think that iceberg is a variant on "creative destruction," or simply find it impossible to articulate what their supposed principles are and so are singularly ill-equipped to fight back against the wolves even if they are not truly wolfen themselves.

Shepherds they ain't. But sheeple we've been. We need to be "the folks who are there," as Doug Wilson wrote.  

He finished his essay on scarred forearms with Isaiah 56:10. The "rest of the story," though, is instructive as well (Isaiah 56:10-12):

10 His watchmen are blind,
They are all ignorant;
They are all dumb dogs,
They cannot bark;
Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

11 Yes, they are greedy dogs
Which never have enough.
And they are shepherds
Who cannot understand;
They all look to their own way,
Every one for his own gain,
From his own territory.

12 “Come,” one says, “I will bring wine,
And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink;
Tomorrow will be as today,
And much more abundant.”

Makes "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" seem the height of realistic restraint in comparison.

Those shepherds are trying to sell us a bill of goods about what tomorrow will bring.

In fact, neither the dogs nor the shepherds have much to recommend them. We'll have to protect ourselves from the wolves as best we can.


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