Issue 26 Volume Two, As Of May 30, 2011, “It Beats Old Age, Disease or Falling Down the Cellar Stairs …”


In 1913 when he was seventy-one years of age, Ambrose Bierce abandoned the United States to accompany Pancho Villa on Villa’s mission to inflame revolution in Mexico. Bierce did not intend to return.

Bierce, writer and journalist, was also a soldier who barely survived the most savage combat of the American Civil War as a Union infantryman. He fought boldly at Shiloh and in other horrific battles, so he had no illusions about war. His account of Shiloh is a classic:

Once Bierce left El Paso, Texas, for Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, (alas, still a fierce war zone of rivers of fresh blood and death) and Villa’s troops, he vanished forever.

Bierce is revered as a writer. “…I consider anybody a twerp who hasn’t read the greatest American short story, which is ‘Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,’ by Ambrose Bierce. It isn’t remotely political. It is a flawless example of American genius, like ‘Sophisticated Lady’ by Duke Ellington or the Franklin stove.” (Kurt Vonnegut — 2005) ”

I believe that Bierce’s disappearance was, in large part, his recognition that we all have a time to come to an end, and he understood that his time was imminent. Shortly before he went South, he wrote to his niece Lora:

“Good-by — if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart [t?]his life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.”

I have wondered over the years what Bierce understood about the timing of his end, and I continue to do so. However, I have a clue because it is time to bring Burning Shorts to its end. Like Bierce, Burning Shorts has had an exciting life for its era: born May 30, 2006, and vanishing May 30, 2011 at the age of five years.

In cyberspace, five years is a very long time. On May 30, 2006, a glorious flood of original online video art and entertainment spontaneously appeared, and the hungry audience rewarded talent by making a video “go viral”: a million views in a week … that sort of phenomenon.

May 30, 2006, YouTube was merely another of the many “raw and unfiltered” sites and not yet absorbed by Google, thereby making YouTube the supreme aggregator of video as Google is of search. The creative discoveries were wild and thrilling, and the mission of Burning Shorts was to find the founding geniuses of original online content and to help them connect to horizontal media forms, like motion pictures and television. So, Burning Shorts launched with a core subscribership of Hollywood creative professionals.

The history of Burning Shorts speaks for itself: it is here before you in its entirety and, now, in its completeness. Though the visitorship of Burning Shorts has doubled and doubled briskly a number of times in its five years (making a lovely, steeply upward curve of visitorship), what tells me it is time for Ciudad Juarez is that the giant aggregators, like GooTube, are now announcing They will be “curating” the best of original online content.

I have many thoughts about this “new” effort by the giants: mainly predictions of cycles of failure before They get it right, if ever.

However and like Bierce, though, I prefer simply to vanish, declaring Burning Shorts a dedicated effort to capture the finest original online work, to feature it, and to celebrate the innovation and art that appeared for the World in the First Five Years.

Here then is the First Five Years–as we discovered, critiqued, and rejoiced in them, of such creative work–and here they will remain as an emblem and a history of what creativity erupted and how it felt before the giant aggregators expanded their empires to control this territory. I evacuate, vanish, perhaps like Bierce. He preferred to finish his life, riding into a Mexican Revolution with Pancho Villa. “It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.”

No “old age, disease or falling down the cellar stairs …” for Burning Shorts!

Yet, Bierce inspired Vonnegut. Perhaps Burning Shorts will provide an historical/creative foundation for intrepid souls who dare continue the mission and motivation of Burning Shorts in their way. If so, you have my support and aid always.

Five years feels right, complete. Five years in Web2.0 is surely at least seventy-one in Bierce’s world. Also, the first Five years may prove useful in the future, as our media and hence our literacy moves, in my view, from narrative to spectacle … and into the control of fewer and fewer creative minds. Seen any good movies lately?

The dedication of Burning Shorts was deeply heartfelt on May 30, 2006, just as it is this May 30, 2011. So long as this work and I endure, the dedication remains always deeply heartfelt and a humble gesture of my gratitude to those to whom it is dedicated.

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Issue 25 Volume Two, December 2010/Early 2011 BSTX1 Episodes 1-4

 We present Xtranormal, a complete online video-production digital animation software package site.

This Issue presents both sample of Xtranormal (a resource we discovered of amazing potential) and substance as Burning Shorts Theater employs Xtranormal to move boldly in a new direction, thus illustrating our motto here: “ALWAYS READY:  NEVER PREPARED.”

Burning Shorts Theater Xtranormal, First Series, or “BSTX1”, Episodes One through Four (1-1 through 1-4)

BSTX1-1 Burning Shorts Becomes Xtranormal and Her Majesty Introduced

BSTX1-2 Hail New Metaphoria!

BSTX1-3 Calliope Recites Crow

BSTX1-4 Her Majesty Enlists Burning Shorts

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Issue 24 Volume Two, October/November 2010 “It Heals Itself” 10-10-10


In earlier times, artists invoked the Muses. In these times of Web2.0 blurring toward SomethingNextPoint0, I see media in which the Muses make only drunkenly staggering, wildly unpredictable, rare visits.

So … I declare here: I shout in text!

Wake up! Spread the word! Resist those who promise online empire to everyone under the terms “SEO”, “SMO”, and, collectively, “Make Tons of Money Online While Doing Nearly Nothing.” Alas, these promise-makers extend from the Monarchs of Digital Media Industry to shabby scammers world-wide. The academics are in this, too, to slice their piece. As the eternal lesson goes, the hunt continues by the predators to part the victim from the victim’s money or, of vastly greater value, the victim’s TIME.

Then what? Wake up, and … That is the subject of this Issue. I propose: three words to guide us in this sequence. The first reportedly is the initial word of Confucius’ Analects: it is the Chinese character, the word-picture, for this single idea: “Study”. That is Word One and First in order.

Word Two is from a unique entity in the history of our journey, “Big Blue”, the earliest important computer company, the original IBM. The corporate motto: “Think”.

Word Three: “Create”.

So, until I spot a Muse, I propose as we strive to lift and expand quality and creativity in digital media …

Study. Think. Create.

I have talked the talk. I must walk the walk. I must at least stagger …

I have studied an artistic form or pattern in digital arts for roughly twenty years. I call the form “spiral” or, perhaps, “recursive”, though neither term is fully accurate. The audience proceeds interactively through a computer screen world of mystery more than puzzle. (This theme, Mystery versus Puzzle, obsesses me increasingly in digital media and beyond [ah, if Wittgenstein thought less of “games” or puzzles and more of “mysteries”, he may have been a large contributor!]. More, I hope, on this steeply daunting topic anon).

Specifically, the audience travels through the computer-presented work in a circular or recursive or spiral pattern. Nearly twenty years ago this design paradigm first amazed me in Cyan’s Manhole. . As I worked with Cyan during the MystRiven Era, I enjoyed this earlier work, which I believe Rand Miller made for his daughter. Round one goes through the rabbit/ “man” hole in loops or laps and each such circulation affords one the thrill of discovering the rich and deep environmental world of the circulation. So, in the sense of widening discovery and artistic appreciation, I see the form or pattern as a spiral: both circular and progressively wider. As I said, this description is not fully accurate, but it is a start. I am waiting for a Muse after all.

Much later, I discovered the swooping joy of Zune Journey, a lovely work of promotion actually for a Microsoft product, that takes the spiral form zooming through the “Z-axis”. Manhole has a more third person viewer design to it; Zune Journey is first person and yearns, in its very elegant design (and spectacular art), to draw the audience deeper and deeper, wider and wider, faster and slower, backward and forward … The discovery of this aesthetic leap from Manhole to Zune Journey thrilled me, and it is yours to consider if you wish in Burning Shorts Issue 14: 2007 Ends with a Zune! .

Most recently, I discovered the next such work I present here, but with a rebelliously large aim in mind: to focus attention on Study, Thought, and Creativity about forms and paradigms of interactive art. More on this briefly below. That next such work is appropriately named “Zoomquilt2”, at .

And Zoom one surely does. The work captivates; yet, I leave the rhapsody of artistic review and commentary, I hope, to many others. Here, I invite the joy of beholding Zoomquilt2 and its progression from earlier forms to be a catalyst for Study, Thought, and Creativity in the neglected forms and paradigms of interactive art.

I resist temptation to complain here of the Woeful Wasteland of form and paradigm in digital media arts from beginning to present. Rare exceptions appeared, like Electronic Arts Psychic Detective and other brilliant works from the Brothers LaFong, Michael Kaplan and John Sanborn, (as with their greatly controversial Dysson fiction). LaFong made form conquer content. They took the disfavored game form of “branching” design and reshaped branching to a single convergent end. When Nobel Laureate in Physics (he discovered “quarks”) Dr. Murray Gell-Mann heard from Mr. Kaplan of this design, Gell-Mann happily observed, “It heals itself !” Yes, yes it did.

Here, I shout in text that we must intensify attention to the forms of digital media and all post-linear arts! The endless disgorging of shooting gallery/firstperson-shooter forms, sports sims, and “free running” forms (like Sonic the Hedgehog) of games. Even with hybrid fantasy role playing/social networking as in the currently popular Worlds such as Warcraft and other multi-player online “games”, the forms are so stale they have crumbled, in my opinion, into generic monotony which does not tire the businesspeople who collect and savor the rich revenues of this monotony.

I shout in text here: we must intensify attention [attend intesively] to the forms of digital media, and I walk this walk not alone. No Muse yet. So, I must fuel and fan the flames of Burning Shorts with the human Muse. I resort to the supreme weapon of mass creativity, the Sonnets of William Shakespeare, as those same poems are presented online. Consider, then, my respect for this online form of presentation in service of the master: how artfully collected and annotated the Sonnets are at

(I use Sonnet 60 as illustrative of this outstanding site.)

To paraphrase Dr. Gell-Mann, we have a chance “to heal” the disturbing condition of digital media arts by studying, thinking, and creating in the context of what the artist Shakespeare did with that uncompromising, complex, ornate form the sonnet. Merely to write basic English in this form surpasses my ability and that of most writers I know. Shakespeare elevated the sonnets to glory and mastery. Hallelujah! [I shout again in text.] His Sonnets are stars to behold for inspiration in search for fresh and enduring online forms of artistry.

Commerce seems to have no need to study, think, and create great new forms of digital media arts. The money pours in and in and in … Academia, in my experience, is barely ridiculous and tragically unfunny slapstick in its efforts in this and so many important areas of the humanities. So, as always, the hope rests in the emerging artist, and I rededicate this Burning Shorts and my efforts to the founding mission: study, think, and find those who create for the benefit of us all.

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VOLUME TWO Issue 23: September 2010 Thrill and Terror

”So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late …” –Bob Dylan

Thrill and Terror …

 Yes, I felt thrill and terror when I learned of Stumbling: Nowhere has this rare combination of feelings been shown than in the video which appeared as the first presented in the first/inaugural issue of this Burning Shorts, early 2006.

Our first video is a wordless, visual poem of thrill and terror. Like all great poetry, it reveals more in each new context. This Issue announces that we surely have arrived in a new context. Here, to begin again* and to prepare to address the new context, is our first video. Ever.

Surf’s Up

So, to these feelings of thrill and terror, I add: Urgency … hence, the wisdom of Dylan and the warning of Reubens about seizing the moment in the words and painting above. (*Where have we been editorially? There are answers for another time. For now, this Issue reignites the engine, fires afterburner, and levers thrust vectors. One other factor: during our editorial hiatus, traffic to Burning Shorts continued to surge steeply as it has done since birth and during earlier periods of intense editorial attention. We took this as an invitation … And, with our “motto” and our Stumble upon SU, here we are.)

Urgency means: The moment is now. Our motto: ALWAYS READY/NEVER PREPARED. We must walk the talk.

When I first learned of StumbledUpon or “SU” as the site’s logo refers to it, I felt both thrill and terror. SU tracks web surfing and, as wonderful Pandora ( does with music, SU uses an engine to interpret page landings, and then SU infers other “stumbles” or kindred pages, delivering them inexhaustibly for the audience to behold at each click of the mouse. Given my sour view of humanity generally, my terror was that this fascinating—yes, thrilling—site would fast swirl and suck down a vortex into moral and intellectual sewage.

Gloriously, my terror was absolutely unjustified and unfounded. Why? In an expression of epistemological genius, SU guides the visitor through a “questionaire”, an artfully crafted series of topics and subject choices that inform SU of the visitor’s web surfing as well as personal preferences. The questionaire shapes “stumbling” not downward into sewage but upward to surf across an endless, thrilling wave of stunning discovery.

I remain in humble awe of the wholeness and effectiveness of stumbling, and I submit it is of such potential importance, we reignite this enterprise, Burning Shorts, to add our support and tribute.

Once again:…and, we of Burning Shorts are once again ablaze.

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Burning Shorts Issue 22: Spring 2009 Song for Day One

Start your Year, Day, Rest of Your Life here:


If you are tempted to glide past “Song” to keep reading, then stop. If you do only one, read or watch: see/hear “Song” and then proceed with your Year, Day, Rest of Your Life.

It is too easy to indulge in justified, fawning praise for this video. For now, I simply add that it illustrates an emerging genre of original online art, which I call “kinetic collage” or, more specifically, online audio/video kinetic collage and which differs from ordinary cinematic montage. More on that subject in due course: I have heavier lifting to do here. Moreover, “Song” is among the very few that demand presentation, and deserve the supreme honor, as I see it, of my awed critical silence and the invitation for your comment.

Our World, digital and otherwise, is in chaos caused by the fear, vanity, and, above all, greed of that tiny elite which controls the secret codes to astronomically large, global wealth. Secretly, that Elite has grown unanchored in its arrogance, and consequently the world economy has collapsed. Yes. This is old news … several months’ old.

What is breaking news is the arrival of US President Obama, and his stunning courage quietly shown on his very first day in office. He signed the Executive Order to shut down Gitmo, the strange prison for a group of suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The keenest reports of those in attendance reveal that, as the President arose from signing the Order, his demeanor changed from his familiar yet beautiful warmth to solemnity.

This is so because, the President took an ultimate and irreversible step, as President Lincoln did with his signature on the Emancipation Proclamation. The President unfroze the fate of those incarcerated at our Goofy Gulag Gitmo, and, in so doing, he started the journey of Gitmo prisoners to punitive confinement or, more importantly, freedom. To borrow the old expression which explains our criminal system: “It is better that a hundred guilty men go free than for one innocent man to be convicted.” The intolerable dilemma is when one or more of those hundred is a terrorist who, as a result of the President’s Order, goes free, returns to his intimates, and continues his work.

It takes little thought or vision to foresee that a freed Gitmo terrorist is and will be the ultimate asset for those who yearn to wound, maim, and murder American and other innocents. The ideological criminal, such as each of those who killed and destroyed on Nine Eleven, strives for the most dramatic and most publicized human destruction.

Clearly: an act of human destruction by a freed Gitmo terrorist would be immense in its drama and public effect. And, the responsibility, rightly or wrongly, for that destruction will surge, like the electrodes of Old Sparky, into President Obama and his first day Order. Our President Day One knew and knows this. Therein lies the President’s solemnity as well as a level of courage in leadership of which I know no equal.

The world, as I said and we feel, is in chaos. President Obama’s breath-taking, universal eloquence made him the personified speaker for Hope. His expressed mission was and is to meet chaos with Hope, and, of course, honesty, justice, and endlessly hard work.

In his Order Day One, President Obama moved silently from the speaker personified to the doer of honesty, justice, and the hardest work ever for the father to two of God’s most beautiful children: he put himself personally at moral risk for the consequences of his Order. In the language of those to whom this site is dedicated, he showed, Day One, he “walks the walk”.

Day One.

In the world today where the prevailing style is chronic attentional panic, you may ask, “What does this have to do with the mission of Burning Shorts to advance original creative expression within Web2.0 and Beyond?

Everything and nothing. In terms of Everything: the theme of confronting chaos and, indeed, evil, with Hope is a challenge to each of us aware enough to understand that challenge to walk the walk.

Last Issue, I reported that, in service of Burning Shorts, I was hitting the Road. I surely hit it, I continue to hit it, and often it hits me back. At the same time, know this: Burning Shorts continues and, with the inspiration of President Obama and those to whom this site is dedicated (along with their Brothers and Sisters who served and serve), I, we, rededicate our efforts to seek a higher and more noble level. We have been shown the Way, Day One.

So, changes lie ahead for Burning Shorts, which continues to attract large increases in visitors. What does not change, as our beloved friend Tim Rehling gloriously says, is our commitment indeed rededication to “artistic nobility” in what we here present, advance, honor and strive to be.

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Burning Shorts Issue 21: Fall 2008 Ignite Burning Shorts Theater

From a friend: ” HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam . Now there are 150 stores all over the  Netherlands  HEMA also has stores in  Belgium, Luxemburg, and  Germany . In June of this year, HEMA was sold to British investment company Lion Capital.

Take a look at HEMA’s product page . You can’t order anything … and it’s in Dutch — but just wait a couple of seconds and watch what happens.  Don’t touch the mouse or key arrows, it is all automatic!!

This company has a sense of humor and a great computer programmer.  Turn on your sound!”

Yes, we presented here a “Burning Short”, “HEMA”, but there is something else we must face and now. Yes, it is about Burning Shorts Theater and the destiny of Burning Shorts. And, it is about more than that.


Because the American Dream is stolen. The “American Dream” was the valid conviction that anyone could pursue where her/his spirit led … to business success … to professional achievement … and, yes, to artistic expression of any kind. And, as one of our Mentors said, “Hollywood was the purest form of that Dream, because you could start with nothing and create whatever you envisioned.”

Consolidation of media ownership has killed the Hollywood American Dream just as consolidation of other major trans-national enterprises have killed the rest of that Dream. Consolidation of power, capital, and above all, control in the Elite Few flourishes and remains robust.

In earlier times, such Consolidators were warrior conquerors of empires. Ah, but now there is a more subtle and perhaps more insidious strategy. During this era of what Kipling called the “savage wars of peace …”, the consolidation shifts to apparent business enterprises which, to the extent they control governments, makes them “meta-national powers”.

The Elite Few, meta-national “business” powers, need not soil themselves with violence. That can be left to nations and ideological movements that can be directed by the Elite Few.

HEMA, the Dutch department store, is consolidated with the holdings of British investment company Lion Capital. And so on and on … And our Burning Short for this Issue is a quiet, clever, inoffensive protest against the Elite Few.

We must do more and better.


Because Burning Shorts and especially Burning Shorts Theater is uniquely, Providentially positioned to stand up to the media Elite Few by outplaying them: getting artist expression to audience.

That is what Burning Shorts and the Theater have been designed to do.

So. The current plan is, quite literally, to hit the road in hot pursuit of artists who share this vision and just may jump to create a Theater to connect with the Burning Shorts hub.

The pursuit is “hot” because the Elite Few are moving fast, hard, and with limitless resources into the creative space of original online content.

And, so, this Issue is not for a month or two, but for a season, a season of hot pursuit, hot enough to ignite Burning Shorts Theater

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Burning Shorts Issue 20: July/August 2008 Burning Shorts Theater

Let us celebrate your Creativity … through Burning Shorts Theater and, thanks to Film-maker and multi-talented friend Bobby White,


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Burning Shorts Issue 19: June 2008 Awareness Test

The voice says, “This is an awareness test …”

Then, the words “Awareness Test” appear on screen.

Watch carefully.

Above all, “Awareness Test” challenges all who seek to advance original online video arts. As the video says, “It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for …” This video challenges us to expand mightily what we are looking for in original online video arts. Here, Burning Shorts, we have surely tried, and we will continue with even greater intensity as a result of the challenge issued by “Awareness Test”.

The video illustrates the idea that the answer is before you provided you have asked yourself the right question. Or, you have the appropriate intention. Or, both. Currently, in original online video arts, the common question I hear is “What’s the Business Model???” So Alexa, Google Analytics, other resources are answering how many times the ball is passed on the assumption that traffic leads to money. Yet, “Awareness Test” warns us that to do so to the exclusion of other qualities … like artistic merit … is perilously narrow at best.

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Burning Shorts Issue 18: April/May 2008 A Series for the World

Erik The Librarian Mysteries

A Series the World Has Been Awaiting!

As he listens in bliss to music on headphones, moving (dancing?) wildly down the sidewalk, Erik screams, terrifies another pedestrian, “The collective emotional wisdom of the ages, and you can get it for free at the library!!!” (Episode 3, “The Secret of Burl Ives” at

This is a series the world has been awaiting.

Erik, twenty-something, played by Charles Neilson, the librarian may be somewhat bi-polar, lost in literary brain fog, or both. He is in love with the patron who forever is trying to retrieve her car keys she left behind. The main reference librarian and the man who is going calmly insane trying to study for the GRE in dysfunctional library chaos mainly produced by Erik comprise the cast.

Slick and smart: Brent Forrester’s series is referred to as “Erik The Librarian Mysteries” … The “mystery” is why it is called a “mystery” (nothing in the episodes clarified), and whether “Erik the Librarian” was entitled with rhyme and meter of “Conan the Barbarian”.

And, in the center we have Erik. Just as Robin Williams expressly acknowledged his master Jonathan Winters; just as Johnny Carson acknowledged his master Jack Benny; similarly with Jim Carey and Jerry Lewis, Erik is doing a hyper-geek Wallace Shawn. And it is beautiful. The supporting cast is/are exquisite.

The series appears on 60frames: take me to lunch, and I’ll go into the subject of the site as a whole. For present purposes: hurray for 60frames! In addition to Erik, there are other other series or anthology episodes that really lead the original online entertainment Parade today at 60frames. (Even the adjacent Google ads are ironically funny.)

About 60frames, I say, “God bless ‘em …” About “Erik the Librarian Mysteries”, I say, “Give us more!!!”


Surfing the Creative Web Wave: The Raw The Naked The Vulnerable … At The [Turning] Point

To begin …

Behold …

Cold, Wet, Dawn … in the ocean at a fine point break in So Cal. Among surfers, this is “Dawn Patrol”.


One other in the water with me. He paddles to me, asks, “Hey, Man, how old are you?”

“Twenty,” I reply.

“Gaawd … that’s old,” he says.

Next month, Burning Shorts turns two, and I think, “Gaawd … that’s old.” Current “Web2.0” Era, that is old. Ah, and currently too, I am still in the ocean daily at a fine point break, and I ride waves that are both fresh, universal and eternally renewed.

Riding waves is creative expression.

And … Burning Shorts must be the point break for the Digital Arts Dawn Patrol. Like the surfer, the artist is raw, naked, and vulnerable in a vast ocean, and needs a glassy, clean point break where artist can inspire us to feel the fresh, the universal and eternally renewed.

So … this is to declare that Burning Shorts hereby expands beyond online video to all online creative expression …

Original video, site-as-art, song lyrics, best of the blogosphere, forms yet to be invented … all online creativity passionately sought and supremely welcome.

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Burning Shorts Issue 17: March 2008 our Fingers in Our Nostrils

“A Bunny Situation” and Editorial on the State of Online Video: Our Fingers In Our Nostrils

As promised today to and for JT, here is digital animation reported by our one of our Visionary Editors as done by a single person …

“A Bunny Situation”


We enjoyed the HanDonks especially the Oogum Boogum performance poem of their landing page! So we were excited when we learned that was to launch the HanDonks’ new series “Squeegees”.

So, episodes 1 through 5 of “Squeegees”  … um … has “potential”? “Potential” to grow into a character-driven irreverent verbal and physical comedy … you know, like those Marx Brothers … they were pretty good?

Or … is from whom our illustration above is borrowed unintentionally a great deal more funny?

Like our visual commentator above: we keep our nose plugged and hope for the best.


Welcome back, Brother Jim!


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