Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

October 2, 2019

Who's Fasting For Whom

Today is the Jewish fast day of Tzom Gedaliah. 

Gedaliah had been appointed governor of Israel by the Babylonian conquers in 423 BCE.  However, within the year, Gedaliah was assassinated. This resulted in the remaining Judeans fleeing to Egypt and the Babylonian exile being firmly established until the return from this exile in 371 BCE. 

Literally for thousands of years the relatively small Israelite nation in the Holy Land was repeatedly attacked and conquered by the large surrounding empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans.

Despite this punishing history, when it came to the Fast of Gedaliah, my father used to inject a little light humor and say:
Gedaliah didn't fast for me, so I am not going to fast for him.

I can still hear his words in my head and even now it still brings a warm smile to my face and happiness inside me. 

Upcoming next week is Yom Kippur--fasting and atonement. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 18, 2019

@National Portrait Gallery













(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 18, 2017

Invasion of Dinosaurs



So what's with the invasion of dinosaurs. 

First one is standing next to the checkout line in Whole Foods in Maryland.

Second one is actually on someone's terrace overlooking the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

Third one is the real McCoy from the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 

Certainly, dinosaurs aren't cute and cuddly--even the plush ones from Whole Foods--they'd eat you and I for dinner if they could!

So why do we gravitate to relics from the Ice Age past?

Perhaps, just like looking forward to Aliens from outer space, the dinosaurs represent an important historical link for us, and thus anchor us in a much larger perspective of time and space. 

In a way, it all points to the dichotomy between us as humans with great--almost endless--potential, and yet at the same time, how small we are relative to the enormous dinosaurs that roamed the earth of yesteryear as well as the distinct possibility of mighty extraterrestrials that we may someday (soon) encounter from outer space. 

From this context, I guess what's really amazing is that we, as a people, are still here!

Despite our bad habits and unsustainable living, we continue to innovate our way out of own messes of greed, conflict, contagion, pollution, and resource depletion, and create a future far beyond what destroyed our predecessors or even what may come from current or potential future foes. 

Like the economy, we think we can grow ourselves out of all our troubles--and who knows, maybe we can if we can continue to stay at least one or two steps ahead of all the challenges and threats--but, at the back (or front) of our minds is what if we can't or don't?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 2, 2017

Greatest Museum of Them All

So the greatest museum of them all is scheduled to open in just 3 months!

The Museum of the Bible.

Right here in Washington, D.C.--a few blocks from the Capitol. 

There is a wonderful video on their website

It's 430,000 square feet and 8 stories floors. 

With two 40-feet-high bronze doors that look like the Ten Commandments. 

And an overall tall and narrow shape with a curved roof that reminds me of Noah's Ark.

It encompasses: 

Religion.

History.

Art. 

It all comes together here. 

There is an interesting display of all the different versions of the Bible.

But what it all points to is how similar we all really are. 

The emergence of faith in The One G-d who created us all--his children--and the foundation in the words of His book. 

Yes, we share in common much more than what separates us. 

If we can just see ourselves in His eyes and be the people we can be and were meant to be. 

The museum should be an inspiration to be better, to be brothers, to have peace, to partner and progress to the future.

With our faith sustaining us, and the Bible and our conscience as our guides, we can overcome. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2016

If I Could Get Back Time

My good friend, Jacob Elbaz, taught me this awesome saying in synagogue today:
__________________

"Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is mystery.

Today is a present. "
__________________


Another way that my dad taught me is this:

______________________________________________________________

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. 

__________________________________________

Hope you enjoy these!

(Source Photo: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

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November 23, 2015

Silence In the Face of Ongoing Terror And Murder

In the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel, in less than 3 months (Oct 1- Nov 23), there have been:

- 21 Murdered 

- 184 Wounded (20 critically)

Through:

- 74 Stabbings

- 10 Shootings

- 11 Car Rammings

The murdered include Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year old American citizen from Massachusetts. 

Despite the terrorism and the death of an American citizen along with so many other innocent Jews, the superpower country of the world is silent--not calling it reprehensible or deplorable or condemning it or demanding the terrorism stop immediately. 

- Silence, despite about the murder of Jews and even its own U.S. citizen in Israel on November 19.

- Silence, yet signing nuke deals with "Axis Of Evil" Iran--the #1 state sponsor of terrorism (undiminished in 2015) and top abuser of human rights.

- Silence in the face of terror attacks against Jews elsewhere abroad, like the Jewish teacher stabbed and killed in Paris last week by three assailants shouting anti-Semitic insults? 

- Silence through a "no-show" at the Solidarity Rally in Paris with 40 other heads of state in January to denounce the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo and on the Jewish grocery store that killed 17 innocent people. 

Could this perhaps be payback time to one of it's closest friends and allies for: 

- Continuing settlements for an expanding Israeli population who are surrounded by hostile neighbors that want to throw them into the Mediterranean Sea. 

- For a peace deal with the Palestinians that didn't materialize without a peace parter that would recognize the Jews States' right to even exist.

- For Netanyahu's objection to the Iranian nuke deal that put's Israel in the crosshairs of a sprouting nuclear regime that threatens annihilation against it. 

Regardless of why, it is abundantly clear that the killing of Jews in Israel and abroad is tacitly being given the green light to continue--and so it's an open field day for terror and murder of Jews!

Even the generally harsh critic of Israel, Amnesty International, has come out calling the terror against Israel "reprehensible and unjustified" and "a clear contempt for human life."

The appalling indifference to the murder of Jews by top administration officials, just 70-years after the Holocaust, is being heard loud and clear around the world.   

- It is a sanctioning of terrorism and murder, period. 

- It is reprehensible, period. 

- It is cementing a legacy of blind hatred and blatant discrimination and anti-Semitism that will go down in history, period. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 13, 2015

What's With The Best Buds?

 I never quite understood the best buds t-shirt wave.

This is especially the case when the person is alone and there is no best bud anywhere to be found. 

We are all social animals, and perhaps, we all wish to have a best bud in our lives--someone to "buddy around with" and who knows and understands us, and unconditionally accepts us. 

Best buds seems to almost be able to read each others minds and finish each others sentences...and they laugh hysterically together about these mindless things for which apparently only they get it. 

When best buds are together, it's like they are almost in a bubble of their own world, and everyone else is on the outside, if they even exist to the buds at all. 

That's because bests buds are it--they have history, they share things in common, they think alike, and they work in tandem.

It's like getting two for the price of one: they are Batman and Robbin, Tonto and The Lone Ranger, Cheech and Chong, Laverne and Shirley, Simon and Garfunkel, and so many other couplings that stick together like peanut butter and jelly. 

If you have a best bud then you already know you don't need to give them a t-shirt to spell it out--the chemistry already says it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 11, 2015

Flashback Holocaust

So I wanted to share this amazing and scary story (true) that happened to me a number of years ago. 

I went with my daughter to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

One of their exhibits is of a cattle car train used to transport Jews in the Holocaust to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. 

I remember how frightening it was to see this actual train car (the likes of which I had previously only seen in the movies) where hundreds of thousands of people were herded aboard like animals for the torturous trip to their ultimate murderous and inhuman deaths. 

At the exhibit, I'm not sure that I was supposed to do this, but being a very tactile person, I reached out to touch the train car, maybe partly because I could not believe this was the real thing where such human horrors had occurred. 

Immediately upon touching it, something happened to me--for a moment, everything went black and then I experienced an intense flashback (like being transported back in time and place) to literally being there with the actual people stuffed into these cattle cars--without food, water, sanitation, or enough air to breath--and I could see up close their anguished faces, and actually hear them screaming.

First, I thought I have a vivid imagination and that all the studies on the holocaust and my family being survivors had really had an impact on me. 

But then something else happened to me. 

When I left the Holocaust Museum, I started to get a crazy sharp pain in the side of my neck. Not a soar throat, but like my throat just wasn't working right. 

I tried to sort of ignore it, but over the course of the day, it got worse and worse, as my breathing was becoming ever more difficult, and it felt like I was actually choking to death--my life was in danger. 

I was rushed to the hospital emergency room, and at first they weren't sure what was happening to me, and so they started a whole series of tests. 

Crazy enough the tests revealed a deep tissue infection right in the side of my neck, and based on the danger to my breathing and swallowing, the doctors came in to talk with me about doing emergency throat emergency. 

I couldn't believe what was happening--out of the blue, I touched that death car to Auschwitz and next thing I know, I had a severe tissue infection and my life was hanging by a thread. 

Again unexplainably, but thank G-d miraculously, overnight the dangerous infection literally just disappeared as mysteriously as it was born into my neck tissue--the doctors could not explain it!

The Holocaust which claimed six million Jewish lives--men, women, children--in perhaps the most evil and hideous human event in history, and felt like I had just been transported back in time and touched not just the car, but the actual history and event itself. 

I am left with this mysterious event in my life, it was scary and dangerous, and when they say don't touch the exhibits, I think I will listen next time. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
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March 13, 2015

Obstruction Or Progress At Last

We all hate people who are obstructionist to what we consider progress.

The problem is not everyone defines progress the same way.

Progress to one may be hugely regressive to someone else.

So when 47 senators sent a cautionary letter to Iran's leadership this week about making a deal on nukes, which perhaps comes down to less now for more later...

- Some called it obstructionist to the negotiations and even a potential violation of the Logan Act.

- While others saw it as progress in bringing us back from the brink of a dangerous and (very) bad deal involving legitimizing weapons of mass destruction for a dangerous regime to all.

Two partisan sides to every story...and each side capitalizes on theirs.  

"That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!"

But history inevitably tells the true story (or closer to it) based on the outcomes of action or inaction (aka acts of commission and omission).

With the tornado of spin from the pundits on news, news, and more news, someone reminded me of the adage:

"Liar, liar pants on fire" 

or 

"Don't believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Hanukkah is the holiday of lights and miracles. 

It has special meaning for me as it was many years ago now on the first night of Hanukkah that I went on my first date with my lovely wife, Dannielle.

When I came home, I said to my parents, "This is the one!"

And so it began...

On another note, many of you are probably aware of the famous miracle of Hanukkah that in the ruins of the Jewish Temple, which had been desecrated by the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago, a single vial of oil was found, and although it would normally only last for 1 day to keep the menorah lit, instead it lasted for 8 days (the time it took to prepare a new supply).  

Apparently, the oil supply shocks of the 1970's really weren't that new a phenomenon after all...

Similarly, I recently saw a funny comic that said that the miracle of Hanukkah today is that the smartphone battery that normally last 1 day (or less if you use it a lot during the day) lasts for 8 days.

Clearly, the miracles of ancient times are still fresh with us in modern times as well. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 13, 2014

Smartphone Or Kitty Litter

Interesting...Bloomberg Businessweek ran a special anniversary issue with a countdown of the 85 most disruptive ideas (in the last 85 years), and guess where they think the smartphone fell in that?

#78!!! 


Right up there with the white board (#82) and good 'ol high frequency trading (#80).


But not as important as get this...the corporate campus (#77), the VCR (#74), Kitty Litter (#73), Singapore, literally--{Uh, and how about Israel?} (#71), bottled water (#56), High-fructose corn syrup (#48), Air Jordan sneakers (#45), Napster (#43), and junk bonds (#7).


They ranked the smartphone so low in disruption, even after giving it a two-page spread with no less than 32 "things the smartphone killed" and they probably missed a few hundred!


There is no need to list everything the smartphone does for you, because you use these functions every moment of every day


To most people now, the smartphone is one of their most prized possessions and they don't go anywhere without it and rarely do you see anyone not "on it." (Uh, I know more than a few people who even dropped them in the toilet!)


Honestly, Businessweek...I think you missed the significance of the smartphone big time. 


Yeah maybe Starbucks (#68) and the Pill (#9) are competitors, but not as important or disruptive as Kitty Litter...shame on you!  ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Lonely Bob)

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November 2, 2014

Exodus Hollywood Style 2014


Very excited about the new Exodus movie coming next month. 

Looks high budget action and with great special effects.

Hopefully, not a disappointment like Noah (2014 film)--I don't think it will be. 

Good wins over evil--well, we all know that already from the Bible!

According to the Passover Haggadah, we are supposed to retell every year, from generation to generation, our story of going from the cruel enslavement by evil dictators to the redemption by the merciful Almighty G-d.

It's timeless and our history!  ;-)

(Note: Movie name is Exodus G-ds and Kings, but there is only one G-d.)
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September 15, 2014

Just About Says It All



Story of human civilization in 2 minutes by Joe Bush

History majors can probably add some, but overall completely awesome!

Maybe this is a glimpse of what it's like to have a G-d's eye view of the world--where time and space are inconsequential. 

Looking at this, are we almost at the end or are we just on the verge of a new beginning?  ;-)
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August 29, 2014

From Holocaust To Nation State

This is a really beautiful representation of the historical developments of the Jewish nation.

Where the Jewish people went from the fiery depths of the Holocaust to the rise of a modern democratic nation state of Israel. 

We are the same sons and daughters of Israel, but no longer exiled from the Holy Land and paraded like sheep to the slaughter from the hate mongers de jour. 

On the right are represented generations, who with the rise of every crazy demagogue that needed to blame their religious, political, social, and economic problems on a scapegoat, the Jewish people suffered at their bloody hands, discriminatory expropriation and expulsion, tax and torture, rape, pogrom, and slaughter.

On the left are shown the Jews from a free democratic State of Israel who are proud to seek a life of peace and security from persecution and who can chart their own course for their people and be a light unto nations for doing what is right and moral and contributing to the world in every significant development and advance of humankind. 

As the Jews went from slavery to freedom many thousands of years ago with the Exodus from Egypt and settlement of the land of Israel, so too today, we can count on the miraculous transition from exile to promised homeland and from persecution to self-determination. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Eliyokim Cohen)
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February 19, 2014

Jewish History At A Glance

I really like this poster graphic outlining Jewish history and key figures from Genesis until modern times. 

While there is already a lot of information on here such major events in Jewish history, world events, Jewish historical figures, Jewish literature and Jewish population, I would suggest adding major Jewish contributions to the world from Einstein to Freud, from Columbis to Salk. 

Also, I found that 23% of all Nobel Prizes (or 193 people) between 1901 and 2013 were awarded to people of Jewish descent--and the awards were across the fields of chemistry, economics, literature, peace, physics, and medicine. 

We are not a very large people--just .2%--in terms of population, but we have a very rich history--a mixture of persecution and contribution. 

Thank you Minna Blumenthal for sending me the link to this!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Odyeda)
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November 22, 2013

Noah's Ark - Must See!


Okay folks, this is great. 

I want to see movie's like this for the all Bible's stories. 

Applying the technology and special effects makes this just awesome.

More, more, more...love it. 
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May 1, 2013

Washington DC In 1892

This is a beautiful lithograph from Currier and Ives that I came across of Washington D.C.

It is called Chesapeake Bay Area - The City of Washington. 

It's amazing how much less developed things were just a little more than a century ago. 

You can clearly see the major landmarks and institutions like The Capitol, the Washington Monument, and The White House, but not much else in terms of government.

Notice that even the Supreme Court building isn't there--it wasn't completed until 1935. 

We are a fast-growing and advancing society with a maturing government and capital city that today makes this historical photo look almost as if it's from fairy tale. 

It's nice to look back and see how far we've come and introspect on where we are going. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 31, 2013

Meshuga Mints

So my daughter goes to New York for break and brings me back "Meshuga Mints."

"Meshuga" in Yiddish and Hebrew means crazy. 

On top it says they are "Crazy Strong!" and it has a picture of fiddler on the roof on it. 

She got these at the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, which has restored apartments and shows how immigrants lived when they came to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries--over 7,000 people from 20 nations lived in this 5-story building of just 22 apartments. The units were very small and housed between 6 and 14 people each. Most were sweatshop workers and people just trying to improve their lives. It's eye opening to see how people got by with so little. 

The mints themselves were a perfect gift, and I am so glad she had a great time visiting Times Square, Coney Island, the Staten Island Ferry, the 9/11 Memorial, and more. 

It's interesting for me, having been a native New Yorker, to see my daughter go back and experience life there even for just a few days. 

New York City is definitely an exciting and meshuga place. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 5, 2012

RIM Is Doomed

Judge David Young of Court TV has a frequent saying that "Denial is not a river in Egypt."

When it comes to Research In Motion (RIM) the maker of the traditional organization mobile Blackberry device, denial now seems on par for their course.


On Tuesday (3 July 2012), the new CEO of RIM, Thorstein Heins was quoted as saying "There's nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now."


Yet since Mr. Heins took over RIM in January, the company's stock is down 50% and is down more than 90% from it's mid-2008 highs.


BlackBerry continues to lose out to stronger competitors like the iPhone and Android. On May 25, Digital trends reported in an article called "Poor BlackBerry" on IDC's 2nd quarter 2012 marketshare numbers for Smartphones with Android at around 60%, iPhone at 23%, and Blackberry at a mere 6%.


Further the new Blackberry 10 has been twice delayed, and RIM announced it's first operating loss in eight years, as it plans to downsize 5,000 employees (or a third of its workforce).


In the self-help industry, it is frequently said that the first step to getting better is to recognize that you have a problem.


In the case of RIM--we are looking at a company that unfortunately is either playing it too cool to be real with their customers and the marketplace, or they are in a deep and dangerous case of utter denial.

Either way, unless RIM takes decisive action soon--and that means first and foremost, coming to terms with their predictment and second, coming out with some major new disruptive technology for the mobile marketplace--they are doomed to the annals of tech history.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Steve Jurvetson)

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May 26, 2012

Warnings: When It's Not Just "Crying Wolf"

There is a famous saying that "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana 

An editorial appeared in the Wall Street Journal (10 April 2012) by French philosopher Pascal Bruckner called "The Ideology of Catastrophe" that accuses those who warn others of danger as having "tiny minds who wish us suffering."

This "philosopher" maligns both Jewish prophets and Christian "millenarian movements" for having "no function other than indignation...and [the Prophet] becomes intoxicated with his own words and claims a legitimacy with no basis."

Mr. Bruckner must be completely clueless of those throughout history that have sought to warn us of dangers that if the world would but have listened, untold numbers of millions could have been saved. 

From the earliest of times, there have been warnings about pending catastrophes and those that paid attention were able to make a difference. 

In the Torah (Bible), G-d warned Noah of the impending flood, and Noah was able to save humankind and animals--2 by 2 they went unto the ark for 40 days and nights of pouring rain that vanquished the earth.

In the Prophets, G-d has Yonah (after being swallowed by the whale) warn the the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent and prevents them and their city from destruction. 

In the 20th century, if only the world had paid attention to the genocidal desires of maniacs like Adolph Hitler (may his name be cursed) in books like Mein Kampf, how many tens of millions may have been spared. 

In terms of the advent of nukes and other weapons of mass destructions, to at least some extent people and governments have listened to warning and retreated from a philosophy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) to instead move toward anti-proliferation, arms reduction treaties, and other safeguards, and we have thank G-d been able to avoid major catastrophes from these dangers. 

Thankfully, with dire medical issuances about various diseases, pandemics, and even warning about the dangers of obesity, smoking, and drinking, we have been able to curb harmful behaviors, promote healthier living, and lengthen life spans.

Similarly, with environmental warnings, we have been able to create awareness and educate people on more sustainable living--through conservation, recycling, reuse, as well as renewable energy sources, and more. 

Moreover, warnings about runaway spending and the national deficit have been heard for decades, but having ignored these for the most part, we now face a $16,000,000,000,000 bill and growing rapidly--soon coming due to future generations of Americans.  And we are already witnessing the effects--inflation, unemployment, default, and perhaps succession from the Euro and the EU itself--of countries on the other side of the Atlantic that have made the similar errors in their wild spending ways.

While some corporate, religious, and political leaders do use fear tactics to gain power or whatever they are personally-seeking that does not make every warning false and malevolent. 

Certainly, at the other end of the spectrum, some people would rather live in denial of any issues and pretend that everything is just hunky-dory all the time. 

Bruckner does makes some superficial and one-sided arguments--denouncing warnings and claiming that:

- Warnings cause fear, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

- Warnings "though they try to awaken us...eventually deadens us."

- People who warn "do not [really] intend to warn us as much as to condem us."

- Leaders issue warnings "to dazzle us in order to make us docile."

Unfortunately, Bruckner has failed to distinguish between fear-mongering and fact. 

Bruckner missed the point of how real warnings can help people--which is through changing hearts, minds, and behaviors. 

1) Fear is not a self-fulfilling prophecy unless people do not act in time to change dangerous and irresponsible behaviors.

2) Genuine warnings do not deaden those who seek truth and a way forward--it only deadens those who are unwilling or unable to adapt. 

3) People who warn based on facts and with sincerity to help others do not wish to condem us--rather they wish to alleviate unnecessary suffering.

4) Leaders who issue warnings to alert people to very real dangers out there in order to seek safety or change course are not trying to dazzle and make docile, but rather they seek to save lives by creating awareness, educating, and empowering people to change before it is too late.

Some people understand well from history as well as from common sense that our behaviors have consequences--other do not. 

For me, when we stray into dangerous waters, I am glad for the true heros out there looking out for us and helping guide us live better and longer lives. 

While it is good to be critical of unfounded warnings and charlatans, it is necessary to have warnings that are grounded in fact, given sincerely, not forced on others, and help people stay successfully on the road to health, prosperity, and human rights.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Alex Peruso)

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