The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #451
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silfir View Post
    Strictly speaking, Cheery's sexuality is not the issue. (I don't even remember if it ever came up. Does she have a partner in the later books? She could be asexual for all I know.)
    I think it's heavily implied towards the end of Feet of Clay that she is straight - she mentions to Angua that she is excited about another officer having asked her out, "and I'm pretty sure that he's male".

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Bruceski View Post
    What I appreciated in Feet of Clay was the golem names. They're all Yiddish and all insults. Klutz (clumsy oaf), bobkes (nothing, worthless), shmata (dishrag). Dorfl himself doesn't follow the theme, his name means village in some Yiddish dialects, but it reinforces the framing of the golems as sub-person.
    It took me a few read-throughs to realise that the Golem King's name is Meshuggah, rather than the word being used as a description. It was *M*eshuggah, and it *was* meshuggah.

    I've always interpreted it that Terry gave golems Yiddish names in order to fit a theme, mostly so that readers could recognise what species a new character was without having to write it down every time, but in-universe they're just "old words that no one understands anymore", just like the words in the golems' heads.
    Last edited by Wraith; 2019-10-10 at 03:14 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #452
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    I've always interpreted it that Terry gave golems Yiddish names in order to fit a theme, mostly so that readers could recognise what species a new character was without having to write it down every time, but in-universe they're just "old words that no one understands anymore", just like the words in the golems' heads.
    That and, of course, it is a double referance to the origins of Golems, both their origins Jewdaism and the fact that the world Golem comes from the ancient Hebrew "Shapeless Mass" and in modern Hebrew means "helpless" or "dumb", all of which are insulting like Klutz.
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  3. - Top - End - #453
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    I was just about to go back and edit my previous post to mention the real-world mythology, but you pre-ninja'd me!

    Yes, the original creator of Golem was often said to be a Rabbi, so the words in their head would be Hebrew and/or Yiddish. Which is why no one on Discworld, save for one very old and unusual priest, knows how to read it.
    Last edited by Wraith; 2019-10-10 at 03:23 AM.
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  4. - Top - End - #454
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    Yes, the original creator of Golem was often said to be a Rabbi, so the words in their head would be Hebrew and/or Yiddish. Which is why no one on Discworld, save for one very old and unusual priest, knows how to read it.
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    No one save an old priest and a certain (ex-)Professor for Fine Arts...
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  5. - Top - End - #455
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    I really liked the Discworld version of golems. With them being given life and "programed" by ancient holy texts. It was one of the more creative versions of the creature.

    I also forgot to mention, but despite really enjoying the investigation, I was somewhat disappointed by the king golem's motivation (he got so many words, he glitched is kinda generic and didn't get much foreshadowing) and the fact that he only really appears near the end of the book.
    It'd have been more interesting if he had more page time, allowing readers to at least in theory deduce who is the guilty part... Perhaps by subtly implying his dislike for his creators while still appearing to be innocent. Also, it'd be cool if his words, rather than just being "too many" were something that could be cleverly twisted to commit the crimes.

    However, I really liked the idea of the Vampire working in the heraldry office for decades/centuries because he sees humans as breeding stock. That one was pretty clever and some good hints leading to it (although somewhat late in the book). That said, I wish Angua had detected a smell that Vimes had previously smelled in the heraldry office, rather than outright stating it was a vampire, as that gave away the reveal a little too early.
    Last edited by Lemmy; 2019-10-10 at 12:14 PM. Reason: Typos

  6. - Top - End - #456
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    I don't think the golem king suffers from "too many words", so much as that the words themselves are vague and contradictory. The golems loaded all their hopes and dreams into him, but with no notion of setting clear rules or objectives. (Of course they themselves had no understanding of these things, since their own rules had always been literally built into them.)

    What we see of the king's words include "create peace and justice for all", "teach us freedom", "lead us to..." - very, very vague and subjective demands, although the golems themselves lack the capacity to understand that.

    In particular, what would "justice" look like to the king? I think, killing (executing) the humans who created him would come well within scope. It would also further "teaching freedom", because clearly that could only be achieved through rebellion. The king was doing his best with the goals he'd been given.
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    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    I don't think the golem king suffers from "too many words", so much as that the words themselves are vague and contradictory. The golems loaded all their hopes and dreams into him, but with no notion of setting clear rules or objectives. (Of course they themselves had no understanding of these things, since their own rules had always been literally built into them.)

    What we see of the king's words include "create peace and justice for all", "teach us freedom", "lead us to..." - very, very vague and subjective demands, although the golems themselves lack the capacity to understand that.

    In particular, what would "justice" look like to the king? I think, killing (executing) the humans who created him would come well within scope. It would also further "teaching freedom", because clearly that could only be achieved through rebellion. The king was doing his best with the goals he'd been given.
    There's a lot of symbolism there for the pressure of leadership. The king has the weight of his entire people on his shoulders, and it drives him crazy. It goes hand-in-hand with how Vetinari and Carrot are portrayed. Vetinari's cynical view of the world means he isn't working for the people - he's just smart enough to realize that making the city a better place improves his own position and makes it more likely for him to retain said position. Carrot avoids the pressure by avoiding leadership, instead choosing to work on societal problems from the bottom up.

    The king was thrust into a position of responsibility with none of the coping mechanisms leaders develop, and as a result he went insane.

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    I sometimes wonder if Terry realised this sort of 'confusion' about the nature of the Golem King, and he went on to explain a little bit more about what the problem was as an aside in his next book, Hogfather

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    Death: YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
    Susan: "So we can believe the big ones?"
    Death: YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
    Susan: "They're not the same at all!"
    Death: YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

    The Golems are asking for things that literally - and Golems are very literal people - do not exist."take us to freedom..." can't be done because it's not a place or a tangible object, so Meshuggah was going through a mental equivalent of a Divide By Zero error.

    Arguably, given the subject of the converstation above, the Golem King went insane because he was being instructed to help the Golems be free by teaching them lies - by making them more human.
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    There's a lot of symbolism there for the pressure of leadership. The king has the weight of his entire people on his shoulders, and it drives him crazy. It goes hand-in-hand with how Vetinari and Carrot are portrayed. Vetinari's cynical view of the world means he isn't working for the people - he's just smart enough to realize that making the city a better place improves his own position and makes it more likely for him to retain said position. Carrot avoids the pressure by avoiding leadership, instead choosing to work on societal problems from the bottom up.
    This is absolutely not true. It runs contrary to everything we have been shown about both Venitai. Venitari -does- care about the city as a whole.
    If anything his way of doing things have left him slightly unpopular with the most powerful people in it. As seen by several plots to remove him.
    And at the same time, then he is by far the smartest and most devious person around. He absolutely do not need to take on the thankless job of being Patrician to become stinking rich.
    But he still does so.

    While Carrot has straight up explained to us, why he doesnt want to rule the town as a King, despite being able to do so.
    It has nothing to do with not wanting to take on responsibility, and everything with him knowing he has fairytale charisma.
    And wanting people to work though problems the hard way, instead of getting handed solutions.
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    Yeah, Carrot is the counterpoint to most villains of the first Watch books. They think what the city needs is a strong king, regarded as "more than a simple man", that would put everyone in their place and enforce an old-style, fairy-taleish order in place of the current chaos.

    Carrot, partly thanks to Vimes' influence, realized where this line of thiking would really end up, and works hard at not being seen as "more than a simple man", despite being it and (maybe?) being aware of it.

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    Its also a topic we have repeated several times in the witch books.
    That in general, magic is not a way to solve problems.
    Or at least not a way to help people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    There's a lot of symbolism there for the pressure of leadership. The king has the weight of his entire people on his shoulders, and it drives him crazy. It goes hand-in-hand with how Vetinari and Carrot are portrayed. Vetinari's cynical view of the world means he isn't working for the people - he's just smart enough to realize that making the city a better place improves his own position and makes it more likely for him to retain said position. Carrot avoids the pressure by avoiding leadership, instead choosing to work on societal problems from the bottom up.

    The king was thrust into a position of responsibility with none of the coping mechanisms leaders develop, and as a result he went insane.
    I agree with the people that say Vetinari is very concerned with the success of the city, although I agree that he feels the pressures of leadership. Part of the plot of Feet of Clay is that Vetinari is well aware that people are plotting against him, and wants to make sure that they know that his death won't stop the law. In general, most of the Ankh-Morpork books involve Vetinari very deliberately setting up institutions that curb, limit, or provide alternatives to his own dictatorship. He's very carefully and slowly transitioning the city from a dictatorship to a modern society, even if he distrusts democracy, and his ultimate goal seems to be having other people taking that pressure off him and the city running smoothly once he ultimately retires or dies.
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    That's always been the interesting thing about Vetinari. He believes (and is probably right) that he's doing the city a service; his iron grip is the only thing keeping the city from tearing itself apart.

    But he also is making a concerted effort to bypass the "Great Man Paradox", where countries are ruled by a singular great leader and brought into a golden age...then swiftly decline in the following generations without that leader's vision. It's been the bane of pretty much every empire on Earth throughout history, and Vetinari is savvy enough to sidestep it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    But he also is making a concerted effort to bypass the "Great Man Paradox", where countries are ruled by a singular great leader and brought into a golden age...then swiftly decline in the following generations without that leader's vision. It's been the bane of pretty much every empire on Earth throughout history, and Vetinari is savvy enough to sidestep it.
    Every empire? I can see that it works quite nicely as a model for Napoleon's French empire, and to a lesser extent Ghengis Khan's, but the British Empire doesn't fit it that well, the Ancient Roman empire certainly doesn't, and the Chinese and Japanese Empires don't look anything like it.
    Last edited by halfeye; 2019-10-16 at 07:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Every empire? I can see that it works quite nicely as a model for Napoleon's French empire, and to a lesser extent Ghengis Khan's, but the British Empire doesn't fit it that well, the Ancient Roman empire certainly doesn't, and the Chinese and Japanese Empires don't look anything like it.
    It works for the Germans, the Macedonians, the Persians etc., etc. If you can point to an empire that relied on a charismatic leader to bring them together or push them forward, you can also point to the exact moment their empire started decline as being when said leader died.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    It works for the Germans, the Macedonians, the Persians etc., etc. If you can point to an empire that relied on a charismatic leader to bring them together or push them forward, you can also point to the exact moment their empire started decline as being when said leader died.
    Fair enough. It works for *some* empires, but "pretty much every" one is an overstatement.

    But let's not get into discussing real history. Back in the world that matters, I think Vetinari would resist being called charismatic. He's more an instinctive bureaucrat than an autocrat. He prefers not to dictate things himself, but trains and manipulates his underlings to make things work out as he wants. Just about all his interactions with both Vimes and, later, Moist can be seen as "training".
    Last edited by veti; 2019-10-17 at 12:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Every empire? I can see that it works quite nicely as a model for Napoleon's French empire, and to a lesser extent Ghengis Khan's, but the British Empire doesn't fit it that well, the Ancient Roman empire certainly doesn't, and the Chinese and Japanese Empires don't look anything like it.
    The British Empire isn't an example because it doesn't meet the pre-requisites, it WASN'T largely the work of or carried by one man. As for Rome, it certainly does fit and even mirrors how they came to view empires under the four seasons model, decline is not necessarily terminal or irreversibly, but just look at the first set of Roman Emperors:
    Augustus: The Great Man figure.
    Tiberius: An old man at the start who didn't want the job by the time he got it. The systems in place kept Rome running, but things stagnated.
    Caligula: Infamously unstable, again damaging and wearing the stability of the system down.
    Claudius: Depending on who you ask either a useless lump or a careful reformer, but did at least pull parts of the system back together.
    Nero: Another unstable egotist who resulted in the end of the first roman dynasty.
    Then you get The Year of Four Emperors, which was as mad and dangerous as it sounds, before Vesparian managed to stabilise everything again.

    Rome continued in bursts like this, going through its winters and its summers, sometimes getting higher than the previous summer or lower than the previous winter, before collapsing altogether (and/or moving next door).

    EDIT: I should explain that I don't actually believe in this as an explanation of history, rather I feel that what you get is someone who is able to harness the time to establish themselves (who, admittedly, is by necessity very good at empire-ing) and they they pass power and authority get diluted and they, as a founder or saviour figure get mythologised so that their successors, who won't get the same historical benefit, will always seem inferior.
    Last edited by Evil DM Mark3; 2019-10-17 at 05:45 AM.
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    The point is rather moot given that there will be no further Discworld novels, but I'm quite sure Vetinari had something in place for when he died. He's smart enough to know that to keep the city running after he died, he would plan it out well in advance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    The point is rather moot given that there will be no further Discworld novels, but I'm quite sure Vetinari had something in place for when he died. He's smart enough to know that to keep the city running after he died, he would plan it out well in advance.
    Oh he did, their names are Sam Vimes, Carrot Ironfoudersson, Willam de Worde and especially Moist von Lipwig.
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    I finished Hogfather last Thursday... I gotta say it's one of my favorite books so far. Suzan is much cooler and more interesting this time. Death's part as the new Hogfather is both hilarious and very cleverly written. Teatime makes for a great villain.

    I'll post an actual review once I'm home and don't have to type on my phone.

    My brother said he has DVDs of some the Discworld movies. I think I'll watch them to see how they compare to the books.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
    I finished Hogfather last Thursday... I gotta say it's one of my favorite books so far. Suzan is much cooler and more interesting this time. Death's part as the new Hogfather is both hilarious and very cleverly written. Teatime makes for a great villain.

    I'll post an actual review once I'm home and don't have to type on my phone.

    My brother said he has DVDs of some the Discworld movies. I think I'll watch them to see how they compare to the books.
    My short summary:
    Hogfather is delightful, if cheesy. Budget really shows occasionally.
    Going Postal is high energy fun, well made, with some very annoying character changes. (Basically, they flattened almost all the characters into very broad stereotypes, and sometimes the wrong stereotypes.)
    The Colour of Magic manages to be so bad and forgetful, not even Tim Curry giving 110% HAM can save it. It has a very fun Cohen the Barbarian, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    My short summary:
    Hogfather is delightful, if cheesy. Budget really shows occasionally.
    Going Postal is high energy fun, well made, with some very annoying character changes. (Basically, they flattened almost all the characters into very broad stereotypes, and sometimes the wrong stereotypes.)
    The Colour of Magic manages to be so bad and forgetful, not even Tim Curry giving 110% HAM can save it. It has a very fun Cohen the Barbarian, though.
    I don't think he has Colour of Magic... The ones he mentioned were "Soul Music", "Hogfather" and "Going Postal" (which I won't watch since I haven't read the book yet).
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    I liked The Color of Magic and the Light Fantastic TV shows. They were a bit silly and not particularly well made, BUT I felt that they were the right kind of of silly and not well made. Cheap British TV, like old series of Dr. Who or pantomine traditions, have their own sort of charm.

    Soul Music, on the other hand, is animated rather than live action - there's a version of Wyrd Sisters that's animated too. They're more or less faithful to the books, but unfortunately their low budget doesn't translate as well to cartoons. Still quite entertaining though.
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    Oh god, finally managed to make sense of a scene in Mascerade.
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    The one around page 160 when Granny watches Opera for the first time.
    And then suddenly bolts upright exclaiming "Its not right! They Beat him to death! then throw him into the river!"
    I finally figured out that its not a comment about what went on at the stage.
    But instead Granny making a premonition about how the story will unfold unless she intervene.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    Soul Music, on the other hand, is animated rather than live action - there's a version of Wyrd Sisters that's animated too. They're more or less faithful to the books, but unfortunately their low budget doesn't translate as well to cartoons. Still quite entertaining though.
    Also their serial nature means that by the end from repeated scenes you will be sick of "FATHER!"
    Now with half the calories!

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    The version I have is the "movie" cut, so it tends to dispense with some of the segues and harsh cuts to make it easier to watch. It's pretty much the ONLY thing they spent money on, though
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    For me, Hogfather is the only book in which Susan is half-way tolerable.

    I always got the feeling that Terry was writing her in self-consciously as a role model for his own daughter. So the stench of preaching is never far away from her. But Hogfather is so good in its plot, it transcends that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemmy View Post
    i finished hogfather last thursday... I gotta say it's one of my favorite books so far. Suzan is much cooler and more interesting this time. Death's part as the new hogfather is both hilarious and very cleverly written.
    Ah, Death as Santa Hog Claws Father engaging with all the strange depressing ways that Christmas carols go. It IS a hilarious look at the human condition.

    HO. HO. HO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    Soul Music, on the other hand, is animated rather than live action - there's a version of Wyrd Sisters that's animated too. They're more or less faithful to the books, but unfortunately their low budget doesn't translate as well to cartoons. Still quite entertaining though.
    The Wyrd Sisters one is rather butchered, a lot of the important scenes removed. I think Soul Music is worth a look however as, you know, music you can hear.
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    So... Hogfather.

    This has easily become one of my favorite Discworld books. It has a somewhat darker tone than most other Discworld novels so far, but not too much. The humor is great, ranging from classic Discworld parody (of Christmas stories and carols, rather than fantasy tropes) to subtle, but very insightful and poignant observations of human nature. Particularly on the nature of belief, and how that makes us who (and what) we are.

    There's a joke that really stuck to me... It isn't the funniest in the book, but IMHO, it perfectly exemplifies the mix of light-hearted humor and dark comedy of the book. It's a just a short line about how Death really starts enjoying playing the role of Hogfather, because except for very rare and depressing occasions, no one is ever happy to see him. And of course, it's pertinent to the best aspect of the book, which I'll mention next:

    I'm sincerely amazed by the general depth of character, specially considering how many of them there are! While not all characters are equally great to read, not one of them felt boring or unnecessary. Death is the star of the show of course. His gradual understanding of Christmas Hogswatch, its good and bad aspects, is the best part of the story. I love how he starts mostly indifferent about it, then slowly grows an almost child-like love for the holiday, then finally starts to see its not-so-great aspects, which he then becomes unable (and unwilling) to ignore. It's honestly one of the most beautifully written character arcs I've seen in years.

    While the rest of the cast simply can't shine that brightly, they are still quite a treat! IMHO Suzan wasn't a very compelling character back in Soul Music, her only really interesting characteristic was her relationship to Death. Here she actually gains a lot of personality, perhaps even some charm. The villains are great... Perhaps the first Discworld bad guys to actually be intimidating. We had seen the Auditors of Reality before, but here their disdain for life as a whole is shown to be much more intense than previously demonstrated. The cruelty and hatred shown by the lengths they are willing to go just to make humans less alive is actually sickening... So is Teatime's casual approach to violence and complete indifference to the well-being of others. I know there are many characters with similarly psychotic behavior, but the fact that this happens in a (supposedly) comedy/satire novel about Christmas Hogswatch makes it that much more disturbing. To me, the character-defining moment for Teatime is when Suzan pushes he's falling to his death in the Tooth Fairy's palace and yet, he still has the expression of someone trying to solve a complex problem... Still thinking of a way to kill Suzan and finish his mission. That's what is going on his mind as he falls to his death (well... He survives, but he didn't know that.

    Hogfather is yet another Death book to enter my list of favorite novels (overall, not just Discworld). I'm comfortable calling it a Genuine Masterpiece. Something I'll read many times in the future... At least once every Christmas.

    Next is Jingo... But I'll take a short break before reading it. I don't know how good the book is, but Hogfather is a tough act to follow, so reading it in quick succession might harm my enjoyment of the book. Besides, I want to avoid "Franchise Fatigue". A two-weeks break should suffice.

    But fear not!

    I'm not leaving this thread unattended! I'll soon make a quick recap of all Discworld books I've read so far... See how my perception of them changed with hindsight and knowledge from having read more of Sir Terry Pratchett's work.

    Oh, and here's a quick comic version of one of the funniest moments from Hogfather!

    Spoiler: Spoilered For Size
    Show
    Last edited by Lemmy; 2019-10-27 at 11:23 AM.
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