Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Saturday, June 29, 2002

The Sartorial (non)Sense of a Yankee

The Sartorial (non)Sense of a Yankee

Now, before you get all offended, hear me out. I know that we here in the South have a few questionable fashion trends ourselves. Wife-beater t-shirts with cut off shorts and a baseball cap. Bowling shirts as formal wear. Speaking of formal wear, how about those electric blue tuxes trimmed in fire engine red? They fly off the shelves during prom season. Let’s not forget our redneck contribution to the world of hairstyles: the mullet.

But beyond these stylish embarrassments, we do have a strong sense of propriety, and dignity. Hawaiian shirts are reserved for bowling alleys, golf courses, and drunken frat boys who don’t know better. A southern woman will spend an hour and a half getting dressed and made up to run to the corner store for a gallon of milk. Sadly this custom is slowly disappearing as the Northern invasion continues. It won’t be long till the dreaded muumuu and hair rollers is as common in a Birmingham, Alabama Walmart as it is in Columbus, Ohio, another outrage perpetrated on the South that Yankees will surely pay for.

Southern fashion is basically conservative, with a preference for comfort, but not at the expense of appearance. We prefer jeans and a t-shirt with a ball cap to Bermuda shorts and a button down pink shirt. Sportier elements among us will replace the ball cap with a visor, but that can be dangerous around here, at least until the memories of Spurrier fade a bit. Occasionally, one of our more daring souls will try a fashion innovation, (“Hey Virgil, check this out! I’m wearing my socks on the outside of my shoes! Pretty cool, huh?”) but at considerable risk. Should he fail to carry off the new look with the appropriate southern panache, he will be heaped with such scorn and opprobrium that he will often slink off in the night, abandoning his wife and family to live in a shack in western Montana and write long rambling letters to newspapers nobody reads. A little known fact about the Unabomber is that he was a normal individual until the fateful day he attended a Lion’s club luncheon wearing khakis, a pink oxford, penny loafers, and a plaid sweater draped casually over his shoulders. Let that be a warning to the trendsetters.

But the rewards can be considerable. Fame attaches itself to anyone who adds a new word to our fashion vocabulary. The first woman to wear a hoop skirt in the south had an entire age named after her. I know this because I am descended from her. She was my great, great, great aunt three times removed on my sister’s husband’s uncle’s side of the family, and her name was Belle. Yes, Auntie Belle certainly set the Southern world on fire. The skirts rose to popularity quickly, since they made even the clumsiest woman look graceful, not to mention that they provided a nearly impenetrable barrier to amorous suitors. Later, during the war, they provided an invaluable hiding place for contraband goods, and in a pinch could serve as a hideout for a small platoon of Rebel soldiers. Junior Samples made overalls his trademark, as did Minnie Pearl with her hat, and who could forget the most famous piece of Southern apparel, now named after the character that made them famous, the Daisy Duke short shorts?

The reason for this little diatribe?

I was driving home from Knoxville last weekend, and I saw a guy from Michigan driving home from the Honda Hoot. At least, I assume he had attended the Hoot, because he had two beautiful Gold Wings on a trailer.

This was my first clue that all was not right with this gentleman. A gold Wing is built for one purpose: To pamper its rider with all the amenities of a luxury automobile while still enjoying the feel of a motorcycle. To trailer such a bike is to deny its very essence. If you are a short distance rider, get a cruiser!

Anyway, I was looking at the bikes when I noticed a dark blob near his side view mirror. I thought I was hallucinating, but as I drew even with his car, I found to my horror that he was dangling his foot out of the window, and worse yet, he was wearing black socks!

Now southerners have a long and proud tradition of sticking body parts out of moving vehicles, but there are rules for this sort of thing. Every child knows that if you stick your hand out of the window, you run the risk of having it fall off, at least, our mothers told us this every time we got caught, but the sensation of flight was always too powerful to resist. As we got older, and being cool became more important, the hand was replaced with the jaunty crooked elbow, sticking out the window at the perfect angle to show that the driver was not suffering from the lack of AC in his car, but that he wanted the window open. At this age, the hand rarely comes out of the window, except to signal the driver’s reaction the idiot in front of him who just cut across three lanes of traffic and slammed on the breaks, using the familiar single digit salute. The fact that the idiot in question almost always has license plates from north of the Mason-Dixon line cannot be a coincidence.

The only other body part that is approved for extravehicular extrusion is the bared buttock, and that only under certain formally recognized conditions set down in the Treaty of Appalachia back in 1851. But that’s it! No bellies, no kneecaps, no left shoulder blades, and certainly not feet. I do have to note in passing that these rules apply only to the driver; passenger rules are more relaxed. Dogs riding shotgun are required to stick their heads out of the window. A female riding shotgun is allowed to stick whatever she wants out of the window, and is encouraged to do so by passing truckers, especially if she is comely.

But black sock clad feet out of the driver’s side window? Absolutely not! To make matters even worse, he was wearing shorts! I didn’t see his footwear, but I’m morally certain that a pair of sandals would be found right next to the brake pedal.

Oh the horror!

In the interests of fostering amity between our regions, I did not ridicule this victim of sartorial stupidity, but just passed as quickly as possible, and tried to purge the site from my eyes. But I wanted to pass this on to all of you dear readers, in the sincere hopes that you can pass the word along and prevent a future tragedy.

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Friday, June 28, 2002

Xerox still can’t come up with anything original!

Xerox still can't come up with anything original! Bad joke, I know, but you have to laugh at something. This is just too outrageous.
Xerox Corp. on Friday said it would restate five years of results to reclassify more than $6 billion in revenues, an expected move in yet another scandal to batter confidence in Corporate America's accounting.
The announced rattled investors, who were shaken by the revelation earlier this week by U.S. telecoms carrier ( news - external web site) WorldCom that it hid nearly $4 billion in expenses, and after several years of nagging questions about Xerox's accounting practices

Later in the article, we find out that the actual monetary difference is "only" 1.4 billion.

That's a relief...

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It doesn’t take much

It doesn't take much I was having a crappy day today. I got home this morning, and found the dogs had busted the barrier into the garage. (They ate a hole in the last door, and I've taken it down to rebuild. I installed a temporary door to keep them out.) They had eaten, scattered, or destroyed most of my tools and supplies for turning pens, so I wasn't too happy. I found everything I could, put it all in a safe location, then went to bed. I woke up this afternoon to find out that the power went out, and my clock was slow. After my shower, I went into the kitchen to make dinner, only to find out that the kitchen sink was clogged up. Then the garage flooded. Worms invaded the peppers in my garden, but left the weeds intact (How do bugs know what is a weed and what is a plant?)

Like I said, a crappy day.

But, there was a brief break in the clouds, and I saw a rainbow this afternoon. A double in fact, with both arcs complete. The secondary wasn't nearly as bright as the primary, but it was still impressive. I stood outside in the sprinkling rain, and just looked at them for 5 minutes. The garage is still flooded, the sink still clogged, the garage door still broken, and I'm missing a couple of tools, but any day you see a double rainbow can't be all bad.

Images from Claudine Vanbauce

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The possum

The possum on home renovation:
I found it in the bottom of the toolbox and started waling on the top of the column for all I was worth. WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE Each time, the hammer would rebound at a slightly different angle, just as one would expect a hard rubber thing to react after contacting a cylindrical surface. WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-THUD It bounced just right that last blow, and the wedge-shaped peen caught me right square above my eyebrows.

You know the stars that twirl around Wile E. Coyote after he catches an anvil with his head? Those are real. I saw them. You ever wonder why Wile E. Coyote never decided to stay away from anvils? Because he was a genius. Said so on his business card. Just like on mine.

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Why fly?

Why fly? Lileks has a new bleat on air travel. It seems he was going to fly to the big blogger meeting in DC (My invite must have gotten lost in the mail), but his flight was cancelled.

The woman behind me in line started to talking to the uniformed fellow behind her - a navigator, I’m guessing. “Where are the storms?” she said. “Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, New York, all over,” he said, his voice indicating that he was in no mood to talk shop with the civilians.

Hmm, I thought. Bumpy weather. Turbulence. Wonderful. We are now operating at 87% hoorah factor.

Back to the gate; I checked to see if the flight was on time, or if it had moved.



Excuse me? That’s my plane -


I went to the gate, where the airline had posted a fellow carefully selected for his ability to make his irritation with customers quite plain. This had never happened to me before, so I was unclear on the next step. What me do? I said, in essence.

I have a training seminar coming up in Chicago in September. It's a ten hour drive from here, which I figure will save me two hours over flying, and at least 50 points on my blood pressure. I usually fly Delta, and if you fly out of Knoxville, it doesn't matter where you are going, you fly through Atlanta. I used to fly to Hawaii when I worked on Jahnston Atoll, and I had to go through Atlanta. When I flew to Cleveland, I went through Atlanta. When I flew to Dallas, I avoided Atlanta by flying through Cincinnatti, but my connecting flight was cancelled, and I got re-routed.

Through Atlanta.

The only time I didn't fly through Atlanta was when I flew from Norfolk Virginia to Knoxville. I flew through Pittsburg instead.

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Last post on the pledge

Last post on the pledge I posted a condensed version of the following as a comment over at The Spoons Experience

The pledge is not a law. Congress passes many actions which are included in the US code which are not laws. They issue proclamations, resolutions, and so on, none of which have the force of law.

The Pledge is located in Title 4, Chapter 1, section 4 of the current US code. You can look it up here

Sec. 4. - Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, ''I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'', should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute

Note that throughout the citation, the word 'should' is used, rather than shall. This may seem minor, but that is the key difference between a requirement with the force of law, and a recommendation. When the word 'shall' is used, the citation has the force of law. When the word 'should' is used, then the citation is given as guidance only.

Compare it with section 3:
Sec. 3. - Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag

Any person who, within the District of Columbia, in any manner, for exhibition or display, shall place or cause to be placed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing, or any advertisement of any nature upon any flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America; or shall expose or cause to be exposed to public view any such flag, standard, colors, or ensign upon which shall have been printed, painted, or otherwise placed, or to which shall be attached, appended, affixed, or annexed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, or drawing, or any advertisement of any nature; or who, within the District of Columbia, shall manufacture, sell, expose for sale, or to public view, or give away or have in possession for sale, or to be given away or for use for any purpose, any article or substance being an article of merchandise, or a receptacle for merchandise or article or thing for carrying or transporting merchandise, upon which shall have been printed, painted, attached, or otherwise placed a representation of any such flag, standard, colors, or ensign, to advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark, or distinguish the article or substance on which so placed shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both, in the discretion of the court. The words ''flag, standard, colors, or ensign'', as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America

Note the word 'shall' is used and a specific penalty is attached to violation of this section.

To further explain the difference, we can look at the origin of Title 4, section 4. Title 4 section 4 was originally contained in Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 172, which was entitled "Patriotic Customs." Other items in Title 36 include:

among others. If I refuse to recognize these 'special days', am I in violation of federal law?
Of course not.
Title 36 also contains the National Anthem, and rules of conduct when it is played. Again, the word 'should' is used throughout. It is not a violation of federal law to sing the wrong words, or to refuse to stand and face the flag during the playing of the national anthem, even though those rules are contained in section 301.

So, since there has been no law issued declaring what must be said in the Pledge, much less that anybody must recite the pledge, the first amendment is intact.

For a short history of the pledge, read here

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Thursday, June 27, 2002

Still more on the pledge

Still more on the pledge I'm a pack rat. When I find interesting nuggets of info, I keep 'em, and now that is going to pay off. A while back, I found a discussion of the Establishment clause, including an explanation of the origin of the phrase, "separation of church and state." It seems that it is relavent now, and so, without further ado:
First, a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association
Oct. 7, 1801.
Sir, Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your Election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyd in our collective capacity, since your Inauguration, to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief Majestracy in the United States; And though our mode of expression may be less courtly and pompious than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, Sir to believe, that none are more sincere.
Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty -- That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals -- That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions - That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor: But Sir our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the Laws made coincident therewith, were adopted on the Basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our Laws & usages, and such still are; that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretense of government & Religion should reproach their fellow men -- should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dare not assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.
Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States, is not the national legislator, and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the Laws of each State; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial affect already, like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine and prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and Tyranny be destroyed from the Earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of State out of that good will which he bears to the Millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence & the voice of the people have cald you to sustain and support you in your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth & importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.
And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.
Signed in behalf of the Association.
Nehh Dodge
Ephram Robbins The Committee
Stephen S. Nelson

In essence, the Danbury Baptists were asking for protection of their religious freedoms, as they were a decided minority in their state.

Jefferson's response:

January 1, 1802
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which are so good to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all of his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessings of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.
Thomas Jefferson

Sources: Robert S. Alley, Professor of Humanites, Emeritus, University of Richmond, from his article, "Public Education and the Public Good," published in William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Summer 1995.
And Lipscomb, Andrew and Bergh, Albert, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 16, pp. 281-282.

In short, Jefferson told the Danbury Baptists three things. First, that he believed as they did that religion is a matter left between a man and his god, and second, that the government was only empowered to act on actions, not opinions. If the Danbury Baptists could show actual damage done by the Congregationalist majority, then there would be grounds for corrective action. Third, the wall of separation was to prevent one religion from being favored by the government to the exclusion of others.

Nowhere in this letter does Jefferson suggest that all religious thought and expression must be removed from government. In fact, he closes his letter with a religious reference. Now, if this was just private correspondence, then that would be a minor matter. But he was writing as the President of the United States, and if his characterization of the Establishment clause as a 'wall of separation' is to be considered as an official government position, then his closing blessing must also be considered as the same.

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More on the pledge

More on the pledge Bill Sulik has an excellent discussion on the Establishment clause, and how it has been twisted into it's present interpretation.
To refresh everyone's recollection, the "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." A review of the Supreme Court's jurisprudence of the past 20 years or so shows that it has built an edifice of case law that is so far askew of the plumb line of the establishment clause that it was bound to collapse, and this could bring it down. A review of the 9th Circuit decision shows that it has been built on those great errors.

He makes a strong case.

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My oversight

My oversight The Spoons Experience is a primo blog that I peruse regularly, especially with his new Sekimori site design. How I've neglected adding it to my permalinks is beyond me. That has been corrected.

Maybe I should get a site redesign....

Naah....that be the old silk purse/sow's ear thing.

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More evidence to dispute the “moderate Palestinian Majority”

More evidence to dispute the "moderate Palestinian Majority" From The Age, comes this report:
Polls also raise doubts about the suggestion by Bush that a silent majority of Palestinians, if given the chance to express themselves honestly in free elections, would reject violence against Israeli targets.

A survey published on Sunday in the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadidah found that 60 per cent of respondents supported suicide bombings within Israel and a stunning 86 per cent supported attacks against Israeli military and settlers within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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It’s the right thing to do

It's the right thing to do President Bush signed a bill into law, extending death benfits to domestic partners of policemen and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The new law allows a $250,000 federal benefit for survivors of public safety officers to be paid to any beneficiary listed on the victim's life insurance policy. The money has been available only to spouses, children and parents.

It's only fair.

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Here’s a tough one

Here's a tough one Gay mom's daughters head for the hills.
HOUSTON (KHOU) -- Two teenage girls say that they can no longer live with their mother because she is gay. They've asked the state to take them in, but it says it won't interfere with this family that's divided.

Inside a Missouri City home two teenage girls packed their bags and moved out. Seventeen-year-old Keena Green and her 15-year-old sister, Nikki, are no longer living with their mom.

A mom who says that they were kidnapped. "Yes, I know that they were," says Kilma Green.

She says a church called the Body of Christ kidnapped them. Keena and Nikki are members of the church. The girls tell 11 News that they weren't taken away, but that they ran away because their mom is gay.

First, kidnapping is not accurate. The girls are not being held against their will. Alienation of affection, possibly, but not kidnapping.

But we do have some interesting issues here. Forcing the girls to live with their mother would interfer with the free practice of their religion, abridging their first amendment rights. On the other hand, unless we want to declare that homosexuality is grounds to consider a parent unfit, the state cannot intervene and take the children away.

This passage:
Nikki adds, "I believe what the bible says about homosexuals. And I believe that had an affect on our decision. But I also believe if she was going to love us the right way she should get rid of her lifestyle and make us number one instead of the women."
hints at promiscuity, which in itself is not grounds to pull the girls out, unless it could be shown that the mother's lifestyle led her to neglect her daughters.

Of course, the state doesn't have to pull the kids out of the home; they've done that on their own already. Can the daughters sue for emancipation, based on these grounds?

Any lawyers out there?

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It’s about time!

It's about time! The folks who terrorized a pro-Israeli meeting at SFSU has been kicked off campus for a year.
Members of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) surrounded a group of pro-Israel demonstrators at a May 7 rally, yelling, "Hitler didn't finish the job" and "Get out or we will kill you," and threatening the mostly-Jewish crowd with physical harm.

In addition to the suspension, the group also lost its funding for one year and had its Web site shut down.

One year seems a little lenient.

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New Jihadist Army Forming in Balkans

New Jihadist Army Forming in BalkansFrom DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Intelligence Report
24 June:
The next radical Islamic terror attack in America could well originate in a corner of the Balkans, where a new jihad force is taking shape quietly and unhindered. In its last issue, published on Friday, June 21, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources reported that close to 20,000 fighters, battled-hardened veterans and eager young recruits, are already under arms, with more joining up all the time.
An Islamist bloc of nations (whose formation has been reported in the past by DEBKAfile) - made up of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, al Qaeda and Hizballah, with active Palestinian support - is behind the new Muslim Balkan army. Saudi, Iranian and Iraqi intelligence services and al Qaeda operations officers in Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania are tasked with recruitment, training and organization. The units are armed with modern weaponry, including missiles and artillery, while handpicked young Muslim recruits have been sent to sign up at private flying schools, especially in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, as the nucleus of an air force.

For what it's worth. Remember, Debka also predicted a mass invasion of Jordan which didn't occur.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Run that by me again?

Run that by me again? Worldcom may go belly up because of the scandal:
WorldCom Inc. teetered toward what would be the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history after shocking Wall Street — and the president — with yet another corporate scandal: $3.8 billion in expenses hidden from investors.

Stocks plunged Wednesday after the disclosure by the long-distance and Internet ( news - external web site) services company, the latest revelation of how business ethics were trashed during the technology boom of the late 1990s.

I thought businesses went bad during the evil 80's under Reagan's watch. You mean to tell me that it really happened during the greatest peacetime expansion of our economy in history, under the watchful eye of Bill Clinton? Say it ain't so!
Arthur Andersen served as WorldCom's accountant during the period in question. The accounting firm, once one of the world's largest, was convicted earlier this month for the destruction of documents related to its work for Enron.

Andersen blamed WorldCom for the inaccuracies and said its work was in compliance with SEC standards: "It is of great concern that important information about line costs was withheld from Andersen auditors by the chief financial officer of WorldCom."

But accounting experts disagreed. Bob Bertucelli, director of the tax institute at Long Island University in New York, said there's no way that such an accounting error should have gotten past Andersen's audit.

"The auditor is responsible for everything that goes on, whether it's discussed with the auditing firm or not," Bertucelli said. "It should have been found. It's a clear cut violation of generally accepted accounting principles."

Arthur Anderson again. Why am I not surprised?

UPDATE Rand Simberg is asking the same question I am

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