Welcome to 535PKQs.com and 21stCenturyCivics.com

535: number of voting members in Congress
PKQ:
Philosopher King/Queen

 

 

Two domain names...

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One idea "whose time has come."

 

 

Preface

America's political science and civics instruction "establishments" don't know it, yet, but they are at the same "inflection point" in history our medical establishment was at in the latter half of the 19th century. That's when physicians, hospitals, medical schools and others in the medical community began having to grapple with a looming dilemma: should they continue practicing and teaching medicine the way it had been practiced and taught for the past two thousand years -- i.e., based on the Four Humours Theory -- a theory that, although well established, had proven itself incapable of curing or preventing much of anything, and certainly not infectious diseases.

Or should they toss two thousand years of accumulated medical "knowledge" in the trash bin and begin the long, arduous task of developing a whole new body of knowledge based on a radically different theory of medicine -- our modern day Germ Theory -- because it showed great promise for both curing and preventing infectious diseases.

FYI: As you might expect, the decision was easy once it was abundantly clear that the Four Humours Theory wasn't just wrong, it was Beavis-and-Butthead-level-of-idiocy wrong. However, as you also might expect, there were the inevitable "bitter clingers." Those who were unwilling to abandon a theory that (in their mind) had withstood the test of time. A theory that over 2,000 years of the medical field’s greatest, most revered minds had contributed to and expanded upon.

This is very much the academic and moral dilemma our political science and civics educators will soon be confronting: do they continue teaching America's students (our nation's future voters) an "18th century" theory/science/philosophy of self-governance (or self-governance paradigm) that produces an electorate utterly incapable of recruiting and electing (mostly Democratic and Republican) legislators to Congress who can solve America's myriad of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems.

Or do they toss it in the trash bin and begin teaching a self-governance science/paradigm based a whole new body of "21st century" knowledge and insights -- e.g., highly effective (pre-primary process) candidate recruitment strategies -- that will produce a nation of voters who are easily capable of recruiting and electing high quality Democrats and Republicans to Congress who can solve America's EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely, permanently, and largely painlessly.

The (Herculean) task for every American who wants to see our political science and civics educators toss their revered 18th century paradigm into the trash bin, as soon as possible, is convincing them that this new science of self-governance -- complete with an entire subfield's worth of new knowledge -- is a course-of-history-changing idea "whose time has come."

 

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Please note: this (90% blog) site is currently undergoing major "conceptual" overhaul and reconstruction.

Since it is turning out to be a time-consuming process, while it is taking place, unedited segments (along with a lexicon of new, "21st century" terms) will be provided to readers -- political science and civics educators in particular -- who wish to begin learning about this new knowledge immediately.

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synopsis

America's political science and civics educators are unwittingly complicit in teaching and perpetuating a "Four Humours" understanding -- i.e., flawed, ignorance-based -- of the "process" of self-governance (or what we generally refer to as the democratic process).

One major consequence of this flawed understanding of, and approach to, self-governance is that the vast mainstream of society mistakenly assumes that, for all intent and purposes, the nearly singular function of the national legislative election process (NLEP) is to enable voters to decide which political party's policies they want to see Congress implement to "solve" their nation's myriad of EFFS problems.

To rectify this "educational injustice," our civics educators must begin teaching our nation's students (and voters) a new civic "skill": competent self-governance, by providing students with a comprehensive -- i.e., exhaustive -- real world, no-nonsense understanding of:

  • the role that self-serving, politically ambitious "politicians" (PAPs) play (and have played in America's history) in causing, creating and exacerbating America's major EFFS problems, and

  • what voters must do to keep Congress continually replenished with a steady supply of highly qualified (mostly) liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who have the requisite "purity of motive" (POM) needed to craft and enact legislation that:
    1. is neither "liberal" nor "conservative,"
    2. will actually solve America's major EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely, permanently, and largely painlessly,
    3. will be strongly supported by the mainstream of liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters.

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America Needs a 21st Century Civics Curriculum
Here's why...
(a parsimonious overview from a layman's perspective)

A substantial majority of Americans will probably agree that our nation exists permanently mired in major EFFS problems because Congress is "broken." And Congress is broken -- along with our national politics and democracy* -- because Congress is permanently controlled by two factions of self-serving, politically ambitious “politicians” (PAPs) who stay permanently engaged in a never-ending, all-consuming, all's-fair-in-love-and-political-war struggle for power, much of it purely for power's sake.

* constitutional republic (CR) for you sticklers

aside: this is pretty much what self-serving PAPs the world over have been doing since the beginning of time

Chances are that almost all of our political intelligentsia and elites in academia and elsewhere blame all of this on our voters' many human shortcomings -- i.e., they're uninformed, misinformed, unintelligent, naive, apathetic, etc. But above all, they're greedy*; voters always want more goodies from government than they are willing to pay for in taxes.

* In the long run, voter greed leads to ever larger budget deficits, a ballooning national debt -- and, eventually, economic collapse (according to some scholars, it is voter greed that eventually destroys all democracies).

Technically, our intelligentsia are correct. America is a democracy. In a democracy, the buck stops with the voters. Voters keep electing/re-electing PAPs to Congress. Ergo, don't blame the "politicians" because Congress is broken and America is drowning in EFFS problems. Blame the voters.

Yes, but...

Turns out, that centuries old conventional wisdom doesn't hold up to simple scrutiny, not least because it ignores the major role played by our voters' principal "advisors" -- i.e., the folks they have always turned to for information, insight and advice on most matters, including matters of self-governance: our intelligentsia and elites in academia, media and elsewhere.

Not that our nation's "unwashed masses" -- i.e., our uneducated, simple-minded, gullible, misinformed, etc. -- shouldn't rely on America's best and brightest for guidance in all matters large and small -- but particularly matters of self-governance.

However, in this case, our intelligentsia must take responsibility for the lion's share of the blame because they dropped the ball -- BIG TIME.

In two key respects.

First, they have clung bitterly to the flawed "18th century" philosophy of self-governance that our nation's students have been taught (in elementary, high school and college civics) -- and our voters continually reminded -- essentially since the 18th century.

the 18th century philosophy/model/paradigm (in a nutshell)

To be a responsible voter, one should first do their due diligence and become informed, either on the major issues, or on the issues that matter the most to them personally -- or, preferably, on both sets of issues. Then they should vote for the candidate(s) whose position on those issues they are most aligned with -- and/or vote for the candidate(s) whose political party's ideals, principles, governing philosophy, etc. they are most supportive of.

aside: one of the unintended consequences of this philosophy in the modern era is that most left-of-center voters would rather see a self-serving, politically ambitious, Democratic "politician" elected to Congress rather than see a NON-self-serving, NON-politically ambitious, Republican NON-politician elected -- and vice-versa for most right-of-center voters.

And sadly, this decision making calculus applies to both our least and most:

  • informed,
  • intelligent,
  • naive,
  • greedy,
  • etc.

It is an easy case to make that Congress, our politics and democracy are all broken because of the unintended consequences of voters using (for the last ~90 years, especially) this 18th century paradigm (and thought process) to elect their members of Congress.

Second, when you consider the mountain of evidence our learned scholars have amassed over a span of many centuries, millennia even, regarding the amount of EFFS harm that self-serving PAPs the world over have inflicted on their nations, there are two radically different self-governance strategies our intelligentsia could have advised voters to take to solve their "broken Congress = America drowning in EFFS problems" problem:

  • the Commonsense (or 21st century) Strategy (see Minion suggestion below)

  • the Beavis-and-Butthead-Level-of-Idiocy (BBLOI) (or 18th century) Strategy

Unfortunately, our intelligentsia went with, and continue bitterly clinging to, the latter:

 

The fact that our young minion friend immediately grasps what is impossible for America's intelligentsia to see easily qualifies as the greatest mystery in the fields of both political science and civics instruction. And, of course, begs the question: why?

There are any number of possible answers, but intellectual hubris probably plays the pivotal role. Not in explaining why our intelligentsia began pursuing the BBLOI Strategy in the first place, but why they have blindly and stubbornly continued pursuing it for as long as they have.

Why intellectual hubris? Because what began as an academic debate between political philosophers several hundred years ago -- which governing philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number of people -- eventually deteriorated into a "my political ideology is better than your political ideology" intellectual urinating contest.

That contest is probably going stronger today than it ever has. So strong that if intellectual pissing contests produced an odor, our universities and think tanks (and cable news networks) would reek with the stench of urine.

At some point in our history -- my guess, around the time of FDR's New Deal -- Congress' self-serving PAPs "weaponized" these two governing philosophies. Meaning they co-opted the intellectual debate and turned it into the single most powerful (by far) demagogic tool a PAP could possess -- i.e., it became:

"Elect me and my party to Congress because policies based on our (morally superior) political ideology are the cures to America's EFFS ills, while policies based on the other party's political ideology aren't just unable to solve our problems, in many cases they should be looked upon as the "diseases" responsible for causing our problems in the first place."

Our (Democratic and Republican) PAPs' demagogic narrative -- which was echoed by their respective cliques of "faithful believers" in academia, media, think tanks, Hollywood, etc. -- worked exceptionally well because, as the years progressed, the calculus/thought process for an increasing number of our nation's voters -- both unintelligent and intelligent, uninformed and well informed, greedy and non-greedy, etc. -- became: better to vote for the loathsome, self-serving politician who supports policies that will cure America's EFFS ills than vote for the likeable, NON-self-serving NON-politician who supports polices that will make America's EFFS problems, if anything, worse.

You might say that's when liberalism and conservatism as governing philosophies became full blown religions for many voters.

It's also when, in the course of our American intelligentsia's ongoing peeing contest, both sides should have discerned/gleaned, then posited and acted upon, a manifestly larger and profoundly more important apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) truth:

The Fundamental ANI Truth of Competent Self-Governance
(working title)

So long as Congress' major political factions are continually dominated and controlled by self-serving politicians whose political careers and/or the acquisition of power are far more important to them than doing what is in the best interest of the nation, it will not matter which party controls the U.S. House or Senate in any given election cycle -- in the long run, America's myriad of EFFS problems will, if anything, only grow worse.

BUT, if the reins of power in Congress begin to be continually wielded by a steady supply of highly capable (mostly) Democrats and Republicans who (relative speaking) don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body, it will not matter which party controls the U.S. House or Senate in any given election cycle -- America's myriad of EFFS problems will get solved, largely via legislation that is:

    1. neither "liberal" nor "conservative," and

    2. strongly supported by large majorities of America's liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters.

 

Had our nation's best and brightest acted upon this (self-evident) ANI truth as recently as a few short decades ago, today:

  1. An entire sub-field of new, self-governance-based knowledge would now exist in political science,

  2. Every American would know by the fourth grade what competent self-governance meant -- and by the sixth grade, how to practice democracy competently, or effectively,

  3. Congress would not be broken, i.e., controlled by self-serving (and fiscally irresponsible, unaccountable, responsibility-phobic, demagogic, etc.) "politicians," and

  4. America would not be drowning in EFFS problems.

Key takeaway: Better late than never.

Our political science and civics educators should get to work, ASAP, exploring and developing a radically new category of knowledge which is based on the premise that successfully teaching our voters a new "self-governance" skill, competent self-governance, will be infinitely easier to accomplish than trying to get our nation's self-serving PAPs to start putting the needs of their nation before their political careers and lust for power.

Specifically:

  1. Our "leaders" in the field of political science should begin leading the charge for a new sub-field in their discipline: the Science (or Study) of Competent Self-Governance.

  2. Our civics educators should replace our current "18th century" civics curriculum with a 21st century curriculum that teaches our future and current voters how to keep Congress continually replenished with highly capable (mostly) liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who (relatively speaking) don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body.

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The Foundational Concepts of a
21st Century Theory/Philosophy/Model of Self-Governance
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“If you control the language, you control the argument.”
George Orwell

A thought experiment (and food for thought)...

If America's 140 million voters had the ability to sit down around a giant kitchen table in order to discuss among themselves -- and only among themselves -- how to fix their broken Congress, broken politics and broken democracy:

  • The table would be approximately twice Earth's circumference.

 
  • Early on, to insure that they didn't quickly divide into their two camps -- liberal vs. conservative -- with their traditional liberal vs. conservative mindsets, talking points, same old "government vs. free market" legislative solutions, etc., the voters would have to create a small dictionary of new words/terms which described a number of new apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) concepts, legislative solutions, etc.

  • They would quickly discover that these new terms opened the floodgates to a treasure trove of new insights -- e.g., powerful new voting strategies -- which eventually lead to the formation of an intriguing concept: competent self-governance.

In my opinion, the first two words our voters would create would be acronyms/terms to describe the (theoretically) worst possible and best possible [liberal, moderate, conservative, etc.] legislators that they the voters could elect to represent them in Congress.

worst possible: PAP (for politically ambitious politician)

best possible: PKQ, or PKQ-caliber, (for philosopher king/queen)

Those terms would logically lead to terms for describing the worst and best possible Congresses:

worst possible: PAP-controlled Congress

best possible: PKQ-controlled Congress

Which, in turn, would led to terms for describing the worst and best possible democracies/CRs:

PAP-governed democracy: a democracy whose national legislature stays permanently controlled by self-serving PAPs.

PKQ-governed democracy: a democracy whose national legislature stays permanently controlled by PKQ-caliber legislators.

Which, in turn, would led to two new categories or classifications of democracies/CRs:

Dystopian (or dystopic) democracy: a democracy that stays permanently mired in EFFS problems because its national legislature stays permanently controlled by self-serving PAPs.

Neartopian (or neartopic) democracy: a democracy that exists largely free of major EFFS problems because its national legislature stays permanently controlled PKQ-caliber legislators.

 

Here are some of the other new, 21st century concepts that would almost certainly end up in our voters' "self-governance" dictionary.

important acronyms:

ANI: apolitical/non-ideological

EFFS: economic, financial, fiscal & societal

NLEP: national legislative election process

PI: political/ideological

 

additional terms/definitions:
(working definitions)

ANI-based legislative policy formulation process (see systems optimization)

Competent Self-Governance: the ability of voters to keep their national legislature filled with legislators who can keep their nation as free of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal problems as it is possible to be.

De-dysfunctionalizing legislation (see optimizing legislation)

Dysfunctionalizing legislation: any legislation that contains one or more provisions (hereafter referred to as, dysfunctionalizing provisions), or is written in its entirety, to advance the self-serving interests of the PAPs crafting/writing the legislation.

FYI: dysfunctionalizing legislation is the means by which America's myriad of systems, e.g.,

  • free market system
  • federal tax system
  • financial system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • criminal justice system
  • mental health system
  • etc.

...become "infected" with political, special interest and vested interest cronyism.

Incompetent Self-Governance: the inability of voters to keep their national legislature filled with legislators who can keep their nation as free of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal problems as it is possible to be.

Optimizing legislation: legislation whose purpose is to undo the damage done to one or more of America's major systems by past dysfunctionalizing legislation.

PKQ-caliber: capable of governing and legislating with both exceptional competence and exceptional selflessness.

Self-Governance Savvy: understands such things as what competent self-governance means -- esp. how voters in a free society keep their national legislature free of self-serving politicians, and their nation as free of major EFFS problems as possible.

Shared ANI Objectives: a. objectives that voters of every political and ideological stripe want to achieve via the self-governance process, e.g., a PKQ-controlled Congress; b. objectives that voters want to see Congress achieve via ANI legislation, i.e., legislation that is neither liberal nor conservative, Democratic or Republican -- e.g., optimized free market system, optimized financial system, optimized healthcare system, etc.

Systems Optimization: the primarily (ANI-based) legislative formulation process used by PKQs to insure that America's major systems operate: 1) free of all forms of government created or sanctioned cronyism, and 2) at their maximum possible health, strength, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.

Systems Optimization and Integration: the seamless integration esp. of systems whose principle responsibility is providing for the welfare, and wellbeing, of society's least able and/or capable.

Conceptual comparison:

 

CURRENT SYSTEM CONFIGURATION

 

OPTIMIZED & INTEGRATED

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Our 18th century philosophy of self-
governance has produced this outcome.

A 21st century philosophy of self-governance
will quickly produce this outcome.

 

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A tale of two distribution curves

 

THE EASY PART...

Diagnosing the two major symptom(s) of the PROBLEM:

1. Congress is overwhelmingly dominated and controlled by self-serving PAPs rather than selfless PKQs, and

2. America is needlessly drowning in (solvable) EFFS problems.

 

 

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THE HARD PART...

Diagnosing the many facets of the PROBLEM:

First, this distribution curve is a rough breakdown of the ideological makeup of the ~140 million voters who vote in the general election (in presidential election years).

GENERAL ELECTION

 

Next, this is a rough approximation of how many voters cast ballots in the 435 Democratic and Republican congressional and 50 Senate primaries (in midterm elections).

PRIMARY PROCESS

+ =

~ 7-14 mil. voters
(5-10%)

 

Finally, this is a guesstimate of the number of people (most probably: party members) who actively seek out individuals (every two years) and urge, beg or entice them into running for Congress -- as ideological warriors whose campaigns will be about going to Congress and fighting FOR their party's values, policies, reforms, etc. and AGAINST the other party's values, policies, reforms, etc.

 

PRE-PRIMARY PROCESS
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+
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= < 1,000 people
(< 0.00071% of voters)
  Unfortunately, the Democratic and Republican ideological warriors who end up getting elected to Congress -- no matter how sincere their political/ideological beliefs, or how well meaning their intentions -- quickly begin thinking, acting and legislating like self-serving PAPs who are more concerned with getting re-elected than doing what is in the best interest of their nation.  
 
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The PROBLEM

It has not occurred to our society -- OR to our intelligentsia -- that our ~140 million voters have several common or shared, apolitical/non-ideological (self-governance) objectives (see new terms above) that they and only they can achieve by using a pre-primary candidate recruitment strategy, or paradigm, to insure that PKQ-caliber candidates* will end up running in our nation's 435 congressional and 50 Senate Democratic and Republican primaries.

* FYI: who know going in that, if elected to Congress in the general election, they will only be allowed to serve for a few years as a one-time civic duty -- because both they and the voters know just how easily political power will eventually corrupt even the best of us.

Once that (purely informational/new knowledge) PROBLEM has been solved -- largely via a national awareness/educational campaign -- a substantial percentage of America's approximately 70 million left-of-center voters will become passionately interested in voting for PKQ-caliber liberals in the Democratic congressional and Senate primaries, and ditto for America's 70 million right-of-center voters in the Republican primaries.

And there will be PKQ-caliber candidates running because our most actively engaged left-and right-of-center voters will start becoming ACTIVELY ENGAGED in the pre-primary, PKQ-caliber candidate recruitment process -- largely via current and yet to be developed social media venues.

FYI: even if the candidate recruitment participation rate is small in percentage terms, say 1%, it will represent a seven thousand fold increase.

1% vs. < 0.00071%

 

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WHY THE "EFFS" ACRONYM IS IMPORTANT:

The EFFS acronym allows our society to, among things, lump together all of America's major EFFS problems, largely because they all have the same "solution" -- systems optimization via optimizing legislation.

Rather than every academician, talking head in media, political activist, etc. endlessly arguing the same liberal vs. conservative talking points about how to fix individual problems as varied and seemingly intractable as:

    • crony capitalism,
    • political cronyism,
    • income inequality,
    • chronic, structural unemployment,
    • our (prosperity draining) 70,000+ page tax code,
    • our (prohibitively expensive and maddeningly inefficient) healthcare system,
    • the myriad of societal problems and social pathologies associated with our urban and rural poor,
    • massive budget deficits and unsustainable national debt,
    • etc.

... it will be much more meaningful, and productive, to place the whole lot into a black box marked: America's EFFS problems. Then, rather than continue the endless, fruitless screamfests back and forth, our nation's best and brightest can begin strategizing on how best to "teach" a critical mass of America's voters how practice democracy competently -- i.e., elect PKQs to Congress .

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FDR's New Deal is a useful demarcation point for the beginning of today's liberal vs. conservative war, at least from the point of view of a layman like myself, because that era marks the first time in our nation's history when the big picture decision for voters at the ballot box came down to the same political/ideological issue that today's voters must ultimately grapple with. In the case of the Great Depression's voters, the decision they had to make was: which governing philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, do they want Congress to use to "solve" the myriad of major EFFS problems brought about by the Great Depression?

The liberal philosophy: rely on "government" solutions -- e.g. create government programs, which will be paid for by a combination of government borrowing and raising taxes on businesses and the "wealthy." Said programs will help the unemployed for the Depression's duration by creating temporary make work government projects as well as providing, if needed, a package of temporary government benefits and services.

The conservative philosophy: rely on "free market" solutions -- e.g., stimulate the economy by cutting everyone's taxes. With more money in everyone's pocket, spending on products, manufactured goods and services will increase, which will require businesses to hire new employees to meet the increased demand.

It is almost certainly the case that, especially back in FDR's time, the vast majority of voters weren't looking at the Depression through a political/ideological lens -- i.e., Democratic vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative policies, solutions, legislation, etc. -- so much as they just wanted their legislators in Washington to do what legislators were expected to do (beyond defend the nation from foreign and domestic enemies and provide vital services): namely, do whatever they had to do, legislatively, to keep good paying jobs plentiful, unemployment low and the economy running on all cylinders.

Eighty years later, that has changed. Liberalism and conservativism have both undergone a major transformation (devolution, actually). They've gone from governing philosophies to full blown religions, and a sizeable majority of our nation's voters are devout adherents of one or the other. The central tenet of each group's most ardent believers is that theirs is the superior ideology while the other side's past policies, legislation, reforms, etc. are the disease responsible for causing, creating or exacerbating America's myriad of EFFS ills.

For example, dyed-in-the-wool conservatives blame 80 years of (naive) liberal/Democratic policies, legislation, reforms, etc. for most of America's economic and financial problems, and all of her societal problems.

And naturally, dyed-in-the-wool liberals blame it all -- especially the number and severity of America's societal problems -- on 80 years of (heartless) conservative/Republican policies, legislation, reforms, etc.. Policies (liberals will argue) that all work off the same "cruel" template: cut government programs for the poor in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Of course, both sides are as wrong as it is possible to be. Governing philosophies/ideologies don't cause, create or exacerbate a democracy's EFFS problems. Dysfunctionalizing legislation does.

COROLLARY: Governing philosophies and political ideologies don't solve EFFS problems, optimizing legislation does.

Unfortunately, these and other 21st century "truths" aren't obvious to everyone because the terms and concepts which would make them not just obvious but unavoidably obvious haven't existed until now.

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ABOUT

Name: Montie Rainey
Profession: Retired, 21st century civics curriculum advocate
Education: BS, Mathematics and Computer Science
(University of Illinois at Chicago, 1984)
Misc:

Opinion columnist, The Jackson Sun
(2005-2010)

Contact: contact@thinkcivic.com

 

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