Shrugging Off Cheating: It Is As I Feared…[Corrected]

Unfortunately, MAD is no longer around to protect our values…

My favorite Christmas gift this year, as it has been in recent years, is the new Bill James Baseball Handbook, which will be my primary bathroom reading for the next ten months. Oh, it’s not as much fun as the old Bill James Abstracts, but in those days, three decades ago, Bill was revealing then-unknown nuances of the game that spawned  the elaborate (and still developing) analytical tools that have changed how baseball is played, watched, and understood.

James typically writes a few long, Abstract-like articles for the Handbook, which has many contributors, and he is, as always, fascinated by the selection criteria for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. My gift is especially timely, because his observations in the Handbook dovetail nicely with the recent voting by sportswriters on the latest entering class, including Derk Jeter, naturally, and perhaps others. The results won’t be announced for a while.

Bill did research this past year to determine who the public wanted to see elected to the Hall among players who had not yet been deemed worthy ( meaning that they hadn’t been listed on at least 75% of the ballots cast, or are not yet eligible for various reasons, including players who are still active. The results, as he explored the gap between public opinion and past voting, were disturbing, if not exactly shocking.

There were 14 players whose Hall selection was “overwhelmingly” supported by the baseball fans polled by James. Among them: Barry Bonds, the #1 villain of baseball’s steroid cheating scandal; Shoeless Joe Jackson, currently banned from consideration after participating in the 1919 Black Sox scandal; Pete Rose, also banned; Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, both proven PED users and ruled out by the Hall’s character criteria for other misconduct, and Roger Clemens, who was fingered by his trainer as a steroid-user.

There’s only one reason these results could occur: the majority of baseball fans, following in the footsteps of NFL fans and NBA fans, don’t care if their on-field heroes are jerks, assholes, or even criminals. The signature significance is Bonds, even more than Shoeless Joe or Pete. If you think Barry Bonds is worthy of the Hall of Fame—and he was favored  by twice the support received by #2 on the list, Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander—then you literally don’t think character matters in baseball at all, and perhaps in any other field. It’s like voting for Donald Trump in 2016, Bill Clinton in 1996, Richard Nixon in 1968, or Hillary Clinton for President. (I do think character matters, because it does, and no, I didn’t vote for any of those candidates.)

It’s possible that James might have had different results if he chose another polling method for his research, which was all done on Twitter. The Twitter users represent  a younger demographic than the public as a whole, and, based on my own observations, aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. That’s scant consolation, though, because this groups is probably representative of the majority now rising. Perhaps they will appreciate the importance of ethics more as they get older.

I hope so. I hope the baseball writers maintain the integrity of the Hall by keeping all six of those blots on baseball out, though as younger writers marinated in  the “ends justify the means” indoctrination that is now the norm in American colleges replace the old fogeys, this seems like a long shot at best. I hope we find a way to reverse the cultural trend in the U.S. to excuse  cheating with the Clintonian “everybody does it” rationalization, because if we do not, eventually everybody will do it, and then we have become Venezuela, Somalia, and Nigeria.

21 thoughts on “Shrugging Off Cheating: It Is As I Feared…[Corrected]

  1. Not voting for Trump, for me, was willingly choosing to not counterbalance a vote for power hungry sociopath Hillary. So, I pulled the lever for Trump. In hindsight, despite my personal disdain for President Trump based on his character and personality traits, I’m glad I did. If that makes me unethical in the eyes of some, fine.

    • The cool thing about Trump’s election is in one of its effects: that dissident positions, some of them very unusual and radical, have come out of suppression and are being a) thought about and b) discussed (to one degree or another). It was a pretty simple event really: HRC’s condemnation of the ‘basket’ of those evil and backward people who were not engaged properly with groupthink and rightthink. The NY Establishment, trying with all its rhetorical force to stamp down on any improper right-dissidence, has only helped the Dissident Right to clarify what the NY Intellectual Establishment actually serves, and to develop sound ideas that operate against it.

      Now that is an attainment!

      So, one could be thankful that this Trump-Event — his advent and the reactions he invoked — have opened the door to new political possibilities. I think there are very new conversations going on, though most of the oldsters who write here are unaware about them, and hold them in distain: nevertheless they are going on. And it is young people who are engaging in those new conversations. Still and for the time being they are suppressed and their ideas are not allowed to be seen & considered directly, yet some of their ideas are *seeping upward*.

      It remains to be seen if the policies that Trump’s lieutenants are carrying out will have a long-term beneficial effect. They definitely are having a short-term beneficial effect as everyone knows. Having made an effort to study Reagan’s policies — where globalization and outsourcing began and where the factories of America were sent overseas (if my sources are correct) I have no good reason at all to have any faith at all — and certainly not to have ‘blind faith’ — that the policies of the present Republican régime will benefit the US in the long run. But politicians don’t think in the long-term. They are defined as short-sighted, self-interested chameleons.

      But you have to realize: America sold itself out. And the class that sold it out is entirely in power. And they have every interest in maintaining their power and control. They are not — they cannot be by definition — populists, and their interests are not popular interests. So, if this is true, their policies will ultimately serve their interests and will weaken popular interests.

      This seems to me a *simple fact*.

      The question is in defining what America is. You do not know, Jack does not know, and no one writing here knows! (Sorry, I gravitate to bold comments . . . for effect!). Defining America — in this absurd present, topsy-turvy and dangerous — involves truth-telling, and Americans, sad to say, have become experts at self-lying.

      And this has come up time and again in your own discourse adimagejim: that horrifying tendency to associate your own self with National policy as if these two things have any relationship at all. This is exactly what we must stop doing. It has to be understood that America in a specific and important sense has become an empire and manages its world-empire. And the values of management at that level are soundly antithetical to Republicanism. A simple reduction but a good one to consider.

      It has 1000 military bases all over the world and these are established to broadcast its power and to protect not the people’s interests, which is rarely a topic of adult conversation and cannot be the topic, but the interests of those who hold interests in the ’empire’. Once this is understood, then you will be able to turn your gaze back to the business culture which has so much power domestically and entirely runs the show. This is a vital step.

      The renovation project that has begun — intellectually only at this point — has a good deal to say on these themes. Whether it gets off the ground, well, that is another question. Some babies are better murdered in their cradle . . .

        • OB: She’s just channeling Noam. Let her roll with it.

          Just between us (don’t let Alizia and Noam know) I have disagreed with American policy (shhhh) under presidents of both parties on many occasions. For example the Republicans are primarily responsible for the problems of the American middle class worker for having sold them out to Chinese captive labor in the name of free markets when it was really in the name of their high-end donors’ profits.

          What Alizia and Noam can’t figure out is most of our “empire” was the result of our efficiency at defending the world against even (much) worse people than we are. Thus bases all over the world. South Korea, Japan, Germany, Guantanamo, Manila, Baghdad, among others. (Shhhh) What they also can’t figure out is the global benefit of these bases when compared to what would have happened without them…see Budapest, Warsaw, Kiev, Pyongyang, Hanoi Phnom Penh for starters. (Now that we’re gone we can see how much better Tehran is without us.) Almost genuinely laughing out loud.

          To be clear (you know…what Alizia can’t be for her life) we have created problems and still do have vestiges of imperial policy thinking, but unlike many of the really bad nation states we have been and are working on slowly divesting ourselves. Moreover the people who re perpetuating these circumstances for their own profit (e.g. Biden) need to be punished in this justice system to show the world we are not devolving into corrupt chaos.

          • Some truth here, but also some lie. The lies are quite serious though, and lead you into error. The truths are partial truths. These can be clarified. And then we would have a better position to start from.

            Your mockery is what I most note though.

        • I am working out the appropriate response to these attempt to avoid dealing with certain realities and to those tricks and strategies that are used to avoid difficult questions. So, for this I thank you!

          You are — if the truth be told — the generation that brought about the decadence and destruction now eating at the seams of America. But you won’t recognize this — indeed you can’t. The implications would crush you. But you cannot avoid assuming some level of responsibility. But you don’t and I guess the reason is you will not have to deal with the damage you wrought: that will be left to those generations that follow. We are dealing with it now in any case. In America, in Europe, and throughout the English speaking world. And even in some other unlikely areas like the Southern Cone.

          A few comments:

          1) You have to see through and beyond the categories of left and right. It may have been possible at one time to divide a representational chamber along such binary lines, but it is no longer possible. The concerns of thinking people — with families, with futures — cannot be divided into such strict categories. This is obvious to any person who can mildly think.

          2) A true ‘populist’ position is one, and could only be one, in which there is a more direct and democratic participation in the most important decisions that are made. That is, if you take ‘democracy’ in a serious sense and I only mean it as significant participation. In a ‘functional republic’, and I would contrast that with a corrupt republic or a compromised republic, a republic that went off its rails and substantially lost its relations with the Constitution and the ideals it was built around — there would necessarily be more citizen input into all the important decisions that affect life. That is what ‘populism’ must entail.

          3) It is true that only the Progressives speak about the issue of ‘corporate corruption’ and ‘corporate infiltration’ in this Republic — I have not come across anyone in the American Conservative establishment that seems enabled to carry this out. That is tragic. But, it is entirely easy to demonstrate that the Constitution was manipulated in order to allow private capital to attain the power that it has. POCLAD is an organization that discusses the legal and the constitutional issues that surround the over-extreme power of corporations to influence public policy. And it is a lucid and very interesting conversation.

          4) Some Evangelical Christians — like David Kupelian who wrote The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom — describe how radicalism is rooted in business avarice, and how profoundly these entities and interests influence our present. This avarice is not either confined to the Right or the Left, as should be obvious. When you begin to ask questions about how this has come about, and indeed What exactly is happening? you must quickly determine that the descent from virtue (in a culture) is not an affair of either the Right or the Left (and many here make the mistake in assuming ‘the Left’ is the sole enemy). You come to see that we are dealing with systemic issues, and essentially corruption. The corruption of man, therefore, is what we are really talking about.


          “Within the space of our lifetime, much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped, and sold to us as though it had great value. By skillfully playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness, generosity, and tolerance, these marketers have persuaded us to embrace as enlightened and noble that which every other generation has regarded as grossly self-destructive―in a word, evil.”

          If you carry this idea forward you are forced to engage with critical ideas that transcend either Left or Right. You have to confront realities that are only understood through the lens of Christian humanism. In my own developing view it is there ‘where the rubber meets the road’ that you find pseudo-Christians who have a critical position that is far too limited and in that sense ‘timid’. They do not and cannot focus holistically and meta-politically. It seems to me that if spiritual life is taken seriously, that spiritual person must take the theological imperatives seriously. In my own case Kupelian confronted me with a reality I could not avoid. Because the questions are Christian questions through-and-through.

          5) In order to confront genuine, and dangerous, Marxism (Cultural Marxism, etc.) it is the responsibility of genuine conservatism to look at the present through different eyes. Whether you understand it or not, and whether you like it or not, this is being done among newer Conservatives: young conservatives.

          Instead of shooting down these ideas you should try to evenly consider them. Also try to understand that people are grasping at different ways to confront the corruption of the present and trying to rectify it. It requires a full and holistic approach.

        • OB writes:

          Is that you, Noam?

          adimagejim writes:

          OB: She’s just channeling Noam. Let her roll with it.

          There is no doubt at all that Chomsky influenced me as it pertains to his analysis of power. But that is because Chomsky is working with a basic counter-Machiavellian analysis. I am unsure how to work out the power-problem but I see no way around having to deal with it.

          I wish to remind you that the Founders of the United States were deeply concerned about power and the way it is inevitably abused. Absolute power that absolutely corrupts was the difficult problem they grappled with. And that abused power is always more powerful, and more deviously crafty, than Liberty which — they said this not me — must always be vigilant because Liberty is by nature weak.

          My assertion — please argue against it and prove me wrong — is that power has corrupted the US. If I describe the same thing or a similar thing as might Chomsky you must overlook that, and only consider the problem of power, of which the Founders were entirely aware, and that dealing with it is not avoidable.

          Just the idea of ‘the swamp’ alone — that such an eventuality occurred — is one way to understand the problem. Liberty is fragile, Power is ruthless. This is not a controversial statement.

          You read what I write and you reduce it, quite unfairly, to a mere rehearsal of Chomsky. But you must take into consideration that my views in many areas are literally diametrically in opposition to Chomsky’s.

          Can you point out to me where you think I go wrong?

          • Alizia, as AIJ asks, “Who’d you rather have running the world — The U.S. or Russia and China and North Korea and Vietnam and Iran and Syria and Hugo Chavez and the Castro Brothers?” Me, I’ll take the U.S. I dispose of Noam Chomsky by asking him the same question. And perhaps adding, “If the U.S. is so terrible, why don’t you go back to your parents’ Russia and fix it? And take Bernie Sanders with you?” You might say, “But that’s a rationalization: “It’s not the worst thing!” But in the real world, if all you see in something is it’s bad elements, you’re missing important things.Step away from Noam’s microscope. It’s toxic. He’s arrogant and wrong about a lot of things. As is his lower wattage doppelganger Bernie.

            • You start from an incorrectly perceived premise: that my analysis or my view of things is that of Noam Chomsky. So, you are working here with a straw-man argument of a classic sort. Since I can easily defeat that, your argument collapses.

              You and AIJ (thanks for that abbreviation) employ a fallacy when you interpret what I am saying to be what Chomsky says. You both have some problems looking at the problem of power in the US, and also of squarely seeing and confronting the problem of corruption.

              What you mostly do though is to try to derail me from carrying my analysis forward in a constructive way. I keep reminding you that the Founders of the country were as concerned about power and its abuses as I am now. You see? I am not wishing to develop a Soviet-descended critique of corruption of power in the US. I want to do it along genuinely conservative lines. In addition to that I wish to bring out my critique in Christian terms.

              You also set up a false dichotomy and insist that I *choose* whether I will take the US or accept Russia, N. Korea (or the Venezuela of Chavez!) What I try to point out to AIJ is that this is a diversion from a serious consideration of the real problems (that have to do with power and with corruption). So, what you do is resort to an unfair content of argument and use this to keep yourself from considering the important questions being examined.

              So, stop using a bogus non-argument that what I am saying is a channeling of Noam Chomsky. And also make a distinction to be able to understand that I am trying to develop a position that could successfully counter the influence of the discourse of the Marxist-inspired.

              You surely must have already seen that many things I advocate for are thoroughly abhorrent to people who see the world as Chomsky does. If you instead saw my imperatives as being inspired by Christian humanism . . . you’d understand me better.

              • I wrote: You surely must have already seen that many things I advocate for are thoroughly abhorrent to people who see the world as Chomsky does. If you instead saw my imperatives as being inspired by Christian humanism . . . you’d understand me better.

                This requires some further explanation. I am not opposed to hierarchy and social divisions. I also believe that people will do better and get along better if they live among people who are like them. I am opposed to the doctrine and ideology of ‘multi-culturalism’ which gets me, and those who think as I do, as racist. But I try to couch my arguments in a rather strict Christian humanism (as I have been saying). This does — it most certainly does — demand recognition of the individual as unique and special and worthy of respect.

                And it is on that basis that I would establish a certain separateness and division. I advocate for the reestablishment of ‘white identity’ and love and respect of self. In this case of European self and European-derived self. I am opposed to immigration from the Third World into the First World. But I am entirely in-pro of the Occidental missionary efforts to show third-worlders how to organize their social systems, their economies and their cultures. But let them do that in their sphere, in their lands.

                I am anti-woman’s liberation and believe that women and men can only define themselves relationally, not as separate entities in political and economic struggle. The entire ideology of feminism — based in second-wave feminism — is corrupt and highly destructive.

                And I am opposed to allowing the establishment of homosexuality, and thus of transgenderism and all the other freak-show *letters of the alphabet*, from becoming established and integrated categories with our cultures. They must be resisted. I have, as an expedient, come to accept that *homosexuality will always be with us*, but that it should of its own will retreat from its assertions and its demand to be on an equal footing with heterosexuality, heterosexual unions, and the family as a sacred institution. In this sense it should *return to the closet* where it can carry on with its sticky adventures.

                These platforms are not the platforms of your unbelovèd Noam Chomsky. 🙂

  2. What was the issue with voting for Nixon in 1968? As a younger reader, my parents weren’t even born yet at the the time. From what I can remember, Nixon was hated for his active participation in the Alger Hiss case and membership in the House Un-American Activities Committee. Is that what is being alluded to? I appreciate any elucidation on the topic.

    • Nixon was obviously a ethically-challenged, sick guy. He ran a dishonest campaign to win his election against Helen Gahagan Douglas, and was a perpetual Red-baiter. His Checkers speech is regarded as one of the most blatant appeals to emotion in political history. He expanded the Vietnam war to Cambodia, but in most respects was a skilled, effective President. However, even back then, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for someone with such an obviously warped character. Much like Trump today, I didn’t trust him, and felt that his character would inevitable lead to bad acts. Watergate was one, and years later we learned of a worse one: He probably nterfered with peace negotiations between the Johnson administration and the South Vietnamese by engaging Anna Chennault, a prominent Chinese-American fundraiser for the Republican party, to pass along the information that Nixon would be open to better terms for the Vietnamese onece he was elected.

      I decided I couldn’t vote for him because I didn’t want to share accountability when the inevitable dastardly deeds were revealed. But I couldn’t vote for McGovern either, since he was a gross incompetent.

      • Jack, thank you for the in depth response. It is very enlightening. I have heard about the possible Nixon-Vietnam peace talks prior to the election. Some theorize that this might have prolonged the war. Nixon expanding the war to Cambodia didn’t influence you in ’68, but it probably did for the ’72 election. Now that you mention McGovern, are you actually talking about the ’72 election, but writing ’68?

        • No, I was always talking about ’72. In’68, the Democratic Party had self-immolated. Johnson withdrew, Bobby was shot; Gene McCarthy was screwed over. Nobody wanted Humphrey, and the ugly spectacle of the convention was disastrous. Even then, Nixon barely eked out the victory.

  3. I think you have to differentiate all of these miscreants (and correct me if I am wrong about the details, as I am sure you would, even if not invited to do so).

    Bonds did perform all of the feats on the field that make up his stats–but he cheated. His stats were the result of cheating, If there were not rules about enhancing your performance, that would be another thing. But, while you can’t take away his stats and his homeruns, he is not a great player, in the sense of being an ideal to emulate.

    Pete Rose’s sin was betting on the game. But, my understanding is that he never bet against himself; that is, he never bet on a game where he stood to gain by throwing the game. Whether or not that has been verified is another question, but, there, he is different from Bonds: if what he says is true, his betting was an off-the-field thing that had no effect on his play and management (almost, ALMOST, as if he were betting on a football game). The gravity of his sin is simply because MLB has a strict no-betting rule; it probably makes sense as it would be difficult to enforce any sort of nuanced rule. But, that does not make it a dumb rule, as well. A $10.00 bet made every year (or even a single year) in February from 1963 to 1978 that the Reds would win the World Series would disqualify Rose from the Hall of Fame.

    Shoeless Joe is kind of the flip side of Rose. His sin was he took money to throw the game, but my understanding is that his defense was that he had a stellar performance in the World Series anyway. He basically swindled the people bribing him, but he did it by agreeing to throw the game. He agreed to take money to negatively influence his own game, even though he did not. However, because he was conspiring to throw the series with other players, the goal was accomplished in spite of his great performance. But, at the time, I don’t believe there was the bright line rule against betting, but that it came in because of this episode. So, Jackson is not quite like Bonds and Rose, who were breaking established rules. He just broke the sort of unwritten rule that you would not think you would have to write down; part of his sin was forcing MLB to state what should be obvious (kind of like FDR and the 22nd Amendment).

    So, I have differing levels of sympathy for these various players; Bonds is easily the least sympathetic of the three.


    • I agree with your conclusion. However,

      Rose compounded his gambling breach by lying about it for years, denying what had had been uncovered by an investigation. The he lied about never betting on his own team (though he never bet against it—he says) until he had a book to promote. He went to jail for tax evasion. he’s sleazebag by any measure. I have sympathy for the argument that his gambling violation—as far as we know—was as a manager, and after his playing career. But he knew the rules, and broke them, counting on the King’s Pass.

      On Shoeless Joe, there is scholarship indicating that despite his high average during the Series, he found ways to help throw the games that didn’t appear in the box score–missing cutoffs, not quite catching balls he normally did, getting thrown out on the bases, making key outs when a clutch hit was needed. Even discounting that: he knew about the plot and didn’t report it, making him an accessory.

  4. Calling Charlie Hustle “Pistol Pete” is not fair to Pete Maravich, a wonderful guy and a spectacular, completely natural basketball player from the era before even basketball players bulked up, legally and illegally. From wiki: Maravich is the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer with 3,667 points scored and an average of 44.2 points per game. All of his accomplishments were achieved before the adoption of the three point line and shot clock, and despite being unable to play varsity as a freshman under then-NCAA rules. One of the youngest players ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Maravich was cited by the Hall as “perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history”. In an April 2010 interview, Hall of Fame player John Havlicek said that “the best ball-handler of all time was Pete Maravich”. Maravich died suddenly at age 40 during a pick-up game in 1988 as a consequence of a previously undetected heart defect. His high school years … saw the birth of his famous moniker. From his habit of shooting the ball from his side, as if he were holding a revolver, Maravich became known as “Pistol” Pete Maravich. His father Press threatened to shoot Pete with a 45 caliber gun if he drank or got into trouble. A few years before his death, Maravich said, “I want to be remembered as a Christian, a person that serves Him [Jesus] to the utmost, not as a basketball player.” On January 5, 1988, Maravich collapsed and died of heart failure at age 40 while playing in a pickup basketball game in the gym at First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, California, with a group that included evangelical author James Dobson. Maravich had flown out from his home in Louisiana to tape a segment for Dobson’s radio show that aired later that day. Dobson has said that Maravich’s last words, less than a minute before he died, were “I feel great. I just feel great.” An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a rare congenital defect; he had been born with a missing left coronary artery, a vessel that supplies blood to the muscle fibers of the heart. His right coronary artery was grossly enlarged and had been compensating for the defect. Maravich died the year after his father’s passing and a number of years after his mother, who had committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot.

    I would add Pete’s probably held in less regard because he was white.

    • I’m happy for the Pete Maravich retrospective, OB, and thus glad about my Brain Fart. Pete Rose was never called “Pistol Pete.” Pete Runnels, a lesser player for the Red Sox (though also a batting champion) was called that. I’ll fix it.

      • Thanks and you’re welcome. The article failed to mention his trademark saggy socks and low cut Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers and, of course, his mop-top hair. Just a neat guy blessed with a boatload of ability to do one thing that he used to the maximum extent. Too rare, and nice to see when it happens.

        • +1 for the Pistol Pete correction.

          I have a Maravich story from my childhood. I was in the fifth grade, I believe, which would’ve made it around 1967. We had just received closed-circuit TV that year in our classrooms (which we rarely used), but the game was on a Friday and was the last day of the school year before Christmas break in Bristol, Tennessee where I lived at the time. The principal decided to play the LSU vs. (I believe) Mississippi State game on the CCTV, announcing that he was doing it so that we could “Watch one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.” Obviously, he could’ve dropped the “college” part, but hindsight, you know…

          Maravich was only a sophomore at the time (for those who don’t know, freshmen were ineligible for varsity competition in those days), his first season and sixth game as a Bayou Bengal. He was so good, everyone knew that he was a legend even before he had time to lead the SEC (and in fact, all of the NCAA) three straight years in scoring. He scored 52 points in his very first college game.

          He was a marvel. I’ll never forget his ballhandling, it was something out of another dimension. Even today, very few point guards, let alone shooting guards can do anything like what Maravich could do with the ball, and those that do carry it most of the time.

          What has also been forgotten is his stunning athleticism, because when Maravich played, athleticism was not the premium quality it is now — the game was much different in those days in terms of speed, and the dunk was illegal in college. Maravich had about a 39″ vertical to go with his 6’5″ frame and extraordinarily long and gangly body. His coordination was bizarre to behold, and belied his angular build.

          I was enthralled, and I believe that is the point at which I was bitten by the basketball bug.

          • Glenn, I think Rick Barry performed that function for me. I think Maravich and perhaps Barry are undervalued because gunners were not fully embraced in their era. (I consider LeBron James nothing more than a ball hog. Hah!)

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