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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    This depends on the culture. I have heard that in some pre-industrial cultures they actively supressed innovation to avoid freeing up the populace (which might lead to things like social unrest).
    I've never heard or seen anything like that. As they say, "citation please".

    Economical, technical and societal pressures may impact. Usually in that order.

    Saying culture suppressed innovation "because" to me smacks of trying to denigrate it.

    I saw a youtube video arguing the Romans never invented anything, and I guess you can say that from a certain pov but even those I wouldn't say were progress averse. No matter if the Latin for new is nullus or whatever. Which frankly sounded a bit off.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    I've never heard or seen anything like that. As they say, "citation please".
    responded by pm because I think that that topic gets a bit close to RL politics.

    What I will say here was I have no citation, effectively what I heard is hearsay.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    responded by pm because I think that that topic gets a bit close to RL politics.

    What I will say here was I have no citation, effectively what I heard is hearsay.
    Aww, shoot. As I reply in my PM. Would have love to see the claim for myself.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    I've never heard or seen anything like that. As they say, "citation please".

    Economical, technical and societal pressures may impact. Usually in that order.

    Saying culture suppressed innovation "because" to me smacks of trying to denigrate it.

    I saw a youtube video arguing the Romans never invented anything, and I guess you can say that from a certain pov but even those I wouldn't say were progress averse. No matter if the Latin for new is nullus or whatever. Which frankly sounded a bit off.
    The folk etymology for saboteur centers about putting [wooden] shoes in machinery to break it. It might even be right. Legend also claims that a precursor to the Jacquard loom (and possibly that one as well) was destroyed by a mob. In practice, I doubt that anyone outside of a specifically threatened guild ever tried to "suppress" such innovation (at least until the patent system made it trivial), but guilds had considerable power and could get a large mob of people (often well armed) to act together.

    If you study the history of technology, one thing that becomes blindingly clear is that technology=infrastructure, and the inventions either exist within such infrastructure or are ignored. The Romans were great at building many critical types of infrastructure: roads, relatively pirate-free shipping, intercontinental trade (plenty of the olive oil consumed in Rome was from Spain). I'd strongly expect a strong technology, even if it doesn't quite fit an "invention centric" viewpoint.

    James Burke has a lot to say about how science and invention are highly interconnected. In practice this interconnection is called "infrastructure".

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    The folk etymology for saboteur centers about putting [wooden] shoes in machinery to break it. It might even be right. Legend also claims that a precursor to the Jacquard loom (and possibly that one as well) was destroyed by a mob. In practice, I doubt that anyone outside of a specifically threatened guild ever tried to "suppress" such innovation (at least until the patent system made it trivial), but guilds had considerable power and could get a large mob of people (often well armed) to act together.

    If you study the history of technology, one thing that becomes blindingly clear is that technology=infrastructure, and the inventions either exist within such infrastructure or are ignored. The Romans were great at building many critical types of infrastructure: roads, relatively pirate-free shipping, intercontinental trade (plenty of the olive oil consumed in Rome was from Spain). I'd strongly expect a strong technology, even if it doesn't quite fit an "invention centric" viewpoint.

    James Burke has a lot to say about how science and invention are highly interconnected. In practice this interconnection is called "infrastructure".
    The argument was about a "culture" of suppression. Being a Luddite means being someone who is effectively backwards, and comes from the movement led by Ned Ludd of disaffected textile workers who felt threatened by the industrial revolution and, effectively, tried to stop it by smashing machines. They naturally didn't succeed very well because there was no general culture of suppression as economic and innovational forces were stronger. So yes, I don't doubt the shoe story is correct. Smashing machines that take your job is a time honoured tradition.

    The argument is not whether someone, somewhere tried to stop innovation. That happens all the time. It was whether you ever had a strong general cultural hegemony of not wanting innovation period.

    The shoes would fill the same role as guilds and Luddites. Socio-economic factors, jobs and your place in society is threatened which is why there was a backlash. But they fought as it turns even more powerful socio-economic forces in the form of capital and enterprise (and the broader society that backed capital and enterprise). A guild isn't necessary progress averse as culture per se, it just tries to protect its' members' economic interests. Innovation that would benefit it's member's would not be opposed.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    The argument was about a "culture" of suppression. Being a Luddite means being someone who is effectively backwards, and comes from the movement led by Ned Ludd of disaffected textile workers who felt threatened by the industrial revolution and, effectively, tried to stop it by smashing machines. They naturally didn't succeed very well because there was no general culture of suppression as economic and innovational forces were stronger. So yes, I don't doubt the shoe story is correct. Smashing machines that take your job is a time honoured tradition.

    The argument is not whether someone, somewhere tried to stop innovation. That happens all the time. It was whether you ever had a strong general cultural hegemony of not wanting innovation period.

    The shoes would fill the same role as guilds and Luddites. Socio-economic factors, jobs and your place in society is threatened which is why there was a backlash. But they fought as it turns even more powerful socio-economic forces in the form of capital and enterprise (and the broader society that backed capital and enterprise). A guild isn't necessary progress averse as culture per se, it just tries to protect its' members' economic interests. Innovation that would benefit it's member's would not be opposed.
    I suspect that anywhere that prevented innovation completely was subsequently invaded, conquered, and replaced with a more innovative people. Sometimes this took centuries: China appeared to turn its back on innovation with the end of the Ming treasure fleet (admittedly it may have been too expensive in the face of external military threats), and roughly three centuries later was simply overrun by Europe. Japan likely had the most innovative firearms during the wars of unification, then prohibited/ignored them (and presumably all other innovation from outside of Japan as well). Eventually Commodore Perry opened the harbors at gunpoint.

    Korea might be a bit more telling, although I'm even less familiar with their history. They developed moveable type (aka the printing press, although pressing carvings had been long known) before Gutenberg, but heavily restricted what was printed (so the innovation was allowed to reduce the cost of copying a book, but not change society). In the German states, anyone with a press could copy as many copies of Luther's ninety-five theses as they had sheets of paper, bringing significant social change. Noting how that "social change" had roughly the same effect on the German population as the Black Death (and presumably far more damage to cities and towns being sacked), the Koreans might have been on to something.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Usually in fights, size plays a huge role. The bigger country usually smashes the smaller. Yeah, the exceptions are notable and often remembered, but all else being equal, the bigger army has a huge edge.

    So, a lot of what plays a part in who invades who is technology that allows a culture to be larger. Communication, transportation, food production, etc. It isn't necessarily having unusual technology related to war, specifically, but small hunter gathering tribes were pretty rapidly displaced just about everywhere by agricultural societies due to this effect. The individual who spends his days hunting is probably just as effective at war as a farmer, but if the farmers outnumber him ten to one, it tends not to matter.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    China appeared to turn its back on innovation with the end of the Ming treasure fleet (admittedly it may have been too expensive in the face of external military threats),
    The cost was definitely one factor. At around the same time even coastal fishing (IIRC, basically anything ocean capable) was outlawed leading to massive pirate problem in the South-east waters for the later Ming period. The famous "Japanese (mostly not Japanese)" wako. A policy on the whole rather puzzling to everyone ever since. Tore the whole region's economy apart for little apparent reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    Japan likely had the most innovative firearms during the wars of unification,
    That's not exactly correct. The Japanese copied Portuguese arquebuses of the mid 1500s and never really improved on the design. They were very skilled in making them for sure, but also a Japanese teppo pales in comparison with European 1600s muskets. They still used matchlocks when everyone else moves towards flintlocks. They didn't even develop and use cannons. They'd confiscate by purchasing any cannon European ships might have if they stopped in Japan but never really got to using them.

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    then prohibited/ignored them (and presumably all other innovation from outside of Japan as well). Eventually Commodore Perry opened the harbors at gunpoint.
    Not really. There was even a whole class of samurai that were defined as musketeers if we use 17th century European term. It is a misconception that samurai banned gunpowder weapons. In reality all weapons were strictly limited and most importantly only the warrior class were permitted to own them and mostly in the official system of lord-retainer. The first "sword hunt" was even instigated by a man that had started as a common ashigaru and rose to become the ruler of Japan (but not shogun as he did not have the pedigree). He wanted to make sure noone could do the same social climbing he did. After he died the man we know as the first Tokugawa shogun implemented the same policies, more successfully. Eventually ashigaru became the lowest rank of samurai, but importantly still samurai. As opposed to the lowborn cannon fodder they had been.

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    Korea might be a bit more telling, although I'm even less familiar with their history. They developed moveable type (aka the printing press, although pressing carvings had been long known) before Gutenberg, but heavily restricted what was printed (so the innovation was allowed to reduce the cost of copying a book, but not change society). In the German states, anyone with a press could copy as many copies of Luther's ninety-five theses as they had sheets of paper, bringing significant social change. Noting how that "social change" had roughly the same effect on the German population as the Black Death (and presumably far more damage to cities and towns being sacked), the Koreans might have been on to something.
    The interesting thing about movable type, and the Chinese were first with it, is that it doesn't lend itself well to Chinese with the thousands of signs. If you want to print you are better off doing whole pages. Naturally this limits how much new material you want to make. After the Koreans developed a letter alphabet they could get going. Of course, both Japan and Korea was heavily influenced by Chinese culture, in so far as Chinese effectively was the Latin of the East. Which means if you wanted to make a book odds are you would be doing it in Chinese and we are back to the problem of the many many thousands of characters.

    Now Ming China and the Tokugawa Japan, especially, are strong contenders for innovation averse cultures. I can buy that. But how much is lack of social and technical needs as opposed to just plain cultural aversion? Do note the Japanese of the era did perform "Dutch studies", which technically is a mix of foreign diplomacy, innovation dissemination and trade. I would note that a strong reason for this was the fear of social upheaval associated among others with mainly Spanish and Portuguese missionaries and their activities. They very strongly associated anything outside with chaos, so innovation wasn't per se the issue, but the perceived cultural seepage. The Shimabara Rebellion played a large part in that. Now arguably the Japanese shogunate was rather successful in stymieing (large) conflicts during the Tokugawa shogunate so one could argue they didn't really have any need for military innovation (any changes to the socio-economic system could cause the whole thing to topple). After all when shown how problematic situation they were in at the time Perry arrived they quickly got on the innovation trade. It's kinda funny but the "traditionalists" were some of the most eager to use Western military technology to try and throw out the barbarians. So one has to wonder after almost 200 years of trying to be conservative they did kinda heel turn there. Not without a lot of pain of course and exactly the kinds of social upheaval the bakufu was trying to avoid. So if there was a culture averse to change, they certainly change their minds quick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Usually in fights, size plays a huge role. The bigger country usually smashes the smaller. Yeah, the exceptions are notable and often remembered, but all else being equal, the bigger army has a huge edge.

    So, a lot of what plays a part in who invades who is technology that allows a culture to be larger. Communication, transportation, food production, etc. It isn't necessarily having unusual technology related to war, specifically, but small hunter gathering tribes were pretty rapidly displaced just about everywhere by agricultural societies due to this effect. The individual who spends his days hunting is probably just as effective at war as a farmer, but if the farmers outnumber him ten to one, it tends not to matter.
    I was reading an article in a magazine that had some interesting things to say about nomads vs sedentary peoples. In short nomads are natural warriors and sedentary peoples are usually not. You can train ofc but usually the "natural born warrior" has the edge even when sedentary peoples may have numbers and technology on their side, because they don't have to do the preparation first. It was an interesting argument, that I can't go into here because it was couched in the framework of the crusades period. But in short it redefined conflict as a struggle between nomads and sedentary peoples more than anything else.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    I was reading an article in a magazine that had some interesting things to say about nomads vs sedentary peoples. In short nomads are natural warriors and sedentary peoples are usually not. You can train ofc but usually the "natural born warrior" has the edge even when sedentary peoples may have numbers and technology on their side, because they don't have to do the preparation first. It was an interesting argument, that I can't go into here because it was couched in the framework of the crusades period. But in short it redefined conflict as a struggle between nomads and sedentary peoples more than anything else.
    One on one, absolutely, but in the end, the nomads pretty decisively lost, and humanity became almost entirely sedentary.

    You can be the greatest warrior ever, and numbers can still overwhelm you. If nothing else, pure fatigue will get you. Fighting is usually pretty active, and even the most fit people tend to get tired after working at peak activity levels for a while. Sure, maybe you can take anyone in that army one on one while fresh, but after your fifth consecutive life or death fight, you're gonna slow down, and eventually someone gets lucky.

    Technology might change that, kind of. Maybe one day nomadic lifestyles will return if there are enough tech and social changes. That's pretty speculative, but who really knows what living in space will be like? With such large gaps between everything, friction with neighboring sedentary civilizations might not be that big of a deal.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    The idea here is basically division of labour. Someone specialized in farming isn't going to be very good in a fight. Because really, who has the time to learn how to swing a spear when you're trying to coax life from the bare ground?

    The thing here about nomads is that for centuries and millenia, horses and cattle were not only the fastest transport around, but they were also one of the few good ways to transport food. And also get food in marginal areas. Places where no crops can be harvested can be used by cattle herders as a food source for horses and sheep and goats. And since they can live there and farmers can't, they can retreat to an area where no one else can live on. Add to that their own lifestyles mean that a vast majority of them have horseriding and archer experience, and you get truly powerful raiding force. Mind you, raiding. Few nomads could truly overrun and destroy settled civilizations, which is why the Mongols were so incredible.

    Also there's a limit to the benefit of living as a nomad to your battle prowess. Sooner or later you'll hit a limit.
    Last edited by Accelerator; 2021-04-25 at 03:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    responded by pm because I think that that topic gets a bit close to RL politics.

    What I will say here was I have no citation, effectively what I heard is hearsay.
    May I join in the PM? I am interested.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Add to that their own lifestyles mean that a vast majority of them have horseriding and archer experience, and you get truly powerful raiding force. Mind you, raiding. Few nomads could truly overrun and destroy settled civilizations, which is why the Mongols were so incredible.

    Also there's a limit to the benefit of living as a nomad to your battle prowess. Sooner or later you'll hit a limit.
    One thing you seem to be missing about *mounted* nomads is that the entire tribe/nation/whatever is cavalry. While you might not have the largest army, there's no need to engage fully massed infantry. If the infantry is in one place, then you can effectively attack just about anywhere else. It really doesn't matter who has the largest total army if you have overwhelming numbers on the *battlefield*. The only way to really take on such a force is to build an even larger cavalry force (essentially impossible vs. the Mongols, but typically used by the US army against native Americans) or wait until the nomads conquered enough that they were willing to try to keep their new lands (and then you can pin them down and use infantry and artillery as well as cavalry).

    The vikings were able to do similar things with their longships until their victims built enough coastal and river fortifications to keep ships and their crews out. Again, have the most on the battlefield.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    May I join in the PM? I am interested.
    There wasn't a discussion (as that too would break forum rules) - I just stated where I had heard it about, and acknowledged that it was just hearsay so probably wrong.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    One thing you seem to be missing about *mounted* nomads is that the entire tribe/nation/whatever is cavalry. While you might not have the largest army, there's no need to engage fully massed infantry. If the infantry is in one place, then you can effectively attack just about anywhere else. It really doesn't matter who has the largest total army if you have overwhelming numbers on the *battlefield*. The only way to really take on such a force is to build an even larger cavalry force (essentially impossible vs. the Mongols, but typically used by the US army against native Americans) or wait until the nomads conquered enough that they were willing to try to keep their new lands (and then you can pin them down and use infantry and artillery as well as cavalry).

    The vikings were able to do similar things with their longships until their victims built enough coastal and river fortifications to keep ships and their crews out. Again, have the most on the battlefield.
    It doesn't hurt the ancient societies weren't particularly bothered about who was in charge as nothing much beyond localities really mattered. So nomads normally do not have to contend with a mass resistance of an entire nation (in so far a "nation" exists).
    And let's not forget in what becomes France the solution to the viking problem was to make them into French and let them defend the invasion routes from their own kind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Mind you, raiding. Few nomads could truly overrun and destroy settled civilizations, which is why the Mongols were so incredible.
    Actually. It is quite common. Consider that (lands currently part of and some not of) China was several times conquered by nomad tribes. The Mongols was just one of several such cases, in fact the last dynasty of China was a nomad tribe who overthrew the Ming. The Indian subcontinent is also rife with examples. A common pattern is a swift and highly militarized nomad society, tribe, confederation what have you, happen upon a sedentary society that is in internal turmoil and overthrow the rules and replacing them. Usually these rules are effectively absorbed by the existing population and culture and we get a repeat of the cycle. The Huns, Seljuks, Mamluks of Egypt and the ones in India, the Mughals who replaced the latter, Timur Lenk, Saladin (yes that one) [list not ordered chronologically] all and many more made a similar trip.

    Basically all lands with access to the Eurasian steppe at one point or another suffered the problem.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    It doesn't hurt the ancient societies weren't particularly bothered about who was in charge as nothing much beyond localities really mattered. So nomads normally do not have to contend with a mass resistance of an entire nation (in so far a "nation" exists).
    And let's not forget in what becomes France the solution to the viking problem was to make them into French and let them defend the invasion routes from their own kind.


    Actually. It is quite common. Consider that (lands currently part of and some not of) China was several times conquered by nomad tribes. The Mongols was just one of several such cases, in fact the last dynasty of China was a nomad tribe who overthrew the Ming. The Indian subcontinent is also rife with examples. A common pattern is a swift and highly militarized nomad society, tribe, confederation what have you, happen upon a sedentary society that is in internal turmoil and overthrow the rules and replacing them. Usually these rules are effectively absorbed by the existing population and culture and we get a repeat of the cycle. The Huns, Seljuks, Mamluks of Egypt and the ones in India, the Mughals who replaced the latter, Timur Lenk, Saladin (yes that one) [list not ordered chronologically] all and many more made a similar trip.

    Basically all lands with access to the Eurasian steppe at one point or another suffered the problem.
    Define 'quite common'. I mean, you said it yourself. A militarized and swift confederation of Nomads meeting a sedentary society in internal turmoil. The question here is, just how much time do the Nomads spend their time ascendant, versus the times they weren't?

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    I see it as a long decline of nomadic civilizations. Yeah, sure, they might have been in power here and there, but at one point in history, hunter/gatherer nomadic lifestyles were pretty much all of human civilization, and now they rule...pretty much nowhere. They're an extremely niche lifestyle that exists only in places that sedentary civilizations don't care about.

    Mongols probably represent the closest thing to a resurgence, and even without colonization, the nomadic life was coming to an end in the US, with many native cultures adopting farming around that time. The adoption and spread of corn as a crop was fairly recent in the new world, and was extremely important in giving native cultures a consistent staple crop that could be grown in large quantities efficiently.

    Lots of things can be farmed to some degree, but staples determine civilizations. Things like berries can't, because they're seasonal, don't store super well, and generally only grow in fairly specific areas. You can use bread to vastly increase your population in a way that you just can't with berries and such.

    In terms of civilization's advance, the nomadic life lasted longer in the new world than the old primarily because of the availability of those staples and large, tameable beasts. There were just far fewer of those in the new world than the old, because of the geography and climate gradients. The same advance was happening in either place(the invention of writing in Mexico appears to be wholly independent of Eurasia's invention), it was just behind because of...calories.

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    Default Re: Low powered stirling engines - what can they accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Define 'quite common'. I mean, you said it yourself. A militarized and swift confederation of Nomads meeting a sedentary society in internal turmoil. The question here is, just how much time do the Nomads spend their time ascendant, versus the times they weren't?
    It happened more then the once with the Mongols like you said. Consider the Mongol invasion of China. What they first defeated was the Jurchen dynasty of Jin, who had themselves replaced the Kitan dynasty of Liao.

    And no the question was not how much time nomads spend in ascendancy. The question I was talking about was whether the mongols were unique in conquering and ruling. And they were not.

    A lot of nomads did much more than raiding. Effectively all nations bordering the Eurasian steppe suffered conquering invasions at one point or another. Some regions repeatedly, like Persia, China and India. And on top of that many of those nomadic conquerors founded long lasting dynasties. That's what I'd call quite common. It's not really until the 1700-1800s when the Russian Empire pushes control out into the steppes and the Chinese Empire does likewise from the other way that the "nomad problem" really ceases to exist. I'd call that quite common. Raiding nomads have existed since before written records. Conquering nomads likewise. The difference between the two tends to hinge upon how well the nomads can get along at any particular time.

    But then we run into to the problem of how we define a nomad. The Yuan dynasty in China is counted as about 100 years. But that hinges on you counting China as rules by the Song before that when in reality they ruled about half. In reality since 906AD the other half was under nomad rule. If Kublai Khan ruled recognized as a Chinese Emperor was he a nomad any longer? Was his successors at the end of his dynasty effectively really nomads? Was the last Manchu Qing Emperor in 1912 really a nomad? The Qing incidentally being one of the longest lasting dynasties ruling. Are the people who drive their SUV into the middle of the desert once a year to sleep in a tent, wave swords and race camels really nomads?
    Some of them even self-identified as such. I can't remember now which dynasty it fell under but I remember a detail of how nomad horsewarriors were kept as separate army units in the Imperial army to retain their uniquely nomad abilities. IIRC effectively you had what could be described as native Imperial armies and nomad Imperial armies. Naturally it only led to corruption and incompetence.

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