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Post 120

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 7:01amSanction this postReply
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"Hong drew a comparison between circumstances she observed in China and those she's observing now on these lists: the common factor is a sudden switch of opinion from extreme praise to extreme damnation." wrote Ellen about Hongs comparison of Lindsay praising, then later denouncing some of the people he praised.

There is no common factor. There was no sudden arbitrary switch of opinion.

Would Hongs lavish praise of her husband change were he to start fucking around on her, and, would she denounce the behavior?

Furthermore, if she denounced the behavior, would it be appropriate to compare her actions with events of the Cultural Revolution? Would Robert comment that it smacked of Jihad, and fanaticism? Would Jeff and Ellen weigh in on how Hong is viewing her husband as an abstract concept? Would these esteemed folk comment that it started with Ayn Rand? I doubt it.

"It started with her in that she herself, as Jeff described, displayed a tendency to view people as "abstract concepts."" wrote Ellen about Ayn Rand.

How could one possibly know this? What evidence is there that Ayn Rand viewed people as abstract concepts? If you make a statement about Ayn Rands psychology, which, incidentally is completely lacking in insight (unless by insightful you mean baseless speculation), then please provide some evidence.



John

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Post 121

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 7:39amSanction this postReply
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Ellen, you are a gem darling, you truly are.  Quibbles on details, but fails to grasp the wider points.  So you sat a row in front instead of behind, you heard some conversations--I think you forgot that you talked to person X and Y about A and B when event T happened.  That's nice.  Its quite astounding that you barely see any "scratches", considering in the years I have seen you post, you commented on AR's "naiveness" (read:  failure to see the "signs" and recognize things in others), her unwarranted jumps to psychological conclusions about others, her quickness to moral judgment, her unwarranted anger, a statement that includes "I shudder at the thought of psychological counseling by that woman", and on and on.  I consider these "scratches", wouldn't you?  Yet, in that same time frame, I don't remember any compliments from you, and I have a good memory. 

One question: are these "flaws" real or not?  Another question:  why do some people obsess about these flaws, pick at them with razors, blow them up and then obsess and pick at them some more?  William Perry recently commented on the phenomena concerning many Objectivists (which doesn't apply to you considering your last post, at least not as an Objectivist) and their "anger" towards Ayn Rand and he is taking time to understand why.  I have seen this and thought a lot about it too, and part of the answer is that anger is too pure and clean for what this is.

But it does not surprise me that you don't see this, moral judgment is like emotional repression, it works in both directions.  The person who rails against the moral judgment of others and refuses to exercise their moral judgment, even in the most egregious of cases, is also usually the same person who fails to see viciousness in themselves and others (I am not talking about you specifically here, Ellen).  However, Ellen, just look at the leaps you made about me two posts ago.

I mean, for Christ's sake I am in law school.  Do you really think my concept of ~justice~ consists in judging people as "abstract concepts"?  When I was in Criminal Law class and was studying mens rea and looking at general criminal intent--the different levels, how it is applied, how to discern it from cases, etc.--what do you think I was thinking?  "Bah, this stuff is for non-philosophical evaders.  That person, he's an Attila, off with his head.  That guy over there, he's a Witch Doctor, life in prison..."  Ah, but you felt compelled to make that judgment, and insinuate I was following in the "general pattern" of Ayn Rand.  That's some analysis and Great Leaps you came up with there, really.

Oh, I am sure I will be regarded as the bad guy and "mean" and whatnot.  The truth is that people have been getting away with this crap (like the comparison made) for years and don't expect to be called on it.  I want to share a quote from Victor Hugo that I have been staring at on my wall for the past couple of days:

"To strive, to brave all risks, to persevere, to be faithful to yourself,
to grapple hand to hand with destiny, to surprise defeat by the little terror it inspires,
at one time confront unrighteous power, at another to defy intoxicated triumph,
to hold fast, to hold hard--such is the example which the nations need,
and the light that electrifies them."

I italicized the part that is relevant here.  What is posturing as confronting unrighteous power is nothing more than intoxicated unrighteous power.  Ah but this is about "chances to learn" here, yeah learning, that's what this is.  To applaud comparisons to Islamic fundamentalists, as if comparisons of Objectivists to fundamentalists and cultists is something new and insightful, that's learning for ya.  That is, until next week when somebody does it again--applying it to new contexts--with others heaping praise on just how profound this great New Idea is. 

If this is so great a comparison, so just, so right, I wonder how many will have the guts to go to one of the accused and tell them this?  Ellen, you post on Solo sometimes, why not go tell Linz or Diana that their psychology is comparable to that of an Islamic fundamentalist, albeit in a "very narrow sense" (wink wink).  We shall see.

Anyway, my own energy expired long ago with this thread, so I am now done.  Thanks to Landon for the earlier compliment and to those who messaged me privately, much appreciated.

Michael


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Post 122

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 8:47amSanction this postReply
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I would like to note two interesting areas of distortion by John N. and Michael M. in interpreting the posts by Hong, Jeffrey, and, by implication, me.

Hong grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and noticed the curious phenomenon of mercuric shifts in the official reputations of public officials. She cites examples of that phenomenon of effusive praise followed by excoriation, and then generalizes about it. Here are Hong's actual words from post #59, summarizing the point that she is trying to convey:
The phenomenon of first praising somebody to the sky and then turning the palm and denouncing them to be the worst enemy the second day had been very common throughout the history of the Communist Parties of both Soviet and China...Thinking back, the only way that one could accept the Partyís ever changing versions about those people was to consider them not as a real living human being with flesh and blood, but as an abstract concept. A real human being will not change from an angel to a devil in one day, only an abstract being can.

Does what happened at SOLO bear any similarities to all of these? Perhaps only to a very small extent, and only in a sense that I havenít seen anything that remotely resembles those phenomenons anywhere else in all my years in US. And those Communist Party histories are something that I am reminded of by the past and current events at SOLO. [emphasis added]

Hong reiterates this very narrow point in post #64: "I always felt odd when I see those over-the-top praises and overblown 'loves' without sufficient basis. They instinctively made me suspicious of the praisers. Perhaps they have certain blindness, or perhaps they have other motives. I have to say that it has been very illuminating to me to observe various people's behaviors at SOLO."

Now watch what John N. does with Hong's carefully qualified analogy in his Post #62:
The implication that Lindsay Perigo's praise of people, and later disappointment and condemnation of their BEHAVIOR, is somehow, by any tiniest strand, similar to events during the cultural revolution is not only ludicrous, it is an exercise in intellectual perversion. [emphasis added]


Please note the underscored words. Observe that Hong's point -- observing a common pattern of praising, then denouncing -- is suddenly inflated into a sweeping comparison to "events during the cultural revolution." Huh? Where did THAT come from? Her narrow analogy about wildly shifting moral judgments of people vanishes, transformed into an alleged comparison between unseemly events on SOLO, and a period of violent repression in China!

In post #82, John N. again embellishes on Hong's intended and limited comparison, saying: "You do an injustice to your countrymen who suffered and died during the cultural revolution, by comparing it [to] anything like this. People run around too easily comparing things to the Holocast, the Slave Trade, Jihad, fanaticism etc etc. Hyperbole does not make for a good argument."

Huh? Is that what Hong was doing? Read her own words.

Now let's look at the similar rhetorical tactic employed by Michael M. against Jeff Small. This, from Michael's post #83:
Jeff writes: "But it is not an 'intellectual perversion' to see a psychological connection here. When I reflect on Peikoff's past excommunications, the emotional undertone of Diana's diatribe or on many of the past rants by Lindsay in the old SoloHQ days, these seem like actions more appropriate to the Christian Crusades than to the philosophy of reason and a benevolent universe. Like the Islamic Fundamentalists, it's time for many Objectivists to grow up."

Please, Mr. Small, tell me this is a fucking joke. You mean to tell me that, because people have fallings out and disassociate with each other, they exhibit the same psychological state as terrorists and those involved in communist purges? Ok, more maturity is needed by a lot of Objectivists, but the ~same psychology~? Jesus Christ. Those aforementioned groups--terrorists, communists, Christian crusaders--are involved with literal jihad. [emphasis in original]


Now go back and read Jeff's full post. Like Hong, he is speaking restrictively and narrowly about the mercuric habit of from-praise-to-excommunication, and cites two religious movements for comparison in that regard. Observe that he refers in his comparisons only to examples of "excommunications," a "diatribe," and "rants," seeing in these a "psychological connection" to similar behavior among various groups of fanatics.

But Michael inflates this narrow comparison, declaring that Jeff is implying that SOLO leaders have "the same psychological state as terrorists...[and those] involved with literal jihad." Is Michael's adding the elements of violence and terrorism to Jeff's remarks a remotely fair rendering of Jeff's narrow comparison about a shared mindset only regarding the policy of ideological denunciations?

Note also that Jeff's term, "a psychological connection," is translated by Michael into "the ~same psychology~". Huh? The same? Is there not anything different about the psychology of someone who denounces people unfairly, and the psychology of a terrorist? Was Jeff even remotely implying that these two mindsets are the same?

Again, witness the "spin" taking place, in which any analogy to a part is equated with an analogy to the whole.

Hong and Jeff are, in essence, being accused of comparing a couple of pretentious martinets with terrorists, thugs, bloodthirsty armies, and jihadists! Yet ironically, it is Hong and Jeff's accusers who are complaining that these comparisons are inflated and disproportionate.

(Sigh...)

The effect of such off-point criticisms is to divert attention from Hong and Jeff's original focus, which was on the unseemly behavior of the martinets, whose pettiness and excesses are giving Objectivism a black eye in the court of public opinion.

That is an issue far more relevant to Objectivists than is this little sideshow about which other kinds of fanatics the martinets may best resemble, and to what degree. Don't you think?

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Post 123

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:11amSanction this postReply
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Robert,
I want to thank you once again for spending your time and energy in...well, let me just remind both of us Newberry's sage words:

I suspect that their minds are not working at full capacity; or they have a few gray cells missing; or perhaps they have lost their marbles; or as they say in the South, "Bless their hearts"; or what planet do they come from; or they are slow on the draw; or (spoken very slowly) t w o p l u s t w o i s f o u r ; or they are a wee bit dense; or wake up and smell the coffee; or we say nothing and just pass polite knowing glances; or the poor guys only have a pea for a brain between them; or on a serious note, perhaps they are pragmatic; or not very street smart; or conceptually challenged....

Get it?
Yes, we get it.

And for those who ever dragged my husband in the debate here (John N, was not the first), their filthy minds are beneath my contempt.

(Edited by Hong Zhang on 5/09, 9:33am)


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Post 124

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:42amSanction this postReply
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I remember a time when you dragged MSKs children into the debate on another thread, Hong. Was that also beneath contempt?



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Post 125

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:45amSanction this postReply
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I was stating a fact, a ugly fact it is. You were projecting your own cheating behavior on to my husband, whom you know nothing about.

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Post 126

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:46amSanction this postReply
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Hong said:

Hi Ethan,
As you know I agree with your point. Perhaps we should all have learnt our lesson in judging people and become more savvy.
That's the truth! I think you can constantly evaluate people and not pronounce out-loud  judgements until such time that you feel there is a reason to. If people screw me over, I stop dealing with them. If someone I know is going to deal with them, or they are acting in a manner affecting more than themsleves, I may sasy something.

As someone who has had to appologise several times for mistating evaluations of others, I now consider my evaluations carefully. My measuing stick also includes a lot more categories than god and devil. It's like making an informed purchase :-) You evaluate the merits of the product before you commit to buying it. :-)

When you hastily pronounce a stong opinion of someone you are likely to be eating your words later.

Ethan


Post 127

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 9:46amSanction this postReply
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Joe,

As usual, an excellent post. You are a GOD

:-)


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Post 128

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 10:16amSanction this postReply
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Hong, on reflection, you are right, I know nothing about your husband. However, I don't think it is any more beneath contempt than you bringing in the cultural revolution and the behavior of communists, then trying to backpedal and say that this was not what you meant.

The point I was trying to make sailed right over your head anyway, as did my later comment re MSK and your bringing his children into the picture, which I defended by the way. His children are fair game, your husband isn't. I get it.


regards

John





(Edited by John Newnham
on 5/09, 10:34am)


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Post 129

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 10:17amSanction this postReply
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Robert, one need not allege anything: Hongs own words: "those Communist Party histories are something that I am reminded of by the past and current events at SOLO."

The nasty innuendo that Lindsay's actions (why the hell can't you, Jeff and Hong say his name, instead of resorting to vague generalities about "certain people"?) are similar in any way to fanaticism, or *certain* practices of the cultural revolution cannot be retracted or massaged away. Your statements were clear and the context (a thread on Lindsaay Perigo's NEM article for Galts sake) leave little room for you to wriggle free of the judgement you made. Why bring up the cultural revolution, jihad, or fanaticism in the first place, if not to draw such similarities?

John

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Post 130

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 10:39amSanction this postReply
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Once again, Robert tackles the unenviable job of trying to keep a topic on focus while at the same time applying a dose of perspective and justice as accusations are tossed about. And once again I thank him for his efforts.

The pattern we see in this thread is the same one that repeats over and over on any controversial subject. I don't believe that I can say anything that will convince John Newnham or Michael Moeller of my thesis and I don't really know where to begin in responding to their posts since they seem to consist mostly of denouncements of what others have said without putting forth any original positive formulations of their own. I'm all for having a discussion, even with people who disagree with me. However, I'm not interested in spending all of my time simply defending myself from attacks. This pattern reminds me of the famous Monty Python sketch "I want to have an argument". Somewhere during the "argument" the client says to the instructor, [paraphrasing from memory] "An argument is not just the automatic gainsaying of what another person says", and the instructor responds "Yes it is!"*

I will add one short observation. In Michael's post #121, he refers to:

> William Perry recently commented on the phenomena concerning many Objectivists ... and their "anger" towards Ayn Rand ...

Anyone who is interested in this topic should reread the posts on this thread (and others) and then decide for themselves who is actually angry and who is not.
--
Jeff

* If you are unfamiliar with this Monty Python sketch, I highly recommend that you track it down and enjoy this lesson 101 on epistemology!

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Post 131

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 11:06amSanction this postReply
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Robert has entered the "no spin zone", but I like to think he is trying out for "Dancing With The Stars"--as the professional dancer, no less.

Robert, the embellishment was the comparison, in any sense, in the first place.  Hell, one could make any number of comparisons of the "part", and say it applies only in that sense.  Let's see, some Objectivists are use inflamtory names like Sadamite and Smearer-in-Chief, just like Islamic fundamentalists use The Great Satan.  They are just like Islamic fundamentalists, but only in that narrow sense.

And one can tune this type of argument up or down and make it fit.  Let's tune it down.  Hitler liked dogs, and so do I--I am like Hitler, but only in that sense.  Let's tune it up a bit. This Libertarian-anarchist wants overthrow of the government, and KKK member advocates violent overthrow of the government.  They two are alike, in that sense.

The key is when comparing parts, you don't drop the context of the whole.  Otherwise, you may end up with a ridiculous comparison, like the Hitler example above. 

Why that comparison, Robert, WHY?  Obviously it is meant to embellish on the degree of fanaticism of other Objectivists.  You even give away the ballgame when you respond that this fanaticism has been going on for year and years and is ruining the spread of the philosophy, so what intent can one infer from that?

Sorry, Robert, if I distracted from the real show of taking one more opportunity to convey the degree of fanaticism and cultish behavior of other Objectivists--that's noble work, afterall.

Michael


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Post 132

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 11:10amSanction this postReply
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John:

Our last two posts #129 and #130 crosses in the aether and it though that might create a small amount of confusion.

You wrote:

> why the hell can't you, Jeff and Hong say his name ...

Please reread all of my posts. I use many specific examples where I always name specific people, including Lindsay. These examples are not attacks on anyone. They are simply used to illustrate a point about which I am making a generalization. In Robert's case, I interpret his references to "Certain People" as an attempt to bypass any reference to particular people and get to the general point he is making in a more direct route. I never took this as any sort of evasion.

You can't win if you do and you can't win if you don't!

You also wrote:

> Why bring up the cultural revolution, jihad, or fanaticism in the first place, if not to draw such similarities?

Here I speak only for myself. Wonder no more. I bring up these references to the Christian Crusades and Islamic Fundamentalists because I AM explicitly drawing a connection between the mind-set behind many participants in those activities and the mind-set behind certain behaviors that I observe in other people, including some who are involved with the Objectivist movement. The connection I am making is a very specific one as Robert has pointed out a couple of times now. I have only briefly referred to these connections in my previous posts because they were not my main point. If this is a topic that many would like to discuss in detail, I suggest that we start a new thread and I would be happy to attempt to look into this further and back up my contentions with a deeper discussion that would involve a foray into the realm of human psychology and emotion - two areas in which I have a great interest. If you would like to have this discussion, then I would expect that it would be one where alternate viewpoints are expressed and not one where I put my back to the wall and attempt to defend myself from the firing squad. Short of that, I'm happy to leave this subject where it is.
--
Jeff


(Edited by C. Jeffery Small
on 5/09, 3:21pm)


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Post 133

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 12:13pmSanction this postReply
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Robert - old adage, "none so blind as those who would not see".... and ye seeing it a wee bit here, enough actually to make a small business of selling white canes ;-)

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Post 134

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 12:14pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

Ok, I will put down my rifle and let you back off the wall.  You are a lot older than I, Jeff, and do you know how many times and in how many ways I have seen the comparison of Objectivists to fanatics and cultists?  Surely you must have seen it a lot more than me.  Even if you think I present non-arguments, can you see how on some level one might see the comparison in poor taste?  How maybe, just maybe, it might not be appropriate? How about why one might be angry when one sees it applauded by other Objectivists?

Michael


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Post 135

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 2:41pmSanction this postReply
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I'm sorry all this "Stalinism" talk reminds me of the punk rockers I used to hang around with. These guys threw around the word "Nazi"  like the word "the" in reference to any one who did something they didn't like.

All doing something like this does for someone like me is make me lose respect for people who equate a legitimate falling out over legitimate reasons with murderous regimes (even if only in a limited respect).

We're not talking about war machines we're talking about what are supposed to be voluntary associations based largely on MUTUAL TRUST.

Hell I got John's point. I love my fiancee more than I've ever loved any person I've ever known in my life, but that's based on a strong overall assessment of her character. There are reasons I love her. If I found out a huge part of that assessment was wrong I'd be incapable of loving her (and likewise for her if she discovered something similar about me). And it disgusts me to think anyone would think that we should.

Or any equivalent of that. And unfortunately I'm seeing too much of that.

---Landon


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Post 136

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 3:04pmSanction this postReply
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Landon,
I love my fiancee more than I've ever loved any person I've ever known in my life, but that's based on a strong overall assessment of her character. There are reasons I love her. If I found out a huge part of that assessment was wrong I'd be incapable of loving her (and likewise for her if she discovered something similar about me).
Nothing wrong with that.

What do you say about someone who apparently loves like that frequently (in public, too) and changes his mind 50% of the time?

Rational passion?

Michael


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Post 137

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 7:14pmSanction this postReply
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Judgement might not be that great. But who he does or doesn't associate with is his business.

You might have a point. A lot of people dive in too quick and get burned, not the best way to live your life but again his choice.

I thought that was part of this whole deal:


"I shall choose my friends among men... but only such as please me... let men join hands with others if he wishes but only beyond his holy threshold"

But personally I don't have that much reason to care about other people's decisions. So characterizing people as dictators seems pointless to me unless this is their genuine intention. But at the same time just because someone else made the mistake of overcommitting to a person or relationship they should've thought through better, I should ignore the evidence.

I can't vouch for his past be honest I just heard of the guy a couple years ago and usually the only people I study that heavily are people who've achieved career goals I want to. In this and at least the last couple of cases the evidence stands up to my reasoning.

If C.M.S. proves everything to be bunk tomorrow, I'd owe him an apology if I had a horse in this race. The degree to which it effects me is now I have to read a few people a little more carefully, nothing more.

The main issue I have here is it's just too  close to those anarcho-syndicalist punk rockers that just care too damn much about other people and what they do. I think a bit of this might apply on both sides but for the most part I see one side arguing facts the other arguing psychology.

Psychology is a personal matter.

---Landon



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Post 138

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 7:30pmSanction this postReply
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"What do you say about someone who apparently loves like that frequently (in public, too) and changes his mind 50% of the time?"

Could also just mean that there are a lot of liars out there. Numbers aren't a valid criteria for judging the rightness of personal breaks.

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Post 139

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 7:33pmSanction this postReply
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I very much enjoyed the contributions of Robert B, Jeff, and Hong to this thread.

Michael


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