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Post 20

Monday, June 6, 2005 - 8:29pmSanction this postReply
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Since, as business, have been 'Objectivistartist' for many many years, obviously that makes me considering my self as an Objectivist......



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Post 21

Monday, June 6, 2005 - 10:28pmSanction this postReply
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Since I have gas, I voted for Objectifartist. But since it takes many years to master the timed and silent release and there is only a tiny inner circle of experts, I change my vote to Student of Objectifartism.
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 6/06, 10:30pm)




Post 22

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 12:10amSanction this postReply
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I have no trouble with the term Objectivism. It comes from Rand's epistemology and once I grasped the fundamentals of that the term became much friendlier and less of a big deal.

It only felt like I was committing to something I shouldn't be committing to when I half-understood the fundamentals. Confidence in your epistemology is the thing.




Post 23

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 5:10amSanction this postReply
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Since I have gas, I voted for Objectifartist. But since it takes many years to master the timed and silent release and there is only a tiny inner circle of experts, I change my vote to Student of Objectifartism.

Oh, pardon me, Phil, I just realized you weren't talking about gas "releases" on SOLO. Nevermind.

;-)




Post 24

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 5:30amSanction this postReply
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I voted for neo-Objectivist--which is, so far, an unpopular choice in this thread. Which compels me to elaborate ...

It may be because I felt it dealt with idiosyncracies--better than "Objectivist" did. It may be because I felt it spoke to a growing body of general knowledge and understanding (ie. a progress WITHIN philosophy)--better than "Objectivist" did.. And it may be because I felt I needed a little "wiggle room"--in order to think independently.

That said, to find the true, weighted cause(s) of my choice--would seem to require more introspection than that which I've currently allocated to this matter. In short, I do not (at this moment) see an efficacious benefit to this quibble--and I personally lean to the neo-Objectivist side (though I am somewhat compelled by others' arguments here: for the "Objectivist" label).

Ed



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Post 25

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 6:03amSanction this postReply
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I voted for "None of the Above," though as Bill Perry puts it in response to Pete, at least in the current context "post-Randian" is good.  I confess that I like Matthew Humphreys' suggestion about "Sciabarraite"... but that would make me the founder of Sciabarraism, whether I like it or not.  How pretentious!  hehe

I accept all the key fundamentals of Rand's Objectivism, but have gotten so tired of arguing over the meaning of Objectivism---a debate which starts to resemble those over who is the true Christian or who is the true Muslim---that I just gave up.  I've also taken to calling myself a "dialectical libertarian"... because I got just as tired arguing over who is the true libertarian.  But that label has successfully alienated me from both "dialecticians" and "libertarians," and generally, people who have no clue what on earth I'm talking about. 

Ugh.  I'm just doomed... hehe

I talk about some of these issues here as well---in light of a recent debate about the "most harmful books" and whether authors should be held responsible for the "misinterpretations" and "misunderstandings" that result from various readings of their works.

PS - Some people wrote me offlist and wondered why I haven't been hyperlinking my words as much as I used to.  I hope this current post gives such people the thrill they've been waiting for. :)




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Post 26

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 6:03amSanction this postReply
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I am an Objectivist.  I admire Ayn Rand and her philosophy guides my life.  I certainly do not follow objectivism to the letter and have issues with some things.  I will listen to rock music and look at abstract art.  I have my own tastes and, just as an example, I think that if Rand said never to wear the color red because it stands for communism, many people calling themselves objectivists would not wear red.  It would not stop me from wearing red though.

I probably fit under the neo-objectivist branding as well, but most specifically, and this one is not on the list,  Michael and I are Babylonians or.... Babsolonians .  We support Barbara Brandon and Solo.  (Sorry Majesty, but "Babs" works better than the word Barbara in this case.)

New category....   Babsolonian.

(Edited by katdaddy on 6/08, 4:39am)




Post 27

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 6:56amSanction this postReply
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think that if Rand said never to wear the color red because it stands for communism, many people calling themselves objectivists would not wear red.  It would not stop me from wearing red though.
<BONK>

Here's to free will!




Post 28

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 7:05amSanction this postReply
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My goodness Phil.  I left out "student of Objectivism."



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Post 29

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 7:51amSanction this postReply
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This thread leads to a wider and more interesting (to me) issue, and that is the purposes to be served by various names and labels -- which is relevant to the usefulness of the "Objectivist" designation.

In personal names, the purpose is to distinguish each of us from other people. Most of us manage to get by in life with just a first name and a surname for most practical purposes. This designation, analogous to "genus and species," distinguishes billions of people from each other, usually without too much confusion. Even in the case of familiar names, like "John Smith," there usually isn't more than one present in a given neighborhood, classroom or other social group. So the main purpose of differentiation is served.

Choosing names for companies and organizations is a bit more complicated. We usually select or invent them because we want to convey some specific information about the group -- what it does, or how it is different from other groups. Here, there seem to be two general directions that people go:

1. Some people select an explanatory name -- one that tries to reveal specific information about a group. As a result, these names tend to be literal and long-winded, thus usually dull and totally forgettable. (Labor unions are among the worst offenders: their names are invariably long, ponderous and terminally literal.)

2. Other people, who better understand the marketplace of ideas, try for an evocative name -- one that tries to use emotions and symbolism to convey some impression about the group that is brief, colorful and (most importantly) memorable. (By the way, I think SOLO is a brilliant choice in this regard: it is easy to remember because it's very short, and symbolically evocative of individualism.)  If you wish to distinguish yourself and be noticed in the din of the competitive marketplace, this is the way to go.
 
How would we apply such considerations to selecting a name for a philosophy?

Frankly, I think Ayn Rand blew it in choosing "Objectivism."  First of all, it is a neologism based on an existing term that already conveys connotations very different from the ones she intended. The traditional notion of "objective" is a "package-deal" that links the idea of being "fact-focused" to other notions, such as being "emotionally detached" and "value-neutral." Many of us have had a great deal of trouble trying to explain Rand's idiosyncratic idea of the "objective" to people accustomed to thinking of it in the traditional way. To name her philosophy "Objectivism," therefore, confuses many people into believing that we advocate the traditional package-deal. The fact that we know what we mean by the term is irrelevant to its usefulness in effective communication.

Second, the term is unfamiliar, abstract and colorless, therefore very hard for many people to say, spell or remember. Its choice by Rand is especially surprising, given her extraordinary skill at generating colorful symbols and evocative metaphors to capture abstract ideas.

Third, I don't believe the term focuses attention on the most appealing, culturally distinctive or personally relevant aspect of Rand's philosophy: her ethics, both personal and social. Rand became a major cultural force not because of her advocacy of "objectivity" in epistemology and ethics, but because of her advocacy of a radical new principled individualism -- an individualism that rejected the counterfeit "individualism" of personal subjectivism. While abstract, "individualism" is a much more familiar idea to millions than is "objectivism." While not as "fundamental" as "objective," it arguably focuses on the central ethical, psychological and political concept in her philosophy: the supreme importance of the individual. Moreover, writing in a nation founded on an individualist ethical and political tradition, she could have tied the name of her philosophy to that tradition -- perhaps with a modifier (rational?) that would distinguish her brand of individualism from its counterfeit. In short, with "individualism" Rand's philosophy would have generated far less confusion, and far more appeal.

Alas, we are now stuck with "Objectivism" as the name of Rand's philosophy, simply because it's been associated with her ideas for nearly 50 years. But it is clunky, dry, forgettable and even misleading in terms of the term's more familiar usages. In retrospect, I wish she would have labeled her philosophy something like principled individualism. That, in fact, is the term I often use in casual conversation to convey to ordinary people a sense of what "Objectivism" really means.




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Post 30

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 11:29amSanction this postReply
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I disagree with Robert. You go with the title that is the most descriptive and fundamental, not the one that has the most immediate appeal to large numbers of people. The people will come around if you convince the intellectuals, the writers, the thinkers. And individualism doesn't capture the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics. Objectivism is a contrast with intrinsicism and subjectivism and is the -deepest- root of the philosophy.

Stop exclusively thinking in terms of short term marketing and think in terms of centuries.

Always go with the deepest and most fundamental thing. Objectivism is a weighty and profound name, once it sinks in. It alerts you to the fact that there is something that demands your respect, something non-superficial going on here. Rand deliberately chose the less known but more accurate term. You have to climb a hill to reach it.

It will take longer to have an impact, but the impact and "the sale" will last this time.

Phil



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Post 31

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 11:37amSanction this postReply
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> The traditional notion of "objective" is a "package-deal" that links the idea of being "fact-focused" to other notions, such as being "emotionally detached" and "value-neutral." Many of us have had a great deal of trouble trying to explain Rand's idiosyncratic idea of the "objective" to people accustomed to thinking of it in the traditional way. [Robert]

I haven't had this problem. The word objective often has good connotations for thoughtful people. The problem you mention is not as widespread or universal as the one associated with the words 'egoism' and 'capitalism'. Or 'reason' and 'rational'. Would you not use those words as well, or would you work to correct the package deal?

Even 'individualism' has bad connotations such as irresponsibility, whim-worshiping hedonism, subjectivism, etc. in many circles, and yet you want to use that word.



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Post 32

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 11:42amSanction this postReply
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> While not as "fundamental" as "objective," [individualism] arguably focuses on the central ethical, psychological and political concept in her philosophy: the supreme importance of the individual. [Robert]

No.

The central ethical, psychological and political concept in her philosophy is REASON.

Just as it is - and because it is the central issue - in epistemology and the requirements of man's very survival.



Post 33

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 11:45amSanction this postReply
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Great insight, Robert. I have another name to run by you (and the others here):

ethical individualism

I prefer this nomenclature to that of "rational self-interest," and feel that it might gain more ground among the populace at large--any thoughts?

Ed

p.s. TANGENT: If ethics were taken to be the final arbiter delegating the adoption of competing philosophies (because we don't do that which we don't feel is right), then EI can be imagined to over-arch a correct metaphysics and epistemology.

In other words, the issue of ethics might possibly serve as both a "psychological entry point" for exploring philosophical ideas AND a potential "epistemological guiding principle" (with appeal to the principle that it is RIGHT to think straight). The epistemological principle of "holding context," for example, would be thought of as an ethical thing to do (because its GOOD for us)--and not merely an epistemological thing to do. Any thoughts on that?



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Post 34

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 1:31pmSanction this postReply
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Phil, you are voicing what I think are some common misconceptions about marketing. You write:
You go with the title that is the most descriptive and fundamental, not the one that has the most immediate appeal to large numbers of people. The people will come around if you convince the intellectuals, the writers, the thinkers.
But this presupposes that intellectuals, writers and thinkers will even notice your message. For Rand's ideas, the most descriptive title would be a long, definitive one...the kind that would never be remembered five seconds after it was read or heard. Philosophically, the most fundamental title would probably involve the primacy of existence premise. How would you possibly work that premise into the title of a philosophy? And why bother?

If you use a long, forgettable description for your title, or employ some abstract neologism to which you have attached a special private meaning that nobody understands except you, how does that help you "convince the intellectuals, the writers, the thinkers"? Convince--of what? Doesn't that instead lead them either to ignore you, or forget you, or misunderstand you?

You write:
Stop exclusively thinking in terms of short term marketing and think in terms of centuries. Always go with the deepest and most fundamental thing. Objectivism is a weighty and profound name, once it sinks in. It alerts you to the fact that there is something that demands your respect, something non-superficial going on here. Rand deliberately chose the less known but more accurate term. You have to climb a hill to reach it. It will take longer to have an impact, but the impact and "the sale" will last this time
Everything here is absolutely mistaken, based on false alternatives. You talk about "Objectivism" being "weighty and profound" -- when my point was that nobody knows what the hell the word means as used by us, and thus most people grossly misinterpret it when we use it. You say that it will be weighty and profound "...once it sinks in" -- when my point is that it doesn't, because it is an abstract neologism. You say that it "demands your respect" -- when my point is that it can't, because it is widely misunderstood, and then ignored or forgotten. You admit that in choosing it as a label, we are deliberately adding to our communication challenges by giving ourselves "a hill" to climb, and causing our philosophy to "take longer to have an impact" -- when my point is that we can be more effective, and sooner, without sacrificing a single principle.

Your words imply a tacit moral concern common among many Objectivists who dismiss "marketing." They think it is solely the concern of the "second hander" like a Keating; a truly independent individual, a Roark, wouldn't care one whit for how his message might be perceived.

But "independence" vs. "effective marketing" is a false alternative. If one truly didn't care about being properly understood, then why bother saying anything? Why try to spread ideas at all? Or why not speak in one's own private code of grunts and noises, rather than in language understood by others?

Is the effort to be properly understood a failure of independence? I don't buy this for a second. "Second-hand" concerns, or "social metaphysics," refers to changing the substance of one's views to conform with those of others. It does not mean making one's independent views intelligible, accessible, noticeable and memorable. If Ayn Rand had no concern with spreading her ideas and being properly understood, she wouldn't have written for publication -- and certainly not in the colorful, memorable, entertaining way that she did. 

Marketing principles don't tell you "change or hide your views." They tell you only to pay attention to how your views are being perceived by your target audience, so that you can overcome problems of invisibility and misunderstanding.

In fact, good marketing requires you to be more contentious, more blunt and distinctive, less concerned with blending in and blandly resembling your competitors. Good marketing requires you to stand out and be different. (That's the core lesson of marketing gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout, authors of Marketing Warfare and Positioning.)

Now let's back up for a moment and clarify the rationale for employing sound marketing principles.

The basic problem of philosophical communication is that you aren't airing your message in a vacuum. You aren't the only voice in the philosophical wilderness. You are trying to get traction for your message within a vast competitive marketplace of ideas, where thousands of individuals, groups, advertisers, media outlets and intellectual competitors are all vying for the attention of your target audience. And amid all of these distracting voices who are competing for his attention, your target audience has other interests, too -- and only limited time to pay attention to your message.

So what determines who gets seen and heard and remembered -- and who does not?  How can you cut through the sound and fury with your own message, so that it is noticed and sticks in the mind of your target audience?

The answer lies in those principles of marketing that you too lightly dismiss. Who succeeds and who fails in a marketplace is not determined solely by the quality of the product: if so, we'd all be using Macs rather than PCs, and Mozilla Firefox rather than Internet Explorer, etc. Effective marketing means advancing your product competitively. It means skillfully "positioning" your idea or product against others, contrasting and distinguishing it so that people notice it, grasp its unique status...and remember it.

There is nothing "short term" about thinking competitively. Those who fail to do so won't be around for the long term: ask the once high-and-mighty IBM and Sears, who were toppled by upstart companies like Dell and Wal-Mart which understood far better how to market themselves. The most brilliant, content-laden message or product in the world will have zero impact and no longevity if nobody even notices it. Marketing principles (and they are principles) help you refine your message, the language you use and the arenas you choose to compete in, so that your idea or product penetrates through all the noise and clamor of the marketplace of ideas, to reach and stick in the minds of your target audience.
 
Consider the metaphor of a bridge. There exists a chasm between you and your audience, a gap of understanding that you need to cross with your message. If you are concerned solely with announcing your case into the ether, it's like building half a bridge -- projecting a span into space from your vantage point, but never bothering to finish grounding the span on the other side, where your audience waits.

In choosing a name for a philosophy or organization, I'd pick a short, distinctive and memorable name over a "fundamental," comprehensively precise one any day of the week. That's because the name is just a shorthand tag for the ideas or the group. It is not a condensation of everything you believe; it is only a way of linking to and sticking in the mind of your target audience.
 
Objectivism is too important...and deserves better than cultural invisibility. Once Objectivists start getting past the nonsensical notion that there's something inherently "wrong" or "unworthy" about paying attention to valid marketing principles, perhaps the world will start to pay attention to them. 




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Post 35

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 2:35pmSanction this postReply
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I find myself agreeing with both Robert and Philip!  I think having a memorable name for the philosophy for marketing purposes is very important.  As my husband puts it, Christianity is primarily a triumph of marketing!  Wouldn't it be great if we could market Objectivism on that scale!

Robert doesn't like "Objectivism" for marketing purposes, but I can't for the life of me come up with anything better.  After all, the fundamental ideas are the objective nature of existence and the primacy of reason as a tool to understand it.  And "Existentialism" was taken already!  (Never been sure why they call it that, but it's a good catchy name!)

On the other hand, I don't think "Objectivism" has that good a ring to it; I've never liked the "iv-ism" at the end.  But the alternatives all seem way too generic or not fundamental enough.  "Rationalism" was already in the dictionary; "individualism," with any sort of modifier on it, is too generic in that lots of people think of themselves as individualists, and at the same time too specific in that it leaves out rationality and objectivity.  So, I really don't think we're going to do any better than "Objectivism." 

As for what I call myself, I think of myself as an Objectivist, but like Mr. Sciabarra, I want to avoid debates about whether I'm "really" an Objectivist, given that I think Rand might have been wrong about the Woman President thing... ;-)  I think if someone asked me what philosophy I subscribe to, I would say, "I really like Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand."  Nobody can challenge THAT statement with a "no you don't!"




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Post 36

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 4:27pmSanction this postReply
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What we need is a good jingle! :-)




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Post 37

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 4:35pmSanction this postReply
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In the past, I've had misgivings about being called an Objectivist, because for a long time I haven't agreed with some of the psychological claims that Rand made.  But only a couple of years ago Walter Foddis and I referred to the theory of self-esteem that we were putting forward as an "Objectivist" theory (which actually meant that it was pretty close to Nathaniel Branden's theory).

Since then, I've changed my mind, and dropped the O-word entirely. Not just because it fails to communicate what was most significant about Rand's ideas (though I agree with Robert Bidinotto that "Objectivism" was not an effective choice of name for her philosophy). Mainly, it's because of the cultists: those who believe that Objectivism is a "closed system" and everyone ought to subscribe to that closed system--no matter what's missing from it, no matter what might need correcting.  Their beliefs and practices are the antithesis of genuine individualism; I think they set a terrible example; yet they are the ones who have the biggest investment in who is a real Objectivist and who is not.

And let's face it--Ayn Rand herself encouraged cultism.  Some statements she made during her lifetime essentially demanded it.  I agree that cultism was grossly inconsistent with the fundamentals of her philosophy.  But what I've come to realize over time is that the cultish demands are there in writing, they're part of Rand's legacy, so they will always be at the disposal of people with authoritarian agendas.  The existence of an organization that works hard to keep cultish attitudes alive among people who were not yet born when Rand died makes the situation much worse.  But because the potential is there in the written record, a new cult of Ayn Rand could be instituted at virtually any time--even if the Ayn Rand Institute were to disband, or change its spots.

Robert Campbell





 






Post 38

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

Great to see you here.

Bill




Post 39

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 8:38pmSanction this postReply
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Robert B.

I have finally found something Robert B said with which I substantially disagree.

Part I
Though there is much wisdom in your post, (yes, marketing should not be entirely ignored), I have to disagree with the basic thrust behind it. It would, I'm completely convinced, be insane to suggest that Objectivism is not much more popular primarily because of the name -- if that's what you're suggesting.

It's the ideas that go so substantially against the grain for so many people that cause it to be a tough sell. (Or, at any rate, most peoples beliefs about what those ideas are or imply.) Once you get an ear, via whatever marketing techniques you chose, the label has essentially become a moot point. It then becomes time to sell the ideas. It's at that stage that the listeners turn off. (But they had to listen first, you reply. Yes, but that is actually rather easy today. More on that in another post.)

How you get past that wall (of being turned off to the ideas, not the wall of getting them to listen) is a problem which I don't think has been well solved. Maybe it can't be, given the centuries head start of the contrary ideas and the fact of free will which requires a person to have already gone a distance down the correct road before they can be sold on the rest. I'm not sure, what it takes frankly. I'm still hopeful, so I'm not sure of anything in this paragraph.

But this much I'm sure of. The name is of very minor consequence, provided it isn't egregiously misleading. (Not the case here.)

The other issue, not sure how significant but certainly not trivial, is this: there are so few examples (in the public eye) of successful, happy, decent individuals who are Objectivists that those unfamiliar with the philosophy have little opportunity to see in reality to what adherence to those ideas leads. The fiction is enormously useful in providing theoretical examples, but in the absence of very well known real ones there are few spokesmodels available. (And it doesn't help when some get on Fox News and behave like complete lunatics and are held up as representatives, eh?)


Part II
You are overstating the value of marketing by underestimating the discernment of the buying public. PCs didn't win over Macs because of marketing -- Apple had the best marketing in the world. (Remember the 1984 commercial?) Betamax was actually better known than VHS and had Sony's marketing behind it.
People often know value when they are shown it clearly. It doesn't require a lot of razzle, dazzle, just straightforward information. The Dyson vacuum cleaner commercial doesn't have a lot of zing, but Dyson does make one of the best engineered products in the history of technology. And it's selling like hotcakes.
Ford sells a helluva lot of trucks because ... they make superior trucks -- not because Toyota has inferior marketing.
I could cite dozens more examples.

By all means sell the ideas, by telling them honestly and simply wherever possible. But don't worry too much about lableling the philosophy as a whole. Randism is as good as anything actually. (Worked pretty well for Christianity -- but, again, not because of the name.)




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