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Hi everyone

Mar. 14th, 2008 | 01:29 am

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil. 

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(no subject)

Oct. 12th, 2007 | 05:05 pm

Charissa's engagement ring, left, and Lou looking surprised, right. In reality, Lou wasn't all that surprised because she had already guessed that Charissa was engaged, but I told her to act surprised for the sake of these photos. I guess she overcompensated!
The teapot and teacup are obtrusively there in the photos because we had to make our point that Charissa broke the news of her engagement in the Izakaya Chuji Japanese restaurant. 
Indeed, so much thought goes into the construction of the esoteric image that the nitpicky attitude of deconstructionism is truly verified.

Pavelchek, me, Emma- with our backs to the sunset. We ended up here because the faculty was having yet another function, and thus was giving out yet more free food on buffet tables. Of course we had to leave our work to partake - wasting food is a sin.

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Justice Kirby Appreciation Society

Oct. 10th, 2007 | 05:49 pm

The hilariously cute comments of Kirby J, who has consistently formed the dissenting judgment in Thomas v Mowbray, Roach v Electoral Commissioner & Anor, Al-Kateb v Godwin, Green v The Queen, the Workchoices case and various, and who has consistently stood strong for human rights and constitutional limits. 
Thanks for making me like law a little more, Kirby J!

Court transcript:

MR HANKS: Yes. The anterior question, even if we – we will give you the answer to that question, the favourable answer. Let us assume that it was an incident of his service to go to the mess and to drink alcohol but it is not an incident of his service that he do so to the point of intoxication. That is a matter, as the evidence was – that is a matter for his personal choice. He chose to do that.

CALLINAN J: It was frowned upon if you drank light beer. Page 16, line 15:

Full strength?---Oh yeah, it’s frowned upon – you’re a wuss if you drank that light stuff.

KIRBY J: What is a wuss?

MR HANKS: I think in Victoria it is a wooz.

KIRBY J: What is it?

McHUGH J: It is you when you drink only one glass of beer.

KIRBY J: I would not fall out of the window. 

R v Tofilau
Court transcript:

GLEESON CJ: What do you mean by “free choice”?

MR TEHAN: What we mean by “free choice”, your Honour, is a choice unconstrained by any pressure, hope of advantage or benefit or force or coercion or compulsion, a true free choice.

GLEESON CJ: You would be surprised to know that there are places I would rather be than here at the moment and the psychiatrists might explain my presence at the moment by reference to a number of influences or pressures that produce that consequence, but I thought I was here as a result of a free choice. How is that consistent with your explanation?

HAYNE J: Good luck, Mr Tehan.

MR TEHAN: It is always a matter of degree, your Honour.

KIRBY J: I could not think of a better place to be than here.

GLEESON CJ: I am sure that is probably right. 


Another court transcript:

KIRBY J: As Chief Justice Gleeson said in the special leave application, none of us look particularly beautiful in a balaclava; all of us look a little bit suspicious in a balaclava. It is certainly something that is very unusual. I have never heard of anything like this happening in a trial before.

MR GAME: This is a balaclava which, at this stage in the trial at least is not being said to be the balaclava that was used in the robbery. It is a balaclava taken from a spare bedroom at the house- - -

KIRBY J: Balaclavas are not a vast range of boutique product.

MR GAME: No, your Honour.


GUMMOW J: What is the provenance of this balaclava?

MR GAME: It was taken from a spare room at the appellant's father's house where the appellant resided.

KIRBY J: I think his father said, did he, or is it only the caps that he had been given by the TAB.

MR GAME: Yes, the caps.

KIRBY J: The balaclavas had not been given?

MR GAME: No, no.

KIRBY J: There were a number of balaclavas, were there not?

MR GAME: There were hundreds of balaclavas, first in the garage and later moved - - -

KIRBY J: He going into the balaclava selling business, is he?


KIRBY J: Hundreds of balaclavas.

MR GAME: Yes, your Honour.

KIRBY J: Since Sevastopol, how can there be hundreds of balaclavas?

CRENNAN J: Twenty five boxes, I think, Mr Game.

MR GAME: I do not know how many balaclavas you can put in a box but there were lots of balaclavas.

GUMMOW J: Fallen off a truck probably.


KIRBY J: That is fair enough, though there are dangers in that, because I have a balaclava at home, which I sometimes wear in Canberra. It is very cold down here. You may not have noticed, but people do have balaclavas innocently. People do have large overalls, so that that of itself is not sufficient to put the finger on the accused. 

And this was what Kirby J used to do doing boring court proceedings:

The SMH on Callinan and Kirby, smiling at each other's doodles:

'Yet during their nine years together, as their colleagues sat upright and demure, they could frequently be seen leaning back from the bench, whispering like schoolchildren or smiling at one of Kirby's doodles.

They even occasionally stood together as the dissenters, most famously in the case against Work Choices, where both said the legislation was unconstitutional and should be struck down.

Callinan turned 70 on Saturday and will be replaced today by Susan Kiefel.

Kirby says he will miss the court jesting. "Some of my colleagues are not, shall we say, strong in the humour department.

"Justice Callinan can share a joke. During the boring bits of a trial, it's good to pen drawings of colleagues or someone at the table. Justice Callinan appreciated my drawings. Most of my colleagues do not." '

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Update #2

Oct. 8th, 2007 | 12:59 pm

So I went for a function organised by the legal service centre which I have signed up to work with, and it was held here:

Northcote Town Hall

Near this charming street of Brunswick:

(Thank you and pardon me to Adam Dimech- yes, I don't know you- from whom I lifted these images off!)

I arrived about an hour late, thanks to much procrastination in front of the TV and a real lack of desire to attend the function (I almost jumped off the tram on the way there to visit the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds instead, whose twinkling ferris wheel beckoned me from beyond the Yarra River). I'm so glad I went, though. On account of my lateness and the fact that I was working with the legal service centre, I was popped into a table in the front and right smack in the center of the hall. These were the people I ended up sitting with: on my left, the Viceperson of the Multicultural Commission of Victoria, the Parliament Secretary of Australia and the president of the Youth Commission of Victoria; on my right, the president of Shelter Aid Victoria and a lawyer. Great opportunities, you'd say, to network. But I usually fail miserably at networking. Sure, I can strike up comfortable conversation with the people around me, but to proposition them for internship places? That I have absolutely no inkling of how to do. Besides, how do you really make conversation with a man who tells you, in response to the delightful spinach and ricotta rogan-josh thing that we were having, that he grows his own vegetables in the garden? "Fair enough," I think, "That's an active and healthy gardener right there." But how do you proceed when he informs you, "No, actually, it is my gardener and chef who does it", and "also, I catch my own fish - that is, I catch my fish on my private yacht in the Wilson's Promontory where I go to relax and watch the footy on the TV set that is installed on my yacht". How do you respond to that?

 Anyway, he seemed like a nice man - I just don't know how to relate to him. In time I'll learn, I think.

So - hot on the heels of the International Film Festival in Melbourne which showcased non-Hollywood avant garde, auteurship, humanitarian and etc films from almost every country in the world (with, I noticed, the remarkable exception of Singapore) - came the Melbourne Fringe Festival. (Char Oon and Pings- you would love this!!) This one showcased the varied kaleidescopic and almost schizophrenic talents of all manner of artistes at various locations in Melbourne. I caught a stand-up comedy called the 'Fear of a Brown Planet' which featured the very politically incorrect quips of an Australian-Indian-Pakistani-Muslim-male trio, and indeed, this was a hilarious and poisonous barb at Australian politics, multiculturalism, 'white Australia', Islam and American politics. Which are the topics I am very attracted towards. The last comedian, Amer Rahman, said something which resonated with a lot of us Indian, S.E.Asian, Arab, Turkish and Africans (i.e. 'Asians') in the audience, and that was: "don't you find it bizarre when 'whites' compliment you on your "good standard of English", as if they thought you were some kind of stupid in the first place, even though your father has a phD and their own parents can only speak Greek or Italian?" (That was the gist, anyhow. I'm not the best person for telling jokes.) Amer also made jibes at the much-loved mayor of Melbourne, John So, who has such a jolly Chinese face and stereotypically Chinese accent when he speaks English that he is almost incomprehensible. Verily, this is one aspect of Melbourne which makes me smile and wonder, for even (and especially) the Anglo-Saxons in Melbourne seem to love unconditionally their bumbling, moon-faced and incomprehensible Chinese mayor who pops up in TV ads saying "Melbuuune eez a bootiful citee!".

The boys from 'Fear of a Brown Planet'. I thought the most amazing thing (and I am getting used to this now) was the really 'heartlander' Australian accent which was coming out of them.

This is Mayor John So, by the way. Geez, what a cute picture. This must have been the Chinese Lunar New Year tourist campaign.

After that, I rushed straight to Northcote to catch Team Loko's 'Introduction to a Circus', which was (what else?) a stunt-and-comedy-type circus hosted in white tents replete with circus-dressed popcorn lady with a bass voice and cardboard paintings of the circus strongman, acrobat lady and ringmaster. It is one thing to be in a professional circus tent and have a slick cast do tricks in front of you, and quite another thing to be in an intimate, small crowd and have people your age somersault around a few metres in front of you - you can see with your own eyes that there are no safety nets to catch them if they fall. You can see the sweat shimmering on their backs, see their necks turn red with the strain, their arms and palms shaking with the balance, and have them turn around and laugh and crack jokes at themselves once they manage a stunt. They are so human, and it also helps that one of the cast is my friend's sister's boyfriend whose parents told us that since he was young, he loved to dress up as the Ninja Turtles and got into gymnastics because he failed at soccer. (Your sister made a good choice, I told my friend.) If this boy's parents were to be Asian- how would things have turned out to be like? I doubt they would have supported him in his pursuit of acrobatics... Doubt that he would have been given a tree-house to play in when he was young... Doubt that they would have encouraged him to date my friend's sister. Despite the cultural differences, though, parents being parents will still have the same pride shining from their faces, would still catch a last-minute plane from Brisbane to Melbourne just to watch their son's performance and would, with their faces flushed with pleasure, embarrass their son with details of his Ninja Turtles costume when he was young.

Team Loko

Pavel, Andrew, Pavel's Columbian friend and I found an Argentinean-Latino club nearby too- a lovely tiny little place chock full of women with full skirts and flowers in their hair, a flutist, traditional drummer and guitarists, a full-throated singer and a tall and bushy-haired bartender who (for some reason) had a headband of devil's horns on his head. A Columbian woman was selling hand-made trinkets in the corner ("Ah!" She said. "You're Singaporean! My best friend here is a Singaporean too!") and I bought a necklace off her which she enthusiastically got my friend to translate was made from polished coconut husks typical of Columbia.

For anyone who wants to go: Open Studio opposite the Northcote Town Hall, every Sunday night.
(I feel like a travel agency promoter.)

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The RAWA Fundraiser

Oct. 8th, 2007 | 12:11 pm

Recently I've had a few interesting events which I must express since I'm in a talkative mood:

(Thanks Soph for these pics!)

The fundraiser on campus for the education and healthcare of women and children in Afghanistan- in aid of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) who "cannot be enslaved"- as one of their slogans go. The actual morning of the fundraiser saw me slightly crestfallen because the logistics all seemed to be going wrong. Our table was not booked in the proper position at the allocated time, the lady at the Student Union counter was being the usual gloomy damper on potential events, my partner turned up so late that stress was taking me over, and the Postgrad Law Students' Society whom we were collaborating with were near tapping their feet in impatience. However, Charissa with her winsome smile turned up, smiled the gloomy lady and her tetchy protests down, and walloped me with her gobsmacking news: she is engaged! (That is, Charissa and not the gloomy lady.) After that, my whole day seemed brighter. Dozens of people popped up with home-baked goodies for us to sell for charity: lemon shortbread, vegan mocha cake, flapjacks, carrot cupcakes, chocolate-chip muffins, various cookies, apple-cinnamon scrolls, organic banana and walnut cake, lemon and strawberry cake, gourmet cherry and almond pie, etc, etc. Friends came to show their support - Emma who told everyone to buy her cake because it was Organic  banana and cajoled a group of guys to leave off tennis to support charity, Matija who became the money-collector and rattled the box around, Sophia who was the bubbly saleswoman and stayed for a long time, Pavel who kept grinning and slapping my shoulder, James who arrived to observe how quickly his cakes sold out; Kris, Thaniya and Sher who appeared, disappeared and re-appeared despite of assignments; Natalia who stood around eating cakes... Truly it is as Levinas and Derrida insinuate- friendships are the key to a new era of cosmopolitan politics. Soon enough, people were coming up to buy not in support of the actual cause, but for that rainbow-coloured spread on our table (of course, we chased them with flyers). We earned more than I imagined possible, and now this amount would be able to support around 9 Afghan teachers' monthly salaries or almost the monthly cost of running a hospital in Afghanistan.

I learned some new tactics that day: if somebody essential like a gloomy lady refuses to co-operate, give her a winsome smile, act cute, ask for things in an adorable "oh please may we have it I don't know what I would do without you" way, and you will receive. Additionally, when tracking people down for contributions do not say "buy a cake for charity?". Say, instead, "support the rights of women and children?" and their guilty response of "no" will seem all the more heartless and gruesome.

Speaking of the engagement, in keeping with my policy of telling the whole world, I shall repeat that Charissa now has a fiance! I have been so excited by her news that her engagement has come to seem like my own engagement, and when I inform other people who don't even know Charissa of her news, her kind of pride has come to become my own kind of pride. Sounds fishy when you think about it, but I try to adhere to the adage that one should wish for others what you would wish upon oneself. Which, I suppose, is another way of saying that I am getting clucky.

RAWA is an underground organistan in Afghanistan, run by some 2000 women with a small group of male supporters, against misogynism and gender oppression in Afghanistan (nothing to do with Islam, which is a much-misunderstood and much-manipulated religion of gender equality and egalitarianism). These empowered women are both persecuted and poor; some members have been thrown in jail for their undesirable opinions, one female member of Parliament (Malalai Joya) has been thrown out of Parliament for her criticism of its warlords, and the clothes on the back of the Afghan woman who came to our law building to give a lecture on RAWA were borrowed from somebody else.
I hope Soph doesn't mind that I'm pirating her pictures here, but here's a taste of how the sale was like!

These were Sophia's cupcakes... Yes... Drool.. Drool... Thanks Soph for them.

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At James' house on Philip Island

Sep. 20th, 2007 | 02:59 pm

I couldn't get rid of the numbers on the bottom right of the photos. Not only were they annoying, they also featured the wrong date. Which made them doubly annoying. But heck that. Philip Island was gorgeous! What a great respite from the city...

Here we are in James' bedroom which he kindly lent to us to kip in, and which we strung with chip packets, bags all over the floor, towels on the chair and jean legs trailing the ornamental shelf. He was a good sport though. He suffered the mess silently. Je suis desolee, Jams! We did clean up though, didn't we...

I was Official Map Reader for the trip! We didn't do too badly. For a trip that was supposed to take two hours to drive to, we took six. Where we were supposed to go off Monash Freeway, turn neatly into South Gippsland Highway and into San Remo, we missed the turn into South Gippsland, proceeded down Princes Highway and ended up in Leongatha and Morewell. Which are really rather far from Philip Island. But I got the hang of the map-reading after this round, and navigating around Philip Island was a breeze thereon! To all maps, I say Bring It On!

I am certain that it isn't a gender dichotomy that females cannot read maps, for I am proficient in map-reading now. Besides, wasn't it put to Miss Teen South Carolina in the famous faux pas pageant that "20% of Americans cannot locate their own country on a map"? That statistic is worse than straying to Morewell "like, such as", and I am convinced that females consist of more than 20% of the "US American" population.

Sherina, The Driver. Besides feeding her chocolate and Cheezels, what we did was listen to her Spanish music which we didn't understand a word of. I love Sher. She is so sweet. She drove more than she had ever driven in her life and more than she bargained for as well, then she arrived at James' house and promptly went to sleep.

This was how conversation went while we were in Morewell:
Sherina: "We can't be on the way to Philip Island. I don't see any signs for Philip Island here."
Me: "OK, we'll ask for directions at the next sign of civilisation. What we need is a farm."
Kris: "I can only see fields and cows here."
Rosh: Zzzz.
Kris: "What about our scones and cream?! Weren't we supposed to go for scones and cream?!"

And later when we finally arrived at James' house:
James and Myles: "Morewell? You were at Morewell?!?! Oh, did you see the coal factory?"
That was besides the point, James!

Roshni on the left, who was supposed to work on her (by now long overdue) essay throughout the trip, but seemed to be sleeping most of the time. Kris on the right, who was very excited and became more excited after we ended up in Morewell.

Jamijams and I in da hoodz. He has a lovely house (his mother's very tasteful influence no doubt). I don't have additional pictures of his house but I'll post them up once I get them from Rosh. Did I mention how beautiful James' house is? It is located on Aloha Drive, which is a bit of a misnomer since it didn't look like Hawaii around there.

On the left is an amazing old piano which has dust over its keys and a rich tenor which sailed out like a deep-throated voice. On the right is the table on which we gathered and played Balderdash throughout the night, and further on is the television set where we watched someone dropping a moose head on top of himself in Fawlty Towers.

Berrys Beach. More photos on this to come. Camera does no justification to sublimity of nature.

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(no subject)

Sep. 12th, 2007 | 07:16 pm

Why do we dream in metaphors of
Our own destruction
And the salvation of
Our souls?

Where is that intangible essence
While we're holding on to something
We cannot understand
And the dream threads us swiftly by?

My fingers splay silently over
The nebulous rock of my existence
But the wake of my formless certainty grows;
My smile slips past me into the night.

Like a push of breath from the lips
And a hush in the whorl of an ear,
My words are quiet, quiet, quiet
But my silence roars.

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qu'est-ce que j'ai fait le soir hier

Sep. 8th, 2007 | 08:19 am

Became a Malaysian on Merdeka night!
According to what someone said when we asked her why she was dressed in black instead of red, blue and white: "What? Aren't we celebrating fifty years of corruption?"

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Sep. 5th, 2007 | 12:32 am


Am very tired from worrying about this constitutional law assignment, the one which I seem to not be making much progress of, and my property agents have issued me a warning saying that they'll send my name to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal to have me evicted.  For not paying my rent. Which I'd already paid!

Even if I hadn't paid, they didn't have to overreact so much by waving the sword of a legal Damocles over my head. What is this large corporation afraid of- a thousand odd dollars slipping away from them? What has this juggernaut actually have to lose in comparison to me, the midget who paid her bloody rent but was perceived to not have paid her rent? What makes the whole situation so serious that they have to threaten to place me on a "rent black list" so that it will be "most difficult" for me to rent again within Australia?

Craziness. I hate this place! I'm moving out next year.

Miji's little bedroom antics are not very endearing any longer. Since she arrived I've not had a proper night's sleep and I get through two coffees a day. I explain things very clearly to her at night that she has to stay on another bed or at least stick to fidgeting around my legs instead of my head, but no... She continues to ruffle her paws around my head, chews my hair, bops around my neck, and she even managed to open my bedroom door last night. All by herself. Clever, isn't it? I remain unimpressed. So tonight, I'm going to shift a small chest of drawers in front of the door and she'd better get used to the living room couch.

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Back again on livejournal!

Sep. 3rd, 2007 | 09:29 pm


Sorry for not posting in the past few weeks! This is just to remind everyone that the fundraising sale for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan is still in the works. Pavel and I are just in the midst of co-ordinating the dates and details... And getting drenched in Uni work of course (argh). With regards to the above women in burqa, there is nothing essentially wrong with the burqa per se (I've never been in that position so how can I say how it is like?) but it is just the most quickly recognisable image of Afghanistan I have at this point in time. There is, however, a large problem when one sector of the community forces or coerces another into donning items with connotations.

Hi Olivia, if you see this, I have your contact details and a mass email will be sent out soon. Honestly, I'm apprehensive that this might not be as successful as I hope... But even if people do not know about the cause, at least they will like the cake, right? You were the first person to be so enthusiastic about helping out, so thank you for this! I've not seen the film on RAWA at the Seoul Film Festival... I did watch one about Malalai Joya though, and it was this doco which motivated Pavel and I to start this small collective which he has very creatively named Friends of the People of Afghanistan, or FOPA (lol... a name which I'm not too wild about). Was that the same film you watched? If this fundraising proves to be relatively successful, we may embark on further fundraising projects in the future, perhaps a movie screening if possible. So it would be great if we can look for your film at a future date.

So! Nothing much exciting has been going on except for studying and getting to know the libraries very... Intimately :). God I love the libraries about this place. It's great to wake up in the morning and pick the location of the day: the warm wood of the humanities-filled Baillieu library, the professional blue glass of the law library, the rotting books dating from the 19th century in French, Arabic, Chinese, Italian, German or whatever it is in the ERC; the computer labs which are open every hour of the day and on any day of the week... The stateliness and high domed ceilings of the State Library... Even the fact that we have our exams in the national heritage site of the Royal Exhibition Building with its baroque paintings and soaring ceilings. The exams have spoiled the place for me though. Walking into an exam hall with echoing halls is intimidating, and hurrying there with tourists staring at you is no fun.

Every few weeks or so, I make a discovery of such-and-such a faculty's computer lab hidden away within the old Victorian buildings and behind white corridors and blue doors. Just today, I was introduced to the Engineering faculty's computer lab which has a large engineering 'hook' kind of paraphernalia suspended from the ceiling. Its rusty machinery presided like a primitive king over the clean carpets and hi-tech computer screens on the floor. For some reason, I really was very impressed with that 'hook' object... It was just a surprise that something so old and falling apart could be preserved in a computer laboratory, of all things.

I'm getting involved with a project for Darfuri refugees as well, as part of the Melbourne Centre for International Armed Conflict Studies, so hopefully that will turn out alright. It will be an experience of the kind which I've never had in my life. We interview Darfuri refugees (through a translator if the interview is carried out in Arabic or Sudanese dialect) and record their personal experiences of assult, murder or rape in the armed conflict of Sudan. I know it will be traumatising but it is exactly what I am looking for... For the moment, I want to leave impersonal research projects aside and deal directly with the raw emotions of people. For this is what work should be about: interacting with people, soothing them, and crying by yourself afterwards. Well.. Not entirely, but this should constitute a portion. You need things in life to move you, for life itself is not a pretty picture and one should never be lulled into assuming so. In addition, no work and no endeavour is worthwhile if it does not strive to alleviate the hurts of others. I may not end up walking a path in life which directly helps people, but the least I can do is try, try, and try even though my actions remain small. Someday it might bring heartfelt peace to another, and that really is enough.

Anyway, I am getting mushy. Roshni and I recently watched a film at the local cinema called The Jammed, which is about the underground prostitution ring in Melbourne. It is surreal to watch the city scenes I know with my everyday eyes be converted into sites of danger and patriarchal oppression... I was so amazed. You are aware that people are suffering and struggling right under your nose, but in my case it is usually a dim awareness... I am so caught up with thinking about myself, myself and myself to truly be considering others. To have this realisation brought bleeding and unapologetic to my face took a lot of guts, and it takes a perserverance to allow it to smash into your heart and ensure that this punch in the face never fades away into yet another dim awareness. A lot of injustice in common society manifests itself in insidious ways and exists dimly in our consciousness. We don't even see them... I have trouble seeing a lot of them.


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