Episode 142: Law and Order: Special Scrumping Unit

The Overthinkers tackle Rebecca Black’s Friday with a special guest from the UK.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and special guest Timothy Swann from the UK to overthink Rebecca Black’s Friday, the production and export of culture, favorite days of the week, and why Birmingham, England is different from Birmingham, Alabama.

scrump, vi [ˈskɹʌmp]: to steal fruit. more »


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46 Comments on “Episode 142: Law and Order: Special Scrumping Unit”

  1. fenzel OTI Staff #

    I know what you’re thinking.

    “Pete, if you’re going to reference a song from Miss Saigon on the podcast, could you at least link us to a video of the song, preferably sung in a musical revue by the men and women of a Canadian regional police service?”

    How could I saw no to that?



    • cat #

      Oh Pete, do you really believe I wouldn’t get a reference to Miss Saigon? Tsk. A) Asian B) fan of musical theater C) Lea Salonga is one of my idols D) This just happened to be one of our choral medleys in high school.

      This was a pretty good version but for some reason when guys sing selections from this musical the vowels and accents ruin it. *shakes fist* Bowman…!


  2. Timothy J Swann #

    http://paper.li/idsharman linked us on his twitter daily which was nice.

    I have lots of comments that I’ll leave until I’ve actually listened back, save to say that we had a great conversation after we finished recording that I kind of wish the recorder was still on for!


  3. Wade #

    I realize “You should die” is just an example Mark tossed out (or maybe he was reading verbatim, I don’t know), but having actually encountered it online, it’s always struck me as a strange thing to say.

    It’s like some kid wants to be edgy and tell someone they should kill themselves or that they wish the person were dead, but is too afraid of getting caught to say anything too hurtful. Thus, “You should die.”

    “If modern science ever overcomes the natural aging process, I hope they deny your application for human testing, because you should die.”

    On the other hand, if flames were always that elaborate, I might start reading youtube comments again.


  4. Paul #

    This would be my songs of the week playlist. A couple of these I don’t have in digital format, so I’d need to download them or get one of those turntables that can connect to a computer and rip files. As choices for a songs of the week mashup it might be interesting, but I’ve never tried making one.

    Every day is like Sunday by Morrissey
    Blue Monday by New Order
    Tuesday Afternoon by The Moody Blues
    Wednesday Week by The Undertones
    Thursday by Morphine
    Friday I’m in love by The Cure
    10.15 Saturday Night by The Cure
    (alternate if you don’t want to repeat an artist would be Saturday Night by the Kaiser Chiefs)

    As I look it over, they are all from the UK except Morphine. I originally had U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, which wouldn’t be a UK artist, but then I remembered Morrissey’s song. Not that it means anything.


    • cat #

      Days of the week using my iTunes…

      Monday- Monday Morning by Fleetwood Mac, Manic Monday by The Bangles
      Wednesday- Waiting for Wednesday by Lisa Loeb
      Friday- Friday Night by Lily Allen, Friday I’m In Love by The Cure, Last Friday Night by Katy Perry
      Saturday- Another Saturday Night by Sam Cooke, Saturday Night by The Noisettes, Saturday Night by The Kaiser Chiefs, Looking For the Heart of Saturday Night by Madeleine Peyroux, What Ever Happened to Saturday Night from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
      Sunday- Sunday from Flower Drum Song, Sunday Kind of Love, Sunday Morning by Maroon 5

      Also, this makes me realize that there’s still a ton of stuff on my iPod that I haven’t listened to. From this I’m going to jump to the conclusion that there’s an emphasis on the beginning and end of the week (Tues-Thurs are underrepresented), or at least the work week and an emphasis on “morning” at the beginning of the week and Saturday “nights”. While this makes sense, why doesn’t anyone write a song about Wednesday night…say when one can go to karaoke and afterwards misguidedly indulge in some St. Augustinian scrumping?


  5. Paul #

    My original thought on seeing the Rebecca Black video was that it must be a joke. Nobody would put that much effort into a song and video that bad as a serious endeavor. I thought it was a parody of Bieber or Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, much like the Robin Sparkles stuff on How I Met Your Mother. After reading and hearing more, the horrible realization set in that it was an earnest attempt at music.

    I’m curious whether this will help or hurt the Ark Music Factory business. Even though she is getting a lot of negative press, she’s getting a lot of press. Others may think even though the songs they offer aren’t great, it still leads to a lot of notice. I’m actually confused that Ark Music Factory would offer the song to someone in the first place. Couldn’t they see that it was awful, or did they really think they had written something akin to a Justin Bieber/Miley Cyrus kind of teen pop song?


  6. Arjen #


    … cause that means I have to wait until after my Monday morning commute to download it :( On the other hand, not knowing if the OTI podcast will be up is a little source of excitement and at 6AM before work on a Monday morning, I’ll take what I can get.

    Regarding a song for every day of the week: as with so many things in popular music, the Beatles did it earlier and better than you. Every bit as random as anything you can mash together. “But they forgot about Saturday!”, I hear you cry. No they didn’t, they just mislaid it.

    I feel like I ought to say something about how relevant and readily available the pop-culture you discuss is in glorious nation of Netherlands, but to be honest, I haven’t a clue. I mostly consume my pop-culture indirectly, through podcasts made by Americans. I recall seeing promos on TV for Gossip Girl episodes whose plots I already knew. But TFT’s new semi-annual schedule may put them a little behind the facts even on this side of the Atlantic.

    Since the comments seem to be the medium of choice for listener feedback these days, I would like to share with you some thoughts I had on The King’s Speech. I went to see it on the advice of my podcaster (i.e. you mentioned it winning some Oscars). Its crowning achievement, I think, is making two hours of stuttering royalty into a compelling and entertaining movie. The narrative follows a Chosen One arc, but I didn’t find it that jarring in this movie. One is indeed born into royalty and in this role is required to do certain things regardless of one’s ability to do them.

    Something else that struck me as interesting in the movie was Lionel Logue’s fondness of Shakespeare. It served some superficial purposes in the story: providing occasional comic relief and emphasizing Logue’s otherness (“we need someone a little more… English” was the line, I believe). But I’m wondering if there are perhaps deeper parallels to be drawn between the story of the movie and Shakespeare’s stories of royalty.


  7. Redem #

    Archive angst basicly cause by acessibility in the information age

    amusingly Ark Coporation was the name of the evil corporation in the Cape.

    Its not Attack of the clones you are describing its Eragon


  8. Anthony Abatte #

    I have to admit that I didn’t know who Rebecca Black was until today. I stopped the podcast when Mark begin describing her to watch the video on youtube.

    I never thought I’d rather watch a Bieber video over anything in life until today.

    Also, for the Overview, I love that you’re doing it. If you do it on a regular basis, even monthly, you may never need donations again. I loved the Starship Troopers episode and now have a reason to watch Twilight.

    I want to suggest “Robocop” and “Black Belt Jones,” both on Netflix streaming. “Black Belt Jones” with Jim Kelly has to be a strong influence on Black Dynamite, but it’s so painful to watch.

    Also, for songs about days, here’s They Might Be Giants’ “Seven Days of the Week” video. SPOILER ALERT. It may get stuck in your head.



  9. Jasin Nazim #

    Timothy Swann was great! “Hire” him as an “intern” and bring him back for more overthinking.

    Also, you should all be eaten alive by rats while listening to repeats of Friday. that hatefull enough for you?


  10. Rob #

    Allow me to disagree with Fenzel’s cynicism regarding mass-media transmission of internet memes. We already know the mainstream news media is incompetent at anything beyond stenography; so, by Occam’s razor, there’s no need to posit a conspiracy when incompetence will do. I don’t think there’s collusion between a Rebecca Black’s PR people and the TV shows that spread her meme; I think it’s more likely that the writers/editors of those shows spend several hours a day goofing around on the internet, quite possibly while at work. They probably got the link from FARK, or some other aggregator, and said, “Wow, this is an easy story because we don’t have to write anything – all we have to do is show the video and read Youtube comments. And it’s obviously popular on the internets, so it’ll bring us more viewers or at least make us seem hip. Let’s run it.”


    • Howard #

      Hanlon’s razor – don’t attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.


      • Lee OTI Staff #

        Rebecca’s razor – the funnest explanation is most likely the funnest one.


  11. Pasteur #

    Do Juno!

    Or, since it streams on instant netflix, tag stokes and overview Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in anticipation of the inevitable conclusion of his post-series.


  12. Howard #

    I’m Asian as well, and for what it’s worth, I thought the worst part was she was mad at people for trying to contact their families after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. And she seemed to be aware that it happened too! Weird. But anyway, the internet has come full circle and people are saying she should die too, and I actually feel kind of sorry for her. Yeah, she said something dumb and insensitive and pretty racist, but that’s not against the law. It’s not like she’s in a position to bar UCLA from admitting any more Asian people.

    Anyway, some dude made a song in response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulEMWj3sVA


    • Gab #

      I thought the video came out the weekend before the earthquake… I watched it and totally missed that. Wow, that makes it, like, a bajillion times worse, imho… Meep.


  13. Edvamp #

    Re: Youtube comments. There was a back and forth recently between Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly about comments left on the comments section. Apparently Bill was criticizing the content of Huffington Post as an excuse to compare them to Nazis. Stewart pointing out that the content Bill was referring to was actually reader comments, not Huff content. For a reporter to quote anonymous Youtube comments to any person, especially a 13 year old, as part of a segment is particularly bad journalism.

    Re: Scrumping. The first time I heard the word scrumping was on Red Dwarf. Lister was talking about how he and his friends would go scrumping as kids. His friend said that stealing a few apples wasn’t a big deal. Lister replied that they would go scrumping for cars.

    Re: Rebecca Black and the promotion/publicity of new music. I’ve worked in the music industry for over 15 years and this is a subject I’ve thought about and lectured on a lot lately. Prior to the internet new bands and artists needed record labels for two primary reasons: distribution (getting records into stores) and publicity (usually radio and Mtv but also interviews, TV appearances, etc.).

    The internet allowed unsigned bands to make their music available for sale or download, decreasing the importance of record store distribution (bye bye Tower). Indie bands can even have their music on Itunes if they want. But they still had the issue of getting new listeners to discover their music, and sites like Myspace and Youtube have been important for that. OK Go is the perfect example of fame via viral video.

    The fact that much of the publicity is negative isn’t even a problem for her. Bands used to get huge boosts in sales by being insulted by Howard Stern when he was back on terrestrial radio. I first heard about her when Ralph Garman ranted about her on his podcast with Kevin Smith.

    Right now the industry is scrambling to figure out what is going to replace Mtv and commercial radio as the vehicle to break new artists. Podcasts and blogs are too decentralized, there needs to be central force for exposure just as Itunes is the central force for distribution, and Youtube is as good a vehicle as any.

    While the attempt to make her viral was undoubtably planned, it’s not like making something viral is as predictable as spending money to make a movie #1 at the box office. For every Rebecca Black there are hundreds, if not thousands of aspiring pop singers posting their music to Youtube, but none of them got 1/10th the exposure she did. Making something viral is truly in the hands of the marketplace, regardless of the objectives of the content creator.

    You do mention how unaware they are for putting content out there on the internet and being surprised that the content is mocked, but then make the comment how the mother is not responsible for being being assholes on the internet. But she did consent to having her daughter put out there to potentially be mocked. Do you feel that, unaware or not, the mother should at least take some responsibility to exposing her daughter to the rather ruthless elements of the internet?

    Tim made an interesting comment about not listening to certain songs that gain notoriety and having a more interesting version in his head than the actual song. I had a similar experience when I was younger and would see pictures of Kiss and Alice Cooper and had a idea of what I thought their music was like in my head. But when I finally heard them it was nothing like what I had anticipated, especially Kiss. It’s like the image and hype builds it up one way but the reality is completely different.

    Next Overview – Leprechaun: In the Hood


    • Timothy J Swann #

      I actually think this might happen with all forms of media, and given that I’m reading Anathem (the fantasy version of The Wire) I’m going to blame Plato and the Hylean Theoric World, i.e. the pure form of a song is being fed but not with complete integrity and replication into our reality, and if we don’t listen to it, we get more of the true form.

      I seem to remember rumours in school (I was 10 when it was released) about the content of the Matrix spun wildly beyond its reality, so maybe memes are just filling in for the playground in giving false, hyperbolised impressions of mass media…


    • Paul #

      So modern day scrumping might still be stealing apples. “Oi, I nicked an Ipod Nano and two Iphones.”


  14. JosephFM #

    There was a Chameleons (UK) song called “Thursday’s Child” which came out in 1983, long before the 1999 Bowie song (which is a totally different song, just with the same name).


  15. Joe #

    After reading all the posts that Fenzel wrote about DragonBall I would love an overview of one of the DragonBall movies. Or of “DragonBall evolution”, It would be great to hear what you guys think about that.


  16. Brian #

    They Live would be an awesome Overview, deals with a lot themes you guys cover; false consciousness, the problem of depicting violence in art, economics, Rowdy Roddy Piper, class struggle, strong female characters.

    It feels like it’s what “Overthinking It the Movie” would have to be, because you can’t have a movie that deconstructs pop culture through jibber jabber and chewing bubble gum like the site does, you need to kick ass!


  17. Brian #

    Mac and Me would also be worth the price of admission.


  18. Gab #

    Timothy, yay!!! Well done, mate, bloody well done! (Note: That was my Bad English Accent.)

    I totally did the booth thing to the song “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base when I was eight or so. It was at the sad-excuse-for-a-kids’-museum in Las Vegas, though.

    Interesting REM was your first thought, Matt. They did have an album come out on March 8th that made it to 5th position on the charts (yay Wiki). But I don’t remember seeing much promotion for it at all. So does that mean REM doesn’t need the promotion machine that U2 does?

    That “Asians in the Library” video is pretty bad- and I may not speak anything but (bad) English, but I can at least tell the difference(s) between Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean when hearing, even if I don’t know what is being said. But the video resulted in a lot of pretty funny parodies, and has been the cause for a pretty awesome social movement, from what I can tell. Wrather would be able to speak more about that, though, being at the school and all. Hint. Anyhoo, what I’m getting at is some positives have come out of it. Something like that happened at my undergrad school… twice… while I was there- a bad, racist “thing” done very publicly, resulting in a bunch of forums for discussion, some institutional changes, etc.

    Lee, with regards to that trifecta of viral videos. Correct me if I’m wrong, but were you saying they *all* knew what they were doing when posting their respective videos on the internets? If so, I’d have to disagree, tahere. First, “Friday.” The purpose of putting it online was self-promotion, which, I assume, would entail a desire to make good. I see it as a misinterpretation of the potential reaction on the part of Black’s people. I just find it way too hard to believe the adults around Black would deliberately make her video bad in order to get negative attention- she’s thirteen years old, for crying out loud, and if it ever came out that they did it on purpose, who knows what would happen to them? (This isn’t to say kids can’t take care of themselves, but rather that the adults involved be held accountable, if only in the court of public opinion, for knowingly putting her in a bad position.) In essence, I just don’t think they realized there would be that much hate, and instead thought, naively, that it would be well-received. The “Asians in the Library” gal was different- she was so caught up in her emotions and opinions that she became completely oblivious to reality and wasn’t thinking about the reactions at all. She was speaking (no, ranting) out of anger and frustration and recorded it in a moment of heat where she wasn’t thinking clearly- it was basically an angry diary entry made into a video; but the nature of it doesn’t even lead me to want to call it a “vlog” post, either. (Note: I am in no way, shape, or form condoning her actions.) Star Trek Dancer Dude, yes, he knew full-well what he was doing and guessed right. He wanted to do something funny and make people laugh, and he did. So props there. But I guess what I’m saying is each of the three had different things going on when they posted their videos. I attribute the vitriol aimed at Black to a miscalculation, “Asians in the Library” girl’s to lack of forethought, and Dancer Dude’s responses to a hoped for and achieved goal.

    And, DAAAAW, I’m flattered you ‘always wanted to talk to me.’ Likewise, to all of you. Like I said, I’d do it again some time… ;)

    But this one is Timothy’s, so more for him, too!!!!


    • Lee OTI Staff #

      “Correct me if I’m wrong, but were you saying they *all* knew what they were doing when posting their respective videos on the internets?”

      No–I was trying to say that Rebecca Black and Alexandra Wallace, with their respective videos, represent the clueless, non-self awareness crowd on the internet. They lack savvy, guile, and a sense of how their online activities will be perceived by others.

      When we watch these videos and mock the people who made them, we feel good about ourselves because we’re not them. We congratulate ourselves on being way more self-aware and internet-savvy than these chumps.

      I tried to offer Star Trek dancing guy as the counter-example to Black and Wallace, which admittedly isn’t the best counter-example, but nevertheless, it does stand in stark contrast to those videos. Here, we have a guy–a Star Trek nerd at a video game convention–who’s creating a moment of silliness for himself and those around him. His performance may not be “self-aware” in the way that an ironic, snarky parody video is (and in the way that “Friday” painfully isn’t); I think I was extrapolating from a variety of things that he himself likely knew very well what he was getting himself into. Consider that he’s an improv comedian, and he’s dancing to the Microsoft Kinect. This guy’s probably a lot like you and me; he reads blogs on teh internets and laughs at the unintentional comedy that people make of themselves on said internets.

      Of course, this starts to break down when you consider that he didn’t know he was being filmed and that someone else posted it. That being said, I still think he provides a welcome contrast to Black and Wallace’s respective videos.


      • Gab #

        Ah, okay, sorry for misinterpreting you. I agree, Star Trek Dude does present a contrast, but I still think there is a difference between the Black and Wallace videos in where that lack of awareness came from. In the former’s case, her people were, perhaps, so caught up in what they were doing that they lost perspective and chugged through; whereas Wallace was caught up in the heat of a brief moment. And, actually, each of the “incidents” on my college campus came from one of those places. The first involved guys at a frat party- they did something pretty terrible and posted it on FB, thinking it was hilarious (so that is more like Wallace); the second involved an April Fool’s Day insert in the school paper, intended as satire (but that failed miserably) that went through weeks of editorial scrutiny before being published (so more like Black’s situation, there).

        On the subject of colleges and racism, something frighteningly close to the April Fool’s thing on my campus happened last week at CSULB, where my cousin happens to go. I understand why the incident at my campus was ignored by the national scene, it being a tiny little college in rural WA; but this one is a state university in Long Beach. (One piece in Daily Kos and one in the “college” section of Huffington Post are the only things not affiliated with the university or the local community that pop up when I try various methods of Googling for it.) I also strongly believe the lack of coverage stems from how the racism was directed, in both cases, at American Indians. But I think the main reason is the way the insults went out- Wallace posted an easily accessed and made-fun-of video, while the USCLB paper printed a serious article. People are more likely to watch a video than read a page and explanation about it, and they’re more likely to speak out (even if it’s just ranting in comments sections) against a video than something in print- ink still has a somewhat honorific status, a +1 to its armor or something. Still, while I think the article was written under the same emotional conditions as Wallace’s video when it was recorded, I also believe there is an extra layer of filth in the printed case because it passed the scrutiny of editors and advisors before making it to the press. That means multiple people thought it was okay, not just the original author. Imo, that makes it even less okay, though.

        I guess I’m getting political now. So end rant.


      • Edvamp #

        “I was trying to say that Rebecca Black and Alexandra Wallace, with their respective videos, represent the clueless, non-self awareness crowd on the internet. They lack savvy, guile, and a sense of how their online activities will be perceived by others.

        When we watch these videos and mock the people who made them, we feel good about ourselves because we’re not them. We congratulate ourselves on being way more self-aware and internet-savvy than these chumps.”

        But there is still a big difference between posting a racist video rant online and publishing a song. Wallace’s rant in and of iteself breaks generally accepted norms of values and behavior even before she put it online. I would agree that posting it to Youtube and being surprised at the backlash shows remarkable lack of awareness.

        As for posting a song, any artist that makes their art available for public consumption opens themselves up to criticism. And even established artists receive these kinds of harsh ‘you should die for making this music’ comments online.

        But should that restrict people, no matter how naive, from putting their art out there? Last I checked Rebecca generated $10,000 from Youtube’s revenue share program and, more importantly, $1 million from Itunes, which means people are actually buying the song.

        Perhaps they are more aware then we give them credit for. For $1 million I think a lot of people would be willing to bear the slings and arrows of the anonymous internet cooler than thou crowd.


    • Timothy J Swann #

      And like so many people’s, it comes across rather Australian!
      You did a fantastic job yourself!

      It’s interesting what you say, as if actually the video that leads to the most actual good is the one that is the most unambiguously bad? A sort of Newtonian approach to good and bad videos?


      • Gab #

        Well, I think the one that does the most Good would depend on one’s personal definition of Good. If you were going for more of a Rawlsian approach, it’d probably be Wallace because while some people were hurt and others ired, the results will (hopefully) lead to some systemic alterations, if not in behavior, but actual rules at school, in order to reflect how everyone should act and be treated. Star Trek guy is kind of Millean in that his video (or, rather, the one of him) made a bunch of people happy for a while, but it’s not going to make everyone happy. I’d probably prefer the Rawlsian approach, if only because of personal experience, but that doesn’t mean I’d like to see racist tirades like Wallace’s once a week. I’d still want to see people dancing and being hilarious, too. But I guess it could be conceived of as Newtonian in either case, too, since you could say each video inevitably leads to something, or that certain outcomes grow out of it organically- but how “organic” it really is may be debatable, though.

        I’m actually not very familiar with Newtonian philosophy, so how much agency are people allowed before action gets disqualified? Would, say, a council of people getting together in response to some problem and writing some rules down be considered organic?


        • Timothy J Swann #

          That is a very good question to which I do not know the answer… and of course, as soon as we have a good conception of Newtonian philosophy, we’ll have to deal with Einstein and Bohr.


  19. Timothy J Swann #

    Breaking News: As of last night, I have heard Friday. It wasn’t as disappointing as I was expecting. Less monotone certainly… but I really wonder who all the extras at the party are? It’s still a web phenomenon that if you turn on live comments on youtube, they rush by at more than a comment a second!

    I still haven’t listened back to any bits where I was speaking yet! Only some bits as my brother was listening to it which were the pros at work. (Doing the Overview makes you Pro-Overthinkers now, right?)


    • Gab #

      And the parodies/deconstructions are coming at about the same rate, too.


  20. Timothy J Swann #

    Okay, the comments I wrote down whilst listening to the actual podcast actually.
    The intro with the episode title sounds like when John Oliver pretends to be more British on the Daily Show. So, technically, a good impression of an Englishman, just an Englishman doing a fake English accent.
    If the Netflix Exchange worked, you would only be allowed films with operators in, i.e. lots of old ones and the Matrix and nothing else.
    I forgot to complain about how you pronounce niche. Neesh! NEESH!
    I hope that one day we do have proper maglev for our trains so that the question about Commuter Trains, how do they work? becomes even more appropriate.
    Oh, and I totally didn’t get the chance to throw in a ‘Well, Actually’! It is not illegal to watch a streamed Sky broadcast. It is only illegal to broadcast it in the first place. This has been discovered by legions of cricket fans in the recent weeks.
    When we get into the frankly disturbing Fenzelian Humps section, I wanted to suggest the junk in the trunk was literal, and made of root beer cans. Ah well.


      • Timothy J Swann #

        Which is basically how I intend to ensure my return one day… I’ll find a topic that has lots of Rs and excuses to use my side of the language… I was going to suggest a Pavement reunion tour, but apparently they did one last year, so I’m late to the game.


  21. Lee OTI Staff #

    “I hope that one day we do have proper maglev for our trains so that the question about Commuter Trains, how do they work? becomes even more appropriate.”

    Q: F—ing Maglev Commuter Trains; how do they work?

    A: Magnets.

    Q: F—ing Magnets; how do they work?

    A: Atomic and subatomic particles aligning and attracting.

    Q: F—ing atomic and subatomic particles; how do they work?

    A: Sigh…fine, I give up. It’s a f—ing miracle.


    • Gab #

      My mind, ’tis thoroughly boggled. I’d copy-paste it into Word to see who had more words, this person or Fenzel, but I’m too lazy and it’s too late.


    • Timothy J Swann #

      It’s worth noting that the cyclist on the pavement is not breaking the law, they’re taking one of Boris’s Bikes from the rental station. I think that’s important.

      Incidentally, my first explanation for this was akin to the UAE and Saudi going into Bahrain for our anti-cuts protests. I have a conspiratorial mind, I guess.


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