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Monday, January 31, 2005

Moore mispeling 

I just checked my Sitemeter stats and someone got to my entry making fun of Governor Arnie by searching for Schwarzeneger + height. Even though I corrected my spelling, Google has indexed the original incorrectly spelled version, so my Brush With Fame comes up as the first hit on Google. Ha!

Walking on dirt 

In my attempt to make the boys somewhat woodsy and outdoorsy, now that YA is big enough to walk most of the way, we've started trying to go for a hike (or as I like to call it, a Walk On Dirt) at least once each weekend. This weekend was big fun because we went on two hikes and on the first one our friends from the other side of the Bay came along. The top (Saturday) picture was taken looking out toward the ocean at the summit of our Saturday hike. If you look at the tree on the right had side of the picture one of its branches pointing to the top of a hill. If you follow that hill down and back up to the hill to the left, that is the spot from which Sunday's picture was taken. In that picture, on the skyline near the middle is widely spaced cluster of trees. If you look carefully you can see a trail climbing up the hill toward one of them. That's the tree in Saturday's picture.

For these Walks On Dirt we drove about three miles from our house to get to the trail heads; and were, in fact, still in the Pacifica city limits when we started walking. I'm not sure if we left town or not when we were walking inland.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday Kid Blogging 

Another trip in the Way Back Machine. These were shot on a trip to Jenner, CA a couple years ago. Jenner, if you haven't been there, is at the mouth of the Russian River. It's quite lovely but, in April, not so warm. For reasons I don't understand both boys felt the need to collect all the driftwood they could lift.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


I've been contemplating on marriage and biology. I'm currently in the middle of reading Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale. In it he mentions something I'd known but then forgotten: species that display sexual dimorphism tend to not be monogamous. To put that another way, if the males of a species are larger than the females, the males tend to mate with more than one female. The flip side of this is that many males in these species don't mate at all. A couple of examples are Elephant seals and Elk. In both the males fight to maintain harems of females to which they hope to be the only males available for mating. Horses don't display such dimorphism but do have the same style of mating in the wild; so there are exceptions. Now lets turn our attention to humans. There is probably no one who would dispute the idea that men are larger and stronger than women. This would seem to indicate that at some point in our evolutionary history, humans mated in a strong-male-maintains-a-harem kind of way. And there are plenty of cultures around the world that practice polygamy. The idea that God (or as I like to call him, My Imaginary Friend) handed down the Rule that marriage is one man and one woman is not supported by the facts on the ground. So our friends in the more 'fundamentalist' branch of society, in their attempts to protect their version of marriage from the ravages of our homosexual friends, are just defending their own aberrant form of marriage from a slightly different aberration. One man and one man or one woman and one woman are much closer to one man and one woman than one man and multiple women. But one man and multiple women is much closer to our evolutionary roots than any of the others.

I know that trying to reason with the nutjobs by appealing to science is a lost cause, but it is a fun argument to make.

And no, I'm not calling for polygamy. I'm just pointing out that marriage is a cultural construct that in our society has managed to somewhat disconnect itself from our biological heritage.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Brush With Fame 

Way back when the Earth was young and I was in College (Go Gauchos!) I worked as a whitewater guide. I was never one of the cool cats working the Toulemne or the Grand Canyon, but I did have tons of fun on the South and Middle Forks of the American and the Rogue.

The way Middle Fork of the American trips were done back then you could do a one or two day trip over the same stretch of river. The one day version got kind of long and the two day trips had not the longest water time ever. So there I was working a two day and the rumor was that Arnold Schwarzenegger was doing a one-day with a different company that would arrive at the takeout on the same day as my two-day.

Things have since changed, but at the time the Middle Fork take-out was horrible. It was right upstream of an un-runnable rapid. To get to it you had to drive a long way on dirt roads and at the last little bit drive down a very steep, very rutted, very dusty road where the least miscue would plunge you down a cliff to your death or dismemberment. Naturally, we made the passengers walk up this hill to get on the bus. But the equipment truck had to drive down to the water's edge to get the boats and other gear.

For those of you who have never been whitewater rafting, it's considered cool of the passengers to help carry the gear up to the take-out truck. That way everybody gets on their way as soon as possible.

So my trip got to the take-out without sighting Arnie. Our passengers helped get everything up to the truck and then were set on their way walking the quarter to half mile to the waiting bus. About the time we were done getting the boats and gear onto the truck Arnie's trip pulled up to the take-out. The head boatman and I conducted a final beach check to make sure nothing had been left behind, sent the truck on its way and began our own walk to the bus. As we passed under some trees (shade!) we encountered Arnie. He was standing alone in the shade wearing his lifejacket and leaning on his paddle. (digression - lifejackets are for providing floatation if you fall out of a boat. They are not fashion accessories, so if you're not in a boat, don't wear one. You just look silly if you do). Arnie was not helping his guides get the gear to the take-out truck. We made eye-contact, but since in this situation I was the cool one, I elected to let him open the conversation (digression - I'm 5'10" tall, Arnie and I were about eye to eye, he is no more than 6' tall). He must have been too shy since he didn't say anything.

So there you have it, Arnold Schwarzenegger is of average height, lame, and a dork.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sorry Mr. Godwin 

So we've got this country where the leader (we'll call him Mr X) assumed power in a dubious manner. He's been building up the military, and is pretty obviously going to use it to attack somebody. He begins talking smack about another country. Now this other country is not a nice place, in fact the head of state is a rather unpleasant dictator. Mr X begins massing armed forces for an attack on his selected enemy. He begins making wild claims about how evil and terrible the other country is. He lies a lot. After assembling a coalition of helpers he attacks the country and conquers it in an unprecedentedly quick manner. The locals are not all that pleased and begin a multi-year program of resistance. Mr X responds by torturing and killing large numbers of the people who live in the country he invaded. He goes on to invade many other countries and is eventually defeated by the united efforts of most of the rest of the world.

The consensus view is that Mr Hitler was a war criminal for waging an unprovoked war of aggression against Poland. Right up to the invading other countries part, Mr Bush's war against Iraq follows the same narrative.

Now a serious question: Is or is not Mr Bush a war criminal for waging an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq and then instituting an oppressive occupation?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Friday Kid Blogging 

Here are fresh pictures of the boys. Fresh as in taken with my new camera. I got a Kodak DX7950 a 5 Megapixel camera with 10X optical zoom. It does supposedly not focus that well in low light, but the Minolta didn't either. And now I'll be able to take pictures of the gathering of the clan in Minnesota. That's right Internets, I'm writing a post using the free wireless connection in my room at the Country Inn & Suites in Alexandria, MN. Tomorrow afternoon we have the funeral service for Granny. And if they've plowed the road out to the little country church where she's going to be buried we'll do that part too. The MN cold snap broke just in time for a snow storm and it's touch and go whether or not the gravel roads will be plowed in a timely manner.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Here, for the edification of you, Internets, is the legend of Swante, my ancestor. It's truth cannot be verified, but it was what my grandfather told me about how his grandfather got to America.

Swante was a young man in Sweden. In that era, your parents arranged your marriage. It worked like this: every Sunday for four Sundays, the father of the groom would get up and announce that his son was going to marry some particular girl. This was called Reading The Bans. On the fifth Sunday, the putatively happy couple got married and that was that.

Swante's parents arranged for him to be married. The only problem from Swante's point of view was that the girl did not have any appealing characteristics. He really didn't want to marry her.

Here's how it went. On the first Sunday Swante's dad (we'll call him SD) got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that completely unappealing girl over there." Or something like that. After church Swante explained to his parents that the girl was not his cup of tea. On the second Sunday SD got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that really unappealing girl over there." After church Swante said something like, "Really Dad, this joke isn't funny anymore. I don't want to marry her." On the third Sunday SD got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that nasty girl over there." After chuch Swante said, "Dad I'm beginning to think you mean it. This is causing me a certain amount of concern."

Sometime before the fourth Sunday Swante ran away and joined the Swedish Navy. Three years later he came home. There was great rejoicing, slaughtering of the fatted calf, etc. Eventually it was Sunday and everyone trooped off to church. At the appropriate part of the service SD got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that really patient, but still completely unappealing woman over there."

This was serious, Swante was going to get married in a week. But now Swante knews the ways of the sea. So he made his way to a port and stowed away on a ship bound for America.

When he got to New York he asked where he might find some Swedes. On being informed he started walking and after a while he ended up in Minnesota.

And that, Internets, is how one of my great great grandparents ended up on the Tundra of Western Minnesota.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


A while ago (going on two years for those of you keeping score at home) I was on a jury. Internets, I can hear you scoffing, "Couldn't he get out of it? What is wrong with that Hank?" I felt the same way right up until the trial started. It was actually quite interesting to see how a trial works in real life as opposed to the way they go on TV. In case you're interested I voted to convict a young man of Vehicular Manslaughter With Gross Negligence. It turns out that racing someone at speeds up to 100 mph on a freeway amongst other traffic, losing control of your car, crashing and having your passenger die in the ensuing wreck is a crime.

The tie-in with current events comes from the instructions we were given by the judge just before we began our deliberations. We were told that if we thought a witness was lying about anything then we were free to disregard everything else they had said while on the witness stand. With regards to the events leading up to 9/11, we know that Dr. Rice is either a liar or stupid. If she's stupid, she really shouldn't be in high government office. If she's a liar, then we don't have to believe anything she said in her testimony today. In either case she shouldn't be Secretary of State.

Prairie Story 

Here's a story about visiting my Dad's parents back when I was 11 or 12. This was at the Dawn of the Age of Cable TV. We had it in California, but it had not yet reached North Dakota. We went to some town somewhere in Western North Dakota. It was flat there; standing at the edge of town your view was limited by the curve of the Earth. It was like being on a small island in the middle of the ocean. It was summer; we were so far off the beaten track that no (that would be zero) TV antennae were in range of this town. I had brought a few books with me, but for fun we mostly played cards (except on Sunday, because that's a sin) or played croquet out in the yard. All was as expected until some poor Norwegian (I'm not sure if he was a bachelor) farmer kicked the bucket. On the day of the funeral my sister and I were forbidden, on pain of pain, to leave the house, much less play croquet. Oh the torture.

"But Mom there's nothing to do!"

"That's too bad, you can't go outside."

"Look, I'm sorry that man died, but I didn't know him and I've read all my books and Grandma won't let us play cards because of the funeral and you won't let me play outside."

"That man's relatives don't want to see the Pastor's grandchildren laughing outside when they come out of the church. So read one of your books again."

I'm pretty sure that YW doesn't believe me when I tell him that when I was his age you couldn't rent a movie and watch it when ever you wanted to. The idea that you can be in a house somewhere and still not be able to watch TV is inconceiveable.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Bye Granny 

I am the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. I didn't see that much of my dad's folks since Grandpa was a Lutheran Pastor who kept getting called by The Lord to minister to congregations way out in the wilds of the Dakotas. But my mom's parents owned a medium sized family farm in Pope County, Minnesota. I spent a lot of time there. My first driving experience occurred when I was eleven (in the mid-70s) and one of my uncles taught me how to drive Papa's 1938 International Farmall H tractor. When I was in High School I was such a dweeb that my idea of fun was to go to Minnesota and work on the farm all summer and see no one my own age for months at a time. It was at that time that I realized I had no where to go but up in my working life; I was ankle deep in pig shit in a barn shovelling said excrement into a manure spreader. So, yes, Internets, Hank has shoveled shit for money. I think the only lower level would be if the excrement came from people. Farms being the dangerous places that they are I had a couple or three Brushes With Death. I learned how to shoot guns and bail hay. It was a hoot.

Papa died years ago from the complications that come with Alzheimer's. Granny died a few days ago. Of all her grandkids I probably knew her the best since I lived in her house, cumulatively for a couple years. She was tough and mean. According to one of my aunts, after she and Granny's son announced their engagement Granny informed her that none of her sons had yet had to get married and it better not start now. Once when I was taking a break from painting the barn or bailing hay, or chasing the cows or something she said, "Craig, I can see two rabbits in the yard." Internets, you're probably thinking this is going to be cute, aren't you? Granny continued, "They're heading for my garden." Uh oh Internets, that's not a good sign. She finished with, "Kill them." Naturally, being a good grandchild, I did. Did I mention that the farm cats loved me? They did. One of my tasks was to keep the rabbits out of the garden and the squirrels out of the corn cribs. Cats really like rabbits and squirrels.

Granny left us on her own terms. She'd been sick in the Home for years. She had diabetes; she couldn't really see; she could hardly hear; she'd had at least one stroke. About a month ago she told the doctor she'd had enough and that she didn't want to take any more medicine. He agreed and one night last week she didn't wake up.

Granny's funeral isn't for more than a week after she died, due I'm sure to the fact that it's been so cold that it's taking that long to thaw the ground out enough to dig the hole. Good timing Granny. I'm going to miss you.

Public Eavesdropping 

Man on cell phone outside CompUSA: "The way they do it is to harvest the eggs from the woman and then do test-tube fertilization."

Being two ships passing on the sidewalk, I didn't get to find out where they get the sperm. And I know that people on cell phones can be irritating, but if you're not stuck next to them in a restaurant or sitting beside them on the bus, the conversation fragments you overhear can be most entertaining.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


I've had a gmail account for long enough to accumulate way more invitations than I can use. Now I realize in addition to the coolness and uniqueness of gmail accounts having worn off long ago, I don't have that many readers. But if you are reading this and you want your very own gmail account, indicate in the comments the e-address to which I should direct an invitation and I'll will send an invitation your way.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Clown Show 

If you're lucky enough to be in the Coronation Parade in DC, they have some rules including "a warning not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements." That has to be one of the dumbest things the Boy King and his posse have thought up. Imagine this, you're from East Jesus, South Dakota and your high school marching band is going by the President of the United States, you absolutely will look at him. Unless, since the SS is apparently planning to treat eye contact as a threat and so shoot everyone who does so, you have to clamber over the pile of dead band members from the marching bands in front of you in the parade.

Wait! I'll bet I know why they have that rule. Now that Boy George has his mandate and no longer has to listen to anyone, I'll bet he wants to watch the parade naked. And the rest of the United States Government in an attempt to shield the virgin eyes of a generation of American Youth brought up with Abstinence Only sex education have decreed that no one can look at him. You know I'm right.

OK, I'll Play 

Ezra over at Pandagon is playing a What's In Your iTunes game. You're supposed to do a Party Shuffle and list the first 10 songs with a bang (!) after songs that you really like. Here's mine:
ChinaTori Amos
Touch Of SpaghettiRichard Pleasance
Freedom '90George Michael
TV SongMinistry
Don't Let The Car CrashBuzzcocks
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Demo)Paul Simon
Green HellMisfits
100 YearsBlues Traveler
Counting AirplanesTrain
Beside Me Once AgainMoris Tepper

No bangs for me. In fact how did George Michael get in there? That'll teach me to maintain offsite backups of friends music.

Friday Kid Blogging 

Being, as I am, cameraless, I've selected a couple of random pictures from the iPhoto Archive. They were taken last May at a birthday party at a park in San Francisco. YA is practicing his Cruising For Chicks® technique and YW is getting in a last bit of play before the end of the party. Woo!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


First some background. I am of an age to remember the Vietnam war as something that was talked about on the evening news (eg, the daily bodycount reports stick in my mind) and as a place where the older brothers and cousins of my friends and I were being sent. I was in early elementary school when the war first intruded on my mind. My Dad was in the Navy at the time and we lived in San Diego. San Diego back then was a Navy town. In my neighborhood, my Dad was in the Navy, the dad next door was in the Navy. The dad directly across the street had been in Navy for a few years after college. The dad next door to them had been in the Navy during Korea. And that's just 4 houses on my street. I knew that Americans had been fighting in Vietnam for years and years, that it wasn't going well, and as far as I knew everyone ended up in the military.

It must have been 1969 or 1970 (so I was six or seven, rougly the age that YW is right now), I was playing in the dirt in the side yard. I had built a small fort for my plastic soldiers and was besieging the fortress by throwing small dirt clods and gravel at the little guys. Out of no where the thought hit me that when I turned 18, got drafted and was sent to Vietnam, I hoped I would be brave before I was killed. This somewhat bleak thought didn't really interfere with my play. It was my future and I was hoping for the best.

Now I find myself thinking that YW and YA are really facing that conundrum based on the war that shitbird Bush launched.

Update: Edited to flow better because I got my first trackback with this post. Thanks, Rook!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Baby 

MLWN and I have not ruled out a third child. YW is aware of this and has decided that he definitely getting a baby brother or sister. Last night he put his hand on MLWN's tummy and said, "The baby is really coming, you're getting so fat." In addition to being quite funny (MLWN while no longer in washboard stomach territory, is not far from it), YW is projecting like nobody's business.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Muffin Man 

Some of YA's favorite movies are Shrek and Shrek 2. (He will scream 'Shrek!', with the coolest crack in his voice if we're in the grocery store and he sees some merchandizing tie-in product.) Lately he's started doing this thing where he'll look at MLWN with his big eyes, say "Mom...", pause and then finish with, "do you know the Muffin Man?"

Life before Google 

YW is in Cub Scouts (digression - one of the huge injustices of my childhood was that little girls got to be Brownies in the first grade, but boys had to wait until second grade to join the Cub Scouts. In the fullness of time, the Scouts have created a new kind of Cub Scout: the Tiger Cub. Tiger Cubs are first graders, so YW gets to skip a rite of That's-Not-Fair that his old dad had to endure. And yes, I know that the people who run the Scouts are batshit ("morally straight" != sexually straight, what a load of hooey) but I'm not going to keep YW from having fun because I don't approve of policies of people we will never meet) and today we toured the local Cop Shop. In said Police Station, they have a wall of pictures documenting the history of the Pacifica Police Department (strangely, they didn't have anything about how a couple of weeks ago they Tasered® someone to death). A couple of the pictures featured shots of the "Linda Mar Riots" that took place on July 28, 1968. I'd never heard of them, so as soon as I got home I got disappointed by Google. There is no mention of Linda Mar Riots online that they have indexed. Dang. Instead, I've got to think about what have been the cause. I know that in the Spring of 1970 my USCB Gauchos rioted in Isla Vista and burned down Bank of America branch office in IV (Digression - a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputy killed Kevin P. Moran, a kid who was trying to disperse the crowd, but to the cops looked an awful lot like an agitator. IV legend has it that it was those riots which caused Governor Reagan to utter his greatest line: "If there is to be bloodbath, let it be now."). There is a branch of the B of A in the Linda Mar shopping center. Perhaps it was there way back when and it's evil oppression of the Vietnamese People had a similar effect in Pacifica to the one it would have two years later in Isla Vista.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday Kid Blogging 

Since I don't have a working digicam, I've gone back in time to two of the first pictures I took with the now-dead camera. The one of YW on the couch is, in fact the first picture I took with it. I'm getting antsy to have a working camera again. It might be the weekend to plunk a few hundred down on new one.

I like you... 

Once Young William gets his jammies on and has brushed his teeth it's reading time. At the moment we're in the middle of Peter And The Starcatchers the Peter Pan prequel by Dave Barry and somebody else. It's pretty fun. After reading a chapter or two the lights go out and I lie next to him for a few minutes and we chat about the day and plans for the next. When I get up to leave the room I tend to say something like, "Good night Willy; I love you." YW's current response: "Good night. I like you."

Young Alexander's vocabulary is expanding faster than his ability to pronounce things and he'll say "I wuv you." I didn't know that I'm Elmer Fudd's dad, but there it is.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


The other night the Nuclear Family had a lovely sushi dinner with one of My Lovely Wife Natalie's coworkers and the coworker's Sweetheart. Yummy fish and sticky rice were consumed by all (Kid weirdness: Young William won't eat beans, but he mowed his way through a serious amount octopus and says that Barracuda is now his favorite restaurant of all time). The Sweetheart of MLWN's coworker (we'll call him SoMLWNC) is in the Army Reserve. He just found out that he's getting called up to go to Iraq. We were discussing the practical aspects of that. At one point he asked me if it was OK to ask who I voted for in the Presidential Election. "Kerry," I said with pride. SoMLWNC's response was that he would have voted for him too if only after Kerry said that invading Iraq was a mistake he hadn't said that he thought we should stay there to win the fight. If Kerry had said he would pull the troops out, SoMLWNC would have voted for him. His rationale: "I couldn't vote him because I didn't want to possibly go fight in Iraq for a President who thought the war was a mistake." In the interest of keeping it a pleasant social interaction I didn't say, "What the fuck does that mean? You would rather get sent to Iraq by a president who thinks that shit-storm was good idea?"

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Camera Update 

I found my teeny tiny screw drivers and a tweezer and opened up the camera. This may come as a shock to you, internets, but there are lots of tiny circuit boards inside a digital camera. What's more they're stacked up on top of each other with little connectors and very fine ribbon cables carrying signals from one board to the next. My hypothetical 'loose connector' was going to be, based on visual inspection, on one of the boards buried deep inside the circuit board sandwich. So I chickened out and put it back together. In a victory for my EE degree, it powered back up and worked just as poorly as it did before I took it apart. I hear Olympus has a nice 5 Megapixel camera coming out next month.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Misspellers of the wurld unight! 

I was just browsing the Sitemeter stats for Hank's Place and somebody got here searching Google with the phrase 'what racoons like'. If you do that my post on on stringing Christmas lights wherein Willy explained what he knows about raccoons is the first hit. Hooray for misspellings!

Monday, January 03, 2005


Yesterday I had an insightful post on the situation in Iraq all written and ready to go and then I closed the window before clicking on the Publish button. Oops. Instead of reconstructing it right now, I'll leave you with a story about my exciting New Year's Eve. My Lovely Wife Natalie had to work on the first, so she wasn't going to stay up late. Young William is old enough to be excited about significant events. The last day of 2004 turning into the first day of 2005 counts as significant. He really wanted to stay up until midnight. Having assumed my Super Hero guise as Indulgent Dad, I said "OK, what are we going to do while we stay up?" Thought ensued. "I know Dad, we'll watch Harry Potter movies." And so it came to pass that we had a plan. Around 10:00 (about an hour and a half after his usual bed-time) he asked if he could sit on my lap while we watched Harry battle the bad guys in Movie #2. After getting comfortable we continued to watch. Around 10:30 he nudged me and said, "Dad, why are you snoring?" "Because I'm tired Willy." "I'm kind of tired too." "Should we just go to bed and finish watching the movie tomorrow?" "OK." There you have it, the wild and care free life of Indulgent Dad.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Last Gasp of the Camera 

Here, for your viewing enjoyment, are a couple of the last pictures my camera managed to take. They feature Young Alexander and Young William bravely leaping into the void at a park in Santa Barbara. They were taken on the occasion of Young Alexander's 3rd birthday. Just two days later the camera snapped its last. <sigh... />

I wonder if we'll be able to get away with having YA's birthday in SB next year. Up until now he hasn't really grasped the whole birthday concept. But either next year or the following he'll want to have a party with his friends. And his friends don't live in Santa Barbara. But with Grandpa's Birthday being the next day, and the day after that being Christmas Eve, we may just have to start having the family gathering at our house instead of Over The Hill And Through The Woods.

Happy Retirement 

My dad just retired from Kaiser where he worked as a Peripheral Vascular Surgeon. Before that he was in private practice for a few years. Before that he learned how to do the surgeon thing in the Navy. He was active duty for either 11 or 13 years (I can't remember which at the moment) and in that time spent a grand total of 3 weeks at sea. After he left active duty he continued in the reserves where he did fun things like be the battalion medical officer for a Marine Reserve unit. He got called up for Round One of the Great Mesopotamian War and spent a while at Camp Pendleton doing physicals on incredibly fit privates.

You'd think that since he's retired he'd be insulated from the current upleasantness, but then I read about this guy. When I saw Dad a few days ago I asked if he'd gotten any letters from Uncle Sam. He said no. I'll keep you updated on whether or not Dad gets asked to help his favorite President ("He lowered my taxes!") fight the bad guys.

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