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Old 04-19-2011, 09:39 PM
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"Idiocracy" nitpick: What about the rest of the world?


In Idiocracy, it is posited that certain social factors cause dysgenic pressure in American society: (1) Compared to ages past, the less intelligent have fewer opportunities to remove themselves from the gene pool. (2) There are certain social/cultural/economic disincentives to the more intelligent reproducing.

But, each of these would apply only in the fully industrialized countries; there would be no such dysgenic pressure in the Third World. Which, presumably, would therefore eventually come to dominate the world. But there's no sign in the movie that that his happened -- in fact, there's no sign or mention, not even by the voice-over, that the world outside America (not the U.S. -- Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is the "President of America") exists 500 years from now. And what about the genetic effects of immigration to America from countries where no dysgenic pressure is present?
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:41 PM
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Write Mike Judge a letter about it.

Otherwise, you might be over-thinking that movie.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:44 PM
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It seems pretty obvious to me that since all other people who are not Americans want to be Americans, then they would have easily fallen in step with the decay of the civilization.
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Old 04-19-2011, 09:52 PM
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:03 PM
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They were all fodder for centuries of deadly reality TV.

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Old 04-19-2011, 10:04 PM
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:21 PM
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I assumed that, at some point between the present day, and the events of the movie, the global standard of living more-or-less evened out. There wasn't a "third world" any more. Everyone, every where, had an essentially Western standard of living, which allowed for a global intellectual decline.

Alternate theory: the society shown in the film clearly relies on a huge degree of mechanization. For example, when Brawndo loses the contract to "water" all the crops in America, the computer automatically lays off most of the population of the country. Or, the girlfriend of the doctor, who is viewed as retarded by the standards of a nation of idiots, is a pilot. I'm pretty sure she doesn't actually fly the plane, just sits in the cockpit while the computer handles all the work. Possibly, before America declined, some automated technology was implemented that sealed the borders of the country completely, without the need of human supervision. Immigrants and invaders alike are kept out by this system, allowing America to disintegrate in its own little bottle, while the rest of the world moved on.

Alternate theory #2: everyone outside North America is dead.

Alternate theory #3 that's not really related to the OP's question, but I feel like talking about it anyway: it seems unlikely to me (even by the internal standards of the film) that smart people would be completely bred out of existence. I can see them becoming a smaller and smaller group, and more and more insulated as the differences between the intellectual elites and the idiot masses grew sharper. The elites would become more and more focused on the upkeep of the machinery that runs society, and more and more disdainful of the society itself, outside their "ivory tower." By the events of the movie, the people who actually run America operate entirely behind the scenes, allowing the commoners their brainless TV shows and hideous mismash of reality TV and government, so long as their control of the technological levers remains secure. Give it another 10,000 years, and the elites are living underground entirely, still running the machines, and only coming out late at night, to harvest the surface dwellers for their stew pots. That's right: I'm saying that Idiocracy and The Time Machine share the same fictional reality.
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:23 PM
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They were all fodder for centuries of deadly reality TV.
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Old 04-19-2011, 10:36 PM
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I imagine lots of them were nuked for being fags.

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Old 04-19-2011, 10:58 PM
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Alternate theory #3 that's not really related to the OP's question, but I feel like talking about it anyway: it seems unlikely to me (even by the internal standards of the film) that smart people would be completely bred out of existence. I can see them becoming a smaller and smaller group, and more and more insulated as the differences between the intellectual elites and the idiot masses grew sharper. The elites would become more and more focused on the upkeep of the machinery that runs society, and more and more disdainful of the society itself, outside their "ivory tower." By the events of the movie, the people who actually run America operate entirely behind the scenes, allowing the commoners their brainless TV shows and hideous mismash of reality TV and government, so long as their control of the technological levers remains secure. Give it another 10,000 years, and the elites are living underground entirely, still running the machines, and only coming out late at night, to harvest the surface dwellers for their stew pots. That's right: I'm saying that Idiocracy and The Time Machine share the same fictional reality.
Right. But, if there were a secret cabal of smart people running things, they'd have intervened as soon as Joe passed that prison IQ test thing, wouldn't they? Society was on the verge of dying if they couldn't find someone smart enough to figure out what was wrong with the crops. If a "smart" cabal were running things, they'd have fixed the crop problem, or the cabal was actively trying to wipe out America, and would have stopped Joe before he got too close to the prez and all that.

I just figure the ability to build cool stuff doesn't automatically exclude the ability of people to be idiots.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:38 PM
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I imagine lots of them were nuked for being fags.
I like nukes too. We should hang out some time.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:57 PM
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Right. But, if there were a secret cabal of smart people running things, they'd have intervened as soon as Joe passed that prison IQ test thing, wouldn't they? Society was on the verge of dying if they couldn't find someone smart enough to figure out what was wrong with the crops. If a "smart" cabal were running things, they'd have fixed the crop problem, or the cabal was actively trying to wipe out America, and would have stopped Joe before he got too close to the prez and all that.
Not necessarily. They could simply be indifferent to the fate of the proto-Eloi. If they all die in a famine, fine. If they all live for another five hundred years, also fine. They don't care one way or the other.

Alternatively, they could be anticipating a massive die-off, but not in a hurry for it to happen. It's pretty obvious that the society we see in Idiocracy is ultimately doomed. Joe may have staved off one famine, but with people that stupid, it's only a matter of time before they find some other way to commit self-inflicted democide. Joe is, at best, a band-aid on the problem. He's not really all that smart himself: he can provide solutions to problems based on common knowledge of the 21st century, but he's not likely to innovate anything new. He's just not that bright or well-educated. And while his kids are probably going to be about as smart as he is, his grandkids are pretty much screwed. They'll either be half-idiot themselves, or they'll be inbred. His great-grandkids will be three quarters idiot, or even more inbred. Inside of four or five generations, Joe's descendants will be indistinguishable from the morons who make up the rest of the population. At best, Joe has staved off the end of society by a century or so. Probably less, because the next catastrophe is likely to require a much more complicated solution than "Stop spraying Gatorade on the crops." Our hypothesized proto-Morlocks may want the proto-Eloi to die off to a more sustainable level, but could be perfectly content to wait a few extra decades for it to happen.

Or, if we assume that the evolutionary forces that led to the society of dumbfucks we saw in the movie works both ways, our secret cabal might be so intelligent that they can't tell the difference between Joe and the rest of America. From their vantage point, even Joe is appallingly stupid.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:36 AM
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Alternate theory #3 that's not really related to the OP's question, but I feel like talking about it anyway: it seems unlikely to me (even by the internal standards of the film) that smart people would be completely bred out of existence. I can see them becoming a smaller and smaller group, and more and more insulated as the differences between the intellectual elites and the idiot masses grew sharper. The elites would become more and more focused on the upkeep of the machinery that runs society, and more and more disdainful of the society itself, outside their "ivory tower." By the events of the movie, the people who actually run America operate entirely behind the scenes, allowing the commoners their brainless TV shows and hideous mismash of reality TV and government, so long as their control of the technological levers remains secure. Give it another 10,000 years, and the elites are living underground entirely, still running the machines, and only coming out late at night, to harvest the surface dwellers for their stew pots. That's right: I'm saying that Idiocracy and The Time Machine share the same fictional reality.
Or perhaps a slightly different story.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:48 AM
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The absence of anything outside the U.S. is very common in futuristic movies, especially dystopian ones. My favorite in this sense is Demolition Man, in which apparently nothing exists outside of L.A.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:52 AM
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An amusing inversion, as in the real world, nothing exists inside of L.A.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:53 AM
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And while his kids are probably going to be about as smart as he is, his grandkids are pretty much screwed. They'll either be half-idiot themselves, or they'll be inbred. His great-grandkids will be three quarters idiot, or even more inbred.
Does the movie really claim as part of its premise that intelligence is hereditary? That seems to have all KINDS of unfortunate implications...
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Old 04-20-2011, 03:06 AM
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I assumed that, at some point between the present day, and the events of the movie, the global standard of living more-or-less evened out. There wasn't a "third world" any more. Everyone, every where, had an essentially Western standard of living, which allowed for a global intellectual decline.

Alternate theory: the society shown in the film clearly relies on a huge degree of mechanization. For example, when Brawndo loses the contract to "water" all the crops in America, the computer automatically lays off most of the population of the country. Or, the girlfriend of the doctor, who is viewed as retarded by the standards of a nation of idiots, is a pilot. I'm pretty sure she doesn't actually fly the plane, just sits in the cockpit while the computer handles all the work. Possibly, before America declined, some automated technology was implemented that sealed the borders of the country completely, without the need of human supervision. Immigrants and invaders alike are kept out by this system, allowing America to disintegrate in its own little bottle, while the rest of the world moved on.

Alternate theory #2: everyone outside North America is dead.

Alternate theory #3 that's not really related to the OP's question, but I feel like talking about it anyway: it seems unlikely to me (even by the internal standards of the film) that smart people would be completely bred out of existence. I can see them becoming a smaller and smaller group, and more and more insulated as the differences between the intellectual elites and the idiot masses grew sharper. The elites would become more and more focused on the upkeep of the machinery that runs society, and more and more disdainful of the society itself, outside their "ivory tower." By the events of the movie, the people who actually run America operate entirely behind the scenes, allowing the commoners their brainless TV shows and hideous mismash of reality TV and government, so long as their control of the technological levers remains secure. Give it another 10,000 years, and the elites are living underground entirely, still running the machines, and only coming out late at night, to harvest the surface dwellers for their stew pots. That's right: I'm saying that Idiocracy and The Time Machine share the same fictional reality.
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:31 AM
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Does the movie really claim as part of its premise that intelligence is hereditary? That seems to have all KINDS of unfortunate implications...
Pretty much, yeah. The beginning exposition definitely makes the case time and time again, father does dumb things, but his genetic capability is saved by doctors, so he can have a son, who's so dumb he has to be restrained, when the doctor's try to save his genetic capability -- "Get you hands off my JUNK." (Or he says something like that)

Speculation runs that that's one of the reasons the studio wouldn't promote or release the movie widely. If people had really noticed the movie, they'd have to answer the whole eugenic question the movie posits. As an aside, the movie GATTACA was supposed to end with the text mentioning some contemporary people with mild genetic problems, among them then-President Bill Clintion. Test audiences didn't like that bit. Just a little too real, I guess.
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:52 AM
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Alternate theory #3 that's not really related to the OP's question, but I feel like talking about it anyway: it seems unlikely to me (even by the internal standards of the film) that smart people would be completely bred out of existence. I can see them becoming a smaller and smaller group, and more and more insulated as the differences between the intellectual elites and the idiot masses grew sharper. The elites would become more and more focused on the upkeep of the machinery that runs society, and more and more disdainful of the society itself, outside their "ivory tower." By the events of the movie, the people who actually run America operate entirely behind the scenes, allowing the commoners their brainless TV shows and hideous mismash of reality TV and government, so long as their control of the technological levers remains secure.
Can they make it go?
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:07 AM
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If you're trying to figure out some way that the film could actually make sense, you might as well give up. The average I.Q. is not going down. If anything, it's going up:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect
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Old 04-20-2011, 07:35 AM
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In Idiocracy, it is posited that certain social factors cause dysgenic pressure in American society: (1) Compared to ages past, the less intelligent have fewer opportunities to remove themselves from the gene pool. (2) There are certain social/cultural/economic disincentives to the more intelligent reproducing.

But, each of these would apply only in the fully industrialized countries; there would be no such dysgenic pressure in the Third World.
Except that going by the "theory" behind such works, the inhabitants of the Third World already are all stupid. They are poor, and if poverty is due to genetic stupidity that means that they are all less intelligent than rich white American Christians. If they weren't stupid, they wouldn't be poor, supposedly. Just as "obviously" the reason non whites have less money in America is because they are innately less intelligent than the Master Race.

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Old 04-20-2011, 07:51 AM
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Well, since I seem to be in a negative mood today...

Idiocracy is an extremely cynical movie. But if anything, the actual movie just highlights how implausible it's central premise is: that each generation is more stupid and lazy than the last.

People have been complaining about "kids these days getting stupider and lazier" for at least two-thousand years. If it were true, we should already be living in the idiocracy, and our distant ancestors should all be supermen instead of ignorant, starving peasants.
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Old 04-20-2011, 08:11 AM
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I think the secret cabal in the movie were space aliens, breeding humans as tasty cattle. Same universe as To Serve Man.
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Old 04-20-2011, 08:11 AM
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If it were true, we should already be living in the idiocracy,...
Do you have any compelling evidence that this isn't the case?

I keed, I keed. (Mostly.)

But I do have a stupid Idiocracy inspired question: Would spraying Gatorade really kill crops? I mean, it's mostly water and sugar (and it has electrolytes!) and it's isotonic, so what's the problem, exactly?

Or is it that what's isotonic for humans is hypertonic to plants?
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:01 AM
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:06 AM
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:20 AM
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Does the movie really claim as part of its premise that intelligence is hereditary? That seems to have all KINDS of unfortunate implications...
The premise is blatantly ripped off from Cyril M. Kornbluth's classic SF story, "The Marching Morons." Back when it was written (in 1951), our knowledge of the nature of intelligence was not what it is today, and Kornbluth was showing a dystopia, based upon the implications of his earlier story, "The Little Black Bag."

One difference in Kornbluth was that he did indicate that there were still smart people around, and they were the ones who actually kept things from collapsing -- and the pressure was getting to be too much for them.

The major objection I have with the film -- which I liked a lot -- was that they neglected to give Kornbluth proper credit.
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:39 AM
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The premise is blatantly ripped off from Cyril M. Kornbluth's classic SF story, "The Marching Morons." Back when it was written (in 1951), our knowledge of the nature of intelligence was not what it is today, and Kornbluth was showing a dystopia, based upon the implications of his earlier story, "The Little Black Bag."

One difference in Kornbluth was that he did indicate that there were still smart people around, and they were the ones who actually kept things from collapsing -- and the pressure was getting to be too much for them.

The major objection I have with the film -- which I liked a lot -- was that they neglected to give Kornbluth proper credit.
Well, it really is a completely different story, and the shared premise is older than Kornbluth (and was not invented by SF writers). Can't give Verne or Wells credit for every space-travel story.

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Old 04-22-2011, 01:24 PM
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I always assumed it was the whole world that had become stupid, because:

1) We would have been invaded by foreign countries the instant we became too stupid to defend ourselves;

2) The opening narration shows the planet Earth;

3) Er, well, the U.S. is supposed to be the best at everything... so if the U.S. is stupid, then every other place on Earth must be even stupider, right?

While the movie's opening mentions natural selection and survival of the fittest, it never clearly states that people were breeding stupid. It's just the stupid people in society having so many more kids and not having anything to teach them and the dumbing-down of society in general that does the damage. Think of all the wasted potential in the millions of children being born into a world full of stupid.

Re Joe and Rita and their kids: it's not about how smart Joe is, it's that no one else is smart enough to help him do what needs to be done. In a way, Pres. Camacho is a capable leader, because he knows how to talk to these people in a way that will get their attention and address their concerns... sorta. For a little while. He's like a king in a world full of slack-jawed peasants. Their leader would have to be a big, tall, imposing sort of person.

There must be a lot of nearly-average IQ people that we don't see in the movie running things behind the scenes. Putting the crop irrigators in place and making sure the Carl's Jr. food vending machines stay full and the Brawndo CEO guy and the people who invented the three probe medical diagnostic equipment. And what happens to all the prostitutes when they're too old, and where are all the pregnant women? Nearly all of the women of childbearing years must be pregnant nearly all the time. Who takes care of their children? Where are all the children? And doesn't anybody ever get sad when people die in a plane crash or run their cars off the unfinished overpass? We're not talking about Monday Night Rehabilitation mob mentality here. People are not just stupid, they're kind of emotionally stunted, too.

Yes, I know I'm thinking about this way too much.

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Old 04-22-2011, 01:54 PM
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But I do have a stupid Idiocracy inspired question: Would spraying Gatorade really kill crops? I mean, it's mostly water and sugar (and it has electrolytes!) and it's isotonic, so what's the problem, exactly?

Or is it that what's isotonic for humans is hypertonic to plants?
In the movie, it was explained that the sodium content of Brawndo (the Gatorade expy) eventually proved much for the plants to take after several hundred years of application and build-up in the soil.

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Yes, I know I'm thinking about this way too much.
Whenever you try to delve too deeply into this movie, just keep in mind the society depicted in Idiocracy is supposed to be a grossly exaggerated parody of the U.S. during the first decade of the 21st century.
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Old 04-22-2011, 03:52 PM
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At the risk of sounding pompous and faggy, I believe 500 years would be long enough for all societies to rise technologically and then sink into Idiocracy. There may have been a period when one country was dominant because it hadn't yet turned stupid, but eventually they all did. The only escape is through the combination of the Brawndo crisis and the deus ex machina of Joe.
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:03 PM
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Quoth Wendell Wagner:
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If you're trying to figure out some way that the film could actually make sense, you might as well give up. The average I.Q. is not going down. If anything, it's going up:
That would be a valid criticism if the movie were about the future, but it's not. It's just set in the future. But like all science fiction, it's about the present.
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:16 PM
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Except that going by the "theory" behind such works, the inhabitants of the Third World already are all stupid. They are poor, and if poverty is due to genetic stupidity that means that they are all less intelligent than rich white American Christians. If they weren't stupid, they wouldn't be poor, supposedly. Just as "obviously" the reason non whites have less money in America is because they are innately less intelligent than the Master Race.
I don't see where you're getting this. Under the scenario described in the movie, people in the third world would be vastly more capable than those in the first world, because the third world does not have the advanced medical technology and extensive social safety net that keeps the first world morons alive. Some guy in Guatemala does something stupid and ruptures a testicle, he never has any kids. Some guy in Georgia does exactly the same thing, and there's a medical procedure that can fix his 'nads, and he keeps on having more kids. The end result is the third world keeps getting smarter, because their morons keep dying, and the first world keeps getting dumber, because our morons are thriving. At least until Guatemala reaches some sort of tipping point, where the intelligent citizens have refined and improved their society to the point where they can keep the idiots alive and fertile just as well as the US, at which point they start backsliding too - but at that point, they're a first world nation.
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