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Schoot shootings: what is the proximate cause?

 
unsmoked
 
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25 May 2019 10:39
 

School shootings:  what is the proximate cause?

Since the word ‘shootings’ is used in the topic title, and we have other countries to compare with, can’t we conclude that the proximate cause is the availability of guns in the U.S. - especially guns like AR-15’s?

At this stage in the discussion are we now looking for secondary causes?  Is there still disagreement about the availability of guns being the proximate cause of school shootings?

Q:  If guns were not readily available, would U.S. kids still be more prone to kill classmates by other means than in other developed countries? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859979/

In 2001, the United States Fire Administration published findings indicating that an average of 3650 children aged 14 years and younger were injured or killed in fires each year. A previous study by the National Fire Protection Association reported that one-third of all children who died in fires had set the fire that killed them. Based on these statistics, it can then be estimated that over 1200 children each year are killing themselves through inappropriate use of fire. In comparison, the Children’s Defense Fund reported in 2009 that 938 children were killed by firearms accidentally or by suicide . Unfortunately firesetting does not receive the same media attention as gun violence and deaths. Juveniles are arrested for arson more than any other crime. The Office of Justice Programs reports that in 2006, 49% of the individuals arrested for arson were under the age of 18 years.

 

[ Edited: 25 May 2019 10:42 by unsmoked]
 
 
no_profundia
 
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25 May 2019 11:28
 

Anal, thank you for your responses and for humoring my tangent. I feel like I have derailed this thread a bit from its original direction by going off about “sick societies”. I have been somewhat unsatisfied for a while with the way we talk about and approach mental illness and this thread raised some of these issues for me primarily because you are drawing attention to the rise in school shootings. We know that we are experiencing an epidemic of mental illness and it seems to me many of the current theories of mental illness cannot account very well for why there would be this sudden rise and I think the same is true of school shootings. We need a theory that can explain the rise.

At any rate, I am still struggling to articulate my thoughts on this and this discussion has helped. I may start a separate thread on this topic in the near future but I think I need to do some more reading.

I am curious what you make of the fact that almost all school shootings (of the rampage variety) seem to take place in small towns or suburbs rather than large cities? I don’t really have any good ideas for why that might be.

Also, in my searches yesterday evening I found a few books on school shootings that look to me like they are relatively serious studies that could help shed light on the phenomena so I thought I would share them here:

Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings by Katherine Newman, et. al. - This book was referenced in pretty much every article I could find on the subject so it seems like it might be a good place to start.
Why Kids Kill by Peter Langman - I was able to read part of the first chapter of this online and it seemed promising.
Comprehending Columbine by Ralph Larkin - This seems like a very detailed analysis of the social context at Columbine and it was also referenced in a lot of the articles I could find on this topic.
Columbine by Dave Cullen - This book appears to be more journalistic but it sounds like it successfully debunks many of the myths and superficial explanations of Columbine floating around. I also saw it referenced in a number of the articles I found.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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25 May 2019 15:46
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 24 May 2019 12:51 PM

I am not sure what you mean by “compose and orchestrate,” but I think I agree that shooters “self-regulate by hiding this weakness and are vulnerable to market-driven mentors or worse” (though I’m not sure what “market driven mentors” are).

It can be an evasive concept for educated folks. It sits invisibly at the end of your nose.

Putting together a multi-paragraph post is composing. Re-editing it is orchestrating. It may be hard to imagine struggling with a weakness in this ability. Market driven mentors are those who make a living luring folks into foolishness or fantasy.

Rampage shooters have weakness. Other shooters have a strength that is ignored or overlooked, or do you disagree with that?

 
 
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26 May 2019 05:11
 

no_profundia

You’re welcome, and thanks for your stimulating contribution.

I have no idea why rampage school shootings take place in small towns and the suburbs but not in urban areas.  As far as I know, this is not true of rampage shootings in general, so why the difference with kids?  Since the settings are different, I think the “individual/environment system as a whole” idea fits in here, since this individual behavior is differentiable by environment…

We are indeed experiencing a rise of mental illness, especially with the generation coming of age right now.  Since 2012, life satisfaction and happiness among 12th graders has dropped precipitously, and feeling left out, depression, suicide and anxiety among both that group and college-age kids has gone up just as steeply (Jean Twengle discusses the crisis in chapter 4 of iGen).  This is of some professional interest to me, so if you start a thread on the rise of mental illness in general, including how to conceptualize it as a function of a ‘sick society,’ you can count on my participation.

Thanks for the references.


Nhoj

Putting together a multi-paragraph post is composing. Re-editing it is orchestrating. It may be hard to imagine struggling with a weakness in this ability.

Since I edit and re-edit because I have a weakness in putting together multi-paragraph posts, I can relate first hand to having a weakness in this ability.  But I don’t see what composing posts and editing them has to do with school shootings.  I certainly don’t appreciate any tendencies in myself to become one, and if struggling with writing were a predictor of school shootings, virtually all students would be likely shooters.

Market driven mentors are those who make a living luring folks into foolishness or fantasy.

Who are these people?  The ones that come to my mind are business/management gurus who peddle that silliness they call leadership strategies, or maybe some “I’ve found the solution to happiness” self-help type books—that sort of thing.  Who else do you have in mind?

Rampage shooters have weakness.  Other shooters have a strength that is ignored or overlooked, or do you disagree with that?

I honestly don’t know what I would be agreeing to or disagreeing with, so I cannot say.


unsmoked

Your questions are precisely the ones that have been addressed by multiple posters in this thread.  Are you asking them over again, or summarizing the direction the thread has taken?

 

[ Edited: 26 May 2019 08:49 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
burt
 
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26 May 2019 09:08
 

From the Tomasello book: “The unique human form of executive regulation is social and/or normative self-regulation, in which the regulation is taking place from the perspective of others.” So perhaps when we talk about a failure of executive functioning the failure is loss of this perspective taking capacity. Is it possible that childhood development in the American social environment (in suburbs and small towns) somehow overloads empathetic capacities to the extent that they just shut down, turning some kids into vengeful psychopaths?

 
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26 May 2019 09:53
 
burt - 26 May 2019 09:08 AM

From the Tomasello book: “The unique human form of executive regulation is social and/or normative self-regulation, in which the regulation is taking place from the perspective of others.” So perhaps when we talk about a failure of executive functioning the failure is loss of this perspective taking capacity. Is it possible that childhood development in the American social environment (in suburbs and small towns) somehow overloads empathetic capacities to the extent that they just shut down, turning some kids into vengeful psychopaths?

Elaborating on the idea in light of what’s been proposed elsewhere about a critical period for learning socialization/conflict resolution skills (invoked in this thread as well)…

Given the lack of free time for children to learn on their own how to resolve conflict among peers and thus develop the skill by putting it to use, we’re seeing the tail ends of the distribution of failure.  For note: peaceful, equitable conflict resolution requires “regulation taking place from the perspective of others.”  In coming to see the other side for oneself, one can moderate one’s own position; one can reach compromise.  Lack of practice in this area with real conflict absent resolving parental supervision means, at the tail ends, some kids will go to two potential extremes.  On the one hand, they shut down, introject, and self-negate—thus becoming severely depressed, especially young men (introverted anger leads to depressive symptoms in males, and suicide among young males is up 70%, I think).  On the other hand, they lash out and try to dominate the other side—thus becoming violent, with school shootings being the extreme form of violence.  So, I’m not sure about an overload of empathetic capacities as much as a failure of using them taking two forms, one where the subject ‘over-empathizes’ with the other at the expense of negating himself (depression, suicide) and the other with a complete lack of empathy and an urge to dominate (violence, school shootings).  The data—that there is a rise in both suicides and shooters along with a decline in free play time fits—this model.  What we are seeing with the rise of extreme depression (and depression generally) and extreme violence is a failure of regulation taking place from the perspective of others.  Ultimately, this incorporating others is what self-regulation involves.

I would like to see data on bullying and fights generally.  The depression data is always out there, and depression (and suicide) among young males has been on the rise for decades, with a big spike around 2012, I think…

(It is possible that this distribution is not symmetric, meaning more will be depressed than violent.  In fact, I suspect this is the case.)

[ Edited: 26 May 2019 09:58 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
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26 May 2019 12:01
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 05:11 AM

Since I edit and re-edit because I have a weakness in putting together multi-paragraph posts, I can relate first hand to having a weakness in this ability.  But I don’t see what composing posts and editing them has to do with school shootings.  I certainly don’t appreciate any tendencies in myself to become one, and if struggling with writing were a predictor of school shootings, virtually all students would be likely shooters.

You have so 180’ed my point that I disagree with it too.

I did not suggest that you have a weakness. Your re-editing with stamina of your large compositions indicates that, operationally, you can self orchestrate with ease. It is such a comfy and effortless operation for you that you do not realize it is what I’m pointing at. It is the comfy and effortless operation itself.

Nor did I suggest that weakness was a predictor of Columbine-like school shootings. Untapped, un-harvested and unsupervised strength leaves young folks starving and searching to orchestrate something more complex than the world they are allowed to live in. A proportion of them will compose a dark and dangerous path. Thankfully, we mostly get rock bands.

I would ascribe weakness to the sudden improvised rampage shooter only. I am confident that you have no tendencies to become one. Struggling with composition is normal. If the struggle does not defeat you, that is the sort of strength I refer to in action. It is not a measure of intelligence but it is a means of harvesting it more abundantly. Even if the harvest is abundant stupidity, it is the same operation that orchestrated it. I just heard an hour of Ken Ham’s highly orchestrated stupidity.

Who are these people?  The ones that come to my mind are business/management gurus who peddle that silliness they call leadership strategies, or maybe some “I’ve found the solution to happiness” self-help type books—that sort of thing.  Who else do you have in mind?

Those are good examples. I’ve tech’ed some Leadership Seminars. Your scope is narrow. If a little wider, we can fit in Fox News, The Catholic Church and Isis. These are lures for the weak and the alienated strong. I do not suggest they all inspire shooting sprees openly.

 
 
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26 May 2019 12:25
 

Ease, comfy and effortless?  I wish.  Truly.  In any case, it’s not material (and I didn’t think you were imputing anything personal; I simply used your example self-referentially because happens to be true).

Since I 180’ed your point I tried thinking of the flipside to see what it is, but I’m still drawing a blank.  Perhaps it’s my shortcoming.  In any case, I get that (if this is the sense) we compose ourselves into action, orchestrate our behavior, chafe against the constraints imposed on us, want to create “something more complex than the world [we] are allowed to live in,” and that we use strength to self-create and transcend those restraints (rock bands?), or in weakness we shortcut this self-creation through violent domination (rampage shooters)—“we” being a generic young people here.  I just don’t see how this relates to the problem of school shootings, except to recast the problem into a figurative, indicative language no less vague than the discussion of self-regulation already on the table.

Unless I’m missing something else invisible on the end of my nose…

I presume MSNBC, the Church of Social Justice on college campuses, and Antifa fit the “market driven mentors” as well. Or is this something that especially afflicts conservatives and the religious?

[ Edited: 26 May 2019 14:55 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
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26 May 2019 12:36
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 05:11 AM

unsmoked

Your questions are precisely the ones that have been addressed by multiple posters in this thread.  Are you asking them over again, or summarizing the direction the thread has taken?

Summarizing the answer to the OP question -  School shootings:  what is the proximate cause?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/14/us/columbine-school-shootings.html

And the National Rifle Association stays calculatedly quiet for a day or two, then truculently reasserts its absolutist opposition to any form of gun regulation.

There was a time when federal lawmakers were sufficiently sickened by the violence to act. In 1994, Congress passed a law banning assault weapons. But that statute expired 10 years later. Since then, the government has done nothing but gladden the N.R.A.’s heart. Federal law now largely protects the firearms industry from lawsuits, though Sandy Hook families are trying to test the extent and depth of that shield. For its part, the United States Supreme Court has strengthened gun owners’ rights under the Second Amendment.

And through it all, death keeps calling. Last month, two teenage Parkland survivors psychically scarred by their ordeal took their own lives, as did the father of a Sandy Hook first-grader who was killed. “He was a brokenhearted person,” said another father who lost a child in the massacre. “As we all are.”

“And through it all, death keeps calling.”

In the ‘Politics’ category, notice the 8 minute Chomsky video I posted today.  Trump pins a number of buttons on his lapel to add votes to his ‘tax breaks for the rich’  Republican minority.  The NRA is one of them - millions of working class voters who love their guns.

[ Edited: 26 May 2019 12:45 by unsmoked]
 
 
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26 May 2019 12:41
 
unsmoked - 26 May 2019 12:36 PM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 05:11 AM

unsmoked

Your questions are precisely the ones that have been addressed by multiple posters in this thread.  Are you asking them over again, or summarizing the direction the thread has taken?

Summarizing the answer to the OP question -  School shootings:  what is the proximate cause?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/14/us/columbine-school-shootings.html

And the National Rifle Association stays calculatedly quiet for a day or two, then truculently reasserts its absolutist opposition to any form of gun regulation.

There was a time when federal lawmakers were sufficiently sickened by the violence to act. In 1994, Congress passed a law banning assault weapons. But that statute expired 10 years later. Since then, the government has done nothing but gladden the N.R.A.’s heart. Federal law now largely protects the firearms industry from lawsuits, though Sandy Hook families are trying to test the extent and depth of that shield. For its part, the United States Supreme Court has strengthened gun owners’ rights under the Second Amendment.

And through it all, death keeps calling. Last month, two teenage Parkland survivors psychically scarred by their ordeal took their own lives, as did the father of a Sandy Hook first-grader who was killed. “He was a brokenhearted person,” said another father who lost a child in the massacre. “As we all are.”

“And through it all, death keeps calling.”

Ok, but again, it may well be that gun regulation is not going to address this problem—absent, of course, confiscating all the guns.  That, in any case, has been the principle argument discussed so far.

 
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26 May 2019 12:54
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 12:41 PM
unsmoked - 26 May 2019 12:36 PM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 05:11 AM

unsmoked

Your questions are precisely the ones that have been addressed by multiple posters in this thread.  Are you asking them over again, or summarizing the direction the thread has taken?

Summarizing the answer to the OP question -  School shootings:  what is the proximate cause?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/14/us/columbine-school-shootings.html

And the National Rifle Association stays calculatedly quiet for a day or two, then truculently reasserts its absolutist opposition to any form of gun regulation.

There was a time when federal lawmakers were sufficiently sickened by the violence to act. In 1994, Congress passed a law banning assault weapons. But that statute expired 10 years later. Since then, the government has done nothing but gladden the N.R.A.’s heart. Federal law now largely protects the firearms industry from lawsuits, though Sandy Hook families are trying to test the extent and depth of that shield. For its part, the United States Supreme Court has strengthened gun owners’ rights under the Second Amendment.

And through it all, death keeps calling. Last month, two teenage Parkland survivors psychically scarred by their ordeal took their own lives, as did the father of a Sandy Hook first-grader who was killed. “He was a brokenhearted person,” said another father who lost a child in the massacre. “As we all are.”

“And through it all, death keeps calling.”

Ok, but again, it may well be that gun regulation is not going to address this problem—absent, of course, confiscating all the guns.  That, in any case, has been the principle argument discussed so far.

I added this comment while you were responding:

In the ‘Politics’ category, notice the 8 minute Chomsky video I posted today.  Trump pins a number of buttons on his lapel to add votes to his ‘tax breaks for the rich’  Republican minority.  The NRA is one of those buttons - millions of working class voters who love their guns.  They’d hide their AR-15’s if they were made illegal and stage dangerous protest rallies. “And through it all, death keeps calling.”

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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26 May 2019 13:04
 
unsmoked - 26 May 2019 12:54 PM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 12:41 PM
unsmoked - 26 May 2019 12:36 PM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 05:11 AM

unsmoked

Your questions are precisely the ones that have been addressed by multiple posters in this thread.  Are you asking them over again, or summarizing the direction the thread has taken?

Summarizing the answer to the OP question -  School shootings:  what is the proximate cause?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/14/us/columbine-school-shootings.html

And the National Rifle Association stays calculatedly quiet for a day or two, then truculently reasserts its absolutist opposition to any form of gun regulation.

There was a time when federal lawmakers were sufficiently sickened by the violence to act. In 1994, Congress passed a law banning assault weapons. But that statute expired 10 years later. Since then, the government has done nothing but gladden the N.R.A.’s heart. Federal law now largely protects the firearms industry from lawsuits, though Sandy Hook families are trying to test the extent and depth of that shield. For its part, the United States Supreme Court has strengthened gun owners’ rights under the Second Amendment.

And through it all, death keeps calling. Last month, two teenage Parkland survivors psychically scarred by their ordeal took their own lives, as did the father of a Sandy Hook first-grader who was killed. “He was a brokenhearted person,” said another father who lost a child in the massacre. “As we all are.”

“And through it all, death keeps calling.”

Ok, but again, it may well be that gun regulation is not going to address this problem—absent, of course, confiscating all the guns.  That, in any case, has been the principle argument discussed so far.

I added this comment while you were responding:

In the ‘Politics’ category, notice the 8 minute Chomsky video I posted today.  Trump pins a number of buttons on his lapel to add votes to his ‘tax breaks for the rich’  Republican minority.  The NRA is one of those buttons - millions of working class voters who love their guns.  They’d hide their AR-15’s if they were made illegal and stage dangerous protest rallies. “And through it all, death keeps calling.”

Got it, thanks, but I think the concern expressed is nothing more than a denigrating liberal stereotype of the overwhelming majority of gun owners, working class or otherwise (though there is a special contempt among the liberal elite for that class; think of Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”).

[ Edited: 26 May 2019 13:10 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
burt
 
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26 May 2019 18:23
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 09:53 AM
burt - 26 May 2019 09:08 AM

From the Tomasello book: “The unique human form of executive regulation is social and/or normative self-regulation, in which the regulation is taking place from the perspective of others.” So perhaps when we talk about a failure of executive functioning the failure is loss of this perspective taking capacity. Is it possible that childhood development in the American social environment (in suburbs and small towns) somehow overloads empathetic capacities to the extent that they just shut down, turning some kids into vengeful psychopaths?

Elaborating on the idea in light of what’s been proposed elsewhere about a critical period for learning socialization/conflict resolution skills (invoked in this thread as well)…

Given the lack of free time for children to learn on their own how to resolve conflict among peers and thus develop the skill by putting it to use, we’re seeing the tail ends of the distribution of failure.  For note: peaceful, equitable conflict resolution requires “regulation taking place from the perspective of others.”  In coming to see the other side for oneself, one can moderate one’s own position; one can reach compromise.  Lack of practice in this area with real conflict absent resolving parental supervision means, at the tail ends, some kids will go to two potential extremes.  On the one hand, they shut down, introject, and self-negate—thus becoming severely depressed, especially young men (introverted anger leads to depressive symptoms in males, and suicide among young males is up 70%, I think).  On the other hand, they lash out and try to dominate the other side—thus becoming violent, with school shootings being the extreme form of violence.  So, I’m not sure about an overload of empathetic capacities as much as a failure of using them taking two forms, one where the subject ‘over-empathizes’ with the other at the expense of negating himself (depression, suicide) and the other with a complete lack of empathy and an urge to dominate (violence, school shootings).  The data—that there is a rise in both suicides and shooters along with a decline in free play time fits—this model.  What we are seeing with the rise of extreme depression (and depression generally) and extreme violence is a failure of regulation taking place from the perspective of others.  Ultimately, this incorporating others is what self-regulation involves.

I would like to see data on bullying and fights generally.  The depression data is always out there, and depression (and suicide) among young males has been on the rise for decades, with a big spike around 2012, I think…

(It is possible that this distribution is not symmetric, meaning more will be depressed than violent.  In fact, I suspect this is the case.)

That could go with Baron-Cohen’s theory that autism and psychopathology are two extremes of an empathy spectrum. As I recall, he posits that empathy has two factors: (1) the emotional ability to feel others emotions; (2) the cognitive ability to understand others feelings. People who have a failing with (1) have psychopathic tendencies, they can cognitively understand others emotions intellectually, but have no emotional connection and use their intellectual understanding to manipulate others. Those with a failing in (2) feel the emotions of others, but have little or no cognitive structures to understand them.

 
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27 May 2019 00:23
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 26 May 2019 12:25 PM

Ease, comfy and effortless?  I wish.  Truly.  In any case, it’s not material.
Since I 180’ed your point I tried thinking of the flipside to see what it is, but I’m still drawing a blank.  Probably my shortcoming.  In any case, I get that we compose ourselves into action, orchestrate our behavior, chafe against the restraints imposed on us, and use strength to self-create (rock bands?), or in weakness shortcut this self-creation through violent domination (rampage shooters).  I just don’t see how this relates to the problem of school shootings, except to recast the problem into figurative language no less vague than self-regulation.

If you’re drawing a blank, you can hardly determine what is material. Look at the ease with which you re-orchestrated bits of my post into what you ‘got’, which is a long way from anything I was trying to say. Here is where your actual shortcoming lies. You must re-orchestrate other patrons posts’ even though they are orchestrated just fine already. As a result, you don’t get anything from them but your own composing. As if you need to baby-sit what other patrons are expressing. They must seem like children. Show them how they need not bother with the point you think they were making.

I encourage you to further unpack self-regulating. I’m already at the point where I’m really posting to spectators and not relying on a conversation.

I presume MSNBC, the Church of Social Justice on college campuses, and Antifa fit the “market driven mentors” as well. Or is this something that especially afflicts conservatives and the religious?

Toss them in the stew. Your question reflects a lack of comprehension and or unfounded assumptions. I no longer dwell in the conservative/liberal dichotomy or believe that being religious or not matters that much right now. Neither of them are the line that divides us.

 
 
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27 May 2019 04:50
 

Nhoj

Don’t you realize that this kind of condescension and denigration is usually sourced from our own insecurities, struck forth when we feel struck down?  That it reveals more about us than the intended target?

In any case, that you think you’re posting to spectators and not relying on conversation is perhaps the most honest thing you’ve said here.  Your denigration of my posting is nothing more than a projection of that attitude, its mechanisms, and its shortcomings, imposed on someone diametrically at odds with it.  This thread exemplifies that. 

That I am so glad I am me and not you is about as defensive as I feel like being right now.

See you around.

[ Edited: 27 May 2019 05:48 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
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