Dave McGowan Newsletter #54
By Dave McGowan <email@example.com>
March 18, 2004
March 18, 2004
The official response is now in from Michael Ruppert, and it is a doozy. Although Ruppert's missive is filled, as was Chin's, with juvenile insults, misrepresentations, and completely unfounded accusations, I will, out of respect for my readers (though certainly not for Ruppert, who has earned no measure of respect from me), make every effort to take the high road here (several of you have written to caution me not to let these people provoke me into losing my cool, and that seems to be sound advice).
I will first present Ruppert's formal reply in its entirety (another suggestion from some of you), so that readers can get the full flavor of how this man operates. In many ways, his missive requires no commentary from me, for he has done a fairly respectable job on his own of revealing what he is, how he operates, and what his agenda is. Nevertheless, there is much here that I cannot let pass without comment.
Here then, exactly as it was received, is Ruppert's formal response to my counter-proposal for a public debate. I have added only a bit of subtle emphasis, because I felt certain that Ruppert would want to ensure that one point in particular gets across loud and clear:
How interesting and how revealing that in posting your onerous rebuttal and pseudo-acceptance of my debate challenge, you sent it out to everyone but me. This is quite revealing as I sent my challenge directly to you personally. I guess you were assuming that either: a), I am an avid reader of your web site, or; b) that I would be unaware of your postings so that you could then misinterpret my non-response as some kind of evasive behavior. The psychology of your move is quite revealing. It shows that you have no faith in your own arguments and that you are interested only in holding a public stage and my time for as long as you possibly can or until your apparently insatiable ego is gratified. You know what my email address is.
In the two-plus years since 9/11 an increasingly sophisticated body of researchers has become aware of tactics intended to stall and distract, rather than educate. Your recent postings seem to indicate that this argument is to be won by the sheer number of words that can be thrown at the subject as opposed to arguments addressing an issue of the utmost importance to mankind. Not only have I, but a great many others, become wise to such tactics, we have learned to counter them. The debate you have assumptively proposed (as opposed to the one I challenged you with) is one which will allow you to occupy center stage for endless hours while engaging in the most insidious and duplicitous kinds of sophistry which would never be permitted in a courtroom or in a properly moderated debate, governed by rules of critical thinking and analysis.
You have employed dishonesty, straw arguments, and libelous character assassinations instead of addressing the only question that matters to anybody.
That question – Is abiotic petroleum and natural gas readily available and making its way into commercial use in sufficient quantities to establish that there is no imminent energy shortage? – is rightly the only question any of us should give a damn about. That is the question for debate.
Instead you are dancing around the issue with falsehoods which are typified (as only one example) by your statement that I and a number of petroleum scientists argue that oil is derived from dinosaurs. Neither I nor any reputable scientist – especially those who are warning of Peak Oil -- has ever made such a claim. We all gagged as you put these words in our mouths. Yet it suits your purpose to falsify our statements and then defeat words which we never uttered to prove a point and thus boost your ego. You remind me of Norman Solomon. I don’t participate in these kinds of debates. The Arabs have a saying that one should never argue with a fool or a liar because people might not be able to tell the difference.
You have also attacked me and others as being part of some kind of covert operation intended to promote infinite war yet you ignore several facts:
1. Instead of advocating war I oppose it. Anyone who has attended any of my more than 35 lectures in eight countries (more than 15,000 live audience members) will know, of a certainty, that my position on solutions is absolutely clear. I advocate an immediate cessation of all military conquest and imperialism by the US government and industrialized powers; an end to the war on terror. I advocate an immediate convening of political, economic, spiritual and scientific leaders from all nations to address the issue of Peak Oil (and Gas) and its immediate implications for economic collapse, massive famine and climate destruction (partially as a result of reversion to coal plants which accelerate global warming). This would, scientifically speaking, include immediate steps to arrive at a crash program – agreed to by all nations and in accordance with the highest spiritual and ethical principles – to stop global population growth and to arrive at the best possible and most ethical program of population reduction as a painful choice made by all of humanity. It would also include arrival at a painful, but absolutely necessary, plan to implement a global program of “contraction and convergence” whereby consumption, rampant economic growth based on globalization, and corrupt economic practices is reversed in favor of a planned and executed program intended to reduce the size of a world economy which is inherently linked to the consumption of hydrocarbon energy. In stating this position I have made it clear that nothing of any real significance will be changed at all until a complete revision is made in the way money works -- on a global and local scale -- because it is financial activity and monetary policy which will dictate how any contingency plans are implemented and paid for.
You have attacked those who have warned of the dangers of Peak Oil as being employees of oil companies. Yet you ignore the fact that Heinberg, Darley, Deffeyes, Aleklett, Klare and Goodstein – to name only a few – are academics. Yes, Deffeyes once worked for Shell but he got out when he saw what was coming many, many years ago and his long tenure at Princeton and the fact that his income is derived from there speaks volumes. Neither Heinberg, Darley, Klare, Goodstein (Vice Chancellor of the California Institute of Technology), Dale Allen Pfeiffer or I have ever worked for the petroleum industry in any way, shape or form.
You also ignore the fact that peer review is only one of nine critical questions FTW has posed. If one paper has received peer reviews supporting it that does not, in fact, prove that the subject matter is true. It only states that the science is theoretically sound and that it may or may not be accurate when applied. Another peer reviewed paper was published in the late 1890s by Professor Langley who proved mathematically that man could never fly in heavier-than-air craft. That was a fine example of peer reviewed science, wasn’t it?
The fact is that the advocates of abiogenic oil and gas keep refusing to appear in public to defend their work. No one has produced verifiable production data (even in the papers you cite) proving the theory. Nothing has been produced anywhere showing that any significant quantities of abiogenic hydrocarbons have ever entered productions streams. Thomas Gold’s fabled Eugene Island is today a dry hole. (See below) In fact, the best scientific data available has just confirmed that for more than twenty years, mankind has consumed more oil than has been discovered and that last year – for the first time since the 1920s – there was not a single discovery of a field over 500 million barrels. The supposed increases in Mid East reserves which occurred in the 1980s were the result of pencils and erasers rather than any actual change in oil in the ground. Those restatements came as the US sought a way to bypass OPEC production quotas (based on reserves) so as to flood the markets with cheap oil and destroy the Soviet economy. What the reserve figures show is that all Mid East nations revised their reserve estimates upward except Abu Dhabi which remained constant (because they were already selling all they could produce). Argue this point and then you will have to prove that God and science somehow partially refilled everyone else’s tank but that the laws of your science were somehow suspended in the case of poor Abu Dhabi.
As for “Peak Groceries” you again distort because groceries can be located by a mere phone call or internet order. Oil must be found at great cost and developed at even greater cost. Why then is the oil industry laying off its exploration geologists and why are these curricula being phased out of academic instruction?
I am certain that you will find some point in your last diatribe that I did not respond to and state that this is proof that I am defeated. Not true. I never agreed to debate you on your terms. I never said that I was handing you an open microphone and unlimited amounts of my time. You are not worth it. I handed you a challenge which is clearly spelled out below. Either accept it or reject it.
TERMS OF DEBATE
I am more than willing and happy to engage in a face-to-face debate. It should take no longer than 90 minutes in a public forum to settle the question. I do not have time for the months and endless hours you intend to suck out of me and the poor readers to keep us from focusing on important work. I am willing to put my money and my reputation on it. However, in order to avoid your unethical argumentative protocols, distortions, and sophistry I will insist upon several conditions. They include:
1. You and I will both put into escrow the sum of $1,000 before the debate. Your refusal to do this indicates that you do not believe you can win by ethical means. I want you to put a personal piece of you into this, as I am willing to do, immediately if you agree to the other terms set forth below.
2. The live debate will be judged and moderated by a panel of three. This panel will also determine the winner of the debate according to standard debating procedure and rules and award the prize. They will also enforce penalty points for ad hominem attacks, obfuscation, evasion of the issues and straw-man arguments. This panel of three can be selected from high school or college debate coaches or lawyers in the area. I am also willing to pay half of the expense for their compensation.
3. I am assuming that you live in the Bay Area. I will come to the Bay Area at my own expense for the debate, which will be well publicized and open to the public.
4. The panel of judges mutually agreed to by you and me, can be selected from the Bay area. There is a large pool from which to choose and this should not be a difficult prospect.
5. The sole question to be debated will be: “Is abiotic petroleum and natural gas readily available and making its way into commercial use in sufficient quantities to establish that there is no imminent energy shortage?”
I have too much respect for my readers’ time – apparently more so than you for yours – to believe that they would be interested in reading hundreds of pages of back and forth, especially when you resort to such childish and uncritical tactics. I also refuse to let you invade and occupy my productive hours when this is a question that can be settled in ninety minutes of direct, face-to-face, ethical and well-policed discussion.
I have attached below a response I posted earlier today to another kindred spirit of yours on the subject of abiotic oil. As far as I am concerned this ends my participation with you until such time as you show the integrity to accept the challenge as I have laid it out for you.
Michael C. Ruppert
There is quite a bit of ground to cover here, so it is difficult to know where to begin. One thing, however, really seemed to jump out at me, so I suppose we should begin there. Obviously, I was mistaken when I said that you offered little in the way of solutions. I stand corrected. Thank you very much for clarifying that. And thanks for removing any doubt about what your true agenda is. I am sure that many readers will appreciate that.
I believe very strongly that you need to get that message out there more prominently. It appears that some of your readers aren’t getting it. I believe that to be the case because one of them just wrote to me with the following comments: “Thank you so much for the 'peak oil' rant. I subscribed to FTW for one year and never could get a line on what he's saying.” The reader (thanks, Joan!) explained that she got the ‘we're running out of oil’ concept, and she understood the ‘there are no alternatives’ part, but she didn't really understand what comes next. The problem, clearly, is that she did not pick up on the program of “ethical” population reduction.
You really need to pound away at that one. Why do you limit such critical information to just the 15,000 people in eight countries that have attended the lectures that you never tire of mentioning? Why not splash it across your home page in bold print? Or better yet, you might consider renaming your website The Center for the Study of Ethical Population Reduction – or something along those lines.
Before we move on, I have a few quick questions that maybe you can answer for me, when you can find the time: do you have a specific eugenics program in mind at this time, or are you still working out the details? Do you think we should start with all the non-white people? Will getting rid of the non-white people be enough, or will some of 'us' have to go as well? What exactly is your target population level? What do you think the criteria will be? My driver’s license says that I have blond hair and blue eyes, but I am still wondering: is there anything more that I can do to increase the chances that I will be a 'keeper'? And one last question: have you considered showing true leadership in these troubled times by becoming the first person to volunteer for euthanasia? If we have to thin the herd here, Mike, I think you are missing a golden opportunity to set an example for your flock.
I think that covers all my questions on that topic (I realize that you are not going to answer any of these questions, but I am going to ask them anyway), so let's move on to other things. One of the most remarkable aspects of your missive is that you have repeatedly accused me of making libelous statements about you, even while you, at the very same time, shamelessly libel me by accusing me of: employing “tactics intended to stall and distract, rather than educate”; “engaging in the most insidious and duplicitous kinds of sophistry”; employing “dishonesty, straw arguments, and libelous character assassinations”; “dancing around the issue with falsehoods”; employing “childish and uncritical tactics”; and utilizing “unethical argumentative protocols, distortions, and sophistry.” You have also strongly implied that I am partial to the use of “ad hominem attacks, obfuscation, evasion of the issues and straw-man arguments.”
That is a remarkable list of charges to levy against someone, especially considering that you do not offer a single concrete example to support any of the charges that you have made. Not one example of “sophistry.” Not one example of “dishonesty.” Not one example of employing a “straw argument.” Not one example of a “libelous character assassination.” Not one example of an “unethical argumentative protocol.” Not one example of a “distortion.” And not one example of an “ad hominem attack,” an “obfuscation,” a "childish and uncritical tactic," or even an “evasion of the issues.”
You did attempt to provide an example of a “falsehood,” and that pathetic attempt of yours is quite revealing. Your one shining example of my use of falsehoods is my supposed “statement that [you] and a number of petroleum scientists argue that oil is derived from dinosaurs.” There is only one problem with your example, but it is kind of a big problem: I never said that. And since you obviously read my posting, then you know full well that I never said that. In other words, your one example of a supposed “falsehood” on my part is, in reality, an outright lie on your part -- because we both know that what I really said was that I was raised to believe that oil came from dinosaurs. For the record, let's take a look at the actual excerpt:
As anyone who stayed awake during elementary school science class knows, oil comes from dinosaurs. I remember as a kid (calm down, folks; there will be no Brady Bunch references this week) seeing some kind of 'public service' spot explaining how dinosaurs "gave their all" so that we could one day have oil.
It is quite clear that I never said - in any way, shape or form - that you, Michael Ruppert, or any "petroleum scientists," claim that oil comes from dinosaurs. To the contrary, the origins of oil seems to be a subject that you prefer not to talk about at all.
Early on in your missive, you comment on the "psychology of [my] move." I found it rather odd that you would purport to be able to analyze my moves when you don't actually have, as far as I am aware, any training in that area. I found it odder still that you would do so when condescendingly addressing someone who actually does have a degree in psychology. Why don't we then take a fun look at the psychology of one of your moves? When you told the lie about what I supposedly said, you actually embellished that lie with a completely fictitious story about an alleged physical reaction that you supposedly had to something that never even happened. That is not simply a lie; it is a sign of a pathological condition. For that reason, I am not expecting an apology anytime soon for what was clearly a lie on your part -- and a lie that was intended, ironically enough, to paint me as a liar.
As for your overall attempt to paint me as a disreputable charlatan, here is the situation as I see it: you pored over a 10,000-word essay that I composed, desperately seeking any example of a lie, distortion or misrepresentation, but you came up empty handed. That much we can safely infer from the fact that you resorted to making something up (as did your inept attack dog, Larry Chin). And then, armed with nothing but a lie, you proceeded to falsely accuse me of committing a number of egregious sins – and all the while, you actually had the gall to claim that it is your character that is being assassinated. You have also used your false and completely unsupported allegations to cast me as a lying egomaniac unworthy of the time required for a real public debate, thus enabling you to slip away even while claiming to take the high road. That would be a very clever maneuver -- except that you haven't even come close to pulling it off.
Let’s turn now to some other accusations that you have leveled at me. You claim that I have attempted to “invade and occupy [your] productive hours.” You have also accused me of showing a lack of integrity by not accepting your "challenge" as you have “laid it out,” as though I am under some kind of obligation to debate you only under the strictly defined conditions that you have unilaterally imposed. At the same time, you dismiss my counter proposal as some kind of ego-driven publicity stunt, referring to it dismissively as “the debate that [I] assumptively proposed.”
I think it would probably be instructive here to briefly review the chronology of recent events. As you know, I have a small, non-commercial website - otherwise known as a vanity website - just like millions of other people across the country, and around the world. On that site, I post my thoughts and opinions on a wide range of topics. I also send out mailings to a small, private mailing list composed of people who have expressed an interest in receiving my writings. That is the extent of my Internet activities (and what your acolyte has disturbingly described as “misusing the Internet”). I do not post to, nor participate in, any news or discussion groups. I post only to my own private website. Despite the accusations of both you and Chen, I have never conspired with anyone, in any way, to smear your character. As I said before, I am not affiliated in any way with any groups or movements, and certainly not with any other individuals or groups who have served as critics of yours (your apparent attempt to connect me with the Solomon/Corn crowd, I must say, is particularly pathetic, given my frequently voiced, and well documented, opinion of that bunch).
As you recall, this all began when you took offense at an opinion that I had expressed on my own website. At that time, you invaded my space, issuing a belligerent and uninvited challenge. Prior to that, I had little interest in you or your website. I had never, by any stretch of the imagination, come close to invading your “productive time.” I had never so much as sent you a single e-mail. I rarely even visit your site. So it seems that it was not I who invaded your space, but rather you who invaded my space. And you did so by issuing a boorish challenge that you feel I was somehow instantly obligated to either accept, or reject and quietly slink away. Instead, I did what I always do, which was to air my argument in the only public venue available: my website. And at that time, as we both know, your people became completely unhinged.
I did not bring this fight to you as some attempt to bask in your reflected glory (and I'm the one looking to "boost [my] ego"?); I did not bring this fight to you at all. You bullied your way into my space, attempting to force me into playing the game by your rules, as though you have some kind of divine right to do so (and I'm the one with the "insatiable ego"?). There is a very clear pattern of intimidation here.
One of the most telling aspects of your response is that it is actually a cut-and-paste form letter. I know that because, for reasons known only to you, you chose to attach a response that you sent to someone else who challenged your theories, and that response was a different version of the same form letter. There are other indications as well, such as the redundant passages, and the numbered paragraphs that never get past the number 1. The fact that it is a form letter is very significant, for a number of reasons.
Based on my experiences of the last couple of weeks, I have concluded that this is how your machine operates: whenever anyone is presumptuous enough to question your almighty wisdom, you immediately swoop in and try to intimidate them into backing off by issuing a demand (you can't really call it a request) for a formal debate. If they take you up on it, then they get the form letter imposing the restrictions and strictly limiting the scope of the debate to a false argument. When they, quite naturally, refuse your 'offer,' you then cast them as cowards and charlatans for 'ducking' the debate.
What this means, of course, is that anyone who you feel threatened by, and who you send the form letter to, is routinely accused of being a lying, disreputable glory-seeker whose behavior must be policed -- regardless of their personal standing or the validity of their challenge. My guess is that the "example" is a fill-in-the-blank kind of thing, and in my case, you didn't have anything legitimate to fill in the blank. Nevertheless, you left all the unsupported accusations in the form letter and simply filled in the blank with a figment of your imagination.
You have accused me of attacking you "as being part of some kind of covert operation intended to promote infinite war." Your associate has implied that I have attacked you as being a shill for the Bush administration. I have never said, explicitly, that you are any such thing. But I will say that there is no question but that your tactics closely mirror those of the Bush administration (or pretty much any other U.S. presidential administration).
First and foremost is what we might call the "pot-calling-the-kettle-black syndrome." You engage in reprehensible character assassinations, even while claiming to be a victim yourself. You accuse your critics of employing tactics to stifle you, even as you employ those very tactics to stifle them. You accuse your critics of libel, even as you viciously libel them. You accuse your opponents of dodging a real debate, even as it is you who are dodging the real debate. You accuse your critics of being unable to stick to the issues and construct an ethical argument, even as you dodge the real issues through the use of unethical arguments.
Then there is your habit of unilaterally issuing uninvited, bullying, unreasonable, take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums, and then claiming that it is the other party's fault when the 'offer' is refused. I am thinking of Rambouillet here, but there are also numerous other examples that could be cited. So while I obviously cannot definitively say if there is someone pulling your strings, I can say that Karl Rove himself couldn't run a more well-oiled machine.
Let us turn now to the inherent fraudulence of your debate "challenge." The biggest problem, and the most telling aspect of the 'offer,' is with the framing of the question. You have chosen (and this isn't the original topic of debate, by the way, but one that you came up with after you read my critique): "Is abiotic petroleum and natural gas readily available and making its way into commercial use in sufficient quantities to establish that there is no imminent energy shortage?”
The interesting thing about that question is that it presupposes that your side of the argument has already been proven, even though we both know that that isn't true. It is interesting to note here that whenever people such as you and Mr. Chin mention abiotic petroleum, you are usually quick to claim that it is a "disputed" theory. However, you never attach such qualifiers to mentions of 'fossil fuels.' Don't you find that odd, considering that it is actually the reverse that is true?
You have admitted that petroleum can be produced abiotically (in your response to my "kindred spirit"). In fact, no one with any credibility can deny that fact. It has been demonstrated in the laboratory and verified with unchallenged mathematical models. It is a fact. The 'fossil fuel' theory, on the other hand, cannot be verified and is disputed by, at the very least, a large community of Soviet and Ukrainian scientists. Since abiotic petroleum is not disputed and is verifiable, the logical presumption, until proven otherwise, is that all the natural gas and petroleum in commercial use, and in the ground, and in storage tanks, and anywhere else, is abiotic oil and gas.
Your chosen question then is an entirely fraudulent one, selected so as to protect you from having to establish the basic foundation of your argument. Just as with Mr. Chin, you want to skip right over that and start building your 'Peak Oil' theory. It doesn't work that way, and all of your sophistry cannot change that fact.
A few other aspects of the debate 'challenge' seem problematic as well. You claim that you assume that I live in the Bay Area, when you know very well that I live in the Los Angeles area, just like you. You may pretend otherwise, but you have met me. We were introduced after an event in Santa Monica in 2002. You tried to engage me in conversation, but I wasn't interested and wandered off (or is that perhaps something that I have conjured up in my imagination to feed my ego?).
Why then the Bay Area? Perhaps the answer lies in condition number 4, and the "large pool" of judges that you seem to be familiar with. I don't happen to know anyone in the Bay Area, except for my cousin, and I doubt that he is part of that pool of judges. Your obsession with a purse is another problem, and an obvious attempt to discourage acceptance of your proposal (and judging by your response to my "kindred spirit," you don't pay up when you lose anyway). All I am going to say about this issue is that, unlike you, I am not in this for the money.
How much have you made, by the way, off the September 11 attacks? I know you claim to have doubled your subscribers, to 10,000. That's 5,000 new subscribers at $35.00 per year (more for the hard copy), or a minimum of $175,000 per year. Then there are the speaking fees and the reimbursed travel and living expenses. Then there are, of course, all the 9-11 related books and videos that you hawk. Then there are the donations that you solicit. So how much is it, in total, over the last two-and-a-half years? Around a half mil? More? Why don't we do this: each of us will contribute to the purse all the money that we have made off the 9-11 attacks. You will put up your proceeds, and I will put up mine. Does that sound fair?
Before wrapping this up, I need to address several more brazen misrepresentations and specious allegations that you have made. You have claimed that I have attempted to win this argument "by the sheer number of words that can be thrown at the subject." The truth though is that I have written exactly one article that challenges what you are selling. You, on the other hand, have littered the Internet with dozens of hysterical, and sometimes quite lengthy, missives on the subject. Again I would have to say that the 'pot-calling-the-kettle-black syndrome' clearly applies here.
You have claimed that I must be "assuming" that you are a reader of this site (my ego again, I presume). But we both know that you are a reader of this site. Why else would you have responded with warp speed not only to my abiotic oil posting, but to the posting that first caused your testes to draw up tighter than a newborn baby's? And I noticed, in reading through some of your material, that you have written things that appear to be direct responses to things that I have written (oops, there goes my ego again!). I will be commenting on that, and providing a clear example, in a future newsletter. As for your claim that I was hoping that you would somehow be unaware of my posting, we both know that that is absurd.
You claim that I have "attacked those who have warned of the dangers of Peak Oil as being employees of oil companies," but I said no such thing. I did identify the various geochemists quoted in news reports that I cited as "shills for the petroleum industry," but they were, in fact, identified in those reports as employees of various oil companies. It was nice of you though to volunteer the information that one of your experts once worked for Shell. And I would tend to agree that Deffeyes "long tenure at Princeton and the fact that his income is derived from there speaks volumes."
You are now claiming that, "If one paper has received peer reviews supporting it that does not, in fact, prove that the subject matter is true." But when you previously wrote that "peer-reviewed articles ensure the validity of science," you gave no hint that that statement was conditional. For the sake of accuracy, should you not go back and change the posting to read "peer-reviewed articles ensure the validity of science, unless the conclusions reached contradict the theories that I am selling"?
You also claim that I "ignore the fact that peer review is only one of nine critical questions FTW has posed," but it is you who ignores the fact that your theory is inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics, which you identify as the most critical of the nine questions (the one that "Most of the other questions in this list can be tied up into").
You claim that "advocates of abiogenic oil and gas keep refusing to appear in public to defend their work" (not unlike the way that you claim that your critics refuse to appear in public to debate you). But Dr. Kenney and some of his Soviet colleagues have said that that is an egregious lie, and I am more prone to believe them than you. They have also complained about news reports claiming that they were "unavailable for comment," when no one had made the slightest attempt to contact them.
You have written: "As for 'Peak Groceries,' you again distort because groceries can be located by a mere phone call or internet order." To say that this is a bizarre rebuttal would be quite an understatement. It has nothing to do with my argument, which concerned the consolidation of various industries. And for the record, I can buy a can of oil with a phone call or an internet order as well. So what? Is this one of those "straw arguments" you were so concerned about?
Finally, you have written that you are "certain" that I will find "something" in my argument that you "did not respond to and state that this is proof" that you are defeated. "Not true. I never agreed to debate you on your terms." As you are well aware (and as anyone reading this will be well aware), you responded to almost nothing in my "diatribe." Instead, you sent me a bullying, childish form letter filled with entirely unfounded allegations and pompous self-importance. And for the record, it is I who never agreed to, and was never obligated to, 'debate' you on your terms.
You have declared that you are through with me. And that is fine. No one ever invited you to this party to begin with. And you obviously have nothing of substance to contribute anyway.
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