Radio Talk

Radio Talk

In High School, shortly after Bill Clinton was elected President, I discovered Rush Limbaugh and talk radio.  I have been a regular listener every since.  In recent years I have become a little bit more picky about whom I listen to, filtering out those who seem to be mere spin-doctors and mouthpieces.  Yet still sometimes my car is playing a CD, but just as often it is tuned to AM talk.

Currently, the big topic of talk radio discussion has been the current TSA screening procedures and scanning machines.  Today I heard Rush Limbaugh loudly telling America that we must not stand for this personal intrusion into our lives, that we must fight back.  He wasn’t telling people to take up arms, but that we needed to push back against our government in order to protect our freedom.

It is very true that we must be constantly vigilant to protect our personal freedoms, especially from a government that is always expanding and looking for more power and control.  Governments will always look to expand and exert more hegemony over their people, and there is no better check against government domination than an ever-vigilant populace.

Further, screeners putting their hands down people’s pants are a gross intrusion that is unacceptable.  Using terrorism as an excuse to confiscate personal liberty is an Orwellian nightmare that cannot be allowed in this country.  Our founding fathers warned us of this.  They even the Fourth Amendment into the bill of rights guaranteeing us that the government could not search us without probable cause.  This amendment is used to as precedent for things like the “right” to abortion, but is being ignored in this case, where the government is literally doing the thing prohibited.  Basically, Rush is right.

But as I was listening, I started to wonder how Rush’s conversation might have been different if President Bush were still in charge.  There would have been people out protesting.  The blogs would be full of people CAPS-ing vitriolic about how “the regime” is destroying American’s freedoms.  Rush would be on air telling people that the government was doing all it could to prevent another attack on the homeland.  He would be comparing this to all that America had to do during World War 2, and showing that it was really nothing in comparison.  He would tell listeners that, ‘we are at war and there is an enemy putting bombs in their underpants, trying to kill innocent Americans.’

The point is, that life is always more complicated than the pundits and partisans and talking heads would lead us to believe.  The TSA is staffed by people with advanced intelligence information that certainly includes ways that terrorists are actively trying to kill us.  All it would take is for some bombs to go off, and people would be crying out for more security and asking why these things weren’t done in the first place.

While it seems that this is a gross intrusion on the government’s part, talk radio and others are constantly seeking to increase the volume and frenzy of political debate.  They do this not just for ratings, although that is certainly a motive, but also because their goal is to motivate the people into action against the opposing side.  Active people lead to desired change.  It is dramatic and functional.  It also makes for good radio.

Unfortunately, riled and rowdy masses seldom act prudently.  Passionate people tend to pay attention to things that validate their world-view, and dismiss evidence to the contrary.  But it is pretty obvious that this is seldom an accurate picture.  In this case, while it seems clear to most people that this is a clear breach of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Americans, it is also obvious that there are strong indicators of impending terrorist threats that the government is straining to prevent.  While Americans must be vigilant in protecting freedom, we must enter into this conversation with the type of sobriety that people like Rush aren’t likely to give us.  -Ryan

Presidential Controvercy – part 1

Obama HeaderA couple of weeks ago, President Obama gave a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in support of Hispanic Heritage Month.  His remarks sent the blogs and talk shows all aflutter.  During his comments, which I have linked below, he talked about the great diversity of people that have always made up our country, saying:

We didn’t always get along. But over the centuries, what eventually bound us together —
what made us all Americans — was not a matter of blood, it wasn’t a matter of birth. It
was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. We hold these truths
to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights:
life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What upset many people was the omission of the words “by their Creator” from Obama’s quotation of the Declaration of Independence, and that certainly is an area of concern.  I have heard commentators mention that Obama, who always uses a teleprompter when he speaks, hesitated very noticeably when it got to that part, proving that the “under God” was there, but he decided to remove it.  That argument is quite weak though, since it could have been missing from the prompter, and he could have been debating putting it in, but decided that the speech writers knew best.  All of this is extreme navel gazing of the sort that greatly annoys me.

In my mind there are a few other much more significant issues about the speech in general, that need to be mentioned.  I will spend the next few blog posts explaining what I believe are the areas of real concern that the circumstances of this speech should be bringing to the surface, starting with the very occasion for which his remarks were given.  But before we continue, consider taking the time to listen to Obama’s speech in its entirety.  It is one of his more eloquent and brief appearances.  The most controversial part is at 21:40.

Malignant Segregation

First of all, the whole [insert politically correct cause here] Heritage/History Month trend has got to stop.  For those of us who are not politically savvy enough, let us make up a fanciful illustration to illustrate the reality of how all this works.  The National Association for Annoying Political Correctness (known as the NAAPC), an advocacy group, gets together and brain storm ways of making more people pay attention to them.  The term advocacy group is usually just code language for a group of people who want more political power.   Like a 3 year old child, the worst thing that any advocacy group can imagine is to be ignored.  They are like fairies from Neverland, if you say you don’t believe they exist, they die.  They can only be revived by clapping.

So the NAAPC realizes that they need to be creative and do what every other advocacy group is doing, which is to create their own holiday.  There was a period of time in the late 80’s and early 90’s when they all came up with their own day to celebrate.  The NAAPC had Shove Through Ur Politics Day (STUPD) in ’91 and ’92, but soon after, they followed all of the other advocacy groups and expanded to a whole month.

All they had to do in order to get 1/12 of a year of attention instead of 1/365 was to send out a press release and print a few thousand free promotional calendars with the dates on them.  It all happened quickly, despite a few intense meetings on what to call the 25th of December, instead of Christmas.  They settled on Cold Celebration of Things Inoffensive. They were originally going to call it Winter Celebration, but people got upset that the other seasons weren’t included.  Kwanza made the cut, but the dates for Hanukah were removed entirely, leaving only blank calendar squares.

The news media was all too happy to do a whole series of stories about PCHM (Politically Correct History Month) because the Democratic National Committee was only producing enough material for 15 minutes of the newscast.  So they only did the weather twice during the half hour broadcast (instead of the usual 3 times) and cut out the stories about Rocky the water-skiing squirrel, and why you shouldn’t leave your pets in the car when it is 100 degrees outside.   This left a full 15 minutes of each newscast to advertise Politically Correct History Month.

Suddenly the entire country was celebrating a whole month of Political Correctness as if it had been handed down by the Holiday Gods.  Hallmark was even making some cards for people to buy, and the NAAPC had a few big parties to celebrate, which they bankrolled with all the new donations coming in.

Back to reality:

The NAAPC is fake, but the situation is all too real.  These organizations aren’t trying to be malevolent.  They are catering to their own interests.  That, my friends is why every month is now covered by some special interest group, telling you about their history.  My personal favorite is Women’s History Month, which isn’t really about the history of women, or it would be all about how an egg got fertilized in the first place, Eve, and evolution.

So here is Barak Obama giving a speech about how we are unified, while at a meeting of only Hispanic people, talking about Hispanic issues, for a holiday invented by people who want more attention for Hispanic causes.  Keep in mind, I am not anti-Hispanic.  I am anti special interests.  If a group is being seriously abused, minority unity is important to get past the repression.  But in all circumstances, special interest groups exist to separate themselves from the bulk of the population and segregate.  If you don’t believe me, listen to where the applause is during the speech.  The cheering does not come when Obama talks about unity.  The people applaud when he says “Mexico.”  Crowds are actually pretty easy to psychoanalyze.  They cheer for the things they are committed to, and boo or ignore the things they aren’t.

The words of the Declaration say,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…[skipping to the end] And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

So, Obama’s speech at the Hispanic Caucus was troubling not just for its omission of God, but for its catering to a continued idea that celebrating America’s diversity is best accomplished by segregating its citizenry. We won’t be truly diverse when every interest has its own day, or month, or colored ribbon.  We will be truly diverse when no one desires any of those things at all.

The Free Information Age -part 2

In a previous post, I discussed the beginning of what I have dubbed the Free Information Age.  This post was not meant as simply a parenthetical comment to the current zeitgeist, but as an introduction to a discussion of both the cultural waters that the Church must swim in, and a means of strategy for how the Church can carry its message and navigate in this new economy of communication and ideas.

There was a time in which many would accept a bull or ecclesiastical pronouncement with an assumption of infallibility.  Those days are gone.  The Church is mourning this, and that is natural.  But that is mostly because it is natural to prefer blind submission.  The Catholic church didn’t like Martin Luther’s criticism of its theology and practices, in the same way that the Church currently clings to its old position of assumed inerrancy.

Some since of assumed credibility is actually important.  No two parties can truly dialogue if one party questions the validity of every position the other takes.  But should the Church actually fear shouldering the burden of proof?  Let me illustrate.

I remember as a child getting into the argument over “My dad can beat-up your dad.”  This argument was never solved, and never tested.  As a child, I was certain that my step-father was much stronger than anyone else’s, but I secretly knew that there was a possibility that he wasn’t, and the other boy wondered the same.

But what if my father had been Mike Tyson (the 80’s version)?  In that case, I would never have backed down.  The other boy might, but I would be safe in knowing that my position was indisputably secure.

In a similar way, Christians must know that Jesus is who He says He is.  They know that His claims are indisputable.  We have nothing to fear in marketplace of ideas.  We don’t need to defenders of God to the world.  As His claims are tested, He will be shown authentic.

One of the reasons that Christianity has difficulty in this is that our rhetoric is often louder than our actions.  Jesus was clear in that we are to be people who are known by the love that we share, joy, peace, patience, etc.  These are all actions, not words.  Our actions are to be explained by rhetoric when necessary.  In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, we are to always “speak softly but carry a big stick.”

If skepticism of information can cause us to do this more, then it will bring us back to the type of Christianity that we should practice, instead of the rhetorically-driven example of the political Church.  -Ryan

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2009 Predictions

As events unfold throughout the year, I do my best to reflect how they have fulfilled my beginning of the year predictions.  That said, there are a few recent events that I found noteworthy.

First, there was the recent terror plans in New York City and Denver that seemed to have been foiled, at least for now.  I had predicted that this year there would probably be an attempt (not that wild a guess, really).  I also Twittered about the likelihood of one upcoming soon merely weeks ago.    There is a good article about the recent situation here.

Second, although I did not put this as one of my points in this year’s predictions, one of the things I have been discussing at great length is that the big social policy debate of the coming years will be on the issue of assisted suicide.  This will be less aimed at terminal disease pain relief, and more about the elderly.  Unfortunately, I haven’t written much about it on here.  Last week, Newsweek’s cover story, “The Case for Killing Granny,” advocates this position in a way that I could not have imagined (and still can’t believe).  As if on cue, the Brits are following right along, according to this Reuters report-Ryan

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The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 7

This is part 7 of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.

Barbarian
Barbarian

The Effect on Faith

Exactly what to expect for America itself in this future, is very difficult to say. Possibilities include a weakened America existing in its same form but having less world influence, to America’s basic destruction by both outside, and internal fighting, or America existing more as a pre-Civil War loose collection of states. There is no way to predict what the American future will look like at this time.

But that doesn’t really answer what will happen to the American and world Christian outlook. Christianity does not rely on Americanism, of course. But America does powerfully affect the world Christian community. While the growth of the Christian faith is epicentered in both African and Asia, with secularization and Islamification being more prevalent in the West, America is still the center of the financial, resource, and influence world of faith.

The loss of America’s influence will certainly have a huge affect on the Christian world. But how this will work itself out in time is not estimable at this time. Certainly, there will be destabilization in the Christian community. This will most like work itself out to mean that there will be no Capital for Christianity. It might also end in increased persecution around the world, as there will be no powerhouse to protect Christianity’s interests.

However, history tells us that persecution is good for Christianity, as it causes the Christian community to invest fully in their faith, to make Christianity less a culture, and ends in enormous numerical growth. As Christians, we don’t have to worry about the future of the Church. We know what happens in the end. We don’t know all that will happen between then and now, and we certainly know it won’t always be easy.

But that doesn’t really answer what will happen to the American and world Christian outlook.  Christianity does not rely on Americanism, of course.  But America does powerfully affect the world Christian community.  While the growth of the Christian faith is epicentered in both African and Asia, with secularization and Islamification being more prevalent in the West, America is still the center of the financial, resource, and influence world of faith.

The loss of America’s influence will certainly have a huge affect on the Christian world.  But how this will work itself out in time is not estimable at this time.  Certainly, there will be destabilization in the Christian community.  This will most like work itself out to mean that there will be no Capital for Christianity.  It might also end in increased persecution around the world, as there will be no powerhouse to protect Christianity’s interests.

However, history tells us that persecution is good for Christianity, as it causes the Christian community to invest fully in their faith, to make Christianity less a culture, and ends in enormous numerical growth.  As Christians, we don’t have to worry about the future of the Church.  We know what happens in the end.  We don’t know all that will happen between then and now, and we certainly know it won’t always be easy. -Ryan

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The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 6

This is part six of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.

Barbarian
Barbarian

The Fall of Giants

We have gone past a point in America where we can turn this clock back.  Many experts believe that the American century is over, and the next century most certainly won’t be a repeat.  I believe that the evidence backs this up, both historically and in terms of current events.  This doesn’t mean we will fall into the sea.  It does mean that things will be different.  A look at history should shed light on what may be to come.

When the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Britain, and The Soviet Union fell they left differing decrees of chaos in their wake.  The latter empires left lesser degrees of chaos, but their empires were also dovetailed with another stabilizing empire (in both cases the United States).  The Romans were unique in that there was no other competing empire to really challenge their existence, similar to the situation that the United States faces today, although certainly the European Union (itself a powder keg) Russia, and nations like Canada and Australia are stabilizing.

The Roman empire didn’t just end.  It fractured, as its fringes sought their own independence and regional power.  The competing states model that followed drained the regional competing countries of all internal resources, as they invested in war and outside competition.  Far more resources were expended in competing for resources than were ever gained by those resources.  The result was what we know call the “Dark Ages.”

During this time, the one rising competing empire was the Muslim Caliphate leading to the Ottoman Empire.  The rapid expansion of the Muslims into the carcass of the Roman Empire was almost without challenge.  When Europe finally realized that they needed to respond, it led to the Church controlled Middle Ages, and ridiculous Church corruption and pollution by the world.  It was hundreds of years before the Roman norms of indoor plumbing, rights for middle class, and secure resources where even imagined again.

As America loses its stature in the world, this does not have to echo the fall of the Roman Empire.  The European Union could provide stability in the absence of America’s influence.  Most other countries would likely lack the resources to be capable of this.  However, Europe has its own massive battles to fight.  Europe is in sharp decline, at least as the Europe that has existed for modern history.  They are facing another Muslim invasion, but this time it’s a more peaceful one.  Within 10 years several European countries will be majority Muslim, and almost all of Europe’s non-Muslim population in irreversible decline.

The religious issue in this regard is almost secondary.  The Muslim populations in these countries are not melding into society as other immigrants do.  They bring their own ideas of governance, Sharia law, etc.  This will certainly lead to serious conflict, as can be evidenced already beginning in France over the last 5 years.  Non-Muslim Europeans will either allow themselves to accept Dhimmi status under Muslim controlled governments, or they will rise up.  These conflicts will make it difficult for Europe to be much of a stabilizing force for the world. -Ryan

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The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 5

This is part 5 of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.

Barbarian
Barbarian

The Emotional American Stanza

There is another cycle at work within America that we need to be aware of.  Just as revivals in the early 1900’s brought about the Pharisee-ism of the early 20’s, which led to crime in the 30’s, we are in a part of our own cycle now.  The Bush years seemed to be a revival without revival, and a triumph of moral legalism (at least as far as the mainstream media and far left would have us believe).  The public responded with a “Yes we can believe in change.”  But now crime is seriously on the rise and healthy society markers are on the decline.

Of course, forces completely outside of human control, or at least strategic planning, could change things in a heartbeat.  But today the decline is possibly spinning out of control.  This is also the first time in modern America where our moral compass has no North.

Think about it for a second: The state of California (and they are not alone in this) has increasingly been restricting any and all tobacco use.  This is not a bad thing, really.  But at the same time, the state has been rapidly relaxing marijuana laws.  There are now cities where it is legal to smoke pot on your porch, but a Marlboro will get you a hefty fine.

Our states are slowly allowing marriage between homosexual partners and whole denominations are allowing actively homosexual ministers, while calling the homosexual “lifestyle” immoral can get you publically censored and censured.  On television, “Oh, God” has become the most frequently used phrase, but “I love Jesus” is never used unless it is somehow a joke.  Cartoons of Mohamed are self-censored from newspapers…the same newspapers that write blistering articles pitting Christian leaders as being ignorant or even evil for their faith.  -Ryan

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The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 4

This is part four of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.
Barbarian
Barbarian

Where We Go From Here

So what is next? Are we on the cusp of a new cycle, or are we coming to the poem’s bridge? Maybe we are finally poised to break out of this iambic pentameter, and start a new ee cummings Dadaist phase.

If historical reality is allowed to sink in, I fear that the forecast is pretty bleak for our little stanza. As history is somewhat-cyclical, then we need to have an understanding of 2 main issues in order to estimate where we are going. Essentially, it is the same as understanding getting anywhere. We need to have a basic understanding of where we are now, in relation to all that is around us including our momentum, and we need to have an understanding of where the path we are on is going.

So where are we in the historical pattern? What direction have we been going? Truth be told, we have been in an era of unprecedented blessing. My generation is really the first generation in America who has known no real hardship. Generation X was born after the debacle of Vietnam, and though there have been wars since, they have seemed no different to the average American than movie trailers being played during Prime Time TV. There has been no gas rationing, no Polio, and since the toppling of the Soviet Union there hasn’t even been a real threat to our way of life.

All of this created the circumstances that made 9/11 such a powerful moment for our time. We have been dwelling carelessly in the west, as if we were teenage boys, shielded from any possibility that our bones could break, our wallets could empty, and our lives could actually end someday. Our foreign and domestic policies nationally have been mere macrocosms of the average American family. With out of wedlock birth rates aroung 50% and our budget running in the red every year, our only answer to our problems was to go out and buy a nice present to make ourselves feel better.

We are responding to the current economic crisis by firmly placing our heads further in the sand. Just like an alcoholic responding to an intervention by drinking himself into a stupor, we have responded to astounding national debt by creating a CARS program designed to spend more money helping people to buy cars that neither the government, nor the consumer can actually afford.

No one of accredited education could believe that we could continue such ridiculousness, and it is almost beyond believing that we could even pull ourselves out of this mess without massive cultural and governmental overhaul. If we truly want to know our location, it is teetering on a cliff, and we have responded to the danger in typical lemming fashion.

Great Empires don’t usually succumb to sudden external attack. Sun Tzu was right in saying that an intelligent enemy would never attack in a way that plays to ones strength. Our civilization’s enemies would rather sign our death warrant in much more strategic and subtle ways. Great empires have usually been defeated at the hands of themselves more than their sworn enemies, anyway. As Lincoln said, if America was doomed, that its end would come by suicide.

Both the Greek and Roman civilizations fell apart as their societies descended into decadence, and then turned on themselves when they could no longer support their own lifestyles. Foreign invasions were just clearing the already rotten carcasses of these empires. The British empire ended because the small island had clearly overstretched herself, and exerted her influence far beyond what she could actually defend. There is no reason to believe that we are not in the same position.

This doesn’t mean that the United States will become a barren wasteland. Instead of fracturing into states and city-states, we might continue without nearly the influence we have wielded for the last hundred years. -Ryan

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The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 3

This is part three of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.

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Barbarian

The Rhyme Scheme

It does seem clear that there is a direction in history, with certain undeniable rules:  Power always corrupts, always.  When Europe unites, there will be a war.  When major empires crumble, they leave vacuums of power that create a period of chaos.  Scientific advances both tend to extend our lives, but also often ultimately get appropriated into more exciting ways of ending lives.  And, as I can’t bring myself to be any form of existentialist, I must assume that these rules somehow relate to a macro being played out that with some eventual finish line.  There is an end to the game, somewhere, at some time.  Just as the rhyming stanzas of a poem progress the story, and lead to its conclusion, and ultimate point, so does human history.

While some things are clearly getting better (technology, life expectancy, transportation, education), the downward spiral of recent history is clearly more in the realm of morality and spirituality.  But, as I previously stated, even though we like to see things change in some sort of linear fashion, these areas cannot be quantified and are not a matter of simple cause and effect progression (or deterioration).  Even in the relatively short history of the United States there can be seen periods of moral decay, revivals, and even moralism run amok.

These events themselves are cyclical in some sense.  Revivals changed the spiritual landscape at the turn of the century, such as the rise of Pentecostalism starting in Topeka, Kansas in 1901.  This led to a moralism that had both positive and negative social effects, as seen in Women’s Suffrage and Prohibition respectively.  Suffrage and Prohibition created a backlash of anti-moralism in that same decade as seen in the massive rise in crime, and other social ills.  All of these things are far more complicated that simple single cause and effect.  But they are linked. -Ryan

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The Fall and Rise of Barbarism Part 2

This is part 2 of a multi-part series.  Read part 1 here.  Read subsequent posts here.

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Barbarian

Poetic History

It is our own American meme to believe that ignorant and dangerous ideas will die out as science and enlightenment evangelizes our globe.  The problem is that as knowledge moves increasingly faster in this Information Age, it seems that the growth of these intellectual/spiritual/societal landmines is also accelerating.  Before I get comments about the state of world education, let me explain myself a bit further.

Our collective education level is well above what it was even decades ago.  Progress has accomplished a drastic increase in literacy and general knowledge worldwide.  But the turn of the century deterministic idea that enlightenment principles would end in utopianism proves itself markedly false.  This should bring great pause to atheistic ideas of freeing a populous from religious “wives tales.”  Religious ideas are obviously not simply produced by indoctrination.  There is something in the human condition that naturally seeks to answer a question of purpose spiritually.  But the dark underbelly of this is the natural human tendency to believe lies tied to prejudice and hatred.

This belief that we will conquer this spiral is ever-resurging, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Perhaps this is its own lie for those who feel themselves above believing lesser wives tales.  In their estimation, no obstacle will get in their way of a future where a godless science brings eternal peace, unless the evil power-brokers of religion attain their goal.

Many Christians hold to a similar view.  In their mythology, the spread of the gospel creates an eternal Kingdom on earth.  This happens through of a battle of attrition with evil forces as people around the world slowly accept Christ.  This is clung to with equal fanaticism as each century since Christ becomes bloodier than the one before.  If we are getting better, we are mostly getting better at killing each other.

Despite the fact that they want to achieve their goals in exactly opposite ways, both religious and secular utopians believe themselves to be the Rebellion against the other evil Empire.  Both have Darth Vader’s to kill on their way to the happier-ever-after.  And both sides believe that the way to achieving peace will largely lie in exterminating those opposed to their goals.

So what is this all leading to?  That is the million dollar question, of course.  It isn’t easily answered because, despite all the generalizations I’ve made so far, sociology and history isn’t so linear.  Humanity didn’t start out with genius, and peace, and happiness (Eden excluded) any more than it is going to end up in scientific utopia.  As Mark Twain once said, history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme. -Ryan

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