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Author Topic: Aren't 'steam punk' items that don't work a betrayal of the genre?  (Read 4130 times)
Steampunk Away
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« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2016, 02:33:03 pm »

Cooking yes, beans are a stretch though. Apologies as my last post decided to delete all my writing when I went to a different tab.

And with engineering, not all Victorians knew how a steam engine worked. As I stated, they knew it worked, not how it worked. Many didn't need to know, it wasn't common knowledge and it was a working class position.

And with engineering, it may not have been the most important thing, and it isn't the only part of Victorian life. Literature, art, and fashion were as important if not more. If you did not read the right things, wear the right clothes, or have the right art, you would be ostracized on account of cultural values.  And class status was the keystone of Victorian society.

So art can be steampunk, just as engineering can.

And from the article you provided:

-Welcome to the world of steampunk, a social sub-culture that started in the 1980s and is now mushrooming all over the world.

Loosely speaking, “steampunk” refers to a mash-up of 19th-century ephemera and  science fiction, underpinned by 21st-century liberal values, to create a “retro-futurist vision of Victorian England”. It straddles music visual art, couture, performance, comedy, pseudo- science, and especially fiction.
The term was coined in 1987, in a letter by the American author KW Jeter, who was trying to pin down the growing trend for science fiction set in the steam-driven Victorian period. It is  a parody of the term “cyberpunk”, a genre of k fantasy fiction set in the near-future; and opinions are divided as to whether Jeter was being serious. “I think Victorian fantasies are going  to be the next big thing, so long as we can come up with a fitting collective term,” he wrote. “Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like ‘steam-punks’, perhaps.”

-Devotees of steampunk tend to take inspiration from the works of Jules Verne, HG Wells, H Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle and  others. Then, in a variety of ways, they seek to create a parallel to Victorian England in which women can be adventurers, colonialism never happened, time travel is possible, and steam-powered spaceships can travel the universe. “We throw out the racism and sexism of Victorian novels, and make our own, more splendid interpretations,” says Rosa – or, rather, the Spy Mistress-General. “It’s a sort of subversion, really, a good-natured satire, mixed with the aesthetic appeal of pith hats and corsets.”

But ask any steampunk to define the culture in anything more than general terms, and  they will struggle. “It’s a constantly evolving  thing,” says Ladybird. “In the early days it was all about high Victoriana. Then there was a fad for steam-Westerns, cowboys versus aliens and all that. These days, post-apocalyptic steampunk is very popular. But it’s all about taking the best bits of the Victorian age and making them into a future that never was.”

-"A variety of aesthetic symbols are associated with steampunk, including brass goggles, mechanical clocks, automatons, airships and telescopes. All encapsulate a spirit of naive, tongue-in-cheek sci-fi in a non-digital

Steampunks are usually creative, but they don’t tend to focus on one discipline,” says Ladybird. “People aren’t just writers, they’re also artists, tea-makers, musicians. I’m a costume designer, but I’m making absinthe fairy cakes at the Edinburgh Food Festival this year. And the recipe comes from my steampunk cookbooks.”

“A little while ago, a small group of us  were walking in Camden Town late at night  in our full splendid dress, with toppers, canes, and so on,” he says. “A gang of hoodies was coming the other way, and it was a bit tense.” But instead of reacting with aggression, the leader of the hoodie gang said: “You’re rocking that look!” And both parties all ended up having “a very jolly time”.
“Steampunk is non-tribal, eccentric and  non-threatening,” Major Tinker muses. “We just return to old-fashioned good manners, without returning to old-fashioned values. There’s very little to dislike in that.”


So in reference to how the public views us, they got it pretty right. And your corsets and hats comment was made by a member of the community, not an "outsider". And for the pictures, those people's outfits look amazing, and the diversity is again, a good measure of the community.
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« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2016, 04:13:17 pm »

I don't know about steam punk, but I'd say for Steampunk the answer was a resounding no, for many reasons listed previously in this thread.

As for Steampunk beans?  Why not?  We've already got Steampunk cheese & oven chips (fries to our colonial cousins)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWAZ7OEP6NQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ8AFpCV60g
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« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2016, 08:40:41 pm »

You fellows keep talking about beans. Perhaps it's time to take out the old Chuck Wagon. Would some alcohol be involved in making such beans? Bourbon perhaps? I'm going to try to make Steampunk beans now  Grin
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« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2016, 09:19:02 pm »

You fellows keep talking about beans. Perhaps it's time to take out the old Chuck Wagon. Would some alcohol be involved in making such beans? Bourbon perhaps? I'm going to try to make Steampunk beans now  Grin

Keep the beans, pass the bourbon.
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« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2016, 09:32:56 pm »

I always love to see thought-provoking posts, as long as they stay on a high plane (hah. I have no room to criticize, lol).

Now, about functionality, and engineering skills.

As already mentioned above, "functionality' does not always mean that the gears actually work or that steam comes out of the valve ports, or grease drips out of the journal box, or that you have to change the ice block in the cooling system so milady doesn't get the vapours when traversing the Great Post-Apocalyptic New York Desert. It can be as simple a function as to serve as a prop for a costume, or a textile design in the lining of a waistcoat (a vest," for those who wonder what in the heck Bailey's referring to in purple prose this time), or a part of a painting or other illustration.

As for engineering skills... Such skills have to be learned; innate ability exists, but by and large, people have to learn the useful actions and processes that turn that ability into a useful skill. People learn in different ways, and one way in which they learn is by looking at what other people have done or are in the process of doing. Keeping so-called "unskilled people" out would be pretty unfair, in my view, and frankly counter-productive to the process of attracting engineering-able people to the field.

I personally am pretty good at making things, if I do say so myself, though clockwork beyond simple foliot escapements, well, "escape" me. I'm also a bit skeptical as to my ability to build a steam engine, an airplane, airship, time machine, etc. I can maintain a steam engine (and yes, there's a big difference there in skills). Building? I think I could do it, but I'd have to build a lot of nonworking ones before I built one that works, I would imagine. The same, I imagine goes for most people, given that they actually apply themselves.

I hope that answers your question. Admiral, beans produce gas, which might fire a boiler... Cheesy
« Last Edit: January 28, 2016, 09:36:33 pm by MWBailey » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2016, 09:38:50 pm »

I always love to see thought-provoking posts, as long as they stay on a high plane (hah. I have no room to criticize, lol).




Meaning, of course, "provided that polemics don't ensue."
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Richard H
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« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2016, 09:45:18 pm »

so here is a thought provoker, what's worse (or best), skill but no imagination or imagination but no skill, or beans but no cooker?
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« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2016, 10:05:14 pm »

so here is a thought provoker, what's worse (or best), skill but no imagination or imagination but no skill, or beans but no cooker?

No imagination,  for sure, is the worst of the conditions.  For without it you can't even find a solution to whichever problem you have to solve.  Even beans without a cooker is a situation that can be solved with enough imagination.
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Drew P
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« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2016, 03:57:17 am »

I disagree. Having no skill is the worst.
Having plenty of ideas, any type of ideas be it drawing, painting, cutting shapes from paper, writing, etc., etc., but not having an  inkling on how to do any of it. Stuck and no matter how much or how hard you try you cannot succeed in the very least. All your dreams shot down with insult because any feeble attempt results in utter failure. Pride dumped on the ground.
Feeling as though you are useless.
Shoot me.

Thank goodness this is not a suffering of mine.
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« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2016, 06:16:32 am »

I disagree. Having no skill is the worst.
Having plenty of ideas, any type of ideas be it drawing, painting, cutting shapes from paper, writing, etc., etc., but not having an  inkling on how to do any of it. Stuck and no matter how much or how hard you try you cannot succeed in the very least. All your dreams shot down with insult because any feeble attempt results in utter failure. Pride dumped on the ground.
Feeling as though you are useless.
Shoot me.

Thank goodness this is not a suffering of mine.

You may be confusing skill with a physical limit on intellect.  Those are two different things. There are plenty of people who start with no skill and then learn it.  You, I'm sure, are unskilled in many types of disciplines, which up until now simply don't interest you,  so you don't even think about it. That doesn't mean you can't become interested in some skill you never thought about and learn new skills.

In contrast,  a dog can never become a chef,  even if said dog,  having sampled human food, absolutely loved it and longed to learn how to make such food.  That is not a lack of skill,  but rather a physical limitation on the brain and body of the dog. Humans are absolutely adept at learning new skills.
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« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2016, 07:54:47 am »

Good morning,ladies and gentlemen.

so here is a thought provoker, what's worse (or best), skill but no imagination or imagination but no skill, or beans but no cooker?

No imagination,  for sure, is the worst of the conditions.  For without it you can't even find a solution to whichever problem you have to solve.  Even beans without a cooker is a situation that can be solved with enough imagination.


I disagree. Having no skill is the worst.
Having plenty of ideas, any type of ideas be it drawing, painting, cutting shapes from paper, writing, etc., etc., but not having an  inkling on how to do any of it. Stuck and no matter how much or how hard you try you cannot succeed in the very least. All your dreams shot down with insult because any feeble attempt results in utter failure. Pride dumped on the ground.
Feeling as though you are useless.
Shoot me.

Thank goodness this is not a suffering of mine.

Interesting answers to read with my first coffee, indeed.
I'd say this is where community comes into play.
You have an idea but can't figure out how to get it off the drawing board?
Find someone who does know how to do so, or get thee to Youtube.

You're capable and willing to do things, but...the Muse eludes you?
Look at and appreciate and praise the work of others.

For reasons I have yet to understand, praise primes the pump of inspiration.
It's a mystery, to be sure.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily


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Drew P
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« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2016, 01:18:45 pm »

Well, actually, I am basing my answer on having known a certain individual for several decades. This is how their life has been.  This person has never been able to handle something as simple as a screwdriver, ever.
Skill and intellect in these areas is severely lacking. Mind you, this person could do Trumps financial papers without blinking an eye,  but in other realms.....useless. And definitely not for trying, also.
Yes, I don't care to be able to do numbers as this person does, but he/she would very much like to be able to do 1% of what others may do.
So, yes, it varies on wants and needs.
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« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2016, 01:29:46 pm »

Good morning,ladies and gentlemen.

For reasons I have yet to understand, praise primes the pump of inspiration.
It's a mystery, to be sure.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily


Oh so very true Prof!  It is funny how I as a maker crave little comments from peers. Definitely helps inspire me in the shop to create and go that little extra step.
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SeVeNeVeS
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« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2016, 01:51:34 pm »

Get 20 Steampunks and get them to agree what this genre is all about?....... good luck with that.

If it looks right, then it is right, if it appeals to the individual viewer.

Function over form? Again down to taste and personal preference.

Why do we have the need to over analyze everything in microscopic detail? If you are having fun with it, then who really gives a f&^%.

No more needs saying.
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« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2016, 01:59:17 pm »

To betray something you first have to define it and in defining it place individual cultural artefacts within or without it's remit.
I don't remember anyone actually doing this ever........

Then there is the issue of (when defined) other people agreeing to that definition. As an intelligent mind, what do you think the chances are of that happening eh?

If you find the wider world causing you issues. Then do what other people do create a smaller sub-group.

I am the Lord of Misrule and very few of you live up to my high estimation of the nature of me. Then your not me so you do not have to live up to my exacting standards.
The problem here, is that someone; by defining a thing has to then become the gatekeeper of that ideal. At which point it all becomes political.

Don't be Strampunk. Because no one can be steampunk. Steampunk is like water, filling any container that it finds itself in. Be the container that is filled with steampunk and be glad there is enough steampunk left to fill your glass.

The metaphysical nature of the item you wish to define, fits the containment you wish it to have. Unfortunately it is not a fickle beast and will top out other less restrained containers also.  Much to everyone's annoyance.

Let us not forget the Victorians loved pointless ornamentation too, look at the works of  Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The pointless buttons on duffel coats (1850 onwards) and the victorian decorative arts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_decorative_arts

You cannot find purity because your sources are not pure themselves. They are the works of man and man will strive for a balance between function and showing off. As was then so it is now. Cheesy

Oh and remember this is all "Steampunk" too or has every right to be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy7iUoWi_-U
Most of us didn't pick these, so if anyone wishes to be "elite" then really it comes down to a simple question: How much are you willing to suffer for your art?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 04:10:29 pm by Clym Angus » Logged

Kensington Locke
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« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2016, 03:07:16 pm »

Steam punk has a lot of variance and acceptance on what is "in"

A simple metric of "what's already been accepted" rules a lot of the OP's point out.

the photo library is chock full of cool looking, non-functional pieces.

Sure, there's steampunked computers and cell phones.  Those are just about the few things that DO function.

Even the assertion that one must be an engineer to be steampunk seems faulty.  One need not be a programmer to use a computer or where a shirt with an encryption algorithm printed on it that is illegal to export.  It makes no sense that the character one is dressed to be, was actually the one to build the equipment the character is carrying and purportedly using.

Thus, the OP seems to really be driving to a Makers-Only exclusive club.  Probably not intentionally or with malice.  But it is the can of beans others have alluded to.

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MWBailey
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« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2016, 08:15:22 pm »

AS I see it, the OP's question sounds a lot like the survey questions that people come on here with occasionally; it's about the right time in the usual schedule of Spring semesters, apparently, for a "Modern Sci-Fi Literature" class to start calling for literary criticism of the various genres, and Steampunk being as popular as it appears to be, there are bound to be a few who choose that option.

I notice the OP has not responded to any of our answering posts. Perhaps he's just writing it all down to turn in?
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« Reply #42 on: January 29, 2016, 08:53:34 pm »

Lets hope that is not the case and that he/she will return shortly and join in the fun.
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« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2016, 09:24:53 pm »

well yes,

Your correspondence awaits you sir. Young master cossoft.......

 
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elShoggotho
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« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2016, 11:49:53 pm »

I treat steampunk more as a design template or desktop theme than as a genre. Treating it as a genre isn't the point. It's a template of setting and aesthetics applied to other genres and subgenres. Gibson and Sterling applied it to cyberpunk, to great effect. Moorcock applied it to pulp adventure, also to great effect. Some others tried to use it as a genre in its own right, for... less than great effect. Point is that you need a story with a given genre that can benefit from steampunk, but you can't use a desktop theme like a genre in itself. Victorian science fiction is independent of steampunk, I'd say. It stands on its own, looks and feels like steampunk to some degree, but ultimately isn't. Modern recreations of victorian science fiction, in turn, are very much steampunk.
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« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2016, 02:55:09 am »

My " contribution to the world of steampunk creativity" lacks much creativity, but I hope that it does have some function.  For some unknown but probably stupid reason I'm building the Chaos Device.  This will be a true random number generator that produces cryptographic strength random numbers.  Call it an infantile response to authoritarianism.  Where this path leads difficult to see it is.

It's a blend of steam punk and modern technology.  The notion of Functional Steam punk germinated during this project, so it is full of contradictions with the ideal.  But hey, isn't there a saying "do as I say not as I do?"  Perhaps as it develops I can tighten down on the unnecessary embellishments.  Whilst some of the components (network webcam, LEDs etc.) are contemporary, I'm trying to incorporate them into instruments that I believe would be identifiable as Victorian.  The pedestal will be carved MDF and the big spherery thing on top will ultimately resemble bronze.  The instrument will be powered on /off via a hand cranked switch which could actually be a micro switch.

You can buy a true random number generator based on photon counting that fits inside a desktop.  And therein lies the crux.  Mine is big, heavy and extremely inefficient (expect 10 kbits/sec, still better than /dev/random though) but that's Victorian engineering for you.  And my notion of Functional Steam Punk   Smiley

See reallyreallyrandom.com for further details and uselessness.
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« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2016, 05:03:32 am »

Perhaps he's just writing it all down to turn in?

Well spotted.  He /she's name's is Courtney and I'm a 19 year old student at Bolton Creative Arts College.   Thanks for the research...

"Why do we have the need to over analyze everything in microscopic detail?"  Because this is the Metaphysical forum.  Ergo sum.

I'm an engineer and transhumanist by nature, and greatly respect the achievements and benefits that technology brings to the human race.  Why can this not be celebrated?  It isn't (least not in the UK) as an “engineer” fixes the washing machine and drains.  Surely no one here can ignore the gradual dilution of the steam punk concept to encompass more and more aspects of society?  The examples I've given must support some of what I'm suggesting.  As a final example I offer a Google Images search for “assemblage art.” You'll quickly spot familiar steam punky things that the originators themselves call art not steam punk.  Dilution to a quite watery viscosity.  I can almost smell those beans in Heinz's development kitchen.  They'll come with a printed cog on the label.  "Steam Beans." And if you collect enough can tokens, you'll be entitled to send for your free plastic goggles.  Which will have "Heinz" printed on both arms. 

Scavenging this thread for ideas, I have:

Airship – could be made to actually float.  Wooden /aluminium gondola, fabric envelope, hydrogen /nitrogen buoyancy medium, IC /electric propellers?
Death ray – hmm, perhaps a weapon shooting a CO2 stream or steam?
Morse text telegraph – discussed.

It all feels plausible.  It seems to me that some elitism is not necessarily a bad thing, as what is the opposite?  Ordinary?  Is it only political correctness that precludes exclusivity?  Is it so wrong to conceive an genre /club that only some can join?  Like being a jockey for example perhaps.  And in reality, the only barrier to entry is that you make something Victorian looking that works and that the Victorians might of actually built themselves.

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« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2016, 06:34:38 am »

Perhaps he's just writing it all down to turn in?

Well spotted.  He /she's name's is Courtney and I'm a 19 year old student at Bolton Creative Arts College.   Thanks for the research...

"Why do we have the need to over analyze everything in microscopic detail?"  Because this is the Metaphysical forum.  Ergo sum.

I'm an engineer and transhumanist by nature, and greatly respect the achievements and benefits that technology brings to the human race.  Why can this not be celebrated?  It isn't (least not in the UK) as an “engineer” fixes the washing machine and drains.  Surely no one here can ignore the gradual dilution of the steam punk concept to encompass more and more aspects of society?  The examples I've given must support some of what I'm suggesting.  As a final example I offer a Google Images search for “assemblage art.” You'll quickly spot familiar steam punky things that the originators themselves call art not steam punk.  Dilution to a quite watery viscosity.  I can almost smell those beans in Heinz's development kitchen.  They'll come with a printed cog on the label.  "Steam Beans." And if you collect enough can tokens, you'll be entitled to send for your free plastic goggles.  Which will have "Heinz" printed on both arms. 

Scavenging this thread for ideas, I have:

Airship – could be made to actually float.  Wooden /aluminium gondola, fabric envelope, hydrogen /nitrogen buoyancy medium, IC /electric propellers?
Death ray – hmm, perhaps a weapon shooting a CO2 stream or steam?
Morse text telegraph – discussed.

It all feels plausible.  It seems to me that some elitism is not necessarily a bad thing, as what is the opposite?  Ordinary?  Is it only political correctness that precludes exclusivity?  Is it so wrong to conceive an genre /club that only some can join?  Like being a jockey for example perhaps.  And in reality, the only barrier to entry is that you make something Victorian looking that works and that the Victorians might of actually built themselves.



Dear Courtney?

Your statements very much remind me of another member of Brass Goggles by the name of Tower, aka Shadow of the Tower. Engineer and  Transhumanist? Is that from the perspective of Art, or are you a practicing engineer? I hope you don't mind my curiosity.

By the way, I am a MSc in Aerospace Engineering, an artist and a Transhumanist as well, though for me it is the inevitable merger between machine and human what I see as inminent.

Having stated that, and all things being equal, I don't see the need to constrain or "preserve" the definition of Steampunk, as quite frankly, it is completely immaterial what name you give to a Sci-Fi cult of the Industrial Age, which is the way I see Steampunk. It started as Science Fiction, and I seriously doubt it'll ever become Science Reality.

There are so many discipline (domains) which overlap Steampunk, besides the DIY movement, such as Sci -Fi, Victoriana, Fantasy, Survivalism (yes I said it), and even mysticism. Why on Earth are we trying to define, put a fence, isolate, and fix the Steampunk domain in this Venn diagram of movements arts and disciplines? Quite franky, I don't care if Steampunk evolves or stays the same...

The space between my ears is wide enough to accomodate any of those other disciplines (domains) simultaneously in their intersection or separately excluding each one of the surrounding domains if I wish to do so. The Internet makes that mental transition extremely easy to perform.

So what exactly is the motivation to define Steampunk rigidly? What is the end game?
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« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2016, 07:39:14 am »

i Think She's looking at Steampunk through the Lens of Academia,without Really seeing what steampunk is,or is Trying to Understand what Others Can't. i think if She had Access to Videos like Steamboy, she might see how Some think steampunk is. Don't mean to sound like a Nutter.
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« Reply #49 on: January 30, 2016, 10:59:40 am »

wow! you lot are deep, I just thought Steampunk would be a bit of fun, I can dress up, make mad scientist looking stuff and meet some other strange people. Grin
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