Friday, February 29, 2008

A minor theme

A customer came into the store this week. She's a daily regular. I asked her how her day was going and she replied, "Shitty."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.

She laughed briefly, then said "Sorry, but that's the truth. I always tell the truth. It's better that way. Don't you think it's always better to tell the truth?"

"No" I replied. "I think it's often better to tell the truth, but it's situational. Sometimes it's actually better to lie."

There was actually an old episode of The Partridge Family that dealt with this issue. I was reminded of it after the customer had left. Everyone was supposed to tell the truth for an entire day, but at some point Danny learns something that would hurt his sister's feelings if he told her the truth. After receiving some counsel from his mom Danny decides to lie and spare his sister's feelings. Jesus, even The Partridge Family understood this concept.

Today I am alerted to an article in New York magazine about when kids learn to lie. Pretty interesting stuff, but this part early on caught my attention:

So when do the 98 percent who think lying is wrong become the 98 percent who lie?

It starts very young. Indeed, bright kids—those who do better on other academic indicators—are able to start lying at 2 or 3. “Lying is related to intelligence,” explains Dr. Victoria Talwar, an assistant professor at Montreal’s McGill University and a leading expert on children’s lying behavior.

Although we think of truthfulness as a young child’s paramount virtue, it turns out that lying is the more advanced skill. A child who is going to lie must recognize the truth, intellectually conceive of an alternate reality, and be able to convincingly sell that new reality to someone else. Therefore, lying demands both advanced cognitive development and social skills that honesty simply doesn’t require. “It’s a developmental milestone,” Talwar has concluded.

This puts parents in the position of being either damned or blessed, depending on how they choose to look at it. If your 4-year-old is a good liar, it’s a strong sign she’s got brains. And it’s the smart, savvy kid who’s most at risk of becoming a habitual liar.

Hmmm, a minor theme from the week.

Now playing: Alicia Bridges - I Love the Nightlife
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 22, 2008

Financial Crisis

From a comment left on the excellent news blog War and Piece:

The Germans are suggesting that all of the central banks get together and figure out a way to create a market by offering to start buying certain instruments. When they sell, the price will be set, transparency will be re-established over time and the market will relax.

The problem is that it will mean that the price will likely be somewhere between 20 and 60 cents on the dollar for most instruments, if that much, and some very very wealthy people will have to take huge losses. These are the same people who have the power (under Bush and Merkel and Sarkozy) to prevent the central banks from taking that action, which means every day we get closer to the brink and the Arabs get richer, with their commodity markets absorbing all of the liquid capital that refuses to go into frozen credit markets. The sovereign wealth funds are just an expression of this problem, not the problem itself.

In short, the super rich, "Homo Davos," are playing musical chairs and seem perfectly willing to take the whole system down rather than be the first to take their losses. Shorter yet--capitalism can't function without losers, but the losers are so big that they can postpone their fate indefinitely. Or until someone bails them out. Guess who!

Um, that would be taxpayers, folks. As usual, the rich want us to flip the bill for their folly. Just as money has been steadily trickling out of the pockets of the middle class and poor and into the pockets of the wealthy via a variety of actions, many with government complicity, they want us to take the soaking for their poor judgment. Nothing new here. Move on.
Now playing: Panjabi MC - Buzzin
via FoxyTunes

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Future of Reputation - Free!

Daniel J. Solove has just released, via Creative Commons license, his latest book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet, as a free download. Fantastic. I haven't read this book yet, but I read his previous work, The Digital Person and it was fascinating.

autore sconosciuto

autore sconosciuto
Originally uploaded by violetta225
Some beautiful, artful erotica to be found in this flickr photostream. Highly recommended for admirers of such work.

Barkley: Republicans are fake Christians

I applaud Charles Barkley for laying it on the line as he sees it. He's an old style conservative; not a modern day Republican.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Valentine's Day flowers

Floral arrangement that I had delivered to the co-signer for Valentine's Day. I think that they did a great job.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008


I've been craving enchiladas for the past week or more. When I was at the store earlier in the week there was a special on Amy's frozen foods (buy $20 and save $5; mix and match) so I picked up a bunch of the items that were already on sale and saved a bit more. This included 2 frozen enchiladas packages.

The enchiladas, I thought, were for the co-signer as she loves them and they make a decent quick lunch for her. She hadn't taken them into work since she came home from Snoregon and it was gnawing at me to see them in the freezer. So, last night I decided to take matters into my own hands. The co-signer had gone into Seattle to get her hair done. I had the kitchen to myself (she recently has offered other options to enchiladas, so I suspected that she wasn't as interested in eating them as I was).

I got some tortillas out of the refrigerator, sprinkled each with some water, wrapped them in a stack in foil, and put them in the oven. Then I turned the oven on to 400 degrees to preheat. Meanwhile, I opened a can of black beans and rinsed them off. I chopped a small onion, a clove of garlic, about half of a carrot stick, half of a red bell pepper, and about a third cup of zucchini. I sauteed the veggies over medium heat in some safflower oil. While the veggies were cooking, I decided to add some ground cumin and a dash of chipotle powder (I would have added more for my taste, but the co-signer was going to want to share these when she came home).

After the veggies were cooked, I placed the black beans in a bowl adding a little left over white rice and the veggies and gave it a stir. Then I put some crumbled Quesa Fresca in the bowl and gave it a stir. Finally, I added some chopped cilantro and gave it a final stir just to combine the ingredients.

Now it was time to assemble the enchiladas. To each tortilla I added 2 to 3 tablespoons of black bean filling. I wrapped the tortilla around and put it seam side down into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (the one we use for lasagna). In all, I crammed 10 of those into the dish. Then I opened a can of La Victoria green enchilada sauce and poured it over the top of the wraps. I put some wax paper over the enchiladas, then covered that with foil (foil, by the way, reacts with tomatoes which is why you never put foil on lasagna when baking so that's why I put the wax paper down - habit) and put it into the oven for about 20 minutes. After that I pulled it out of the oven, removed the wax paper and foil and sprinkled Organic Valley's Mexican Blend cheese on top. Back into the over for another 10 minutes or so until the cheese melted and became a little browned.

Finally, on the plate I added some sliced black olives, sliced jalapeƱo peppers, Emerald Valley salsa, and Nancy's sour cream. The co-signer got home and enjoyed some as well albeit without the jalapeƱos. :-)

Yum! Craving done and I was pretty happy with improvising the meal. I've even got some left over for lunch today. It's such an easy meal and it goes together quickly (and much cheaper than eating out) that I'm going to try to remember to do it more often. Plus, it's easily scalable for a one person dinner.

Now playing: Muslimgauze - Gifts From An Afghan
via FoxyTunes

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day dinner

My plans for Valentine's Day dinner were a little bit scuttled. I had hoped to make an Indian dessert that I've made a few times in the past that the co-signer likes a lot. It's Chenna balls in a rose scented syrup. Unfortunately, due to schedule issues for both of us, I wasn't able to get to that but will instead put it together this weekend.

To make up for it, I made a dinner for us last night. The co-signer had a long day planned. She didn't get home until after 8PM. I baked some halibut covered in olive oil, salt, pepper, grated lemon rind, and thyme. When it was done I topped it with some fresh mango salsa. For a side dish I made red quinoa pilaf adding sauteed onion, garlic, carrot, celery, red bell pepper, and almond slivers to the grains. We shared some rosemary bread as well.

Between dinner and a lovely arrangement from Fena Flowers Valentine's Day was a big hit.

Now playing: Olivia Ruiz - Pas si vieille
via FoxyTunes

Armed with a fly swatter

All it takes to get Tasered these days is "cursing and carrying a fly swatter".

Tedral Thompson claims seven Woodland police officers burst into his home with a search warrant, refused to let his wife put on a blouse – and then stunned him with three Taser guns.

Yolo County court records say only one officer fired a stun gun to protect a colleague, and that it happened as Thompson came at him cursing and carrying a fly swatter.

Of course, the disclaimer from the cops who are rallying around each other:

Woodland Police Lt. Charlie Wilts, however, said the department did nothing wrong.

"Our position is we didn't do anything illegal or inappropriate," he said, declining to comment on the details of the case.

Via The Agitator.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The long haul

It's been a bit puzzling to me that certain "conservatives" claim to hate John McCain so much. Limbaugh, Coulter, and the like all get their hate talk going when McCain is mentioned. Fox News disliked McCain and actively promoted Giuliani for President (they branded him "America's Mayor" and required their presenters to use that term whenever referring to Guiliani). Giuliani is a moderate Republican when compared to McCain. McCain's voting record is solidly in the conservative mode. He's anti-choice. His immigration policy is in line with President Bush's. In fact the only legitimate attacks I've seen on the man have been his vote for McCain-Feingold and his anti-torture stance. Both of those items are often mentioned as proof that McCain is some sort of closeted liberal/moderate Republican. It is said that he's too moderate for the party.

We're talking McCain version 2008; not McCain version 2000. Back in 2000 the man did run as a principled conservative with some more moderate to independent views. He did well with that position until the Rove slime machine geared up and killed his ambitions in South Carolina. Since then, McCain has so badly wanted to follow Bush into the presidency that he has capitulated to religious conservatives at Bob Roberts University. He has literally and figuratively embraced Bush. He's embraced the Iraq War and suggested that we could be there for 50 or 100 years. He went to Iowa and flip flopped on ethanol benefits. The only stance he hasn't been willing to compromise, understandably, has been torture!

And yet, there is still this opposition to him and I was left wondering why such animosity? He's done everything possible to win over these blow hards plus he's defeated all challengers at the polls. Shouldn't conservatives be rallying around him by now and, if not, shouldn't they be tossing spitballs at him while praising Huckabee, knowing that they are on the losing end of that fight?

Then it occurred to me yesterday what might be going on here. Democrats are great at the short game, but really poor at the long ball. They tend to sing tunes, while Republicans are playing Wagnerian symphonies. The Republican talk show hosts and guests and indeed the Fox News network are playing a long game strategy. They are taking the voters through a story and playing each note with special feeling in order to rally their listeners and motivate them towards November.

Here's what I think that they are up to: by posing as haters now, by calling McCain a filthy moderate and saying that his conservative credentials are not up to snuff, the wingnuts are hoping to actually sell American on McCain as a moderate. They know full well that McCain is not a moderate. He's proselytized himself to the right wing for 8 years. His tone and his votes have demonstrated that he's swung more conservative than he already was which, for the record, was pretty far to the right. But they also know that such a stance won't sell to America in 2008 (hell, it barely sold to America in 2004 when, with Kerry as the opponent and the war in Iraq in full swing should have been a cakewalk). They knew it wouldn't sell in 2000 either so they had Bush run as a moderate and position Dick Cheney as his VP to make it seem like Bush was more moderate by him appearing to reign Cheney in.

So, now that McCain has felched the right wing of the party, how to they sell him as a moderate to independent Americans? By accusing him time and again of being such. Coulter, Limbaugh, Fox News and the rest are going to keep on harping on McCain as being too soft to be president. How else does one explain Coulter's statement that if McCain got the nomination she'd support Clinton even after McCain had it all but sewn up? No one seriously believes that Coulter is going to do that. She's just trying to lay the ground work for the narrative. See, as the nominating convention gets closer the blow hards on the right will become resigned to the fact that they have their nominee. They will push for a couple of show issues for the platform and then, eventually, embrace McCain as the nominee that "brought the party together". In essence, they'll anoint him and in the process hoping to protect him from the Democratic attacks on his conservative flip flops which are sure to come during the general election. They'll then rally their troops to support McCain in November and those sheep that listen to them will turn out for their candidate.

From the standpoint of these folks it's a winning strategy. They are showing party loyalty by attacking the candidate now in favor of a win in November. If he does win, then they'll take a large part of the credit for favoring party unity and pulling together for the good of the nation. But, what happens if McCain loses in November (as most polls show the election swinging hard to the Democratic nominee no matter who gets the nod)? No big deal as they still win. The wingnuts can then claim that they were right all along and that McCain didn't properly express Republican values and was too moderate.

What can Democrats do about this? Not much. They can have their operatives (I'm not one, by the way) expose it widely and attack it's cynicism. They can also attack the wingnuts as being shamelessly self promotional and therefore self interested. The main candidates and their handlers should probably just ignore this story line and continue to stage the attacks on McCain and his flip flopping swing to the right as they are currently planning on doing. The narrative is really just for ratings and the Republican party base anyhow. It's not going to sway independents in November, which is what the Democrats really need to do.

There is something to be learned from this strategy for Democrats though. While your candidates are busy playing short ball, while they are worrying about winning games in this stage of the playoffs, they should be focusing, like the Republicans, on how to win the series. Sure, winning the playoffs is an important step, but winning the series is the ultimate goal. Therefore both candidates need to begin forming their own narrative, not only of the past 8 years, but also of McCain, of Republicans in general, and most importantly of the future they are going to build for the next 8 years - laying a foundation for prosperity and pride for the next century. That's what I'd be advising the candidates at least - learn how to play long ball. Work together to bring forth an energized electorate that sees the Republicans as the group playing for short term games...and be sly about it.

Now playing: Funk Como Le Gusta - Funk De Bamba (Com Fernanda Abreu)
via FoxyTunes

Pre Valentine's Day conversation

Yesterday, while driving into work in the car:

Richard: Would you like to go see Devil Doll in concert?
Co-signer: Sure, when is she playing?
Richard: April 26th in Everett at some bar downtown there. She's skipping Seattle and going to Everett.

: What day is the 26th?
Richard: It's a Saturday at 8PM.
Co-signer: Sounds like fun!
Richard: Good, 'cause I got tickets already.

, laughing: Ahhhh, I see. Good thing I said I'm going. Otherwise, you'd have to take one of your other girlfriends.
Richard: Oh, baby, thems just hoes. You're the only girlfriend.

, laughing harder: Uh huh. Well, I guess I should be glad for that.
Richard: Shiiiiit, damn right you should.

Now playing: Goblin - Suspiria
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday musings

Every notice how the same people who are so into the idea of assimilation when it comes to immigrants (they must speak English!) are perfectly fine with segregation in public schools, housing, etc?

Why is it that we want our meat tender (some massage the live animals), but our children tough?

McCain: Like Hope, But Different

OK, it made me smile this morning.

Now playing: Mondo Grosso - That's How It Is [Live]
via FoxyTunes


On my way home from work one recent Friday night, I was listening to Public Radio's To The Best Of Our Knowledge. I like the show and it airs here on Friday nights from 8 - 10 PM. Each hour or two they take a topic and through interviews and stories explore that wide topic from different angles. This particular Friday night the topic in question was Apocalyptic Fiction. Note that the topic isn't always fiction, but writing often comes into play when exploring the theme. This night, however, it was fiction. I heard an interview with a popular young adult author by the name of Scott Westerfeld. He has written several best sellers, but the one that was most focused on was a trilogy that begins with the book, Uglies. The book tells the tale of a world somewhat in our future that exists after some apocalyptic event. Humans survived, gathered in cities, and avoid nature. One of the conclusions of the survivors is that the Rusties (the former human population that died which is, basically, us....Rusties because of our old technologies) faced this terrible tragedy because of difference and the jealousy attached to it. So, in this future world one of the things that they have done is to provide cosmetic surgery to everyone at certain stages of their lives. For instance, the first surgery is at age 16. Everyone gets their skin scraped, bones carved, fat - if any - sucked out, and so on to the point that everyone looks basically the same. And those people who reach that stage are called Pretties. The Uglies are the teens before that stage and then the really young children are called the Littlies. Older Pretties are called either Middle Pretties or Crumblies and they have their own surgeries as well. Since everyone achieves a level of beauty (based on scientific means devised by doctors and scientists on the Pretty committee) a level of jealousy is removed. Also, everyone has food, clothes, drink, housing, medical care, and so on provided to them so that level of jealousy is removed as well. People live and peaceful existence.

The story follows 2 girls as it's central characters - Tally and Shay. Both girls are approaching their 16th birthday. Both are intelligent, precocious, and daring girls. They were born on the same day and become friends when they meet. They do the typical things that uglies do, get into mischief, discuss their upcoming operations, etc. Then one day Shay tells Tally that she isn't going to go through with the operation. Shay says that she's going to meet up with the Smokies who tend to do things the old fashioned way, including aging. Shay's up for the adventure, but Tally isn't sure. Shay leaves Tally a map in the form of a poem where she can find Shay if Tally changes her mind. Thus begins the adventure.

Clearly the author is exploring several issues. The girls are good strong characters. The body issues of teens is discussed as well as the concept of beauty. In the radio program the author expressed surprise at how many teen girls have told him that they were thinking of getting cosmetic surgery, but changed their minds after thinking about what he wrote in this novel. Whole schools have had their students - boys and girls...the boys get cosmetic surgery, too - read the book and meet the author. As noted, this was the first part of a trilogy. The whole thing can be had in a box set edition on Amazon. Westerfeld's latest book takes place in the same world years after this trilogy during which the latest craze is your popularity ranking (much like a MySpace or Facebook ranking) during which everyone is trying to raise their ranking because that shows how special you are to the world. The author is a hit because while his fiction is set in the future it very much touches aspects of our own world and deals with them in familiar ways.

Intrigued, I came home and told the co-signer about the author, the interview, and the book. I did a little more research on him on the web.
co-signer decided to take it upon herself to reserve a copy of Uglies from the library. I must say that I was surprised at it's length - 425 pages. Still, in a time when Harry Potter books top 800 pages I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised. It's a far cry, however, from those 200 page books I read as a teen. I just finished the book today. It's an easy read and a quick one. I'd recommend it to anyone of any age. The dialog is geared towards it's target audience which is to say that it's not difficult in the least. And the book is mostly dialog. The narrative passages are not filled with flourishes or are overly descriptive. But it's a cracking good yarn with enough foreshadowing and twists to keep the reader captivated and the message about the difference between shallowness and beauty is a good one for young people.

I've just reserved a copy of the next book in the trilogy, Pretties, from the library. Being 17th in line for that hold doesn't surprise me and it increases the anticipation I have for the next portion of the tale.

PS - All of the above titles are available online at Powell's as well, but they are having server problems right now and I cannot link to t
heir products. Even so, support your local independent bookstore or library if you can.

Now playing: Dj Navi Ft Farita - Get Up Now
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Advertising and elections

From The Guardian UK comes this quote in an article on the nominating election results yesterday:
The Clinton team, before the polls closed, tried to play down the contests, attributing their expected defeats in part to his outspending them on advertising: $300,000 more in Louisiana on television ads, $190,000 more in Nebraska and $175,000 more in Washington state.
Advertising?!!? That did it?!!? First of all, I saw a lot of Hillary ads in the little television viewing that I did. They were good ads, too. Secondly, do you really want to insult your base party activists by suggesting that they were so easily swayed by advertising? What about the issues? What about the candidates? Both of them held big rallies here as well as did the television interviews. Don't you think that people were swayed by that as well as discussing the issues and watching the preceding primaries and caucuses? Clinton's team, if indeed they said this, does no favors to her by insulting the intelligence of the Democratic electorate.

Now playing: Trost - In Diesem Raum
via FoxyTunes

Post caucus cigarette

I do not participate in Washington's caucus system. For one thing, I was working during the caucus time. For another, I am an independent voter who prefers not to declare a party affiliation (nor am I likely to get involved in grass roots projects that require more than an email...human rights rallies not withstanding). For this same latter reason, I do not participate in the primary. The state parties have thwarted my ability to participate in an open primary and have further alienated me by not fully respecting the outcome of that vote. A district captain explained to me last night that the caucus system was designed to grab the names and addresses of participants in the hopes to get them involved in grassroots organizing. I can appreciate that, but the result is that I feel less associated in the process and, as such, am likely to continue to be as Independent as I want to be in the November election.

Having noted that, here are some thoughts that I shared with a couple of friends this morning about the caucuses held yesterday in Washington:
Obama, as I suspected he would, took the caucus here with overwhelming support. On the Republican side, Huckabee was giving McCain a run for his money (not surprising as the evangelicals are a strong force in our Republican party and they are more motivated than the moderates in this election cycle). There's been some speculation about why Obama does well in caucus states while Clinton does well in primary states (which is often the case for these candidates). Some point out that racism is easier in a secret ballot while in a caucus no one wants to be seen as racist. But that brings up the interesting question: is it more acceptable to be sexist in a caucus than it is to be seen as racist? I rather think that there's little to this speculation and that it is cynical to put forth such. After all, these are party loyalists who, by this point, are not likely to have much problem with either candidate (as a precinct captain told me last night, "There's a sliver of light between their positions, but I like her health care plan better than his").

No, I think that the tide has turned for Obama and the caucus results reflect that. Either candidate will win as president (I don't think that the Republicans have a chance and the fact that so many Republican Congressmen are jumping ship before the election reflects that their polls are telling them the same thing). However, Obama's strategy is the better one in a number of ways. The message he is peddling is one based on hope, opportunity, national pride, and optimism for the future. Despite the fact that he got lambasted for his statements about Reagan, that is exactly the strategy he is employing. Reagan, along with Bill Clinton, JFK, Eisenhower, and Roosevelt used the same message to win over the electorate. It is ironic that Hillary's team chose not to jump onto that same slogan and use it to her advantage - she already had the background, but perhaps they thought she needed a new message and they pushed experience...bad move. We're in three legitimate wars right now - one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, and one against the Islamic terrorists that is taking place on multiple fronts. Our economy is in recession and it looks like it's going to be a while before it rights itself. People are concerned about global warming, health care, retirement, education, and children (note - not poverty, which was Edward's's an ugly stepchild as far as America is concerned). They are looking for a leader that can inspire and make us feel good about our country as well as project a positive image to the world. Obama is articulating that message well. Hillary would fulfill the roll, but people remember the animosity Republicans have towards the Clintons (as well as the animosity Democrats feel towards Bush) and I think that most of us just don't want to relive that. To that point, it means Obama would pull more Independent voters than Clinton and have a more authoritative majority to work with when lobbying Congress. I think that's why he's doing so well and is likely to win bigger as the primaries and caucuses roll on.

Oh, and one final thing...if I were a Democratic strategist, I'd absolutely LOVE to face McCain. In fact, I'd rather face him than Huckabee. McCain has pandered so hard to the right and has felched Bush so publicly that he's an easy mark for attacks both nasty and warranted. Huckabee, however, is harder to fight on that front. After all, he's criticized Bush on economic and foreign policy and he's a big government Republican. He's got a likable personality and a folksy delivery and he speaks in evangelical code that doesn't turn off secularists. Republican moderates fear and loathe Huckabee, but he's their stronger candidate this year. If we were talking the McCain of 2000, then I'd call it differently, but he's squandered that image over the past 8 years. McCain's straight talk express is bullshit and there are endless flip-flops to point out - far worse than Kerry in 2004. Huckabee is also strong in the south, where McCain is not. If McCain is the nominee watch Obama (if he is indeed nominated) take much of the south except the border states. If Huckabee wins it's going to be a dogfight for that region.

Now playing: Hopeton Lewis - Boom Shacka-Lacka
via FoxyTunes

Monday, February 04, 2008

Microsoft is taking over Yahoo!

Photo from a new Flickr group dedicated to users who are concerned about the hostile takeover bid.

Female reporters and rape

Women's eNews has a fantastic report about female reporters and the sexual abuse and violence that they experience when covering wars. For a snippet, see below, but please go read the whole thing.

Matloff's article grew out of a survey of 29 female war correspondents published in 2005 by the International News Safety Institute, a Brussels-based group that works on media safety and persecution issues. More than half, according to the survey, anonymously reported sexual harassment on the job and two said they had experienced sexual abuse.

Matloff reached out to these survey respondents through the institute. She found that female reporters fear being pulled off an assignment and many keep their violations secret. Editors, who are most often male, tend to be unaware of the dangers women face because of this concealment, which also makes it hard to judge how often it occurs. Of the dozen assaults she knew of via the survey and her own experience, "eight involved forced intercourse."

"Rape is something that they will talk about amongst themselves," Matloff said about female journalists. "You don't want to show vulnerability, because your bosses would question whether you are up to it."

Now playing: Jenny Scheinman - The Frog Threw His Head Back
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Yahoo + Microsoft

While I agree with much of Umair's analysis of the proposed deal here (especially the part about using up cash reserves and the DNA), I propose that the name of the new company be not YahooSoft, but rather either SoftHoo or MicroHoo. Which do you prefer?

Now playing: Logistics - Shooting Star
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