The Heretic's Activity
The Heretic added a topic in Play2016 NFL Week 3 Picks2016 NFL Week 3 Picks
After two weeks, it seems that the preseason favorites like the Seahawks, Packers, and the Cardinals are not as good as we thought, and the class of the NFL mostly reside in the AFC (Broncos, Patriots, Steelers).
Going 13-3 last week means I have nowhere else to go but down, right? Then again, we know nothing, especially when it comes to the NFL. Tyche, the goddess of Luck is at her most powerful when we are at our most confident.
Thursday Game of the Week
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (+2.5)
The Patriots are now down to their third string QB, Brisett, but will that even slow them down? Even up against a terrific defense in the Texans, led by the incomparable Watt and company? QB Osweiler remains unproven, and the Pats will confuse him to no end. He does not have the vision for accurate passing required to beat the Pats’ schemes. While the Patriots are underdogs at home for the first time in near forever, but they manage to win 9 of 12 of those games under coach Belichick.
New England by 4
Game of the Week
Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
The Bengals finally return home, but they’re now facing the defending Super Bowl champs, and their world-class defense with that topnotch blitz package. Hopefully the Bengals’ own defense will terrorize QB Siemian and control the game.
Cincinnati by 1
Tame of the Week
Arizona Cardinals @ Buffalo Bills (+5)
Although the Cardinals had a long flight, they are facing a weakened Bills team with shitty defense and uncertainty on offense after firing their OC. All the extra days will not change anything in their favor. The Cardinals seemed to rediscover their mojo last week, and should keep on steamrolling the rest of the way by going long early and often.
Arizona by 9
Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans (-1.5)
The Raiders aren’t meeting expectations – their defense is incapable of stopping anyone. I expect the Titans to run the ball down their soft pliable middle and control the game with clutch throws from QB Mariota who can both run and pass well.
Tennessee by 6
Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars (even)
After falling flat on their faces last week in San Diego, the Jaguars need to redeem themselves, rediscover their offensive form from last year. While the Ravens are 2-0, they haven’t really beaten anybody good so far. They had so much trouble covering WR Robinson last year. But in a tight game, go with QB Flacco to WR Wallace deep.
Baltimore by 3
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-7)
Yes, everybody knows the Packers have fallen short of expectations, and QB Rodgers doesn’t look like his terrifying self, having fallen below 100 in passer rating for the last 14 games. It looks like WR Driver, Jennings, and Nelson no longer can win in isolation and get separation. But they’re finally home and should force the Lions into a high scoring shootout. It will be Last Man Standing.
Green Bay by 3
Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers (-7)
No rest for the wicked. After surviving a tough NFC North tilt with the Packers, the Vikings have to face the class of the NFC in the Panthers without their lead back Peterson, out with a knee injury. The key matchup is the Panthers’ offense versus the Vikings’ defense. QB Newton has to step up and succeed where QB Rodgers failed, and force the Vikings’ ultra aggressive defense to play contain. They won’t.
Carolina by 4
Washington Ethnic Slurs @ New York Giants (-4.5)
The Giants have the perfect opportunity to seize control of the NFC East, and bury the Ethnic Slurs six foot deep. QB Cousins hasn’t looked like his 2015 self at all this year, and the rebuilt Giants’ defense will not give him a chance. Their corners are deep and savvy enough to neutralize the Slurs’ receiving corps. Moreover, will the Slurs even let their high priced cornerback Norman cover WR Beckham?
New York by 4
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5)
The Rams have yet to score a touchdown, and this will be 3000 miles flight for a morning game. The Buccaneers will be playing in front of their fans for the first time this year. The score will be close, cuz the Rams have a stubborn defense, but the Buccaneers will pull it off. QB Winston is still angry over that Delhomme he pulled last week, and the Rams do not have the required secondary to slow him down.
Tampa Bay by 4
San Francisco Forty Whiners @ Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
The Seahawks have only one touchdown in two games cuz they can neither pass-block nor run block. But the Whiners have the immortal Gabbert at QB and the Hawks are at home, at the Century Link where they become a different monster. Even with a one-legged QB Wilson.
Seattle by 3
New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
Both teams are similar that they have tough as nails defenses, powerful offensive lines, and QBs that don’t turn the ball over. But the Jets aren’t as good on the road, and it’s always tough to match the Chiefs’ energy at Arrowhead.
Kansas City by 1
San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts (-3)
The Colts are still in hibernation, whereas the Chargers picked themselves up last week and destroyed the Jaguars. I expect a shootout, but the Colts are incapable of rushing the QB, or field enough healthy defensive backs, allowing QB Rivers time to decimate their secondary. QB Luck will have to come back against three excellent Chargers cornerbacks: Flowers, Verrett, and Hayward.
San Diego by 3
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Philadelphia Eagles (+6.5)
The Eagles have surpassed all expectations in the first two games – thanks to rookie QB Wentz, and a stubborn defense. But they’re facing a powerful offense in the Steelers, who are fond of disguising their blitz, and that’s a death sentence for rookie quarterbacks. Moreover, there’s nobody on the Eagles that can cover WR Brown in the slightest.
Pittsburgh by 4
Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys (-5)
The Bears looked godawful, no thanks to injuries – DT Goldman, QB Cutler, LB Trevathan, etc. The Cowboys OTOH have withstood their own injury problems nicely thanks to QB Prescott. They will force-feed RB Elliott & Morris the ball all game long, then shock the Bears with play-action passing to WR Bryant.
Dallas by 7
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (+3)
Every divisional tilt is exciting, and even more so when one of them has their backs to the wall. In a high scoring shootout, I expect QB Brees to beat QB Ryan any day of the week and twice on Mondays. Too bad the Falcons have the best 53 players in this matchup.
Atlanta by 6
Shame of the Week
Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins (-10)
Like the Patriots, the Browns are now down to their third string QB in Kessler. Unlike the Patriots, the Browns are a godawful team, and with a shitty QB in Kessler, they have no chance against the Dolphins’ stout defense in their home opener. QB Tannehill has enough weapons at hand to blow this game wide open.
Miami by 9
Last Week: 13-3
Season to Date: 24-8
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The Heretic added a topic in Play2016 NFL Week 2 PicksAfter going 11-5 last week, I feel good about 2016. Week 1 is usually the hardest week to predict, because we are still stuck with the results of the previous year, and incapable of deciphering the preseason. Onto Week 2!
Thursday Game of the Week
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills (even)
The Jets might have the best defense in the league, at this point – stocked with pass rushers in Williams, Wilkerson, and Richardson. QB Taylor won’t have the time to even scramble – OL Glenn is injured, WR Watkins is banged up, and the backups Kouandjio & Mills won’t make a difference.
New York by 3
Game(s) of the Week
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
Both teams are out for revenge – believe it or not. This will be a classic slobberknocker – both defenses looked good last week, and both quarterbacks had no problem with the long ball, blessed with talented receivers. The Steelers have an edge with their OL, and they may attack Geno Atkins, the Bengals’ swamp monster.
Pittsburgh by 3
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings (+2.5)
The Packers’ defense is quite good – thanks to a talented secondary with Randall and Rollins – and may be the best unit since 2010. If QB Rodgers gets a lead, that defensive backfield will become even more effective. Expect nothing from QB Hill.
Green Bay by 3
Tame of the Week
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (-4.5)
After a scintillating shootout last year, this time it should be different because the Giants have improved their run and pass defense. Vernon & JPP & company shoved around the mighty Cowboys’ offensive line last week. Moreover, the Saints miss Rankins – they gave up a 75 yard TD run in the fourth quarter last week. Expect the Giants to pull guards, run zone and establish the trench early.
New York by 5
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-6.5)
What a tough start for the Dolphins. After a 2 point loss in Seattle, they have to face a team that’s dominated them for the last decade or so. The Patriots are thoroughly competent on defense, and Coach Belichick will line up Sheard, Collins, & Hightower over the Dolphins’ weak right side all game long.
New England by 4
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Racial Taunts (-3.5)
The Cowboys will exploit the Taunts’ run defense by force-feeding RB Elliott 25 times or more. The Taunts will try to spread out the Cowboys with 3 or 4 wide sets and exploit the most favorable matchup – which is almost a given because Cowboys’ DC Marinelli likes a single high safety too much. But since the Taunt failed to apply pressure on the Steelers whatsoever, I expect QB Prescott to have all the time he needs to wait for WR Bryant to get open.
Dallas by 3
San Francisco Forty-Whiners @ Carolina Panthers (-13.5)
Expect a physical donnybrook type of a game. The Panthers should try to manipulate ends Buckner and Armstead with misdirection and brute power. When the Forty Whiners stack the box with safeties, the Panthers will throw over them to Olsen and Benjamin. Nobody should expect QB Gabbert to keep up with big plays of his own.
Carolina by 10
Tennessee Titans @ Detroit Lions (-5.5)
The Lions’ defense has to switch from a high powered passing offense last week to a physical smashmouth offense this week in the Titans. Luckily they have enough at hand: Ngata, Ansah, and Hyder, who should neutralize a ground & pound offense. Leaving QB Stafford to exploit that shitty Titans’ secondary.
Detroit by 6
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (+6.5)
The Browns are recycling quarterbacks, while the Ravens are reviving their legendary defense. Backup QB McCown has the arm, but nobody to throw the ball to – the Browns’ receivers can’t get open. They need more than that against the Ravens, who will stop the gaps with gigantic DTs. QB Flacco can either gun it or hand it off to RB Stanley. But take the under – the Ravens are weaker on the road.
Baltimore by 3
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans (-1.5)
The Texans are still spitting mad about the last two losses to the Chiefs – one was in the playoffs and the other was a lopsided beating. The Texans’ defense will be at least tougher than the Chargers’ last week. They couldn’t stop the pass, but the Texans love it if opponents test their pass defense. Watt, Clowney, Simon, and Mercilus are ready.
Houston by 3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)
The preseason Super Bowl favorite is on the verge of falling into a 0-2 hole. The Buccaneers are solid, led by the powerful QB Winston and talented WR corps, but the Cardinals should be even more fired up after last Sunday night’s near-miss. They should probe the Bucs’ offensive line for any weaknesses. Moreover, despite the fact that the Patriots’ defense is topnotch, QB Palmer had a clean pocket most of the time. I expect him to finish the deal this week.
Arizona by 3
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams (+3.5)
The NFL is back in LA after 22 years, but it’s still as shitty as ever. And now they’re facing the Legion of Boom? However, the Rams are angry after that embarrassing loss last Monday. Moreover, QB Wilson is hobbled by a bad ankle, and he’s facing DE Donald?
Los Angeles by 3
Atlanta Falcons @ Oakland Raiders (-5.5)
This game depends on which defense can make stops. The Raiders had trouble with QB Brees, like almost everyone else, but they have the talent to bounce back, and unleash the rabid beast in DE Mack. The Falcons will stick to their cover-three and try to stop WR Cooper from big plays. But the Raiders have alternatives in WR Crabtree, Walford, or RB Washington.
Oakland by 3
Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos (-5.5)
The Colts’ WR are solid, but they won’t be given a chance against the best secondary in the league. Moreover, the Colts’ OL is shitty, and here comes Von Miller! QB Luck will not have much time to make his reads, and he doesn’t have a RB to fall back on. The Broncos have a solid running game, so expect them to use it early and often against that mediocre Colts defense.
Denver by 6
Shame(s) of the Week
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers (-2.5)
The Chargers have solid corners capable of handling the Jaguars’ WRs.
They are proficient against fades and back shoulder throws, exactly what QB Bortles excels at. QB Rivers is familiar with the Jags’ defense – he sees it twice a year in Oakland’s defense.
San Diego by 1
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears (-2.5)
After a nice debut last week, can we expect more of the same from rookie QB Wentz in Chicago? At least Wentz has the easier job facing the Bears than QB Cutler has in facing the Eagles, and that ferocious front four.
Philadelphia by 3
Last Week: 11-5
Season to Date: 11-5
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The Heretic added a topic in Play2016 NFL Week 1 Picks(this was posted/emailed yesterday)
Welcome back to yet another season of mayhem, madness, and mendacity, as well as mediocrity.
Thursday Game of the Week
Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos (+3.5)
From the most decorated, experienced, big-game QB in league history to a blank slate in Trevor Siemian? Up against a bloodthirsty defense in the Panthers? Still stewing from that surprise upset loss in the Super Bowl? However, the Broncos’ defense is still stout, and still built to stop powerful running teams like the Panthers. Their cornerbacks Talib & Harris don’t need help covering the Panthers’ receivers, allowing DC Phillips to stack the box.
Denver by 3
Game(s) of the Week
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals (-6)
The most amazing skill Coach Belichick has is to determine what another team does well, and then neutralize it. Now, the Cardinals have a weak cornerback, so expect the Patriots to expose that. Their OL can protect interim QB Garoppolo, even from the powerful Cards’ defensive front. Luckily the Cardinals are at home.
Cardinals by 2
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Ethnic Slurs (+3.5)
The Steelers have the greatest collection of talent at receiving since the Greatest Show on Turf in 2000. Even if your secondary stops them, the Steelers can just run the ball with either Bell or Williams. The Slurs, a solid team in its own right, will not be able to keep up, and they failed to develop a running game in the preseason.
Pittsburgh by 6
Tame of the Week
Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans (+2)
The Titans are strictly a running team, with inside bangers Murray and Henry, but the Vikings’ front seven, deep and talented, is designed to destroy lines and stop Rbs.
Minnesota by 3
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
The Chargers seem to have located a running back in Gordon, but can they run on the deep and stout defense in the Chiefs? At Arrowhead, in week 1? Moreover, can the Chargers stop runners? The Chiefs are too well-rounded to stumble this Sunday.
Kansas City by 10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (-3)
In the preseason, QB Ryan seemed to have trouble throwing with accuracy or power. His confidence is gone. Worse yet, his old coach Mike Smith is the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator.
Tampa Bay by 1
Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+5.5)
The Jaguars look like they’ve turned it around, but they still have to win the games that count. Worse yet, they are facing the best QB in the league with a stocked roster at his disposal. This should turn into a classic shootout.
Green Bay by 3
Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans (-6.5)
It won’t matter if QB Osweiler is legitimate, cuz he’s facing a shitty secondary in the Bears. Plus their offense has been shitty all preseason, and now they are facing an angry JJ Watt and a great defense.
Houston by 4
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (-3)
The Ravens are reviving – QB Flacco is healthy, deep threat WR Perriman is back, and WR Wallace looks like his old self. The Bills will not be able to slow down such a dynamic offense, not without their bellwethers in Williams and Dareus.
Baltimore by 9
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints (-1)
The Raiders are a preseason favorite, given their depth and talent, but their inexperience will still be a problem. Especially going on the road and at the Superdome. They are facing an offensive genius in Coach Payton, who’s had plenty of time to scheme DE Mack and company with his platoon of weapons.
New Orleans by 7
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets (+2.5)
The Bengals are a strong team, based on a stout offensive line. But they will not be able to handle the Jets’ devastating DL (Williams, Wilkerson, and company). Moreover, their superstar CB will leave the Bengals’ WR Green on Revis Island.
New York by 3
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks (-10.5)
QB Wilson will run circles around the Dolphins’ defense, and exploit their coverage into touchdowns. It won’t be close.
Seattle by 11
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (+1)
The Cowboys have a rookie-friendly offense for their new QB, Dak Prescott: if the safeties are stacking the box, make the right read and a quick toss. If they’re two deep, hand it off to superstar-in-the-making Elliott. The Giants are still figuring it out with a new coach and a new system, and $200 million makeover.
Dallas by 2
Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
Even though Megatron is retired, the Lions will still be able to move the ball and score. Moreover, there’s nobody on the Colts’ defense capable of slowing them down.
Detroit by 3
Shame(s) of the Week
Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
From top to bottom, the Eagles are more talented, but they lack experience in the most important position – QB is rookie Carson Wentz. The Browns aren’t much, but they’ll be more prepared with QB RGIII on a mission.
Cleveland by 3
Los Angeles Rams @ San Franciso Forty-Whiners (+2.5)
Sweet. Fancy. MOSES! The NFL has decided to inflict their worst matchup on a national audience!
Expect RB Gurley to dominate the 40 Whiners, after they remove his pre-season bubble wrap. The terrific Rams front will not let QB Gabbert any time to make any plays.
Los Angeles by 2
Last Week: 0-0
Season to Date: 0-0
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The Heretic added a topic in ExtendIs Daenerys the Villain of Game of Thrones?It has been a while since I posted on Game of Thrones, or more accurately, A Song of Ice and Fire. As we start winding down on Martin’s epic, a small but fast growing sector of the fanbase is giving credibility to this notion: Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons (and a bunch of other honorifics) is the true villain of the story. We already have the obvious candidate in the Night King, but recent episodes, as of Episode 6, has Daenerys taking a heel turn in her declaration of conquest. She’s made these claims before, but always with a qualifier – to free the slaves of Slaver’s Bay, to restore her House of Targaryen, etc. Now it’s just strictly conquest for the sake of conquest.
However, despite this new possibility, I suspect it’s more complicated than that. There is no true villain of the story, much like how there’s no such thing as a villain in real life. The reason I think this is the case is due to George Martin’s true goal – subversion. He is more than just a fantasy writer – he writes with a historical angle, as well as a deconstructionist one. On top of the various tropes of heroic fantasy, Martin is also writing with the inspiration from the War of the Roses, which means his epic should be understood as a commentary on history AS fantasy. Martin is more interested in demonstrating how power works in politics, as well as how history is told and then mythologized in a way that reduces the violent, complicated series of events into a linear narrative. What the characters are told and what they eventually find out (Bran’s green-seeing, and Tyrion’s careful sifting of the records) is more indicative than the obvious interlocking of the tropes themselves in Martin’s overarching narration.
If we take the historical backdrop of the War of the Roses as a guideline to the Song of Ice and Fire, then in order to decipher the ultimate endgame, we must look at the result of the history: The Tudor period ended in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
If Daenerys is the analogue of Queen Elizabeth, then the endgame of the Song is the unification of all humanity that overcomes the existing politics of discord and elimination of the White Walkers. After all, Elizabeth did institute a Golden Age by reigning for over 40 years, survive the Spanish Armada, and build England from a petty kingdom to a global empire.
However, I suspect A Song of Ice and Fire is no conventional fantasy epic because it is a subversion as well as a deconstruction, which means we should expect nothing but a nihilist ending, that Daenerys’ rule will require brutality and compromise – the very thing she tried to avoid. In order to be a ruler, she will have to move from a conqueror to a morally conflicted ruler in the end. There will never be such a thing as a just rule or ideal society in Martin’s epic.
Moreover, no matter how we construct history, no matter how great our ideals are, or how perfect we build society, there’s only one true power in the universe – death. The very power that is free of the pain of life, always fated to violence and pain. All the existing philosophies in Martin’s epic, as well as our own are all constructions that give meaning to patch over this underlying truth – the void.
The popular thesis that requires mapping a structure with a classic villain on the reality of history is the futile attempt of man, trying to cope with existence. But there is no god of mythology controlling the fate of our characters, ourselves – except the god of nothing.
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The Heretic added a topic in Play2016 NBA Playoffs Picks!It's that time of the year again. Who else caught that 60 point curtain call last night by Kobe Bean Bryant? Or the Golden State Warriors' record-breaking 73rd win? What a time to be alive.
Onto the picks:
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors
Not only did the Warriors sweep the Rockets 3-0, by an average margin of 12.3 points, they are also the Latest and Greatest Team of All Time. The only thing left for them to accomplish is a dominant playoff run, something they failed to do last year. The Rockets are much worse this year than last year, where they were promptly outclassed in the Western Conference Finals 4-1. James Harden is a good scorer, but he lacks leadership qualities necessary for a champion, and Dwight Howard is long past his physical prime, incapable of dominating longer than in brief spurts.
GSW in a sweep: 4-0
Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs
Not only are the Spurs well-rested, loaded, proven, and hungry, they also have controlled the Grizzlies since that shocking first round upset in 2011. Moreover, neither Conley nor Gasol the Younger are suiting up, and the Grizzlies have fallen ass-backwards into the playoffs, having coughed up 12 of their last 14 games.
SAS in another sweep: 4-0
Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Should be an interesting contrast of styles between the athletic, iso-heavy Thunder and the veteran, systemic Mavericks. However, Westbrook and Durant will exploit the Mavericks' subpar man to man defense, force them to collapse repeatedly. Although Mavericks coach Carlisle is one of the 5 best in the NBA, and facing a rookie college coach in Donovan, he can only do so much with a vastly inferior hand.
Portland Trailblazers @ Los Angeles Clippers
PG Chris Paul has largely owned his opposite number, Damian Lillard, and will continue to neutralize him with the Clippers' superior pick and roll defense. Even if the rest of the Blazers flourish, they need Lillard to overcome the more talented Clippers. However, Blake Griffin has not rediscovered his old form after missing half of the season with his leg injury and the suspension.
Detroit Pistons @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Surprisingly, the Pistons do match up well with the Cavaliers: they have enough forwards to control LBJ, and a terrific defender in Caldwell Pope to terrorize Kyrie Irving. Plus the only Cavalier capable of slowing down the emerging Pistons giant, Drummond, is Mozgov, a benched guy who's lost his confidence. But LBJ has returned to his dominant MVP form in recent weeks.
Indiana Pacers @ Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have prevented George from scoring 20 points, limiting him to 20 of 65 FG attempts in four regular season games. Despite being a veteran of the playoffs, George must step up to give the underdogs a chance. The Raptors are still trying to get that playoff monkey off their backs, having failed to win a series since the Vince Carter days back in 2001. They are capable of matching up any lineup - be it small or big, and throw enough bodies at George all series long. However, if the Raptors' guards, Lowry and DeRozan don't perform at peak levels, they could be sent home early again.
Charlotte Hornets @ Miami Heat
Two dramatically different teams. The Hornets prefer playing faster, pushing the pace. But the veteran Heat play better defense, and have more isolation scorers in Johnson and Wade, which is absolutely necessary in the playoffs. If the Hornets can keep the Heat spread, and keep their passing snappy, they can steal the series.
Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks
Both teams are elite on defense and play at a fast pace, but the Hawks have the two best players in Horford and Millsap, who will dominate the inferior Celtics frontcourt. Moreover, the Hawks are far more battle-tested in the playoffs, having won series, while none of the Celtics have even won a single game. Coach Stevens is brilliant but he'll be offset by an equally capable Coach Budenholzer.
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