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Lots of Pulp

The prevailing opinion about Syria seems to be rather dovish, which puts President Obama in a rather awkward position as a hawk.  Our President, who once called Iraq a “dumb war” is now in a position to make a case for attacking a middle eastern country, that poses no specific, viable threat to the United States.  Yet these are where the similarities end.

When I read the chorus of detractors online, I can only scratch my head.  Many seem to be in the “meh” category.  Others are in full dove mode, including Andrew Sullivan’s B-team.  I even saw one post questioning if Obama even had a foreign policy doctrine, which to me, is atonishing.  If you do not know this President’s foreign policy doctrine, and how it relates to Syria, you simply have not been paying attention.

Obama’s National Security Advisor is Susan Rice, a woman who once said about Rwanda, “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”  Obama’s ambassador to the UN is Samantha Power, who is famous (and infamous, in some circles) for her fervent support for action, both military and non-military, to stop and prevent massive human rights abuses.  Obama’s clear doctrine has, and will continue to be, that the United States and our allies have a fiduciary responsibility to prevent massive human rights abuses, wherever it is feasible to do so.

This was the impetus for intervening in Libya.  The US foresaw a massive human rights abuse about to unfold, and intervened to prevent it.  And we did so, not by sending a massive invasion force of US Marines and occupying the country for a decade, but with a measured aerial campaign with the backing of NATO and other countries.  And from this perspective, we were hugely successful.  Is Libya in a perfect place?  No, but hundreds of thousands of civilians weren’t slaughtered by a murderous dictator on a rampage.  Did we kill some civilians in the process?  Probably.  Was it worth it?  I would say so, and a lot of Libyans would probably agree.

Similarly, in Syria, will a limited airstrike against Assad solve all of Syria’s problems (or the Middle East’s problems)?  Of course not.  But it just may prevent another 1,000 people from dying (including 400 children) from an indiscriminate use of chemical weapons on civilians.  And it’s from this perspective that we need to view this.  The goal is limited; therefore the response is limited, and the results should be judged accordingly.

We’ve heard plenty of comparisons to Iraq and Afghanistan, and not enough comparisons to Rwanda.  How many people have to die before someone intervenes?  How many people do we have to save before the small amount of casualties from bombing becomes worth it?  The detractors argument is long on idealism and short on reality.  Maybe that’s why I’m siding with the pragmatist President.

And these two posts do nothing to change my mind.  This high-minded abstention from action is exactly the type of logic that men of action despise.  No! Don’t perform CPR!  There may be complications!  No! Don’t administer that smallpox vaccine!  You may have side effects!

This isn’t a hawkish call to war.  I’m not agreeing with Billy Kristol.  But there are times when an airstrike was a judicious use of American power, and despite the scars of our recent past, this is one of them.

I’ll finish with a lesson from the past, which is something that so many detractors of action in Syria are so quick to burnish:

According to the US’s former deputy special envoy to Somalia, Walter Clarke: “The ghosts of Somalia continue to haunt US policy. Our lack of response in Rwanda was a fear of getting involved in something like a Somalia all over again.”[113] President Clinton has referred to the failure of the U.S. government to intervene in the genocide as one of his main foreign policy failings, saying “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”[114]

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Life sometimes is like a puzzle. Not some really complicated metaphorical puzzle, but like really simple ages 8 and up puzzle. It’s probably only like 250-500 pieces. Beyond being simple, you really have your whole life to put together and maintain this puzzle.

These pieces are made up of several things: Circumstance, friendships, relationships, behaviors, career, luck. These are all the individual pieces of the puzzle.

A lot of people are born without certain pieces of this puzzle. That makes it very hard for them to put the whole puzzle together and create the final picture. That isn’t to say it’s impossible; it just takes a lot more effort and work and tenacity for them to put the puzzle together. Sometimes they can basically complete the puzzle without those pieces and sometimes they are able to forge new pieces on their own.

Occasionally, unfortunately, over the course of your life, you will have a piece of the puzzle stolen from you. It’s really unfair, but it happens. Other times, you lose the piece yourself. When you lose it yourself, at least you know it’s there, hiding under the couch cushion or tucked away under a pile of magazines. Most likely it’s under the fridge. At least at that point you know its somewhere within your reach. It’s much easier to produce knowing that you have seen that piece before and that it must be somewhere in your house than it is to try to build it from scratch.

I think that once the puzzle is put together, it’s easier to maintain. It creates this somewhat stable square that you can mount on the wall and maintain for a very long time. That isn’t to say that at any point a piece will be stolen from you unfairly, because that’s just part of the cruelty of chance, but for the most part you know your puzzle is all together. Sometimes a keystone of your puzzle will be taken and the continuity of the overall picture will disappear, and that is truly unfair, but it is possible to recover from, generally.

Most people will have pieces of their puzzle taken from them or will be born without all of the ingredients. That is unfair and challenging for those people. What is really depressing is knowing that all of your pieces are in your hand, maybe a piece or two is lost between the couch cushions, but that you just can’t find the stamina to get off your ass, find that piece, and even begin to put all of the pieces together. It’s so rare to be dealt such a good hand, and such a shame to let it go to waste.

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This morning I had this thought. I believe it was based on some research that I read but I just can’t remember. While I was thinking about it, I thought that it would make a pretty good Juice post.

When we write or reflect on our thoughts and our consciences’ they seem very epic and storylined. We believe that everyone behaves the way they behave and act on impulses based on some lifelong story arc. I believe that is the way that everyone sees themselves and one another. It is probably drawn from some average that naturally can be derived from a series of experiences that all individuals share. We end up drawing caricatures of ourselves and each other.

In these stories and in the way we treat ourselves, we experience a larger story arc that we feel is inescapable. The villain will always be the villain, the hero will always be the hero, I will always be a guy that skirts the middle ground, and so will you.

In this sense, our lives and interactions end up being defined by who we were born to be.

So this post that I read somewhere (that I can’t link unfortunately), it read said that we are merely a consciousness reborn from our most recent few minutes or seconds. That the person we are is drivin by each fleeting distraction and impulse and zoned-out experience. They described that we only truly live, chemically and biologically for a few seconds to a minute and that all the decisions we make are based on the information we are given for those 45 or so seconds and then we are vanished. Replaced by a new, reborn thought.

I want you to deeply consider this concept. It may sound farfetched, but imagine for a moment that each individual thought that you have is handed a deck of experience. Experience from the amount of time since you were born, but diluted. You can handle this deck in any way you want for 45 to 360 seconds. Imagine now that once done reading this post is over, that a new consciousness will come into play. We act and behave and daydream in sequences of 45 – 360 seconds.

We program, we work, we relax, we indulge, we decide, we behave on this increment of time.

We all dream in periods of time similar to this. Fleeting moments of random encounters and strange, revealing personal behaviors. The only thing that separates our dreams from ourselves is a long term memory and the physics of reality.

So I imagine that our individual consciousness is much closer to our dreams than we expect. I don’t mean to downplay personality disorders that we want to escape at all. In fact, I believe this model supports most of them. I imagine that someone with a pre-disposition to addictive behaviors, every three or so minutes, that may have had cigarettes lately, is given a hand of cards that says “Okay, lets not smoke this round.” A few minutes later, a new sense of being is told “Well, we wanted to smoke, but we didn’t, what are you going to do?”

Eventually, we reach a tipping point where each previous consciousness is essentially peer-pressured into acting on the impulses of the prior generation.

It is up to the current controller to decide how to handle the stress of each given situation. Or not. It depends on the nature and nuture, or “deck”, that we are handed.

Cigarettes and other addictions are a very relatable and simple example of pretty much all behaviors, from drug addiction to eating to the way we treat others. I only list it as a behavior that most people can associate with. I encourage everyone to consider their behaviors against this concept.

Anyways, just something I thought about today.

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It’s upsetting to think that its been so long that I’ve forgotten the names of the streets. I remember what they look like, or what they used to look like, at least. At any rate, there’s a left hand turn stamped into my memory. It was an ordinary thing–I was just going somewhere, for some reason, in a car; just a left hand turn at a traffic light. But this particular turn coincided with the simultaneous welling of a song and a realization that a certain time in my life was coming to an end. For whatever reason, that was the intersection that occured–that time, place, feeling, and song–and so the memory of this ordinary thing persists.

There are a handful of these that exist for me–songs that carry a vivid association with a certain time and place. Beyond a cold, scientific recollection, they capture the feeling of being there. Like somehow all of the emotional data of the moment can live inside a song, in some compressed form.

A lot of these memories for me are in cars, strangely, at points between the places we more ordinarily ascribe significance. I guess there’s music on and alone time to wonder about the state of things. There was the spot on my commute from that time I was a counselor at a day camp in high school. That was a Guster song and I was thinking about a girl, I think. And another at a rest stop on my way back to Rochester at the beginning of my second year of college, excited to reunite with friends and continue to explore fake adulthood (Sufjan Stevens, that time).

The left hand turn was at the end of my last year in Rochester. People were making plans and finding jobs; entering and leaving the proximity of each others lives. I was grappling with the reality of all that at the time. The song was “My Rights Versus Yours” by The New Pornographers. The street pointed downtown.

There was an album released this year, 2012, by A.C. Newman, (one of the founding members of The New Pornographers) that reminds me, as a whole, of the feeling of that song. And somehow, this totally separate music takes me back to that same place–that same spot on the road. It was instant and powerful upon first listen and I enjoyed the melancholy of thinking back on that time. After a few plays, I found myself reaching out beyond that starting place. Somehow, this new framework stirred other memories; old feelings, places I sometimes wish I could go back to, states of being that had no songs attached to them to keep them alive. I found myself with a head full of these forgotten moments that, like the names of Rochester streets, had faded with time.

For all of this, A.C. Newman’s Shut Down The Streets is one of my favorite albums of 2012. In time, I imagine it will be a reminder of the time I spent on a subway in New York, writing this note, and reflecting on old times. For now, it’s fun to wander in places I thought I’d forgotten.

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Lets be honest. It 1am on a Monday (tues. morn) and I’m at work losing my shit…and this has got me bumpin all cray n’ shit. Just deal with it. If you can get to at least 2:10 in yer gunna be rewarded with some growlin n’shit. Make it to 3:30…damn son you just got yerself some fuckin trannyshit.

Just trust me guyz.. I’ve only done this once before.

Holla’

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There’s bound to be plenty of these available soon, but I just couldn’t wait.  All times Eastern.

7PM

Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Georgia will all be immediately called for Romney

Vermont will be immediately called for Obama

Virginia also closes.  We’ll likely be waiting a long time for a call on this one.  If it gets called earlier either way, that’s a sign the polls were wrong.  Keep an eye on Montgomery County.

Score at 7:01 – 44 R, 3 O

7:30PM

West Virginia immediately called for Romney.

North Carolina closes.  This one should be tight as well, so don’t expect an early call.  It should eventually go to Romney.  Keep an eye on New Hanover County.

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.  This one is big.  Romney will have a hard time winning without it, and if Obama wins it, it’s just about over.  Obama is ahead by close to 4 points in the polls, so he looks poised for victory.  Keep an eye on Stark County.

Score: 49 R, 3 O

8PM

MO, OK, MS, AL, TN immediately called for Romney.

ME, MA, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, IL immediately called for Obama.

Pennsylvania closes.  Polls have tightened here, but there’s no reason to believe Obama will lose it.  Romney is making a last ditch effort to move the state, because it’s his only option if he loses Ohio and Virginia.  The networks will be timid on PA, but it should eventually fall into Obama.  Watch Bucks County.

New Hampshire closes.  Polls here show Obama with some momentum, but NH is notorious for being a hard state to poll.  I wouldn’t be surprised by a Romney upset here.  Should be tight either way.  Watch Merrimack County.

Florida closes.  This is a must win for Romney.  He will struggle to find a winning combination without it, so if Obama wins FL, it’s most definitely over.  That being said, the polls here are excruciatingly close; we may be headed for a recount.  Watch Hillsborough County.

Score: 92 R, 75 O

8:30PM

Arkansas immediately called for Romney.

Score: 98 R, 75 O

9PM

AZ, WY, ND, SD, NE, KS, TX, LA immediately called for Romney.

NY, RI immediately called for Obama, and probably NM too.

MN, WI, MI are favored for Obama, but may not be called right away, as the networks will be squeamish, especially since they have been touting these as “swing states.”  On the other hand, if the poll truthers are right, then look to WI.  Obama should win the state by 5, but if this becomes close, and they haven’t called Ohio yet, it might be time to worry.

Colorado closes.  Obama has a very slight edge here, but I don’t expect this state to be called early.  Should be a while.  Watch Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties.

Score: 175 R, 113 O

10PM

MT and UT immediately called for Romney.

Nevada closes.  Obama has opened up a big lead in early voting here, and some estimate that 70% of likely voters have already voted.  I expect Nevada will be called for Obama pretty fast as a result.

Iowa closes.  Obama has a small but robust lead here.  Look to how things are playing out in nearby WI, MN, and OH.  If Obama is doing well with the neighbors, expect Iowa to follow.  Watch Cedar County.

If Obama is having a good night, we may be at the point now where I would be ready to call it for him.  If he has OH, PA, WI, and NV by now, it’s over.

Score: 184 R, 113 O

11PM

Idaho immediately called for Romney.

WA, OR, CA, and HI immediately called for Obama.

Continue to watch OH, FL, VA, IA, CO, NH.  Obama should already have NV, PA, WI, MI, and MN by now.  If not, start to worry.

Score: 253 O, 188 R

1AM

Alaska immediately called for Romney.

By now, hopefully OH, IA, NH have been called for Obama, which would put him over the top.  CO should follow soon after or be in this group as well.

NC should be called for Romney by now.

VA could be in limbo for most of the night.

We may never know who wins Florida, but at this point, it shouldn’t matter.

Score: 290 O, 206 R

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Elon Musk, from Wikipedia:

Elon Musk (born June 28, 1971) is a SouthAfrican born American engineer and entrepreneur best known for co-founding PayPalSpaceX and Tesla Motors. He is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity.

This was on Tuesday’s show but I watched it on Hulu last night.  Anyways, Elon Musk is billionaire genius spaceship builder who wants to inspire mankind to innovate.  No Big Deal.  One of his goals is to make humans a multi-planetary species, but he does have selfish motives for that: he wants to retire on Mars.  By his predictions, interplanetary travel could be a real thing in 10-15 years.  I would love to hang out with this guy… preferably on his way to his crater-side retirement castle.

 

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Elon Musk Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Elon Musk Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

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Never, under any circumstances, use this product.  It is the worst mouthwash imaginable.  It turned my teeth brown… which is the opposite of what mouthwash should do.  It has also filled my heart with rage.  Negative 5 stars.  Please Juicers, learn from my mistake.  More after the jump.

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From NPRGoogle And Privacy: Is It Time To Give Up?

 

Google says it is initiating the changes for the good of the user. Consumer advocates and privacy-protection groups don’t see it that way. They fear that Google is gathering too much personal information — without a person’s consent — and spreading it all over the place. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, is quoted in The Boston Globe as saying: “The new Google privacy policy is: You have no privacy.”

So is Google good or not? Helpful or not? And what about Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Amazon and others who seem to be all up in his grill and clocking his every move? They roll out new timelines, new service agreements, new possibilities. Sometimes they shut down familiar formats and useful applications with nary an apology or explanation. They remind us who calls the shots.

 

I’m not a huge fan of the new privacy policy.  I mean, we’re using free services that are provided by companies, so we should expect that the companies would want something in return.  And really, the things Google knows about me aren’t controversial, damning, or incriminating.  But I feel violated somehow.  Maybe I should start signing out of my Google accounts when I browse the web?  That’s what I do with Facebook.  And Amazon.  I just feel a little… used.

Wired.co.uk suggests that I might be over-thinking this — Google’s not selling my information to anybody, just using it to refine my ad experience.  I should be grateful that I’m not seeing the watered-down generic ads aimed at the masses, but tailor-fit, possibly even insightful bids for my dollar.  I hear what they’re saying but I feel like this is a “give a moose a muffin” type issue.  Phone companies, ISPs, social networks, and search engines are using personal information about their users to make money.   The data is cheap, descriptive, bountiful, and it literally pours itself into their databases.  And why shouldn’t they use it?  I don’t know.   I do know that if my local grocer had a store clerk follow me to the bookstore to see what I was reading, I would flip out.  In the end, all I have is a gut feeling that says I should be wary.  It seems like a compromise we have to make to use cool new tech, at least for the time being, until user anonymity becomes an attractive marketing strategy.

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Hey guys, I spent the last month or so buried in work..and finally finished the reel for my little collective’s latest project. Check it out and hopefully ya’ll enjoy.

If you’re so inclined, the website for our collective is: www.redpaperheart.com

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If you’ve visited Wikipedia today (or the Google homepage, or xkcd, or Wired, or WordPress) you’ll notice that they’re censoring their own sites to raise awareness for the SOPA and PIPA legislation.  From Wikipedia:

Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia. Instead, you will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, encouraging you to share your views with your representatives, and with each other on social media.

(Wikipedia has made available a page detailing why PIPA and SOPA are bad news).

xkcd.com also has a list of resources for some good (and easily digestible) information.

These are important pieces of legislation, and definitely merit contacting your representatives.  However (after you’ve educated yourself and done your part), if you’re in a pinch today and you absolutely need to read a Wikipedia article to understand Batesian mimicry or the etymology of goulash, there is a very easy workaround.  When you go to the article you want, you’ll notice it appear in your browser before Wikipedia’s SOPA/PIPA awareness page pops up.  Simply click the “stop” button in your browser after the article loads but before the awareness page pops up.  That’s it.

 

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One of the things that really gets under my skin is the popularity of Ron Paul. He seems to be well on his way to being a serious candidate this Spring, he finished a close 3rd in Iowa, and seems to have won over many center-right folks tired of that state of the Republican party, including Andrew Sullivan.

Why would this irk me so much? Because Ron Paul as president could be one of the worst things to happen to America in a long time.

Make no mistake; Ron Paul is an extremist (just like his son).

This is straight from his Wikipedia page:

Paul is a proponent of Austrian School economics; he has authored six books on the subject, and displays pictures of Austrian School economists Friedrich HayekMurray Rothbard, and Ludwig von Mises (as well as of Grover Cleveland)[85] on his office wall. He regularly votes against almost all proposals for new government spending, initiatives, or taxes;[66] he cast two thirds of all the lone negative votes in the House during a 1995–1997 period.[19] He has pledged never to raise taxes[203] and states he has never voted to approve a budget deficit. Paul believes that the country could abolish the individual income tax by scaling back federal spending to its fiscal year 2000 levels;[90][204]financing government operations would be primarily by excise taxes and non-protectionist tariffs. He endorses eliminating most federal government agencies, terming them unnecessary bureaucracies. Paul has a consistent record as an inflation hawk[dead link], having warned of the threat of hyperinflation as far back as 1981.[205] While Paul believes the longterm decrease of the U.S. dollar’s purchasing power by inflation is attributable to its lack of any commodity backing, he does not endorse a “return” to a gold standard – as the U.S. government has established during the past – but instead prefers to eliminate legal tender laws and to remove the sales tax on gold and silver, so that the market may freely decide what type of monetary standard(s) there shall be.[206] He also advocates gradual elimination of the Federal Reserve System.[207]

And Andrew Sullivan even goes to great lengths to qualify his endorsement, by basically disavowing Paul’s entire platform:

Let me immediately say I do not support many of his nuttier policy proposals. I am not a doctrinaire libertarian. Paul’s campaign for greater oversight of the Fed is  great, but abolition of it is utopian and dangerous. A veto of anything but an immediately balanced budget would tip the US and the world into a serious downturn (a process to get there in one or two terms makes much more sense). Cutting taxes as he wants to is also fiscally irresponsible without spending cuts first. He adds deductions to the tax code rather than abolish them. His energy policy would intensify our reliance on carbon, not decrease it. He has no policy for the uninsured. There are times when he is rightly described as a crank. He has had associations in the past that are creepy when not downright ugly.

So why is this guy so popular? Well, first of all, the rest of the GOP field is really that bad. You have the politi-whore that is Mitt Romney, the buffoon Rick Perry, the sluttier politi-whore Newt Gingrich, and several flavors of fire-and-brimstone types, of which Rick Santorum is now the flavor of the month.

Next, you have this emotional response to Paul’s “intellectualism” and “incorruptibility” which is actually pretty silly when you think about it. His “intellectualism” stems from his staunch beliefs in very discredited theories about economics and property rights, as well as his ultra-strict contructionist views of the Constitution that would make even Clarence Thomas blush. And after you understand that his entire political philosophy is predicated on a series of very simple black-and-white rules, it’s not hard to realize that he’s been “incorruptible.” That’s like saying that a robot is incorruptible.

Finally, his foreign policy and stances on Bill of Rights-style issues are refreshing to a lot of conservatives after the wrong turn the GOP made during the Bush years. But make no mistake, this is merely an extension of his extreme views on the Constitution, and no more.

Ron Paul as President would be a disaster. His nickname of “Dr. No” would very quickly be morphed into “Dr. Veto” and the government would effectively shutdown. You thought we had standoffs in 2011? Imagine what 2013 would look like with a Paul Administration.

Scared yet?

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SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader who realized his family’s dream of turning his starving country into a minor nuclear-weapons power even as the isolated nation sank further into despotism, died on Saturday of a heart attack, according to the country’s state-run media.

[h/t] New York Times

Nuclear arms and extreme nationalism aside, it’s fair to say he was a crazy, crazy man.  From Wikipedia:

Kim was said to be a huge film fan, owning a collection of more than 20,000 video tapes and DVDs.[111] His reported favorite movie franchises included Friday the 13thRamboGodzilla, and Hong Kong action cinema,[112] and any movie starring Elizabeth Taylor.[113] He was the author of the book On the Art of the Cinema. In 1978, on Kim’s orders, South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee were kidnapped in order to build a North Korean film industry.[114]

Also an apparent golfer, North Korean state media reports that Kim routinely shot three or four holes-in-one per round.[119] His official biography also claims that Kim composed six operas and enjoys staging elaborate musicals.[120] Kim also referred to himself as an Internet expert.[121]

 

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I saw this on the NPR website.

It’s an inspirational story about a compassionate social worker who instills positive change in a troubled teenager… while the kid is mugging him.

10 bajillion karma points for Julio Diaz.

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