Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 8th, 2008

Luncheon note: Kale salad

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I made this salad, more or less, using Lacinato Kale (aka Dino Kale). From the aversion of many recipes to the ribs of kale and collards and the like, one would think the ribs were of bone. I ignore instructions to remove ribs: they cook up just fine, and even in this salad they were no problem at all. I cut the leaves in narrow slices across the leaf, at right angles to the rib, so the small sections were easily eaten. I didn’t bother rolling the leaves.

In addition to the ingredients suggested, I use a little chopped red onion and a small can of sardines packed in lemon-flavor virgin olive oil. Along with the lemon juice, I used some balsamic vinegar. It was a tasty salad. I had no idea kale could be eaten raw and be so good to boot.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 12:31 pm

Good Krugman column and comment

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The column includes:

… Know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

In the case of oil, this takes the form of pretending that more drilling would produce fast relief at the gas pump. In fact, earlier this week Republicans in Congress actually claimed credit for the recent fall in oil prices: “The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” said Representative John Shadegg.

What about the experts at the Department of Energy who say that it would take years before offshore drilling would yield any oil at all, and that even then the effect on prices at the pump would be “insignificant”? Presumably they’re just a bunch of wimps, probably Democrats. And the Democrats, as Representative Michele Bachmann assures us, “want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, take light rail to their government jobs.”

Is this political pitch too dumb to succeed? Don’t count on it…

And then read this comment.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 12:02 pm

Posted in GOP

The sleazy side of the Maverick

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Mark Kleiman notes:

Amy Silverman has covered John McCain for fifteen years. Silverman has lots to say about McCain, little of it good. Some of it (the Keating Five story) is familiar, though I hadn’t known that the decision of the Senate Ethics Committee to blame McCain less than the others was based in part on the fact that some of his misconduct had taken place when he was a member of the House.

New stuff (to me):

1. McCain arranges for an extortion investigation against the guy who blew the whistle on his wife’s theft of medicine from the charity she ran.

2. McCain brings a reporter with him on a visit to the ailing Mo Udall.

3. McCain threatens the job of a federal scientist for sticking to his opinion about whether a University of Arizona project threatens an endangered squirrel species.

4. A Republican governor is driven from office and replaced by a Democrat, Rose Mofford, who previously served as Secretary of State and has little knowledge of the Central Arizona Project, a huge piece of Federal pork. McCain helps Republican efforts to get her recalled by setting her up to be blindsided at a Senate hearing just eight days after she is sworn in. He gleefully brags about his role at lunch with a newspaper publisher — “I’ll embarrass a Democrat any time I get the chance” — then proceeds directly to tell a bunch of reporters “I’d never do anything like that.” He later calls the Governor and tells her “I didn’t have anything to do with that.”

Silverman also has stories about the cream-puff treatment McCain has gotten from the press. No reason to think that will change just because she has some facts.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 11:04 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Podcasts and Webcasts on science and technology

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Good site to bookmark. Link includes the following, but has more:

Directories & Lists

NPR Podcast Directory
http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_directory.php

OpenCulture – Podcast Library
http://www.oculture.com/

Podcast Directory: Current Science & Technology
http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/3126

Podcasting News: New Media Update Index
http://www.podcastingnews.com/index/

Science and Technology Podcasts from the U.S. Government
http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Reference_Shelf/Libraries/Podcasts/Science.shtml

SciTech Journal Podcasts

Nature Magazine
http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/

Science Magazine
http://www.sciencemag.org/about/podcast.dtl

Scientific American
http://www.sciam.com/podcast/

New Scientist
http://www.newscientist.com/podcast.ns

Selected Science, Technology & Medicine Podcasts & Webcasts

Johns Hopkins Medicine Podcasts
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/mediaII/Podcastsinstructions.html

Library of Congress Science & Technology Webcasts
http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/results.php?cat=8

National Library of Medicine
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/listserv/rss_podcasts.html

The Naked Scientists Podcasts
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/

Science@NASA Podcasts
http://science.nasa.gov/podcast.htm

ScienceFriday
http://www.sciencefriday.com/feeds/about/

The Sounds of Science Podcasts from the National Academies
http://media.nap.edu/podcasts/

Related Stuff

Podcasting Tutorial
http://www.feedforall.com/podcasting-tutorial.htm

Podcasting Tools
http://www.podcasting-tools.com/

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 11:02 am

Savory bread pudding for breakfast

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I love a savory breakfast (rather than a sweet one), and this savory bread pudding sounds delicious. (It’s called a “casserole,” which I suppose in a general sense it is, but it’s clearly bread pudding.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 10:58 am

How light deprivation causes depression

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people: as you move north (or south) from the equator, the days in winter become progressively shorter. The diminution of daylight hours results in depression for many people, a depression that is often alleviated by light therapy (using bright full-spectrum lights). Now the mechanism is beginning to be understood:

The association between darkness and depression is well established. Now a March 25 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals for the first time the profound changes that light deprivation causes in the brain.

Neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania kept rats in the dark for six weeks. The animals not only exhibited depressive behavior but also suffered damage in brain regions known to be underactive in humans during depression. The researchers observed neurons that produce norepi­nephrine, dopamine and serotonin—common neurotransmitters involved in emotion, pleasure and cognition—in the process of dying. This neuronal death, which was accompanied in some areas by compromised synaptic connections, may be the mechanism underlying the darkness-related blues of seasonal affective disorder.

Principal investigator Gary Aston-Jones, now at the Medical University of South Carolina, speculates that the dark-induced effects stem from a disruption of the body’s clock. “When the circadian system is not receiving normal light, that in turn might lead to changes in brain systems that regulate mood,” he says.

Treating the rats with an antidepressant significantly ameliorated brain damage and depressive behaviors. “Our study provides a new animal system for antidepressant devel­opment. Many existing animal models depend on stress. Our model is a stress-free means of producing a depression. It might be parti­cularly relevant to seasonal affective disorder, but we think that it is relevant to depression overall,” Aston-Jones says.

Comments at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 10:55 am

More on the SWAT raid on the mayor

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I continue to follow this story. The police department has stated that they did nothing wrong. Amazing. Talk about denial. Here’s the most recent development:

A Maryland mayor is asking the federal government to investigate why SWAT team members burst into his home without knocking and shot his two dogs to death in an investigation into a drug smuggling scheme.

“This has been a difficult week and a half for us,” Cheye Calvo, mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, said Thursday. “We lost our family dogs. We did it at the hands of sheriff’s deputies who burst through our front door, rifles blazing.”

The raid last week was led by the Prince George’s County Police Department, with the sheriff’s special operations team assisting, after a package of marijuana was sent to Calvo’s home.

Authorities say the package was part of a scheme in which drugs are mailed to unknowing recipients and then intercepted.

Calvo said he had just returned home from walking his two Labrador retrievers, Chase and Payton, when his mother-in-law told him a package had arrived for his wife, Trinity Tomsic.

Moments later, Calvo was in his room changing for a meeting when he heard commotion downstairs.

“The door flew open,” he said. “I heard gunfire shoot off. There was a brief pause and more gunfire.”

Calvo said he was brought downstairs at gunpoint in his boxer shorts, handcuffed and forced onto the floor with his mother-in-law near the carcass of one of dead dogs. Video Watch Calvo describe the raid »

“I noticed my two dead dogs lying in pools of their own blood,” Calvo said.

Calvo said his mother-in-law is still recovering from the incident.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 10:50 am

Ignoring science

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I have a friend who simply ignores any scientific findings regarding food. (I was reminding of this by the post below on oily fish’s being beneficial for eyesight.) Because in some cases later findings superseded earlier findings, she has decided that no finding can be trusted at all. (Oddly, though, she seems to trust findings regarding medications.)

Obviously, I believe that (1) it’s worthwhile to pay attention to what science finds out about the effects of food, and (2) one should keep up with the findings in case later discoveries invalidate earlier statements.

Clearly, the importance of omega-3—and omega-3 in an appropriate ratio with omega-6—is now well-established. I doubt that this should be overturned. As the article below notes, however, this refers to omega-3 taken as food, not pure omega-3 supplements (although I do in fact take 2 g wild salmon oil in capsules with breakfast and with dinner): the efficacy of omega-3 as a supplement is not established (nor disproven, for that matter). Antioxidants taken as supplements, though, have been shown to be worthless—I have blogged about that here and here.

Similarly, some people get the feeling that no foods are good for you—this despite many, many findings on the health benefits of many foods, particularly colorful vegetables. Somehow these people remember only warnings about foods and never positive findings about foods.

My belief: pay attention and keep up to date.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 10:28 am

Posted in Food, Health, Science

Eat oily fish to preserve eyesight

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From the Wikipedia article:

Oily fish, oil-rich fish, or pelagic fish are those fish which have oils throughout the fillet and in the belly cavity around the gut, rather than only in the liver like white fish. Oily fish fillets may contain up to 30 percent oil, although this figure varies both within and between species. Oily fish generally swim in the pelagic zones of the oceans and are usually cold water fish (while white fish are warm water fish)[1].

Oily fish are a good source of Vitamins A and D as well as being rich in omega 3 fatty acids (white fish also contain the same nutrients but at a much lower level[2]). For this reason the consumption of oily fish can be more beneficial to humans than white fish, particularly concerning cardiovascular diseases[3], but oily fish are known to carry higher levels of contaminants than white fish[4]. Amongst other benefits, studies suggest that the omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish may help sufferers of depression, reduce the likelihood of heart disease and improve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Specifically:

Oily / fatty fish      White (non-oily) fish
Salmon
Trout
Mackerel
Herring
Sardines
Pilchards
Kipper
Eel
Whitebait/Smelts
Tuna (fresh only)
Anchovies
Swordfish
Bloater
Cacha
Carp
Hilsa
Jack fish
Katla
Orange roughy
Pangas
Sprats
Cod
Haddock
Plaice
Coley
Whiting
Lemon sole
Skate
Halibut
Rock Salmon/Dogfish
Ayr
Catfish
Dover sole
Flounder
Flying fish
Hake
Hoki
John Dory
Kalabasu
Ling
Monkfish
Parrot fish
Pollack
Pomfret
Red and grey mullet
Red fish
Red Snapper
Rohu
Sea bass
Sea bream
Shark
Tilapia
Turbot
Tinned tuna
Marlin

And here’s why to eat them:
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 10:13 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Pasta salad with roasted eggplant and pepper

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Pasta salad with roasted eggplant and pepper and lots more

Pasta salad with roasted eggplant and pepper and lots more

Well, maybe I won’t make the poor man’s caviar after all. The eggplant could be used to make this pasta salad. Looks delicious, eh?

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 10:00 am

On-line book swapping

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Good article to bookmark. It begins:

Penny-pinching bibliophiles will revel in a new batch of Web sites for paperback swapping. The sites reinvent the classic act of trading summer beach reads and expand summer reading beyond the dusty bookshelves of friends and family.

We tested four Web sites devoted to exchanging books — Paperbackswap.com, Swaptree.com, Bookmooch.com and Bookins.com.

Unlike Amazon.com, users don’t have to pay for the actual book, just shipping. Unlike with a library book, there’s no due date (or late fee). These sites allow readers to browse the collections of site members across the country and unload books that they no longer want in their permanent collections.

Paperbackswap.com says it is the oldest and biggest swapping site. Over 35,000 trades take place a week, according to Richard Pickering, the site’s founder.

The way it works is …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 9:56 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Bad news: Airline travel division

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It’s going to get worse. Tim F. in Balloon Juice:

At one point a long time ago, traveling by plane was an expensive choice that most ordinary people didn’t have the means to try. Then the infrastructure matured, fuel was relatively cheap and for a while the industry became a commodity with an availability level somewhere around cable TV.

I’ve been wondering for a while when prices will start to reflect the skyrocketing cost of highly refined aviation fuel. Thus it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear this morning that the per-bag price increases are all part of a much larger plan. The airlines know that most of us will be priced out of plane travel soon enough. When plane tickets reflect the real cost of flying today a ton of customers will cancel their trips, which will leave the airline pushing around huge number of empty seats. They don’t want that, so instead they’ll nickel-and-dime us with an increasing number of small irritants like per-bag charges and overweight passenger fees until demand lets them reduce the number of airplanes flying around.

It’s not a bad plan as plans go, it’s hardly evil, just smart long-term business planning. The price of gas has a new floor that is nowhere near where it was when American could profitably fly you from New York to LA for $500. So keep in mind that the next time you grouse about paying an extra $75 for wearing open-toed sandals (or whatever Dogbert’s airline consulting firm thinks up next), if you still get on the plane, then in their opinion you’re not frustrated enough.

It’ll be a great couple of years to be a flight attendant.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 9:54 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

McCain the elitist

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Good point by Josh Marshall:

Schumer: “I would answer back hard. What do you mean [Obama’s] not one of us? It’s John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state. It’s Barack Obama who climbed up the hard way, and that’s why he wants middle-class tax cuts and better schools for our kids.”

Again, across the board, the media grades McCain on a curve. Since the ‘media’ is often used as a generic and non-specific phrase, let’s break it down. McCain has spent two decades cultivating the press — specifically, the cadre of several dozen reporters based in Washington who report for the leading national newspapers and television networks. They know him. They’ve liked him. In part this is because he’s made a concerted effort to appeal to them, by making himself accessible. He’s also a pre-babyboom military man, a profile that has a special appeal to many boomers who never served. But familiarity and affection, as it does in all our lives, leads us to ignore faults. Not only is McCain an extremely wealthy man who didn’t have to work for any of his wealth, he’s also a man of very expensive tastes. Little facts capture the story. According to financial disclosure statements released in June, the McCain’s are currently carrying between $135,000 and $335,000 in credit card debt. Given their wealth, which is in the many tens of millions of dollars, that means either that they spend a tremendous amount of money on themselves — and this is just the ‘carry’ on an average basis — or they have real problems managing their money. In any case, yes, McCain’s an extremely wealthy man, with fancy clothes and houses across the country. But he got his money from marrying into it.

Of course, patricians can make presidents. Franklin Roosevelt is the prime example. But as McCain continues his campaign to define Obama as a high-living fancypants, let’s not forget the McCain was born into a life of privilege and continues to live that life today.

McCain question of the day: Do you own your own private jet? McCain does.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 9:52 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Black-olive stock

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Ideas in Food is always exploring new techniques and tastes in cooking—they are of the school of molecular gastronomy, which in this case means using new foods, techniques, and findings to combine and cook foods in new ways. Their black-olive stock is a good example—and The Eldest, with her collection of fine pressure cookers, might want to try this one:

When I first started cooking and even as I learned a bit along the way, the idea of stock meant bones,  blanching, simmering, skimming, time, vegetables,  straining, and chilling.  The idea of stock was very traditional and there were rules to be followed.  It was a rigid practice that varied from chef to chef and kitchen to kitchen, and in each individual environment those rules were not to broken.  Stock was considered a sacred thing.  Today’s new, at least new to me, stocks are much more flexible. These seasoned liquids are based around ingredients whose flavor we want to harness and use either as a cooking medium or perhaps as the base for a dish, sauce, or condiment.  The most recent experimental stock was made with black olives.  We combined salt cured olives, molasses and water in a pressure cooker.  The intense flavor and body that we were able to capture in the resulting elixir was simply amazing.  Tradition is important and should be respected, athough occasionally bucking the system can lead to great results.

Photo of the stock at the link. I have some particular tasty sun-dried Peruvian black olives ($22.67/lb)—strong tasting but delicious. Those would work extremely well, I think. They would have to be pitted, of course—or, more easily, strain the pits from the cooked stock. These have no salt, so the final stock may require salt.

Other sources of sun-dried Peruvian olives: here ($11.65/lb) and here ($17/lb). Note that these two are exactly the same except for price.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 9:00 am

Groupware tools

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I’ve always been intrigued by groupware: software specifically designed for use by a team of people. Joel Falconer reviews a miscellaneous collection of such software. A few comments: Google, as observed earlier, might lock you out of your software (including access to all the files you’ve created), so I would avoid using Google, myself. Another point worth noting: in his review of WordPress as a collaborative blog (which can be public or private, of course), he mentions in passing that a disgruntled team member could vandalize everything, since s/he has access. I hadn’t thought about that possibility, but it’s worth considering. Good backup is, as always, essential.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 8:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels

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I’m now half through the twelfth in the series. It’s taking me about two days per book. Extremely enjoyable. Highly recommended. Read in order. The first three (in order): Master and Commander, Post Captain, and HMS Surprise.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 8:36 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Climate change: again, reality worse than models

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One of the criticisms that climate change deniers make is that many of the projections are based on computer models, which are fallible—as indeed they are. So far, though, as scientists check the actual observations against the models, the reality is consistently worse than predicted. For example, the Arctic ice has melted much faster than projected, and the Greenland ice cap is melting faster than predicted. And now the extreme weather events are worse than predicted:

Climate models have long predicted that global warming will increase the intensity of extreme precipitation events. A new study conducted at the University of Miami and the University of Reading (U.K.) provides the first observational evidence to confirm the link between a warmer climate and more powerful rainstorms. One of the most serious challenges humanity will face in response to global warming is adapting to changes in extreme weather events. Of utmost concern is that heavy rainstorms will become more common and more intense in a warmer climate due to the increased moisture available for condensation. More intense rain events increase the risk of flooding and can have substantial societal and economic impacts.

To understand how precipitation responds to a warmer climate, researchers in this study used naturally-driven changes associated with El Niño as a laboratory for testing their hypotheses. Based on 20 years of satellite observations, they found a distinct link between tropical rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods.

“A warmer atmosphere contains larger amounts of moisture which boosts the intensity of heavy downpours,” said Dr. Brian J. Soden, associate professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.

The report, “Atmospheric Warming and the Amplification of Precipitation Extremes,” previewed in Science Express this Thursday, August 7, and published in an upcoming issue of Science, found that both observations and models indicated an increase in heavy rainstorms in response to a warmer climate. However, the observed amplification of rainfall extremes was found to be substantially larger in the observations than what is predicted by current models.

“Comparing observations with results from computer models improves understanding of how rainfall responds to a warming world” said Dr. Richard P. Allan, NERC advance fellow at the University of Reading’s Environmental Systems Science Centre. “Differences can relate to deficiencies in the measurements, or the models used to predict future climatic change”

Source: University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 8:30 am

Culinary notes

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I made the Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta. Extremely nice. I did, however, roast the beets: cut into chunks, tossed with olive oil, put into a pan and that into a 425º oven for an hour. The rest was pretty much according to the recipe, except for the presentation. I used sheep feta, which I like best of all fetas.

Today I’ll have the kale salad, and I’m also making harissa. In addition, I’m making my own spin on poor man’s caviar. Here’s a typical recipe:

Serves 4
1 large globe eggplant (1½ pounds), halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
Pinch of ground cumin (optional)
1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
4 pita rounds, sliced and toasted (for serving)

1. Set the oven at 400º. Place the eggplant in a baking dish, rub the eggplant with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Turn it cut side down, and roast for 40 minutes or until it is very soft. Let the eggplant cool.

2. Using a paring knife to guide you, peel off the skin. Chop half the skin; set it aside.

3. In a food processor, pulse the garlic, a generous pinch of salt, the lemon juice, and reserved skin. Stop and scrape down the sides of the work bowl once or twice. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the cumin (if using), yogurt, 1/4 cup of the eggplant pulp, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Blend into a puree.

4. Finely chop the remaining eggplant and transfer to a bowl. Fold the puree into the eggplant. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper , or lemon juice, if you like. Serve as a dip with toasted pita bread.

At any rate, I’m going to use Japanese eggplant, and I think I’ll roast it cut into chunks and tossed in olive oil (in a pan, of course). And I’ll use all the peel. No yogurt, though—I’m saving that for the salad of poached chicken, peaches, and cucumber.

Also, in addition to the cinnamon, turmeric, and chipotle powder that I’ve been adding to my hot cereal, I now include 1/2 tsp ground cloves. Wowza: very mouth awakening!

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 8:23 am

Sea buckthorn: hard to stop at one shave

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So I used sea buckthorn shaving soap again, this time the shaving soap Durance L’òme, which I prefer to the Edwin Jagger—YMMV. I used the Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Super brush, and produced an excellent lather. The razor was Merkur Progress, the blade unknown (but I think it was Treet Black Beauty).

Very nice and flawless shave, finished with Acqua di Parma aftershave. Very pleasant indeed.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2008 at 8:11 am

Posted in Shaving

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