Gosh, I wish we had mefi-style favorites here, because JJ's comment is great. Enough to change my mind.
Since I can't help seeing things through the tennis lens, maybe a fair comparison is the spaghetti string racquet, or even the extra long racquets that were banned some years ago.
posted by Uncle Toby at 04:34 PM on April 19
On the anchored putting thing, yes, it does seem arbitrary--as arbitrary, for example, as ruling that tennis players cannot use two-handed groundstrokes, or the old rule that when serving, their feet must remain on the ground until they strike the ball.
I don't know about golf, but there is a brisk online market for vintage tennis racquets. Many players are enthusiastic users of decades-old racquets and go to great lengths to acquire them--and not just to hang on the wall, either.
posted by Uncle Toby at 02:41 PM on April 15
New Mexico's loss to Harvard in the NCAA Tournament has had a deep and lasting affect on a veteran NM sportswriter.
UIowa sports fans will recognize this stage of "getting to know Steve Alford."
posted by Uncle Toby at 10:43 PM on March 25
hincandeza, I love the Pyramid of Fame idea, expanded to everyone. It'd be like an organized tour of the old fashioned Baseball Encyclopedia.* The context would be so much richer--what was a career like in the Thirties? The Seventies? That'd give you a chance to compare Bonds with, say, Hank Greenberg, or George Foster--a true education in baseball history.
* I'm in my forties. Was my generation the last to spend long, rainy afternoons flipping back and forth through that kind of physical book, digging into the obscure stories buried in its pages? Probably not. I hope not.
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:36 PM on January 10
Actually this seems like a video demonstration of what we'll someday (fairly soon, probably) call "the way football used to be." And that's fine with me, because I'm okay with it becoming a different sport where things like that don't happen.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:24 PM on December 04
The link goes to a summary of a memorable passage from the NYT piece, but why not just link the Sullivan essay itself? (I know it's linked in the article.) It's one of the more fascinating tennis essays I've read since David Foster Wallace's "Roger Federer as Religious Experience." In some ways, it reads like a sketch for a longer article or book, which I would read tomorrow, if I could.
Quibble aside, I've always been conflicted about this incident. I like Serena in so many ways, from her game to many parts of her persona. Her total destruction of Sharapova at the Olympics was some of the most complete tennis I've ever watched. She's an intriguing mix of candor and reserve off the court. She is, for lack of a better word, complex.
However. While part of me totally gets the objection to ticky-tack (and possible incorrect) footfault calls, she should have handled that better. Nothing that happens on the tennis court merits that kind of reaction. The only thing actually at stake was the size of a pile of money. And officials have an obligation to call them like they see them, regardless of the score, so Serena is effectively arguing that the lineswoman's job is to decide when and where the rules apply, not whether they've been broken.
I guess I'm really just (selfishly) saying that I wish she were sorry, because then I'd like her a little more, and in a way that's important to me.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:28 PM on August 24
But Hugh, it does seem surprising that a teenager female would suddenly turn in a time faster than a male in his prime, doesn't it?
posted by Uncle Toby at 10:20 PM on July 31
I've never heard a country raise questions about their own athletes' performances when they defy expectation, so it is, by default, sort of left to everyone else to say, hey, wait a sec. I believe this happened to Michelle Smith, an Irish swimmer several years back.
Graphing a racer's stats and having someone with no special interest in sport look at them might be one way to go.
As for how China develops athletes, I admire that model in some ways. I also agree with lbb that other, less intensive ways into sport don't seem so prone to unhealthy "cog in the machine" endgames for young people. However, I think that story is, in many sports, demonstrably unrealistic these days. I know you were only speaking to aerials, but watching my somewhat-talented kid run up against intensively-trained 12 year olds in semi-rural Iowa in practically every sport he tries has been a come-uppance for us. And we haven't even thought about wrestling.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:49 PM on July 31
I love the look in Smith's eyes at about 1:40--for all his bravado, his face betrays his realization that, "Crap, I'm nobody, and I just decked one of the league's marquee players. Lots of people hate me now."
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:06 PM on March 23
Dan Gable, 72 Olympics. Didn't surrender a single point en route to the gold.
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:56 AM on February 08
Stewart Mandel had a good take on the game:
"But imagine if Alabama and LSU had never met a first time. Imagine if the 11-1 Tide had faced a 13-0 team from another conference on the season's final night, with the exact same result.
Imagine how dazzled we'd be by the clinic that took place.
The Tigers were 13-0. They'd beaten three teams that finished in the Top 10 of the final polls. They averaged 40.1 points against their 12 opponents not named Alabama. The Tide shut them out. LSU had averaged 215.2 rushing yards per game. Alabama held the Tigers to 39 yards on the ground and 92 total."
I really, really dislike Alabama for irrational reasons related to really, really disliking Saban. BUT, that aside, when I looked away from the ball and watched the rest of the field, the Tide were simply amazing. I seriously doubt Oklahoma State or Oregon or anyone could've moved the ball against them last night.
It reminded me, in a sad way, of my Hawkeyes beating Georgia Tech a couple of years ago. The Hawks were totally prepared and a bit faster, and Tech had no Plan B. Sad because I recognize that what I watched last night was defense-first football on a vastly higher level.
So, props to the Tide, begrudgingly, and to the SEC, where they're better at football.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:52 AM on January 10
Language Log looks at Tank McNamara's weird "towel-snapping" storyline.
posted by Uncle Toby at 12:17 PM on November 30
>>"Didn't Paterno report this to his superiors and wasn't that what he was supposed to do?"
Who cares who's cutting the damned paychecks? I can't begin to understand that mentality. Workplace chain-of-command is totally irrelevant. Seriously: if it had been someone unconnected to PSU football, they would have acted differently.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:20 PM on November 09
"Defend yourself at all times" is THE cardinal rule of boxing. Ortiz should have been ready, regardless of what he thought the ref was doing.
There's a ref for a reason: this is boxing, not street brawling. Hitting people when it's unclear whether the ref has rejoined the fight take it out of the realm of sport and into hand-to-hand combat. Mayweather should have held back, regardless of what he thought the ref was doing.
So I can't really decide, except to err on the side of civilization and say Mayweather was in the wrong.
posted by Uncle Toby at 02:16 PM on September 19
If they had a real mean streak, they'd paint it SDSU's road colors for that game.
posted by Uncle Toby at 06:51 PM on July 30
The logic here, and it seems quite sound to me, is that a great punter/kicker can make your defense a lot more effective every time he touches the ball. Pay him or settle for someone who puts your defense on its heels all the time.
posted by Uncle Toby at 06:47 PM on July 30
Just clicked on a grantland story at espn, only to have it take me to a bogus page that's some kind of domain-name squatter. WTF?
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:39 AM on June 19
I want James to succeed. I want to see greatness emerge. But he looks worn down, and his "now or never" comments are delivered in a manner that any opponent should instantly recognize as weakness.
From a technical standpoint--caveat: I'm no shooting coach--I don't like his jumper. He's always leaning backwards. I want to see him go straight up. Seems almost an emblem of his game right now.
If I were his coach--caveat: I'm no coach--I'd also put him on the opponent's best man with instructions to abuse that guy no end. Make every cut hurt, make every screen-setter pay. There's nothing that ignites offense like chip-on-shoulder defense.
And he should forget about three pointers. One turnaround after another. One elbow jumper after another.
About another, better-performing player, Nowitzki: the comment above about pulling the pivot foot should be about him.
That said, he's a hell of a player. I'd love to build a franchise around his skill set. Weird: he has 47 rebounds, 45 of which are defensive.
justgary--your elephant--it's also a card, right?
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:32 PM on June 10
"Is it just me or does it seem like american sports culture has become so obsessed with putting a great athlete's career into perspective that we jump to conclusions?"
Happens a lot here, sure, but nobody in Europe has been speculating about Messi, Nadal, etc?
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:53 AM on May 30
"Every shot Butler took was with a UConn defender in their face, even beyond the arc"
Couldn't understand why they kept jacking those up, as solidly defended as they were. I get it that UConn\'s interior defense was extra-tough, but:
1. A well-defended 3 is much harder to make than a well-defended jumper at the elbow,
2. Getting the ball in the paint almost invariably leads to more fouls by defenders, which changes the dynamic of the game.
Contested 3 pointers are very, very low percentage shots, with little chance of the defender compromising his team with fouls.
While I like the tournament's format immensely and would never want it to change, I couldn't help thinking that neither team last night would ever survive a best-of-five against most of the high-seed teams.
BUT: that's irrelevant, I guess, and their tournament performances prior to the final four were simply terrific.
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:41 PM on April 05
Air Force Pilots Disciplined For Kinnick Stadium Flyover
Tons of people I know, including my dad, were at this game--they said it was AWESOME (and a little scary). And apparently the view from the press box was amazing.
Good catch on the Kinnick connection, Howard_T.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:12 PM on March 25
Based solely on the LSU pic, their fans look pretty fun.
And I knew Wisconsin fans were knuckleheads when, after their team got stomped in Kinnick, a bunch of them marched around the Iowa tailgaters chanting, "Your band still sucks! Your band still sucks!"
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:00 PM on March 24
Maybe someday a team owner (or even a whole league) will promote this kind of safety gear by either:
1) Rewarding players with contract incentives to do so, or
2) Penalizing players who choose not to (obviously only effective at the league level).
Is anyone aware of a team/league that has taken this approach?
posted by Uncle Toby at 02:53 PM on March 21
That's a great story--thanks for sharing it.
posted by Uncle Toby at 12:50 PM on March 09
Pretty dumb on the kid's part--if they'd lost, he'd have been wise to consider transferring to another school...
Still, the idea of Pitino, off all people, lecturing college kids about making good choices in the heat of the moment is laughable.
Off-topic: I sort of agree with people like Gregg Easterbrook who are annoyed at the pseudo-accuracy of these 00:00:50 situations. A half-second is a lot in a hundred-meter sprint, and there are sensor-controlled electronic timers at the business end of the run. But in basketball? C'mon, now. A half-second really doesn't seem like enough time to catch, turn, and shoot. I wonder if the NCAA has done studies to determine the "smallest significant interval" or something like that--running high-speed cameras on guys who try to get a shot off as fast as they can.
posted by Uncle Toby at 11:39 AM on February 28
"So he is home-schooled: sheltered from realty, brain-washed by parents. Guess it's OK to smack a woman around once she becomes your wife. After all, the Bible states she is to be submissive to you."
I see no reason to assume anything about his relation to reality, whether his values are his own or merely his parents', or his feelings about Biblical literalism.
A kid decides to take the penalty when he chooses against doing something contrary to his values, and takes buckets of shit from practically everyone for his trouble. (And is defended by Atheist, of all people!) He hurt no one by making his choice. As far as I'm concerned, lots of people would do well to follow his example: when all your training and everyone on your team tells you to do something that feels wrong, don't do it. It's not unreasonable to say that things like My Lai happen when people lack that ability to go against the grain.
And for the record, I'm for the girls wrestling in the tournament.
posted by Uncle Toby at 04:21 PM on February 18
UPDATE: Cassy wrestled twice today and lost both times. Pinned in the second--no shame in that, if you are even passingly familiar with the competition level she faces in this tournament.
I'm a fan of Iowa high school wrestling, and I don't know what to think about this.
+ Getting to state in wrestling anywhere, and in Iowa especially, is an achievement that would be terribly difficult to walk away from. The boy's commitment to his off-the-mat values must be incredibly strong.
+ His values seem to say, "My faith tells me it's wrong to engage women in contests of physical domination." I can see that. He thinks its wrong to make a woman submit to your will through sheer strength--which is exactly what wrestling is about. Maybe the symbolism of it bothers him. Again, I can see that.
+ Cassy's achievement now comes with an asterisk, unfortunately. I bet eventually that Iowa, which has generally been a good place to be a high school female athlete, will wind up with a girls' wrestling tournament.
+ She showed up to wrestle, regardless of gender. Good for her.
posted by Uncle Toby at 01:53 PM on February 18
The opportunity cost of a 3-pointer is the rebound: since the shooter generally isn't in a position to contend for a missed shot, it's five-on-four for the defense, so you get no second chances.
Next time, coach should dictate no shots outside the paint. That might force the other team to foul more, too.
posted by Uncle Toby at 01:33 PM on February 18
From a business-minded perspective, I can see it, though. Thought experiment: how nervous will Colts receivers be if Manning sets them up across the middle (like he does with regularity) and Sanders is waiting for them?
Bad day for Iowa sports links, btw: the wrestling thing, the ridiculous 3-point bombs-away thing, now Sanders is cut.
Loved watching him at Iowa--opposing receivers all but shied away from the ball when the even sensed he had them in his crosshairs.
posted by Uncle Toby at 01:27 PM on February 18
gfinsf--on the contrary. "Wanting to change" is a part of the answer, but the very nature of alcoholism takes away a lot of its relevance. I was simply trying to point that out. Perhaps I could have turned a better phrase there. Alcoholics are in the grip of something more powerful than the average person's will to change. If someone asks for help, that's a good sign, but I was merely recognizing that while it's necessary, it's clearly not sufficient.
posted by Uncle Toby at 07:50 AM on February 08
"Alcoholism is a terrible problem for some people but treatment methods are out there for those who want to change."
Given the effect of alcoholism and other addictions on brain chemistry, that's a useless statement.
Like justgary, I feared for this thread when I saw the post...I feared that it would degenerate into camps of the sympathetic and camps of the "suck it up" type. Sort of like the discussions you'd hear about addiction, etc in a freshman composition or sociology class. Debate is fine, and I think it's okay to be frustrated with stories like Perry's. But when your position is "You did this to yourself and I would totally handle it better than you," there's not much room for real discussion.
In brief, ad hominem attacks are the worst reaction to the tragedy of addiction.
If the phrase, "De Casibus Virorum Illustrium" means anything to you, you know that Western culture has been trying for a long time to figure out how to understand what happens when good fortune leads to bad fortune.
Reality tv producers, however, have a pretty clear idea how to react. More grist for the mill.
on preview--nicely said, JJ
posted by Uncle Toby at 07:11 AM on February 08
Somebody make a joke about the WNBA so I don't have to, please.
posted by Uncle Toby at 05:31 PM on February 03
I'm leaning that way myself.
I have an 11-year-old who eats, sleeps, and breathes football most of the year. I had some misgivings before last season--his first playing tackle--and more now: in his final game, played in the Northern Iowa UNI-Dome, he got his bell rung on the last play of the first half. By his own teammate's knee, weirdly enough. Sat out most of the second half and admitted he had a headache later.
He plays safety and db but wants to switch to running back or wide receiver next year. I'm on the fence about whether to even let him play, now he wants to take the field in a couple of the most injury-prone positions. He will be devastated if we bar him from playing tackle next year.
His second-favorite sport, which he'd take up in earnest if we had the money? Snowboarding. Apparently he doesn't like his own knees or head.
posted by Uncle Toby at 05:28 PM on February 03
Too late, Ben. At this point, the best you can hope for is to be a role model for reformed behavior, like for offenders and such. You'd be a hit at programs for the incarcerated. Make a difference there and atone for your bad behavior, instead of avoiding the subject.
posted by Uncle Toby at 01:46 PM on February 01
Bottom line: Stubbs and Clijsters are idiots, each in their own way. Laughing and lighthearted about the whole thing or not, doesn't matter to me. They're still stooges.
That's the least-compelling "bottom line" line I've read in ages.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:45 PM on January 22
I've always liked Clijsters, and now I like her more. What a totally fresh (in several senses of the word) way to handle that. You know she was just relishing the chance to ambush Woodbridge, and she did it in a way that got her point across and then buried his misstep with good humor. Yay for Kim.
posted by Uncle Toby at 11:58 AM on January 21
I'd be shocked if this closes the book on this topic...
posted by Uncle Toby at 10:41 PM on December 01
Too bad the article didn't offer details about the program's graduation rate under Shannon. Here's what I could find.
TMQ is fairly predictable, so I'm sure he'll have an item on it this week.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:55 PM on November 28
As an Iowa fan, I can attest to his ability to get his team ready for rivalry games, at least.
The linked article doesn't mention it, but this is sort of a full-circle hire--Hayden Fry went from North Texas to Iowa, where McCarney was one of his assistants for many years. (McCarney also coached under Barry Alvarez, another ex-Iowa asst, as Wisconsin.)
Any reason why the right coach couldn't pull a Boise State/TCU at North Texas?
ps--Hayden Fry's coaching tree includes McCarney, Alvarez, Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder, Jim Leavitt, Chuck Long, Bob Stoops, Mike Stoops, Mark Stoops, Bo Pelini, and Bret Bielema. Not bad.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:51 PM on November 28
Just read the synopsis to my 10 year old son, who's in his first year of tackle football. He kind of shrugged, but I could tell his imagination was going to work.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:47 PM on October 12
I'm willing to imagine Bush looking at the thing and thinking it's a reminder of, as he said, the mistakes he made. He's older and has a better understanding of things, and he isn't so self-centered and stubborn that he needs to put up a fight. (Compare this behavior with Pete Rose's which we've talked about a bit lately.)
It's not like he's presenting a powerpoint of his misdeeds, but it's a hell of a lot manlier than I, for one, imagined he would be about it.
As for the alleged PR value of setting up a foundation for educating athletes: big whoop. The real value is more important. Maybe it'll save some kid, his family, and a university the humiliation he brought on himself.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:12 PM on September 14
>Quick: who's more repellent, Pete or the guy whose record he broke?
>>I don't get this question at all.
Sure you do! Your answer expands on the point of the question.
As decent human beings, we abhor Cobb, but for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball. So his place in the HOF is unquestioned, and appropriately.
But Rose, as you put it, "attacked the integrity of the game," so the place we were all saving for him in the HOF remains vacant, and appropriately.
So, yeah, maybe I could have phrased my query a little better. But I deliberately left off the framing you supplied in your answer because I wanted to see how people justified their own answers. Which you did very nicely.
posted by Uncle Toby at 09:26 AM on September 14
Quick: who's more repellent, Pete or the guy whose record he broke?
posted by Uncle Toby at 07:20 PM on September 12
Maybe Dungy should concentrate on his own stuff instead of getting involved with what others are doing.
His involvement, as noted above, is as a commentator. Perfectly legit to call someone out on what he (and lots of others) believe is bad behavior. For my part, I'm fine with Ryan cursing a blue streak, and I'm fine with Dungy not liking it and saying so.
I am always reading how this guy is mentoring Michael Vick or working with prisoners, great, but didn't his own son commit suicide? Is it possible he should be paying more attention to what is closer to him and less attention to what others are doing.
I can't really refute this doubtful notion, as I don't have a copy of Dungy's schedule from the last few years at hand. Perhaps you can cite some sources to back up this totally classless comment.
In any event, are you unaware that sometimes people take their lives regardless of how much time the parents devote to their welfare?
posted by Uncle Toby at 12:11 AM on August 19
Terrific article. Thanks!
posted by Uncle Toby at 10:08 AM on August 11
They're not hated by many outside the sport, but U of Iowa wrestling is deeply hated by practically everyone within it. Their success and sense of entitlement are intolerable to many. Whenever I've spoken with other wrestling fans--especially those from Pennsylvania, for some reason--it's obvious they just can't stand the Hawkeyes. Or their fans. (I'm a big fan ;-)
As for the list, yes, I've hated a lot of those squads. But has there ever been a list of the most loved teams of all time? Who would be on it?
posted by Uncle Toby at 05:46 PM on July 28
Now Magic is coming out and saying the same thing. Then again, he had the benefit of playing with Kareem and Worthy, who were the (at least) equal of Wade and Bosh, I think.
posted by Uncle Toby at 10:49 AM on July 21
I like how this played out, and it will be a staple of ESPN/SI/blog features on "unbreakable records" for a long, long time.
But I also like sudden-death situations, especially in American football. I love the tension of knowing with absolute certainty that it will not keep going on, that it will end, and the players have to perform NOW. In college football, when you team's season is on the line, it can drive the excitement in a stadium to an incredible pitch.
posted by Uncle Toby at 02:02 PM on June 24
Oh, wow. Amazing. I kept checking back throughout the day to see how it turned out. How incredibly strange to see that score. How these guys are still standing is beyond me. Their arms are going to fall off!
posted by Uncle Toby at 05:35 PM on June 23
When a sailor survives conditions like this, it just validates their competency level. No matter how many sailing trips you take every trip is a learning experience. Age is basically irrelevant and training, skill and experience are everything.
Or their luck level. Skill and experience might turn out to mean nothing, if the equipment fails, right?
For my part, the parents' and kid's motivation is completely irrelevant. I don't really care why they decided to put her in harm's way--which is what every sea voyage really is. For love of money or ocean or whatever: who cares?
They have obviously instilled character, disipline, and a work ethic in their children that few others can match.
Nobody's arguing with that. Because it's not relevant. The question is whether anyone here is demonstrating good judgement. Putting your kid on a boat and waving goodbye as they disappear over the horizon is more than just prima facie evidence of bad judgement.
Claiming they are negligent as parents couldn't be farther from the truth.
No--claiming they're responsible as parents is a lot farther. One of my most important jobs as a parent is to provide for my boys' growth and development, which is eminently possible without risking their lives. And impossible if they're dead.
posted by Uncle Toby at 05:11 PM on June 11
Agreed, Howard_T, about Missouri. They look like an afterthought, really.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:01 PM on June 10
That Zonal Marking article underscores my impression that I haven't the foggiest freakin' idea what I'm looking at when when I watch soccer. Maybe that's what it feels like when people unfamiliar with American football watch it for the first time--you suspect there's all kinds of nuanced stuff going on, but damned if you can track it.
That said, I like watching soccer more and more. I love the atmosphere, love the rolling clock, the obviously enormous effort, the way small increments matter--I'm really looking forward to it all coming together someday.
posted by Uncle Toby at 02:56 PM on June 10
Lifelong Iowa fan here. Yay for adding Nebraska, but keep Iowa State out of this, okay? The very idea of ISU in the Big Ten makes my skin crawl. Happily, I cannot imagine it's the remotest possibility. The Big Ten is ambitious, not desperate.
Division Alignment? Maybe this would work:
Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Purdue
Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State
Some geographic compromises there, I know, and a couple of traditional rivalries would be played less frequently. But I like it better than the east-west splits I've seen.
Fourteen seems cumbersome, but if we thinking big: adding NE, ND, and Pitt seems like best possible way to round out a new megaconference.
posted by Uncle Toby at 01:05 PM on June 10
Just heard Galarraga's comments on Sportscenter. He was very, very classy about it. Seemed like an incredibly nice guy.
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:11 AM on June 03
3:25 p.m. Long jump: Owens needed just one leap to improve the world record by more than a half-foot to 26 feet 8 inches. Only Bob Beamon's legendary 29-2 jump at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics has improved the long jump record by a greater distance. Beamon's altitude-aided record lasted 23 years. Owens' mark lasted 25. Seventy-three years later at the 2008 Olympics, Owens' 1935 jump would have placed seventh.
Just...wow. Usain Bolt is amazing. But Owens was...I'm at a loss.
posted by Uncle Toby at 06:22 PM on May 24
Just read the piece on Hobey...excellent. As an Iowan, I was brought up in the Cult of Nile Kinnick, who's certainly worthy of admiration. But this article gives me a context for understanding why so many still revere him--he was a kind of "salt-of-the-earth Hobey," an expression of a type.
posted by Uncle Toby at 03:31 PM on May 21
The more I read about Landis, and the more I hear his words, the less I like him. Also, he looks like a recovered tweeker.
posted by Uncle Toby at 11:27 AM on May 21
posted by Uncle Toby at 10:58 PM on May 19
My oldest kid is a very bright, very athletic 10-year-old boy. The idea that anyone his age could be ready in 3 years to make these kind of decisions seems crazy--CRAZY--to me. I don't care what Jordan Romero and his parents believe about his readiness for such an endeavor. The parents' actions amount to child endangerment.
posted by Uncle Toby at 04:18 PM on May 19
Can someone without a talent for stating the obvious please enlighten me ;-)
posted by Uncle Toby at 08:32 PM on May 18
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