MPs attack ministers’ lack of action on gender pay gap – BBC News

Image copyright PA

MPs on a select committee have attacked the government for failing to implement reforms aimed at eliminating the gender pay gap.

The Women and Equalities Committee said the government had failed to act on its recommendations on tackling the structural causes of wage inequality.

The government’s response was “inadequate” and “deeply disappointing”, the MPs said.

The government said “we are committed to tackling the gender pay gap.”

The Women and Equalities Committee published its report and 17 recommendations on tackling the pay gap in March last year.

It received the government’s response in January, but is only now publishing the details of that response, which it described as “inadequate”.

The committee has highlighted three areas where it wants the government to justify rejecting its recommendations.

For example, the MPs said all jobs should be available to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate a business case against doing so.

Image copyright PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

In response, the government said the right to request flexible working – which is already in place – “strikes a balance between giving employees the flexibility to combine work with other responsibilities and allowing employers to plan effectively”.

The committee also wanted a “more effective policy on shared parental leave”, with fathers getting three months well-paid paternal leave.

The government rejected that proposal, arguing that shared parental leave was “still a very new policy”. It also pointed out the additional cost of well-paid paternity leave.

The committee also recommended a “National Pathways into Work” scheme to help women over the age of 40 back into the labour market.

The government said it already provided “advice and support to help women over 40 through the National Careers Service” as well as a range of other assistance, including loans, a career review and training programmes.

‘Deeply disappointing’

Committee chair Maria Miller said: “Without effectively tackling the key issues of flexible working, sharing unpaid caring responsibilities, and supporting women aged over 40 back into the workforce, the gender pay gap will not be eliminated.

“We made practical, evidence-based recommendations to address these issues. They were widely supported by a range of stakeholders including businesses, academics, and unions.

“It is deeply disappointing that our recommendations have not been taken on board by Government,” she added.

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling the gender pay gap and our policies, which aim to balance the needs of employees and businesses while addressing this gap, are working.”

“We now have the lowest gender pay gap on record, around 60,000 people a year are taking advantage of flexible working arrangements and the introduction of Shared Parental Leave gives parents extra flexibility and we will continue to evaluate this as it beds in. We’re also supporting women over 40 in the workplace through the National Careers Service.

“But we know there’s more to do. That’s why we are requiring employers to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap for the first time from April and we are giving working parents of three and four year olds up to 30 hours of free childcare from September.”

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4chan: The Skeleton Key To The Rise Of Trump

1. Born from Something Awful

Around 2005 or so a strange link started showing up in my old webcomics referral logs. This new site I didnt understand. It was a bulletin board, but its system of navigation was opaque. Counter intuitively, you had to hit reply to read a thread. Moreover, the content was bizarre nonsense.

The site, if you hadnt guessed, was It was an offshoot of a different message board which I also knew from my referral logs, Something Awful, at the time, an online community of a few hundred nerds who liked comics, video games, and well, nerds things. But unlike boards with similar content, Something Awful skewed toward dark jokes. I had an account at Something Awful, which I used sometimes to post in threads about my comic.

4chan had been created by a 15-year-old Something Awful user named Christopher Poole (whose 4chan mod name was m00t). Poole had adapted a type of Japanese bulletin board software which was difficult to understand at first, but once learned, was far more fun to post in than the traditional American format used by S.A., as a result the site became popular very quickly.

These days, 4chan appears in the news almost weekly. This past week, there were riots at Berkeley in the wake of the scheduled lecture by their most prominent supporter, Milo Yiannopoulos. The week before that neo-Nazi Richard Spencer pointed to his 4chan inspired Pepe the Frog pin, about to explain the significance when an anti-fascist protester punched him in the face. The week before that, 4chan claimed (falsely) it had fabricated the so called Trump Kompromat. And the week before that, in the wake of the fire at Ghost Ship, 4chan decided to make war on liberal safe spaces and DIY venues across the country.

How did we get here? What is 4chan exactly? And how did a website about anime become the avant garde of the far right? Mixed up with fascist movements, international intrigue, and Trump iconography? How do we interpret it all?

At the very beginning, 4chan met once a year in only one place in the world: Baltimore, Maryland at the anime convention, Otakon. As a nerdy teen growing up in Baltimore in the 90s, I had wandered into Otakon much like I had later wandered into 4chan, just when it was starting. I also attended Otakon in the mid-aughts when 4chan met there, likewise to promote my webcomic.

As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain.

This essay is an attempt to untangle the threads of 4chan and the far right.

2. Anon Steps Out to Fight Lord Xenu

In the beginning I didnt pay all that much attention 4chan. I knew they were a group of teen anime fans who met to party awkwardly like so many other teens at nerd-themed conventions. But around 2008 I realized I wanted to do a story on them. Their user base had grown exponentially and it was obvious they were about to explode into the mainstream. (Much to the dismay of its millions of users, who tried in vain desperation to keep it a secret.)

The key to 4chans popularity (and what distinguished it from its progenitor Something Awful) was the Japanese bulletin board Poole had adapted for English use. People had so much fun using it, threads became ephemeral, growing wildly within seconds, then disappearing minutes later, pushed out of the way and into oblivion by new threads and so forth ad infinitum 24/7. Perhaps the most appealing part for users was that you didnt have to make an account. The software displayed a default name for posters who didnt sign up which was everyone. On all those millions upon millions of posts the authors name was simply, Anonymous. Users began referring to each other by that name. Hi Anon here, posts would begin. And so Anonymous was born.

Now 4chan is often explained as being responsible for some early popular memes like rickrolling. But this is an understatement. 4chan invented the meme as we use it today. At the time, one of the few places you saw memes was there. The white Impact font with the black outlines, that was them (via S.A.). Terms like win and epic and fail were all created or popularized on 4chan, used there for years before they became a ubiquitous part of the culture. The very method of how gifs and images are interspersed with dialogue in Slack or now iMessage or wherever is deeply 4chanian. In other words, the site left a profound impression on how we as a culture behave and interact.

In 2008, I wrote the sites teenage founder, Poole, whose contact was at the top of the site, asking for an interview. He never wrote back. Then I saw 4chan was meeting, not in Baltimore, but a few blocks from my apartment in New York, in fact, in many cities around the world. They had planned to protest the church of Scientology.

Why this group of nerdy boys had pivoted from meeting at my local anime convention and goofing off to protesting Scientology is an interesting question.

To answer it, we must look a little closer at 4chans system of values. To those with a passing knowledge of 4chan its strange to think of it having a value system. And indeed it did try its mightiest to be nihilistic, to hate, to deny, to shrug, to laugh off everything as a joke like all teenage boys do (the board was mostly young men). This effort was of course impossible. The attempts to be random, like a Rorschach test, painted a portrait of exactly who they were, the voids filled in with their identity, their interests, their tastes. The result was that 4chan had a culture as complex as any other society of millions of people, anonymous or no. There were things it loved, things it hated, ways of being and acting that met with approval and disapproval in the group.

In fact, it codified its value system in a series of rules. Like everything it did, these were constructed piecemeal from pop culture. Rule #1 was taken from Fight Clubs Rule # 1, Dont talk about 4chan. All the rules had a Lord of the Flies vibe to them, that is to say, they were very obviously created by a bullying and anarchic society of adolescent boys or at least, men with the mindset of boys particularly lonely, sex starved man-boys, who according to their own frequent jokes about the subject, lived in their parents basement. (Poole himself lived in his parents basement well after the initial success of the the site.) They were obsessed with Japanese culture and, naturally enough, there was already a term for people like them in Japan, hikikomori meaning pulling inward, or being confined teens and adults who withdrew from society into fantasy worlds constructed by anime, video games, and now the internet. And of course, its relevant to note here the themes of Fight Club itself, a film about a male collective who regains their masculinity through extreme acts after it has been debased by modern corporate culture.

Also like adolescent boys, 4chan users were deeply sensitive and guarded. They disguised their own sensitivity (namely, their fear that they would be, forever alone) by extreme insensitivity. The rules, like everything else, were always half in jest. Everything had to be a done with at least a twinkle of winking irony. This was an escape route, a way of never having to admit to your peers that you were in fact expressing something from your heart, in other words that you were indeed vulnerable. No matter what a user did or said, he could always say it was for the lulz (lols). Like (by comparison the tame and sophisticated precursor) Something Awful board that spawned it, 4chan defined itself by being insensitive to suffering in that way only people who have never really suffered can that is to say, young people, mostly young men, protected by a cloak of anonymity. The accepted standard was a sort of libertarian free speech banner, in which isolated man-boys asserted their right to do or say anything no matter someone elses feelings. This meant generally posting pornography, swastikas, racial slurs, and content that reveled in harm to other people.

Before 4chans dispute with Scientology it had banded together for practical jokes they had called raids. The board would flood particular chat rooms or online networks. Thousands of 4chan users would appear in the virtual childs world Habbo Hotel to cause chaos, for no other reason than that it was an amusing way to pass their near limitless idle time (or as they would phrase it, for the lulz).

Durings the raids, they would enforce Rule 1, and conceal the very fact of 4chan. An ongoing joke was to claim they were from a rival site, The Scientology protest was also in large part a raid. Videos were made directed at Scientology pretending Anonymous was a shadowy and powerful cabal, something akin to Hydra from Marvel comic books. Since no one knew who Anonymous was at the time, they could pretend they were anything. This meant that there was another more serious component in the protest. The part that wasnt a joke was an experiment in political power. What could they do with their numbers? Could they actually destroy Scientology? If not, how far could they get? There wasnt a consensus of course. Many on 4chan expressed indignation and rage at the protests. They were afraid that Rule #1 would be broken; 4chan would be outed and as a consequence the only community in which they had found acceptance would disappear.

The morning of the protest was a brutally cold Saturday. My roommate and I, bleary-eyed, boarded the subway and took it two stops to Times Square. We had a vague feeling we were being trolled.

No way these nerds are leaving their parents basements my roommate grumbled as we ascended up the NQR steps. Times Square was abandoned. Not even the tourists were out. All you could see was the trash billowing about on the streets. Then we turned the corner on to 46th street and to our astonishment several hundred people were screaming and shouting, cordoned off in front of the Scientology building. Anonymous. Every one. They all wore masks, mostly Guy Fawkes masks, inspired by the Wachowski sisters adaptation of a comic book. This was, in comic book parlance, the masks first appearance (IRL). I interviewed the perplexed Scientologist standing between the columns of his temple. He was wearing a gleaming silver suit, the threads iridescent. He looked horrified and perplexed.

These are terrorists, he insisted, of course having no idea who they were, which was message board users. This is a terrorist organization. And we are religion protected by the First Amendment. Then he handed me a packet, surprisingly thick, full of glossy pamphlets about Scientology, like something you might get from a college admissions office.

I interviewed a pimply faced boy, his Guy Fawkes mask pulled up over long, curly, orange locks.

How was this protest organized? I asked.

It was organized on a site called he answered.

Is the protest a joke or serious?

Its serious business. he replied. Serious business was a meme, a joke on 4chan. And so it went down the line, anonymous protestors, all 4chan users, following Rule #1, trying to conceal 4chan from me, and obscure the source of the joke, just like a real life raid into a chatroom, hiding their motivations behind a mirrored chamber of repeated memes. Habbo Hotel by way of Lord Xenu. Xenu was Scientologys ultimate revelatory secret, the intergalactic space ruler who seeded earth in the primeval past. So Anon chanted his name as a meme. It was their only real political statement: all information was free now that we had the internet. Scientology acolytes the same age, handing out copies of Dianetics, stopped up their ears.

When the protest broke up (it was scheduled to end at noon), a nerd dressed like Neo from The Matrix in a long black duster shouted, Now back to our parents basements! and the whole crowd laughed.

Dale Beran
4chans first day out The Scientology protests of 2008 off Broadway

3. New Horizons

The peculiar thing about the Scientology protest was how little 4chan cared about Scientology. The original cause of the dispute had to do with 4chans access to lulz on the internet. Scientology had removed a funny video featuring Tom Cruise rambling incoherently about Scientology. 4chan believed this had interfered with their unlimited right to post anything (and keep it) on the internet. There was a moral component to their protest, but it was tangential at best.

When, several years later, Occupy Wall Street came to Zuccotti Park, it too only tangentially touched upon 4chans political interests and complaints. 4chan was libertarian. During the 2008 presidential election, it supported Ron Paul (replacing its traditional greeting sup /b/ with ron paul /b/). 4chan wanted the right to do as it pleased and not much else. Where large organized systems like corporations, the government, or Scientology, interfered with that right, they opposed them. Anonymous attacked corporations like Paypal and American Express, not because of their corporateness, but because they had frozen the assets of Julian Assange who had similar beliefs about the freedom to distribute information on the internet.

At Occupy Wall Street, 4channers were a distinct minority. Now and again someone in a Guy Fawkes mask would voice libertarian ideas among a group of radical leftists discussing socialism.

However, despite not being on the left, Anonymous is often conflated or confused with the leftist Occupy movement. For example, in the T.V. series Mr. Robot, a group of clandestine anonymous hackers (F Society) releases a video that is clearly derived from 4chans/Anonymous video for the Scientology protests. The hackers in Mr. Robot, who wear masks similar to those of 4chans Guy Fawkes mask, want to destroy the corporate hegemony and free everyone from their debt, student or otherwise. That is to say, they have the agenda of Occupy Wall Street.

The absurdity here shouldnt go without note. Emulating fiction from T.V. and comic books, 4chan forum go-ers pretended to be an international cabal of powerful hackers. Then almost a decade later, a T.V. show about a fictional cabal of powerful hackers copies their video, closing the loop.

An image saved off 4chan in February of 2011 by me the lurking author

By the end of 2011, 4chan had finally been outed. Subsequently, the group splintered in a sense; anyone could and did pick up the banner of Anonymous. Hackers labeling themselves as such pursued different agendas, some anti-corporate, some truly noble like helping convict the Steubenville rapists. But philanthropic and anti-corporate hacking was not at the heart of what 4chan was about. It had started and always was in some way about the lulz, using the computer for entertainment, for passing the time. Perhaps there was a moment when it could have been something else, a shining possibility that emerged on the horizon in one of those magical revolutionary moments in which all things are possible, like Occupy Wall Street itself. But, it was not to be. At least, not yet.

4chan was now spread along a network of websites and IRC channels of which was one. The press often lamented how, like Occupy Wall Street, they could not define Anonymous. No one person represented it. But this same reasoning could also be used to make the opposite point. If no definition existed for Anonymous, why were millions of people identifying as one of the group? Just because the borders were as amorphous as a cloud, didnt mean it wasnt as large or real as one. It was still united by a common culture and set of values, fuzzy around the edges, but solid at the core. And what was this solid core that defined it? The same thing it had always been.

It was still a group of hikikomori a group of primarily young males who spent a lot of the time at the computer, so much so they had retreated into virtual worlds of games, T.V., and now the networks of the internet. This was where most or all of their interaction, social or otherwise took place. The real world, by contrast, above their mothers basements, was a place they did not succeed, perhaps a place they did not fundamentally understand.

An early 4chan meme made from a screenshot of 4chan

This, of course, did not describe everyone, but it was the bulk of the bell curve. Sometimes, while meeting virtually to commiserate about the problem, 4chan sought to fix it. For example, 4chan created a /fit/ board, teaching Anons how to exercise and groom themselves. The advice was so basic, it was endearing. (You have to shower once a day etc.) There were professionals and successful people on the board who used it only for amusement. And there were hackers who did indeed use their knowledge of virtual worlds to effect substantive change in the real one. But the core of the culture remained more or less unchanged. It was a culture that celebrated failure that from the very beginning encouraged anyone who posted to become an hero (their term for killing themselves, and sometimes others in the bargain). And 4chans next big effort reflected that. In fact, it was such a big deal for them because, after all their groping for a prank that might become a cause 4chan cared about, they finally hit on one that expressed their strange, unique complaints.

4. Gamergate: Anon Defends his Safe Spaces

Its difficult to recall what started Gamergate because, like much of 4chan-style content, it never made sense on the surface. The mind tends to discard such things as nonsense. Nonetheless, there was a beginning. In 2014, a jilted lover claimed his ex-girlfriend had been unfaithful to him. He tried to prove to the internet that he was wronged in an embarrassing and incoherent blog post. The target of his post, his ex, happened to be a female game developer.

Soon 4chan and other like minded men who felt wronged by women, took up the rallying cry. The effort somehow moved from lurid interest in a particular womans sex life to a critique of video games. Gamergaters believed that SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) were adding unwanted elements into their video games, namely things which promoted gender equality.

Strangely enough, they believed this was happening not because video game creators and the video game press were interested in making and reviewing games that dealt with these issues, but because there was a grand conspiracy perpetrated by a few activists to change video games.

While this whirling connective tissue of nonsense doesnt seem to make much sense at first glance (and indeed, much of the game-making community and the press in general struggled to understand it). It makes perfect sense if we look at this New York Times story about how more than 16 percent of men in the nation are unemployed.

Again, here we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and videos games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter. By consequence of their defeat, the distant, abstract concept of women in the flesh makes them feel humiliated and rejected. Yet, in the one space they feel they can escape the realities of this, the world of the video game, here (to them, it seems) women want to assert their presence and power.

If this sounds hard to believe, take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the Technology Editor at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a technology editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. Rather the tech here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue the thing that unites them their failure and powerlessness literally embodied (to them) by women.

Yiannopoulos rambling arguments against feminism, are not arguments at all, as much as pep talks, ways of making these dis-empowered men feel empowered by discarding the symbol of their failure women. As an openly gay man, he argues that men no longer need be interested in women, that they can and should walk away from the female sex en masse. For example in a long incoherent set of bullet points on feminism he states:

The rise of feminism has fatally coincided with the rise of video games, internet porn, and, sometime in the near future, sex robots. With all these options available, and the growing perils of real-world relationships, men are simply walking away.

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.

Gamergate at last (unlike Habbo Hotel, Scientology, Paypal, or Occupy Wall Street) was a raid that mattered, that wasnt just a fun lark to pass the time or a winking joke. Here was another issue (besides let me do what I want on the internet all the time) that spoke to the bulk of 4chan users.

Anon was going to get SJWs (ie. empowered women) out of their safe spaces video games the place from which they retreated from women by indulging in fantasies in which they were in control (that is to say, ones which demeaned women).

However, their efforts failed, not so much for lack of trying (though theres that, too) but because the campaign itself was a fantasy. Gamergate was, quite poetically, defined by the campaigners poor-reality testing. The people carrying it out did not interact with real life all that much, only the virtual escapist worlds of video games, message boards, and anime.

And thus the campaign proceeded like the video game it wasnt. Menus of target lists were drawn up, their enemies (mostly women they wanted to harrass) labelled warriors. 4chan users pretended a furious amount of mouse clicking and virtual action would somehow translate into a concrete reward appearing in their computer screens, like it does, say, in World of Warcraft.

Namely, gamergaters believed that online sleuthing would uncover a tangible conspiracy about how game creators colluded to further a Social Justice Warrior agenda. Among many others, they hacked the Skype account of the indie game developer I was working for at the time, presumably reading our conversations about the game we were making looking for the moment when we uttered now to further the secret SJW agenda. What they found instead was my boss patiently explaining to me the best ways to make a video game. One of the cardinal rules was that every action the user takes must have a carefully calibrated system of escalating rewards. Complete a level, get a cut scene. Video games in this sense, are meticulously constructed to make sure the user is entertained at every moment through a challenge-reward system.

All that work cracking Skype accounts with wordlists did not yield the tangible reward of evidence of a cabal. The real world behaves differently than a video game. There were shades of grey. It disappointed. What you did and what you got for your efforts were muddled. It was more challenging than the safe spaces of a video game, carefully crafted to accommodate gamers and make them feel well, the exact opposite of how they felt interacting in the real world effective. In the fantasy world of the game, actions achieved ends.

It was almost as if all these disaffected young men were waiting for a figure to come along who, having achieved nothing in his life, pretended as though he had achieved everything, who by using the tools of fantasy, could transmute their loserdom (in 4chan parlance, their fail), into win.

5. Trump: the Loser who Won

Another vintage 4chan meme from the authors personal collection

In Bukowskis novel Factotum, the main character, Hank Chinaski, drifts through various demeaning blue-collar jobs until he ends up working the stockroom of an autoparts store. The job is no better than any of the others, except for one important difference: It ends early enough for Chinaski and another worker, Manny, to race to the track for the last bet of the day. Soon the other workers in the warehouse hear of the scheme and ask Hank to put down their bets, too.

At first Hank objects. He doesnt have time to make their petty bets before the track closes. But Manny has a different idea.

We dont bet their money, we keep their money. he tells Hank.

Suppose they win? Hank asks.

They wont win. They always pick the wrong horse. They have a way of always picking the wrong horse.

Suppose they bet our horse?

Then we know weve got the wrong horse.

Soon Chinaski and Manny are flush with money, not from working for the $1.25 an hour at the warehouse or even making smart bets themselves, but from taking the money of the other workers and not betting it. That is after all, why those same men handing over their bets work in the factory; they are defined by their bad decisions, by the capacity for always getting a bad deal. Their wages and their bets are both examples of the same thing.

Trump, of course, has made his fortune in a similar manner, with casinos, correspondence courses, and pageants, swindling money out of aspiring-millionaire blue collar workers, selling them not a bill of goods, but the hope of a bill of goods, the glitz and glamour of success, to people who dont win, or in Trumps parlance, dont win anymore. As if once, in the mythic past he invented, they did once and soon will again, since at the heart of what he promised was, youll win so much youll get sick of winning. In other words, if we are to understand Trump supporters, we can view them at the core as losers people who never ever bet on the right horse Trump, of course, being the signal example, the man obsessed with losers who, seemingly was going to be remembered as one of the biggest losers in history until he won.

The older generation of Trump supporters the press often focuses on, the so called forgotten white working class, are in this sense easier to explain since they fit into the schema of a 1950s-style electorate. Like the factory workers in Factotum, the baby boomers were promised pensions and prosperity, but received instead simply the promises. Here the narrative is simple. The workers were promised something and someone (the politicians? the economy? the system itself?) never delivered. Their horse never came in.

This telling of the story ignores the fact that, as Trump often points out, it was a bad deal. The real story is not that the promise was never fulfilled. Manny and Hanks deal with the workers was the same as the factorys deal with them: the empty promise was the bargain. The real story is not that the horse didnt come in, its that the bet was never placed.

In the third presidential debate, Hillary evoked her conservative father as a way of appealing to the electorate, My father was a small-businessman. she said. He worked really hard And so what I believe is the more we can do the middle class, the more we can invest in you

No one noted how wildly outdated Clintons picture of the average voter was (her father, a suburban business man in the 50s) because we are used to every politician holding up the same faded 65 year old snapshot anytime he or she regards the American electorate. Just like how images of Christmas on Coke bottles and catalogs are forever stuck in the 30s and 40s, so we expect politics to be eternally frozen in the 1950s. That is to say, as a nation still (somehow!) defined by its baby boomers, we understand this era as the baseline for understanding ourselves, considering it, where we are from.

But what does the American electorate look like if we put down the snapshot? Peel away how we perceive ourselves from what we actually are? How has that image of a 1950s business man who owns his own home in the suburbs changed after decades of declines in wages, middle classdom, and home ownership?

To younger generations who never had such jobs, who had only the mythology of such jobs (rather a whimsical snapshot of the 1950s frozen in time by Americas ideology) this part of the narrative is clear. America, and perhaps existence itself is a cascade of empty promises and advertisements that is to say, fantasy worlds, expectations that will never be realized IRL, but perhaps consumed briefly in small snatches of commodified pleasure.

Thus these Trump supporters hold a different sort of ideology, not one of when will my horse come in, but a trolling self-effacing, I know my horse will never come in. That is to say, younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets only his own because, after all, its plain as day there was never any other option.

In this sense, Trumps incompetent, variable, and ridiculous behavior is the central pillar upon which his younger support rests.

Such an idea one of utter contemptuous despair is embodied in one image more than any other, one storied personage who has become a(n) hero to millions, the voice of a generation.

I am speaking, of course, of Pepe the Frog.

6. Trump the Frog

When Hillarys campaign explained that Trumps use of silly cartoon frog Pepe was a symbol of hate, it seemed to be yet another freakish oddity in a parade of horribles that was campaign 2016. Much of the attention at the time was focused on the question of: well, was he? Efforts to save Pepe got underway. Journalists, still falling for the same tricks of 2006, cited anonymous (that is to say, from 4chan) sources claiming they had invented the idea as a prank.

But there was little talk of why Pepe of all things? Was Pepe indeed meaningless? Another flotsam of senseless meme nonsense flung out of the dumpster fire of team Trump?

Pepe, like so many memes, was born on the random boards of 4chans /b/ (b for random) circa 2007, picked out of a webcomic by Matt Furie to become a macro. But why was he picked? We know now that 4chans actions are neither meaningless, random, or empty because they are labelled a prank.

Viewed through the lens of the people first posting him, Pepe makes nothing but sense. The original comic panels from which Pepe is excerpted feature him getting caught peeing with his pants pulled all the way down, his ass hanging out. Surprisingly, he is unashamed of this, feels good man he tells his roommate.

The grotesque, frowning, sleepy eyed, out of shape, swamp dweller, peeing with his pants pulled down because-it-feels-good-man frog is an ideology, one which steers into the skid of its own patheticness. Pepe symbolizes embracing your loserdom, owning it. That is to say, it is what all the millions of forum-goers of 4chan met to commune about. It is, in other words, a value system, one reveling in deplorableness and being pridefully dispossessed. It is a culture of hopelessness, of knowing the system is rigged. But instead of fight the response is flight, knowing youre trapped in your circumstances is cause to celebrate. For these young men, voting Trump is not a solution, but a new spiteful prank.

We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is from an objective standpoint comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trumps farcical nature didnt seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset.

All the lefts mockery of Trump served to reinforce his message as not only an outsider, but as an expression of rage, despair, and ultimate pathetic Pepe-style hopelessness.

4chan value system, like Trumps ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: fail and win, alpha males and beta cucks. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventors inexperience with any sort of IRL romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.

Trump the loser, the outsider, the hot mess, the pathetic joke, embodies this duality. Trump represents both the alpha and the beta. He is a successful person who, as the left often notes, is also the exact opposite a grotesque loser, sensitive and prideful about his outsider status, ready at the drop of a hat to go on the attack, self-obsessed, selfish, abrogating, unquestioning of his own mansplaining and spreading, so insecure he must assault women. In other words, to paraphrase Truman Capote, he is someone with his nose pressed so hard up against the glass he looks ridiculous. And for this reason, (because he knows he is substanceless) he must constantly re-affirm his own ego. Or as Errol Morris put it, quoting Borges, he is a labyrinth with no center.

But, what the left doesnt realize is, this is not a problem for Trumps supporters, rather, the reason why they support him.

Trump supporters voted for the con-man, the labyrinth with no center, because the labyrinth with no center is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them. A labyrinth with no center is a perfect description of their mothers basement with a terminal to an endless array of escapist fantasy worlds.

Trumps bizarre, inconstant, incompetent, embarrassing, ridiculous behavior what the left (naturally) perceives as his weaknesses are to his supporters his strengths.

In other words, Trump is 4chan.

Trump is steering into the skid embodied.

Trump is Pepe.

Trump is loserdom embraced.

Trump is the loser who has won, the pathetic little frog on the big strong body.

Trumps ventures of course, represent this fantasy: this hope that the working man, against the odds dictated by his knowledge, experience, or hard work will one day strike it rich Trump University, late night real estate schemes, the casinos. Trump himself, who inherited his wealth, represents the classic lucky sap.

But Trump also equally represents the knowledge that all of that is a lie, a scam thats much older than you are, a fantasy that we can dwell in though it will never become true, like a video game.

Trump, in other words, is a way of owning and celebrating being taken advantage of.

Trump embodies buying the losing bet that will never be placed.

He is both despair and cruel arrogant dismissal, the fantasy of winning and the pain of losing mingled into one potion.

For this reason, the left should stop expecting Trumps supporters to be upset when he doesnt fulfill his promises.

Support for Trump is an acknowledgement that the promise is empty.

He is both the promise (the labyrinth, the alpha) and the empty center (the promise betrayed, the beta), in a sublime, hilarious, combination that perfectly reflects the worldview of his supporters.

In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:

2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.

3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.

7. The Un-rarest Pepes of Them All

As I said when I began this essay, because I work in comics, video games, and animation, Ive watched 4chan grow from a group of people who could fit inside a single room to a worldwide collective.

But I should also note theres another reason I was there from the beginning. Its because, like so many young writers, journalists, and artists that are now despised by 4chan, Im an inch away from their demographic.

When my father died after I left college in 2004, the last of my familys wealth evaporated. And ever since then, I have lived well below the poverty line. (Even now, though I work as a Professor, this is true). But I had the benefit of an education.

It was not too difficult for me to imagine an alternate version of myself that didnt happen to have that. Like the men in those studies, I drifted unemployed and unemployable for many years in my 20s. Often when I did have a job, I quit, realizing that, in fact, laboring behind the counter in the service economy for minimum wage paid less than sitting at home idle in front of my PC, waiting for a gig in the gig economy, posting and selling comics, or trading virtual items in online games.

And I knew, I was on balance, luckier than most. My private school and private college education was the deviation from the norm. My chances were better than the majority of people my age. Yet here I was stone broke. All I owned (and still own) is my college debt. So it wasnt a surprise there were a teeming mass of people out there who knew with fatalistic certainty that there was no way out. Why not then retreat into your parents basements? And instead of despairing over trying and failing, celebrate not-trying? Celebrate retreating into the fantasy worlds of the computer. Steer into the skid Pepe style. Own it. And why wouldnt they retreat to a place like 4chan? To let their resentment and failures curdle into something solid?

8. 4chan vs.Gender

In a previous essay about contemporary counter-culture, I mentioned Barbara Ehrenreichs The Hearts of Men, a feminist critique that discusses how gender roles bind and control men. Ehrenreich writes about how, in post-war hyper-capitalist 1950s America (the baseline America to which both Trump and Hillary harken back) a new role was invented for men. A mans wage and his Playboy bachelor pad linked his earning potential to his role as a ladies man. This replaced a previous, more conservative ideology in which your earning potential meant you were able to support a wife and children. These two schemes, Ehrenreich maintained, are still the dominant ideas that control mens behavior in the U.S.

As she pointed out, only hipsters managed to break and destroy this schema the first and most famous ones being the wife-leaving beats, whose sexual adventures both gay and straight were totally disconnected from their earning potential and all societal expectations. They were dead broke (Dharma) bums, who much to the frustration of the pro-capitalist Hefner-style playboys, got laid all the time despite being stone broke and sometimes gay to boot. In other words, their enjoyment of life and sex was decoupled from the ideological demands of capitalism.

Recall the central themes of Gamergate: women represent Anons beta failure in capitalism. Anons have achieved neither of these ideological ideals; they are not playboys with bachelor pads or wage earners with families. If the U.S. were in fact what it pretended to be, that is to say, the best way to become either the playboy or the family man, Anon would not exist. But it is this gap between ideological expectation and cruel reality which created him. Instead, Anon resides in the very opposite of bachelor pads: his mothers basement. We learned from the New Yorker profile of the alt-right leader Mike Cernovich, that he broadcasts from his girlfriends parents house, letting his male viewers believe the pool in the background of his webcasts is his, not theirs.

Video games were Anons way to retreat from this painful reminder of his failure, a failure which was literally embodied by women whose physical attainment is the end goal of both ideologies. Gamergate was a pained cry, that here too, even unto their escapist fantasies, empowered women, like the mythological furies, were hounding them.

We can see now why several weeks ago 4chan went to war with artists and their safe spaces, trying to shut down music and arts venues across the country. Whats striking is how close the populations of 4chan and those who wanted to shut down the safe spaces are. The artists themselves are young people on the fringes of the economy who are also immersed in romantic fantasy. The main difference is that the artists have learned different ways to cope with the same problem. Instead of residing in their mothers basements, they created ways to live together cheaply in warehouse spaces.

By contrasting 4chan with their self-proclaimed enemy, their counter-culture counterparts, we can see that, though demographically they are so similar, the real difference is introduced here at the thorny of issue of the girlfriend. 4chans self-described beta males are trapped in this ideology, hating their counterparts whose key difference is a willingness, like the beatniks of old, to slough off the gender binary and live how they please.

But rather than take this as reason to be ever more contemptuous of Anons and their misogyny, the left should regard Anon/the deplorables as a failure on its part, a terrific mangling of the lefts own arguments that has resulted in alienating the very group of people who could be the most helped by their ideas, if not the most convinced.

To the deplorables, whose central complaint is one of masculine frailty, pride, and failure to deny their identities as men is to deny their complaint. They are a group who define themselves by their powerlessness, by being trapped into defeat. But if they are to accept the lefts viewpoint, they must accept that the problem at core of their being is all in their heads. That is to say, the lefts viewpoint of sexual-difference-as-illusion is exactly what they dont want to hear that they have cornered themselves into their mothers basements.

The left does more than simply declare their opposing viewpoint wrong, the radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion denies their viewpoint an existence. To the left, a complaint stemming from being a man is null space, lying outside the realm of what it will acknowledge as true.

David Cassidy Reveals He’s Living With Dementia

Former Partridge Family star David Cassidy says hes living with dementia.

The 66-year-old opened up to People magazine about his diagnosis, telling the magazine the disease runs in his family, as his grandfather and mother had also been diagnosed with dementia.

I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming, he told People.

Cassidys decision to go public with his diagnosis follows aperformance on Saturday night in Agoura, California,where he slurred his words, forgot the lyrics to his songs, hit himself in the face with a microphone and fell backwards off stage.

Cassidy announced earlier this month that he was retiring after 50 years in show business. He explained to People that he made the decision to retire so he could concentrate on himself and his health.

I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how Ive been without any distractions, he said. I want to love. I want to enjoy life.

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5 dead after small plane crashes into Melbourne shopping center

(CNN)A small chartered plane with five people aboard crashed into a shopping center shortly after takeoff from Melbourne’s Essendon airport Tuesday morning, Victoria police said.

All five people on board were killed in the crash, according to police.
“It was a catastrophic plane crash, that has taken a number of lives. But certainly if we look at the circumstances, we’ve been very lucky today depending on the time of day and who was around,” Stephen Leane, Assistant Commissioner Victoria Police said.
    The DFO shopping center was not open for business when the plane went down around 9 a.m., officials said.
    Victoria Minister for Police Lisa Neville told reporters on the scene that details regarding the cause of the crash “are still being confirmed by police and fire services,” CNN affiliate Seven Network reported.


    All flights in and out of Essendon, a smaller airport that is separate from Melbourne Airport, were temporarily suspended. Police asked people to avoid the area and said some portions of the Tullamarine Freeway would remain closed due to scattered debris from the crash.
    Aerial pictures from Seven Network showed rescue workers on the scene, as well as damage to the roof and infrastructure of the shopping center.

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    2 Tragedies Intersected To Give This Man A Face Transplant And The Story That Unfolded Is Powerful

    In June, the Mayo Clinic performed its first face transplant.

    The medical feat, which is still a relatively uncommon procedure, was punctuated by the heartbreaking stories of two young men under very similar circumstances one ending with a damaged face, the other in a death.

    Here’s how the decade-long story unfolded.

    In 2006 at the age of 21, Andy Sandness attempted suicide. A shot to his chin destroyed most of his face, but he survived. Once he was stable, doctors at the Mayo Clinic tried to repair his face as best they could, but there wasn’t much they could do about his missing jaw, nose, and teeth.

    Sandness eventually went home to Wyoming where he kept busy at his job. But in 2012, the Mayo Clinic brought up the idea of a face transplant. The procedure would be complicated, and there would be many risks involved.

    But after some research, Sandness was still convinced it was the right call. “When you look like I looked and you function like I functioned, every little bit of hope that you have, you just jump on it,” Sandness told the AP. “This was the surgery that was going to take me back to normal.”

    Getting the go-ahead for the procedure took some time and a whole lot of preparation. Over the next three years, doctors at the Mayo Clinic spent 50 Saturdays training for the procedure.

    Here’s a video recapping the events that led to the surgery.

    In January 2016, Sandness was added to the organ donor list, not expecting to hear anything for a few years. But only five months later, he got the call that there was a match. A 21-year-old man named Calen Rudy Ross had shot himself in the head, and he was an organ donor. After some hesitation, his wife Lilly Ross, who was pregnant at the time, consented to the face transplant. She said her reason was that she said yes was so she could show their son how his dad helped somebody.

    The entire process took 56 hours and 60 staff members. The team spent a full day alone gathering all the bone, muscles, and skin from the donor. The rest of the time was spent rebuilding the face onto Sandness’s from the eyes down.

    Over 32 hours, the team was able to transplant the nose, cheeks, mouth, teeth, lips, jaw, and chin onto Sandness.

    Sandness wasn’t allowed to see his reflection until three weeks after the procedure. When he finally did, he was overwhelmed. “Once you lose something that youve had forever, you know what its like not to have it,” he told the AP. “And once you get a second chance to have it back, you never forget it.”

    The moment Sandness realized his face finally looked normal came three months after the procedure. He was in an elevator, and a little boy glanced up at him without being startled, something that had never happened before the surgery.

    In the time since the procedure, Sandness has also regained the ability to smell, breathe, and eat as he could before the transplant. For now, he’s enjoying being able to blend into the crowd.

    All images credit: Mayo Clinic

    Read the original article on Business insider.Follow us onFacebookandTwitter. Copyright 2017.

    Read next on Business Insider:An anesthesiologist explains the biggest misconceptions about going under the knife

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    That ‘Guilty’ Look That Your Dog Is Giving You Isn’t Actually Guilt They’re Scared

    Every dog owner knows the telltale look of a dog who did something it wasn’t supposed to do.

    Maybe she pooped on the floor. Maybe she chewed through your favorite couch cushion, or the carpet on the stairs.

    You know she did something she shouldn’t have done and, seemingly, she does too. Since you’re a human being, you see that look and ascribe a common human emotion to it: guilt.

    All the logic lines up: Your dog was left alone, did something they weren’t supposed to do (that they know better than to do), and when they’re called on it, their face says it all. Perhaps you’re already saying “No! Bad dog! Bad dog!” or some variation thereof.

    The truth is, despite your logical summation, the dog isn’t feeling guilt. Instead, they’re expressing a much more common, less complex emotion: fear.


    Don’t just take my word for it: That assertion is based on a 2009 study conducted by dog cognition scientist Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, author of 2009’s “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” and 2016’s “Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell.”

    Dr. Horowitz’s 2009 study, “Disambiguating the ‘guilty look’: salient prompts to a familiar dog behavior,” specifically focuses on the concept of how humans interpret dog emotions through the scope of human emotion. More simply: Humans tend to misattribute dog emotions based on human emotions. The “guilty” look is a prime example of this.

    “I look at a dog showing the guilty look and it feels guilty to me. It does! We’re kind of wired to see it this way, so it’s nobody’s fault,” Dr. Horowitz told me in a recent interview.

    The look is distinct: The dog cowers, showing the whites of its eyes while looking up at you. Maybe it pins its ears back to its head, yawns, or licks the air. These are all characteristic signs of fear in a dog signs that us humans tend to misattribute as guilt.


    Horowitz’s 2009 study is a clear demonstration of how humans tend to anthropomorphize their dogs. Here’s how the study went, and what it revealed, based on the abstract:

    • “Trials varied the opportunity for dogs to disobey an owner’s command to not eat a desirable treat while the owner was out of the room, and varied the owners’ knowledge of what their dogs did in their absence.”
    • “The results revealed no difference in behaviors associated with the guilty look. By contrast, more such behaviors were seen in trials when owners scolded their dogs. The effect of scolding was more pronounced when the dogs were obedient, not disobedient.”
    • “These results indicate that a better description of the so-called guilty look is that it is a response to owner cues, rather than that it shows an appreciation of a misdeed.”

    To put that a bit more succinctly, the study found that dogs demonstrating a “guilty” look were actually demonstrating fear of scolding (“owner cues”) rather than guilt (“an appreciation of a misdeed”).

    So, do dogs experience guilt? Maybe, maybe not.

    The website “Dog Shaming” is dedicated to ascribing guilt to our canine cohorts.

    “It seems unlikely that they have the same types of thinking about thinking that we do, because of their really different brains, but in most ways dogs brains are more similar to ours than dissimilar,” Dr. Horowitz told me.

    That first bit is especially important the concept of “thinking about thinking,” sometimes known as “executive function” because it means dogs aren’t likely to reflect on their past actions and decide they’ve done something wrong.

    “There is some work showing that some animals are planning for the future and remember specific episodes in the past,” Horowitz said. “With dogs, there’s not as much evidence yet. Which isn’t to say that they don’t, but it’s to say that it’s really hard to design experiments around it.”

    Dogs have memories, of course, but thinking about those memories in the same way human memories work is likely wrong.

    “They’re not remembering it in language,” Horowitz said. “They don’t talk about it. Do they think about it, when they’re lying on the couch waiting for you to get home? We don’t know. We would love to know that, but we don’t know.”

    Flickr / Maja Dumat

    Lacking the scientific studies to explain how dogs experience emotion and memory, we instead turn to our own anthropomorphisms.

    “When you adopted your dog, and suddenly you’re living with a dog, within a week we have opinions about the dog’s personality, what they’re like and what they’re thinking. It’s a way to try to predict what’s gonna happen next with an organism that we don’t really know,” Horowitz said. “So we use the language of human explanation, and we just put it on the dog.”

    Read the original article on Business insider.Follow us onFacebookandTwitter. Copyright 2017.

    Read next on Business Insider:Here’s why cats sleep so much

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    Lindsay Lohan Is Going After That Reality TV $$$!

    Lindsay Lohan is heading to the small screen!

    On Monday, the actress appeared on The View and announced she is developing a new show called Nerd where she will go to a fan’s house and take over their social media feeds!

    Related: Lindsay Hangs Up On Radio Interview

    The Mean Girls star said:

    “We just finished the sizzle reel for a show I’m producing and created with my business partner called Nerd. Basically, we’ll go to someone and I hijack their social media for 24 hours and their phones and their tweets.”

    Sounds kinda cool!

    The 30-year-old added:

    “I dare them to do things that they think they’re good at. They’ll win money and it goes to proceeds for charity. It’s funny too.”

    As we reported, on Sunday, the red head dropped a not-so-subtle hint on Instagram that she wants to play Ariel in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid!

    Miz Lohan is returning to Hollywood, and she hopes to make a big splash!

    [Image via WENN.]

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    Breitbart News Might Be Dropping Milo Too!

    What do you have to do to get fired from Breitbart News? Give a tacit defense of pedophilia, apparently.

    Conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos has already lost his gig as keynote speaker at CPAC and his super lucrative book deal over his comments.

    Now, Fox Business has learned Milo is on the verge of being fired, and could be out by end of business today.

    Video: Watch Larry Wilmore Tell Milo ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ On Real Time!

    Their “Technology Editor” has been outspoken on many controversial topics in the past, but now they’re weighing whether he’s too toxic even for them.

    We’re hearing it’s purely a business decision (naturally), as they don’t want to damage their brand.

    This is the magazine that published articles with headlines like “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy” and “The Solution To ‘Online Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”

    [Image via Breitbart.]

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    New voice for disabled consumers – BBC News

    Image copyright Science Photo Library

    Image caption Disabled employees and customers will be able to get their views across

    Disabled people will get a fresh chance to make their voices heard as consumers, thanks to a government initiative to be announced on Tuesday.

    Eleven sector champions are being appointed to help make different areas of business more accountable to the disabled.

    They will cover business sectors including banking, tourism, retail and public transport.

    The initiative is being launched by the Department for Work and Pensions.

    “There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the UK and the spending power of their households – ‘the purple pound’ – is almost 250bn,” a spokesperson said.

    “But many businesses are missing out on this potential customer base by having everyday products and services which aren’t available to disabled people – who, as a result, are regularly excluded from experiences and opportunities that many others take for granted.”

    The sector champions are:

    • Helen Drury, corporate responsibility manager at shopping centre owner Intu (retail)
    • Suzanne Bull, chief executive of Attitude is Everything (music)
    • Huw Edwards, public affairs director at UKActive (leisure)
    • Chris Veitch, co-founder of Access New Business (tourism)
    • Robbin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels (hotels)
    • Dan Brooke, head of marketing, press and publicity at Channel 4 (media)
    • Sam Phillips, chief marketing officer at Omnicom Media Group (advertising)
    • Michael Connolly, regional training and standards manager at OCS Ltd (airports)
    • Jane Cole, managing director at Blackpool Transport Services (buses)
    • Trudie Hills, disability manager at Lloyds Bank (banking)
    • Jo Twist, chief executive of UKIE (gaming)

    The aim is for them to “amplify the voices of disabled customers and employees within their own industries”, promoting changes and improvements that will make a difference to them.

    At the same time, they will strive to show other businesses the merits of making disabled customers a priority.

    The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, said: “As a public advocate for accessibility, these champions will help businesses realise the value of disabled consumers and the importance of catering to every customer’s needs.

    “These industries must become fully inclusive. Not being able to access the high street, products and services, transport or simply to access a loo jars with our national values: it must change.”

    Suzanne Bull of Attitude is Everything, an organisation that aims to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, said everyone should have the right to enjoy the arts.

    “Only 3.6 million of the UK’s 11 million disabled adults attended a live music event last year,” she said.

    “Fear of discrimination can deter deaf and disabled people from attending music events, but without their participation change won’t occur.

    “I’ll be making a solid business case for accessibility and will be sharing best practice and innovative ideas, many of which don’t only just focus on physical access, and demonstrate that ways of working can be adopted by other industries with a high degree of success.”

    Disability Works

    • The BBC’s business and economics unit is looking at how businesses work with people with disabilities and how disabled people have made business work for them
    • A range of stories will feature across online, TV and radio this week
    • On Twitter and Facebook you can follow the hashtag #DisabilityWorks and at the end of the week you can download the Ouch podcast

    Disability Works: Breaking down barriers in business

    More Disability stories

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