ricky's ragg
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The Ghost of Erik Sten

I got a letter today from the Portland Office of Management and Finance. It was obviously a form letter but it was the content that threw me. It started:

Dear rickyragg,

Welcome to the City of Portland. The Portland Water Bureau and Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services provide you with high quality drinking water and efficient sewer service.

Now what, you may wonder, is strange about that? Well, I've lived at the same address, in the City of Portland, for over 21 years. I've paid the Water Bureau for high quality drinking water for all those years. I've NEVER had sewer service, efficient or otherwise, for that same period. I'm on a septic system.

I called the Utilities Customer Services and asked Laura about the letter, but she was as mystified as I was about it. After confirming some information (account number, etc.) Laura said she would talk to her supervisor about it and call me back; probably tomorrow.

I have to wonder what caused their computerized billing system (if that's what it was) to kick out this letter. I also wonder how many others got letters like it and what it cost the City to mail them out. I mostly wonder who's responsible for the ghost in the machine. I thought Randy Leonard has the Water Bureau now.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 30, 2006
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION is busily at work on a plan that would expand the use of ethanol and other so-called renewable fuels well beyond the 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 already mandated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. President Bush himself is laying the ground work, touring ethanol plants, touting auto manufacturers who build "flex-fuel" cars, and leading energy policy pep rallies. A former Texas oilman, Bush has become an unlikely cheerleader for motor fuels distilled from Midwestern corn and other plants.

When President Bush highlighted ethanol in his 2006 State of the Union speech and described America as "addicted to oil," it was reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's call in the 1980 State of the Union for a "massive" investment in what were then called "synthetic fuels"--namely, some 500 million gallons of ethanol that would break the country's "excessive dependence on foreign oil." Bush, however, may be about to raise Carter's bid by two orders of magnitude, calling for the production of 50 billion gallons of ethanol, or 25 percent of the projected total motor fuel supply, by 2025.

That would be one heckuva corn crop. But according to administration sources, the president's forthcoming renewable fuel plan will not be based on expanding the corn supply. Rather it will be pinned on the hoped-for payback on federal investments made in producing ethanol from so-called cellulosic biomass. As congressional testimony from the Bush Department of Agriculture admits, since "the supply of corn is relatively small compared with U.S. gasoline demand, other domestic sources of renewable and alternative energy must be developed to replace petroleum-based fuels if the United States is to reduce its dependence on imported oil."

So while it is transparently clear that the supply of corn-based ethanol is limited by the ability to produce corn and the competing demand for corn as human food and livestock feed, ethanol advocates take refuge in the potential of producing fuel from cellulosic biomass and are ready to expand not only incentives, but also quotas and mandates to increase its use. This is a dangerous wager. Cellulose is a complex sugar, found in wood, grass, and straw. It is difficult to dissolve, and the sugars it yields are very difficult and costly to ferment. Scientists and researchers are still trying to identify or develop an enzyme that will more readily ferment cellulosic sugars, which, as it turns out, is a much taller order than the already commercialized process of fermenting corn and sugarcane into alcohol.

Nonetheless, ethanol made from other plants--particularly switchgrass, a native prairie grass--is fashionable among the opinion elite. In fact, Bush's advocacy of cellulosic ethanol has cast him with some unlikely allies. For example, though he remains the b?te noire of the New York Times editorial page, the president and the Times are simpatico on cellulose.

Consider a New York Times editorial from May 1 of this year: "Until recently, the only ethanol anyone had heard about was corn-based ethanol, a regional curiosity that accounts for about three percent of the nation's fuel and suffers from its association with the agribusiness lobby and with presidential candidates hustling support in the Iowa primaries. What the experts are talking about now, however, is cellulosic ethanol, derived from a range of crops, native grasses like switchgrass and even the waste components of farming and forestry--in short, anything rich in cellulose."

If corn ethanol is, as the Times calls it, a "regional curiosity," then cellulosic ethanol remains but a laboratory novelty--indeed, it can be produced in the lab, just not in an economically viable way. According to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the cost of producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass averages $2.57 per gallon. The cost of producing ethanol from corn--depending on the price of corn and natural gas--fluctuates between $0.85 and $1.05 per gallon.

Moreover, in the country's more than 100 ethanol mills, one metric ton of corn produces on average about 110 gallons of ethanol. Meanwhile, Iogen Corporation, a Canadian firm that is the only company to produce cellulosic biomass on any scale, says their demonstration plant "is designed to process about 30 tonnes per day of feedstock, and to produce approximately 2.5 million litres of cellulose ethanol per year." That's a ratio of about 60 gallons of ethanol from one metric ton of cellulosic feedstock.

In other words, the best proven scenario so far is that cellulosic biomass yields about three-quarters as much fuel as does corn, at about two and one-half to three times the cost. But even that is not a fair comparison of the real gap between corn and cellulose. There is such a huge practical gap between the two in terms of commercial infrastructure that, even if the fermentation technology for cellulose were perfected tomorrow, the United States would be decades away from relying on cellulosic ethanol in the amounts now being proposed.

Consider: Corn has been traded since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and the Indians met them, ears of maize in hand. Seed research and technology have been intensively developed since at least 1862, when Abraham Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture to do just that--improve seeds. Planting and harvesting technology have steadily improved since 1837, when a blacksmith named John Deere built better plows. And so forth, and so on. In short, the modern agricultural economy provides a highly complex commercial infrastructure to bioengineer, plant, harvest, transport, process, and sell corn.

A bushel of corn can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol, or it can produce edible oil, livestock feed, high fructose sweetener, and other marketable by-products. Whatever the fluctuations in demand for these end products, it remains a valuable commodity. Furthermore, the financial infrastructure surrounding corn is sophisticated enough that venture capitalists and pension funds invest in corn futures contracts. Same with crude oil. Biomass--or as the New York Times puts it, "native grasses" and "the waste components of farming and forestry"--is, to say the least, a long way from having the infrastructure capable of turning it into a reliable source of motor fuel sufficient to power the family automobile, round trip, one of every four times the ignition is turned.

Let's look at harvest figures. This year, more than 11 billion bushels--about 308 million tons--of corn will be picked in a matter of a few weeks from between 75-80 million acres. Compare that with forestry biomass. According to a detailed analysis by the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, forest land in the United States could produce 368 million tons of renewable biomass annually by 2030, albeit over a land mass about 10 times larger than the farmland planted in corn.

But the comparison gets worse when one starts to read the footnotes. The forestry industry is already using 142 million tons, and fireplaces and wood stoves and utilities consume another 35 million tons. Of the remainder, 36 million tons is assumed to come from such unlikely sources as discarded wooden furniture, urban tree trimmings, and leftover lumber from new construction--all mind-bogglingly inefficient to harvest in large quantities. Another 89 million tons is merely projected growth in forestry products.

So the actual amount of biomass feedstock might be 66 million tons--with no existing process to harvest, store, or transport it to ethanol plants in the Midwest, and no ethanol plants near most of the forest land. And that assumes away the political problems that have already led to a lawsuit against the president's 2003 Healthy Forests Initiative--an initiative designed to make it easier to harvest dead wood and forest underbrush. Does anyone believe environmentalists would be less opposed to such gleaning if it were being done to produce more auto fuel?

What about the crop resi due that is touted as a feedstock for eth anol? Well, first, one must come to grips with the logical disconnect of the proposition that the lower energy parts of a plant left over after the high energy parts are harvested would, in fact, be an efficient ethanol feedstock. One must also consider the important economic--and environmental--role that crop resi due plays in modern agriculture.

Thanks to biotechnology, precision application of pesticides, and modified planting techniques, crop residue can be left to rot in the fields, which increases the nutrient quality of the soil and no longer needs to be plowed under before the next planting. This reduces the costs of production; no plowing means eliminating one time the tractor has to be driven across the field, saving fuel and equipment wear and tear. Greater nutrient quality means lower fertilizer costs. Moreover, the development of conservation tillage has virtually stopped soil erosion, thereby helping protect and improve water quality. Removing crop residue for use as biomass would reverse all these conservation achievements.

That brings us to switchgrass, the most touted alternative to corn in the making of ethanol. Ironically, one of the most prominent arguments that folks in federally supported laboratories and at newspaper editorial pages use to promote switchgrass is that it is so much cheaper than corn. The implication is, since there is no market for switchgrass now, ethanol mills could get it for a song. The fact that switchgrass has no market, however, is exactly why farmers won't like it. Why would a farmer want to grow a crop that gives him a lower return than the corn he's already growing? In fact, corn enjoys a generous subsidy--about $10 billion in 2005--and yet, because of the cost of production and despite the new ethanol demand that came on line via federal mandate in 2006, farmers planted fewer acres of corn this year than last. Corn must compete with other crops and uses for farmland that may produce higher returns.

Making matters worse, switchgrass requires a long-term commitment for a farmer. Because of its root structure, switchgrass can't be harvested the year it is seeded; then it is best managed as a 10-year stand. That is a practical impediment for farmers looking to produce for a market that fluctuates from year to year. The only way ethanol distillers will get a steady supply of cellulosic feedstock is if the return is equal or better for the farmer than the return on other commodities. So much for the cheaper feedstock theory.

In short, cellulosic biomass presents what economists call significant "opportunity costs." Farmers aren't going to grow switchgrass if they have to forgo income opportunities from growing crops like corn, where they know there is a major commercial infrastructure--physical and financial--supporting the demand for its use. Likewise, lawsuits and environmental policy aside, no one is going to glean their way through forests, curbside tree and shrub trimmings, and used furniture stores to generate enough wood to replace significant amounts of the U.S. motor fuel supply. To believe otherwise shows a profound misunderstanding of commodity economics.

The view that biomass straw can be spun into gold without fundamental shifts in economic incentives, or can be mandated without dire consequences, is the modern-day version of Rumpelstiltskin.

Dave Juday is an agricultural commodity market analyst.
Friday, July 28, 2006
I wrote this a year ago last May and just ran across it again:


"Bait and switch" is a term that refers to an illegal method used by unscrupulous people or businesses as a "con" to separate unwitting people from their money. "Extortion" is the illegal act of threatening someone with harm in order to force him or her to accede to the wishes of the extortionist.

These terms also apply equally well to the tactics regularly employed by local politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups (e.g. public employee unions) in order to squeeze more money from taxpayers. They request more taxes "for the children" or "the elderly" or any number of other "powerless" groups. When the good-hearted citizens respond with more money, most of it goes to higher salaries and more benefits for public employees - not to "the children" as advertised. A car dealer employing such tactics would be in jail.

If the "bait and switch" tactic doesn't work, these same groups regularly trot out scenarios of doom and gloom (see: Barbara Roberts). Their favorite hostages are kids - huge class sizes, shortened school years and outdated textbooks - all parts of the standard litany. They are even willing to threaten public safety by releasing prisoners from jail (see: Bernie Giusto). Worse yet, they lay the blame for these horrors at the feet of voters if we don't knuckle under to their demands.

Their efforts are successful for three reasons: 1) The public still has some small measure of trust in its local elected officials and representatives. (see next paragraph) 2) Individual citizens are effectively outgunned by the sophisticated nature of these campaigns and the high level of organization of those who benefit directly or indirectly from higher taxes and fees. 3) Local print and electronic media, whose willing complicity (with a very few exceptions) provides an incomparable outlet for the incomplete "information", misleading "facts", and inaccurate "statistics" that are the stock in trade of the above mentioned campaigns.

The public still seems to have a misconception of what public service means these days. The old concept implies a selfless, altruistic, trustworthy group of elected officials and public employees. There may be some such in local and state government and to them I apologize. The reality is not quite so pretty. "Public Service", as it has devolved is now synonymous with the "government class". It is comprised of elected and appointed officials, career bureaucrats and staff, unionized teachers and many employees of any government agency. For these the notion of "public service" means lifetime employment, ridiculously generous benefit packages, work rules and job protections written into their contracts, and little or no accountability. Even elected officials usually leave office either to other government jobs or to firms whose primary business is "consulting " (see Neil Goldschmidt, Larry Campbell, et al).

Because of these factors, anyone who derives their income, either directly or indirectly, from the proliferation, perpetuation or expansion of government has a powerful motive for protecting their job. This is not an indictment of government workers or their dependents ? that would be tantamount to an indictment of human nature itself. In their attempts to protect their source of income and security, their motive is, oddly enough, the same one we all share - money! The equation is simple: the more they get, the less we have.

These groups have discovered, to their mutual profit, the world of professional consultants, marketing and media experts. The problem with this symbiosis is that the accountability of these consultants is to their clients and not to the general voting and taxpaying public. In fact, except for their "malleability quotient", voters and taxpayers are not real people - just polling and focus group data. So much for the "caring" teacher and "concerned" public servants.

The appeal of this unholy alliance to individual government employees is that none need put his or her job on the line by saying, "I want more". Professionally handled media campaigns provide cover. The public is once removed from discerning whose interest is being served. Further, the public is purposely misled. When referring to taxes, campaign statements like; "It's for schools" or "It's for the elderly" are not disingenuous - they are lies. It's for salaries and benefits! To commission, or even to tolerate such ads, crosses the line. This tactic is not dissimilar to terrorists using innocents as "human shields".

In the private sector a business or an individual offers a product or service. This product or service must appeal to people such that they are willing to pay for it. If the appeal is not sufficient, or the price too high, the buyers refuse to buy. Our society devolves the provision of some products (but mostly services) to the government: e.g. public safety, education, some utilities, etc. The merits and values of other functions of government are debatable. It is a debate that rarely occurs, however.

The matter of whether the appeal (necessity, value) of the government products justifies their costs is a valid and necessary exercise. The "products" to which I refer are the myriad rules, regulations and restrictions which affect our daily lives. In making decisions about spending, taxpayers must ask themselves three questions: 1) Do we need or want what they're selling? 2) Do we get what we pay for? 3) (unfortunately) Are the proponents telling the truth?

The government class, their consultants and their accomplices in the media, commonly use the assertion that voters are responsible for specific cuts in programs if they reject tax increases. If taxpayers don't want to pay still more, they are "anti-tax", not "pro-fiscal responsibility". They are described as selfish, greedy and uncaring. Such characterizations are more properly laid at the feet of our representatives and bureaucrats who actually decide priorities in spending. Other adjectives that apply here are cynical, calculating and dishonest.

It is obvious to anyone who cares to look that the budget "cuts" usually splayed all over the front page are those chosen to have the most shock value (see "calculating" above). The fact that "cuts" in these areas come first demonstrates the lack of respect these decision makers have for the voters' intelligence.

A more responsible approach to allocating funds would begin with a prioritization of services of government. Legislators are afraid of this approach. It would put them in a "Catch 22" situation - either please the groups that contribute to their campaigns at the expense of the general public - or fund those programs and services that really are important to all citizens and risk losing contributions. At present, the wisdom appears to be; take the money from those organized groups paying attention and flim-flam the masses with the help of the media.

A prioritized list of spending would attenuate the power of campaign contributions and force legislators to actually represent all the people - not just those who are organized and contribute. Campaign money will still be a factor but its persuasive power will have to be weighed against the reaction of the public in the process of compiling such a list. Consider the risks of publicly supporting the Oregon Cultural Trust at the expense of money for schools. When brought out into the light of day, such a position would be untenable. Rather than fearing such a change, honest legislators should welcome such a public debate.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Here's a couple of well-written, honest discussions concerning one of Randy Leonard's latest ideas to improve your lives through regulation:



One can't help but wonder whether Leonard or any of the city council has read them.

I doubt it, since, paraphrasing the "Great Inventor", they contain "inconvenient facts".
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
George Carlin's new rules for 2006

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for Classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn.

New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.

New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket? Water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the a**hole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet -n'-Low and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge a**hole.

New Rule: I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule: Ladies, just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.

New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait.They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."

New Rule: I don't need a bigger mega M&M. If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for youisn't gift giving, it's the white people version of looting.

New Rule: and this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your webcam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.

New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to know in months. "27 Months." "He's two," will do just fine. He's not a cheese. And I didn't really care in the first place.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Don't bother asking your representative about how HB2614 works.

Here's why:

To: REP Greenlick
Subject: HB2614

Just exactly how is this bill (law) in the interests of anyone except the two largest political parties and incumbents like yourself? Politics as usual is it? You want to disenfranchise anyone who threatens your "buddy system" and erect roadblocks for independent candidates. More and more Oregon voters are deserting the two established parties. Instead of trying to listen and discern why this may be and address the causes, you and (almost all of your cronies) "circle the wagons" and enact this blatantly unconstitutional law.Ralph Nader showed you for what you really are; scared of a fair, open election process. It's more important for you to preserve your own asses than to allow any fresh air or ideas into the system. Count every vote - HAH! By closing your eyes and ears to the will of a growing percentage of the electorate, you demonstrate your elitist, selfish attitudes yet again. Whatever your motivation, democracy will not be stifled.You just don't get it.

P.S. Take me off your mailing list!

From: Rep Greenlick
To: StoneGuy
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 4:56 PM
Subject: RE: HB2614

Would you like an answer from me, or do you simply want to vent?


From: StoneGuy [mailto:stoneguy@comcast.net]
Sent: Fri 1/27/2006 8:29 AM
To: Rep Greenlick
Subject: Re: HB2614

If there's an answer that makes sense, I'd love to hear it!

From: Rep Greenlick
To: StoneGuy
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 5:22 PM
Subject: RE: HB2614

If the bill is the one that stops party members from voting in the primary and then signing nominating petitions in the same nominating process, here is what was in my consideration. Anybody who had deserted either of the political parties (as you say, more than a quarter of the voters) won't be affected. Registered Ds vote in the Democratic primary and registered Rs vote in the Republican primary. The theory is that gives them their primary vote. People who aren't a member of either party are also entitled to one "vote" that is signing one petition for a candidate for any single office. That seems fair and gives each person the equivalent of one vote in the primary. It didn't seem fair for a person to vote in the Democratic primary for an office and then vote again by signing a petition for nominating somebody to an office.So the bill isn't intended to disenfranchise anybody who isn't a party member, it's intent is to stop party members from having more than one "vote" in the primary system..

ps. Do you still want off my mailing list?

From: StoneGuy [mailto:stoneguy@comcast.net]
Sent: Tue 1/31/2006 10:22 PM
To: Rep Greenlick
Subject: Re: HB2614

Maybe I'm misinformed. If I'm registered as R, I can't vote for any R candidates in the primary if I sign a petition for an Independent? Or is it that, If I'm registered as R, and I sign a petition for an Independent, my signature is not counted. What if I favor R's (or D's in a parallel universe) except for the office for which I sign a nominating petition? What about ballot measures? Help!

From: Rep Greenlick
To: StoneGuy
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006 6:59 AM
Subject: RE: HB2614

You will automatically get a ballot in the R primary. I think that disqualifies your signature if you sign a petition to nominate an independent, under the concept that you have already voted. But it might only be if you have returned the ballot and actually voted. ( I don't remember which.) It sounds like you should favor, as I do, the initiative that is on the streets now to create the open primary in Oregon. That approach allows everybody to vote in the primary for all candidates for an office. And the top two vote-getters move on to the general election, whether they are Rs, Ds, Libertarians, or Independents.


From: StoneGuy [mailto:stoneguy@comcast.net]
Sent: Thu 2/2/2006 11:42 AM
To: Rep Greenlick
Subject: Re: HB2614

Where's the best place to determine exactly what the effects of this bill will be? If an important bill affecting my voting rights is confusing to you, something's wrong. If there's better legislation or an initiative, why vote for HB2614? It still sounds as if it limits my freedom to support whomever I choose by forcing me into an all or nothing situation. It still effectively keeps independents off the ballot. It still tends for protect the two major parties and incumbents. I suspect that the two latter results were the primary reason for it's introduction and bipartisan support - what other event or urgent public need was addressed? Help me, here. The Nader situation was not created by R's. If it was exploited by R's - well, democracy is messy. But the solution is not less democracy - it's more democracy. Don't you think?

From: Rep Greenlick
To: StoneGuy
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 7:15 PM
Subject: RE: HB2614

I think the effect of the bill is clear. I just don't remember the details and didn't look it up to check. The last time I saw it was 6-7 months ago among dozens of other bills. Democracy is messy. But I really approve of the principle of one person - one vote. And that is what convinced me on this one. And the effect will certainly make it more difficult for independents to get on the ballot, but really not too difficult. Senator Ben Westlund, who is considering a run for governor as an independent told me getting 18,000 independent signatures wouldn't be a barrier. The much more important barrier is the decision of whether an independent could actually win. And you certainly have a choice. You get to choose whether you are a member of the Democrat Party, the Republican Party or an independent. And you can change that back and forth at will by changing your registration. If you decide you are an R you get to vote in the R primary to determine that party's candidates in the General Election. If you want to effect which independent candidates are nominated, become an independent. And, of course, when November comes you get to vote for nominees from several parties.


From: stoneguy@comcast.net
Sent: Thu 2/2/2006 10:14 PM
To: Rep GreenlickSubject:
Re: HB2614

No, seriously. Should I contact the Elections Division or what? For the record, I too approve of that one person - one vote principle. I just didn't see it compromised by the old system. Until Nader's failed bid, nobody said boo. Too much coincidence for me. I fail to see how restricting who can sign nominating petitions does anything but restrict choice. A vote is a vote - a signature on a nominating petition is NOT a vote. It seems pretty clear to me. If I can't help put my favored candidate on the ballot - I can't vote for him/her either. As for the new system making it more difficult for an independent to get on the ballot, how difficult is too difficult? Who makes that judgement? Ben Westlund's optimism notwithstanding, any reduction in access to the political system is suspect. Especially when it's sponsored by those with the most to lose.Ideally we would all affect which candidates are nominated, regardless of party affiliation. Thanks for the chat.

Well, one way to do that is to support the Open Primary initiative proposal. I certainly do support that, although the leaders of both parties oppose it. I guess that makes it a bi-partisan proposal. And the small parties also oppose it -- a multi-partisan proposal.

make sense or shut up - unless I think you're funny ----- spelling and grammar WILL be scrutinized ----- ideas count - especially if I like them ----- no profanity - no exceptions

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