10/15/11

¡Ya basta! United for Global Democracy

United for Global Democracy 


On 15 October 2011, united in our diversity, united for global change, we demand global democracy: global governance by the people, for the people. Inspired by our sisters and brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, New York, Palestine-Israel, Spain and Greece, we too call for a regime change: a global regime change.
In the words of Vandana Shiva, the Indian activist, today we demand replacing the G8 with the whole of humanity – the G7,000,000,000.
Undemocratic international institutions are our global Mubarak, our global Assad, our global Gaddafi. These include: the IMF, the WTO, global markets, multinational banks, the G8/G20, the European Central Bank and the UN security council. Like Mubarak and Assad, these institutions must not be allowed to run people’s lives without their consent. We are all born equal, rich or poor, woman or man. Every African and Asian is equal to every European and American. Our global institutions must reflect this, or be overturned.
Today, more than ever before, global forces shape people’s lives. Our jobs, health, housing, education and pensions are controlled by global banks, markets, tax-havens, corporations and financial crises. Our environment is being destroyed by pollution in other continents. Our safety is determined by international wars and international trade in arms, drugs and natural resources. We are losing control over our lives. This must stop. This will stop. The citizens of the world must get control over the decisions that influence them in all levels – from global to local. That is global democracy. That is what we demand today.
Today, like the Mexican Zapatistas, we say “¡Ya basta! Aquí el pueblo manda y el gobierno obedece“: Enough! Here the people command and global institutions obey! Like the Spanish Tomalaplaza we say “Democracia Real Ya”: True global democracy now!” Today we call the citizens of the world: let us globalise Tahrir Square! Let us globalise Puerta del Sol!

10/9/11

LA CONCIENCIA TRANQUILA





Nota: Hace casi tres lustros me encontré este escrito de Italo Calvino en La Jornada Semanal. Entonces en México vivíamos la expectativa de una llamada "Revolución de Terciopelo" que nos condujo a la supuesta "transición democrática" del viejo régimen de partido único a lo que tenemos ahora. Ya para entonces había muchas señales públicas de nuestra evolución hacia esta sociedad que describió el escritor italiano nacido en Cuba, Italo Calvino en este texto llamado "La conciencia tranquila." El ejercicio de la política, no solamente a nivel nacional sino mundial, se asemeja cada vez más a lo que describe Calvino y no a la búsqueda del bien público, como lo dijera Aristóteles en su "Política." Aquí el texto de Calvino.




La Conciencia Tranquila


Italo Calvino


Traducción Héctor Abad Faciolince
Tomado de La Jornada Semanal, 8 de agosto de 1997


Había un país sostenido por lo ilícito. No era que faltaran leyes, ni que el sistema político no estuviera basado en principios que más o menos todos decían convivir. Pero este sistema, articulado alrededor de un gran número de centros de poder, necesitaba desmesurados recursos financieros (los necesitaba porque cuando uno se acostumbra a disponer de mucha plata ya no es capaz de concebir la vida de otra manera) y tantos medios se podían obtener tan solo ilícitamente, es decir pidiéndoselos a quienes los tenían, a cambio de favores ilícitos. Mas el que podía dar plata a cambio de favores, en general ya había conseguido esa plata mediante otros favores previos, por lo que resultaba un sistema económico en cierto modo circular y no carente de cierta armonía.


Aunque se financiaran por estas vías ilícitas, ninguno de los centros de poder era siquiera rozado por sentimientos de culpa, ya que para la moral interna todo lo que se hacía por el interés del grupo era lícito. Más aún, benéfico, porque cada grupo identificaba el propio poder con el bien común; la ilegalidad formal, por lo tanto, no excluía una superior legalidad sustancial. Es verdad que en toda transacción ilícta a favor de entidades colectivas es usual que una cierta porción se quede en manos de personas particulares, como merecida recompensa a las indispensables diligencias realizadas en la mediación y consecución del dinero: así que el acto ilícito que para la moral interna del grupo era lícito, implicaba dejar un pequeño margen de acto ilícito incluso para esa moral. Pero, bien mirado, el particular que llegaba a embolsarse una comisión individual tomándola de la comisión colectiva, estaba seguro de que si había conseguido una ganancia personal era para poder obtener una ganancia colectiva, es decir que podía convencerse sin ninguna hipocresía de que su conducta no sólo era lícita sino también benéfica.
Este país tenía también, al mismo tiempo, un dispendioso presupuesto oficial alimentado por los impuestos sobre cualquier actividad lícita, y financiaba lícitamente a todos aquellos que lícita o ilícitamente lograban hacerse financiar. Como en aquel país nadie estaba dispuesto no digamos a quebrar sino siquiera a tener que poner algo de su parte (y no se ve en nombre de qué se podría pretender que alguien tuviera que poner lo suyo), las finanzas públicas se dedicaban a reintegrar lícitamente, en nombre del bien común, los huecos dejados por las actividades ilícitas, que también se hacían en nombre del bien común. El cobro de los impuestos, que en otras épocas y civilizaciones era capaz de estimularse haciendo un llamado a los deberes cívicos, aquí volvía a ser con claridad un acto de fuerza (igual a lo que pasaba en ciertas localidades, donde además del cobro por parte del Estado existía también el que hacían algunas organizaciones armadas o mafiosas), acto de fuerza al que el contribuyente se resignaba para evitar mayores daños, a pesar de sentir _en lugar del alivio de la conciencia tranquila_ la desagradable sensación de una complicidad pasiva con la mala administración de la cosa pública y con los privilegios de las actividades ilícitas, por lo general exentas de toda carga impositiva.
Una que otra vez, cuando uno menos se lo esperaba, un tribunal resolvía aplicar la ley, provocando pequeños terremotos en algunos centros de poder e incluso arrestos de personas que habían tenido hasta ese momento sus buenas razones para considerarse intocables. En estos casos, la sensación prevaleciente, en lugar de la satisfacción por el triunfo de la justicia, era la sospecha de que se trataba de un ajuste de cuentas de un centro de poder contra otro centro de poder. Por esto se hacía difícil establecer si las leyes, a estas alturas, se podían usar solamente como armas tácticas y estratégicas en las batallas internas entre los distintos intereses ilícitos, o bien si los tribunales _para legitimar sus tareas institucionales_ estaban obligados a demostrar que también ellos eran centros de poder con intereses ilegítimos como todos los otros.
Naturalmente, una situación así era propicia también para las bandas de delincuentes de tipo tradicional, que con los secuestros, los asaltos a bancos y tantas otras actividades más modestas que llegaban hasta el simple carterazo, se insertaban como un elemento imposible de prever en el carrusel de los billones, haciéndole desviar a veces su camino hacia recorridos subterráneos, desde donde tarde o temprano volvían a salir bajo mil formas inesperadas de capitales lícitos o ilícitos.
Como opositoras al sistema, ganaban terreno las organizaciones del terror que, usando los mismos medios para financiarse de los ilegales de siempre, y con un bien dosificado cuentagotas de asesinatos distribuidos entre todas las categorías de los ciudadanos, ilustres y oscuros, se proclamaban como única alternativa global al sistema. Pero el verdadero efecto que tenían sobre el sistema era el de reforzarlo hasta volverse ellas mismas su puntal indispensable, el que confirmaba la convicción de que éste era el mejor sistema posible y de que no debía cambiar en nada.
Así, todas las formas de lo ilícito, desde las más divertidas hasta las más feroces, se aglomeraban en un sistema que tenía su estabilidad, solidez y coherencia, y en el que muchísimas personas podían hallar su propio provecho práctico sin perder la ventaja moral de sentirse con la conciencia tranquila. Los habitantes de aquel país habrían podido declararse, pues, unánimemente felices, de no haber sido por una categoría de ciudadanos _de todos modos bastante numerosa_ a los que no se sabía bien qué papel atribuir: los honrados.
Los honrados eran como eran no por algún motivo en especial (no podían ampararse en grandes principios ni patrióticos ni sociales ni religiosos, que ya no tenían curso); eran honestos por costumbre mental, por condicionamiento, por tic nervioso... En última instancia, eran así y no podían hacer nada si las cosas que de veras les importaban no se podían valorar directamente en dinero, si su cabeza funcionaba siempre según esos anticuados mecanismos que relacionan la ganancia con el trabajo, la estima con el mérito, la propia satisfacción con la satisfacción de otras personas. En aquel país de gentes que se sentían siempre con la conciencia tranquila, ellos eran los únicos que vivían siempre preocupados, preguntándose a cada instante lo que deberían haber hecho. Sabían que sermonear con la moral a los demás, indignarse, predicar la virtud, son cosas que todos aprueban con gran facilidad, de buena o de mala fe. Para ellos, el poder no era suficientemente interesante como para soñar con él (por lo menos ese tipo de poder que les interesaba a los otros); no se hacían ilusiones de que en otros países no existieran las mismas lacras, aunque estuvieran mejor escondidas; y no tenían esperanzas de una sociedad mejor porque sabían que lo más probable, siempre, es que las situaciones tiendan a empeorar.
¿Tenían que resignarse a la extinción? No, el consuelo de ellos consistía en pensar que del mismo modo como al margen de todas las sociedades, durante milenios, se había perpetuado una antisociedad de delincuentes, carteristas, ladronzuelos, estafadores, una antisociedad que nunca había tenido ninguna pretensión de convertirse en la sociedad, sino únicamente la de sobrevivir en los pliegues de la sociedad dominante y la de afirmar su propia manera de existir a contravía de los principios consagrados, así también la antisociedad de los honrados tal vez sería capaz de persistir todavía por siglos, al margen de los hábitos corrientes, sin otra pretensión que la de vivir su propia diversidad, la de sentirse distintos de todo el resto, y de este modo a lo mejor habría acabado por significar alguna cosa, algo esencial para todos, por ser una imagen de algo que las palabras ya no saben nombrar, de algo que todavía no ha sido dicho y todavía no sabemos qué es.

10/6/11

'You've got to find what you love' Steve Jobs. Stanford 2005 Commencement Speech








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'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.


My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Una traducción de este discurso en español puede leerse en la siguiente dirección.
http://www.adrianajurczuk.com.ar/textos/stevejobs.pdf

10/5/11

Steve Jobs Died today


MACINTOSH SE 30, My first computer


When I learned the news about Steve Jobs death today, I felt touched for this incredible loss. At a relative young age, 56, Jobs still had some years ahead of him full of creativity. He was battling pancreatic cancer since 2004, and had a liver transplant in 2009.

But besides the shock for the loss of such a young life, I in my own personal history, have been touched by Jobs' ingenuity and vision.

My first computer was a Macintosh SE, I bought it used from a friend of my husband, who at the time, had previously bought it from him. My husband brought this computer to Mexico City, while he was doing his field research there in the early nineties.

I got this computer in my third year of college, and despite that it was already an older computer, it was incredibly advanced in comparison to the ones my peer's had. I was so proud of it. So proud that I made a special cover for it, and I would print my college papers with pride. The computer also had some small-scale designing programs, which I used to design invitations, and other things.

I finish my College thesis on it too, brought the computer back to the US when I got married. I also took this Mac SE to my office at the Mexican Consulate in SD where I worked a few years. Finally, I gave this computer to one of my nieces in 1997 (the computer still worked fine, but with the advent of the Internet, it was only good for word processing). She used it for a few more years to write her school papers on it.

Jobs continued to launch innovative products year by year, until he left Apple in 1985, just to return in 1997 as interim CEO. From that point on, Apple has been one of the most innovative companies in the market.

After my first computer, I could never buy a computer that was not a Mac. In the late nineties, Apple was not doing very well, as Jobs was not part of the team. We had a Macintosh Performa, that had middle of the road Internet capacity, but crashed all the time. Obviously, the ingenuity of Jobs was badly needed in Apple. There were also rumors that the whole company was going to disappear. I remember, in the Christmas of 1997, my husband and I had a discussion about switching to regular PC's, since there was a real possibility that Macs were not going to be in the market for very long. It was a tough discussion, something that we did not talk about again, and which I regret, because we may very well could have bought some stocks in the company.

My husband and his brother, who grew up in the Bay Area, have been Mac users since the very first mac computers in the early eighties. They both grew up surrounded by the hippie movement of the 1970´s and the cultural transformations occurring in this area of the country. My brother in law even had a LISA computer (of course in his job, not as a personal computer due to its prohibitive price of almost 10k), an earlier version of the Mac128K, launched officially in 1984 by Jobs, who was still in his twenties.

In 1998, Steve Jobs (already back as Apple CEO) launched the all-in-one computer (which we bought one to replace the slow Mac Performa). A blue and white IMac G3 computer with a keyboard and a mouse, and Internet capacity. I used this computer to write my Master's thesis while spending a year in Rhode Island. My husband bought an I-book for himself, same color than the G3. I also gave this IMac G3 to one of my nephews, who used it for a couple more years in 2003. After the IMac G3, we started to buy mac laptops. We bought I-books (from the colorful ones, to the white and metallic ones). All of them lasting long productive years, and giving us a great service. Right now, I am typing it in my MacBook, which lasted me through half of my graduate school and the whole Dissertation writing process, and has given me a good service for more than three years already. I am a heavy computer user. I can say that.

When you sit in front of a Mac, it is possible to see that the designers actually were thinking about you, the user. The features are user friendly, the design is clean. But this is not the whole story, Jobs actually thought of a computer for personal use, something that at his time, very few people were considering possible, due to the high costs of technology. He also envisioned the computer as an instrument of the human body, not a substitute of the human body as in the paradigm of "artificial technology." It may not seem such a big deal, but actually this last conception has been pivotal for the multiplication of personal computers in our homes and businesses. Computers are here to be human instruments, not human substitutes. Although this is still a dispute, Jobs actually pushed the conception, design and usage of computers as tools, not as substitutes of human experience.

Computers before Apple were thought to be only for the government, rocket scientists or a few illuminati (and very wealthy people). They were big, and expensive. After the work of Steve Jobs, we actually have the aspiration of a computer as personal as we can get it, and this computer is on the market along the other incredible Apple devices such as the I-phone, the I-pad, and the I-pod. It is hard to think of the world of technology without Jobs, more an artist than an engineer, and although he said in 2005 (after he was diagnosed with cancer) that death is the ultimate innovation design that helps replacing the old with the new; it will be very hard to fill his shoes any time soon.

We truly lost a genius who made computing a very human endeavor. Thanks Steve Jobs.

Rest in peace.

10/1/11

Los Abismos que nos separan, de José Saramago

Me encontré esto en el blog de José Saramago, quien inició su blog antes de morir y el cual aún sigue actualizándose a través de la Fundación Saramago. Desde que inicié mi trabajo de campo me quedó claro que compartir el conocimiento es algo importante si uno está preocupado por la justicia social. Espero a través del blog poder compartir cosas que he aprendido y algunas reflexiones. Aquí lo que escribió Saramago sobre nuestros aciagos tiempos.

septiembre 27, 2011 por Fundação José Saramago

Estaba clarísimo que las desigualdades iban a intensificarse, que un abismo iba a separarnos. Y no sólo el abismo de tener, sino también el abismo de saber.Porque el saber se concentra en una minoría escasísima. No hacemos más que repetir, mutatis mutandis, el modelo de la Edad Media, en que el saber existente estaba concentrado en una gruta de teólogos y unos pocos más, mientras el resto era una masa ignorante.

Seara Nova, Lisboa, nº 72, abril-junio de 2001



The abyss that separate us

It was very clear that inequalities were only going to intensify, that a chasm was to separate us. Not only the abyss between the have and have-nots, but also between the ones who possess vast knowledge and the ones who do not. Because knowledge is concentrated in a small minority. We do nothing but repeat, mutatis mutandis*, the model of the Middle Ages, in which all the existent knowledge was concentrated in a small group of theologians and a handful more, while the rest was an ignorant mass.
Seara Nova, Lisbon, no. 72, april-june 2001.

*Latin phrase meaning: changing the things that need to be changed.
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