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History of the decade, part 11: man and woman of the decade 

Yesterday: 2009

Here is the final part of my satirical series today as 2009 draws to a close. Who were the most influential people this decade? Who expressed the 2000s and changed the way of our collective culture?

Man of the decade
   Nicolas Sarkozy, for glamourizing the presidency more than Ségolène Royal could.
   Carson Kressley, for his contribution to the styles of world leaders.
   Al Gore, for trying to look stylish, but still falling short of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
   Vladimir Putin, for posing topless.
   Tiger Woods, for having a name like a porn star and acting it out.

   Peter Jackson, for helping millions of people find New Zealand on a map when the rest of us could not, and for making it OK to be a successful man with a beard.

Woman of the decade nominee, Elin Nordegren: Part of the reason she got a nomination was to sex up this blog. And because she looks far less of a slag than the women her husband has cheated on her with.
Woman of the decade
   Sarah Palin, for creating Tina Fey.
   Elin Nordegren, for being the hottest woman associated with golf since Caddyshack.
   Jenna Bush, for calling her Dad at work live on the Ellen show.
   Angela Merkel, for getting a back rub from George W. Bush.
   Martha Stewart, for comparing herself to Nelson Mandela.

   Oprah Winfrey, for actually meeting Nelson Mandela.

There you have it, folks! Happy 2010!

If you want to read the whole series, this link should deliver the whole lot. Or, jump back to part 1 here.

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History of the decade, part 10: 2009 

Yesterday: 2008


Swine ’flu becomes the “in” illness, becoming more popular than the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK. Unlike SARS, no drink is released.
   Michael Jackson dies, finally causing the internet to break down. When Mollie Sugden dies, Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy, in a fit of rage, causes Twitter to break down.
   Sarah Palin starts her Facebook page, and gets more followers than Oprah Winfrey, forcing Oprah to end her show after 25 years as she is convinced this was one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
   With his wife Hillary as Secretary of State and busy on other matters, Bill Clinton wants to prove he still has his charm. He goes to the one last place where he does not have

November: Tiger Woods kept looking over his shoulder at tournaments all year. In November, it was revealed why: his wife had taken up women’s golf and had her own set of clubs. It was the first time golf looked like a cool sport to non-golfing males since Cindy Morgan appeared in Caddyshack.
women who have issued restraining orders against him: North Korea. Upon arrival, he realizes that Kim Jong-il has captured two female American journalists. After a persuasive conversation, Kim Jong-il realizes that if Bill Clinton wants to take two women home, he will.
   Roman Polanski, who prefers far younger women than Clinton did, is arrested in Switzerland, but some French politicians lobby to have him released, based on the premise that as long as the ages added up to 60, it’s no big deal. Eventually, Polanski rejoins his wife, who is younger than his 1977 victim, in Switzerland, under house arrest.
   China becomes the world’s largest car market after the Oscar gaffe in 2007, showing the Japanese once and for all who is boss (‘Don’t mention the war’).
   President Obama misunderstands his advisers’ remarks to ‘bow to the electorate’, and begins bowing to the unelected when he sees King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito.
   Tiger Woods is reminded by his wife of the strict rules of golf: if you play the wrong hole, there is a penalty. In an effort to make up the lost sponsorship after his gaffes, he releases a Christmas single, ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Mistress’.

Tomorrow: Man and Woman of the Decade

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History of the decade, part 9: 2008 

Yesterday: 2007


Raúl Castro becomes Cuban president as the dislike for khaki tones, which hit the US earlier in the decade, finally arrives there.
   President Sarkozy fulfils his hot-women election promise by marrying Carla Bruni.
   César winner Mathieu Amalric plays President Sarkozy in a film loosely based on his life, Quantum of Solace. In the film, Amalric plays a speech-making Frenchman with a hot girlfriend and plans for world domination, and ticks off the British Government.
   With his Powerpoint market secure after the Bush administration’s botch-up, and with so much money from Warren Buffett, Bill Gates decides that there is no more need to work at Microsoft.
   Unable to locate the Queer Eye guys after the show’s cancellation, Radovan Karadžić is arrested in Beograd.

February: Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy marry, as part of the French president’s election promise to put someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal.
   The solar eclipse is visible in Canada though in China, they are unsure whether it was an eclipse or pollution. This makes the Chinese realize that Beijing needs to be cleaned up ahead of the Olympics. Beijing stops making cars briefly, delaying its aim to have the largest car market in the world in a contest with Japan till the following year.
   Tired of the unchanging fashions of the Bush administration, Americans head to the polls. The Republicans, realizing that the Democrats lost because they concentrated too much on khaki tones with Al Gore and on hair with John Kerry, select a boringly dressed bald guy, John McCain, as their presidential nominee. The plan backfires when the Democrats, thinking third time lucky, believe Barack Obama is the snazziest dresser and choose him.
   Realizing that McCain is not fashionable enough, and seeing how women were sweeping into power the year before, the GOP introduces Sarah Palin as its vice-presidential nominee on the strength of her candidacy in a 1980s’ Miss Alaska pageant. It was too late. Americans had already decided they preferred Obama’s style, more so when George Clooney himself said he liked the cut of his suits.
   Tina Fey is hired by Sarah Palin to be her double and to do the talk show circuit in advance of her book, Going Rogue, being published. Palin becomes wildly popular, while Fey is criticized by the mainstream media for being less funny than 30 Rock.
   O. J. Simpson goes to jail for 15 years, after a Nevada jury evaluates his earlier performances in the Naked Gun movies. Disgusted, they set out to make an example of him.

Tomorrow: 2009

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History of the decade, part 8: 2007 

May: Despite donning miniskirts during her campaign and raising the hotness stakes above what Geena Davis could manage, Ségolène Royal fails to become the president of France.

Yesterday: 2006


As Queer Eye draws to a close, it was discovered that the show had had little effect on making the world’s dictators nicer. They only dressed better.
   Therefore, more women were put into power after the well dressed men could not be trusted, with Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female US speaker, Drew Gilpin Faust becoming Harvard’s first female president, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner becoming Argentina’s first female president.
   Nicolas Sarkozy becomes French president, promising that France would have someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal, his opponent. Spurred by his victory, he begins checking out hot women. Frenchmen rejoice at Sarkozy’s respect of traditional French values and the sport of les reluquants.
   Tony Blair says he has done all he can without dying his hair, and Gordon Brown takes over.
   Karl Rove resigns his position in the Bush White House and considers starting his own TV show, Rove, only to find that the name had been taken by a short Australian gentleman. He is hired instead by a slightly taller Australian gentleman, Rupert Murdoch.
   After discovering that his attempts to sing Elvis Presley tunes in Memphis were lamer than the everyday karaoke bars’ ones, Shinzo Abe is replaced by Yasuo Fukuda as Japanese prime minister.
   Rick Astley becomes an internet millionaire after his video for the song ‘Never Gonna Give You up’ becomes popular online. After collecting millions in royalties, he promptly invests them with Bernie Madoff.
   The Nobel Peace Prize, which Hollywood-watchers now observe to see who might be deserving of a future Oscar, goes to Al Gore.
   For now, Martin Scorsese wins the Oscar after remaking a Hong Kong Chinese film, but all Chinese are upset when the American presenter calls it ‘Japanese’. (It is worse than the 2001 incident when Russell Crowe was called ‘Australian’, which offended both Kiwis and Aussies.) The usual jibes about WWII ensue, which pushes the Chinese to beat the Japanese and, in one of the last points of contention, have the largest car market in the world.
   As part of its strategy, the Chinese dress up a Mandarin-speaking diplomat as a white man and have him elected as American president, so he can arrange to have more Buicks sent to Shanghai. He is asked to meet a man with the same initials—Karl Rove—to get advice, but accidentally winds up on an Australian TV show. His popularity with Chinese Australians, his use of Mandarin, and his proficiency with karaoke get Kevin Rudd elected as Australian prime minister.

Tomorrow: 2008

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History of the decade, part 7: 2006 

Yesterday: 2005


Newspapers scared of declining circulation decide to publish cartoons of the prophet Muhammed, causing outrage and no noticeable long-term rise in readership.
   Warren Buffett decides he is sick of money and decides to give it to the poor. His PA misunderstands and thinks that the money has to go to the ‘poorly dressed’. It winds up with Bill Gates.

January: Camberwick Green spin-off Life on Mars begins, with Philip Glenister as the voice of DCI Gene Hunt, who takes over from PC McGarry. The animated show, which brings Camberwick Green’s and Trumpton’s citizens from the 1960s into the 1970s, is such a hit that a live-action version follows.
   The Bush administration says that its Guantanamo Bay terror suspects are entitled to basic human rights under the Geneva Convention, after President Bush finds Geneva on a map.
   Political incorrectness returns in the form of Gene Hunt, played by Philip Glenister, in Life on Mars. His use of insults against homosexuals becomes popular among homophobes who do not watch Queer Eye, though both straight and gay men find his camel hair coat appealing. Glenister unwittingly starts a new fashion trend and British men in 2006 look suspiciously like those in 1973. An American remake of the show later flops when Harvey Keitel fails to don the same coat.
   With Glenister’s rise, overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobes with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding become sex symbols to British women. In other words, nothing changed in the UK.

Tomorrow: 2007

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History of the decade, part 6: 2005 

Christmas Eve: 2004


Pope John Paul II dies, leading to speculation that Robbie Coltrane would be the new Pontiff. However, he is too busy making Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was discovered that two films he made in the 1980s were insulting to Catholics. The Vatican chooses Joseph Ratzinger, who becomes Pope Benedict XVI.
   Tony Blair is re-elected as British Prime Minister, after the Tories fail to field a candidate with a better smile. Michael Howard, who could only manage a scowl at best,

September: Geena Davis becomes US president, but only in certain parts of California. She raises the hotness stake for female politicians, and serves as the inspiration for Ségolène Royal and Sarah Palin.
subsequently resigns as leader.
   Iranians, wanting greater harmony with the west, elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, because he wore western-style suits and often went tieless, after advice from Carson Kressley. Fooling the electorate proves to be the undoing of the Bravo TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which began dipping in the ratings soon after.
   Seeing all the hassles surrounding Queer Eye around the planet, Germans decide they would elect a female Chancellor in Angela Merkel.
   Geena Davis becomes US president, but only on TV and certain parts of California not under the control of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her reality TV show, created by the Democratic Party in the hopes of having Hillary Clinton elected in 2008, backfires, and winds up inspiring a little-known former small-town mayor in Alaska.

Tomorrow: 2006

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History of the decade, part 5: 2004 

Earlier today: 2003


Martha Stewart goes to jail and likens herself to Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela says his ANC newsletters had a far bigger circulation than Martha Stewart Living ever did and that the comparison is unjustified.
   John Kerry reports for duty, but gets hassled by Republicans for having too good a hairstyle and undergoing Botox treatments.
   Enemy agents inside the Ukraine, seeing how obsessed electors are with looks, try to give west-friendly Viktor Yushchenko an extreme makeover, but in reverse, to harm his

August: The original version of The Apprentice was set at McDonald’s, with contestants vying for an assistant manager’s position. If they failed, they would have to be demoted to make French fries, with the famous catchphrase, ‘You’re fried!’ The original host, Jim Cantalupo, CEO of McDonald’s, died in April 2004, after which Donald Trump, and his hair, negotiated to take over for the second season. Cantalupo was paid $50,000 per episode, but Trump negotiated a fee 10 times as much, and due to a typo, read the famous catchphrase as ‘You’re fired!’ The new catchphrase proved more enduring. Like the Miss Universe pageant, Trump has an ulterior motive: to find the best hair transplant donor.
chances. The urban population of Ukraine, cynical of all reality TV-themed propaganda, still overwhelmingly support Yushchenko. However, the rural population, who did not get decent reception, were still convinced by the agents’ efforts, and preferred the other guy.
   John Kerry’s hairstyle fails to win the US presidential election. John Edwards’s hair helps little, although the Democrats put as much emphasis on that as they did Al Gore’s khaki tones in 2000. The US re-elects President Bush and Vice-president Cheney, despite both men having less hair, in an upset victory for the Republicans.
   Donald Trump’s hair starts its own reality show, called The Apprentice. The object is to find the best hair transplant donor. During the show’s history, no bald man has ever won.
   The US concludes that it would have to stick with Microsoft Powerpoint after discovering there was, indeed, no new software inside Iraq.
   Peter Jackson feels vindicated by his experimentation with weird puppets in Bad Taste (originally developed as Kermit’s Worst Nightmare) as he takes home a lot of Oscars for The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King.

Returning Boxing Day: 2005

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History of the decade, part 4: 2003 

October: Arnold Schwarzenegger travels to Sacramento to attend the première of Terminator III, only to find himself stuck at the Governor’s mansion. He has been trapped there since.

Yesterday: 2002


Colin Powell says Iraqi WMDs are threats to global security, but fails to convince other Security Council members except the UK because they did not like Microsoft Powerpoint. This sparked the development of Open Office.
   Hu Jintao becomes the president of Communist China, giving rise to jokes in the White House about ‘Hu is the president of China?’ and other fun quips between Bush and Cheney.
   SARS becomes a trendy illness, and even becomes available in canned form in Australia.

Photographed by Michael Spencer/
   The US and UK go in to Iraq after being tipped off that there was new software there that was better than Microsoft Powerpoint. They believe they find it in the first few weeks, leading President Bush to declare ‘Mission accomplished.’ However, when the software is brought back to the US, it is found that it is only compatible with the Apple II.
   President Qaddafi of Libya admits that his country was to blame for the Lockerbie bombing and the two terrorists in Back to the Future. As a sign of good faith that he did not want Doc Brown’s plutonium back, he announces he will give up his weapons’ programme.
   In a return goodwill gesture, Great Britain says it would end the series Crossroads, after killing off both Benny and Diane.
   Arnold Schwarzenegger accepts an invitation to what he believed was the Sacramento première of Terminator III, only to find himself trapped at the Governor’s mansion. Barred from returning to Hollywood, he decides to do the Governor’s job anyway, calling his Democratic opponents ‘girly men’. Ted Kennedy shows up, but is unable to get his nephew-in-law to stop quoting from his movies.
   UN votes to stop Israel from erecting a border between itself and the Palestinian areas, after China says it was bad feng shui.
   Saddam Hussein finds that his doubles have disappeared, and that his disguise as a Baghdad cab driver has failed him. This leads to US networks wondering whether Queer Eye for the Straight Guy should be revived as a concept, with Saddam Hussein as the first aired subject. A lessy bushy makeover is done by Carson Kressley for Saddam’s trial, and the show becomes a hit.

Later today, as a Christmas special: 2004

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History of the decade, part 3: 2002 

Yesterday: 2001


The euro is introduced in Europe as the most boringly named currency in the world.
   Enron, the winner of climate change awards and a self-proclaimed leader in green energy, and often bragged about by consultancies such as McKinsey’s, finds that saying the

September: John Major would later receive a knighthood from the Labour government, after the media revealed he Curried favour with a fellow MP.
right things could not dissuade the Feds knocking at the door asking to see the accounts.
   President Bush, after learning that the original ‘President George W.’ had an axe, decides he needed to create axes that people disliked as well, to balance the original legend and shine light on his own administration. This gave rise to his ‘axes of evil’ speech.
   Bush’s tough talk inspires numerous imitators on television, as even daytime TV hardens up with Phil McGraw and his new show, Dr Phil. Contrasting the softly, softly approach of Oprah Winfrey, McGraw screams at guests in an effort to have them “scared straight”.
   Hugo Chavez of Venezuela moved out of his house, then changed his mind and moved back.
   The media reveal that John Major had an extramarital affair, for which he later receives a knighthood.
   ImClone states that it dislikes Martha Stewart, kicking off a chain of events that would see her behind bars.
   Although A Beautiful Mind wins the Best Picture Oscar, the Academy is careful not to give another Oscar to Russell Crowe. No one has been able to figure out where he is from, and the Bush administration become concerned about illegal aliens coming in to the US and taking American jobs. The borders are tightened up, and the Minutemen in Texas begin patrolling the southern border for other actors.

Tomorrow: 2003 and, as a Christmas special, 2004

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History of the decade, part 2: 2001 

Yesterday: 2000


Britain was embroiled in all sorts of diseases with its livestock and foot and mouth, blamed on a threat by Telly Savalas in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In fact, it was a millennium prank orchestrated by mathematics’ geeks gone wrong.
   Osama bin Laden records an angry message directed at the US over the cancellation of Baywatch. Translators discover a hidden message, where bin Laden vows to record David Hasselhoff in a drunken state if given the chance.
   George W. Bush abandons the Kyoto global warming treaty, largely because he could

March: Wellingtonian goes back in time, gets mad, wins Oscar. It would establish Russell Crowe’s fighting hobby. Crowe, as Doc Brown and Marty McFly did in the 1980s, confirms that only humans with five letters in their surname can time-travel. Later in the decade, Rose Tyler, Sam Tyler, Alex Drake, Donna Noble, Amanda Price and Martha Jones would do the same. The rule also applies to Vulcans.
not find Kyoto on a map. He estab­lish­es an excel­lent rap­port with Mexi­can pres­ident Vicente Fox, thank­ing him for the sup­port of his news net­work.
   Slobo­dan Milo­šević believes he is hired to be the new Perry Mason in a TV re­make, set at the Inter­national Crim­inal Court, but begins going off the script when he said that the person play­ing the judge was not a good enough actor.
   To get the UK’s collective mind off livestock diseases and 9-11, Tony Blair promises to help the Americans retaliate against the terrorists by hiring Britain’s most skilful mercenary, Simon Cowell. Cowell unleashes a devastating weapon called Pop Idol, disguised as a talent contest, where the rejects of the early weeks are hired by MI6 and recorded on compact discs. These are then air-dropped on to known Taliban hideouts using a ‘shock and awe’ policy, in the belief it would smoke out the terrorists.
   Judging this to be a good idea, the Americans remake Pop Idol and hire Cowell to strategize the attacks. They also hire a man who uses the code word ‘Dog’ (in the same way Americans used ‘Charlie’ in Vietnam) and a drunk woman.
   Deputy PM John Prescott starts beating up voters on the campaign trail in the UK. The public brawling, and the fact Prescott gets off scot-free, inspire Russell Crowe.
   Crowe stars in Gladiator and wins an Oscar. Scholars are still puzzled by the outcome. New Zealanders are puzzled by the American media’s claim that Crowe is Australian. Australians are puzzled by the American media’s claim that Crowe can act.

Tomorrow: 2002

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History of the decade, part 1: 2000 

I have had a busy decade. I was best known in 2000 for designing typefaces and I start the new decade running for mayor. Somewhere in between I wrote and co-wrote some books and still publish a bunch of fashion magazines. But how has the world changed in the last 10 years?
   My memory is a bit hazy after this time, but I think it goes something along the lines of the following.


The year began with a hangover, with people waking up from millennium celebrations to discover that there was nothing wrong with their computers. Everyone had celebrated, except math geeks, who insisted that the millennium actually began in 2001.
   Vladimir Putin became Russian president on the promise that, ‘If it’s not right, we’ll put it right. It is the Putin right that counts,’ which appealed to Russian appliance owners, who voted overwhelmingly for the judo black belt.

November: Texas governor George W. Bush begins to form a government, regardless of whether he won in Florida.
   The Olympics opened in Australia, with New Zealanders outnumbered by other nationalities for the first time on Bondi Beach.
   Vice-president Al Gore appears in an unaired pilot for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and is advised to wear khaki tones if he is to win the presidential election. Democrats claim victory.
   Meanwhile, George W. Bush decides to start forming a government regardless of whether he won or not, because his Daddy had won twelve years before, and he was just following his lead.
   When Americans see the winter 2001 ranges at their department stores, to discover khaki was not in after all, Bush became president the following January. Queer Eye is shelved temporarily as a TV concept.
   Saddam Hussein hires an extra double.

Tomorrow: 2001

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The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is my car of the decade 

Jack Yan and Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Photographed by Chelfyn Baxter

Autocar is currently talking about what was the car of the decade. I remember in 1989, the magazine ran a series on the most beautiful cars of each decade, and named the most significant. That decade, the Ford Sierra was the most significant, for mainstreaming the aero look, an assessment I agree with.
   One of its writers has named the Audi R8 his choice, and the magazine is doing a poll, asking readers to vote on theirs. The magazine has provided a list, which includes the Hyundai i10 (important for the Indian motor industry’s global exports) and the Toyota Prius NHW20 (but what does it really pioneer than the original NHW10 did not?).
   What surprises me is that the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is not on its list. You can write it in, but how come this very British of automobiles is missing?
   I know the 911 beats it dynamically on every count. I know it’s not as powerful as the bigger DB9. On the other hand, it looks the business, and the only area where it stirs the soul more than its looks is its sound.
   It’s the opposite of the attractive woman who sounds common the minute she opens her mouth. The V8, more than the DB9, and more than the 911, seduces you a second time when you open her up.
   What it does represent is the survival of a brand, and how to do a downward brand extension without losing too much exclusivity.
   While the V8 Vantage means that more footballers are able to get their hands on one without getting into the Premier League, at least it has assured Aston Martin’s survival for the decade—and a good part of the coming one.
   For most of my lifetime, Aston Martin Lagonda has really been a single-range marque with the occasional four-door model that broke down.
   Now it fields a wider product range of the V8, DB9, DBS and Rapide, and we haven’t even looked at the limited-edition models.
   It was a downmarket extension that was not botched. For a lesson on how not to do it, one need look no further than the Jaguar X-type, which was Detroit’s way of taking on BMW’s 3er.
   One of my friend and colleague Stanley Moss’s Medinge papers dealt with this very topic, indicating that the Europeans did downmarket forays better.
   How ironical, in this case, that both these examples happened while Ford ran Aston and Jaguar. However, one might say that Aston was left more to its own devices than Jaguar was.
   In addition, the V8 Vantage made Aston Martin a brand that kids could point at and dream about. When I was a child, the car with the same name, which was based on the original DBS, was a brute, but it was never the star of my bedroom wall. It was not cool in the way the Porsche 930 was cool. Or the Lamborghini Countach.
   Sure, the V8 did not mobilize the masses nor did it present a new technology.
   But for Autocar readers, I suggest they enter this model in for its significance to the Aston marque, to British ingenuity, and for a reassuring dose of patriotism.

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The 17-year ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ rule 

Anyone notice how there’s a 17-year cycle when ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ surfaces into mainstream consciousness? The original was released in A Night at the Opera in 1975, returned to the Zeitgeist with Wayne’s World in 1992 (perhaps inspired by the resurgence of interest in Freddie Mercury’s work after the singer’s death the year before), and has come back once more thanks to the Muppets last month. At this rate, 2026 will swing by and it’ll hit us again. Regular as clockwork.




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