Tackling GMO’s Part 4. G.E. Séralini case. Why it is both pivotal and pointless.

It’s about time I got back into this, here we go!

If you’re digging through the facts about GMO food, especially if you’re going from the popular media, eventually you’ll be brought back to one report. This report, headed by one Gilles-Eric Séralini, can be found here. Now, this report has since be redacted, and, if you look below the main article, you will see that the article itself has been heavily criticized within the journal itself.

I’ve already stated before that I am pro GMO (over all, it isn’t perfect, but those problems almost exclusively fall into farming practices, not the GMO’s themselves). The data that exists overwhelmingly shows that as far as food crops go there is no significant harm to humans or even the environment in making or using GMO’s. However, the above paper, redacted or not, is still being used as a source to “prove” that GMO’s are toxic. There is numerous reasons why that is not the case and I’ll be going through some of those reasons.

I’d like to redirect to my previous post about statistical significance here before we go further for a refresher on what that means for those readers unfamiliar with the concept.

The first thing I will point out is the redaction of the paper. Redactions are rare in science. Generally they only occur when there is some form of scientific misconduct. From what I’ve gathered from the back and forth posts, Séralini has not been accused of any misconduct, however, the Journal’s representative indicated that the redaction is due to pushing from the scientific community, and because the article itself was inconclusive and couldn’t accurately draw the conclusions made by the research team.

This is my major complaint with the paper, and the most telling, although it isn’t the sort of stratifying headline that gets people’s attention. “Anti-GMO paper found statistically irrelevant, says Journal representative.” Just doesn’t have a nice ring to it. This lack of statistical significance is why I call it a pointless paper because it really doesn’t say anything, but allow me explain why.

Generally the upper cut off in the biological sciences for a result to be statistically significance is 5% (though it is often only consider accurate when that percentage is much lower). What that means is that there is only a 5% chance that the results are just a fluke that can be explained by random chance. The primary ways of lowering the risk of statistical insignificance are to increase the population or sample size you’re researching and reduce the number of thing you’re studying and testing for (to better make use of your limited sampling population).

So this bring us to back to the Séralini paper. In the post analyst of the paper by researchers who also use rats for toxicity testing (a very routine bit of science) that suggested that the paper would have done much better to have at least over 200 rats, and Séralini and his team only used 100 each of males and females. Why so many rats? Well Séralini wasn’t just testing one factor he was testing the effects of Roundup and a Monsanto corn feed, splitting up by sex. So You have the rats split into 10 equivalent groups a control group and 9 treatment groups for both male rats and female rats. 6 of the control groups contained GM corn feed and the feed was either treated with roundup or not with each group given different level of roundup in their corn feed. the final three treatment groups were fed control (a similar non-gm corn) feed and tap water contaminated with some level of round up. Again all the group had different levels of round-up treatment.

If you’ve done the math that means each group only has 10 individuals in it. That’s a tiny sample size, and while there is some overlap, it’s like the team was trying to do three or four experiment in one, and they definitely did not use the resources they need to pull that off.

Why? Because 10 individual is almost never enough to draw any sort of accurate conclusions. There is simply to much room for mistakes or randomness to dictate the results. And even though there is some overlap in the treatment groups, this can’t help since the control group, which forms the basis of comparison of every other group, still only contains 10 individuals, so any of the inconstancies could easy wind up there. Regardless, you can’t pull off accuracy with such small sample sizes and without a group (the control group) to compare to you can’t actually say anything about it one way or another, since the statistics could be normal, but you can’t be sure since you lack a population to compare too.

Though this isn’t the only issue I have with the paper, besides being a pointless and useless waste of time and resources, because it could never be statistically significant, the treatment of the animals was unethical. If you look at the paper (I won’t share them here as they are pretty gruesome) you’ll see some pictures of 3 rats with massive tumors, though problematically only three of the rats. If you where being unbiased, you’d include the pictures of all rats, though, since the pictures had nothing to do with the results, I suspect they where added only for shock value. And they are shocking. You have three rats who by mass are over 25% tumor. Swollen to the point they problem would have great difficulty moving and be in great pain.

Before you panic, cancer in rats is abnormally common compared to other mammals, and the line of rat used in the paper have the terrible tendency to form these sorts of tumors spontaneously 30-50% of the time no matter what else you might do to them. So it might be the case that the research team picked this group of rats specially because they would form these “showy” tumors spontaneously.  But, more over, they allowed some of the rats to live longer than the average life span of these sort of rats, and probably simply to take those shocking pictures. Though we won’t actually know that for sure as the original data from the experiment was never released, so we don’t know which rats were which or what the original data collected was. This little fact is also damning since it make replication and comparison much more difficult, since you don’t know what all the outcomes actually are.

There is plenty else wrong with the paper: it’s hard to read for a scientific paper, the figures are unclear and overcrowded, and certain other results where ignored in the conclusion (like that one group of male rats which drank round up contaminated water actually had a longer life span then the control group). Though, again, all of these data points are statically irrelevant, so ultimately all of the result are meaningless.

Another damning fact surrounding the paper is that Séralini, while creating a lot of hype before the paper was published (which itself was odd given how poor it is overall), would not allow reporters to read the paper until they sign a legal document to promise that they would not share the document with other people (including trained scientists in the field) until after the paper was finished, so reporters had no means of fact-checking the legitimacy of the paper. And no other scientists were allowed to read the paper prior to publishing. A very odd thing to do unless you know your result are suspect.

So this paper, pivotal to so many anti-GMO arguments, is in fact a pointless bit of research that says nothing about the Monsanto products it was studying, but does speak poorly of those researcher who worked on it. I suggest if you see the name Gilles-Eric Séralini you’d be best to proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

There has been no shortage of criticism of this paper, and here is a very thorough tear-down of the paper. It does a better job than I do. Though, after searching through Youtube, this is the only video that accurately address the paper. That is, actually talks about the paper itself rather than working around it or just addressing the criticism. However, after carefully looking around, this is the most thoughtful and, most importantly, thorough I could find. So thanks to Myles Power for being awesome and stuff. I’ll definitely be linking to him more in the future:


Oh and why it the study pivotal? That because it’s the crux of some many GMO arguments, understanding that the science doesn’t support the vast majority of anti-gmo claims particularly this “paper” it key to getting a problem understanding of the issue and tackling this problem people have with GMO’s

Pride Parade

Today was the Pride Parade in my city. It was only my second time going, so it’s still quite interesting to me. I can see it getting a bit boring if you watch it every year, but I think it’s an important event to support. My city has a week long Pride, but I’ve only ever gone to the parade. Maybe next year I can do more. We began the day by looking at the Festival area. One section of the Festival was a concert area. The rest of it was set up for food and had stations set up to buy things and talk to different companies. We looked at who had booths set up, then went to find a spot to watch the parade.

While we were looking at the booths, I noticed the Canadian Forces recruiters. They also had a float in the parade. But I couldn’t help but think, how common is it in other countries for the military to not only support LGBT rights, but to actively recruit people from the LGBT community? I don’t know much about the treatment of the LGBT community in industrialized nations outside of Canada and the US, but I do know that Canada was one of the leaders when it came to legalizing marriage. I also know that it took forever for the US to finally repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. As such, I wonder if the military in other countries is as willing to take part in Pride, and recruit while there.

While watching the parade, I also noticed how many children were both watching and participating in the parade. It makes me happy to see so many parents raising their children to be accepting of LGBT people. These children will grow up seeing their parents supporting equal rights, and they’ll likely adopt the belief. I want my children to the of the LGBT community as average people. I don’t want them to think there is something wrong with being LGBT. As such, I want them to watch the parade, or even participate in it. I want them to see their parents supporting the community. I want them to know our LGBT friends and accept them. And I want them to know that it’s okay to be LGBT. Basically, I want it to be normal for them.

I had a good day and am hoping to be more involved next year. I am glad that I live in a city where Pride is celebrated, and I’m glad that it is still spreading and becoming more popular. Maybe someday the LGBT community will be fully accepted and Pride won’t be necessary. But, until that happens, I’m glad it exists.

Why I Haven’t Lost “Faith” With Humanity

I keep reading about how bad everything is. And how the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Part of me is inclined to agree, but most of me wonders what they’re seeing that I’m missing. To me, the world looks pretty good. So I’ve decided to write a post about why I haven’t lost “faith” with humanity.

Before I go on, I should address the quotations around the word “faith.” This version of the word faith is not the same as the word used in religious contexts. This is merely an easier way of saying “I believe that humans are mostly good.” And I am now going to provide my evidence to support my belief.

A lot has been happening lately that is absolutely terrible. Watching the news paints a terrifying picture of the world. First there is the issues in Ukraine. Many people have suggested that this conflict is the beginning of the third world war, or a new cold war. And now Russia has actually began invading Ukraine. But in World War 2 Hitler’s army wasn’t met with immediate resistance. The allies tried to appease the Germans, letting them take territory and imprison people, before they threatened military action. Russia had barely started agressing before the protests started. People and governments a like are angry at Russia now. The US would be stupid to actually start a war with Russia, but many countries have started boycotting Russia. This will hurt Russia a lot more than I think many people realize, because Russia depends quite a bit on trading. Their economy would be hurt greatly if they lost trading partners. People are looking for peaceful solutions to the Ukraine problem and I think they will be successful. The Russian invasion is half-hearted at best, and they don’t seem to actually know what they are doing.

The US is another interesting case. Earlier this year, a number of states legalized same-sex marriage. This is great news. The US is far behind many other industrialized nations when it comes to this issue, but they are starting to catch up. It is becoming less okay to discriminate against the LGBT community. More people are willing to stand up and say enough is enough. For example, a video recently went viral of a young adult being disowned for being gay. His parents verbally and physically attacked him. Horrible things like this are, unfortunately, not uncommon. But they are becoming less common. And people are coming together more and more to support the victims of such abuse. The young man mentioned earlier has had $50,000 raised in his name so that he could survive during his first year. He will, hopefully, be able to keep his life from completely falling apart, which is what happens in most cases. He won’t have to live on the street. These actions make it easy to see the good in people, even when others make it so easy to see the bad.

Like Ferguson. There is so much wrong with what happened there. It seems as though the US is becoming a police state. Those things: police beating and killing unarmed people, police suppressing even peaceful rallies with undue force, has become increasingly common in the US. Part of me screams “why aren’t you people doing anything?” at the American populous. It seems so odd that there aren’t more people fighting back against the brutality. But, at the same time, people are crying out. There are more and more videos out there showing police brutality. The people of Ferguson did stand up in protest. And people all over the world are starting to pay attention. Not just to the police brutality, but to the racism that it stems from. People are speaking out against it. Sure, it’s not perfect. But it’s a start. And if people keep pushing, eventually those in charge will start to realize that they won’t get away with such abuse anymore. Changes will start to occur.

Of course the world is not perfect. It never will be. There will always be people who discriminate against others for one reason or another. But I look at history and compare it to how things are now and I see improvement. People are coming together more and more to support people they will never even meet. People care less about whether or not the person is family, and they care more and more that the person is human. We really are becoming a global community. I think this is wonderful. I’m glad that it is becoming less okay to discriminate. And I’m glad that people will stand up against abuses happening half a world away. Because 50 years ago that wouldn’t have happened. People may never even have heard of the abuse. Or they may have and simply ignored it because the people weren’t their people. So no, I haven’t lost my “faith” in humanity.

Of Large Families and Religion

As a culture, we have a fascination with what we see as odd. We can see this fascination with a lot of the shows on TV. One channel, TLC, likes to focus on families. The Duggar family has had a show on TLC for years, and the Bates family had a show on their for a short time. Those are the largest families featured on the network, but there have been many similar shows with 8 or more children per family.

There are many different opinions held about these families. Most people worry about whether or not the family is on welfare and whether the children are properly cared for. Some care about the issue of over-population and pollution. However, many also praise these families for their religious convictions and good parenting.

For the last few months, I have been quite fascinated with these families myself. I grew up with one brother, so the idea of having many brothers and sisters is odd to me. But I’m more interested in the religious convictions. I can’t say whether or not the Duggars are good parents, but some of their religious convictions bother me. For one, I don’t think it’s healthy to teach a girl to rely on her father when it comes to picking a future spouse. Her father will not be marrying him. He will not have to spend the rest of his life with this man. The daughters should be given the information necessary to decide without parental guidance who  they wish to spend the rest of their lives with. I also don’t like the idea of courting. In the case of the two Duggar girls, one only courted her now husband before getting engaged. They got married in under a year and are now expecting a child. The other Duggar girl courted for 5 months before getting engaged. She will be getting married in three months. While courting they weren’t allowed to be alone, they can’t kiss or hug (Christian side hugs only), and they were expected to keep their thoughts pure. I can’t help but wonder, with all that pressure to remain pure, and with no privacy, how well either girl really knows her partner.

Of course, those aren’t my only concerns, but they are some of my biggest concerns. I’m also concerned with how the children are always surrounded by like-minded people. I get that the parents want their children to stay pure and be good Christians, but is it healthy to keep them away from other world views? In the book written by the oldest 4 girls, they say that they were encouraged to avoid unGodly people and to turn conversations with strangers into missionary work. So they were basically taught to only value people who are Christians, and particularly those who are their type of Christian. How will they handle the diversity in the world?  How will they deal with the fact that the entire world isn’t Christian, and never will be, and they will have to work with non-Christians?

The last big concern that I’d like to bring up pertains to the quiverfull lifestyle and the mother. She had 19 kids. The human body is not built well for child birth. What kind of damage has she done to her body to have so many children? How much damage has this lifestyle caused? What is the purpose of having so many children when it does so much damage? And what damage has this lifestyle done to her views of her self? Does she view herself solely through her children? These are all scary thoughts.

Personally, I don’t really care how many children a person has. It’s their choice. But I do worry about the effects that religion has on families. Everything from the shame focused on sexuality to the way religion encourages parents to raise their children effects society. So long as the children aren’t abused, then the family can parent however they like. But nobody should be ashamed of their sexuality. Nobody should be shut away from diversity in the name of religion. And nobody should feel that they are solely responsible for repopulating our already full world.

What Does “Happy Holiday” Mean?

I was watching the preview for yet another Kirk Cameron “documentary,” and in it he made some comment about people saying “happy holiday” instead of “merry Christmas.” He then said “whatever that means.” Does he really not know what “holiday” means?

It doesn’t seem as though very many people do know what it means, because this debate happens every September through to December. People complain that Christ is being taken out of Christmas, and you should say “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holiday” or vice versa. It seems to me that people are just looking for an excuse to be mad. But it’s silly.

So let’s look at what “happy holiday” means. What is a holiday? That’s easy: it’s a holy day. So how, exactly, is saying “happy holiday” secular? Sure, it’s not merely recognizing one religion, but so what? We’re talking about western countries with a lot of different religions. Many of which celebrate holy days in December. So if someone says “happy holiday” to you, they are in fact recognizing the day as holy. They are just not assuming you celebrate one holiday over another.

“Merry Christmas,” however, ignores all but one of the many holidays. So, for those of you demanding that everybody say “merry Christmas,” are you really so selfish that you demand that everybody should pay deference to your holy day while ignoring the millions who do not celebrate your it? Why can’t you be happy with the acknowledgement that your day is in fact recognized as holy?

Personally, I grew tired of this issue long ago. None of the holidays are holy to me, and I certainly don’t recognize Christ in Christmas. I don’t need people demanding that I pay them any special heed. That’s why, when I was still working retail, I stopped saying anything about the season. Nobody complains if you just say “have a good day,” even on December 24. I did that for about 4 years and never got so much as a funny look. So if “have a good day” is acceptable, what’s wrong with “happy holiday”? And what exactly is all the fuss about?

A reply to Why I Don’t Identify as a Feminist. Part Five.

Click to go back to Part 1

I’d now like to explain what I think was meant by a quote Godless Cranium pulled from: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-05-08/news/1993128032_1_potential-rapists-campus-feminist-art

the selected text chosen by Godless was this:

Are nearly all male students at the University of Maryland “potential rapists”?

Women in a feminist art class here apparently believe so. About 10 of them plastered the campus with fliers last week listing the names of virtually every male student under the heading, “NOTICE: THESE MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS.”

While stating things in that manner is fairly tactless I should remind you all of the fallowing statistic from my original post. That depending on the country 6%-15% of men will admit to having raped a women. The citation can be found here: http://www.wcsap.org/sites/www.wcsap.org/files/uploads/webinars/SV%20on%20Campus/Repeat%20Rape.pdf The Research paper itself found 6.4% of men admit to raping a woman, but study cites the number between 6%-15% based on other studies.

So on average something like 10% of men are willing to rape a women, so I feel the following analogy is almost perfect:


Obviously “MONSTERS” is harsher language then I might like to use in the desire to be civil, but this the reality women live in. Men are dangerous, and to a level which is very significant to the lives of women. To the woman who doesn’t know me, there’s something like a 10% chance I’d be willing to rape her given the chance. Sure, I know I’m in the 90% that wouldn’t, but she can’t know that. So yes, to a person who doesn’t know me I am a potential rapist for all they know.

Plus, like I mentioned already, statistics back this horrifying number. Even at 6.4%, this means that 1 in 16 men are rapists. So yes, the average man isn’t a rapist, but the percent is high enough to warrant worry from every woman towards every man, given the sort of violence that could happen. And since most rapes are done by acquaintances, it doesn’t help to just know the guy: you really need to understand if he’s trustworthy and has a good track record relating to treatment of women if you want to be sure. Does the above infographic really lose much power if you change 10% to 6-15%?


Now to Godless Cranium’s last three points:

I also see a lack of viable solutions by modern feminism. I see a lot of people talking about the patriarchy or how women get paid less etc, but no solutions. If these issues are so problematic, then what are the solutions? That’s what I’m interested in.

I hope I’ve given you a few viable solutions feminists are applying to problems in the form of consent education, challenging social norms, and education (advertisement) of the sexism what still exists. Feminists need to change minds and that isn’t an easy task, particular when you’re running in opposition to the establishment. Though I think there are plenty of people pushing the goals of feminism, I’ve linked to many video’s on people speaking of their successes and difficulties. Feminism, like all movements, is made of many thousands of people each doing their small part, some bigger then others, and those people doing the more noticeable work are easier to point toward, but each person speaking for women, and men, pushing back against those social constructs which do harm, they are the feminists we always need to remember and encourage as they are the ones changing society. It’s a movement of the masses, not just a handful of key players.


And I personally think the very term ‘feminism’ should get thrown out. Why not use a term that is sex/gender neutral, such as:

  • gender egalitarian

  • equal rights movement

  • humanism (although the argument is usually that humanism already covers something else)

This common reply is pulled up all the time on feminists, but it ends up ignoring the problem that there is no guarantee you can make up for the loss of social capital, and I think this video by AngryFilmProduction on this topic is done well and in an amusing manner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBSK7oFZYes&list=UUHEe9OGJqObD02AzTrvp2wg

Here are 4 more serious posts about this topic. They are more thorough than I can be dealt with here:





And finally, the infamous “The Talk” episode where they laughed at a man having his genitals mutilated. Yep that’s sexism, and is tasteless and awful and just plain sick. It saddens me this happens at all, as it saddened other feminists. Sadly we live in a world where we still joke and threaten such things. Indeed in many parts of the world surgical genital mutilation is common (Though I will mention that only male genital mutilation tends to occur in North America, and that female genital mutilation is far, far worse overall then male circumcision. In North America it’s male circumcision, which has been show to do basically nothing beneficial in comparison to its harms. And feminists do talk about this and fight against it, also none of my male offspring shall have said surgery force onto them as babies as it was on me.

And so now ends my 5 part reply, thanks to those who took the time and got all the way through this beast. Now allow me to leave you with this humorous video on the history of circumcision in North America:



Part 4

Go back to Part 1

A reply to Why I Don’t Identify as a Feminist. Part Four.


Click to go back to Part 1

Now back to the portrayal of men and women in media, particularly games and cartoons.

I’d like to reply to Godless Cranium’s Pictures with a few of my own and ask the fallowing question.

Does anyone honestly think that this…

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…Is directly equivalent to this?

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And a few pictures of women and men side by side.

Obviously both are unrealistic in the extreme, but let’s look at the Hawkeye initiative memes, where Hawkeye is put in the place of female superheroes. Remember the picture at the beginning of this post? Now that is what men would look like if they were treated and sexualized in the same way women are. As it stands, men tend to be given impossibly strong bodies and crazy good features, however, this is more characterizable as a power fantasy for the player/viewer. Where women are generally showed more as a prize or show piece. This is a underlying problem and is very implicit in our society.

Here is the Hawkeye Initiative:

This is what male superheroes would look like if they were portrayed the same way female superheroes are. Warning: many are very satirical, and, sadly, sometimes some homophobia works its way in, which annoys me greatly. So I’ll be including some of the better pictures below the link:








As I’m sure you can see, the men portrayed in the Hawkeye Initiative are more equivalent to those pictures of the women found above.


I think modern feminism is a movement that at its core is something to aspire to. I think historically, it has done a lot of good and should be applauded for that. I also think it’s currently rudderless. It doesn’t seem to have clear goals. People who identify as feminists can’t seem to make up their minds about what should be done.

For example, you have some feminists saying the patriarchy objectifies women and strip clubs and pornography personify this. On the other side, you have feminists who say women should be allowed to strip and take part in pornography if they choose.

Which is it?

Godless Cranium


I object to this as a false dichotomy, and that this example properly represents a common problem in feminism. I’ve said it before: feminism has never been and shouldn’t be a hive-mind with 100% consensus at all times in the movement. In all large movements you need different people trying different things and reporting back what happens to the community at large.

Addressing the issue of pornography is not one I do lightly. Pornography is a complex issue in feminism and not all pornography is the same. There is well regulated pornography which has actors with contracts who are protected, as is there pornography where women are taken advantage off, and even raped (for example they might have in there contract that they won’t be performing oral sex, and will be orally raped anyway) for the film.

Further, who are you thinking of on the anti-porn side of feminism? I hope we are not talking about Andrea Dworkin: we’ve long since moved past the point where she and those of her ideologies are really relevant to the movement. Those harm based arguments of porn are not accurate from my understanding. With porn, like many other kinds of media, how and exactly what you consume has more of an impact than the media itself. And in regards to exploitation, if porn is properly regulated, you can avoid those very real problems of exploitation.

As well Sex-positive feminists do not think all sex and porn are great and good to go. What I hope is obvious is that sex-positive feminist don’t think exploitation of porn actors is a good thing. Also sex-positive feminists have a more complex ideology that I’ve outlined:


However I won’t say more since this is not a realm I’m very knowledgeable about.

Now, is feminism really rudderless? I think feminism is pretty clear on many issues, such as teaching consent, sex education in general, access to birth control and family planning services, access to abortion, and challenging gender norms (all gender norms). The issues there seems to be in consensus, and all worthy things to tackle. Do feminists really need to agree on everything all time to effect change? I don’t think so. And do feminists ignore men’s issues? Perhaps to some degree, but I don’t think so, and definitely not all together. Why am I comfortable saying this? Because men are more and more joining the conversation, and less and less as opposition.

And we cannot forget the overwhelming numbers that women are exposed to in violence and harassment compared to men. We are talking numbers like 60-90% of all women experience harassment or violence, where men experience it at level closer to 25-40%. And we cannot forget, particularly as men, since women don’t forget this basically ever, that men compose the vast majority of the perpetrators of violence. Further, a lot of these issues revolve around the very gender issues and issues of consent. That women and the feminine are weak, and men are strong, macho, never showing weakness. These problem are impossible to tackle without tackling both sides. For consent doesn’t work unless everyone understand what it means. And that making the feminine good and normal, and not substandard or problematic, makes it so men don’t need to fear being feminine. They don’t need to avoid being “girly.”

That feminism comes from the perspective of women in most cases is not a weakness as many people seems to say. Women and their opinions are sorely under represented (as this Ted talks about https://www.ted.com/talks/megan_kamerick_women_should_represent_women_in_media#t-299037). If a woman says something, a lot less people will take her word for it than if a man, of the exact same station says the exact same thing.

I also can’t seem to say this enough: Yes, some feminist hate men. Yes, they exists, they are a minority, they don’t speak for me, and they don’t represent the movement at large, they are strawmen (strawwomen ;) ) and arguing against those sudo-feminists (many don’t actually believe in true equality and so therefore are not truly feminists) is not the same as arguing against feminists. It’s like saying the Gnostic Atheist represent the whole atheist movement.

Here’s a great video of AronRa talking about these very topics and I think it’s an excellent second voice to what I’m trying to say here:


Part 3

Part 5


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