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Luminous Animal

Luminous Animal's Journal
Luminous Animal's Journal
May 17, 2012

Ack! For some reason, the entire body of my post disappeared!

So you can get off the floor and stop laughing now.

It started out with something like this...

"But even if I were to feed subpar food to my family, I couldn't do it for $1.50 per meal per person."

Then I presented a comparison of Safeway prices in the city to Safeway prices in the suburbs. It took me about 2 hours to research and write my post and I will have to stay an hour later at work to make up for it. (One of the hours was during my lunchtime.)

I am actually so frustrated right now I could cry that all of that is lost.

I chose Safeway because I don't have a car and there is one two blocks from my house so, if I were to shop at a commercial grocer, Safeway would be have to be the one. Grocery store prices in the city are 10% - 25% higher than in the suburbs.

There is the civic center farmers market (often cheaper than Safeway) that sells commercially produced food and is on the subway line but it is only open on Wednesday afternoons during my work hours. The only other farmers market on the subway line that is open on the weekend is sooooo expensive that I will only shop there if I am looking for a specific specialty item.

I also talked about things that I would have to give up in order to eat as healthful a diet as possible while still sticking to the cheapest items. I'd have to give up things like bread, corn, tofu, soy milk, soy beans, etc.

I also talked about my daughter's gargantuan appetite.

Oh well, I can't get it back and at least you got a good laugh and an opportunity to mock someone.

May 17, 2012

Actually, we will still be an overwhelmingly white country. 74% in fact...

Non-Hispanic whites @ 46%
Hispanic whites @ 28%

Hispanic whites are people like Carmen Diaz, Emilio Estevez, Andy Garcia, Christina Aguilera, etc.

Who are white Hispanics? They are white people who trace their origins to Spain (often via other countries in the Spanish-speaking world) just as Italian Americans are white people who trace theirs to Italy. Some are descended from Spanish missionaries who were present on the continent long before the United States was formed. (At one point in our history, we distinguished between lighter “European” Italians and swarthier “Mediterranean” ones, but that distinction is long in our past, just as the distinction between white Hispanics and the rest of the majority will surely fall by the wayside before 2050.)


http://www.alternet.org/media/151421/why_are_conservatives_scared_of_cameron_diaz/?page=entire

May 15, 2012

The worst eighth-grade math teacher in New York City

It's difficult to simply pull four paragraphs to really understand what is going on here so the article is well worth reading in full.

The title of the piece accurately reports that Ms Abbott is rated the worst teacher in NYC based on the ludicrously inaccurate teacher rating system. The article is explains how she ended up with that humiliating and public title.

She is leaving teaching.

http://eyeoned.org/content/the-worst-eighth-grade-math-teacher-in-new-york-city_326/



Using a statistical technique called value-added modeling, the Teacher Data Reports compare how students are predicted to perform on the state ELA and math tests, based on their prior year’s performance, with their actual performance. Teachers whose students do better than predicted are said to have “added value”; those whose students do worse than predicted are “subtracting value.” By definition, about half of all teachers will add value, and the other half will not.

Carolyn Abbott was, in one respect, a victim of her own success. After a year in her classroom, her seventh-grade students scored at the 98th percentile of New York City students on the 2009 state test. As eighth-graders, they were predicted to score at the 97th percentile on the 2010 state test. However, their actual performance was at the 89th percentile of students across the city. That shortfall—the difference between the 97th percentile and the 89th percentile—placed Abbott near the very bottom of the 1,300 eighth-grade mathematics teachers in New York City.

How could this happen? Anderson is an unusual school, as the students are often several years ahead of their nominal grade level. The material covered on the state eighth-grade math exam is taught in the fifth or sixth grade at Anderson. “I don’t teach the curriculum they’re being tested on,” Abbott explained. “It feels like I’m being graded on somebody else’s work.”

The math that she teaches is more advanced, culminating in high-school level algebra and a different and more challenging test, New York State’s Regents exam in Integrated Algebra. To receive a high school diploma in the state of New York, students must demonstrate mastery of the New York State learning standards in mathematics by receiving a score of 65 or higher on the Regents exam. In 2010-11, nearly 300,000 students across the state of New York took the Integrated Algebra Regents exam; most of the 73 percent who passed the exam with a score of 65 or higher were tenth-graders.
May 15, 2012

Shedding light on Toni Morrison's characterization of Clinton as "our first black President."

Because nearly everyone gets it wrong.

First, her own explanation in 2008:

Do you regret referring to Bill Clinton as the first black President? --Justin Dews, Cambridge, Mass.

--People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race. (Emphasis mine).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/08/toni-morrison-on-calling_n_100761.html

The original from 1998:
http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/clinton/morrison.html

In a quite baffling and frustrating manner, it was not a "story" but a compilation of revelations and commentary which shied away from the meaning of its own material. In spite of myriad "titles" ("The President in Crisis&quot , what the public has been given is dangerously close to a story of no story at all. One of the problems in locating it is the absence of a coherent sphere of enunciation. There seems to be no appropriate language in which or platform of discourse from which to pursue it. This absence of clear language has imploded into a surfeit of contradictory languages. The parsing and equivocal terminology of law is laced with titillation. Raw comedy is spiked with Cotton Mather homilies. The precision of a coroner's vocabulary mocks passionate debates on morality. Radiant sermons are forced to dance with vile headlines. From deep within this conflagration of tony, occasionally insightful, arch, pompous, mournful, supercilious, generous, salivating verbalism, the single consistent sound to emerge is a howl of revulsion.

But revulsion against what? What is being violated, ruptured, defiled? The bedroom? The Oval Office? The voting booth? The fourth grade? Marriage vows? The flag? Whatever answer is given, underneath the national embarrassment churns a disquiet turned to dread and now anger.

African-American men seemed to understand it right away. Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President's body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and bodysearched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear "No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and--who knows?--maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us." (Emphasis mine.)


While it is true that Clinton had huge support from the African American community, Morrison wasn't claiming that Clinton was the first black President based on his policies but rather, she was commenting on his victimization from the elite in DC and the consistent slap-downs directed towards his "uppity" self.




May 12, 2012

"Looking Back at Huey Newton’s Thoughts on Gay Rights…

In the Wake of Obama’s Endorsement"

From: Davey D's Hip Hop Corner-(The Blog)
http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/looking-back-at-huey-newtons-thoughts-on-gay-rights-in-the-wake-of-obamas-endorsement/

This was a speech given August 15 1970 by Huey Newton co-founder of the Black Panther Party..here he addresses the issue of Gay Rights… Its serious food for thought coming in the aftermath of President Obama endorsing Same-sex Message…

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been someuncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about
homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals
and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed
groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.
I say ” whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know,
sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the
mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in
the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we
want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she
might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start
with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and
feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude
that the White racists use against our people because they are Black
and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist
because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover
something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to
him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed
people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of
behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established
norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are
only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever
constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say
offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should
make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind
of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say
that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much
about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual
movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and
through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not
given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the
most oppressed people in the society.


There's more....
May 4, 2012

4 May Day Stories the Corporate Media Missed While Fixating On Obama's College Girlfriend

Just a few excerpts. The entire article is worth reading.

http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/155267

By Sarah Seltzer, AlterNet

Story #1: Income inequality is still here--and so are protests.
Media stories on Occupy suffer from the same "horse race" problem that provides a frequent subject for critique in mainstream coverage of elections. "Media coverage is so focused on headcount numbers, and police and protest clashes: 'is this a win or a lose? How many people got arrested? How many roads were taken over?'" says videographer and Occupy activist Kathleen Russell. When the focus is on the win/lose dichotomy, she says, no one is "talking about the reason people are out there, or what they are fighting against."

Story #2: Outsize police presence and infiltration, scary new police tactics.
-Preemptive arrests and intimidation: Gawker, and then the New York Times did cover the fact that a number of protesters' homes were raided under bogus pretenses the day before the May Day events.

.......

Overriding all these tactics was a huge police presence, completely outsized based on the number of demonstrators. Natasha Lennard summed up my feelings when she wrote, "The NYPD is the seventh largest standing army in the world, and on the evening of May 1, New York felt was a city under military siege — it was terrifying."

Story #3: Historic coalition between labor, students and immigrants.

But on Tuesday in New York City, organizers from OWS, racial justice, immigrants' rights groups, labor and elsewhere made one of the most concerted efforts I've ever seen to not step on each others' toes and embrace each others' issues. As Julianne Escobedo Shepherd noted in her report for AlterNet, in Union Square, organized labor and immigrants' rights group shouted each other out from the stage, warmly and genuinely.

Story #4: Organizing peacefully without hierarchy is not easy
If you've ever tried to organize a big event for your workplace, school, charity or religious institution, you know it's not easy. Now try imagining doing that--except organizing hundreds of events on the same day with a loose group of people who refuse to appoint leaders, don't have a hierarchy, and let everyone speak his or her mind. I've often thought that journalists don't understand the hard work of grassroots organizing, and the number of forces that have to triumph for it to be successful.






April 27, 2012

"This poster continues spamming this image -- most of their posts today contain it"

That is accusation against me. That asserts that the alerter is aware of most of my posts and that most of my posts are spam. A lie.

And second. The alerter stated I linked and I did not. Link is common vernacular. Link is no more obscure than the color blue.

Then 3rd, if not obscured by lies and thus closed for honest discussion, perhaps there would be a credible defense. But there's no way to know that anymore. I don't even have the slimmest opportunity to defend it because it can't be posted here. All we have here is your opinion is that it is hateful.

Thus, without the freedom to present evidence, I can assert it is not hateful.

And you, with confidence of suppressed evidence, can assert it is.

April 19, 2012

America's Drone Sickness...

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/19/americas_drone_sickness/
This headline and first paragraph from today’s Washington Post scoop by Greg Miller speaks volumes about so many things:




There are many evils in the world, but extinguishing people’s lives with targeted, extra-judicial killings, when you don’t even know their names, based on “patterns” of behavior judged from thousands of miles away, definitely ranks high on the list. Although the Obama White House has not approved of this request from CIA Director David Petraeus, these so-called “signature strikes” that “allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior” are already robustly used in Pakistan — having been started by George Bush in 2008 and aggressively escalated by Barack Obama. There is much to say on this new report, but in order for me to focus on three discrete points, permit me to highly recommend two superb articles that highlight other vital aspects of this policy: (1) this article from my Salon colleague Jefferson Morley this morning on why this form of drone-targeting is pure American Terrorism, and (2) this essay from Chris Floyd about a recently published Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings on Obama’s love of drones and secret wars and how the military’s slang for drone victims — “bug splat” — reflects the sociopathic mindset that drive them.


Petraeus and the signature of U.S. terror
The CIA pressures Obama to step up indiscriminate attacks in Yemen
By Jefferson Morley
http://www.salon.com/2012/04/19/petraeus_and_the_signature_of_u_s_terror/

The brutality of “signature strikes” is not new for the CIA leadership. As the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reliably reported, “signature strikes” have regularly targeted funeral ceremonies in Pakistan. The amorality of the U.S. actions is chilling. An alleged militant is killed by a U.S. drone. Then when his family and friends try to come to mourn him, the U.S. attacks the gathering from the sky, on the grounds that attending an al-Qaida funeral is evidence of hostile intentions toward the United States. In one such attack reported by the New York Times in June 2009, 60 people were killed. Local press accounts of the incident, cited by BIJ, put the death toll at 83, 45 of whom were non-combatants. It is said that 10 were children.

...

It seems Petraeus and his allies in the current inter-agency debate do not want to be constrained by a list. They calculate if the U.S. slaughters a particular crowd of people at an al-Qaida funeral, they are sure to kill men plotting to attack the United States. The logic, if not the morality, is persuasive: If you kill the certainly innocent, you will also get some of the presumably guilty.

This is also the logic of terrorism, which is one reason why the defenders of “signature strikes” prefer that their names not be published in the Washington Post.


The Way of the Drone: Emblem for an Empire of Cowards
Written by Chris Floyd
http://chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2235-the-way-of-the-drone-emblem-for-an-empire-of-cowards.html

The boy was probably killed in a "signature strike," where bold and brave CIA analysts sit back in their chairs and observe people going about their business in a foreign country far away. If their activities look "suspicious" according to some arbitrary, secret criteria, then they can be slaughtered instantly by a drone missile -- even if the attackers have no idea whatsoever who the targets are or what they are actually doing. Plotting terrorism, or praying? Organizing jihad, or holding a wedding? Building bombs, or having lunch? The attackers don't know -- and can't know. They simply put down their Cheetohs and fire the missile. Who cares? It's just "bug splatter."

And the fact is, no one does care. As Hastings notes, this hideous program of murder and terror has been fully embraced by the political elite and by society at large. And our rulers are now bringing it back home with a vengeance, putting more and more Americans under the unsleeping eye of government drones watching their every move, looking for the "signature" of "suspicious" behaviour. Hastings notes:

In the end, it appears, the administration has little reason to worry about any backlash from its decision to kill an American citizen – one who had not even been charged with a crime. A recent poll shows that most Democrats overwhelmingly support the drone program, and Congress passed a law in February that calls for the Federal Aviation Administration to "accelerate the integration of unmanned aerial systems" in the skies over America. Drones, which are already used to fight wildfires out West and keep an eye on the Mexican border, may soon be used to spy on U.S. citizens at home: Police in Miami and Houston have reportedly tested them for domestic use, and their counterparts in New York are also eager to deploy them.


History affords few if any examples of a free people -- in such a powerful country, under no existential threat, undergoing no invasion, no armed insurrection, no natural disaster or epidemic or societal collapse -- giving up their own freedoms so meekly, so mutely. Most Americans like to boast of their love of freedom, their rock-ribbed independence and their fiercely-held moral principles: yet they are happy to see the government claim -- and use -- the power to murder innocent people whenever it pleases while imposing an ever-spreading police state regimen on their lives and liberties. Sheep doped with Rohypnol would put up a stronger fight than these doughty patriots.
April 18, 2012

"All The News That's Fit To Print" vs "The Reckless Blogosphere"

The two faces of journalist Assange:

Assange conducted his first interview for RT TV today. His choice of interviewee was a bold move.

Assange's show here:



Four paragraphs of from The Dissenter:
http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/04/17/about-julian-assanges-new-revolutionary-television-show/

Rather than announce Hezbollah as an organization designated by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, a more complex and nuanced description of Hezbollah is offered. Yet, Assange declares the purpose of the interview is to ask Nasrallah to address why he is a “freedom fighter” to millions and at the same time a “terrorist” to millions of others, indicating Assange has no intention to simply prove critics of Hezbollah wrong. He wishes to objectively explore both issues that have earned mainstream attention and issues that have been overlooked because they clash with mainstream understanding of Hezbollah.

The first questions from Assange involve the vision of Hezbollah for Israel and Palestine. He asks what the organization would consider “victory” and whether or not the organization would “disarm” if “victory” was achieved. His next question is why Hezbollah has launched rocket attacks on civilians. Then, he asks if a move into Lebanese electoral politics has corrupted Hezbollah, because in diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks he is described as shocked by members who are “driving around in SUVs, wearing silk robes, buying takeaway food.” The first questions are really based on conventional wisdom that Hezbollah is just a terrorist organization. If any US pundit had the guts to put Nasrallah on a TV show and grill him, these would be the first questions – what will it take for you to disarm and why do you launch rockets at civilians.

Nasrallah calls Israel an “illegal state.” He says the progress of time does not legalize occupation, but if ideology, the law and political realities of the time were combined, Hezbollah would accept a one state solution where Christians, Jews and Muslims live together. He says Israel and Palestinian once had a “deterrent balance” that Israeli villages would not be shelled by Hezbollah if Israel didn’t shell Palestinian villages. The truce has obviously been broken multiple times.

Next comes the part of the interview that makes the first episode essential viewing. Assange wants to know why Hezbollah refuses to support the Arab Spring in Syria when it has supported it in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. Nasrallah describes how President Bashar Assad has supported the “resistance in Lebanon” and the “resistance in Palestine” and has not “backed down in the face of Israeli and American pressure.” So, Hezbollah supports dialogue and reform over the alternative, which would be “civil war.” [cont'd]

Assange understands the logic but presses because, at the time of the recorded interview, one hundred were just killed in Homs. British journalist Marie Colvin, who he had dinner with a year ago, was killed. Is there a red line for Hezbollah? If 100,000 are killed or 1 million are killed? When will Hezbollah say enough? Nasrallah replies Assad is willing to carry out radical reforms. The problem is the opposition refused to agree to dialogue and is not prepared for reforms. Hezbollah contacted the opposition to help broker peace, but the opposition would rather bring down the regime. He notes the armed groups fighting Assad have killed many too.


Four paragraphs from the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/arts/television/julian-assange-starts-talk-show-on-russian-tv.html

Mr. Assange says the theme of his half-hour show on RT is “the world tomorrow.” But there is something almost atavistic about the outlet he chose. RT, first known as Russia Today, is an English-language news network created by the Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin in 2005 to promote the Kremlin line abroad. (It also broadcasts in Spanish and Arabic.) It’s like the Voice of America, only with more money and a zesty anti-American slant. A few correspondents can sound at times like Boris and Natasha of “Rocky & Bullwinkle” fame. Basically, it’s an improbable platform for a man who poses as a radical left-wing whistleblower and free-speech frondeur battling the superpowers that be.

The show is unlikely to win high ratings or change many minds, but it may serve Mr. Assange’s other agenda: damage control.

His reputation has taken a deep plunge since he shook the world in 2010 by releasing, in cooperation with The New York Times and several other news organizations, masses of secret government documents, including battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most news organizations edited and redacted the papers to protect lives. Mr. Assange put everything on his Web site. To some he was a hero, to others a spy, but nowadays he is most often portrayed as a nut job.

Sweden is seeking his extradition on multiple charges of sexual misconduct; disgruntled former WikiLeaks colleagues describe him as grandiose and paranoid. Mr. Assange tells reporters that he is being persecuted for political reasons, which, even if true, doesn’t exactly help his case. Perhaps having worn out his welcome, Mr. Assange has left a British supporter’s country estate, where he spent more than 300 days under house arrest, and is now in more modest quarters in the south of England.

On his talk show Mr. Assange was a little stiff but sounded rational, didn’t talk much about himself and asked Mr. Nasrallah some tough questions about Hezbollah’s support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. He even cited reports, found by WikiLeaks, that suggested corruption and high living among some members of Hezbollah. (Mr. Assange cited S.U.V.’s, silk robes and “take-away food” as signs of decadence.)


March 28, 2012

Breaking: Peaceful Environmental Activist Tim DeChristopher Placed in Isolated Confinement

Tim was informed by Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own. According to Prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation. There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.


http://www.peacefuluprising.org/breaking-tim-dechristopher-placed-in-isolated-confinement-20120327

Take action:
“Tim DeChristopher inmate #16156-081 be immediately removed from the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and placed back in the Minimum Security Camp at FCI Herlong.”


FCI Herlong
530-827-8000
Richard B. Ives, WARDEN
Eloisa DeBruler, Public Information Officer

Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Central Office
202-307-3198
Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Director

PRIORITY CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS TO CALL:
Jim Sensenbrenner, WI, Chairman of Subcommittee
(202) 225-5101

Louie Gohmert, TX, Vice Chairman of Subcommittee
(202) 225-3035
Jason Chaffetz, UT
DC: (202) 225-7751
UT: (801) 851-2500

More members to call here:
http://www.peacefuluprising.org/peaceful-uprisings-call-to-action-20120327

“Tim DeChristopher inmate #16156-081 be immediately removed from the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and placed back in the Minimum Security Camp at FCI Herlong.”

If you’d like to say more, here are a few key talking points we suggest:

* Moving Tim DeChristopher to SHU based on the complaint of an unidentified Congressman doesn’t make sense. Why is Congress intervening in one inmates detention status, anyway?
* Keeping inmates in isolated confinement for an indefinite amount of time awaiting a hearing is not humane and is not acceptable.
* *FOR CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS* If they are your congressperson, tell them about the situation, [read here] and ask them if they know who ordered the transfer, and that you’d like them to take a look into it and get back to you promptly. Ask them why Congress is taking such an interest in the emails of one inmate. Tell them that Tim is a nonviolent offender who was wrongly charged and convicted to begin with, and was placed in a minimum security camp because he posed no threat to anyone. If you have time, mention that an oil and gas company owned by William Koch was recently found to have conspired to defeat a BLM oil and gas lease auction, but was merely fined, while Tim sits in isolated confinement after being charged with two felonies. If you call Jason Chaffetz, ask him to launch an investigation in his oversight committee.




About Tim:
http://www.progressive.org/tim_dechristopher_conviction_williams.html

Much has been written about the economics student from the University of Utah who walked inside the Bureau of Land Management auction on the snowy day of December 19, 2008, picked up a bidder’s paddle, and spontaneously began raising the prices of oil and gas leases on Utah public lands. Within minutes, DeChristopher found himself the winning bidder on fourteen parcels of land—many of them adjacent to Arches National Park—for a price tag of $1.8 million dollars.

He had successfully interrupted the auction (a sale later deemed illegal by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar). In a brave and imaginative act of civil disobedience, one young man with a love of wilderness and a message of how fossil fuels are contributing to climate change not only exposed the cozy relationship between industry and government, but challenged it.

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Current location: San Francisco
Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2003, 02:06 PM
Number of posts: 27,310
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