Author Topic: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013  (Read 38604 times)

Offline OpsAnalyst

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #80 on: 10/10/2013 12:45 PM »
This was an interesting conference, in Huntsville it is all about SLS; and none of the government folks could attend.  I was a late replacement so I am sorry if I didn't convey my thoughts very well, but the message was intended for the Huntsville industry crowd.

Plain and simple, we all need to take a page from the SpaceX playbook.  Ditto for the other new space companies.  Continuing to use the management processes and financial arrangements that came out of the cold war will not work in today's environment. 

Whether you like the big rocket or would rather use small rockets; whether you want to go first to the moon or to mars or to an asteroid, no program is going to succeed using the management processes of the past. 

To succeed today, revolutionary and innovative management and finance are required.  We all like to discuss the technical and engineering details when we really need to discuss how to be innovative in management and finance. 

That was the intent of my message.  Hope it came through. 

Wayne's message came through beautifully; with all due respect to the glories of remote viewing there are things that are lost when looking at a webcast; notably the cues back and forth between a knowledgeable audience and speaker. Those present  appreciated the speech and found it thought-provoking; folks outside will decide they feel the same or miss some nuances or they will cherry-pick what they want to hear.  Can't be helped, I suppose, though I might suggest the turn this has taken is a great "case-in-point" for why there is still huge value in face-to-face gatherings and an example of how virtual technologies, while helpful and useful and fantastic for extending human presence and experience, are still just "extensions" of that experience and not the experience itself.

I wonder how many people who are "reacting" have even bothered to watch the whole speech, let alone the whole morning, through....

From my humble vantage point the greatest strength of the speech was that it took a position the industry already knows it needs to hear and do (and in many cases is already doing, but change is a hard thing) - and provided it with a rationale, a historical basis and context, a current imperative, and a look to the future, all in a way that really resonated with folks there - pretty great work for 45 minutes if you ask me  (It also set up my panel beautifully for which I thank you, but that's a "secondary gain) - particularly when stepping in so graciously with just a couple of days' notice.  For those not there (including Wayne) the speech continued to reverberate through the second day into the very last panel where it was quoted extensively, so it served as a touchstone throughout.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2013 01:26 PM by OpsAnalyst »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #81 on: 10/10/2013 01:42 PM »
"Now, I will admit to you that I'm an old line guy. I'm not a big fan of SpaceX. I fully expected I would be joining the chorus of 'I told you so' when they crashed and burned. But, even though they've had difficulties, they are succeeding. You have to recognize that."

Unfortunately, in my mind, this is damning with faint praise.

It's like that scene from "The Matrix", where Neo confronts the Merovingian, and stops a hail of bullets with his "force".  The only acknowledgement he gets from the Merovingian:  "Ok, you have some skills. Now kill him." 

In the various budgetary battles going on, the politicians keep trying to stifle commercial crew.  Sure, they "recognize" the accomplishments of the several commercial crew companies, but they do not encourage commercial crew.  It keeps looking like they're trying to kill it.

...

Plain and simple, we all need to take a page from the SpaceX playbook.  Ditto for the other new space companies.  Continuing to use the management processes and financial arrangements that came out of the cold war will not work in today's environment. 

Whether you like the big rocket or would rather use small rockets; whether you want to go first to the moon or to mars or to an asteroid, no program is going to succeed using the management processes of the past. 
To succeed today, revolutionary and innovative management and finance are required.  We all like to discuss the technical and engineering details when we really need to discuss how to be innovative in management and finance. 

That was the intent of my message.  Hope it came through. 

Sincere thanks for the clarification. 

Hope it is clear that I refer to one specific part of the presentation, not the whole thing, and that your years of service continue to be appreciated by all.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline OpsAnalyst

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #82 on: 10/10/2013 03:04 PM »
American Astronautical Society just posted links to the morning and afternoon sessions of the #VonBraun2013 in two tweets, so people can view for themselves.  The morning presentations include Wayne Hale's speech and the "Exploration going Forward with SLS and Orion" - 2020 and beyond" industry panel and the afternoon panels include the Washington Ops panel hosted by "51D" aka Jeff Bingham and a really excellent "Perspectives on Exploration" panel with Dave King, Doug Cooke, Rick Chappel and Mike Griffin and hosted by Gene Goldman from Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Morning Video: http://ow.ly/pGy7P

Afternoon Video:  http://ow.ly/pGDYZ

@astrosociety's tweet notes that people can watch and "form your own opinion!"  :)

Cheers -


Offline robertross

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #83 on: 10/10/2013 04:29 PM »
Heh, I just pulled up the video and discovered the same thing. It's amazing what a difference the mere tense of a quote does to it, isn't it? :)


Yeah! Didn't help that I was on my own with the live coverage. Usually we have two or three throwing quotes into a thread and people get a better mix of what's been said. I'm editing that direct quote into that post, but for those who didn't see the original paraphrased quote, it was still pretty much ok, as I added all of the "but they are succeeding" into it. People selectively quoting are a bigger problem.

A big thanks for the coverage CHris. I will try to watch the recorded video over our Thanksgiving weekend (this weekend coming)
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Offline R7

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #84 on: 10/10/2013 06:28 PM »
the message was intended for the Huntsville industry crowd.
...
Whether you like the big rocket or would rather use small rockets; whether you want to go first to the moon or to mars or to an asteroid, no program is going to succeed using the management processes of the past. 

Isn't the main concern about bang/$ ratio? What incentive does the industry have to improve it? It seems very little as long as they get paid until the programs gets cancelled as too slow/costly/policy change/etc. and new replacement programs get lobbied in place. Doesn't the status quo suits them fine, the people who should change their management practices the most to get better results are currently furloughed, no?

The bit odd thing is that 60s management practices produced a period of manned lunar flights 2-3 times a year. The first reaction is always to remind that NASA got 4+% of the federal budget, now just ~0.5% so that's why people no longer walk on the Moon. Does the percentage of federal budget really matter, isn't the inflation adjusted actual sum more telling?

Unless wiki got it wrong (could be...) NASA today is getting 50% of what it got in the 60s in constant dollars. Why doesn't that amount of money today buy at least one manned lunar mission per year? I can think of three reasons

a) bang/$ ratio has decreased since the 60s
b) for reason X (you tell me) general inflation adjustment is not applicable to aerospace costs
c) somethings else

disclaimer: just my €0.02 on the issue, if this is wrong place for comment like this then mods feel free to move/axe
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline BrightLight

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #85 on: 10/10/2013 06:38 PM »
the message was intended for the Huntsville industry crowd.
...
Whether you like the big rocket or would rather use small rockets; whether you want to go first to the moon or to mars or to an asteroid, no program is going to succeed using the management processes of the past. 

Isn't the main concern about bang/$ ratio? What incentive does the industry have to improve it? It seems very little as long as they get paid until the programs gets cancelled as too slow/costly/policy change/etc. and new replacement programs get lobbied in place. Doesn't the status quo suits them fine, the people who should change their management practices the most to get better results are currently furloughed, no?

The bit odd thing is that 60s management practices produced a period of manned lunar flights 2-3 times a year. The first reaction is always to remind that NASA got 4+% of the federal budget, now just ~0.5% so that's why people no longer walk on the Moon. Does the percentage of federal budget really matter, isn't the inflation adjusted actual sum more telling?

Unless wiki got it wrong (could be...) NASA today is getting 50% of what it got in the 60s in constant dollars. Why doesn't that amount of money today buy at least one manned lunar mission per year? I can think of three reasons

a) bang/$ ratio has decreased since the 60s
b) for reason X (you tell me) general inflation adjustment is not applicable to aerospace costs
c) somethings else

disclaimer: just my €0.02 on the issue, if this is wrong place for comment like this then mods feel free to move/axe
Not to derail the thread...but it is my understanding that the primes like Boeing took the Apollo program as a loss leader (my recollection says 0.25 cents per dollar). If real dollars is 50% and the primes put in 50 or 75% then the actual dollars available to NASA today is more like 25% of Apollo.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #86 on: 10/10/2013 07:56 PM »
The bit odd thing is that 60s management practices produced a period of manned lunar flights 2-3 times a year. The first reaction is always to remind that NASA got 4+% of the federal budget, now just ~0.5% so that's why people no longer walk on the Moon. Does the percentage of federal budget really matter, isn't the inflation adjusted actual sum more telling?

Unless wiki got it wrong (could be...) NASA today is getting 50% of what it got in the 60s in constant dollars. Why doesn't that amount of money today buy at least one manned lunar mission per year? I can think of three reasons

a) bang/$ ratio has decreased since the 60s
b) for reason X (you tell me) general inflation adjustment is not applicable to aerospace costs
c) something else...

Good bit of analysis, that.

The bang has deflated, the buck has inflated, and the vaunted technology innovations are more akin to the emperor's new clothes than they are to any real garment.  They are doing less for more.

Ares stands as quiet confirmation, having accomplished, an unmanned Mercury sub-orbital flight for $11B, about fifty years after the original.  The politicians appear to be deliberately looking the other way.

The inflation "adjustment" is liberally, albeit arbitrarily, applied during the costing of the incompletely specified capabilities of the proposed hardware program; JWST stands as the existing example of this.  While SLS may be a close second, at least the rocket technology used is well understood, and there are fewer problems related to "innovation".  If their current reports can be believed, they are at least on schedule.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline baldusi

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #87 on: 10/11/2013 01:42 AM »
Since I haven't been able to watch any panel, I just got Wayne Hale's core argument and the usual positivity of the SLS crowd. I see someone mentioned that Mr. Hale's speech was widely quoted. Could anyone care to elaborate if there was any agreement on the fact that they have to change a lot, and if so how?

Offline 93143

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #88 on: 10/11/2013 02:04 AM »
b) for reason X (you tell me) general inflation adjustment is not applicable to aerospace costs

Not sure of the reason, but NASA's New Start Inflation Index does not track the CPI well.

NASA funding peaked in 1966.  The chart on Wikipedia's "Budget of NASA" article indicates an inflation factor of almost exactly 6 between 1966 and 2012, which is presumably a generic economic inflation factor.  The NASA New Start inflation factor over the same interval is 9.121, meaning the budget then was equivalent to over $54B worth of buying power today, more than triple the current budget.

Also, NASA is doing a bunch of other stuff nowadays; IINM in the '60s it was much more focused on Apollo and its precursor programs (Gemini, Ranger, Surveyor).

If I recall correctly, a lot of the Apollo/Saturn work was unpaid overtime.  Something ridiculous, like a third of it.  People were so enthusiastic about what they were doing that they just didn't go home.

If the bit about Apollo being treated as a loss leader by the contractors is true, that just adds another factor on top of everything.

There's also the fact that they got the money they needed when they needed it.  SLS and MPCV are being forced to fit under an arbitrary budget cap, which not only stretches the schedules but actually increases their development cost...
« Last Edit: 10/11/2013 06:57 AM by 93143 »

Offline a_langwich

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #89 on: 10/11/2013 10:11 AM »
The bit odd thing is that 60s management practices produced a period of manned lunar flights 2-3 times a year. The first reaction is always to remind that NASA got 4+% of the federal budget, now just ~0.5% so that's why people no longer walk on the Moon. Does the percentage of federal budget really matter, isn't the inflation adjusted actual sum more telling?

Unless wiki got it wrong (could be...) NASA today is getting 50% of what it got in the 60s in constant dollars. Why doesn't that amount of money today buy at least one manned lunar mission per year? I can think of three reasons

a) bang/$ ratio has decreased since the 60s
b) for reason X (you tell me) general inflation adjustment is not applicable to aerospace costs
c) somethings else

That's a great question.
I've got some ideas on that, but I think the best detailed responses would come from NASA administrative people who look at the numbers every day.

1)  If you look at the aerospace industry as a whole, I think you see the same trend.  Budgets have fallen a bit, perhaps, but the cost of the big ticket items have soared through the roof.  At the same time, perhaps related, there are far fewer businesses taking on the big programs, in nearly every case three or less, and usually only two big contractors.  How many capable fighter engine makers are there in the US?  P&W and GE?  How many large liquid rocket engine builders are there in the US who have sold to other companies?  Aerojet/Rocketdyne and ???

2)  Another similar trend you see in big science projects (some might say similar trends exist in semiconductor fab prices and pharmaceutical drug development costs):  each succeeding generation takes much larger investments to advance the state of the art.  CERN, ITER, Keck-GMT-TMT-etc observatories.  We've learned the basics about each of the planets, so now we aren't content with a simple low-pixel count flyby, we are looking at landers and swimmers and rovers and data relays and sample return.

3)  Wayne Hale alluded to NASA's natural progression from anything-goes, toward a far more cautious approach, with very detailed oversight.  That's a normal life-cycle, right?  In their teens and twenties, most humans not exposed to a lot of death tend to think of themselves as immortal, and take risks no sane fifty-year-old would consider.  Then they see accidents happen, mortality happen, and the lesson of caution hits home.  The high stakes involved in life hit.  And those stakes go up with past success.

I don't think there's a good answer to this, because I think both approaches are necessary.  There are some fantastic chances that just have to be taken by people perhaps unscarred by the dangers and costs of failure, and undaunted by the high risk (to some extent that describes early NASA).  And there certainly need to be people who do think about the risks and costs, because they may be terminal.  There are two separate and necessary capabilities, risk-taking and wisdom, one decreasing over time and the other increasing.

4)  Buildup of residual programs and costs.  ISS is ongoing, while SLS and Commercial Crew are being developed.  There's a lot of earth science ongoing.  Hubble is ongoing, while JWST is being developed.  Wonderful things like the Mars rovers and HiRISE and all of the other science missions are ongoing (granted, they are tiny parts of the budget).

5)  Constant expectations, bruising annual funding battles ending in falling budgets.  Constant threats to cancel programs really hurt morale, cause perpetual churning of numbers (with the consequent result that the administrative staff grows in size and importance, since that is the primary work activity) and some churning of employees, and trash schedules and ability to get things done.  Actual cancellation of programs, like X-33, like VSE, like Constellation, is a huge waste of money (presumably smaller than what it would take to finish) since IMO the benefits grow sharply after full integration and testing begins.  A few decades of cancellations, and you have engineers who have only seen someone else's ideas actually fly.  This feeds back into 3, over-caution and been-burned-before, and 1, which is perhaps the same attitude from a business standpoint.

Offline Proponent

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #90 on: 10/11/2013 10:36 AM »
The bit odd thing is that 60s management practices produced a period of manned lunar flights 2-3 times a year. The first reaction is always to remind that NASA got 4+% of the federal budget, now just ~0.5% so that's why people no longer walk on the Moon. Does the percentage of federal budget really matter, isn't the inflation adjusted actual sum more telling?

I think you're right -- what should be relevant is the amount spent, appropriately discounted for inflation, not the fraction of the budget.

Quote

Unless wiki got it wrong (could be...) NASA today is getting 50% of what it got in the 60s in constant dollars.

Not that this really answers the question, but I think wiki probably does get it wrong.  It doesn't seem to mention the inflation rate used, so I would guess it's some broad inflation indicator like the CPI, the PPI or the GDP deflator.  As 93143 points out, a more relevant inflation index, the NASA New Start Index, shows considerably higher inflation, making NASA's budget in the 1960s effectively quite a bit larger (the blue line in the linked chart shows the budget inflated to FY 2012 with the NASA Index).

I suspect that a significant factor in addition to a lack of money is the lack of priority.  In the 1960s, Congress and the president regarded beating the Soviets to the moon as a national priority.  What NASA did mattered on a national scale.  Today, well, few of the people's representatives really care much, so it's OK if NASA doesn't achieve.  It matters only to space-state representatives, and what's most important to them is that the money keeps flowing to their constituents.

Offline Proponent

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #91 on: 10/11/2013 10:52 AM »
Not sure of the reason, but NASA's New Start Inflation Index does not track the CPI well.

In his autobiography Return to Earth, Buzz Aldrin mentions that a few days before taking off for the moon, he attempted the mundane task of repairing the family dishwasher.  He failed.  The Aldrins probably bought a new dishwasher after Buzz's return.  In 1969, that dishwasher was likely built by unionized American labor that enjoyed employer-provided health insurance and retirement benefits.  When an American family today buys a dishwasher, it may well be made by low-cost, foreign labor.  And if any Americans are involved, they likely don't have employer-provided health insurance or retirement programs.  All of this keeps costs down and tends to lower broad inflation indices like the CPI.

NASA's space-vehicle builders, on the other hand, are still American, and many still enjoy employer-provided health insurance and retirement plans.  And although the latter are likely skimpier now than they used to be, those health benefits have been skyrocketing in cost, at least until the last year or two.

The broader economy has become more cost-efficient in ways that the space business hasn't.  That's got to be at least one reason that the NASA New Start Index has generally shown higher inflation rates than, for example, the CPI.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2013 11:00 AM by Proponent »

Offline Jim

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #92 on: 10/11/2013 11:47 AM »

Also, NASA is doing a bunch of other stuff nowadays; IINM in the '60s it was much more focused on Apollo and its precursor programs (Gemini, Ranger, Surveyor).


No, it was just as diverse as now.   There were the 7 Mariners , 41 Explorers, 6 OSO, 6 OGO, 2 OAO, 3 BIOS, 6 Pioneers, 10 Tiros, 9 ESSA, 4 Nimbus, in addition to the Rangers, Lunar Orbiters, Surveyors, and comsats

Offline 93143

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #93 on: 10/11/2013 07:22 PM »

Also, NASA is doing a bunch of other stuff nowadays; IINM in the '60s it was much more focused on Apollo and its precursor programs (Gemini, Ranger, Surveyor).


No, it was just as diverse as now.   There were the 7 Mariners , 41 Explorers, 6 OSO, 6 OGO, 2 OAO, 3 BIOS, 6 Pioneers, 10 Tiros, 9 ESSA, 4 Nimbus, in addition to the Rangers, Lunar Orbiters, Surveyors, and comsats

The amount of non-HSF-related stuff may have been similar.  But I would have thought that the fraction of the budget taken up by Apollo was larger than now.  No?
« Last Edit: 10/11/2013 07:23 PM by 93143 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #94 on: 10/12/2013 12:22 PM »
Hey Mary Lynne great job! :)  Nice bombshell question regarding leadership... Their expression was a bit priceless... ;D
« Last Edit: 10/12/2013 12:26 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline OpsAnalyst

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #95 on: 10/14/2013 12:18 AM »
Hey Mary Lynne great job! :)  Nice bombshell question regarding leadership... Their expression was a bit priceless... ;D

Thanks - though that was a bit unfair of me - but, to be sure, I really didn't think it was a bombshell - though its a tough question, and one that's a bit sensitive for industry.  In international gov't-to-gov't programs, industry can't get out front (well, I guess they could but could cause lots of confusion.) I was really looking for "what leadership is" in this context, which is why I tried to clarify my meaning in my follow up comments. 

I thought it was really pretty generous of them to agree to participate in a "no presentations" discussion.  Don't know how it came across on the webcast but it was interesting sitting there.  I'm glad folks here were able to watch.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #96 on: 10/14/2013 09:25 PM »
Hey Mary Lynne great job! :)  Nice bombshell question regarding leadership... Their expression was a bit priceless... ;D

Thanks - though that was a bit unfair of me - but, to be sure, I really didn't think it was a bombshell - though its a tough question, and one that's a bit sensitive for industry.  In international gov't-to-gov't programs, industry can't get out front (well, I guess they could but could cause lots of confusion.) I was really looking for "what leadership is" in this context, which is why I tried to clarify my meaning in my follow up comments. 

I thought it was really pretty generous of them to agree to participate in a "no presentations" discussion.  Don't know how it came across on the webcast but it was interesting sitting there.  I'm glad folks here were able to watch.
Still a great question Mary-Lynne, basically the 800 lb gorilla in the room.  ;) What should leadership look like going into the future? Should it be a single government, joint governments, private-public partnership, single corporation or multi-corporation..?
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: LIVE: Wernher Von Braun Symposium Live-streamed Oct 7, 2013
« Reply #97 on: 10/14/2013 09:30 PM »
They did not stream the second day, but were so pleased with the participation (2500-plus viewers, or so) that they announced today they'll consider webcasting it all next year. They also only decided on Monday to stream the afternoon of the first day, so I think a lot of folks may have thought that only the portions reviewed in Chris's article and discussed previously in this thread (which took place in the morning) were webcast. The afternoon sessions can be seen at this link, if anyone is interested (this is a bit  self-serving--and risky--since I moderated the first panel in the afternoon, with representatives from corporate Washington representatives; feel free to skip that one, hehe):


http://uah.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer/Default.aspx?id=dbeaf69c-c290-40d6-a3cc-c14df65a0079
Thoroughly enjoyed your comments Jeff, all very informative, including your anecdotal judicious use of your “deaf ear” when it was appropriate in the past... ;D
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