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zigzackly's omnium-gatherum *

Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur

Like you haven't had enough of us already..
Blogger profile, older photographs, Flickr album, Picassa album, Facebook profile, Ryze page, Orkut page, LinkedIn page, published articles.

Guest bloggers:
Hurree and Annie

Reactions, suggestions, any kind of feedback is always welcome.

CollaBlogs infested: Jugalbandi; Caferati's blog; blogolepsy; indi³; We, the Media; Son of CSF. Now and then, when Hurree needs a holiday, i pinch-hit at Kitabkhana.
And of course, the wonderful World Wide Help group blogs, which include:
The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog and TsunamiHelp Wiki | MumbaiHelp | Cloudburst Mumbai | KatrinaHelp Blog and Wiki | RitaHelp | South Asia Quake Help |

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Saturday, September 24, 2005
With a pinch of NaCl 

Everypoet's Poetic Table of the Elements invites you to come read poetry sorted by the the Periodic Table. And you are invited to submit your own.

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Friday, September 23, 2005
Did he mean "terns?" 

To post this, we'll have to admit that we read the whole thing. Sigh. Ah well. From an Indiatimes piece on the current-earthshaking developments in Indian cricket.
The Ganguly-Greg saga seems to be taking new twits and turns with every passing day amid growing speculation about a rift in the Indian team.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Why you should enable Comment Verification on your blog 

Have you been noticing the kind of comments that go: "Hi, I really liked this. I have a site on [something related to your post, with a link]. Do visit my blog when you have the time."

That's comment spam enabled by programs that search for relevant content and then slip in a comment. Thought we'd share an email with you, one that came in to one of my friends on the KatrinaHelp.
Hey Guys,

Sorry to have to bring this to your attention. I have just been revisiting the tsunami blog to catch up after being offline for some time.

There is new software on the market that is capable of automatically submitting comments on random blogs for the purposes of getting backlinks for SEO.
This software can be tweaked to only post on blogs in certain categories which can be set by the software operator. There are a few versions ,but new kid on the block is marketing hard. It has been aggressively marketed over the last 2 months. See holygrailofmarketing.com (Blogsubmitter Pro)
Yeah, we know. We deliberately didn't make the URL clickable.
Experienced blackhat SEO sploggers are setting the software to post comments on blogs which are popular and spidered regularly with strong rich content.
Heh heh. We wondered why our humble blog was being picked on. SEA-EAT we can understand. But us? Now we know. We have strong rich content, y'hear? Heh.
As disaster sites are in the news again, some people are using this software to post comments to posts on these blogs purely for the purposes of marketing their products, sometimes often illegal warez, gambling, porn sites, but mostly opportunistic marketers trying to take advantage of the link to a popular blog (which the software pings automatically after the comment is posted) to get the backlink spidered.

The nofollow tag stops google from following it , but according to users does not stop yahoo and others.

Webmasters who monitor the comments usually delete them quickly. To prevent autosubmitting most suggest adding (not sure what it's called) the box where you have to copy a graphic distorted letter image into a form to prove you are a human not a bot.
You can do this in blogger under settings > comments. Blogger calls it "comment verification." Turn it on.
See the range of examples on comments to the post on Tsunami Blog Re Blogging for Disaster Relief.(also previous post and maybe more)

I am a marketer myself, and own a copy of this software, which like any tool can be used responsibly or not.

But it made my blood boil when I saw the comments on Tsunami Blog.

Can somebody take a moment to delete these leeches sucking on the popularity of the disaster blogs, and using the victims newsworthiness to line their own pockets rather than assist those who need it!

Thanks,

XXXX
Well, leeches, suck no more on this disastrous blog. We have comment verification turned on. Apologies to our regular commenters. Plis to adjust.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Yo, space cadet! 

The line starts here.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005
Ignore this 

Just filing this away for our own reference. A little online trove of Ogden Nash poems.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005
If you're in the 'hood... 

...here's how to find me.

If you're interested, that's via an interesting newish site called MapmyIndia, which, for a limited period, lets you create a free e-locator (that's what is linked to in the previous paragraph). There's a more detailed note in my column, for which you'll have to wait till Sunday.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The buck starts here 

Reproduced from my column

Project Why “Rupee a day” festival
It’s less than you paid for this paper. And that’s what Project Why(a Delhi-based NGO that works with deprived children, mainly in education) would like you to consider donating to support their efforts. And now, with the start of our long festival season, they’re trying to reach more people. They’re looking for ideas, so head over if you have any. And yes, they could also use that rupee a day. (Project Why’s founder also runs a blog: http://projectwhy.blogspot.com/.)
And here's a bit from a mail from Anouradha Bakshi, the founder of ProjectWhy.
Project Why is in the s**** house as we really have no funds beyond this month.

http://herewego.wikispaces.org/whyOnerupee

The above explains why.. and more whys.

The thing is that till date we have been working on oxygen that yours truly keep bringing, now we need lungs, and the major one is the one rupee.

My friend Sophie, a volunteer and lovely lady, said it would need 4 people to get 3 and 3 only 6 times..

Now I hate chain letters and pyramid marketing but can you think of a way to put this across. Let me confess something, I am not a great believer and yet I believe and the last few days I have been seeking help from the invisible forces.. now maybe you are just one of them!

The thing is that if I do not get the act together, many will lose their hope in life.
Now, we normally pour scorn on chain letters too, and have physically removed a pyramid marketer from the premises once upon a when.

But we do believe in invisible forces.

That is, the blogosphere.

So, those of you who honour this blog (or the atom or rss feed) with your time, you've rallied around for less. Would you care to pass this worthy meme on?

(For the lit-inclined and those of the writerly persuasion, you could also point to this wonderful idea from Jikku of Funny, Filthy, Flawed, Gorgeous, which we mentioned a few days ago.)

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The land of the brave 

Siddharth Varadarajan writing in The Hindu
Virtually four years to the day terrorists levelled the World Trade Center, a federal court in the United States has delivered another shocking body blow to the edifice of civil society in that country. In a unanimous verdict on Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld as legal one of the most controversial weapons the Bush administration has armed itself with in its "global war on terror": the power to incarcerate anybody — including U.S. citizens — indefinitely, without charge.
[...]
What this means is that unless the Supreme Court overturns this verdict, Mr. Padilla — like the non-U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo — will remain in legal limbo. And since the war on terror has been described by U.S. officials as "an endless war," the period of incarceration could also be endless. Indeed, the U.S. administration is now at liberty to invoke the power of indefinite detention against anyone it likes, since the Appeal Court considered the exercise of presidential powers to be unconstrained by any consideration about the authenticity of allegations levelled against an individual to be detained.
[...]
In other words, Judge Luttig and his colleagues have legitimised preventive detention without a time limit and without the need to demonstrate either necessity or proportionality.

President Bush has declared a war against a faceless, stateless enemy, and the power to detain `enemy combatants' is paramount, not the right of a citizen to contest the basis of his detention.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005
Truth in media 

This one's probably winging its way around the web by now, but nevertheless:



(: Via Objet Petit M on CSF, who got it from Demockery :)

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Shabash 

Badmash has a take on the press coverage post-Katrina.


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Sunday, September 04, 2005
Being Poor my arse 

BoingBoing quotes [via Making Light] John Scalzi's Being Poor. And for the first time, I find myself genuinely upset with how little people in the USA know about how the rest of the world lives. Fercrying out loud, that piece is about luxury that some people in this part of the world can never aspire to.

Here, with no apologies to Mr Scalzi, is my version.
Being Really Poor

Being poor is not knowing how much everything costs. You can't afford it anyway.

Being poor is your kids watching TV maybe once a year, when the local political party or something like that hires one so they can watch movies during Ganesh Chaturthi .

Being poor is thinking that a car is an unattainable luxury. Unless it's an abandoned junkheap you can sleep in.

Being poor is hoping the tooth falls out.

Being poor is your kid goes to play on the street. When s/he's not working, that is.

Being poor is not understanding the concepts "restroom," "school," and "lunch."

Being poor is living next to - or over - a gutter. And getting evicted from there.

Being poor is hoping someone throws an empty box of something away so you can use it to plug the hole in the thatched roof.

Being poor is not having any well-off siblings. Or aunts. Or uncles. Or any relatives at all. Well maybe the local dada or pusher.

Being poor is no toys.

Being poor is where a one room house is what you aspire to. Never mind the heater. It's hot enough already.

Being poor is not knowing anyone who has the equivalent of $5 to leave around.

Being poor is hoping your kids get to grow up to be adults.

What's meat?

What's underwear? What's Goodwill?

Oh there's plenty of room on the streets.


Being poor is wishing you had a playground to run around in. And never having known shoes.

Being poor is no school.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour must be what the local ganglord earns.

Being poor is not having anyone to rely on.

Being poor is wishing you could find work. And if it's in a place that has fluorescent lights, you'll wonder where they're stealing the electricity from.

Being poor is where any letter you find is a scrap of paper with squiggles on it that you can add to the raddi sack you're carryying on your back, and hoping that the scrap dealer doesn't cheat you.

Being poor is a bath in water from other people's toilets.

Being poor is taking everything from the trash heap.

Being poor is fighting the cockroaches for food.

Being poor is nt knowing what the fuck a "GED" is.

Being poor is people angry at you for looking so poor. Anywhere. And if you tried to get in a mall, you'll get beaten up by security.

Being poor is taking any job. And your kids take any job too.

Being poor is the police treating you like shit all the time.

Being poor is not grokking romance. Sex, maybe.

Being poor is hoping you can find dinner in a rubbish heap.

Being poor is a sidewalk full of excrement.

Being poor is people not wanting to know anything about you.

Being poor is needing 35-cents. Please.

Being poor is your kid's teacher (if there's a school, if your kid has enough time off from work to go to it) doesn't have any books.

Being poor wondering what a "utility" is.

Being poor is being happy when someone drops a mac and cheese on the floor. Dinner!

Being poor is wishing you could get a job. Wishing you had the strength to work hard.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're human.

Being poor is not being surprised people are suprised to discover you're human.

Being poor is a sick child asleep on your lap. And hoping she'll live.

Being poor is never buying anything.

Being poor is thinking ramen is what rich people eat.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't make. And there being a pretty good chance you will never be 14 years old.

Being poor is wishing there was someone you could be grateful to.

Being poor is knowing you're being condemned.

Box of crayons. Hm. Can be sold. Colouring book. Hm. Add to raddi sack.

Being poor is counting your income in coins.

Being poor is fighting for shelter.

Being poor is knowing you can't afford the local equivalent of a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is never having seen a cash register.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child hasn't a hope in hell. And you can't do fuck about it.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away. [Hey, he got that one right!]

Being poor is being elated at finding a discarded couch that's only damaged, and marginally filthy. Furniture!

Being poor is never having seen a paycheque.

Being poor is not having a night class anywhere. Except, perhaps, if the pusher is teaching you how to sell cut drugs.

Being poor is sleeping on the road.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is. And you're too tired to walk there.

Being poor is envying people who have never been really poor but think they are.

Being poor is knowing you can't stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing no options.

Being poor is staggering around, left behind.

Being poor is where the only way you leave is when you die.
Update - 5th September, 18.48

John Scalzi dropped by to leave a clarifying comment. We believe in equal air time, so here it is, reproduced from the comments section.
John Scalzi said...

I see this list as complementary to, and not in opposition to, my original list, and it highlights the difference between relative poverty (which is the situation in the US), and absolute poverty (which is the situation in much of the rest of the world). Writer Nick Mamatas has also written a similar list (in this typically pungent style), which you can find here:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/nihilistic_kid/645843.html

I wrote the list originally as something of a response to all the people who I saw having difficulty understanding why some of the poor prople in New Orleans stayed behind for the hurricane and its aftermath. It was designed to help them empathize with people who are in a similar economic situation with those people. It is by no means an exhaustive list for what it's like to be poor worldwide, just poor where I (and much of the blogosphere) live.
Point taken, Mr Scalzi. Thank you fortaking the trouble to explain. And yes, I'm with you on the need to get the message across to the people who wondered why New Orleans's poorer residents didn't leave. Your post didn't offer that context, and it was my first visit to your blog, so I'm sorry that I didn't get that.

Must still say, however, that I stand by everything else I said.
Oh yes, here's Nick Mamatas's post, which Mr Scalzi kindly pointed to. And Least Loved Bedtime Stories v. 2.0 has another version of the list up too.

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Jabberwock... 

...is celebrating a year in blogville. Here's to many more Jai!

We think we need a neologism for that kinda event. "Bloggiversary" sounds way too corny, even to me, and I push "CollaBlogs" down people's throats without a blush. Suggestions?

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Finding / Looting 

Snopes has a page up on the now-infamous looting v/s finding pictures that have got people riled all over the planet.

Snopes quotes a Salon article[*]
[photographer Dave] Martin says he witnessed the people in his images looting a grocery store. "He saw the person go into the shop and take the goods," Stokes said, "and that's why he wrote 'looting' in the caption."
and also quotes Chris Graythen, who took the "finding" picture.

[Note: Yahoo has removed the "finding" picture at AFP's request. But there are enough of them floating around, so we won't bother to reproduce them here.]

We just went through the sportshooter site linked to above, and here'e the rest of Graythen's message to that board
->> Jeasus, I don't belive how much crap I'm getting from this. First of all, I hope you excuse me, but I'm completely at the end of my rope. You have no Idea how stressful this whole disaster is, espically since I have not seen my wife in 5 days, and my parents and grand parents HAVE LOST THIER HOMES. As of right now, we have almost NOTHING.

Please stop emailing me on this one.

I wrote the caption about the two people who 'found' the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow. I wouldn't have taken in, because I wouldn't eat anything that's been in that water. But I'm not homeless. (well, technically I am right now.)


I'm not trying to be politically correct. I'm don't care if you are white or black. I spent 4 hours on a boat in my parent's neighborhood shooting, and rescuing people, both black and white, dog and cat. I am a journalist, and a human being - and I see all as such. If you don't belive me, you can look on Getty today and see the images I shot of real looting today, and you will see white and black people, and they were DEFINATELY looting. And I put that in the caption.

Please, please don't argue symantics over this one. This is EXTREMELY serious, and I can't even begin to convey to those not here what it is like. Please, please, be more concerned on how this affects all of us (watch gas prices) and please, please help out if you can.

This is my home, I will hopefully always be here. I know that my friends in this business across the gulf south are going through the exact same thing - and I am with them, and will do whatever I can to help. But please, please don't email me any more about this caption issue.

And please, don't yell at me about spelling and grammar. Im eating my first real meal (a sandwich) right now in 3 days.

When this calms down, I will be more than willing to answer any questions, just ask.


Thank you all -
-Chris Graythen

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Dear Mr Bush 

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
Go read the rest of Michael Moore's letter to his C-in-C


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Saturday, September 03, 2005
In case you can't get through to the KatrinaHelp wiki... 

It may be because the site has just moved servers, a step the team had to take because of the huge amount of traffic. It takes a while for the domain name to propagate.
Meanwhile, use this URL please: http://192.122.183.218/.

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Bloggers wanted 

If you'd like to help with the Katrina Help blog, get in touch with any of the current team you happen to know: Constantin, Bala, Megha, Dina, Neha, Maitri, Strav, VictoriaB, Harini. Or you could mail me. Anybody on the ground in the affected areas would, of course, be invaluable.

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A story about your childhood can help these children enjoy theirs. 

Ammani of Filthy, funny, flawed, gorgeous would like to interest you in a flash fiction contest she has dreamed up.
It's really quite simple. You mail me a short story of maximum 200 words, send your entry fee of just Rs.100 (or its equivalent) to Projectwhy and you could win £10 gift voucher from Amazon! If you're in the UK, you could win a £10 voucher from M&S.

The theme for the competition is 'childhood' and the last date for submission is 30th of September 2005. I'll put up the 3 short-listed stories on this blog and you get to decide the winner. You can send however many entries you want. If you cannot pay the entry fee, then any small sum will do.

This is your chance to become world famous. Okay, okay, famous among a handful of people. So get cracking and send your stories to ammania@gmail.com
Ammani, by the way, is a prolific flash fiction writer herself. She's up to number 63, from her archives.

And Project Why is a Delhi NGO that works with children. Its founder, Anuradha Bakshi, blogs at http://projectwhy.blogspot.com/.

[Link via Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan's Selective Amnesia]

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Friday, September 02, 2005
KatrinaHelp deep links 
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KatrinaHelp update 

The KatrinaHelp group has also set up a blog: http://katrinahelp.blogspot.com/, which has stepped into the breach when the wiki crashed because of the huge amount of traffic (over a million visitors in a few hours). Hopefully, Google (who helped enormously during the tsunamihelp days by linking to us and providing unlimited bandwidth) will ensure that the blog doesn't crash too.

The wiki is also mirrored at http://katrinahelp.info.nyud.net:8090/wiki/index.php/Main_Page, so go there if the main page doesn't load.

The group is also in need of some financial help to keep the wiki up and running. Go here for details, but in short, they need US$ 5000.
To save you scroll time, here's my earlier post on the subject.
And http://www.katrinahelp.info is the URL for a wiki started by some members of the SEA-EAT team.

The group has also put together a page that aggregates several blog feeds, and a set of links to individual blogs.

Please email Rob, Rudi, Constantin, Angelo, Bala, Nancy and the others at katrinahelp.info@gmail.com or helpkatrina@gmail.com to volunteer to help with the wiki and news aggregation.

They are also on Google Talk, so you could add katrinahelp.info@gmail.com to your buddy list. And they are running a wiki conference room on yahoo; to join the discussions live, please send your yahoo id to katrinahelp@yahoo.ca.

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Steal This Link 

According to an Amazon user who signs himself bobfrancis, these are Top 10 Books Most often Filched from the Local Library

1. Steal This Book: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Facsimile Edition, by Abbie Hoffman, et al

2. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Official Edition) by Joseph Smith (Translator)

3. The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition (20 Volume Set), by J. A. Simpson (Editor), Edmund S. Weiner

4. Kleptomania: The Compulsion to Steal - What Can Be Done, by Marcus J., Md. Goldman

5. Children's Book of Virtues, by William J. Bennett, Michael Hague

6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

7. Conspiranoia!: The Mother of All Conspiracy Theories, by Devon Jackson

8. Edward Weston : Forms of Passion, by Gilles Moraut

9. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

10. The Art of Sensual Massage, by Gordon Inkeles, Robert Foothorap

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Note: [*] = The site linked to requires registration.

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Follow, all ye who must know more.

Words

We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
~ Eyler Coates

to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting
~ e e cummings

In three words i can sum up everything I've learned about life.
It goes on.
~ Robert Frost

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
~ Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
~ Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, short-story writer, and playwright, "Poetic Manifesto" in the Texas Quarterly, Winter 1961

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
~Thomas Mann, novelist, Nobel laureate (1875-1955)

The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.
~ W. Somerset Maugham, writer (1874-1965)

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
~ Al Rogers

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
~ Henry Winkler, actor (1945- )

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
~ George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)

Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
~ Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, author (1689-1762)

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
~ Satchel Paige

Fake it till you make it.
~ (Heard on West Wing)


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