Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 17th, 2020, 8:37 pm

tomyleft wrote:...There is NO excuse for this. ...
So few of us have the gift of language. Would you filter the work of others?

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Mark Tams » June 18th, 2020, 8:07 am

They are far easier to read than the pompous original post in this thread.

Where were you (collective nit-pickers) when the pages were blank?

Is it so much easier to criticise than to be creative.

No apology is being offered by me for any of the grammatical or spelling mistakes in this post.

Word of advice ............... sometimes it is important to be able to "get over" how wonderful you think you are.


Harsh, but very well said. In fact it needed to be said like this. But tomyleft is overly harsh . . . too harsh . . . and he picked this fight.

When we are providing "instructional books", whether it be via word or illustration the goal is to communicate to the reader what they are to do in the handling, presentation, plot, etc. If we communicate that direction, then the goal is achieved even if a word is misspelled or an illustration is incorrect.

To be harsh like this because of a minor error in the spelling of a word takes me back to my high school English class. I'm now having PTSD . . . I never really liked Mrs. Johnson. :lol:

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Jack Shalom » June 18th, 2020, 10:39 am

the goal is to communicate to the reader what they are to do in the handling, presentation, plot, etc. If we communicate that direction, then the goal is achieved even if a word is misspelled or an illustration is incorrect.


If that's the full goal of an author, it's probably not a book I want to read. IMO, the goal should be re-thought as "to communicate the information in a manner that respects the reader. "

Why would you not attempt to eliminate stones in the road that are going to jar the reader, take the reader out of the experience of the reading?
Cost-to-benefit argument is fair enough. But a book that costs $150 has no such excuse.
At McDonald's I don't stress over bread crumbs on the table. But a $150 meal at a four star restaurant is a different story.
Mistakes, oversights, of course occur. That's understood. No one is talking about a mistake or two.
But when someone points out the knife is dirty, the waiter apologizes and gets you a new one. S/he doesn't tell you that People are Starving in China.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bob Coyne » June 19th, 2020, 4:43 pm

I find typos and lack of editing in books annoying too, especially in expensive books where my expectations are higher. But I think it's somewhat presumptuous to say "there's no excuse" or that the writing or editing "should" conform to certain standards. That's totally up to the writer and subject to their priorities and abilities. i.e. It's fair to criticize the book on the content, writing, editing, illustrations, paper quality, or whatever matters to you. But it's very different to impose a set of obligations on the writer beyond basic ethics (e.g., not presenting others' material as one's own, etc). The writer has no duty to conform to anyone's standards but their own.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Yehuda » June 19th, 2020, 7:19 pm

I don't really understand what the argument is here, and both sides are certainly not talking to each other.

I think everyone would agree that in a book of magic instruction, the magic instruction is most important and obviously more important than the grammar/spelling. But to use that as an argument that problems with grammar/spelling are irrelevant and should be ignored is silly. They're a part of the overall production value, are they not?

If all the author cared about was the information being relayed, why would he waste his time with the production and publishing of a book? Print it on regular paper and mail it out - easiest and cheapest!

The answer is, there are enough people that care about the physical quality of the book, but don't care as much about the quality of the writing itself. Which is fine. But the question is, why is that so? Why don't they view spelling/grammar just as much a significant part of the production as everything else?

And the answer to that is, different strokes.

Yehuda

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 19th, 2020, 9:10 pm

The retail price of a book is not reflective of the care that goes into it.
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Zig Zagger » June 21st, 2020, 4:26 am

Jack Shalom wrote:Mistakes, oversights, of course occur. That's understood. No one is talking about a mistake or two.
But when someone points out the knife is dirty, the waiter apologizes and gets you a new one. S/he doesn't tell you that People are Starving in China.

Well said, Jack!

Besides, I think the sloppiest and most disrespectful thing any editor can do is misspelling or otherwise butchering someone else's name.
The published record on artists like "Johan Hofsinzer" (sic), "Norm Neilson" (sic) and many others is a sad and embarrassing thing. :roll:
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 21st, 2020, 12:40 pm

Hofzinser's first name is misspelled in my book for the public "Knack Magic Tricks." It was properly spelled when I turned in the manuscript. A professional copy editor changed the correct spelling. Duh.
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Duncan » June 21st, 2020, 9:17 pm

Bob Farmer wrote:I have no idea what the differences are, "... among CONTENT editing, COPY editing, and PROOFREADING." However, I do know that using all caps looks ugly. What are the differences? Getting overly pedantic about magic writing may serve to overlook a really good trick by a really good magician.

Content Editing is deciding what ingredients to use, and in what proportions
Copy Editing is the recipe itself
Proofreading is when you have people taste the cake.

Then you go back to copy editing, and maybe content editing, and then bake another cake and have the same people eat it again.

For magic editing I had another stage which is the "should anyone care I make this cake?" phase. Which is why you haven't seen anything from me in a few years...

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Duncan » June 21st, 2020, 9:25 pm

Jon Elion wrote:I am trying to make less grammatical errors. ;)


I see what you did there.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Duncan » June 21st, 2020, 10:02 pm

When I read anything that was self published, and it's full or errors, my first thought is always... what did you use to write this?

If you have a PC running Windows you almost certainly used Microsoft Word, in which case look under the Tools menu and you will find Spelling and Grammar. If you have a Mac you'll find the same sort of tools under the Edit menu in Pages (which is free if you own a Mac so you have zero excuse).

Both of these tools are less than perfect; don't get my wife started on how Word handles MLA. But if you don't have the skills baked in you can at least find out where you might have trouble and do some research online.

Here's a favorite problem of an old editor of mine...
https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/educa ... sus-that-0

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bob Farmer » June 22nd, 2020, 7:22 am

Clear writing requires useful analogies and metaphors. As McLuhan said,"A man's reach must exceed his grasp or what's a metaphor?"

With the cake analogy (or maybe it's a metaphor), there does not seem to be any difference between content editing (ingredients and proportions) and copy editing (the recipe), so this appears to be a distinction that is not.

As to proofreading being a taste test, that does not work either, because once the cake is baked you cannot change it. Proofreading requires issues to be identified and corrected (changed) if necessary.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Ted M » June 22nd, 2020, 1:50 pm

Departures from conventional spelling, punctuation, and grammar can be distracting, which can interfere with clear communication.

But these are the bare mechanics of written communication. When someone is sloppy with these, it's usually a signal that they will also be sloppy with their organization of thought, and their clarity/precision of describing the details of physical actions as well. Since magic often depends on the details, this can sink the boat.

This higher-level stuff is where skilled editors save the day. As a bonus, they tend to clean up the mechanical stuff too.

So:

Sloppy mechanics on display suggest that larger issues are lurking as well.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Duncan » June 22nd, 2020, 8:44 pm

I'll try again Bob.
Content editing is deciding if the Carrot Cake we're describing will be the one with raisins, or the one with sour cream in the frosting.
Copy Editing is checking the steps are in the right order and the proportions are correct.
Proofreading is when someone makes the cake following the instructions, and tastes it.

I haven't thought about McLuhan in years. How about what the physical therapist said about treating back pain: "the median is a massage."

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby magicam » June 25th, 2020, 7:22 pm

I am a professional writer, but not a professional writer. (How's that for clarity?)

Apologies if this has already been quoted: Good writing is hard to do and easy to read; bad writing is easy to do and hard to read.

In the really old days, like before, say, 1970, readers had an expectation of literacy (of the author), and at least some measure of editing – in other words, something intelligible with a bit of polish. To be a publisher in those ancient times was to be a gatekeeper of sorts, and readers implicitly understood and expected this. I suspect that those of us who grew up with traditional books retain this expectation to some degree, which explains the anguish with poor writing: it feels much more personal to us oldsters.

Bill Duncan in part wrote: ... Content editing is deciding if the Carrot Cake we're describing will be the one with raisins, or the one with sour cream in the frosting.
Copy Editing is checking the steps are in the right order and the proportions are correct.
Proofreading is when someone makes the cake following the instructions, and tastes it.

Bill, seems simple enough: the content editing is the plan, and the copy editing and proofreading are simply the execution of the plan. IMHO, the line between copy editing and proofreading is often -- and IMHO ideally -- blurry.

P.S. I think we need a better analogy than cakes!

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Joe Lyons » June 25th, 2020, 9:47 pm

magicam wrote: I suspect that those of us who grew up with traditional books retain this expectation to some degree, which explains the anguish with poor writing: it feels much more personal to us oldsters.


True, most reading in the past was on a printed physical surface, something that was intrinsically permanent and expectations were exact.
Today most publishing and reading happens electronically, thoughts are barely formed before they’re transmitted ephemerally, and expectations are the same as those of over the fence conversations - both factually and editorially.

The problem is that some are publishing material in a book, charging hundreds of dollars, and it has the same editorial quality as that of a tweet.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 25th, 2020, 11:37 pm

Expository writing is particularly difficult. Kudos to those who try. Long ago we may have depended upon Latin grammar. We now have embedded video, motion capture, and emoji. No surprise there. It is what it is.

Our industry has some conflicting interests* about publishing tricks while not giving away other people's market products (or secrets), and implicitly giving the customer permission to both perform the items as described and adapt items to suit their own needs. This latter idea being presumed as of Our Magic and discussion of normal art.

We could treat the typos as deliberate. That was a plot point in a recent novel (Freeze-frame Revolution) and may as well be a method in our magic.

Kudos to those who make the effort and thanks to those who choose to share their working material,

Jon

* Most of use oldsters have also read mystery stories where the detective explains what really happened using information not shown to the reader. So what do we make of texts where reading along we discover that doing the item as written presumes you are seated, wearing a jacket, have a servante attached to your closeup pad, and have the wait staff leave something on the chair next to you as they attend a table nearby.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Stokes » June 28th, 2020, 6:49 pm

I would recommend Oliver Kamm's ACCIDENCE WILL HAPPEN: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English (2015).
He scalps quite a few grammar 'experts'. Kamm argues that most of them do not know what they are talking about and only have superficial knowledge of the evolution of the English language.

I don't completely agree with Kamm though. He sometimes concedes too much ground to the 'plebs.'

It all depends on which stance you take in regard to the 'etymological fallacy'.
A strict interpretation would lead us to abandon everyday words such as November/December as they are not the ninth or tenth month. But this would be somewhat ridiculous.
That is why decimate in modern language now means nine tenths not one tenth as in Roman times. The meaning has changed and the new meaning is generally accepted.

However, in areas like pronunciation, I adopt a traditionalist approach. For example, I am appalled by the way 'military historians' mispronounce the word 'hegemony'. If you use an unusual word like that, you really should get the pronunciation right. (It's with a hard 'g' by the way.). But the modern relativist approach appears to be if enough plebs pronounce the word incorrectly, then the incorrect pronunciation becomes valid.
Americans are especially guilty of stuffing up this word.

I also get bothered by 'kerning' - the gap between letters.
What Lies Inside by mentalist Florian Severin is marred by its inconsistent spacing. I'm put off reading it, which is a pity as it has strong content.

Clearly, I need to get out more!

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Mullins » June 28th, 2020, 10:46 pm

Richard Stokes wrote:That is why decimate in modern language now means nine tenths not one tenth as in Roman times. The meaning has changed and the new meaning is generally accepted.
I would accept that "decimate" is often used to mean "a lot" or even "the majority of", but I don't see any support in any usage guide or dictionary I have access to for "nine tenths", nor do I generally see or hear it used that way so much so that it could be said to have changed. I'm hardly a prescriptivist, but sometimes people are just wrong -- they literally have no brains (see what I did there?) -- and we don't have to accept their errors as "correct".

I am appalled by the way 'military historians' mispronounce the word 'hegemony'. If you use an unusual word like that, you really should get the pronunciation right. (It's with a hard 'g' by the way.).


UK -- hard G
America -- soft G
easy-peasy

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How so without ancient literacy?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 29th, 2020, 2:05 am

There was a time when April started the year and later on that was ridiculed. But plebeians?

Easy, breezy, beautiful was cover girl on this side of the Atlantic. Recently heard easy-peasy from a modern Moriarty on the BBC's Sherlock.

Perhaps we could claim our hegemony count is Elmsley's :)
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Ian Kendall » June 29th, 2020, 7:16 am

"That is why decimate in modern language now means nine tenths not one tenth as in Roman times. The meaning has changed and the new meaning is generally accepted."

Decimation was the execution of every tenth legionary as a general punishment. That way, one tenth was killed, and nine tenths remained. So, to decimate something means to reduce it by 10%.

I can see where your confusion arises, but I'm not convinced it's the linguistic horror that you think. I cannot remember a single instance where I've encountered 'decimate' to mean reduction by 90%.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Dave Le Fevre » June 29th, 2020, 10:17 am

Ian Kendall wrote:I cannot remember a single instance where I've encountered 'decimate' to mean reduction by 90%
I have to disagree, Ian. While it may not be used to mean reduction by precisely 90%, it's usually used to mean something along those lines.

Many such words change. And some of us are irked by some of those changes, but not by others.

As a friend of mine pointed out some years ago, people who drive to work are referred to as commuters. Though by the original meaning of the word, that's a contradiction. The original meant to commute daily tickets by buying a seasonal pass, a season ticket, thereby reducing or commuting the cost. So you couldn’t commute unless you had tickets to commute. That change in usage didn't irritate him. Nor does it irritate me.

Some "errors" irritate me, such as when media is used as a singular. We have a perfectly good word, medium, which is the singular of media.

And other "errors" don't irritate me, such as when data is used as a singular. Datum is a relatively obscure word, so I don't care.

Each to their own.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Mullins » June 29th, 2020, 1:01 pm

The media are the message.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 29th, 2020, 1:24 pm

Although Merriam and Webster are not members of this esteemed Forum, and probably could not do a convincing double lift or top change, I'm sure the consensus would be that they know a bit of something of words and their etymology. Here is their multi-faceted definition of the word, "decimate."

1 : to select by lot and kill every tenth man of
decimate a regiment

2 : to exact a tax of 10 percent from
poor as a decimated Cavalier

3a : to reduce drastically especially in number
cholera decimated the population
Kamieniecki's return comes at a crucial time for a pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries.

3b : to cause great destruction or harm to
firebombs decimated the city
an industry decimated by recession

So, in light of this, while I agree with Ian that decimate does not literally mean a 90% reduction, I agree with Dave that, in contemporary times, it means something along those lines, or at least a very drastic reduction. Also, considering the M-W definition, I believe it is fair to say that the word would be appropriate whenever referring to the wreaking of tremendous havoc, or to an occurrence approaching (even if falling somewhat short of) a total disaster for the "decimee" (yes, I made that word up). And the word would appear to be applicable regardless of whether the victim is a person, a group of persons (e.g. a regiment or a pitching staff), a city, a business, an entire industry, a stamp collection, or a colony of fire ants like those that used to (past tense, ha ha) invade my lawn when I lived in Florida. I haven't paid my 2019 taxes yet (I believe they are due by July 15th - gulp!), but, given definition 2, above, I would be thrilled to be able to say, after filing, that I was "decimated" by the IRS.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 29th, 2020, 1:43 pm

Is this really what this conversation has devolved into?
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 29th, 2020, 3:02 pm

It appears aimed at describing an anodyne median for magicbook readers. A productive dialectic. Such could encourage writers to reshape what they would say into what others would pay more to read.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 29th, 2020, 3:04 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Is this really what this conversation has devolved into?


I would think it is far better and more interesting than talking trash about magic publications, especially since the vast majority of them are exceedingly well done - present company included.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Duncan » June 29th, 2020, 3:25 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:It appears aimed at describing an anodyne median for magicbook readers. A productive dialectic. Such could encourage writers to reshape what they would say into what others would pay more to read.


Holy cow. Jon is channeling (other) Jon.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 29th, 2020, 4:43 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Although Merriam and Webster are not members of this esteemed Forum ...

Alfred,

For two reasons, the opening line of your post could be slightly improved by substituting Funk and Wagnalls for Merriam and Webster ...

A. It sounds somewhat better to the ear, as we are all familiar with the term Funk & Wagnalls but not Merriam and Webster (it being just Merriam-Webster).

B. Funk & Wagnalls just sounds funnier, as we all know from watching The Tonight Show and Laugh-In.

The above, I believe, is an example of content editing :roll:


Richard Kaufman wrote:Is this really what this conversation has devolved into?
Yes.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 29th, 2020, 4:47 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:So few of us have the gift of language.

Is that what you call it!?

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Ted M » June 29th, 2020, 5:23 pm

Give me a joke editor not guided by cultural references from shows that went off air 28 and 56 years ago, respectively...

What insight does this offer about scripting in magic?

At least there wasn't a suggestion to replace Merriam-Webster with Samuel Johnson!

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 29th, 2020, 6:17 pm

There has been almost no value in this thread.
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Ted M » June 29th, 2020, 6:41 pm

This thread is effectively a lament for the golden age of Kaufman & Co and Hermetic Press as the dominant publishers, both of whom would reliably issue sparkling professional work in both form and content, and by whom the biggest names wished their works to be published.

Now due to the ease of self-publishing, the field is again fractured, as it was before the 80s, and there's an enormous range of quality out there, though there are now more varied sources of high-end quality than before.

The combination of professional-grade physical format with amateurish editorial skill is still relatively new, though, and novelty attracts commentary.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 29th, 2020, 6:57 pm

Ted, it's not new. It started with the Classic Magic of Larry Jennings in 1986.
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 29th, 2020, 10:36 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:So few of us have the gift of language.

Is that what you call it!?
It's something beyond parsimony in concise practical grammar. What would you call ready production of works unblemished by toolmarks of applied skill, not removed by rehearsed recital, and which address the reader in the moment across lifetimes?

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bill Mullins » June 30th, 2020, 10:00 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Ted, it's not new. It started with the Classic Magic of Larry Jennings in 1986.


Are you suggesting that that book was not well-edited?

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Bob Farmer » June 30th, 2020, 11:00 am

Yes, it is a shame that the Jennings book is such a mess just with the small fonts and the horizon-spanning sentences running from one side of the wide page to the other, making the text very difficult to read.

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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 30th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Ted, it's not new. It started with the Classic Magic of Larry Jennings in 1986.


Are you suggesting that that book was not well-edited?


It's poorly written, poorly edited, etc.
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Re: Why is editing so bad in magic publications?

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 3rd, 2020, 1:55 pm

Well...
The most fascinating thing I have found on this thread is that the original poster—tomyleft—has apparently left.

Clearly his work here has been done.


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