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Breaking News: Senate passes another DTV Delay Act, Goes to House Floor


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#76 OFFLINE   capegator

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 03:32 PM

From the Director of Engineering and Technology at Iowa Public Television (today):

"IPTV will continue to operate analog services until the mandated analog shutoff date whether that is February 17, 2009 or the proposed June 12, 2009. There is indeed an added cost to maintaining two operations and our costs are amplified due to the fact that we have 9 full powered facilities statewide that are each operating two transmitters. Based on my experience doing DTV information sessions statewide (and out of state, I was just in Albert Lea on Tuesday) there are a great many people that rely on over the air television reception that are not ready. We think IPTV is better serving the viewer and communities that rely on us by continuing to operate analog for as long as possible to provide the most opportunity for people to get ready and deal with any reception issues. We recognize that even if we delay until June, we will still deal with the procrastinators but we would rather have them scrambling on their roofs checking antennas and cables in June rather than February."

<posted on AVS forum HDTV local Des Moines, IA>

Notice, this person is not interested in finding fault with the consumers, rather he is merely acknowledging that "a great many people ...are not ready", and is committed to serving them.

While I would prefer to go ahead with things, he makes a good point about antenna work (at least in Iowa). I find this abundance of concern for those left out (their fault or not), refreshing and admire this director for his commitment to the viewing public.


Which will be hurricane season in other areas of the country. Do you think maybe some of these folks that only have analog also may rely on TV for emergency information? I'd also hate to be on my roof checking an antenna during a tropical storm. Oh well, the acting chairman chairman of the FCC, Michael Copps, blamed it on Bush today. http://www.pcworld.c...an_for_dtv.html

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#77 OFFLINE   davidatl14

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 03:38 PM

The very people who wanted to use the phone order system are exactly the people who are not internet savvy, or may not even have internet connections available to them. Many local people have complained they could barely understand the "simple" phone order system.

Certainly many people ordered coupons and did not use them. Many others ordered them, received them, but there were no local stores that had the converters in stock before the coupons expired. Stock was very limited in this area for a six week period, and that was followed by no stock for three more weeks. The fact is, there have been problems, not all of which are attributable to the consumer.

This whole process has been difficult for a large segment of the viewing public. There wasn't much that could be done to make it easier, other than not running out of coupons and having call centers that could process the volume of calls.

There is no doubt that many people have no one to blame but themselves. It is equally certain that others were without fault. Therein lies the rub. Cavalierly dismissing their situation does us no credit.

No matter what side of the debate one finds oneself on, we are still left with only three options:

1. Let them eat cake
2. Half-baked analog turn off
3. Full push back.

The only way this is going to happen as quickly and "clearly" as it can is to proceed with the 17 Feb shut down of analog. I don't envy those left out in the dark through no fault of their own.



Of the above choices put me solidly in the #1 camp.

LET THEM EAT CAKE

If you aren't ready for this, you can make a further evaluation after access to your Local TV stations are cut off.

This is nobody's fault except the individual(s) in question.
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#78 OFFLINE   txtommy

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 03:41 PM

My comments are:

1. Some TVs don't have a coax input. They'll also need an adapter.
2. What about VCRs? You'll also have to train people how to use their VCR in a different way. And did they buy a converter box with timers for VCR use?
3. That tiny print scrolling across the bottom of the screen can't be read by many people due to poor eyesight.
4. That tiny print scrolling across the bottom of the screen can't be read by many people because while they may understand conversational English, they have no idea what many of the words in the scroll mean.
5. That tiny print scrolling across the bottom of the screen can't be read by many people because while English is their only language, they have no idea what many of the words in the scroll mean.
6. Some people's most complex electronic device is the TV. The toaster is the next most complex electronic device they own. My Grandma has never owned or driven a car, doesn't own a VCR or microwave, and doesn't even own a toaster. For her, the bedside clock is the next most complex device she owns. And she can't set the time on it.
7. Some people may need new antennas. Their old antennas may be fine now, but they may need new antennas on the cutoff date. They may now need to be installed outdoors. In the middle of winter.
8. Some broadcasters may need more time. My digital signals go out all day once a week on my FOX and CBS affiliates.
9. Some people are physically unable to install the new box due to medical issues.
10. The message of "perform a rescan on Feb. 17" isn't getting out to anybody. In many areas, rescans will have to be performed. I think this would cut down on a lot of the phone calls.

I also know of at least 12 people who still do not understand the analog shutdown is taking place. I've tried explaining it to them, and they just don't get it. And only four of them have cable.


Other than item #7, how many of these will change before June 12th?

On the 17th all analog stations should cease all normal broadcasting. In place of normal programming a short message stating that all transmissions are now digital and a simple message describing what needs to be done to resume reception of programming. The message should repeat over and over for several days and then shut down. That will get the message out to all those people who have somehow ignored it thus far. Suggested solutions listed in the message would include purchasing a box or calling a friend/relative who has some technical skills. If a friend, relative or neighbor called me I'd certainly be willing to pick up a box on my next trip to the store and show them how to hook it up. My Mom would have great difficulty understanding what needs to be done but would have little difficultly finding several people willing to hook it up for her at no cost.
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#79 OFFLINE   Mark Holtz

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 03:47 PM

Which will be hurricane season in other areas of the country. Do you think maybe some of these folks that only have analog also may rely on TV for emergency information? I'd also hate to be on my roof checking an antenna during a tropical storm.

The last time I looked, I have a nice battery powered radio setting about three feet away from my desk at work that tunes in AM/FM, Weatherband, and TV band (although that's going away) in case power goes out in the building.

#80 OFFLINE   Pepster

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 04:41 PM

I was against the extension. But it seems that the extension also includes a provision to allow reissuing of expired coupons. That's a free $40 for me. So now I'm in favor of the extension (unless there is no money for the reissuing of coupons, so I can't get my free $40, in which case I'm still against the extension).

:)


If the reissued coupons are good for the same 90 days as the previous one, it only means another batch of people who will STILL PROCRASTINATE, NO MATTER WHAT DATE IS SET, will be put on hold.

You slow, you blow. Too bad, just wait for the next train.

#81 OFFLINE   ViVi

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 05:36 PM

I noticed while watching "Hell's Kitchen" last night that there promo has changed and now says something int he way of "in the coming months you will learn more about the digital transition". They then flash a screen at the end of the promo with the February 17th date.

#82 ONLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 05:44 PM

How about were able to buy the TV in 1985.
Worked to pay for the electricity until 1987.
Now retired.
No longer quite up to working on said TV.

Or someone bought the TV for them and hooked it up for them. (And set the VCR time for them.)

How about...

I'm not for extending. I think it will only make things much, much more confusing and not really help.

But I do have some compassion for people who would find it difficult to do this themselves at this point in their lives. Even if they could fix your car 30 years ago...

Cheers,
Tom

I'm not about to defend how the coupon program was administered, but this is a non-starter, to me. The same people that have no issue going out and buying a TV... paying for the electricity to watch said TV... are out in the dark with this? Even if it's true that they couldn't get through via the phone number, why in the world is that an issue? I understand there are people who are on fixed incomes... I get that.... but the notion that this can't happen because government didn't plan for every eventuality... every possible issue... is, to be honest, pretty flabbergasting. The coupon program was never meant to cover every case... it was never even meant just to go to the poor - or it would have required means-testing. No, it wasn't perfect - far from it - but the notion that people are just doomed if they can't get a coupon, when they can spend $40 to get a converter box. I'm sorry, but I really don't think $40 is all that much of a burden if you want to watch TV. For crying out loud, is it really that much to ask that people take a little responsibility for themselves on this?

I don't know the first thing about car repair, but if my car has a problem I don't just sit around bemoaning that the government didn't do enough to cover whatever problem I had - I go to someone who knows how, and I get it fixed. Sometimes it's more than I want/can afford to pay for the repair, but the incentive is great enough for me to get the car fixed.

I was ok with the coupon program to begin with because this change is government-mandated. I never applied for any coupons myself, even though I had a spare TV that could have used one, because I have no issue going out and spending $40 to keep the TV going should I desire it.


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#83 OFFLINE   hasan

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 05:46 PM

Of the above choices put me solidly in the #1 camp.

LET THEM EAT CAKE

If you aren't ready for this, you can make a further evaluation after access to your Local TV stations are cut off.

This is nobody's fault except the individual(s) in question.


Which completely ignores the coupon availability problems, the box availability problems and the dysfunctional phone system. Don't be so quick to assign blame to only one party, as there's plenty to go around.

Fortunately, our votes won't count for much and they will do whatever suits them. We just end up having to live with it.:)
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#84 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:23 PM

The same people that have no issue going out and buying a TV... paying for the electricity to watch said TV... are out in the dark with this? Even if it's true that they couldn't get through via the phone number, why in the world is that an issue?

The people in the most need probably have not purchased a TV set in the past 10 years. TVs last a while.

They probably don't know how much their TV is costing them in electricity and it may be all that they have to connect them with the world outside that door.

That being said, assuming all 1800+ stations all left their analog transmitters on until June 12th those problems will still exist on June 13th. At some point education ends and one has to put that education to good use.

Current figures show 30% of all TV stations will be all digital by or on February 18th. That number is likely to grow. We're going to get a phased in transition. Just think of the new date as an "extended nightlight".

I don't believe the date should be changed ... but as long as the STATIONS are honest about when THEY will be turning off analog it will work out OK.

#85 OFFLINE   davidatl14

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:26 PM

Which completely ignores the coupon availability problems, the box availability problems and the dysfunctional phone system. Don't be so quick to assign blame to only one party, as there's plenty to go around.

Fortunately, our votes won't count for much and they will do whatever suits them. We just end up having to live with it.:)



Beg to differ, not ignoring anything just understanding that all programs like the coupon program will be flawed it's just a matter of to what degree.

Nothing changes by extending the date, instead of (6.5M) amount not being ready there will now be (6.495M) not ready and the same people will still be making excuses and want another extension.

Just cut to the chase, pull the plug.

On a side note on the coupon program, (just my opinion) which I acknowledge up front will be in the minority, there wouldn't have been a coupon program at all. Make the PSA for a set period of time, set a hard date and follow through.
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#86 OFFLINE   lwilli201

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:40 PM

I doubt there is anything in this bill that will help the elderly who do not have the knowledge to understand what is going on, and are not capable of connecting the box, and will not be able to replace their antenna if required. I have no sympathy for the procrastinators and those that do not wish to keep up with what is going on around them. The elderly are the most vulnerable and there is nothing, it appears, that will help them no matter how long it is delayed. Without caring and knowledgeable relatives or friends, they will be in the dark.
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#87 OFFLINE   jpl

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 07:07 PM

How about were able to buy the TV in 1985.
Worked to pay for the electricity until 1987.
Now retired.
No longer quite up to working on said TV.

Or someone bought the TV for them and hooked it up for them. (And set the VCR time for them.)

How about...

I'm not for extending. I think it will only make things much, much more confusing and not really help.

But I do have some compassion for people who would find it difficult to do this themselves at this point in their lives. Even if they could fix your car 30 years ago...

Cheers,
Tom


Look, I have compassion for them too (didn't mean to come across that harshly), but I'm frankly a little tired of the 'world is going to end for these people unless the government does something' stuff. I've offered my services to more than one person to help them through this - my wife's 90+ year old grandparents, e.g. A VAST majority of people will be fine with this. At the end of the day, $40 is not alot to ask someone to shoulder to keep watching TV - that's my point. It's like the people who tell me that they're on fixed incomes, but they have plenty of money to play the lottery. Of all the people I know who got the coupons I can honestly say not a single one of them needed the assistance. The program was never meant to be all things to all people to begin with. If we're looking to ensure that no one is left without TV with the transition, we may as well scrap the whole thing right now. Anything that's done - any change that's made - will cause someone to be in the dark.

Yes, I feel for those people... I really do. But I also believe that people aren't as helpless as many like to paint them. One final point - this bill, instead of helping people, I believe will make things worse. It'll add to the confusion... it'll cost the companies who spent the money on the bandwidth money, at a time when we really can't afford to be doing that to these companies. We have all sorts of fees and taxes that go along with these services. I don't see anyone screaming, e.g., that we should eliminate all the federal taxes on phone service... how much more does that affect people than a single $40 charge for an adapter that will last them for years? Not to get political about this, but we having these same people pay all sorts of fees and taxes for very basic services, but the thought of having to have them shell out $40 for an adapter is unreasonable? I guess I just fail to see it.

#88 OFFLINE   txtommy

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 07:26 PM

From the DTV website FAQ's:

Can I replace a lost or stolen coupon?
No. Coupons cannot be reissued. If you have requested one coupon, you may be eligible to receive another. If both coupons have been lost or stolen, or you have requested both coupons, used one, and the other coupon is lost or stolen, by law we are unable to reissue coupon replacements. While it is illegal to sell coupons, giving a coupon for free to a family member, friend, or neighbor is not prohibited under Program regulations.

If a coupon expires before it is used, can I re-apply?
If a consumer requests only one coupon and it expires before it is used, then they can apply for a second coupon. Once two coupons have been issued to that household, the consumer will no longer be eligible to request any more coupons. Coupons expire 90 days after they are mailed.


How many of the 6.5 million households fall into one of the above categories? Unless the rules are changed these people will never be able to use a coupon to purchase a box no matter how long we postpone the change.
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#89 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:07 PM

How many of the 6.5 million households fall into one of the above categories? Unless the rules are changed these people will never be able to use a coupon to purchase a box no matter how long we postpone the change.

The pending legislation will allow reissues of expired coupons but not lost and stolen coupons. A good idea, since coupons are issued to individuals as long as the NTIA tracked the coupons by who they sent them to and can tell who's coupons went expired a reissue should be possible.

Lost or stolen ... as long as they were not used they would be expired. Otherwise it comes down to who is responsible if, say, someone stole your social security benefit or tax refund. The government? Personal responsibility plays a role.

The bad news is that there are several house bills that have been waiting in committee since early January that could have fixed the coupons. Yet nothing was done with those bills. If coupons are the problem coupons should be the solution. Not delay.

#90 OFFLINE   capegator

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:18 PM

The last time I looked, I have a nice battery powered radio setting about three feet away from my desk at work that tunes in AM/FM, Weatherband, and TV band (although that's going away) in case power goes out in the building.


Wow. Ok, I guess my point was stated too subtlety. I am certainly glad that you have a battery powered radio at work. You obviously have internet access. Since you are posting on a site devoted to discussion on satellite television, I would assume that you probably have a subscription to satellite television.

What much of the discussion here was regarding were the people who obviously do not have all of the accouterments that you enjoy. Their analog television is their link to the outside world, and disturbing that link could lead to these unfortunate souls to venture upon their roofs on a cold February evening to adjust their antennas. I assume that was what the PBS engineer in Iowa was referring to when he spoke of a switch in February.

My point regarding postponing the switch to June, during the Atlantic Hurricane season, was meant to demonstrate that any time that the switch is made will be problematic for some. A switch in June, while a storm is threatening the Atlantic coast, could lead to a lack of distribution of emergency information by emergency managers and a threat to individuals injuring themselves by trying to adjust an antenna upon their roof.

You see, it doesn't, in my humble estimation, help to delay the switch for any period of time because there will be a population that doesn't not know and cannot adapt easily.

Congress should get on with it. Help those that need help after the switch, whenever it happens. [] Enjoy your radio.

!pride

Edited by James Long, 30 January 2009 - 08:29 PM.
Off topic comment removed.


#91 OFFLINE   homeskillet

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 10:51 PM

According to information from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters all commercial/public television stations in the state of Kansas will switch to Digital only on Feb. 17 no matter what. This includes the markets of Wichita, Topeka, Pittsburg, and Kansas City.

#92 ONLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 10:53 PM

Thanks for the update, homeskillet!

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#93 OFFLINE   rug1000

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 12:25 AM

I believe I understand why the first bill required suspension of the House Rules (so that bill is completely dead, by the way). House Rules are "pay as you go" and one of the modifications to create the new bill was:which allows normal bill processing in the House.

Cheers,
Tom


The House Committee on Rules recently announced a meeting which would allow "fast-tracking" of this new bill without a 2/3 majority needed for rules suspension. The meeting is set for February 3 and the House could start debating the bill as soon as the Rules Committee takes action at the meeting. Only the traditional majority will be needed to pass the bill. Here's the announcement.

-Rug

Edited by rug1000, 31 January 2009 - 12:53 AM.


#94 OFFLINE   n3ntj

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:32 AM

After 2 years of telling EVERYONE of this switch on Feb 17th, imagine how confused some people will be if this delay happens...

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#95 OFFLINE   Mark Holtz

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:41 AM

From New York Times:

Digital TV Beckons, but Many Miss the Call

Vesta Clemmons, who is 77 and lives alone, relies on the battered Zenith television in her tiny apartment here as more than just a lifeline to the outside world.

(paragraph deleted)

So Ms. Clemmons was concerned to learn from a public-service campaign that after Feb. 17 the rooftop antenna connected to her television would no longer function properly, and thus neither would her TV — unless she bought and installed an adaptor. On that day the country’s broadcast stations have long been scheduled to shut down the old-fashioned, analog signals that have carried their programming since the days of Milton Berle, and replace them with high-definition digital signals that offer a clearer picture, among other benefits.

FULL ARTICLE HERE

Analog TV Shutoff Still Likely to Be Delayed

If you plan to put a new antenna on your roof to receive digital TV signals, you may not need to get out your parka and safety lines yet.

The House of Representatives voted down a bill Wednesday to push back the date analog television signals will end from Feb. 17 to June 12. The vote in favor of the bill was 258 to 168, less than the two-thirds needed under a special procedure meant to speed consideration of the measure, which passed the Senate unanimously on Wednesday.

FULL ARTICLE HERE

#96 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 08:50 AM

It pretty evident that this freight train legislation to delay to June 12th will be going full steam ahead next week and likely only stop once it has passed the "approval" station.

After reading the entire thread, as well as attached articles and other sources...the impact may be alot less than the legislators think, in that many stations will switch off their analof this month as originally scheduled anyway.

This all seems to be a solution without a problem.
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#97 OFFLINE   jpl

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 09:56 AM

This all seems to be a solution without a problem.


Amen! That's the reason I'm so opposed to this bill. It's window-dressing, that's all. And window-dressing that will lead to more confusion... not less. Again, Congress is just making this stuff up - they're saying that a delay will help. I don't think it will because there's been plenty of time to get ready for this. The coupons started shipping a year ago. The boxes became available shortly after that. Congress never intended for the program to cover everyone possible. If that was the case they never would have made it a first-come-first-serve set-up... it would have required means-testing, which it didn't. There's alot to criticize in the coupon program, but to believe that a four-month delay is what's needed to correct those short-comings is beyond short-sighted. It makes no sense. This is a bill designed for political cover - that's all.

#98 OFFLINE   leww37334

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 10:18 AM

Here is what will happen if Congress proceeds with the delay.


Joe says: "They told us the switch over would happen on Feb 17, it is Feb 18 and my TV still works fine so I don't have to make any changes."

June rolls around and Joe still isn't ready.


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#99 OFFLINE   jsk

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:10 AM

This whole thing hasn't been communicated very well. Most of the PSA's that I have seen about the change were on digital subchannels with no mention that if you are receiving this signal, you are at least going to continue receiving it after the transition.

Testing is going to need to be done before all of the new occupants of the frequencies will be able to roll out their new services. There should be some sort of frequency sharing during the transition where the TV stations & new occupants can work out a schedule where they are on sometimes (especially during news programs). When they are on, they should broadcast a large text message only on the analog channel about the transition every hour. People who aren't ready will get the idea that they need to change, but won't be completely isolated and the new occupants will be able to test their services to be able to launch them on time.

However, I think all of this is too late to consider. I would imagine that even if there was any sort of deadline extension many stations would still turn off their analog signals because they probably already planned economically and logistically for the switch. I assume that it isn't as simple as flipping a switch, but they may have planned for a smaller electric bill, removing their old transmitter, ending leases for towers, making modifications to their new transmitter, and a million other things.
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#100 OFFLINE   Lord Vader

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:55 AM

From what I have read, the major difference between this bill and the last one passed by the Senate is that the word "voluntary" has been inserted here, thereby making the delay and/or switch voluntary for any and all stations involved.

FAITH: I find the lack of it disturbing.

 





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