TIME drinking

Science Explains Why Men Get Wasted Together

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Marcus Richardson—Getty Images/Flickr Select

A new study may shed light on why men seem to like getting drunk together more than women do

Male bonding over booze is a ritual as old as booze but modern science may have finally shed some light on why getting sloshed with your mates can seem like a particularly male pursuit.

Smiles are contagious in a group of men sitting around drinking alcohol, according to a study announced Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. This suggests that booze serves as a social lubricant for men, making them more sensitive to social behaviors, like smiling, and freeing them to connect with one another in a way that a soda can’t.

Lest that strike you as laughably obvious, consider this: the effect does not hold if there are any women in the group, according to the study authors.

Researchers divided 720 “healthy social drinkers” — half men, half women, all ages 21 to 28 — into three groups. Each group received either an alcoholic drink (vodka cranberry, regrettably for any lab rats with refined taste, but so it goes), a placebo or a non-alcoholic drink. They found that, among men, smiles — and associated increases in positive mood and social bonding — tend to catch on, leaping from face to face, as it were, but only in exclusively male groups.

“Many men report that the majority of their social support and social bonding time occurs within the context of alcohol consumption,” said lead researcher Catharine Fairbairn. “We wanted to explore the possibility that social alcohol consumption was more rewarding to men than to women — the idea that alcohol might actually ‘lubricate’ social interaction to a greater extent among men.”

More importantly — get ready to never hear the end of this one, boyfriends and husbands of the world — researchers note that genuine smiles are perfectly contagious among sober women, just not sober men. A cold one merely evens the score for men, allowing them to catch smiles from each other, so long as there are no women present.

The authors don’t posit a guess as to why the presence of a woman keeps drunk men from catching smiles from one another, except to say that booze seems to disrupt “processes that would normally prevent them from responding to another person’s smile.”

Nice work, dudes. There’s nothing a girl likes more than an unsmiling humorless dolt.

TIME Dating

Men of All Ages Want Women in Their Mid-20s, Study Says

Couple holding hands while riding bicycles
Cavan Images—Getty Images

Whereas women tend to prefer men of the same age or slightly older

Straight men of all ages tend to have their romantic sights set on women in their mid-twenties, while women prefer men who are about the same age as they are, according to a new study.

The survey out Friday, financed by the government-backed research funding group Academy of Finland, gathered data on 12,000 Finns and found that women, on average, are looking for partners who are about their age or slightly older. But men across the age spectrum have a sexual preference for women in their mid-20s. This remains true for men of all ages—men in their early-20s or younger are attracted to women older than themselves and older men are attracted to younger women.

The findings are similar to data culled from the dating website OKCupid, which found that male users of the site of all ages, by far, are looking for women in their early-20s.

TIME Fatherhood

Emma Watson Is Right—Don’t Take Potshots at Fathers

"All children (and dads) must be with an adult at all times."
"All children (and dads) must be with an adult at all times." Courtesy the author

Aaron Gouveia is a husband, father of two boys, and writes for his site The Daddy Files. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Men suffer from gender stereotyping, too. Sometimes—perhaps especially—dear old dads get the worst of it.

“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s. We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.”- Emma Watson

The famous actress and Ivy League graduate uttered those spectacular words in an address to the United Nations last week. Watson, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, gave an impassioned speech calling on men to join women in the battle for gender equality. But in the process, she spoke about the importance of dads, the gender stereotypes that exist for men, and the reasons both sexes have to speak up for one another.

And her timing couldn’t have been better.

This weekend, I waded into unexpected controversy regarding this very topic at the unlikeliest of places – a Massachusetts apple orchard.

As my wife and two sons dutifully joined me in the most quintessential of New England activities, we paid our money and eagerly set out toward the tractor that would bring us to the honeycrisp, macoun, and gala apples we love so much. But before we could hitch our ride we had to stand in line, giving my 6-year-old – a first-grader with a voracious appetite for reading – time to show off his budding skills by reading every single sign in sight.

Except this particular sign was one I wish neither of us had seen (and not just because the font was Comic Sans). It said “All Children (And Dads) Must Be With An Adult At All Times.” My son was confused, and asked me if “daddies have to be watched like kids.” I was confused as well, wondering how a “family friendly” farm could be so tone deaf in taking an unnecessary potshot at fathers (who double as paying customers).

At that point I knew two things: 1) I was going to firmly but respectfully call them on it via their Facebook page and ask them to reconsider, and 2) I was going to get absolutely slammed by angry Internet zealots upset about “political correctness.”

“You’re a whiny [expletive]!”
“You’re such a pansy!”
“Get a sense of humor. PC people like you are what’s wrong with this country!”

And those were the polite ones that didn’t insult my physical appearance, my wife, or my children. But as someone who has tackled this topic before, I expected every bit of it.

Unfortunately, this is usually what happens when men speak out against negative and harmful stereotypes that cast dads as overgrown children and second-class parents. We’re told to “suck it up and be a man.” We’re told we should shut our mouths because there are more important issues on which to focus. We’re even told there’s a lot of truth in those old stereotypes, because many dads are like children and do need supervision.

Look, this sign is not the end of the world and it’s far from the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen. But you have to understand the mixed messages fathers get nowadays, and how negative the cumulative effect can be when the bar for dads is set so low.

Men are roundly criticized for working too much and spending too much time away from home, yet many people are suspect of stay-at-home dads and routinely stigmatize them as lazy freeloaders. People call for fathers to spend more time on the home front in an effort to be equal partners in parenting, yet dads who seek out paternity leave or flexible scheduling do so while risking their advancement and earning opportunities, because many employers believe such actions show an employee less dedicated than his counterparts.

It gets even worse in the media. Huggies thought incompetent dads were the “ultimate test” for their diapers, Clorox put dads on par with house pets, and Ray Romano’s character in “Everybody Loves Raymond” constantly had to be bailed out by his wife, making him the gold standard of what not to do if you want to be an involved dad.

On one hand we’re told we need to be more involved, but at the same time we’re routinely bombarded with messages on TV and in advertisements showing dads as bumbling morons and second class parents. And as Watson pointed out, that kind of attitude isn’t just bad for men. It’s damaging to women as well.

If dads take on more work at home, more women can choose to pursue careers. As for working moms, it allows them to get out from under the so-called “Second Shift,” in which they work and then have to come home to handle the bulk of household and childcare related tasks. The upside is children benefit from time with both parents, men start to become more equal partners in parenting, and women gain ground in the gender equality department.

To the orchard’s credit, they agreed to take the sign down. I’m positive the slight to dads was unintentional and not malicious, but I stand by the decision to address it publicly because shedding light on an issue is the only way to implement change.

It’s not whiny to offer valid criticism and it’s not effeminate to speak up for change. And if Emma Watson is brave enough to speak up even in the face 4Chan bullies* threatening to release nude pictures of her, I’m more than happy to be called a “spineless lib-tard crybaby” if it helps even a few more people break down gender stereotypes.

I genuinely hope people heed Watson’s words, because she’s right. Dads or moms, it doesn’t matter. In the end it’s the same fight, and we’re in it together.

 

Aaron Gouveia is a husband and father of two boys, and writes for his site, The Daddy Files.

 

*UPDATE: That threat turned out to be a hoax.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Heart Disease

Healthy Behaviors Can Prevent 4 Out of 5 Heart Attacks

A study of Swedish men shows just how beneficial healthy living is for the heart

We all know the basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle–maintaining a good diet and waist size, exercising, not smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation. But how healthy will they get you, exactly? A new study published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology quantifies the effects of a healthy lifestyle and finds that practicing these behaviors can prevent four out of five coronary events in men.

Researchers looked at a study population of 20,721 healthy Swedish men between the ages of 45 to 79 and followed them for more than a decade, asking them about their lifestyle choices and behaviors from levels of physical activity to their smoking status.

Men didn’t have to stick to every healthy behavior to see results: Every good habit was associated with a reduced risk for heart attack. Eating a low-risk diet plus drinking alcohol in moderation was associated with a 35% reduced risk of heart attack compared to those in the high-risk group. When men combined even more behaviors, the protective effects soared. Men who don’t smoke and walked or cycled at least 40 minutes a day, exercised at least one hour a week, had a waist circumference under 37.4 inches, drank moderately, and ate a diet of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, fish and whole grains had an 86% lower risk of heart attack than those with high-risk behaviors.

It’s not all good news, of course. Only 1% of men in the study–and about the same amount of the U.S. population–keeps this kind of heart-healthy regime.

MONEY salary

5 Ways Women Can Close the Pay Gap for Themselves

woman standing at bottom of steps with man standing above her
iStock

New Census data found that women earn 78¢ to every $1 men do. These moves can help you get closer to even on your own paycheck.

If you have two X chromosomes and a job, the latest numbers on the wage gap will likely leave you feeling frustrated: Women make only 78¢ for every dollar a man makes, the Census just reported, marking all of a 1¢ improvement over 2012.

Meanwhile, Republican senators blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act this week, which called for greater salary transparency and would have required employers to be able to prove that wage differences were based on factors other than gender.

Overcoming the barriers to equal pay isn’t proving to be easy. And there are some factors we can’t move the needle on as individuals. For example, childbearing counts against us, in what economists have dubbed the “motherhood penalty.” We pay both a per-child wage penalty and also may be dunned for working fewer hours because of our caregiving responsibility. And then there’s straight-up discrimination, which is very hard to prove despite being so palpable to many of us at certain moments in our careers. (Perhaps this explains why one study found that 41% of the pay gap is unexplained!)

Closing the gap a penny at a time is still progress. But for those of you who don’t want to—or can’t—wait around until 2058 to see equal pay, here are five strategies to at least get you closer to even with your XY counterparts.

1. Negotiate smarter…

Working women have heard it all before: We’re not aggressive enough in asking for higher pay; we are bad at negotiating. But if do negotiate aggressively, well, that gets held against us.

But we’ve got to find a way to make it work for us if we want to get paid a fair wage.

So what can we do? Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School who has done research on what makes women successful in negotiations, has found that being collaborative—using “we” and trying to take the perspective of the company and hiring manager—tends to be more effective than other approaches.

She also emphasizes authenticity, so try to come up with language that feels comfortable and natural for you to use.

2. …and from the outset.

A 2011 study by Catalyst tracked 3,300 high-performing students in M.B.A. programs as they began their careers, and found that while 47% of women and 52% of men had countered the initial offer made for their current job, only 31% of women vs. 50% of men had countered the offer for the first job they had out of grad school.

While it’s good that women are catching on to the importance of negotiating, we need to encourage them to do it sooner.

“Failing to negotiate your salary from the start is not only an initial mistake; it is one that will continue to follow you and will be compounded over the years, disadvantaging you throughout the remainder of your career. Every raise you get, every bonus you receive and even the number of stock options you are awarded, will be smaller because these amounts are normally determined as a percentage of your artificially low base salary,” wrote Lee Miller, author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating on six-figure job-search site TheLadders.

Say you started out $5,000 behind your male peer, making $40,000 vs. his $45,000. If you each got 3% raises for each of the next five years, you’d be making $46,371 vs. his $52,167, expanding the difference to $5,798 and you’d have given up $26,546 in income differential in those years.

The longer this goes on, the harder it is to catch up.

3. Push for promotions early on.

According to Payscale, “women’s pay growth stops outpacing men’s at around age 30, which is when college-educated women typically start having children.” Furthermore, women’s pay peaks at age 39 at $60,000, vs. $95,000 at age 48 for men.

That suggests that a smart move would be to try to move up the ladder before you decide to raise a family.

“How women negotiate their career paths is arguably a more important determinant of lifetime earnings than negotiating a little extra money,” Hannah Riley Bowles told The New York Times recently.

4. Work in a fairer field.

Part of the problem, according to Sarah Jane Glynn, associate director for women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress, is that a large proportion of women are clustered in a relatively few fields: 44% are in 20 occupations. And typically within those professions, the majority of workers are women. As Glynn has written,

“Female-dominated industries pay lower wages than male-dominated industries requiring similar skill levels, and the effect is stronger in jobs that require higher levels of education.”

So just try for a higher-paying male-dominated field, right? That can help. Harvard labor economist Claudia Goldin found that, for college grads, moving into such a profession would eliminate an average 30% to 35% of the wage gap.

But that’s not always a home run. Goldin found that female aircraft pilots and financial advisors earn less on the dollar compared to male peers than the average worker, at 71% and 73% respectively.

Goldin did find that the pay gap is much smaller than the average in certain fields—including ad sales, dental hygiene, HR, chemistry, pharmacy, and computer programming. But she pegs the slim difference to the fact that these fields allow a specific kind of flexibility that allows one worker to easily sub out for another, if, say, someone has to stay home with a sick kid.

5. Toot your own horn.

That Catalyst study of M.B.A. grads found that, of those women who said they made their achievements known to others in the organization, 30% had greater compensation growth than peers who did not promote themselves.

Some of the qualities found in these folks: “ensuring their manager was aware of their accomplishments, seeking feedback and credit as
appropriate, and asking for a promotion when they felt it was deserved.”

Sounds easy enough on paper, but in real life, this kind of self-promotion isn’t always easy for women.

To make it more palatable, Laura Donovan of Levo League suggests being selective about the moments you do this (e.g. yes to scoring the $1 million client, no to pushing through the report that’s expected of you), choosing the right audience for your message (don’t blast the full staff), and focusing on facts rather than self-congratulation (“I just wanted you to know that we’ve signed the contract with Client Y, for $1 million over two years….”).

Also, focus on the upside: The Catalyst study suggested that self-promotion can help you gain sponsorship from important allies who can help you further advance in your career, and hopefully get you closer to closing the pay gap.

TIME Internet

The Surprising Reasons Men Love the Kim Kardashian Game

Everyone wants to be Kim K.

You already know that everyone and her sister and her aunt and her mother is playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the mobile game which has reportedly brought in hundreds of millions in revenue and was released in a desktop version this week. What you may not know is that her brother and uncle and dad are playing, too.

Though Kim K. is built around the pursuit of traditionally feminine activities – clothes, dating, modeling – men can be just as taken with it as women. I got my first inkling of this when I told two different male friends that I was trying to pinpoint what was so fascinating about the game, and gave them a little précis of how it worked. Their reactions were more or less identical: “Huh. Weird. Sounds a little boring. I’m downloading it right now.”

This got me curious: what about this modeling-and-celebrity game appealed so urgently to men? I emailed and chatted with eight guys – most straight, some gay, most in their 20s and 30s (ranging from E-list to A-list in the game’s rankings) about why they played Kim K.

The game doesn’t market itself specifically to women – you can play as either sex, dating either sex. Mark, a 29-year-old poet and teacher, says he played a woman in the game (named Mark) specifically because he’s a man: “I have always been interested in bucking expectations with gender roles — I’m a chubby white guy with a beard, but I’ve also done drag, sung Madonna at karaoke nights, etc.”

's character, , rocks a swimsuit ensemble made popular by Kim Kardashian herself.
Mark Cugini’s character, Mark Cugini, rocks a swimsuit ensemble made popular by Kim Kardashian herself. Courtesy of Mark Cugini

Andrew, one of the friends I introduced to the game, made the same choice for the opposite reason: the male gaze. “I expected to spend a lot of time looking at my avatar on screen,” he said, “and I like looking at women more than at men.”

Greg Seals, a 22-year-old writer, played as a guy and started out designing his character to dress like him, but “somehow it devolved into this douchey-looking L.A. guy who is probably closeted, works out at Equinox way too much, and would be mean to me in real life. In essence, I’ve created a monster.”

But though the casting is gender-blind, the plot, such as it is, is arranged around posing for pictures, changing your clothes, and going on dates (though often just to be seen with someone who has more social capital than you). These are, of course, issues of interest to the population at large; yes, for the most part we aren’t models, but most of us engage in romance and almost all of us wear clothes. But these subjects, the clothing especially, are often pigeonholed as being primarily women’s concerns. This alone should guarantee that Kim K. is seen as a “girl” pastime – the game is very, very into clothes, alerting you when you attain each level that you have new outfits available. One of the big enticements to spend real-people money is “K-stars,” silver coins that can be exchanged for new clothes, shoes, or hair. The new duds can be very, very tempting.

That’s true for the men as well. Far from writing Kim K. off as some kind of ladies’ dress-up game, most of the guys I talked to mentioned the costuming as a draw. In their regular lives, men (especially straight men, like the majority of my correspondents) are rarely rewarded for fashion skills, and they’re socialized early on to devalue most sartorial concerns as “girly.” Some of them, at least, are grateful for a context like Kim K. that brings dress-up back to the fore.

Don’t believe me? You should meet writer and recruiter Kevin Fanning’s character Kloaca (“It was the first word with the ‘K’ sound that came to my mind. I realized later that a cloaca isn’t what I thought it was, and that the name was actually kind of gross, but it was too late to do anything about it”). Kevin changes her outfits at least once a day, “usually pants and tees for the day and dresses for the evening. I’m aware that this is insane.” Clothes aren’t a big concern of Kevin’s in real life, but they’re his primary goal in the game; he puts Kloaca through her modeling paces just so he can “make that paper” to buy better outfits.

Kevin Fanning says he had to save up "forever" to afford his character Kloaca's turquoise pixie haircut.
Kevin Fanning says he had to save up “forever” to afford his character Kloaca’s turquoise pixie haircut. Courtesy of Kevin Fanning

But you don’t have to be that attentive to your fashionable Tamagotchi to appreciate Kim K.’s offerings. When I asked Mark what he thought of the available outfits, he sighed, “Ugh. The best. I need the friggin’ space pants ASAP.” (Mark’s character is an A-lister who has climbed all the way to #1 in the fame rankings, so he sees more clothing choices than punters like me; I don’t even know what “space pants” are.)

Matt, 39, who’s playing as a man, is disappointed that his outfit choices aren’t more diverse: “I think it suffers the same thing that male fashion does generally, in that there is only so far you can go with some sort of trousers and shirt.” Greg had similar issues: “I was hoping that if I played as a guy I could wear some of the crazy outfits, masks, and Givenchy Kanye wears.”

Most of the fellas agree that this game kind of sucks as a game, although game developer Matt called the gameplay “decent enough.” And yet, even when you’re bored, it’s somehow hard to walk away. As Greg put it, “All you’re doing is sitting there and mindlessly tapping the screen. There’s not even any strategy, really. But there’s something so addicting about every time I get one of the ‘feed updates’ and watch my fan count go up and my ranking rise. I don’t want to know what that means about me as a human.”

“The game is pretty much the shallowest thing I’ve ever encountered and yet I can’t really help myself,” agreed Alex, 25, who says he got hooked after his girlfriend downloaded the game onto his phone while he slept.

In other words, men play Kim K. because they like the dress-up, because there’s something appealing about the fantasy of a meteoric rise to fame, and because it’s addictive in spite of the dull gameplay. These are the same reasons I play it. Men are not immune to the appeal of beautiful objects, charmed lives, and pretending to be a rich, beloved semi-princess. They’re just not usually encouraged to value those things. Kim K. provides a space for dudes to engage in pursuits typically sidelined as feminine, whether those pursuits are valuable or vacant.

And that’s part of the point. Fantasy games like Kim K. allow you to try on the trappings of another person – someone whose looks, goals, achievements, even gender may be very different from yours – in a simple and protected way. “It’s a safe sandbox for vanity role play,” said Justin, the other friend I introduced to the game. (It’s amazing, really, that both of them are still talking to me.) In this, he says, it’s not that different from other computer games where you play a customizable character: “Up to your teenage years, you get to play a lot with identity as expressed in your clothing, but later in life you lose that freedom. Video games give you a safe space to tinker with that – you can be a man, you can be a woman, you can be a space alien or an orc, and you can wear the clothes that express that persona.” What appeals to men about Kim K. is, ultimately, the same thing that appeals to women: the ability to play, superficially, symbolically, with identity and self-presentation. Men and women who build a character in a game like Kim K. aren’t looking for real insight, but it’s no coincidence that dress-up is the biggest draw.

Kim Kardashian: Hollywood isn’t intended to let men know what women’s lives are like. It’s not intended to let us mundane people know what celebrities’ lives are like, either. But for a little while, it does let you try on their clothes.

 

TIME Men

Are You Man Enough? The Truth About Low Testosterone

Low-T drugs marketed to help men get their mojo back are having a moment, but are they safe?

With the market for low-testosterone, or “Low-T,” therapy projected to reach $5 billion by 2017, many new centers have sprung up across the country offering a spectacular catch-all treatment.

TIME spoke to experts in the field and visited the Ageless Men’s Health testosterone clinic to get the inside story on a treatment that promises to “boost your strength training, sex drive and performance to the levels you’ve been wanting.”

Read TIME’s cover story, “Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry,” here.

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TIME startup

ManServants: The Startup That Promises to Make (Almost) All Your Fantasies Come True

Sign me up

Ladies, are you tired of (and maybe a little grossed out by) the male strippers at bachelorette parties? Do you wish instead that you could just hire a hot guy to serve you food, do your laundry, or dole out creative compliments whenever you walk into a room? Beginning in the fall, new San Francisco-based startup ManServants promises you can have all that, and more, with their rent-a-perfect-guy service.

The men for hire go through “a very rigorous training process,” co-founder Dalal Khajah told Mashable, and they can be hired to do whatever the client wants. During the testing phase of the service, one woman wanted a sassy gay friend to give her relationship advice. Another wanted her man to serve her food while singing songs from The Little Mermaid.

The singing will cost you extra – according to ManServants’ website, the standard services include waiting on you hand and foot, serving drinks, acting as a body guard, taking photos, giving compliments, and “[cleaning] up your hot mess.” For an additional fee, you can get your ManServant to do things like speak in an accent, or give you a spa day complete with cucumber water and chocolate covered strawberries. (The website doesn’t say what it will cost you to hire your ManServant, but he will be compensated by the company beginning at $80 per hour and $300 per day.)

Josephine Wai Lin, Khajah’s business partner, explained all the customizable options: “Every woman’s fantasy is different.”

But one thing the men won’t do is fulfill fantasies that are less innocent than say, singing “Under the Sea.” In the ManServants code of conduct it says, “A ManServant keeps his penis in his pants and out of the lady’s face.” Chivalry isn’t dead!

The company’s vision is “to empower women to make their own rules. Rules a ManServant may then follow.” So watch the hilarious promo video, and start coming up with ideas.

TIME relationships

Sigh: Men Think Women Who Listen to Them Are Sexier

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Listening woman Image Source RF/Wonwoo Lee—Getty Images/Image Source

A new study shows that men think women who are aware of their feelings are attractive, but it didn't necessarily work the other way around

Dusty Springfield was right all those years ago when she said the best way to a man’s heart was to “show him that you care.” A new study shows that men are more sexually attracted to “responsive” women who tend to their needs, but the same can’t be said about what attracts women to men.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that after just meeting, men were more likely to be sexually attracted to a woman who was “responsive,” which meant “aware of what I’m thinking and feeling” or “listening to me.” Men perceived responsive women as more feminine, and therefore more sexually attractive.

Dr. Gurit Birnbaum, one of the authors of the study, said that “responsiveness” could also indicate which women would be viewed as long-term partners vs. short term hookups. “A responsive partner may be perceived as a warm and caring and therefore a desirable long-term partner,” she said in an email.

Unsurprisingly, the female attitude towards male “responsiveness” was more complicated. On the one hand, some women saw responsiveness as an indication that the man would be a desirable mate, while others suspiciously viewed it as a ploy to manipulate them into sex. Still others thought that “responsiveness” was un-masculine, and therefore not sexy.

So there might be actually some science behind the whole “nice guys finish last” thing.

What a bummer.

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