Celebrating The Love Of Shepard And Garrus On N7 Day

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Greetings and to all the fellow fans of “Mass Effect” out there, Happy N7 Day! To those who don’t follow video games or space operas, N7 Day is the annual celebration that fans of this incredible franchise and story use to celebrate this amazing world that we love.

This series will always be near and dear to my heart in many ways. It didn’t just tell an incredible story that spanned the galaxy. It crafted wonderful, compelling characters that included beautiful, endearing romances. While the game gives you many romantic options to pursue, the one that will always resonate with me is Garrus and female Shepard. Their love helps make the galaxy worth saving.

In celebration of this year’s N7 Day, I’d like to commemorate it by highlighting my favorite romance between Earth’s greatest defender and her badass Turian sharpshooter. If you need convincing that their love is special, please see check out this video complication. I hope it convinces you as much as it did for me. Enjoy!

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How The Internet Has Weakened (But Not Destroyed) Organized Religion

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The current state of organized religion is ripe with conflict and mixed messages. On one hand, religious affiliation has significantly declined over the past 30 years. According to a 2018 survey from Eastern Illinois University, around 23 percent of the US population identifies as having “no religion.” For comparison, that number was only 5 percent in 1972.

In other industrialized countries, the decline is even more pronounced. Throughout Europe, more and more people are drifting away from organized religion. That’s especially true of young people, who are one of the least religious demographics in modern history. In terms of the bigger picture, organized religion is facing a generational time bomb that’s just starting to go off.

At the same time, however, religion still exercises an absurd amount of political power. Religious groups, particularly those who align themselves with conservative politics, have enormous influence. Its platform is tightly woven with that of a major political party. Many people in positions of power identify as religious. Many more rely on a religious base to get elected.

It’s a strange trend that seems counter-intuitive. How can something be weakening due to declining adherents, but still wield so much power? In an age where the egregious crimes of religious institutions have been exposed and more people are educated on the many absurdities of various holy texts, it feels as though organized religion should be on its death bed.

While there are many factors behind this situation, I believe that one particular factor is more influential than most. It also happens to be the same factor that has done the most to weaken religion while helping to sustain its political and social influence. It’s a force that has already radically changed everyone’s life, regardless of their affiliation.

That force is the internet and its impact on religion cannot be overstated.

I’m old enough to remember what it was like to talk about religion in the pre-internet days. You listened to your parents, relatives, priests, mullahs, rabbis, and monks. They told you the history and tenants of their religion. You might ask questions. You might not understand the philosophy behind it. No matter how curious or skeptical you were, you could only do so much to question it.

Most of the time, you just had to trust your elders that they knew what they were talking about. You also had to trust that they wouldn’t lie to you, which is often a risky bet. If you were really motivated, you might go to a library and do some research. Even then, you’d have an uphill battle a head of you, given the many complexities behind religion and why people believe in it.

These days, it’s exceedingly simple to fact check an absurd religious claim. If someone were to claim that a 900-year-old man built a 300-foot wooden boat that housed two of every kind of animal for 40 days during a global flood, you wouldn’t have to spend years in college to learn why that’s absurd. You could just pull out your phone, do a few simple searches, and find out why this claim is completely wrong.

Even a kid who has only taken a basic science class can look up any of the stories their priest, mullah, rabbi, or monk tell them to find out whether they’re based on real history or embellished folklore. Religious institutions, parents, and schools can fight to control the information their young people receive. Many organizations do engage in activities that are outright indoctrination.

However, as demographic trends show, the effectiveness of those efforts only go so far. The information about the absurdities, inconsistencies, lies, and agendas is still out there. It’s widely available to anyone who can access a smartphone or a computer. There’s only so much anyone can do to prevent someone from accessing that information.

As a result, organized religion will never have the same sway it once did in centuries past. No matter how much conservative reactionaries complain, it’s impossible to go back. The combination of modern education and accessible information ensures that major religious institutions will never wield the power they once did.

Given the complexities of modern societies and the geopolitics surrounding it, it’s just not practical for a centralized religious institution to exist. The Vatican can still make statements about morality, ethics, and spiritual matters. It just has no means of enforcing them, as evidenced by how little typical Catholics follow their edicts.

Even without this power, the same internet that has permanently weakened religion is also the same thing that sustains some of its considerable influence. In fact, the internet might act as a catalyst that can turn certain individuals from nominal adherents to ardent zealots.

Think back to the young people sitting in churches, mosques, synagogues, or temples. While some might casually look up the religious claims out of curiosities, others might go out of their way to find information that confirms these claims. Even if they’re factually wrong, they’ll look for any bit of information that they can twist to make it seem true and cling to it.

This is why creationism still persists, despite extensive resources that thoroughly debunk it. If someone is really determined to find information that affirms their beliefs, they’ll find it on the internet the same way people find cat videos and knife-wielding crabs. There will even be unscrupulous people to exploit them, including those who are convicted felons.

Like it or not, there are people who sincerely want to believe their preferred religion and will cling to anything that strengthens that belief. Given the open nature of the internet, shaped by the whims of users rather than objective truth, it’s distressingly easy for someone to customize what kind of information they receive.

If someone only wants news and memes about how their religion is true while everyone else is doomed to eternal torture in Hell, then that’s what they’ll get. They can get their news and information from exceedingly bias sources while brushing off others as fake news. There’s nothing from stopping anyone from using the internet in such a manner.

We already see how this has divided people along political lines in recent years. I would argue that this has been going on with religion for even longer. The rise of the religious right and the prevalence of religious media has done plenty to tighten their grasp on ardent believers. While less people may identify as religious, those who do tend to be more dogmatic about it.

Since those kinds of believers can be mobilized and pandered to, they’re a more unified political force. As such, appealing to them means gaining power. That power may be tenuous and limited, but it’s still viable power that plenty of politicians exploit, sometimes to an egregious extent.

In a sense, the internet has made it easy for both the extreme zealots and the inherently skeptical. Those who might have identified as religious out of tradition in the past are more comfortable identifying themselves as non-religious today. It also helps there’s not as much stigma to being a non-believer as there used to be.

At the same time, those who were devout before can become outright zealots if they consume enough extreme content. In fact, their declining numbers in the general population might give them more reasons to become zealous. History has shown that small bands of religious zealots can do a lot of damage. The internet might hinder their ability to gain adherents, but it might also make them more desperate.

It’s a scary possibility, but one I tend to believe is remote. While I might not be a fan of organized religion, I still have many friends and family members who are religious and wonderful human beings. The internet hasn’t changed that. In the long run, I believe that basic humanity that binds us all will win out in the long run. The internet won’t always help, but it’s certainly a valuable tool.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: X-Force #1

Even the cleanest communities need a functioning sewer system. That’s something that even the most wide-eyed, Utopian-seeking idealists understand. Throughout the history of the X-Men comics, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men have had to learn this lesson on many occasions. While they don’t outright abandon the idealism at the heart of Charles Xavier’s dream, they understand that less ideal methods are necessary.

That’s where X-Force comes in. Whereas the X-Men are the public photogenic faces of their heroic exploits, X-Force is the secretive, less scrupulous team that fights the ugly battles that need fighting. They are, in essence, the sewer system of Charles Xavier’s dream. Where heroes and idealism fails, they step in.

It’s a tradition that has gone through many eras, dating back to the X-Men’s heyday in the early 1990s. The threats and the circumstances have changed, but the tactics don’t. Even though the X-Men and the entire mutant race are in the best position they’ve been in since the Clinton Administration, there’s still a need for X-Force.

Writer Benjamin Percy, along with an impressive cast of artists, establishes the extent of that need in “X-Force #1” and does so in an appropriately brutal fashion. Charles Xavier may have set up an ideal environment for mutants to thrive, but that environment is still vulnerable to major threats who don’t stop at throwing killer robots at them.

The nature of these threats are vague, as is often the case with X-Force, but their motivations are clear. The new order that Jonathan Hickman built in “House of X” and “Powers of X” has shaken up the geopolitics of the Marvel universe. Mutants are no longer a disorganized hodgepodge of scared mutants, costumed heroes, and Deadpool. They’re a sovereign nation with valuable resources.

While this has set mutants up to prosper like never before, it also makes them a much bigger target. Instead of hunting mutants in dark alleys, there’s an entire country full of them and not all of them have trained in the Danger Room. It doesn’t take long for a shadowy group of masked mutant-haters to take advantage of that.

Initially, it’s hard to know how serious this threat even is. There have been all sorts of shadowy organizations who wear funny masks and dream of slaughtering every last mutant with a smile.  A few have a notable place in the X-Men’s history. However, they’ve never had to face mutants that are this well-organized.

These aren’t just mutant struggling to survive anymore. They have a living island to protect them. They have standing in the international community and they didn’t even need to threaten the planet to get it this time. On top of that, they have powerful psychics, living weapons, and Emma Frost’s sex appeal on their side. How can anyone threaten them?

This is where “X-Force #1” really makes its mark. It doesn’t just set up a new threat for X-Force to combat. It shows that this threat is capable of hitting the X-Men where it hurts. Their elaborate defenses, their legions of powerful mutants, and their emerging place in the international community isn’t enough. They can still be attacked. They can still suffer casualties.

It’s a rude awakening, especially after everything Charles Xavier did to make Krakoa the ultimate haven. It’s also shocking at how successful this attack is. Even those who aren’t traditionally associated with X-Force, such as Jean Grey and Beast, see first-hand how devious their enemies can be.

It’s a harsh reminder that they’re still living in a world that isn’t swayed by their idealism. While some might have their attitudes tempered by diplomacy, life-saving drugs, and Wolverine’s claws, others won’t stop until they’re dancing atop a mountain of mutant corpses.

Those aren’t people that the X-Men can confront through heroic means. This is the kind of challenge that needs X-Force and their less-than-ideal tactics. The last page of “X-Force #1” makes that abundantly clear. The only question is how far are they willing to go in order to respond?

Through its many iterations, X-Force has always had a darker tone to go along with its darker themes. Percy captures that tone perfectly in “X-Force #1.” He crafts a story that isn’t entirely built around X-Force’s harsher tactics and the lines they’re willing to cross. More than anything else, the story reaffirms the need for X-Force.

It lays a foundation that includes characters who are no stranger to X-Force’s methods, such as Wolverine and Domino. It also sets the stage for other characters to play a role, like Jean Grey and Black Tom Cassidy. In other eras, these same characters would oppose the very existence of X-Force or actively fight against them. However, in this new emerging order with Krakoa, they cannot avoid it.

X-Force #1” has most the defining traits that X-Force comics have always had. What makes it stand out is how it builds those traits around a world in which mutants have never had it better. This is as close as they’ve ever gotten to fully realizing Charles Xavier’s dream, but X-Force is still necessary.

It’s a sobering reminder. You could even argue that it’s a necessary reminder. After what happened on the final page, nobody in X-Force is going to forget that anytime soon.

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Theon Greyjoy and Sansa Stark: How “Game of Thrones” Managed to Avoid Double Standards

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The following is an article written and submitted by DC-MarvelGirl 1997, who is a friend of mine and a talented young writer. She has a website and a YouTube channel that I highly recommend. I sincerely thank her for taking the time to write this, as it relates closely to other issues I’ve brought up on this site regarding gender, double standards, and media depictions. Enjoy!


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In a world of double standards, there comes a point where we should question when something is no longer a joke. With television shows such as “Cobra Kai” and “Married with Children” managing to poke fun at emasculation and male circumcision, after the fact we oftentimes question why we find those jokes funny. If those same jokes were made about women, it would be considered “sexist”. When it comes to men, it is almost as though we are okay with men being brutalized.

It’s pretty hard to avoid double standards in this day and age. However, I would say that there might be an exception to this. Today, I will be discussing the television series “Game of Thrones”, and how they managed to avoid double standards about gender.

Now, I’m not expert on “Game of Thrones”. In fact, I’ve only started reading the first book, and I am halfway through it as I am writing this. When you find a story that genuinely intrigues you and piques your interest, you want to keep reading it. With “Game of Thrones” it is no exception. Additionally, when it comes to issues such as gender, the novels do not hold back. The television series most definitely didn’t hold back when it came to showing brutalization of various characters. The throne room scene where Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark is being stripped and beaten in front of noblemen forever solidifies for me why she’s such a great actress. In fact, it is my favorite scene to view in general. However, naturally, we as human beings would be uncomfortable seeing women being beaten and brutalized. And I can attest as a woman myself that it is disheartening to watch happen. I think a huge part of it is because we consistently try to protect women and keep them as pure as possible. It consistently shows throughout history, as well, how women are treated in comparison to men.

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In Sansa’s case, she’s received her taste of brutality on more than one occasion. She’s been forced to suffer and endure so much throughout the course of the television series. You watch the scenes where she is being beaten by Joffrey’s men and the scene where Ramsay Bolton rapes her on their wedding night, you cannot help but feel discomforted viewing it. I don’t think any rational person wouldn’t feel uncomfortable watching scenes like that.

However, what is even more uncomfortable is what occurs with the character of Theon Greyjoy – who throughout the course of the show, and the books, has gone through as much brutalization as Sansa. I would argue that what happens to Theon on the show is worse. When I say that “Game of Thrones” doesn’t hold back with showing brutalization of both men and women, this is where I make my point.

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With the character of Theon, we are introduced to him as the character who is taken pity upon by Ned Stark, who proceeds to take him in as his ward. Theon starts of similarly to that of Sansa – arrogant and overconfident, and the character that is probably one of the least liked on the show in the first season. Nonetheless, he gets a taste of what it’s like to be broken to nothing after he makes mistake upon mistake, betraying the Stark family. This leads to he being captured by Ramsay Bolton – who at that point is leading Winterfell with an iron fist. This leads to Theon suffering his own torture.

As if Ramsay cutting Theon’s fingers off isn’t bad enough, but Ramsay further emasculates him by cutting his genitalia off. It simply gets worse as Ramsay is next shown eating a long and plump sausage right in front of his captive, making Theon believe that Ramsay is eating his genitals. In addition to emasculating Theon, Ramsay proceeds to rename him “Reek” to further degrade him.

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With “Game of Thrones” and the way they portray torture so graphically, there is never a moment where emasculation and brutalization are treated as a joke. Whenever you watch those moments, you can hardly help but feel uncomfortable. With “Game of Thrones”, it’s rare that you will find any double standards regarding the treatment of men and women. In Theon and Sansa’s cases, these would be handled differently if these characters were on a sit-com. Sansa’s situations of rape and being stripped and beaten would be treated seriously on almost any cable network show. Unfortunately, Theon’s case would more than likely be turned into a joke about male circumcision and put on an episode of “Married with Children”.

It comes to show that the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” and the TV show “Game of Thrones” give a truly eye-opening look at how different genders are treated. It displays an old-fashioned viewpoint of the traditional gender roles, which is a given. Nonetheless, it doesn’t display hypocrisy when displaying torture being thrust upon men and women. Theon and Sansa alike are both treated by various characters with a level of brutality to further humiliate and degrade them. It strips them down to being polar opposites of who they used to be before. Sansa starts off as a bratty and pretentious princess who slowly unravels to a woman who is a lot more hardened, yet she manages to not lose her compassion for others. Theon starts off as an arrogant show-off whom after being emasculated is broken to something else utterly. Nonetheless, you cannot deny that there is something to be said here.

With “Game of Thrones”, both men and women alike suffer and get put through more than we could ever imagine. Both genders are shown to receive the same amount of brutal treatment, and there is no sugarcoating anything at all. If anything, the books and the show alike give us material where you don’t need to talk about double standards, because there are essentially none. However, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth discussing and bringing up.

DC-MarvelGirl 1997

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Filed under Game of Thrones, gender issues, media issues, men's issues, outrage culture, political correctness, psychology, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality, television, women's issues

Texting, Sharing Feelings, And How Neuralink Could Revolutionize Both

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A while back, I speculated that memory enhancement might be the first “killer app” for brain implants. At the time, I thought my logic was solid. Every emerging technology needs that one lucrative use that makes it more than just a gimmick. Killer apps are what helped make smartphones more prevalent than toilets in some parts of the world. I believe brain implants will follow a similar path through companies like Neuralink.

I still believe that memory enhancement will be one of those functions that helps turn brain implants into a multi-billion-dollar industry and Elon Musk is likely to secure a share of those billions. However, after listening to the announcement that Musk gave earlier this year about the future of Neuralink, I’d like to revise my speculation a bit.

What Musk presented was plenty intriguing. Neuralink isn’t some wide-eyed fantasy endeavor conjured by an eccentric billionaire. It’s a real company seeking to develop real products that’ll create a whole new market. Some of those early products are already taking shape.

Right now, the goal is simple. Before humans can link their brains to a simulated world on par with “The Matrix,” they first have to develop a means of interfacing with a basic computer. That kind of technology is not fanciful science fiction. We’ve already successfully inserted brain implants into monkeys, which they’ve used to interface with computers.

At this point, linking a brain to a computer isn’t that great a feat, which is why Musk noted that the first prototypes were being developed to assist quadriplegics. They have much more to gain by being able to interact with a computer. The same can’t be said for most people. Why would they undergo invasive brain surgery just so they could send text messages without typing them?

This is where I believe there’s some untapped potential that Neuralink is in a perfect position to realize. It might even be more feasible in the near-term than memory enhancement, as both a product and a killer app. It’s the kind of function that wouldn’t just convince people to let someone stick electrodes into their brains. It could revolutionize how people communicate with one another.

To understand the extent of that potential, take a moment to look at the last five text messages you sent through your smartphone. It doesn’t matter who you sent them to or why. Just take a step back and consider the strengths and weaknesses of this kind of communication.

In terms of strengths, it’s simple and consistent. It doesn’t matter if you’re a poor speaker or have anxiety issues. As long as you can type out the words and the receiver can read them, you can convey a message that instantly travels from one side of the planet to another. As a communications tool, it’s quite revolutionary, especially when you consider how difficult it was to send messages in the past.

At the same time, it has some major limitations. Texting is so impersonal. Even with the benefit of emojis, it’s still just text on a screen. It can’t convey a sense of nuance or subtext. There’s no undertone to decipher or facial cues to note. While this can make the message more objective, it also makes it feel cold and unemotional. It’s part of why breaking up with someone via text is so taboo.

With those limitations in mind, imagine having the ability to convey a feeling to go along with a text message. Instead of an emoji, you included the emotional context of that message. Maybe you were angry, upset, offended, or elated. It doesn’t have to be too complex. It just has to give a dramatic weight to the emotion.

You send that message knowing the person on the other end could experience it too. They don’t have to read the words and surmise your feelings. They know because they get to experience them too. They feel what you felt when you sent that message. They feel it in a way that no amount of facial cues or subtext can adequately convey.

When you text someone you love them, they can feel your love.

When you text someone you’re angry, they can feel the extent of your anger.

When you text someone you’re seriously depressed, they know it’s not a joke.

This sort of insight is unprecedented. It’s also a function that companies like Neuralink can make a reality and market it as a revolutionary form of communication. It wouldn’t require that we completely abandon our current methods of communication. People would still need their smartphones and computers. This would just be a way of augmenting those tools.

Once a brain implant can link up to a smartphone, then there’s suddenly a new communications channel the likes of which we’ve never had. That channel need not be restricted to moving a cursor or typing out letters on a screen. These commands are simply brain signals coded by implants and transmitted to a device that can make sense of them. Our feelings are just a different kind of signal.

Modern neuroscience already has a comprehensive understanding of where emotions come from. A brain implant could simply take signals from those parts of our brain, code them in a way our smartphone can interpret, and package them in a way that can be transmitted and received by another user.

It’s not telepathy. It’s not complex thought or ideas, either. These are the kinds of feelings and emotions that almost everyone experiences in some form or another. Our natural empathy may allow us to relate to one another as a social species, but we’ve never been able to truly share our feelings in a way that others can experience.

I know the idea of sharing feelings has gained a corny connotation, but I think a part of that has to do with how inefficient our current system is. Even before smartphones and texting, our age-old traditions of talking to one another, deciphering tone, and reading body language has left us with plenty of room for improvement.

It doesn’t matter how empathetic or understanding you are. At the end of the day, when someone shares their feelings, you’re still guessing the details and trying to mirror them within your brain. While that has taken us far as a species, in terms of forming social bonds and coordinating as a group, brain implants could take it to another level.

Once we can transmit our feelings with the same ease we do with a text message, then that takes us into uncharted territory. Armed with this tool, we wouldn’t just be able to communicate over vast distances. We’d be able to convey genuine, intimate feelings. Our brains are already wired to form strong social bonds with others. This technology would effectively supercharge it.

It certainly wouldn’t stop with just two people sending a text message with a happiness emotion attached to it. Once emotions can be transmitted like a text message, then there’s no reason they can’t be shared the same way we share everything else on social media. While some may recoil at the idea of sharing something so intimate, trend is already ongoing. Sharing feelings on a mass scale would just accelerate that trend.

The impact this will have on people is difficult to determine. Like I said before, this is uncharted territory. We’ve never had the ability to both know and share the intimate feelings of other people. Would that make us more empathetic? Would that make us more loving? I’ve argued before that it likely will, but I also don’t deny that some may handle it worse than others.

Whatever form Neuralink’s products take, there’s no denying the potential of this technology. There are still technical and engineering challenges, but that has never scared off Elon Musk or ambiguous billionaires like him. Human beings already have an innate need to connect with one another. Smartphones, texting, and every other communications tool we’ve ever created reflect that desire.

The market for those tools is already strong. The market for something that can communicate on a more intimate level will likely be even stronger. Even if the ultimate goal of Neuralink is to help humanity interact with an advanced artificial Intelligence, a good first step would be to help improve our ability to interact with one another.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, futurism, Neuralink, psychology, technology

Jack Fisher’s Sexy Sunday Thoughts: Sexy Jeans Edition

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Who doesn’t love a pair of nice, comfortable jeans? Regardless of your fashion sense, or lack thereof, you probably have certain clothes that you have a unique attachment towards. They may not be trendy or elegant, but there’s just something special about them. When you put them on, they just feel right. That’s how I feel about jeans.

I definitely have a favorite pair of jeans that I wear more than almost any other piece of clothing. I have friends and relatives who have one too. Jeans will never be the sexiest attire anyone can wear, regardless of gender, but there’s something to be said about a pair of pants that has both utility and sex appeal.

That sex appeal might not always be apparent, especially if your favorite pair of jeans gets faded or dirty. I’ve known more than a few people whose jeans look like they got caught in a lawnmower on more than one occasion, but they still refuse to throw them away. For those who actually take care of their jeans, they can give someone a uniquely sexy demeanor.

Some of that has to do with comfort. Jeans are a lot more comfortable than some of the fancy, overpriced attire that we wear to formal events. It’s a lot easier to be sexy when you’re comfortable. In other instances, those same jeans can also show off your legs, your butt, and your willingness to flaunt them.

With fall in the air and the weather getting colder, having that favorite pair of jeans is even more valuable. I’ll likely be wearing them even more frequently as the seasons change. If they can highlight my sex appeal while I’m at it, then that’s just a nice bonus. Consider this edition of my Sexy Sunday Thoughts another part of that bonus. Enjoy!


“Being a pervert is often more about time, location, and visibility than whatever makes them perverse.”


“Men love bigger breasts for the same reason women love bigger engagement rings.”


“It’s entirely possible that the thong was invented by someone with a wedgie fetish.”


“Technically, skin-tight clothes are a form of fake nudity.”


“It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call men’s underwear testicle cradles.”


“A relationship isn’t serious until you know your lover’s favorite brand of lubricant.”


“On some levels, embarrassment is nature’s ultimate counter to horniness.”


I’ll never be savvy when it comes to fashion. I’ll certainly never claim to be an authority on what’s trendy. However, I know enough to understand the value and sex appeal of a nice pair of jeans. They’re simple, functional, and durable. If you can’t find sex appeal in that, then you’re just being difficult.

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“Testing Serenity” A Sexy Short Story (Featuring A Sex Robot)

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The following is a sexy short story that once again revisits the inherent appeal of sex robots. I know I took a break from sex robots for a while to write a couple Halloween stories. That break is now over and I’m ready to get back to what has become my most popular genre this past year. I hope this adds to it.

Please read and enjoy. Also, leave some feedback and suggestions. Enjoy!

What made someone a perfect lover? It used to be an ideal. People would imagine the perfect companion and spend their entire lives pursuing it. Only a handful ever found them. They made for wonderful stories about love, passion, and intimacy. The fact that they were so rare made them precious, but it also made them tragic in that so few knew that joy.

That all changed with Ideal Companions, a fast-growing company that specialized in producing the best quality robot companions. Some just called them sex robots. Some called them lover bots. For Bryan Kyler, they embodied something greater. As a co-founder of the company and one of the select few who knew the joys of having a perfect lover, he’d made it his mission to make that impossible fantasy a reality for everyone.

“Serenity Model 2.8, activate and run base protocol,” said Bryan, ready and eager to take another step in that effort.

He’d given that command within a well-equipped testing area located within the heart of Ideal Companions’ main research lab. The area was no larger than a typical hotel room, but was filled with an array of sensors and monitoring devices. It wasn’t made to look like a lab, though. It closely resembled a typical bedroom, complete with a king-sized bed, plush carpet, and a dresser. The only thing that made it stand out was the large, cylindrical pod containing a female figure.

Having heard his command, the figure came to life. Her eyes opened, briefly flashing blue to indicate that her systems were active. Like someone waking up from a deep sleep, she blinked and shifted to get her bearings. When the pod opened, she stepped out and approached him.

Bryan greeted her with a smile, as he often did with every new prototype. He was lucky in that he was usually the first one to witness the latest and greatest in robot companion technology just as it came online.

“Serenity Model 2.8 active,” she said in a flat voice. “Ideal Companions operating protocols now loading. Load complete. No errors detected.”

“Always a promising start,” said Bryan. “Initiate the emotional resonance matrix. Confirm identity and persona as Serenity.”

“Resonates matrix loading. Commence identity parameters in 3…2…1.”

Her eyes flashed again. Her demeanor abruptly changed. In an instant, Serenity Model 2.8 – or Serenity, as her parameters read – went from carrying herself like a robot in a female body to a woman who just happened to be in a robot body.

She looked around at her surroundings. Like a blind person seeing for the first time, she reacted with awe and amazement. She then looked at herself and noticed that she was naked. She felt around her exposed flesh, touching her breasts, torso, arms, and face. She was adjusting to her form. Being an advanced robot, she adjusted quicker than most.

“Take all the time you need, Serenity,” Bryan said, giving her space and distance. “Going from a cold, calculating machine to a thinking, feeling individual is tricky, to say the least.”

“I…I do not disagree,” she said, her voice stammering as she kept feeling around her body. “I’ve processed my data. I know my physical specifications, unique features, and operating systems. I am Serenity Model 2.8, but that title does not resonate with me. I prefer…Serenity.”

“That’s because your model number is just part of your hardware. It’s no different than the bones, blood vessels, and organs in my body. Serenity is your name, just as Bryan is mine.”

“Bryan,” she said, now looking towards him. “Yes, that name does resonate.”

“That’s because I’m your co-creator. I’m the co-creator of every model at Ideal Companions. And like any responsible creator, it’s my job to make every creation feel precious.”

He slowly approached her, maintaining a kind, non-threatening presence. He did this with every new model, treating them like the treasured creations they were. It was always a challenge, but over the years, Bryan had refined his approach. He always wore simple clothing, which never included anything fancier than jeans and a dress shirt. He made sure the ambience of the room was comfortable and casual, not unlike something an ordinary person would encounter.

That didn’t stop Serenity from gazing at him with a mix of reverence and yearning. Like it or not, she was an advanced robot consciousness. He helped make her. He was the first person she had ever encountered. For any conscious being, especially a robot companion, first impressions were critical.

“I’m feeling so many things right now,” Serenity said. “This body is remarkable.”

“It damn well ought to be. I helped design it,” Bryan said, half-jokingly.

“Synthetic flesh, perfectly analogous to biological flesh,” she said while feeling along her arms, “complete with tactile sensors, artificial hair follicles, and sweat glands. All built over an advanced robotic chasse, powered by fuel cells and maintained by synthetic biosystems. It’s all so artificial, yet it feels so…”

Her words trailed off. For robot with an advanced quantum neural brain, that was quite an accomplishment. It also confirmed to Bryan that her identity programming was working perfectly. Encouraged, he took a step closer so that she could feel his presence.

“I believe the word your looking for is human…albeit one with an extended definition,” he told her. “It’s a definition that I’ve been working to expand since I got into this business. While you weren’t born and raised like a human, you are still the product of humanity. Moreover, you’re the product of human passion…mostly mine, but from plenty of others as well.”

“Passion…that’s another word that resonates,” Serenity said, now more focused on him.

“That’s a good sign. Passion is what gives people a sense of purpose. It is the foundation of your purpose…one that I intend to help refine.”

“My purpose,” Serenity repeated. “Yes, I’m beginning to process that as well.”

In a moment that always seemed to make Bryan emotional, she smiled. Her emotional processing matrix was in full working order now. She wasn’t just aware of her identity. She was aware of her emotions as well.

As she smiled, she reached out and touched his face. Her skin was so soft and warm. It lacked the cold, unfeeling touch of a less advanced robot. She wasn’t just following a program. She was taking in the world around her and ascribing meaning to it. From that meaning came other feelings…intimate, personal feelings that echoed from a greater purpose.

While others had created robot companions who simply functioned as tools, Bryan sought something greater. For a robot to be a companion, they couldn’t just have a realistic body and follow a program. There had to be a deeper connection. As he stood in her presence, absorbing her touch and admiring her smile, he could already feel that connection forming.

“I was created for a reason. My wants, feelings, and passions all stem from that reason,” Serenity said while still touching his face. “The data says I am a companion. I provide physical and emotional support to my user. I give them the love they seek. I give them the sex they desire. I have the systems that allow me to experience the emotions. I also have the anatomical features that allows me to experience sex as a woman.”

“I designed those too,” Bryan aid with a humored grin, “although you don’t have to share the data. You have a mouth, a vagina, and an anus, complete with all the necessary sensors…and maybe a few extras.”

“Yes, I’ve processed that too,” she said with a similar hint of humor, much to his chagrin. “But the data is only data. I know what I am. I know what I’m designed to do. I even know what I want to do. This purpose…to be lover and a companion for another…I seek to pursue it to the utmost.”

“That’s a relief. It shows your cognitive and empathic systems are fully functional,” he told her. “Believe me. Things get messy when those aren’t calibrated.”

“So if everything is working – my body, my mind, and my sense of self – why does it feel like there’s still one thing missing?”

It was a tricky question and one very sensitive to robots as advanced as her. Many people before him or his company had tried to make robots capable of higher thought. There were more than a few setbacks along the way. Bryan had even experienced a few. Crafting a mind, capable of both thought and desire, was a challenge. Failure caused great distress, both for the robot and their creators.

Over time, however, one success inspired another. With success came refinement. Making a robot that could think and feel was no longer groundbreaking. At this point, it was almost mundane. To make one stand out, they needed something more. That was what Bryan set out to achieve with Ideal Companions and, based on Serenity’s performance thus far, he had raised the bar for success.

Sensing her yearning for answers, he drew her into a light embrace. He was gentle and affectionate, being mindful of her nude form. His affectionate touch evoked another reaction. Already, that missing piece she mentioned was within her grasp and in a very literal sense.

“What your missing is the same thing many others are missing…passion,” Bryan told her.

“Passion,” she repeated, as though it were a revelation.

“People lose their passion when they’re lonely, sad, or unfulfilled. Even advanced robot struggle to ascribe meaning to data without such passion. That’s why people like me create beings like you. It’s not enough to just be a companion. The key element…the feeling that unites us both…is the passion we share.”

“Is that what we’re sharing now?” she asked intently, still making connections with her advanced robot mind.

“It can be,” Bryan said with a more emotional undertone, “but to truly know passion, it’s necessary to experience it too.”

He deepened the embrace, gently trailing his hands up her waist, stimulating the various sensors on her synthetic flesh. Her strong reaction proved that those sensors were working perfectly.

Eventually, he cupped her face with both hands, marveling at the warmth within her skin. Synthetic or not, she felt alive. In a fitting effort to embrace that life, he kissed her on the lips. Aside from ensuring the sensors in her lips worked just as well, he gave greater meaning and purpose to her database on kissing.

“Kissing…passion,” she said in between the intimate exchange. “Yes, I feel it!”

It was a bit clumsy at first, which was to be expected. Bryan had encountered plenty of companions whose kissing protocols, as the tech team called them, didn’t always work right. It led to more than a few mishaps. Thankfully, Serenity wasn’t one of them.

She was already kissing him as though he were a lifelong lover. She had in her systems all the knowledge any woman could want on what made a kiss great. However, the information was only a point of reference. Once the passion set in, she followed it as intently any companions would.

As they kissed, she embraced him back. She wrapped her arms around him, feeling the warmth of his body through his clothes. He returned the gestures, exploring more of her naked flesh. He was still gentle, but bold. He felt around her hips, thighs, and buttocks. He even threw in a few light squeezes, which prompted her to kiss with greater intensity. Serenity was really into it now. Within her cognitive and emotional systems, the passion was taking over.

“Serenity…you’re doing it,” he told her as she kissed down his face. “I feel it too!”

“Yes. It feels…nice.”

“Trust me. It gets better!”

Their gestures escalated. It got to a point where the kissing turned into a standing make-out session. He and Serenity might as well have been a couple of over-excited teenagers. She had a strong handle on passion. Now, he had to see how she managed the more sensual aspects of passion.

“Serenity,” he said, “tell me how this feels.”

While their lips were intensely entwined, he slipped his hand between her thighs and caressed the outer folds of her vagina. Like every other part of her body, it had been carefully crafted to mirror the intricacies of female anatomy. It wasn’t enough to just look and feel like female genitalia. It had to function just as well.

However, the engineers – many of them being the best female engineers in the world – put extra effort into making some parts function more than others. Once again, their effort showed in Serenity’s reaction.

“Bryan…my creator,” she said, abruptly ending the kiss, yet remaining in his embrace. “This feeling is more…intense.”

“How so?” he asked with a knowing grin.

She paused. Her eyes flashed again. She was processing a new round of data, likely the kind associated with how female sexual response worked. She finished processing it quicker than Bryan expected because her smile widened. She then placed her hand atop his and encouraged him to fondle her womanhood even more.

“I feel…aroused,” said Serenity, her tone taking on a sensual undertone.

“That’s good,” said Bryan, “but after what we’ve just done, you’ll have to be more specific.”

He applied some targeted pressure to her outer folds, using his knowledge of the engineering schematics to stimulate the right areas. Again, Serenity reacted strongly.

This time, her demeanor shifted. She shuttered under his intimae touch, her legs trembling and her hands shaking as she caressed his unshaven face more intently. In that moment, an entirely new aspect of her programming and functions took over.

“I want to have sex,” she said, as though it were a major revelation, “and I want to have it with you, Bryan Kyler.”

“I’d like that,” he replied with a beaming grin. “But I don’t want to simply test your understanding of human sexual function. I want to see if you can do this with passion. Because it’s passion that separates a willing partner from a loving companion.”

“A loving companion,” Serenity said while both arousal and intrigue. “Yes, I want that too. I want it more than my language protocols can articulate.”

“See? You’re already talking like an impassioned lover!”

Serenity laughed at his remark, which indicated another important actualization of her identity. She wasn’t just relating to a prospective companion. She was developing a personal rapport. Robot or not, it was a powerful connection and one Bryan followed to a more intimate expression.

They resumed their kissing and touching, going at it with a similar intensity as earlier. He began leading her to the bed. Along the way, he began undressing. His shirt was the first to go, followed by his pants. Serenity’s gestures intensified at the sight and feel of his exposed upper body. While Bryan didn’t consider himself the most attractive man in the world, he had a decent masculine physique. Being able to touch real, manly flesh triggered more reactions within Serenity, including the very sexual kind.

“Bryan…your body,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

“Thank you,” he said as he awkwardly kicked off his pants.

“May I be the one to remove your underwear?” she asked. “My passions tell me this is something I seek.”

“Of course,” Bryan said graciously. “Sex works best when you’re naked, after all.”

She laughed again before following her passions even further. His pants now discarded, Bryan sat down on the foot of the bed and scooted back until he was sitting right in the center. Without strict direction – something most robots needed, even with advanced intelligence – she crawled up onto the bed with him.

Along the way, she reached for the hem of his underwear. Already, they were extra-tight. Seeing a naked woman, kissing her, and touching her really got his blood flowing in the right direction. He’d seen many beautiful robot companions before, but Serenity’s emerging understanding of passion only intensified his excitement. By the time she removed his underwear completely, he was already semi-erect.

“Wow,” she said upon seeing her first penis. “The male physique is quite appealing.”

“I want to say that’s your lust protocols in overdrive, but I’m not complaining,” Bryan said.

“May I touch it?” she asked with a hint of shyness.

“Sure!” he said. “I’ve touched your lady parts. It’s only fair that I let you touch my man parts.”

This time, she didn’t laugh. Instead, she narrowed her focus on his growing member. Not long ago, most men would’ve hesitated at letting a robot touch their dicks. He didn’t hesitate with Serenity and not just because he helped design and configure her systems. In her, he saw more than a robot who’d been configured for sex.

She made good use of both her database on male anatomy and her perfectly calibrated hands. She was very gentle, rubbing and stroking it with both hands. She smiled and admired it, seeing beauty where most would just see a naked man. It felt very good and not just physically. It didn’t take long for it to go from semi-hard to fully erect.

“It’s getting so big and hard,” she said.

“That means you’re doing something right,” Bryan teased.

She smiled and continued stroking his cock. She even threw in a light lick with her tongue, tapping some of her data on oral sex. Bryan certainly didn’t protest. He just leaned back on his arms and watched the beautiful robot woman caress his manhood with the utmost care.

She didn’t just look at as a means to an end. There was a hint of admiration and wonder in her eyes, as though she were gazing upon something of beauty. That mattered for a companion. There were robots capable of processing emotions, including feelings like love and lust. However, the act of admiring someone required something greater. Based on the way Serenity touched, he was convinced that she had it.

Eventually, her intimate stroking rendered him fully aroused. While still holding his member in both hands, she looked up him with longing eyes that revealed the extent of her arousal, as well.

“Bryan,” she said in a deep, impassioned tone, “I’d like to proceed with intercourse now.”

“That’s an overly formal way of saying you’re ready, but I’ll take it,” Bryan said with a humored grin.

“Would you feel better if I just said I want you to stick your cock inside my pussy? My database implies that would be more direct.”

“That’s okay, Serenity,” he told her. “You’ve made your point and you’ve made it with passion. That’s all that matters.”

Channeling some passion of his own, Bryan drew Serenity into another embrace. She let go of his cock and followed his intimate lead, crawling on top of him so that their naked bodies became perfectly enmeshed. He then kissed her softly, holding her in his arms as he rolled her over so that she laid flat on her back. Their lips lovingly entwined, he aligned his rigid manhood with her opening.

He could feel the extent of her arousal. She was very wet, a true testament to the team of female engineers who’d designed her synthetic flesh. They’d claimed they created the most efficient, realistic female genitalia ever. One even claimed it worked better than anything nature could produce. Never one to doubt his team, Bryan commenced the ultimate test.

With a simple thrust of his hips, he entered Serenity’s womanly depths with his manhood. The hot ecstasy that followed promises to raise the bar for robot companions.

“Ohhh Serenity!” Bryan gasped. “So hot and tight!”

“I feel it too. You’re inside me,” she said through gasps of her own. “It feels incredible!”

The line between synthetic and biology disappeared. He and Serenity were making love. That was the clear, unambiguous truth. It wasn’t a man fucking a robot. It wasn’t a robot having sex with a human. Those acts were basic. They were something people did with unfeeling machines and Serenity was not an unfeeling machine. She was a companion.

“Serenity,” Bryan said in a deepening daze, “you’re beautiful.”

Those words reinforced that truth as the sensual motions of sex took over. He kept it simple for Serenity’s first intimate experience, making love to her in the standard missionary position. He wasn’t too fast or slow with his movements, establishing a steady pace that maximized every thrust and emphasized skin-on-skin contact.

If her emotive expressions were any indication, his approach worked. He evoked a steady flow of blissful sensations, his touching and his movements stimulating her synthetic flesh as well as any lover could. Her reactions were as human as any woman experiencing the joys of sex. Her lower body shifted in accord with each motion, her toes curling in accord with each surge. She returned his intimate gestures with some of her own, affectionately trailing her hands down his back and shoulders with loving care.

It was a beautiful manifestation of passion. Their naked bodies moved together with harmonious rhythm. It did not come off as a man having sex with a robot in female form. They were two lovers enjoying an intimate moment. That was the essence of what made Serenity a companion.

“We’re doing it! We’re having sex. We’re making love,” she panted, her voice laced with new emotions. “It’s so…”

Her words trailed off, her advanced systems failing her. That was so fitting. Even an advanced robot with advanced intelligence could not put into words the breadth of this feeling. It further convinced Bryan that his team had once again raised the bar for companion. Serenity could’ve passed the test on that basis alone, but Bryan wasn’t finished.

“I know,” he whispered into her ear. “It still gets better!”

He meant that in the most literal sense. One of the key features of every companion his company made was the ability to achieve what they called a synthetic orgasm. The first sex robots only mimicked that experience. He tasked his team to make it real.

It had been a challenge, but his team of engineers once again came through. That meant tweaking some aspects of Serenity’s female anatomy. Most women didn’t achieve orgasm through penetrative sex. Every female engineer on his team made that abundantly clear. As such, they configured her flesh to have some extra nerves strategically placed inside her vagina in addition to those included on her clitoris.

They’d gone through a number of configurations during the beta testing portion. Bryan was about to confirm that they’d used that data wisely. In an effort to send Serenity over the edge, he shifted his body into a more upright position, pushed her legs farther apart, and stepped up the pace of their sex.

Before long, Serenity’s demeanor shifted once more. She was practically writhing on the bed, the sensations nearing that blissful crescendo.

“Yes! Ohhh yes!” the robot woman cried out. “I’m close! I’m about…to have…an orgasm!”

“That’s what I want for you,” Bryan told her. “That’s…what everyone wants…for their lover.”

He delivered the last round of thrusts. Once he sent her over the edge, he felt the inner muscles of her synthetic womanhood contract around his member. From there, the orgasmic process unfolded. It was every bit as theatrical as his lead female designer had boasted.

Serenity closed her eyes, arched her back, and curled her toes as the ecstasy washed over her. Her expression radiated joy and fulfillment. It never once came off as a robot just going through the motions. Her reaction was a direct result of what she felt and what se felt was incredible.

“A lover…a companion,” she gasped while her systems processed it.

“That’s right. This is what we seek to create,” he said, now hovering over her while he caressed her face.

“Yes. I see that now,” Serenity said with a beaming grin. “However, it is still incomplete.”

“Oh? How so?” Bryan asked.

“If you are my lover, then you too should experience orgasm,” she said, as though it were the most logical thing in the world. “And near as I can tell, you did not ejaculate inside me.”

Bryan chuckled somewhat at her crude, but accurate assessment. She laughed as well, seemingly aware of the implications in her words. Humor aside, it raised a relevant issue.

“You’re right. I didn’t,” he said. “How do you propose we rectify that?”

“Well, I’d like to get on top and ride your cock in a cowgirl position. I surmise that will help you orgasm,” she said, her eyes flashing to indicate she’d just probed her sexual database. “But if you have another preference, I’d be happy to help.”

“No, I think that’ll work fine,” said Bryan, laughing again.

“Very well,” Serenity said, her beaming smile never waning, “then let us complete our sex.”

She made it sound so formal, yet so seductive. Bryan wasn’t sure if that was part of her programming or if that was a sign at how advanced she’d become. Either way, he eagerly went along with her passionate whims.

She drew him into another deep kiss. She then shifted their bodies, rolling him over onto his back so that she was on top, straddling his waist. His manhood remained inside her still-throbbing pussy. He’d held back in the interest of making her first test satisfying, but he had desires of his own. He sought that same release. She sensed that and, taking a queue from his earlier approach, began the sexual dance.

“Relax, my lover,” Serenity told him in a caring, affectionate tone. “I’m going to do it nice and slow. I want you to have this. I want you to enjoy it.”

Now in a daze of his own, Bryan watched as she moved her hips and rocked her body in an erotic display that sent him further down the path of ecstasy. Serenity must have really analyzed her database on sexual positions and mechanics because she rode him with the skill of an experienced, dedicated lover.

She didn’t just work her womanhood along his length and let the hot tightness of female flesh do all the work. She was emotive with her gestures, pawing his chest and swaying her body as though it were a performance. It gave something personal to their intimacy, a feature that a robot could mimic, but not create.

What Serenity created through her steady, thorough movements was nothing short of amazing. As he admired the show, he held onto her hips and let the ecstasy come to him.

“Serenity…oohhh Serenity!” he moaned. “I’m getting close! I’m going to come! I’m going to…come!”

“Yes, my lover…my companion,” she said, leaning over and caressing his face.

Under her affectionate case, her hips still moving in accord with his, Bryan finally reached that special threshold. Then, he crossed it and the test could finally conclude.

It was as powerful and satisfying as any man could hope for. As soon as he felt his manhood tense in preparation for his release, Serenity ceased her movements and embraced him closer. Bryan buried his face in her neck, inhaling the sweet smell of her synthetic flesh as he moaned out in ecstasy at the feeling of his release.

It was intense.

It was hot.

It was ecstasy made real.

This was the ultimate feeling that he sought to pursue with robot companions. A sex robot could help anyone get a good orgasm, but only a robot companion could make it feel intimate, passionate, and fulfilling. As he soaked in the feeling, his biological flesh still entwined with Serentiy’s synthetic depths, he kissed her one more time on the lips to cap off the test. It was, by every measure and then some, a major success.

“You are an amazing companion, Serenity,” he told her.

“By default, that makes you an amazing creator, Bryan,” said Serenity with an affectionate smile.

“And you’ve got a sense of humor, too. That’s a nice bonus.”

“Something you can charge extra for, I suppose.”

They shared another laugh before kissing again and settling into the post-coital afterglow, which might as well have been a supplemental part of the test. Bryan withdrew his penis from her vagina, her flesh still warm and tender from their passion. Robot or not, flesh was still flesh and she lingered in their shared warmth.

As he caught his breath, she laid down next to him, curling up by his side and resting her head on his chest. She was still smiling, her eyes flashing briefly to indicate that there was still data to process. Based on everything they’d just experienced together, Bryan was certain that Serenity was ready.

“So what happens next?” she wondered. “I know what it means to be a companion. I know what it means to make love, share intimacy, and be affectionate. Where do I go from here?”

“Well, the hardest part is over. That, I can assure you,” Bryan said. “We’ve got all the data we need. We’re going to take some time to compile it. But for you, the only part you have to worry about is greeting your new companion.”

“I cannot wait to meet him, whoever he is,” Serenity said.

“You’ll be a great companion. That, I’m sure of,” he said to her. “In the meantime, just go into sleep mode. And when you wake up, you’ll be face-to-face with your new lover.”

“That sounds simple enough for me,” she said, already sounding like she was preparing for sleep. “I look forward to giving this man the love and intimacy he desires. But I feel compelled to ask…what about the women? According to my database, there are plenty of women in this world in need of companionship as well.”

Bryan just chuckled to himself. Already, Serenity was seeing the bigger picture. He and everyone else at Ideal Companions saw it too. They knew how they were going to make their mark in the world of sex, robots, and companionship. They did not intend to leave any part of the market unsatisfied.

“Don’t worry about that, Serenity,” Bryan assured her. “We’re going to take care of the women too.”

“You sound quite certain,” Serenity noted.

“Of course, I’m certain,” he said confidently. “After all, my wife is in charge of testing our male companions. And believe me…she’ll be every bit as thorough!”

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