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img October 19, 20161:54 pmimg 0 Comments

everything about this case is fishy

everything about this case is fishy

IAB-interloper Nadra Rahman found herself listening to a chilling tale of abduction, murder, and corruption when she attended The Galindez Case: The Kidnapping of A Columbia University Professor and Trujillo yesterday at the International Affairs Building at 6 pm. The speakers were lawyer and author Stuart McKeever, Ambassador Bernado Vega of the Dominican Republic, and Dr. Ramona Hernandez of CUNY. Topics of conversation included libraries and sharks.

On March 12, 1956, Jesús de Galindez, a doctoral student and professor at Columbia University, simply vanished. It was, not coincidentally, only 11 days after he had presented his dissertation, a critical analysis of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and his rule. Though his body was never found, it is all but certain that Galindez was kidnapped and killed by Trujillo, a man obsessed with maintaining his image. The case remains a source of interest for many, including the Dominican diaspora, largely due to the dearth of publicly available information: how was Galindez kidnapped? What exactly happened to him? And what did the U.S. government know about it all? These questions have inspired five books and multiple movies, permeating certain sectors of Dominican pop culture.

So why another book? Stuart McKeever’s El Rapto de Galindez y su importancia en las relaciones entre Washington y Trujillo (The Kidnapping of Galindez and its importance in relations between Washington and Trujillo) is certainly not the first of its kind, but it is perhaps the most definitive. It is the product of 35 years of research, kernels of truth culled from thousands of pages of documents, all obtained from the Justice and State Departments through the Freedom of Information Act.

If the FOIA doesn’t get you heated up what will



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img October 08, 20161:22 pmimg 0 Comments

LectureHop: Black Hole Duet

LectureHop: Black Hole Duet

Stressed by midterms? Having a bad day? It always helps to think about how tiny we truly are in this gigantic universe, and how we humans (and our problems) are really just an insignificant part of a cosmic order. Last night, Bwogger Alex Tang attended Columbia Astronomy Department’s lecture: “Black Hole Duet – Hearing the Universe for the First Time”. Here are the highlights from that lecture.

If you’re reading this, drop everything you’re doing and check out this 12-second clip right now.

According to last night’s lecture, this video documents the greatest scientific achievement of this generation.

On Saturday evening, Columbia University’s Astronomy Department hosted its twice-monthly Stargazing and Lecture Series, free talks open to the general community. On this particular occasion, astronomy grad student Maria Charisi discussed the recent discovery of tangible evidence for gravitational waves in her talk “Black Hole Duet – Hearing the Universe for the First Time”. Through her lecture, Charisi managed to clarify a dense and immensely conceptual scientific development, and even bring out its intrinsic beauty.

Charisi began with the basics, stating that all objects of mass contain their own gravity. Through Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, mass distorts space-time, releasing gravitational waves in a sort of “ripple effect” out of itself. However, in the scale of things we associate with on Earth, gravitational waves are near negligible in their effects. You, or I, or the grand piano in Lerner don’t possess nearly enough mass to create discernible gravitational waves. If the entire mass of the Milky Way Galaxy were taken, the gravitational wave ripple created would only be about the size of a basketball. Yet, we’re all surrounded by gravitational waves created by cosmic occurrences happening all around us. In other words, we and everything in the universe are constantly being stretched or shrunk in a wavelike fashion.

More on gravitational waves after the jump:



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img October 06, 201611:23 amimg 0 Comments

They look at the stars to maintain distance from plebs

They look at the stars to maintain distance from plebs

On Wednesday afternoon, Nadra Rahman ventured into the black hole that is the International Affairs Building, where she heard Olesya Turkina give a talk about her book Soviet Space Dogs. The talk involved cigarette packs, canonization, and deeply engrossed grad students.

Many of us associate the early days of the American space program with the restless, slightly ungainly monkeys that we shot into orbit—recalling the black and white photographs of them stuffed into their specially made space suits. But where we had monkeys, the Soviets had dogs, and these dogs, from pioneer Laika to the inseparable Strelka and Belka, were massively more loved in the Soviet Union than monkeys ever were in the U.S. Speaker Olesya Turkina, Senior Fellow at the Russian State Museum, while addressing a well-caffeinated crowd of grad students, went so far as to call them “techno-saints.”

She began by asking a question: “What was wrong with my childhood?”

While the possibilities were endless, the (given) answer was simple. Most of us would never send our own pets into space, but Turkina would have done it without hesitation. Shaped by Soviet ideology, she herself was ready to do what was needed of her by her nation—why not her dog as well? Clearly, ideology was powerful, and perhaps even sweet. After beaming a picture of a chocolate bar featuring the image of a space dog, she noted ideology rarely demands cruelty; at times, you are just encouraged to eat sweet chocolate until slowly, it begins to consume you too, in a “cannibalistic process.” After this lesson, she implored us to don ideological “sunglasses,” so that we could look beyond the iconography and the propaganda to analyze its construction and purpose.

But do you even need sunglasses in space?



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img October 04, 20162:30 pmimg 0 Comments

Another reason to take Spanish for your language req.

Another reason to take Spanish for your language req: to finally understand the drama.

Last night at the Heyman Center, Columbia Global Centers hosted Writing the Brazilian Telenovela: A Discussion and Q&A with João Emanuel Carneiro. Bwogger and Elementary Portuguese I student Angelica Lagasca covers the lecture: one filled with gray areas, dying German soldiers, broken toys, and some uncomfortable moments.

On Monday night at the Heyman Center, a group of around thirty people gathered to hear João Emanuel Carneiro speak on his work and his experience in the Brazilian entertainment industry, particularly in the context of issues such as race and class. Carneiro has won both national and international attention for his screenplays, from films like Central Station (1998) to telenovelas like Da Cor do Pecado (2004), A Favorita (2008), and Avenida Brasil (2012). With Carneiro were Professor Richard Peña, Professor of Film Studies in the School of the Arts, and Professor Ana Paulina Lee, Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies. While the lecture began with the professors prompting Carneiro with questions, the floor later opened up to questions from the audience.

The audience was largely comprised of older people—among the mix was an anthropologist, a handful of Brazilians, a director, and my Portuguese professor, who engaged in small talk with me in Portuguese (and subsequently made me nervous because I’m only in Elementary Portuguese I). Some were longtime fans of Carneiro’s telenovelas and of Brazilian telenovelas in general. Others were more concerned with the writing process. Some wrote on notebooks; others were more interested in the (very gourmet) offerings. All were attentive.

Much of the discussion centered on Carneiro’s approach to writing. His characters live in a “gray zone.” They’re loved, they’re hated—they cannot be judged easily. Caminha of Avenida Brasil is a liar and a cruel person, yet the audience can still love her. In A Favorita, Flora and Donatela seem to represent opposites; Flora has a privileged life, while Donatela does not. Both lie and deceive, and the audience must wonder who to root for. In the end of A Favorita, Donatela is revealed to be the true murderer, a rupturing of the stereotype that the less privileged are always good. This type of story, one that breaks conventions, attracts Carneiro: he views stories as “toys to break.” “Brazilian telenovelas are different from Mexican telenovelas,” Carneiro said. “They don’t follow conventions.”




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img September 20, 20161:09 pmimg 0 Comments

You know the event is legit when it’s held in Low

This Monday, a panel of experts on the topic of displaced scholars gathered in Low Library to discuss how institutions of higher learning around the globe can support scholars in war torn regions whose work has been endangered. Although not quite as popular as Ralph Nader’s speech on why we need to dispose of our cell phones, the Symposium on Displaced Scholars was an interesting dissection of the particular responsibility universities have during this refugee crisis to protect international academics and their intellectual pursuits. First-year Bwogger Isadora Nogueira brings you a recap of the event.

Sporting a shiny turquoise tie, President Bollinger began the symposium with an expression of thanks to the experts and an emphasis on the urgency of the issue of displaced scholars. Although difficult to estimate, he noted that the study of 100,000 Syrian scholars are thought to have been interrupted by civil unrest.

Then came a more passionate introduction of the symposium from Allan E. Goodman, Prezbo’s counterpart and President of the Institute of International Education, the organization that cosponsored the event. Goodman spoke on the uniqueness of this refugee crisis in comparison to historical ones, such as the influx of immigrants following World War Two, due to the higher percentage of civilians receiving tertiary education in the 21st century. In order to emphasize his point, Goodman pointed to a striking statistic. During World War Two, he said, only 5% of the population in the most advanced Western countries had gone to institution of higher learner; in Syria before the war, 25% of the population had attended some form of tertiary education. He then spoke excitedly of the UN’s new recognition of higher education as a need. Goodman ended with some historical reflection, telling the audience to remember “1939, 1940, and 1941” and how the neglected and displaced civilians from World War One reacted.

Almost immediately after the discussion portion began, the criticism that the focus on higher education was not a pressing issue for the refugee community was brought up. This was a concern I, too, had at the back of my mind during the introduction.

Read on for how higher education can help the refugee community…



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img April 22, 20164:27 pmimg 0 Comments

Don't forget...they're LITERARY annuals

Don’t forget…they’re LITERARY annuals

Self-professed romance fan Nadra Rahman attended one of the Book History Colloquium events yesterday evening, titled “The Rise of the Literary Annual, Powerful Femininity, and Beautiful Books.” There wasn’t as much romance as she expected.

I was the youngest person in the room by far—the average age of attendee (of which there were six, besides me) hovered at around 60 years old. While I felt out of place, the sense of an intimate environment pervaded; speaker Katherine Harris, ready to deliver her lecture on “The Rise of the Literary Annual, Powerful Femininity, and Beautiful Books” easily chatted with guests about her work and such scintillating topics as microfilm (I imagine).

Harris, an Associate Professor at San Jose University, specializes in Romantic 19th-century British literature, the literary annual, and the digital humanities. As she started her presentation, her excitement about literary annuals–published collections of short stories, poetry, and engravings meant to be consumed by young women–was fully visible. The literary annual had been described to me as a 19th-century equivalent of Twilight, and there are certainly striking parallels, in that the literary annual catered to women and was disparaged by critics as being frothy and silly, the “‘cakes’ of literature,” according to one critic as late as 1902.

More froth after the jump



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Second Lecture in the Focus Aleppo Series

Second Lecture in the Focus Aleppo Series

“City And Landscape in the Ottoman Aleppo: Experiencing Architecture, Narrating Space,” was the next lecture in the Department of Art History and Archaeology’s “‘Islamic Art:’ Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures series,” presented by Heghnar Watenpaugh, professor of Art History at the University of California, Davis. We sent staff writer Romane Thomas to check it out last night.

“The art of Islam is not unified as many of us were taught,” Watenpaugh began.

Watenpaugh is an expert on architectural history in Islamic societies. Her book, The Image of an Ottoman City: Imperial Architecture and Urban Experience in Aleppo in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries received the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians in 2006. A polyglot, Watenpaugh attended Rice University and MIT before moving to the University of California. She agreed to visit the East Coast (#Beast Coast) to tell us about her research in Aleppo, Syria.

Avinoam Shalem, Professor of Islamic Art at Columbia and creator of the Focus Aleppo series, introduced Watenpaugh. He pointed out that “The Art of Islam is not unified as many of us were taught” and explained that, accordingly, Watenpaugh’s lecture would address the architectural innovations resulting from the Ottoman rule in Aleppo. Before starting her speech, she mentioned that the Syrian War has had a devastating effect on Aleppo architecture. According to her, “the destruction of Aleppo’s patrimony stands for the destruction of her varied social fabric.” Referencing the wreckage of the Minaret of the Great Mosque, Watenpaugh pointed out that as “products of the historical moment that we are in,” we need to reflect on the effect of our actions on centuries of history. The photographs that she was able to show the audience were taken by aerial view or by guerrilla fighters in the area.

She gave a short architectural history of Aleppo. Under Ottoman rule, Aleppo was a thriving hub of commercial exchange. Silk and spices from the East were exchanged within Aleppo’s walls in one of the world’s largest covered Bazaars (now destroyed). The Ottoman Empire had a huge impact on the architecture of the city, of which remains only a few Ottoman-style mosques. The nostalgia in Watenpaugh’s voice was palpable and gave her lecture a story-like character as she described how a foreign traveler would experience coming upon the sight of the great city.

More about the lecture next.



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img February 10, 20163:01 pmimg 0 Comments



Sarah H. Cleveland is Columbia Law School’s Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, as well as the Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute. Her areas of expertise include National Security and International Humanitarian Law, Foreign Affairs and the Constitution, and International Law in U.S. Courts. Last night at 6 pm, she held a lecture on “Human Rights Connectivity and the Future of the Human Rights System,” and Daily Editor (and fellow human herself) Lila Etter was in attendance.

As I made my way up the steps of Low Library and entered the Rotunda, I began to notice that this was not just another lecture. I had thought that I was one of the early birds, and my plan had been to snag a seat up front by arriving a whole 20 minutes early. Little did I know, people had begun flooding in as early as 5:15 pm. The Rotunda was full by 5:45 pm, which is when I realized that the University Lecture only happens once a semester.

President Bollinger and Provost Coatsworth delivered two separate but equally-praiseful introductions for Professor Cleveland. PrezBo emphasized that there “could not be a more important subject in the world today than human rights,” and after affirming his love for the word “global,” he called Cleveland a brilliant mind and the embodiment of what Columbia stands for intellectually. Coatsworth was similarly complimentary, and for those who knew nothing about Cleveland up until this point (which I’m sure were very few), this opening may have seemed almost adulatory. I myself had known of only some of her numerous accomplishments, including her position as a beloved professor at the Law School, as well as her work with Amal Clooney at the Human Rights Institute. I arrived at the lecture already impressed. But when this semester’s University Lecturer was finally welcomed to the podium, it was immediately clear that she deserved the praise.
Read more about this once-in-a-semester opportunity, after the jump.



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img December 05, 20155:06 pmimg 0 Comments

Witchy black hole

Last night in Pupin, the Astronomy Department opened its doors to both the Columbia community and the public for its regular Stargazing and Lecture series event. Bwog has sent writers to cover the last few starry Friday night programs, and this week staffer and Friday Night Lights fan Amara Banks was lucky enough to check it out.

Although Friday nights are usually reserved for EC, 1020 and later Koronets, it should be noted that Pupin, too, could be a place to spend your wild nights. Walking into a lecture room with a projector displaying the words “How to Feed and Care for Your Black Hole” confirmed this. Last night around a hundred people, of varying ages, occupied every seat in the Pupin physics classroom, eagerly eyeing a projector.

Aleksey Generozov, currently a grad student at Columbia, led the lecture. He had an adorably nerdy demeanor, complete with classic glasses and a sometimes uncomfortable laugh. However, his brilliance shined through.

The lesson for the night was on black holes–a difficult concept to truly understand without deep astronomical background knowledge. Generozov was able to break down the concepts and explain them so simply that both the five-year-old in front of me and the 50-year-old behind me could confidently reiterate the information. In fact, when Generozov asked the audience to what size the earth needed to be compressed in order to become a black hole, both of their hands shot up. The little girl answered, “to the size of a peanut,” earning laughs, while the elderly man’s more scientific answer brought impressed brow raises. The correct answer was simply “by a few millimeters.”

Generozov’s PowerPoint was refreshingly basic, its slides comprised of solid black backgrounds with single graphics. On his slide about Tidal Disruption Events, he included the Top Dawg Entertainment XXL magazine cover, because the two share an identical acronym: TDE. This slide merited laughs, as Generozov’s dad pun reminded the audience that they weren’t in a 4000 level class preparing for finals, but instead enjoying the fruits of the Astronomy Department’s Friday-night generosity.

Although the night was about science, my favorite aspect of the event was the diversity of the audience. People of completely different races, ages, and interests had all come together to learn more about a puzzling space phenomenon. As I mentioned, the five- and 50-year olds in front of and behind me were two people in opposite stages of their lives, but to my left and right were two people in nearly identical stages: CU students. This was about their only similarity. The eyes to my left were on his Instagram profile more than they were on the projector, and the ones to my right were closed the majority of the time while he passionately “hmmm”ed throughout the lecture.

At the lecture’s conclusion, a woman from the Astronomy department announced the locations of the post-lecture stargazing and the 3D wall. Find more information about the astronomy department’s next outreach event, on December 18th.

Wintry black hole via Shutterstock.



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img December 02, 20156:03 pmimg 2 Comments

The "Thinking of You" exhibit

The “Thinking of You” exhibit

Last night, IRWGS hosted a panel for the opening of a new art exhibit titled “The Legacy of Rape.” We sent Avid Art Admirer Sarah Dahl to check it out.

Conceptually, a panel and art exhibit titled “The Legacy of Rape” doesn’t sound…heartening? To be sure, last night’s discussion of how to deal with the effects of sexual violence was heavy, yet it offered a tone of hope, showcasing the creative ways in which today’s artists and academics are addressing rape.

Marianne Hirsch, a professor in Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, introduced and moderated the program; and Columbia Law professor Katherine Franke also spoke. The other panelists were Leora Kahn, the founder and Executive Director of PROOF, the organization behind the Legacy of Rape photo exhibit; artist Patricia Cronin; and sociologist, policy analyst, and New School professor Anna Di Lellio.

What do these speakers think about art portraying the effects of rape?



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img December 02, 20152:02 pmimg 1 Comments

Poor Hamilton. You were already killed once.

Poor Hamilton. You were already killed once.

With talk of replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with a historically famous woman, Barnard hosted a discussion with US Treasurer Rosa Rios to talk about the process. Currency Connoisseur Betsy Ladyzhets headed over to the lecture and reports on the event.

Yesterday evening, US Treasurer Rosa Rios sat down with Barnard economics professor Anja Tolonen to discuss the current ongoing process of redesigning the ten dollar bill with a woman at its forefront. This process spans years of planning and a complicated series of bureaucratic steps, but ultimately, it aims to put women where they belong: in a place of recognition for their contributions to American history.

Rios herself is the 43rd treasurer of the US, part of a legacy of all-female treasurers since 1949. Her background in public service facilitating economic development prepared her for her role in advising Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, but her strong commitment to representation for women came later. Rios describes herself as an “accidental feminist,” who realized later in her life that feminism was not the strongly biased viewpoint she’d been taught it was. Now, she’s committed to promoting financial literacy and education, as well as intersectional representation both inside and outside government.

When? How? Who?



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img November 25, 20151:04 pmimg 1 Comments

"We'll always have Paris."

“We’ll always have Paris.”

129 murdered in Paris on November 13th, 43 killed in Lebanon one day earlier, and hundreds more killed since the beginning of 2015 – all these deaths were at the hands of the terrorist organization ISIS. As the dead were mourned and awareness of the bloodshed spread, the Islamic state only gained more power world-wide.

Yesterday, SIPA hosted a panel called “ISIS after Paris” which discussed ISIS’s ever growing influence despite the western world’s plans to contain it. Although the panelists were all very knowledgeable about the subject, the discussion stayed fairly broad and hypothetical.

What were the conclusions of the panel?



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img November 18, 20152:04 pmimg 1 Comments

John Lennon said it first; "A working class hero is something to be"

John Lennon said it first; “A working class hero is something to be”

On the evening of November 17th, Schermerhorn’s typically spooky vibe was replaced with that of strongly opinionated women ready to discuss a heavily loaded question: is feminism Jewish? A panel comprised of Michelle Goldberg, Vivian Gornick, and Catha Pollitt deliberated on the topic before an audience of about twenty women, most of them elderly. Although the discussion was supposed to be led by Goldberg, the audience members pitched their own questions as they came to mind.

There are two correct answers to the question at hand; the first of which is no, feminism is not Jewish. Gornick strongly defended the secularity of the second-wave feminism movement, claiming that there was no feminism in the history of Jewish life until our generation. She believes that the feminism movement belonged to women, not Jews. This movement, along with the labor movement and other 20th century revolutions, was entirely secular. Gornick expanded on this, claiming, “the labor movement was not Jewish. It was Italian, Irish, it was the working class!” A lot of women in the audience reacted negatively to her point and vocalized their disagreement. One yelled, “a lot of those immigrants in the unions were Jews, it’s okay to admit that Jewishness had some impact on the labor movement, and the feminism movement, too!” Gornick believes that growing up as a girl, an immigrant, and a part of the working class all contributed to her outlook during the revolution, but not being Jewish.

Could the answer be yes, too?



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img November 13, 20157:08 pmimg 0 Comments

The work in question

The work in question

The first thing I noticed when walking into the East Gallery of Buell Hall (which I learned was also the Maison Francaise upon looking up the venue) was just how many people had packed into the room. I knew The Meursault Investigation, named after the book which was to be discussed that night, was going to draw a crowd, but I wasn’t expecting almost every glass chair (much fancier than any chairs I’ve seen Columbia roll out in the past) to be filled filled.

After exchanging my CUID for a pair of headphones, which allowed us non-French speakers to listen to a live translation of the book discussion and Q&A, I sat down and played around with the volume settings. I could hear a smattering of English in the room, but most of the conversations occurring around me were in French. A faint scent of tobacco hung in the still air as we waited for Kamel Daoud, author of the award winning novel, to take his seat on stage.

Daoud’s novel, for those unfamiliar with the name Meursault, is a response to Albert Camus’ famed 1942 existentialist novel, The Stranger. In The Stranger, a French man in colonial Algeria, identified only as Meursault, essentially kills an Arab in cold blood. The novel is told in first person perspective, following Meursault through his love life, interactions with his neighbours, the killing of the Arab, and his subsequent criminal trial.

More after the break!



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img October 16, 20153:15 pmimg 0 Comments

Why would anyone want to leave here in the first place?

Why would anyone want to leave here in the first place?

In this LectureHop, Staff Writer Nadra Rahman puts on her politics hat and attends a talk at Lehman Auditorium with several important guests who came to speak about Central America’s social and political world.

In introducing the symposium (titled “The surge: Politics, violence, and children in Central America and Mexico”), Professor José Moya noted that the recently publicized issue of unaccompanied minors’ migration in Central America is particularly timely because of the “real refugee crisis” occurring all over the world. According to Professor Moya, the crisis is one that has existed for a long time, but has come to the forefront now “not because the intensity of suffering has increased, but because the richest countries are now affected”.

The first two speakers contextualized the “surge” of unaccompanied minors crossing Central and North American borders in 2014, speaking about the “Northern Triangle” made up of the three Central American countries that produce the most immigrants: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These countries have seen the most migration, but they are also the ones most affected by migration.

Gun violence, domestic violence, and deepening poverty are the major factors that have pushed citizens out of the Northern Triangle. Father José Idiáquez, Rector at the Universidad Centro Americana, described the deaths of six Jesuit priests and the constant presence of gangs, death, and kidnapping. He said the “population lives in terror,” and often children left behind by their emigrating parents find themselves sexually and physically abused.

In describing the consequences of migration in these societies, Idiáquez said that, on a familial level, effects can include depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and a loss of identity, particularly when families are uprooted from their homes or scattered. On a socio-cultural level, there is a widespread rejection of religious and familial customs in favor of European and American ones (English, for example, is preferred to Spanish).

Read more about the lecture after the jump!

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