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 The History of April Fool’s Day

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PostSubject: The History of April Fool’s Day   Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:18 pm

The History of April Fool’s Day

April Fool's Day or All Fools' Day, though not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends and neighbours, or sending them on fools' errands, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. In some countries, April Fool's jokes (also called "
April fools"
) must only be made before midday.

Origin

The origin of this custom has been much disputed, and many theories have been suggested, e.g. that it is a farcical commemoration of Christ being sent from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate, the crucifixion having taken place about the 1st of April.

What seems certain is that it is in some way or other a relic of those once universal festivities held at the vernal equinox, which, beginning on old New Year's day, the 25th of March, ended on the 1st of April.

The most convincing historical evidence suggests that April Fool’s Day originated in France in 1582, under King Charles IX. With the reform of the old Julian calendar by Pope Gregory XIII, the King ordered that the new year festivities associated with the vernal equinox be moved to January first according to the new Gregorian calendar. The vernal equinox celebrations started 25 March and lasted for a week, culminating in great dinners, parties and gift giving on 1 April. Many French men resisted the change and continued their annual ‘Pagan’ revelry on 1 April. They were mocked and ridiculed for persisting in their old ways, receiving fictitious invitations to non-existing parties.

The victim of such a prank was known as “Poisson d’Avril” or April fish, this being the time the Sun was leaving the zodiacal sign of Pisces … or fish. As a rule all functions occurring during this period came under that rubric. Even Napoleon I Emperor of France was nicknamed “Poisson d’Avril” when he married Marie Louise of Austria 1 April, 1810. French men continued to associate the date with whimsical April fooling, making it a uniquely French tradition. It was not until 1782, two centuries later that the practice crossed the channel and was adopted by the English, and from there it sailed to the New World with the pilgrims.

In Mexico, Peru and other Latin American countries the same tradition is celebrated on 28 December, known as “Dia de Los Innocentes”. The day was once dedicated to mourning the innocent children slaughtered by King Herod during the early days of Christianity. It has evolved through the centuries and has acquired a lighter tone, full of sporting silliness, evoking joy and laughter.

Another intriguing symbol which has retained strong significance throughout history is the fish. It was worshipped as a deity by various peoples in Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean area. The fish was one of the astral signs of the Chaldean sun zodiac devoted to Sun worship. It was also worshipped by Syrians, Babylonians, Philistines, Romans, Scandinavians and Greeks. The Egyptians still eat a pickled fish on their annual Spring day “Sham Al-Nessim”, (Whiff of the breeze) and the ancients called their goddess Isis “Fish of the Abyss”. In China, the great Mother Kwan Yi was often portrayed as a fish, and in India the goddess Kali was known as the “fish-eyed one”.

The Church often Christianised pagan practices, emblems and even deities. Early Christians used the Greek word “ichthus” — fish — as an acrostic for Jesus based on the initial letters of the word (Iota Chi Theta Upselon Sigma) signifying Jesus Christ the son of God, the saviour, as explained by Saint Augustine.

The eating of fish on Friday is an old Swedish tradition honouring their Godess Friga… Romans also used Friday to worship Venus, calling it “dies viernes” day of Venus…

An Amalgam of pagan rituals that die hard, of Spring, of love, of fish, of fools, April Fool’s Day, also known as All Fools’ Day is still laden with mystery and joy, still prospers in this third millennium,fostered and protected by tradition, from the ravages of time. The reason is simple …according to ancient Roman poet Horace “it’s lovely to be silly at the right moment”…

A fool is better liked for his folly,
than a wise man for his wisdom,
So why not be a little foolish today;

Of all the creatures that creep, swim or fly,
Peopling the earth, waters and the sky,
From Rome to Iceland, Paris to Japan,
I really think, the greatest fool is man …

– Nicholas Boileau Despreaux (1630-1711)

The Dutch have their own reason. Back in 1572, the Netherlands were still ruled by Spain's King Phillip II. There were roaming Dutch rebels who called themselves Geuzen, after the French "
gueux"
, meaning beggars. On April 1, 1572, they took a small coastal town called Den Briel. This event was also the start of the general civil rising against the Spanish in other cities in the Netherlands. General Alva of the Spanish army could not do much. Bril is the Dutch word for glasses, so on April 1, 1572, "
Alva lost his glasses"
. Dutch people find this joke so hilarious they still commemorate the first of April.

Quotes about April Fool's Day

"
April 1st: This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four."
— Mark Twain

"
On April 1st, you understand why the French appreciate the British sense of humour. We have one."



Hoaxes

Many media organizations have either unwittingly or deliberately propagated hoaxes on April Fools' Day. Even normally serious news media consider April Fools' Day hoaxes fair game and spotting them has become an annual pastime. A number of serious journals would publish hoax articles in their April volumes. For example Datamation used to publish quite elaborate spoof stories related to computers.

The advent of the Internet as a worldwide communications medium has also assisted the pranksters in their work. This is an example of an Internet April Fool: "
Frodo Gombe is to head child protection in the Roman Catholic Church."


Well-known hoaxes

Alabama Changes the Value of Pi: The April 1998 newsletter of New Mexicans for Science and Reason contained an article claiming that the Alabama legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi to the "
Biblical value"
of 3.0. This claim originally appeared as a news story in the 1961 sci-fi classic "
Stranger in a Strange Land"
by Robert A. Heinlein.

Spaghetti trees: The BBC television programme Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees.

South Park: April 1st was advertised as being the premier of the shows second season-and also the resolution of a cliffhanger where Eric Cartman was about to discover the identity of his father. Fans spent weeks speculating on the father's identity, but when they tuned in to the episode, they were instead treated to a half-hour of Terrance and Phillip fart jokes. The true resolution to the cliffhanger aired several weeks later. The shows creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone claim during the DVD introduction to this episode that they received death threats over pulling the prank, although there were not any police reports to prove this.

Left Handed Whoppers: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out the right side.

Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "
reduce the country's debt"
and renamed it the "
Taco Liberty Bell."
When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied with tongue in cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

Lies to Get You Out of the House In 1985, the L.A. Weekly printed an entire page of fake things to do on April Fools day, which hundreds of people were suckered in by.

Kremvax: In 1984, in one of the earliest on-line hoaxes, a message was circulated that Usenet had been opened to users in the Soviet Union.

San Serriffe: The Guardian printed a supplement in 1977 praising this fictional resort, its two main islands (Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse), its capital (Bodoni), and its leader (General Pica). Intrigued readers were later disappointed to learn that sans serif did not exist except as references to typeface terminology.

FBI Crackdowns on On-line File Sharing of Music: Such announcements on April Fools Day have become common.

Metric time: Repeated several times in various countries, this hoax involves claiming that the time system will be changed to one where units of time vary by powers of 10.

Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success.

Tower of Pisa: The Dutch television news reported once in the 1950s that the Tower of Pisa had fallen. Many shocked people contacted the station.

Wrapping Televisions in Foil: In another year, the Dutch television news reported that the government had new technology to detect unlicensed televisions (in many European countries, television license fees fund public broadcasting), but that wrapping a television in aluminium foil could prevent its detection.

Sidd Finch: George Plimpton wrote a 1985 article in Sports Illustrated about a New York Mets prospect who could throw a 168 mph fastball with pinpoint accuracy. This kid, known as "
Barefoot"
Sidd[hartha] Finch, reportedly learned to pitch in a Buddhist monastery.

Assassination of Bill Gates: Many Chinese and South Korean websites claimed that CNN reported Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, was assassinated.

Write Only Memory: Signetics advertised Write Only Memory IC databooks in 1972 through the late 1970s.

Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy! Double Switch: In 1997, Pat Sajak, the host of Wheel of Fortune, traded hosting duties with Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek for one show. In addition to Sajak hosting Jeopardy!, he and co-host Vanna White appeared as contestants on the episode of Wheel hosted by Trebek. White's position was filled by Sajak's wife Leslie.

Comic strip switcheroo: Cartoonists of popularly syndicated comic strips draw each others' strips. In some cases, the artist draws characters in the other strip's milieu, while in others, the artist draws in characters from other visiting characters from his own. Cartoonists have done this sort of "
switcheroo"
for several years. The 1997 switch was particularly widespread.

The Trouble with Tracy: In 2003, The Comedy Network in Canada announced that it would produce and air a remake of the 1970s Canadian sitcom The Trouble with Tracy. The original series is widely considered to be one of the worst sitcoms ever produced. Several media outlets fell for the hoax.

National Television Station (TVM) in Malta: In 1995, TVM announced the discovery of a new underground prehistoric temple with a mummy. Another year, TVM announced that Malta would adopt the European continent convention of driving on the right-hand side of the road.

Free wine for all:The Norwegian newspaper "
Bergens Tidende"
announced in 1987 that the state's alcohol monopoly had 10,000 litres of illegally smuggled wine that had been confiscated. The inhabitants of Bergen were invited to the main store in town to receive their share of the goods, rather than to spill good wine down the drain. That morning staff were met by about 200 men &
women with bottles, buckets, and other suitable vessels for carrying the prized goods. Legislation in Norway causes alcohol to be relatively expensive and have limited availability.

Rain drop power: On April 1st 2006 Norwegian media had a one-page story concerning "
rain drop power"
, which could replace oil as a primary energy source. One could write to the energy company BKK in Bergen in order to be a volunteer and receive the power generated for free.

The Canadian news site bourque.org announced in 2002 that Finance Minister Paul Martin had resigned "
in order to breed prize Charolais cattle and handsome Fawn Runner ducks."


– SARS Infects Hong Kong: In 2003 during the time when Hong Kong is seriously hit by SARS, it was rumoured that many people in Hong Kong had become infected with SARS and become uncontrolled, that all immigration ports would be closed to quarantine the region, and that Tung Chee Hwa, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong at that time, had resigned. Hong Kong supermarkets were immediately overwhelmed by panicked shoppers. The Hong Kong government held a press conference to deny the rumour. The rumour, which was intended as an April Fool's prank, was started by a student by imitating the design of Ming Pao newspaper website. He was charged for this incident.

Announcement of Hong Kong Government denying this rumour)
Press Release: No plan to declare Hong Kong as infected area: Health Director
********************************************************
Following is the transcript (English portion) of the media session by the Director of Health, Dr Margaret Chan, held at the Central Government Offices (Main Wing) lobby this afternoon (April 1):

Dr Margaret Chan: I understand that there has been a rumour that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will declare itself as an infected area. I would like to take this opportunity, through you, to inform the people of Hong Kong categorically that we have no plan and there is no need for us to declare Hong Kong as an infected area.

And as a matter of fact, our airport and all our external transport with other parts of the world will continue as usual. Everything is running as scheduled and normally.

Another point I wish to make is, in terms of food supply and other supply, we have adequate supply to provide for the needs of the citizens of Hong Kong. So there is no need for anybody to have a run on food and other things.

China Decapitates Taiwan: In 2005, an undergraduate nicknamed SkyMirage, who was well-known in Taiwan for his humour, fabricated a series of news that China's air force was bombarding Office of President, Taiwan.

Water on Mars: In 2005 a news story was posted on the official NASA website purporting to have pictures of water on Mars. The picture actually was just a picture of a glass of water on a Mars Candy Bar.

Annual BMW Innovations see a new "
cutting-edge invention"
by BMW advertised across British newspapers every year, examples including:
• Warning against counterfeit BMWs: the blue and white parts of the logo were reversed
• The "
Toot and Calm Horn"
(after Tutankhamun), which calms rather than aggravates other drivers, so reducing the risk of road rage,
• MINI cars being used in upcoming space missions to Mars,
• IDS ("
Insect Deflector Screen"
) Technology - using elastic solutions to bounce insects off the windscreen as you drive,
• SHEF ("
Satellite Hypersensitive Electromagnetic Foodration"
) Technology, which sees the car's GPS systems synchronise with home appliances to perfectly cook a meal for the instant you return home,
• Marque-Wiper - mini-wipers for each exterior "
BMW"
logo coming as standard on all future models,
• "
Un-inventing the wheel"
to counter the "
EU ban"
on right-hand drive cars, and
• Zoom Impression Pixels (ZIP) technology to counter new "
[http://www.slowcameras.com/ Slow Cameras"
.

Sheng Long - Electronic Gaming Monthly's infamous hoax of a secret character in Street Fighter II.
• There have been several other EGM pranks that readers have fallen into. Among them: claiming that some Street Fighter II characters possessed unlisted special moves, including Chun-Li hurling her bracelets at an opponent,
• Sega mascots Sonic and Tails appearing as playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and the release of a graphically-remade
• The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker as a pre-order bonus. All such pranks have been met with praise and equal hatred from its readers, as can be seen in the "
April Fools"
letters section in the May issue.
• EGM tried the Sheng Long hoax again with Street Fighter III and once again got some people to believe it.

Coldplay to back the Tories - On April 1 2006 the UK Guardian journalist "
Olaf Priol"
claimed that Chris Martin of rock band Coldplay had decided to publicly support the UK Conservative party leader David Cameron due to his disillusionment with current New Labour prime minister Tony Blair, even going so far as to produce a fake song, "
Talk to David"
, that could be downloaded via the Guardian website. despite being an obvious hoax, the Labour Party's Media Monitoring Unit were concerned enough to circulate the story throughout "
most of the government"
.


By radio stations

Death of a mayor: In 1998, local shock jocks Opie and Anthony reported that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending truth to the prank as he could not be reached. The rumour spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.

Free concert: Radio station 98.1 KISS in ctanooga, Tennessee falsely announced in 2003 that rapper Eminem would be doing a free show in a discount store parking lot. Several police were needed to deal with traffic gridlock and enraged listeners who threatened to harm the DJs responsible. Both DJs were later jailed for creating a public nuisance. Also, radio station WAAF 107.3 in Boston announced that Pearl Jam was having a free concert in fictional city in New Hampshire. A gas station in New Hampshire reported that several streams of car drivers stopped in asking for directions to the fictional town.

New format: Radio station KFOG in San Francisco, claiming new corporate ownership, switched to a new format - the best 15 seconds of every song. All morning they mixed in false calls from perky listeners calling with compliments. This hoax can also be considered a parody of late 1990s media consolidations.

New format: in 2006, radio station KOSY in Salt Lake City, Utah, switched to a new format of year-round Christmas music.

New format: On March 29th, 2006 95.5 WBRU, an alternative rock station in Providence, RI announced that they were being bought out, and would cease operations by 5 PM on Friday, March 31st. Soon after WBRU went off the air, Buddy FM, a parody of the Jack FM radio format, began broadcasting random pop and techno music along with occasional pre-recorded station bumps until a mock takeover was staged by WBRU DJs at 12:16 PM on April 1st. The prank continued in some form until roughly 4:09:37 PM, April 1st.

Sydney Olympics: Australian radio station Triple J breakfast show co-host Adam Spencer announced in 1999 that he had a journalist on the line at the site of a secret IOC meeting and that Sydney had lost the 2000 Summer Olympics. New South Wales Premier Bob Carr was also in on the joke. Mainstream media (including Channel 9's Today Show) picked up the story.

Defying gravity: In 1976 British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 a.m. that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience "
a strange floating sensation."
Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked.

Shuttle landing: In 1993, a San Diego radio station fooled many listeners into believing that the space shuttle had been diverted from Edwards Air Force Base and was about to make an emergency landing at a small local airport.

Cancellation of the Howard Stern Show: The April 1st, 2004 show started off with an announcement by the station manager stating that due to increased pressure from the FCC, Viacom had cancelled the Howard Stern Show. The station played pop songs until 7:00 am, when Stern came back on.

Change of drinking age: On the Gold Coast, Australia's biggest tourist destination (particularly amongst schoolies), radio station Sea FM announced the drinking age would be changed from 18 to 21. This left a huge number of under-21s angry and frustrated, and incited protests. It was later announced at the Sea FM dance party that it was a hoax.

Second Audio Program (SAP): In 2005, Micky Dolenz told listeners WCBS-FM was broadcasting in foreign languages, and they could make use of the SAP Language control. Callers to the radio station were told that if you didn't have an SAP button, then twist the antenna a bit.

End of the Lockout: In 2005, on Vancouver's 99.3 the fox, they announced at around 7:30 in the morning that the NHL lockout was over and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement had been reached. Half an hour later they admitted the joke and then proceeded to play numerous phone calls from disgruntled listeners for another hour.


By television stations

In April of 2006 The "
Best Damn Sports Show Period"
staged a fight between Tom Arnold and Michael Strahan. On Friday March 31st the show went off the air as Tom Arnold was wrestling NY Giant's defensive end Michael Strahan to the ground over comments Tom made in a tell-all book. Strahan pretended to be very hurt by screaming and clutching his shoulder as the cameras cut to black. It fooled cast members Rodney Peete and Rob Dibble enough to have them interject in the fight. Rodney Peete went so far as to give Tom rabbit punches while he broke up what he thought was a real fight. It also worked enough to fool the popular internet site "
deadspin.com"
into reporting it as a real event.

The TSR (Télévision Suisse Romande), on April Fool's Day every year, they will broadcast a totally ridiculous report, usually at the end of the 19.30 news. (e.g. in 2005, it was that instead of being helicoptered when you are injured whilst skiing, you are parapented. In 2006, it was that the town of Fribourg was planning to make people to relase their handbrakes in designated areas, so that if the parking space was too tight, all you would have to do was to call for the police and they would push the car.)

In 2006, the night-time channel Adult Swim significantly changed its programming. Inuyasha was replaced by the 1980s cartoon Karate Kommandos starring Chuck Norris, while Neon Genesis Evangelion was replaced by Boo Boo Runs Wild and Cowboy Bebop was replaced by the Mr. T animated series. Full Metal Alchemist and Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG had their episodes edited so characters farted throughout the show, although they showed an unedited version of the Ghost in the Shell episode later in the night. There was no prank in 2005 because it fell on a Friday, but in 2004, moustaches were drawn on characters during the shows.

In 1989, Seattle area TV program Almost Live! set up a phony broadcast room and dressed up actors as TV anchors to pull an April Fool's joke explaining that the Space Needle had collapsed in a wind-storm. After 50 years, the 1957 BBC report of the purported bumper annual spaghetti harvest (see Spaghetti trees above) remains one of the most successful TV hoaxes of all time.

The BBC's Saturday lunchtime show Football Focus broadcast a piece centred on the upcoming change of the size of goals. Using West Ham United manager, Harry Redknapp, the report claimed that the size of the goals would increase by two feet in height and four feet in length. Redknapp was being 'interviewed' on the training ground where his goalkeepers were getting to grips with bigger goals. They told the truth on the following week's show, where out-takes of Redknapp messing up his lines were also shown.

In 1998, the Channel 4 morning show The Big Breakfast got into trouble with various authorities for pulling an April Fools stunt showing video footage of the Millennium Dome on fire.

The 1977 British documentary Alternative 3 was originally intended as an April Fool's Day hoax and the date of April 1, 1977 is specifically given in the programme's credits. This documentary detailed the discovery of a major cover-up involving the American and Soviet Space Agencies, who had been collaborating on plans to make the moon and Mars habitable in the event of a terminal environmental catastrophe on Earth. The programme led to a large number of conspiracy theories.
In 1979 the BBC programme That's Life!, which often featured talented pets, fooled many viewers with its story about an Old English sheepdog that could drive a car.

In 1991, during the time block of the student comedy show Coo-Coo, the Bulgarian National Television airs breaking news that “...the situation in the nuclear power plant of Kolzoduj is fully under control.” This brings back memories of the communist censorship during the reporting of the Chernobyl disaster half a decade earlier. 90% of the viewers are convinced that reactor No.4 in Kozloduj has exploded. The authors of the comedy show are later accused of manipulating the public in order to destabilize the Bulgarian government.


Other prank days in the world

The April 1 tradition in France includes poisson d'avril (literally "
April's fish"
), attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim's back without being noticed. This is also widespread in other nations, such as Italy (where the term "
April's fish"
is also used to refer to any jokes done during the day).

In Spanish-speaking countries, similar pranks are practised on December 28, the Day of the Holy Innocents. This custom also exists in certain areas of Belgium, including the province of Antwerp. The Flemish tradition is for children to lock out their parents or teachers, only letting them in if they promise to bring treats the same evening or the next day.

In Iran, people play jokes on each other on April 3, the 13th day of the Persian calendar new year (Norouz). This day is called "
Sizdah bedar"
(Outdoor thirteen). It is believed that people should go out on this date in order to escape the bad luck of number 13.

In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand the April 1 tradition exists, however it is accepted that if somebody pulls an April Fool's Trick after 12pm (mid-day), then the person pulling the trick is actually considered the fool (this caveat may also exist in other countries).

In Denmark the 1st of May is known as "
Maj-kat"
, meaning quite simply "
may-cat"
, and is identical to April Fool's day.

Some Jewish communities have the tradition to have a Purim spiel, which is similar in many ways to April Fool's Day. Fake newspaper articles are common.

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PostSubject: Re: The History of April Fool’s Day   Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:48 pm

My father was born on the 1st of April, goodness knows what people said when my grandmother told them she had given birth on April Fool's Day.!!

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PostSubject: Re: The History of April Fool’s Day   Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:49 pm

so was my dad.....plus mum and dad actually got married on that date .....no comment !!!!! Beemmeup
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PostSubject: Re: The History of April Fool’s Day   Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:51 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
so was my dad.....plus mum and dad actually got married on that date .....no comment !!!!! Beemmeup

Not a word
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PostSubject: Re: The History of April Fool’s Day   Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:39 pm

My Mum in law passed away on this day . We were in Cyprus at the time on holiday and as we had, had a call to return were actually on a plane getting ready to take off. It would appear at the time that she died a bolt of Lightening and a clap of thunder happened just as we were going down the runway. How strange was that.

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PostSubject: Re: The History of April Fool’s Day   Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:04 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
so was my dad.....plus mum and dad actually got married on that date .....no comment !!!!! Beemmeup

and weren't they lucky to produce a beautiful daughter like you, but I did notice that your birthday is not on April fools day
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