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  1. #1
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    IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    Spin (public relations)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    History

    Edward Bernays has been called the "Father of Spin". As Larry Tye describes in his book The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations, Bernays was able to help tobacco and alcohol companies use techniques to make certain behaviors more socially acceptable in the 20th-century US. Tye claims that Bernays was proud of his work as a propagandist.[3]

    As information technology has increased dramatically since the end of the 20th century, commentators like Joe Trippi have advanced the theory that modern internet activism spells the end for political spin. By providing immediate counterpoint to every point a "spin doctor" can come up with, this theory suggests, the omnipresence of the internet in some societies will inevitably lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of spin.[4]


    Mark E

    'Real' friends communicate uncomfortable truths to one another. For example I will let a friend know if they have food stuck in their teeth or if something dangling from their nose, etc. etc.

    Many of the issues being discussed here are BIG uncomfortable truths about IMBA and the direction they are pointed.

    How many people like me will you/IMBA choose to avoid, ignore, and marginalize before the chickens come home to roost?

    Maybe this is not a convenient place to hold a candid discussion (the many to one pile-on sucks for sure), maybe it is seen as a dangerous forum given some of IMBA's political relationships... That said how much longer can you afford to keep throwing PR crap at the wall to see what sticks?

    I don't have to tell you that mtbr.com is an 'enthusiast' site inhabited by very passionate mountain bikers who are well networked in the larger mountain bike community. Those themes about IMBA, coming up again and again, positive and or negative are already spreading rampantly like viruses.

    So, the question is:

    How will you and IMBA choose to respond?


    From where I stand it is clear that it is time for you/IMBA to engage concerned members of our esteemed community in a more meaningful way than what you have in the past.

    Unchanged, the path that IMBA is traveling now is that of a "Wedge" organization; pitting mountain biker against mountain biker, business owner against business owner, and non-profit against non-profit.

    Sounds like a horrible legacy to me.

    Why not change it?

    CB

  2. #2
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    CB, I'm right here, replying to you. No wedges. But I reject your assertion that every time I post a story that puts IMBA in a positive light it can be dismissed as spin. IMBA doesn't get everything right, but we certainly don't get everything wrong either.

    All of the examples I've posted involve real mountain bikers, with the passion and dedication you describe. Those people are getting value from their work with IMBA, and there are thousands of them. I'm sorry you feel "estranged" from those efforts.

    Here's another example: Southern Shred: Alabama's Coldwater Mountain - Pinkbike

    So, what are the big, uncomfortable truths that you want to candidly discuss?

  3. #3
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    "How many people like me will you/IMBA choose to avoid, ignore, and marginalize"
    If I were IMBA, and I was reading vague and cryptic accusations, like those above, I would ignore all people writing such things.

    If I were IMBA and were dealing with a few folks upset that IMBA could not clean up a mess of their own making, at some point I would have to ignore them too.

    If a small group continuously complains about IMBA's actions in their locale on this forum, and then replies to criticism by saying, "you don't know the whole story." Then that that small group should just STFU on this forum and keep their grievances local.

    Complaining is easy, solutions can be difficult. I have not seen anything constructive coming from the small number of whiners and complainers here the past few weeks.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson View Post
    "How many people like me will you/IMBA choose to avoid, ignore, and marginalize"
    If I were IMBA, and I was reading vague and cryptic accusations, like those above, I would ignore all people writing such things.

    If I were IMBA and were dealing with a few folks upset that IMBA could not clean up a mess of their own making, at some point I would have to ignore them too.

    If a small group continuously complains about IMBA's actions in their locale on this forum, and then replies to criticism by saying, "you don't know the whole story." Then that that small group should just STFU on this forum and keep their grievances local.

    Complaining is easy, solutions can be difficult. I have not seen anything constructive coming from the small number of whiners and complainers here the past few weeks.
    Wow, this. Thank you for summarizing that.

  5. #5
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    IMHO, this anti-IMBA sentiment is simply what happens anytime something goes "mainstream." The organization and those who popularized the activity are accused of being sell-outs while the "real" "hardcore" or "pure" people take their ball and go back home to play.

    On the other hand, I think the dispute also has to do with a general split in the sport as to what types of trails are appropriate (which isn't necessarily the same for every place). The one thing I DON'T like about IMBA and modern trail builders is the tendency to put in a ton of man-made features, obstacles, and TTFs. In my view (which doesn't necessarily mean its rights), mountainbike trails should be build with as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible and using the local topography. IMO, something is amiss if you have to bring in a bobcat and heavy machinery to "clear" a trail and haul in tons of rocks and dirt to "manicure" it. There are a ton of great trails around the country that were built by nothing more than some dudes with weedwackers and McClouds.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    weedwackers and McClouds.


    I do like the TTF though, IMBA Au does an awesome job on trails and on the negotiations here... can fault them at all... they have done the ground work, funded, organised and built trails here that the pure, hardcore and real were to busy falling over their egos to even think about.
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  7. #7
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    This machine built trail thing:

    I've built trail by hand, with walk behind skid steers, and mini-ex machines. I hate building structures on trails. I do it anyway, when/if it's a good idea/the trails suits it, etc. but mostly, no. You ride the terrain. I've moved rocks around on a property to build rock gardens, and even had rock hauled in to build rock gardens. But many people, having looked at a system that I built partly by hand, and partly with a machine, can't tell the difference between the sections. Other places, it's clearly machine built (flow trails with rollers and berms tend to be a dead give away, although sometimes people will get hard core and hand build them) or clearly hand built (narrow exposed areas, you'd have to winch the machine off the side of a cliff to build....no thanks?).

    I think who is running the project, the machine, doing the design work - all of this matters. As a solo trail building show, I can tell you a machine is a MUCH faster way to build trail, and it doesn't have to look like a highway when you're done.

  8. #8
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    I think to suggest that folks who do no support the way IMBA behaves or that they are a small number is simply dismissive and in error.

    Further, if you have been following the discussions on this topic the ideas were neither "vague" nor "cryptic."

    Sneering is not valid argument.
    I don't rattle.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    This machine built trail thing:

    I've built trail by hand, with walk behind skid steers, and mini-ex machines. I hate building structures on trails. I do it anyway, when/if it's a good idea/the trails suits it, etc. but mostly, no. You ride the terrain. I've moved rocks around on a property to build rock gardens, and even had rock hauled in to build rock gardens. But many people, having looked at a system that I built partly by hand, and partly with a machine, can't tell the difference between the sections. Other places, it's clearly machine built (flow trails with rollers and berms tend to be a dead give away, although sometimes people will get hard core and hand build them) or clearly hand built (narrow exposed areas, you'd have to winch the machine off the side of a cliff to build....no thanks?).

    I think who is running the project, the machine, doing the design work - all of this matters. As a solo trail building show, I can tell you a machine is a MUCH faster way to build trail, and it doesn't have to look like a highway when you're done.
    The truth ^^^.
    I'll take a machine built trail over hand built any day. So much easier to take care of.

    I get so tired of riding these "skinny" trails built by volunteers who barely scratch the duff off the surface, won't cut a bench and leave backslopes that clip pedals.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozzybmx View Post


    I do like the TTF though, IMBA Au does an awesome job on trails and on the negotiations here... can fault them at all... they have done the ground work, funded, organised and built trails here that the pure, hardcore and real were to busy falling over their egos to even think about.
    Do you have any specific examples?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    There are a ton of great trails around the country that were built by nothing more than some dudes with weedwackers and McClouds.
    Actually, BigV, I believe that in many instances, even a McLeod is too much. While I have used a McLeod on many occasions to build trail, I think that it is far better, whenever possible, to trim back brush and prune branches if necessary, move any loose rocks that would be rolling around on the surface anyway, and then just ride the trail into existence beyond that point. If the sideslope is steep enough that tires slide downslope a bit, the repeated process of that happening over and over again, is oftentimes enough to just naturally bench the trail into the side of the hill. Doing this is difficult work, requires quite a bit of bike handling skills, and also requires a working knowledge of soil qualities and capabilities. (Which often change moment by moment, as you ride across different geological layers.) Building a trail in this manner also requires, as things progress to an interim stage, an acute awareness of how far toward the outer edge of the trail you can ride before the combined weight of rider and bike cause the softer outer edge of the trail to collapse. Paying attention to the moisture content and its effects on soil compaction is extremely important at this point in the game, and not all days are worth going out to work on a trail that is in this stage of development. (A reason that scheduling "trail work days" months or even weeks in advance, may result in a lower quality, overbuilt trail, rather than paying attention to and taking advantage of changing weather and soil conditions, as they happen.)

    Trails built in this manner may take weeks or even months of repeated and dedicated "riding in" by a dedicated and skilled trail builder or builders, before they are hardened in enough to open them to the general public, without some semi-skilled lout destroying them before they fully take root, but if you have the patience and dedication to establish trails this way, you usually end up with something that is naturally benched into the side of the hill in much the same manner as game trails, and looks as if it "just grew there", organically; as opposed to the huge scars produced on the upslope side of trails that are benched in with McLeods, and the contrived looking rock or log retaining walls that are built by trail crews in a hurry to "get it done today", rather than skilled and patient trailmasters, who are willing to let time, weather, soil conditions and the angle of the slope dictate when the work is done and the trail ready to be shared with the rest of the World.

    Ridden in trails tend to also only be as wide as necessary, as opposed to the "wheelchair accessible" wide sidewalks that are so often produced by well meaning volunteers who show up for "trail work daze."

    Another benefit of riding trails into existence, is that rocks that are buried in the tread of the trail, and not just loose on the surface, tend to stay in place, rather than getting dug out. There is actually a three-fold benefit to this, as 1: the trail is more technical and interesting than a manicured "sidewalk trail". 2: As mentioned above, it looks totally organic, as if the trail just grew there, as opposed to looking contrived and "built". 3: rocks that are firmly embedded in the tread of the trail help to slow and minimize, or even virtually stop erosion.

    If you go back after a few years, and look at most trails that are benched in with a pick, shovel and McLeod, you will find that the vast majority of them are "cupping" in the middle of the tread, due to the removal of naturally embedded rocks that would have been mostly left in place on a "ridden in" trail. Soon the center third of the trail's tread is so much lower than the outer edge of the trail's tread, that water becomes trapped, runs down the length of the trail and causes erosion. At this point, another "trail work" day usually gets scheduled to de-berm the poorly built trail, and the result is inevitably that the trail becomes even wider, even smoother, and more of the naturally occurring rocks that were originally embedded in the tread of the trail are removed, further continuing the cycle of erosion and trail "maintenance". Yes, "ridden in" trails can still experience the negative effects of cupping, especially if there are steep or fast sections of trail that precede sharp turns or other obstacles that require riders to brake hard, and where lesser-skilled riders and speed demon racer types tend to skid their rear wheels; but the erosion and cupping tends to be less than on trails where the original soil was so highly disturbed and "de-rocked", as if unfortunately so common on "benched in" trails.
    If more people rode more bikes, more places, more often, the world would be a more better place!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by crank1979 View Post
    Do you have any specific examples?
    Example of what, IMBA au doing great stuff for SA trails ? Fox Creek is the best single trail network we have, with IMBA (Nick Bowman + others) and SAMBA the place wouldn't exist.

    Between SAMBA and IMBA we have Eagle, Fox, Mitcham, Prospect, Mawson trail, Melrose and others. These guys do an awesome job with advocacy, trail days, funding and all the other awesome stuff that puts trails on the face of the Adelaide hills.

    Read your Woolondilly site, see you are IMBA members... just wondering what your angle is with the question ?
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  13. #13
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    There are not many things in life that one can support 100% 100% of the time. I have issues with IMBA, namely that standards for Trail Centers are not that awesome. Basically I fear that in 10 years nearly every trail system that ever existed will be a trail center, and the point of the trail center will be lost... Only the best of the best places in the world should be trail centers.

    But I will still be a member of IMBA and support the cause because Mountain Bikers need their voice heard.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by blum585 View Post
    because Mountain Bikers need their voice heard.
    That is EXACTLY why we are having this discussion.

    If IMBA had in fact been listening to the voices of 'Mountain Bikers' this discussion would never have taken place... it would have been unnecessary.

    At the risk of being overly simplistic: Each community of mountain bikers and location is different. There is no "one size fits all" solution. Unfortunately IMBA's race to scale means STANDARDIZATION... so a "one size fits all" approach is what we're in for.

    If you look at the myriad posts on this topic a pattern is not hard to see:

    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.

    It is often difficult to see beyond our own circumstances/recent experiences. Which is why discussions like this one are SO important...

    One size does not fit all.

    CB

  15. #15
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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    From what I have seen, IMBA trails look like dirt bike paths. 7 or 8 feet wide like in the link to Coldwater Mountain posted earlier in this thread. That doesn't appeal to a lot of mountain bikers including myself.
    When the chicks at school see how gay we are, they're gonna be all over us.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozzybmx View Post
    Example of what, IMBA au doing great stuff for SA trails ? Fox Creek is the best single trail network we have, with IMBA (Nick Bowman + others) and SAMBA the place wouldn't exist.

    Between SAMBA and IMBA we have Eagle, Fox, Mitcham, Prospect, Mawson trail, Melrose and others. These guys do an awesome job with advocacy, trail days, funding and all the other awesome stuff that puts trails on the face of the Adelaide hills.

    Read your Wollondilly site, see you are IMBA members... just wondering what your angle is with the question ?
    I'm just interested in the experiences of another Australian beyond what is in the magazines.

  17. #17
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    And this is the value of the discussion of this topic. There are no final answers, just shared info and developing attitudes. What are people afraid of?
    I don't rattle.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.
    You sound like my know-it-all teenagers. If you don't need your parents anymore, move out!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    CB, I'm right here, replying to you. No wedges. But I reject your assertion that every time I post a story that puts IMBA in a positive light it can be dismissed as spin. IMBA doesn't get everything right, but we certainly don't get everything wrong either.

    All of the examples I've posted involve real mountain bikers, with the passion and dedication you describe. Those people are getting value from their work with IMBA, and there are thousands of them. I'm sorry you feel "estranged" from those efforts.

    Here's another example: Southern Shred: Alabama's Coldwater Mountain - Pinkbike

    So, what are the big, uncomfortable truths that you want to candidly discuss?
    Why are you feeding this troll?

    He is not interested in discussion, only bashing IMBA.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson View Post
    Complaining is easy, solutions can be difficult. I have not seen anything constructive coming from the small number of whiners and complainers here the past few weeks.
    This^^^^ +1
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post

    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.

    It is often difficult to see beyond our own circumstances/recent experiences. Which is why discussions like this one are SO important...
    Czar,
    As a 62 year old "teenager", 30-year mountain biker, 20-year advocate, and 15-year leader in one of the largest mountain bike communities in the world I think that this analysis is spot-on.


    Organizations can only form around a mass of interest and will survive only through actually doing what is seen as possible. Failing at what is desired can spell the end of ambient support and, ultimately, the group. Clearly intractable problems can preclude the building of groups in the first place. This can leave enormous numbers of mountain bikers out in the cold whether their style of riding or their political bent is reasonable or not. Remember, exclusion from access is generally unfair from the start.

    That IMBA has formed and survived says that it must have value somewhere and we are hearing from people who feel that they have benefitted from IMBA presence. Descriptions are formulaic and the model, when described by those who have seen their benefit, can be seen as spin as the concepts and language are so easily identifiable.

    That doesn't deny the validity of the effect but neither does it suggest the universality of the IMBA effect. That same approach leaves many out in the cold. To those folks the IMBA value, the culture, the language, the turn of the shovel and the swing of the polaski, do not achieve a desired result.

    IMBA is a major leader in our access work. As a leader I know that we take shots from all directions, including from quarters who do precious little to advance our cause. The frustration with such people of those who do this advocacy work is common and can be expressed in acrimony. I get that, believe me. Yet to presume that we who are organized represent the wishes of the greater mountain biking community is an illusion. To presume that because we are the ones doing the work have a greater right to our point of view defeats our sense of community.
    I don't rattle.

  22. #22
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.
    It is vague innuendo and loaded questions (such as this thread starter), not any well articulated critisism of IMBA, that many people react to. Your initial post here was just a series of loaded questions. Essentially a "Have you stopped beating your wife" post. Or in this case, "When will you stop beating your wife?"

    It is often difficult to see beyond our own circumstances/recent experiences
    Could not agree more. Pot, meet Kettle.

    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    One size does not fit all.
    CB
    Exactly! Interestingly, your OP here is essentially calling IMBA to task for NOT fitting all sizes.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  23. #23
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    Here's a relevant story the shows how IMBA's trail building and advocacy efforts work in tandem.

    A few years ago, IMBA and NPS staff at the New River Gorge collaborated to build some of the best bike-accessible singletrack in the U.S. national parks system. Now, thanks to advocacy work and a supportive superintendent, bike access to these trails is about to become permanent. New rule opens New River Gorge trails to bicycling* - Outdoors - The Charleston Gazette - West Virginia News and Sports -

    Here's a brief account of the role that IMBA Trail Solutions played: Several Trail Solutions team members are hard at work in the New River Gorge National River, preparing for a massive influx of Boy Scouts armed with pulaskis, pick axes, and shovels. Starting in July, hundreds of Order of the Arrow members will be creating up to a mile a day of high-quality, backcountry singletrack in this dense, lush Eastern landscape.

    The National Park Service, not wanting to miss the opportunity, has retained Trail Solutions to design the system and "train the trainers" in preparation for next month's work. Trail Specialists are also reconstructing old road beds to remediate drainage problems and make them into singletrack.

    All told, the partnership of the National Park Service, the Boy Scouts of America, and IMBA's Trail Solutions program is going to result in a new, world-class trail system for the Mid-Atlantic region.

    http://www.imba.com/blog/chris-bernh...national-river

    And here's a (now expired) IMBA action alert that points to the advocacy work we did that ultimately succeeded in changing the NPS rule-making proceedures, so that these trails could be given status for permanent bike access.

    Action Alert! Help the NPS Formalize Bike Access to Trails at the New River Gorge

    The National Park Service (NPS) at New River Gorge National River, West Virginia, is now accepting comments on a regulation change that would continue to allow bicycle access to many miles of natural-surface trail in the park.

    Included is a 12.8-mile, stacked-loop system of singletrack trails that was built as the result of a partnership between the Boy Scouts of America, IMBA Trail Solutions and the NPS. Of the trail, the NPS says: "The four mountain bike loops, rated from moderate to difficult, await adventuresome riders. In one of the largest youth service projects in National Park Service history, the Scouts provided 78,544 volunteer hours, valued at $1.6 million, to build the trails in 2011."

    Take Action! Submit your comments here in support of mountain biking at New River Gorge. Comments are due by October 26, 2012.

    Although mountain bikes are currently allowed on the trails, this rule change will make that access permanent.

    Here are a few suggestions to include in your comments:

    I support this regulatory change because it will permanatly allow mountain bike access to the trails currently being enjoyed and stewarded by the mountain bike community.
    These trails are the result of a strong public/private partnership with broad local support. They were built and maintained by a contribution of more than $1.2 million in volunteer time and efforts from the Boy Scouts of America and the International Mountian Bicycling Association.
    Mountain biking is a popular activity with children will attract a younger demographic to the park. This will help to foster a love for the great outdoors, environmental stewardship and support for National Parks.

    http://www.imba.com/alert/help-nps-f...ew-river-gorge

  24. #24
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    @Mark E

    Your cut and paste skills of what has been posted on Twitter, Facebook, and all the social media is great. I saw the above many times before this post.

    Your skills to read, think, and reply, however, are lacking, from what I see in this thread. You have not replied to any of the other comments and questions, but have artfully danced around them. I will bet that most, if not all of what you have posted here was written by someone else.

    I guess all that politicking in Washington makes you more of a spin doctor than a communications director, at least with the common grass roots folk here.

    Thanks to everyone else who has posted some original thoughts in this thread, your candor and feelings, even of anger and frustration, are straight forward, and offer some valuable food for thought.
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  25. #25
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    Slocaus, I'm quoting from materials that I wrote. I've tried to answer the questions posed on this thread. Which ones still need a reply, in your mind? I'll try to be artless ...

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