Ho, boy, is this gonna get me in trouble with some folks I know.
Well, sorry, but I've had Ayn Rand twisting around in the gears of my mind for awhile now, and as part of my personal quest to evolve intellectually, and to keep my sanity, I just finally had to reject some of these ideas, so, this is something I have to do to exorcise the bad ju-ju from my noggin.
I think these ideas have gnawed at me like an animal worse than religion.
Definitely more hours out of more days.
I'm still not sure exactly what my politics are, definitely left-leaning, but there's stuff about naked socialism I distrust.
One thing I figured out by letting Randism chew me up and spit me out, is rigid ideologies don't work.
Right or left.
They give you a nice little boxed in computer program for a nice boxed in little life, but...I'm not that kind of animal.
I tried for a long time.
Not gonna happen.
There's not going to be a "normal", life for me, I'm an odd-fucking-ball.
Rand was an odd-fucking-ball too, but yikes, did she ever try to beat the world to fit into her little digital cubes.
It was a nice try, Aynie, but...tch...
Anyway, here we go....
The Money Speech!
Un-edited version here.
"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia.
Well, no, not really, but that's never been my problem with capitalism or conservatism, but as we'll see, Aynie lives in a world of consistent black and white.
"Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange,
Kay, with ya so far...
..which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.
Money is the material shape of the principle...
Okay, then right away she veers off into language that makes me grind my teeth.
Right off we get a vibe of a religious object.
And my worries are well founded as the thing unfolds...
...that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.
Okay, this sounds nice and logical, but this is the thing with Rand, she starts with seeds of good ideas, then they start to slowly veer off into batshitville, and you don't know why at first, because she walked you up to it so seductively.
Let's dig our fingers into this "value for value", notion, because she just skims past it as an ad-hoc assumption, and it's really not as simple as that, and the component I've personally struggled with for some time.
My overall queasiness with Randism is how things like this are just carelessly bludgeoned past to get to her pre-ordained conclusions.
I'll get back to this, but let's just mentally bookmark it for now.
Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
All right, so she's setting up a nice little logical dichotomy here, if we don't exchange money, then what we're left with is robbery, or mooching.
...course it leaves out barter, but eh...
"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others.
Uh huh, okay....
It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow.
A little batshitty in the rhetoric, but okay...
Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold,
Okay, whining about the loss of the gold standard, let's mentally bookmark this too.
are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce.
Okay, another veering off into an appeal to pseudo-religious idolatry that makes me grind my teeth...
No, money is a technology, and she just already admitted it's a tool, anything you project onto it above that is ideological or superstitious.
She proceeds to veer in and out of this, first it's a tool, then it's magic, then it's a tool, then it's magic..
Your wallet is your statement of hope
that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?
Okay, so, you have money, you're going to spend it, the guy you give it to is going to spend it, and so on.
And all of us swapping our dollars around by definition aren't robbing each other.
There's nothing magical about that, that's just civilization ticking along.
Which is a good thing, excellent even.
Got no problem with it.
In principle, anyway....
But she glues this extra rhetorical pseudo-holy flourish to it, which she then incorporates into her logic pattern down the road, and it's an old trick to wind up a punch you don't see coming.
And that ain't logic, that's brainwashing.
Or at the least, manipulation.
So, I'm zapping that like a Space Invader ahead of time by keeping your mind awake with this bit of nit-pickery. ;)
"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.
Uh-huh, okay, lovely...
"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak?
And here we go...
What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles.
Okay, here we go into black/white, yes/no, up/down town...
....get your galoshes...
Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it?
Nope, but so what?
That's not the dichotomy that interest me, and none of this is the basis to my objections to the inequality of the system.
But, you're supposed to answer "no", to all of these and go "wow! Capitalism is magic! I love you money! I love you, evil hateful boss! I want to be an Übermensch like you!".
Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools?
Look at the music industry!
Look at fucking TV!
The idiots are catered to!
By the able at the expense of the incompetent?
There's a lot of incompetent motherfuckers running around grabbing levers of powers they shouldn't be anywhere near.
By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy?
Not consistently, no.
And this is a common thread in conservatism that's been annoying me.
"Ambition", as a magic buzzword.
As if it were good in itself.
Serial killers are pretty ambitious.
As are child molesters.
As are stock swindlers.
Et cetera et cetera.
I'd prefer if some of those fuckers discovered some laziness.
Maybe some of the lazy fucks out there are unrealized psychos.
Good on 'em, keep being lazy.
But yeah, again, Rand with her black & white.
Money is made--before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability.
...course, we can never know the content of the person's character beyond that they punch a clock, and make their little bucks.
Maybe they go home, and smack the wife around, and kick the dog.
Is that okay in Rand-land?
We don't know, it's all about money in this rant.
You get the vibe that if you had two wife beaters, and one sat on the couch watching soaps all day, and the other pumped gas, the gas pumper would be "better".
Well...he'd have 8 less hours to smack his bitch up I guess, but still...
...it's a facet I find troubling...
And it's a thought pattern I see woven into conservatism at large.
"The working man's an honest man!",..and it doesn't matter how much of an asshole he is otherwise.
Sorry, I beg to differ.
But that's me, I'm an odd-fucking-ball.
An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.'
Course, in real life, Ayn Rand gave an exemption for her starving artist husband, but..whatever...
"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will.
Even the black market gun guy?
Even the kiddie porn guy?
Even the crack dealer?
Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return.
All right, here's where I start to call back the whole "value for value", thing.
Basically, she's saying if someone's willing to pay you for something, that's value enough, and shut up and take the money.
The working man is an honest man, so if he values your crap enough to buy it, that's honest enough.
....but do we really live in that world?
Clearly by my previous rants, I don't happen to think so.
People are out there consuming garbage culture, garbage media, garbage ideas, garbage foods, and it's all a big fat hateful swindle upon the honest working man.
And the magic of money has not rendered a smidgen of quality upon the garbage.
I digress...I'll get back to this later....
Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders.
Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss--
Again, if only that were so.
We've got a whole swindler class that's exalted by our culture.
Course, maybe the current economic crisis has woken people up....
the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery--that you must offer them values, not wounds--that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason;
Again, what world is this happening in?
I look around, ands see vast sectors of our economy being fueled on mindlessly consuming worthless, meaningless, stupid fucking shit.
And again, money is just a tool, now suddenly it's some contract of honor that the reverse will somehow happen.
It's not, and it doesn't.
Honor comes from within, and it'd be nice if everyone had it, but...
Sure as fuck money is no guarantee of it.
It's not good OR evil, it's just a technology.
it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find.
And when men live by trade--with reason, not force, as their final arbiter--it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability--and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward.
Ah, if only...
This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?
Gawrsh, guess I'll pack in my whole deal, and go buy me some collector's plates, and thank Baby Jesus that I live under the big green dollar sign.
"But money is only a tool.
Okay, after it being magic, and a symbol of honor, now it's just a tool again...
It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires.
Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality--the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.
*Teeth grind, eye roll*
"Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek.
Okay, cool, kind of what I've been saying, but the patch-over she comes up with for this is mind-numbing...
Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent.
Well, that's the ideal, but yet again, I have to point out that cowardly incompetent fools, especially those with big piles of money, especially piles of old money, are well respected.
At least, within their own little bubbles of influence, and it takes armies of guys like me hurling our little spears to hopefully pop that fucking bubble.
I mean, look, we had 8 years of Bush despite John Stewart's constant labors.
It doesn't just fall from the sky that these fuckers meet their end through Karma, but Rand pretty much goes on to say it does...
The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?
"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth--the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.
Paris Hilton will live to a ripe old age, I'm sure.
But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?
Yeah, I'm sure Paris Hilton cries horse turd sized tears into her pillow every night over her decayed virtue.
Basically, she's being a big fat hypocrite here.
She's saying money is made by the honorable,...unless it's given to an unworthy heir, but don't worry, the magic of the market and karma will dole justice upon them...unless it doesn't, in which case...eh, don't worry about it...
"Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence.
A sad head shake from Yahweh?
You're an atheist, Aynie!!
Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity?
Nope, not that I know of.
By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves?
And I refuse to publish my junk until I'm absolutely philosophically sure this will never be the case.
Some would say this has set me back.
I don't know...
Still working on that...
By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn?
Well, yeah, I worked at Wal-Mart...
If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy.
Well, don't worry, it hasn't. :)
Oh, shit, I enjoyed the computer I bought with my Wal-Mart money, and the internet activity I experienced over the years, and the laptop I won via it, and all the internet activity on it...
Shit, I'm a sinner...what do I do?
Stab myself in the leg with a fork?
Say 100 "Hail Moneys"?
Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?
"Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices.
So what good is it?
At least in the sense of being a symbol of virtue?
Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit.
The unearned flows like water in America, and the soulless and empty gleefully scarf it up, while only wretches like me agonize over our conscience.
This is NOT a system that rewards the virtuous for virtue alone.
Is this the root of your hatred of money?
"Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil?
*Facepalm* here we go...
To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men.
...again, what world is she living in?
What color is the sky in her world?
I mean, okay, this ideal world of honor can exist inside your head, but it's going to take quite a licking whenever you so much as fill up your gas tank, and buy a fucking candy bar.
It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money--and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.
What? By fiat?
What if you think you're an awesome employee, but aren't?
What if you think you're an awesome artist, but aren't?
By Aynie's standards, as long as the paycheck comes, fuck the rest.
With that attitude in everyone's mind, no wonder the standards are fucking decaying.
"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
What if you're a sociopath who just doesn't give a shit?
The crack dealer doesn't damn money.
The child pornographer doesn't damn money.
The pimp doesn't damn money.
The hack singer doesn't damn money.
Did they earn it?
Are they honorable?
Is it only the one who damns money dishonorable?
It's a twisted code if those are the only choices.
But again...black & white...
"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.
What, no barter?
"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt--and of his life, as he deserves.
Black & white.
Your only choices are to guard your hoard, or be a victim.
And so much for philanthropy.
Fuck the poor, they're evil, they didn't work hard enough.
And this "low self esteem", shit bugs me.
Again, what if you are a fucking hack, and you think you're fucking great, and you don't fucking care?
Ayn Rand offers no antidote to this.
Indeed, such a person doesn't exist in Ayn Rand's world.
If you made money, that's good enough.
If someone paid you, you must be good.
If you're rich, you must be really good.
By that criteria, Britney Spears is the greatest singer who ever lived.
But anyone with taste and a fucking brain fucking knows better.
There's no answer on offer for this in Ayn Rand land.
Her black & white choices are be a dick waving egoist, or accept your doom.
And if you're one who frets about if they're a hack, AND doesn't get rich on top of it, then you must suck.
And that's it, that's all you were worth, throw yourself in the garbage.
The only cure is blind ego, by fiat, from nothing, and if you were paid, then it confirms that ego.
And that's it.
That's all there is in Rand land.
Go around the loop as many times you like, that's the only answer you'll ever get.
For a guy like me loaded up with angst, it wasn't a fun trip.
All I got for my troubles was dizzy.
And still with unanswered questions.
"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard--the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money--the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them.
But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law--men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims--then money becomes its creators' avenger.
Ho boy, again with the pseudo-religious faith in some kind of money-karma...
Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.
"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.
Okay, and here's where she finally throws the punch she winded up at the beginning by insisting money had some magical virtue dust sprinkled apon it, now it's the vile nasty socialist state that destroys virtue and the reason money does evil is because of the damned commies!
And only the commies!
Capitalists are never bad, and when they are bad, they're not capitalists!
"Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper.
Oh, now we're back to the gold standard shit...
This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced.
Oh, here we fucking go.
Now we get to the fucking heart of it.
It's like the religious appeal to objective morality, isn't it?
What is the "objective", value of gold?
I've never figured this one out.
It's yellow and pretty?
I don't give a fuck.
I'm not a chick, I'm not into bling-bling.
It has no value to me personally.
It's a good electrical conductor, but they didn't know about that in the olden days when it was decided the gold was a big fucking deal.
So all you had to go on was yellow and shiny.
And rare, I guess.
But again, so fucking what?
Blue boogers are rare.
Ever hear of a blue booger?
But one must have existed somewhere some time in the history of boogers.
Several I bet.
Why not mine blue boogers?
They're rarer than gold!
Oil is icky.
It's rotten dinosaurs.
But it burns good, so we like it.
But gold doesn't burn good in a car, so what good is it to us?
And again, as a conductor, it only gets used in expensive equipment like NASA satellites.
Because it's expensive, because it's yellow and shiny and rare.
It's all arbitrary.
Objective my rosey red ass.
Gold, paper money, its value all comes from our belief in it.
Which is fine, as far as it goes, but just don't tell me any of this shit is fucking objective.
Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, 'Account overdrawn.'
Well, I agree we have a fucking money problem, and as a technology, the hood needs to be opened for an engine overhaul, but we'd be having that trouble if clam shells were our fucking money.
It's greed. And incompetence. And lack of oversight.
Which was due to greed, and incompetence.
The greedy and influential will always game the system in their favor.
There's your fucking objective truth.
And it's inherent to capitalism.
Rousing fist shaking speeches about "the product of your mind and honor", have done, and will do nothing to stem this in any fucking way.
Indeed, Randroids have been some of the biggest gamers of the system.
"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world? You are.
And here we go with this shit, if the world doesn't work Ayn Rand's way, fuck it, fuck everyone, and that's the core of the plot of Atlas Shrugged.
"You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood--money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities.
No comment, just a facepalm, and a need for a breath....
Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves--slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer, Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers--as industrialists.
She's winding up for another punch, brace yourself....
"To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money--and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being--the self-made man--the American industrialist.
Yeah...the robber baron...so pure..
Some are okay, many are bloodless scumbags.
In Ayn Rand's world, all industrialists are Tony Stark.
And what about the industrialist who fucks his workers over?
Who uses his money as a chain?
Who's company owns a town, and there's nowhere else to go?
Oh, right, the working man is an honest man, and the industrialist is the highest worker, so only his money matters.
He's rich because he's great and he's great because he's rich.
That little logic loop had my ears bleeding for a good while, lemme tell ya.
"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose--because it contains all the others--the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity--to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.
Um...money doesn't fall from the sky, new money is willed into existence by...paper fiat money...that Rand hates..so where is this "to make money", shit coming from??
"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide-- as, I think, he will.
Oh, well, so here's where the hate of the working class leaks in...and misses the point of why industrialist pigs were hated. She denounces the slave driver, but the industrialist who cracks the whip on his workforce, he's a hero somehow, and you should be grateful to toil for him.
Fun stuff, ain't it?
"Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good,
Oh, blow me.
It's not good or evil, it's a tool, you admitted as much.
you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other--and your time is running out."
*Sigh* and allegedly this is second only to The Bible as the world's biggest bestseller.
Allegedly, I can't confirm this.
This has nothing to offer me as a philosophy, and I tried for awhile.
I tried a bunch of fucking philosophies.
I think I'm giving up on philosophies, that's my philosophy.
(Click here for addendum)
(Click here for addendum to the addendum)
(Click here to see Mark Twain take her down)
(Click here for some disturbing new info that came across my desk)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Ho, boy, is this gonna get me in trouble with some folks I know.
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- History of the internet part 3- Adventures in Libe...
- A quickie rant on Republican homophobia.
- Francisco's money speech, by Ayn Rand- Nitpicked.
- Kudos, to Sully.
- The War On Bullshit.
- Torrent Too!
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- FU2: Mommy, may I diddle danger?
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- Doing It With An Android
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- Killer Robot Hospital
- Happy fucking new year!!
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