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To think I actually started looking forward to college before my first term.

It must’ve been because I was 18 and eager to forge ahead into the bright future, or at least get away from my parents. “Good,” Dad laughed. “It means we did our job right.”

Still, returning to the grind after a dozen years of mandatory government school? And Dad, who “saw the coarse metal of sham and pretense beneath the showy gilding of learning,”1 had forewarned me enough over the years with his college stories. College wasn’t and isn’t even intrinsically necessary to be a reporter,2 but I wasn’t visionary enough or strong-willed enough to eschew the conventional path.3

A standard complaint about college, then and now, is how the institution has been captured by those hostile to our civilization and turned into an indoctrination center to brainwash students into stormtroopers who’ll capture the other institutions, then the rest of the country, and impose a statist dystopia.4 I arrived about six months before the kulturkampf of the early ‘90s really burst open on my campus, and I observed enough that supported such a complaint.5

The underreported story, though, was how money grubbing the college was underneath all the pious pontificating.6 In retrospect, perhaps I should’ve tried obtaining my bachelor’s degree from a diploma mill for a fraction of what my alma mater charged.7 Especially with tuition increasing every term, and the administration pleading poverty.8 Little of the required coursework for my degree dealt with my chosen career. It was just busywork calculated to siphon more of my family’s money. Robert Nisbet attributed all this to the infusion of federal funds to colleges during World War II, which predictably lead to academia’s interest in getting more.9

I did what I could to stretch out the money for college, including stock market investments that did better than expected in the 1990-91 recession.10 Finally, though, I had to liquidate my investments to pay for the ever-rising costs.

But experience is the deal-clincher for jobs, and here my alma mater tried to block me. Back during Orientation Week, I perused the university’s general bulletin – the combination course catalog and school rules – like a Talmudic scholar,11 looking for piggybacks, loopholes, shortcuts and catches. For example, if you thought you knew a course’s content well enough, you could take a challenge exam early in the term; if you passed, you’d get the credits – but those credits didn’t count toward graduation.

So all the really useful information about getting through college I discovered myself. The first time I met with my academic adviser the same week – it may have been mandatory – he was no help at all. He may still be alive, so for the sake of this story, we’ll call him … “Ralph Felcher.” I don’t remember his real name anymore.

Felcher seemed peeved he had to field questions I’d prepared from studying the bulletin. I don’t think I saw him again until the beginning of my sophomore year, definitely at his request. I’d already written him off. I asked him about internships. He told me the J-school discouraged underclassmen from seeking them. Something about those belonging to the upperclassmen or some such. I’d reviewed the pertinent fine print before our sophomore meeting, so I nodded noncommittally in his office while disregarding what he told me about this informal practice.

Moreover, somewhere during freshman year I’d learned this “adviser” was also an open homosexual – not that he’d’ve been any better at his job if he’d been normal. At the sophomoric meeting, I noticed Felcher looked thinner from last time, and not in a good way.12

Afterward, I mentioned the meeting to my campus newspaper colleagues, most of whom regarded themselves as “progressive” on the issues of the day. But our conversation focused on whether we advisees should dump him immediately, or wait for Felcher to die of AIDS and take our chances on getting a competent new adviser, assuming one existed. When there’s something at stake, like one’s career, they shucked such idealistic beliefs like a cheap T-shirt. And what were we paying this guy’s salary for, anyway? Certainly not for useful advice or to learn marketable skills.

Later, during winter term dead week, in between studying for finals, I systematically mailed out my resume to newspapers across the country. When I returned from spring break, I obtained two interviews, and one offer, a well-paying internship, and this at the start of the recession. I also scooped my colleagues, and of course, proved my adviser wrong. In fact, one of the reasons I snared the internship was that the interviewers liked that I’d bucked the system.

But where could I get credits? Again, the bulletin informed me about the placement office, through which I earned the same number of graduation-applicable credits I could’ve gotten through the J-school if it weren’t so obtuse about helping potential alumni donors.

The next year, the J-school relented because I was a junior, so for my second internship I picked up double credit toward graduation from both the J-school and the placement office, because I didn’t tell either department about the other. I checked the general bulletin about that, too, and there wasn’t anything that actually enforced a limit on internship credits.

At this point, many of you are thinking or saying, “That Dan! Always looking for an angle.” What was I supposed to do? Follow orders like a farm animal while the college sheared me? Bah! People outside school expressed their admiration for my cunning. “You’ll make a good businessman,” one of my internship editors said.

My alma mater failed as a vocational-technical school and it failed as a repository of the liberal arts.13 On the instructor evaluation forms at the end of each term, I recommended two of them be terminated for poor performance. One of them was a Pulitzer Prize winner and a switch on the old saying: he could write, but he couldn’t teach.14 Actually, now that I think about it, I should’ve recommended more firings.

And after all the rat mazes and all the money spent for this credential, few potential clients ever ask about it. Maybe they don’t want to be reminded of their college experience. Even fewer social acquaintances ask about my educational background, although we all pretend our credentials have some validity. Maybe they don’t want to be reminded of their college experience, either. Most of this obsession with degrees and credentials is nothing but the business world’s version of keeping up with the Joneses. Few employers are willing to settle for less because they don’t want to appear unsophisticated in front of their colleagues. In other words, nobody cares what I learned. The four years I spent grinding was a qualifications hurdle and checklist item just to get the job interview.15

Naturally, years after I obtained the diploma, or “was graduated,” in the phrase you’ll read about in anybody’s biography, meaning all so-and-so’s hard work really didn’t count for anything compared to the OK of some college bureaucrat, the alumni office or the J-school tracked me wherever I moved and asked for more money.16 Finally, the latter sent an appeal with a typographical error. I marked its letter with a red pen and mailed it back. It hasn’t bothered me since.

Finally, all this schoolwork interfered with my reading. In fact, the groves of academe obscured what was worthwhile released during the period:

I. 1988

See issue No. 107.

  1. 1989

  1. Television

  1. Almost Live! KING-TV.

  2. Columbo. ABC.

  3. An Evening at the Improv. A&E.

  4. Moonlighting. ABC.

  5. Mystery Science Theater 3000. KTMA-TV/Comedy Channel.

  6. Night Flight. USA.

  7. Night Tracks. TBS.

  8. Seinfeld. NBC.

  9. The Simpsons. Fox.

  10. Siskel & Ebert & the Movies. Syndicated.

  11. thirtysomething. ABC.

  12. The Tonight Show. NBC.

  13. Wall $treet Week in Review. PBS.

  14. Wiseguy. CBS.

  1. Film

  1. Black Rain. Paramount Pictures/Pegasus Film Partners.

  2. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. Allarts Cook/Elsevira/Erato Films/Erbograph Co./Films Inc./Miramax Films/Vendex.

  3. Chameleon Street. Northern Arts Entertainment.

  4. Crimes and Misdemeanors. Orion Pictures Corp.

  5. Dip Huet Seung Hung (The Killer). Film Workshop/Golden Princess Film Production Ltd./Long Shong Pictures/Magnum Entertainment/Media Asia Group.

  6. Drugstore Cowboy. Avenue Pictures Productions.

  7. Henry V. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)/Curzon Film Distributors/Renaissance Films.

  8. Jacknife. Cineplex-Odeon Films/Kings Road Entertainment/Sandollar-Schaffel Productions.

  9. Leningrad Cowboys Go America. Esselte Video/Finnish Film Foundation/Finnkino/Megamania/Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI)/Villealfa Filmproduction Oy.

  10. Lethal Weapon 2. Silver Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures.

  11. Mystery Train. JVC Entertainment Networks/Mystery Train.

  12. Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Outlaw Productions/Virgin.

  13. Street of No Return. Animatógrafo/France 3 Cinéma/Instituto Português de Cinema (IPC)/Investimage 2/Slav 2/Soficas Investimages/Thunder Films International.

  14. Tap. Beco Films/TriStar Pictures.

  15. True Believer. Columbia Pictures Corp.

  16. UHF. Cinecorp SAC/Imaginary Entertainment/Orion Pictures Corporation.

  17. The War of the Roses. Gracie Films/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

  1. Publishing

  1. Allen, Steve. Murder on the Glitter Box. New York City: Zebra Books.

  2. Baigent, Michael, and Richard Leigh. The Temple and the Lodge. New York City: Arcade Pub.

  3. Baritz, Loren. The Good Life: The Meaning of Success for the American Middle Class. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf.

  4. Bartholomew, James. The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei. London: Viking.

  5. Bartholomew, James R. The Formation of Science in Japan: Building a Research Tradition. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP.

  6. Barzun, Jacques. The Culture We Deserve. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan UP.

  7. Beito, David T. Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance During the Great Depression. Chapel Hill, N.C.: U of North Carolina P.

  8. Bernstein, Carl. Loyalties: A Son's Memoir. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  9. Blizter, Wolf. Territory of Lies: The Exclusive Story of Jonathan Jay Pollard: The American Who Spied on His Country for Israel and How He Was Betrayed. New York City: Harper & Row Publishers. Rpt. Territory of Lies: The Rise, Fall, and Betrayal of Jonathan Jay Pollard. 1990.

  10. Branden, Nathaniel [Nathan Blumenthal]. Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand, 1st ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

  11. Bruck, Connie. The Predators’ Ball: The Inside Stoy of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the Junk Bond Raiders, rev ed. New York City: Penguin Books.

  12. Bukowski, Charles. Hollywood: A Novel. Santa Rosa, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press.

  13. Burgess, Anthony [John Anthony Burgess Wilson]. Any Old Iron. New York City: Random House.

  14. Burgess, Anthony [John Anthony Burgess Wilson]. The Devil’s Mode and Other Stories. New York City: Random House.

  15. Burnham, David. A Law Unto Itself: Power, Politics, and the IRS. New York City: Random House.

  16. Burroughs, William S. Interzone. Ed. James Grauerholz. New York City: Viking.

  17. Campaign for President: The Managers Look at ´88. Ed. David R. Runkel. Dover, Mass.: Auburn House Publishing Co.

  18. Chandler, Raymond, and Robert B. Parker. Poodle Springs. New York City: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

  19. Cirni, Jim [James N. Cirnigliaro]. The Come On: A Novel of Suspense. New York City: Soho.

  20. Claremont, Chris, and Dave Cockrum. The Uncanny X-Men, Vol. I. New York City: Marvel Comics.

  21. The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus: All the Words, Vol. I-II. New York City: Pantheon Books.

  22. Conversations With Joyce Carol Oates. Ed. Lee Milazzo. Jackson, Miss.: UP of Mississippi.

  23. Copeland, Miles A. Jr. The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA’s Original Political Operative. London: Aurum Press.

  24. Cornwell, John. A Thief in the Night: The Death of Pope John Paul I. London: Viking. Rpt. A Thief in the Night: The Mysterious Death of Pope John Paul I. New York City: Simon and Schuster; A Thief in the Night: Life and Death in the Vatican. New York City: Penguin Books, 2001.

  25. Cowan, Neil M., and Ruth Schwartz Cowan. Our Parents' Lives: The Americanization of Eastern European Jews. New York City: Basic Books.

  26. Davis, John H. Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. New York City: McGraw-Hill.

  27. Davis, Miles, and Quincy Troupe. Miles: The Autobiography. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  28. The Diary of H.L. Mencken. Ed. Charles A. Fecher. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf.

  29. Dzhirkvelov, Ilya. Secret Servant: My Life With the KGB and and the Soviet Elite, rev. ed. Trans. Richard Lourie. New York City: Touchstone.

  30. Eisler, Paul. My Life With the Printed Circuit. Ed. Mari Williams. Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh UP.

  31. Elger, Dietmar. Expressionismus: Eine Deutsche Kunstrevolution. Ed. Ingo F. Walther. Köln, F.R.G.: Taschen. Trans. Hugh Beyer. Expressionism: A Revolution in German Art. 1998.

  32. Epstein, Edward Jay. Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  33. Fairchild, John. Chic Savages. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  34. Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York City: Oxford UP.

  35. Fliedl, Gottfried. Gustav Klimt: 1862-1918: Die Welt in Weiblicher Gestalt. Köln, F.R.G.: Taschen. Trans. Hugh Beyer. Gustav Klimt, 1862-1918: The World in Female Form. 1991.

  36. Friedman, David D. The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, 2nd rev. ed. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court.

  37. From: The President: Richard Nixon’s Secret Files. Ed. Bruce Oudes. New York City: Harper & Row.

  38. Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York City: Henry Holt.

  39. Fussell, Paul. Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War. New York City: Oxford UP.

  40. Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. El General en Su Laberinto. Madrid: Mondadori España. Trans. Edith Grossman. The General in His Labyrinth. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

  41. Golan, Matti. The Road to Peace: A Biography of Simon Peres. Trans. Akiva Ron. New York City: Warner Books.

  42. Graham, Don. No Name on the Bullet: A Biography of Audie Murphy. New York City: Viking.

  43. Gugliotta, Guy and Jeff Leen. Kings of Cocaine: Inside the Medellin Cartel – an Astonishing True Story of Murder, Money, and International Corruption. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  44. Hackworth, U.S. Army Col. David. H. (ret.), and Julie Sherman. About Face. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  45. Harkabi, Yehoshafat. Israel's Fateful Hour, 2nd rev. ed. Trans. Lenn Schramm. New York City: Harper Perennial.

  46. Howell, Haney. Roadrunners: Combat Journalists in Cambodia. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press.

  47. Hijuelos, Oscar. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. New York City: Farrar Straus Giroux.

  48. Hill, Marvin S. Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight From American Pluralism. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.

  49. Horwitt, Sanford D. Let Them Call me Rebel: Saul Alinsky – His Life and Legacy. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf.

  50. Jaki, Stanley L. Brain, Mind, and Computers, 2nd rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway.

  51. Kafton-Minkel, Walter. Subterranean Worlds: 100,000 Years of Dragons, Dwarfs, the Dead, Lost Races & UFOs From Inside the Earth. Port Townsend, Wash.: Loompanics Unlimited.

  52. Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines. New York City: Random House.

  53. L’Amour, Louis [Louis LaMoure]. Education of a Wandering Man. New York City: Bantam Books.

  54. Lee, Stan [Stan Lieber], and Steve Ditko. The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. III. New York City: Marvel Comics.

  55. Lee, Stan [Stan Lieber], and Jack Kirby [Jacob Kurtzberg]. The Incredible Hulk, Vol. I. New York City: Marvel Comics.

  56. Lee, Stan [Stan Lieber], Jack Kirby [Jacob Kurtzberg], and Don Heck. The Avengers, Vol. II. New York City: Marvel Comics.

  57. Leonard, Elmore. The Big Bounce, rev. ed. New York City: The Armchair Detective Library.

  58. Lewis, Michael. Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street. New York City: W.W. Norton & Co.

  59. Lincoln, Abraham. Speeches and Writings 1859-1865. Ed. Don E. Fehrenbacher. New York City: Library of America.

  60. Lowenstein, Steven M. Frankfurt on the Hudson: The German-Jewish Community of Washington Heights, 1933-1983, Its Structure and Culture. Detroit: Wayne State UP.

  61. Maggin, Donald L. Bankers, Builders, Knaves, and Thieves: The $300 Million Scam at ESM. Chicago: Contemporary Books.

  62. Mandelbaum, Howard, and Eric Myers. Forties Screen Style: A Celebration of High Pastiche in Hollywood. New York City: St. Martin’s Press.

  63. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy. New York City: Carroll & Graf Publishers.

  64. Martis, Kenneth C., Ruth Anderson Rowles, and Gyula Pauer. The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress 1789-1989. Ed. Martis. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Co.

  65. Mayle, Peter. A Year in Provence. London: Hamish Hamilton.

  66. McManus, Patrick F. The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. New York City: Henry Holt and Co.

  67. Michener, James A. Journey, rev. ed. New York City: Random House.

  68. Michener, James A., and John Kings. Six Days in Havana. Austin, Texas: U of Texas P.

  69. Milton Berle's Private Joke File: Over 10,000 of His Best Gags, Anecdotes, and One-Liners. Ed. Milt Rosen. New York City: Crown Publishers.

  70. Melman, Yossi and Dan Raviv. Behind the Uprising: Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians. New York City: Greenwood Press.

  71. Moldea, Dan E. Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football. New York City: William Morrow and Co.

  72. Neff, James. Mobbed Up: Jackie Presser’s High-Wire Life in the Teamsters, the Mafia, and the F.B.I. New York City: The Atlantic Monthly Press.

  73. Noonan, Peggy. What I Saw at the Reagan Revolution. New York City: Random House.

  74. North, Gary. The Hoax of Higher Criticism. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics.

  75. North, Gary. Marx’s Religion of Revolution: Regeneration Through Chaos, rev. ed. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics.

  76. North, Gary. Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism. Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics.

  77. O’Rourke, P.J. Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People, rev. ed. New York City: Morgan Entrekin/Atlantic Monthly Press.

  78. Oxford English Dictionary, rev. ed., Vol. I-XX. Ed. J.A. Simpson and F.S.C. Weiner. Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press.

  79. Parker, Robert B. Playmates. New York City: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

  80. Perloff, James. The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline, rev. ed. Appleton, Wis.: Western Islands.

  81. Perret, Geoffrey. A Country Made by War: From the Revolution to Vietnam – the Story of America’s Rise to Power. New York City: Random House.

  82. Pistone, Joseph D., and Richard Woodley. Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia, rev. ed. New York City: Signet.

  83. Proust, Marcel. À la Recherche du Temps Perdu: Vol. IV: Albertine Disparue/Le Temps Retrouvé, 2nd corr. ed. Ed. Jean-Yves Tadié. Paris: Gallimard. Trans. Peter Collier. In Search of Lost Time, Vol. V: The Prisoner. Ed. Christopher Prendergast. London: Allen Lane, 2002; Trans. The Fugitive; Trans. Ian Patterson. In Search of Lost Time, Vol. VI: Finding Time Again. Ed. Christopher Prendergast. London: Allen Lane, 2002.

  84. Raban, Jonathan. For Love & Money: A Writing Life, 1969-1989, rev. ed. New York City: Edward Burlingame Books/Harper & Row Publishers.

  85. Rand, Ayn [Alissa Rosenbaum O’Connor], Leonard Peikoff, and Peter Schwartz. The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought. New York City: New American Library.

  86. Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voice of Desperate Illumination 1558-Present. Ed. Bob Black and Adam Parfrey. New York City: Amok Press/Loompanics Unlimited.

  87. Rapp, Burt. Deep Cover: Police Intelligence Operations. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press.

  88. Rapp, Burt. Homicide Investigation: A Practical Handbook. Port Townsend, Wash.: Loompanics.

  89. Rayner, Richard. Los Angeles Without a Map. New York City: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

  90. Reagan, Ronald. Speaking My Mind: Selected Speeches. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  91. Regan, Donald T. For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington, rev. ed. New York City: St. Martin’s Press.

  92. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980. Ed. Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP.

  93. Rooney, Andrew A. Not That You Asked …. New York City: Random House.

  94. Royko, Mike. Dr. Kookie, You’re Right! New York City: E.P. Dutton.

  95. Schama, Simon. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf.

  96. Schneider, Norbert. Stilleben: Realität und Symbolik der Dinge: Die Stillebenmalerei der Frühen Neuzeit. Köln, F.R.G.: Benedikt Taschen. Trans. Hugh Beyer. The Art of the Still Life: Still Life Painting in the Early Modern Period. 1990.

  97. Sembach, Klaus-Jurgen, Gabriele Leuthäuser, and Peter Gössel. Möbeldesign des 20. Jahrhunderts. Köln, F.R.G.: Taschen. Trans. Irene Qaulie-Kersken. Twentieth-Century Furniture Design. 1990.

  98. Shannon, Elaine. Desperados: Latin Drug Lords, U.S. Lawmen, and the War America Can’t Win, rev. ed. New York City: Penguin Books.

  99. Sharon, Ariel [Ariel Scheinermann], and David Chanoff. Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon, rev. ed. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  100. Silverman, Chip. Diner Guys. New York City: Birch Lane Press.

  101. Skenazy, Paul. James M. Cain. New York City: Frederick Ungar/Continuum.

  102. Spillane, Mickey [Frank Morrison Spillane]. The Killing Man. New York City: E.P. Dutton.

  103. Sublett, Jesse. Rock Critic Murders. New York City: Viking.

  104. Thomas, Dana L. The Plungers and the Peacocks: 170 Years of Wall Street, rev. ed. New York City: William Morrow.

  105. Updike, John. Self-Consciousness: A Memoir. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf.

  106. Utley, Robert M. Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life. Lincoln, Neb.: U of Nebraska P.

  107. Vanderbilt, Arthur T. II. Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt. New York City: William Morrow and Co.

  108. Wallace, David Foster. Girl With Curious Hair. New York City: W.W. Norton & Co.

  109. Walther, Ingo F., and Rainer Metzger. Vincent van Gogh: Sämtliche Gemälde, Vol. I-II. Köln, F.R.G.:  Benedikt Taschen. Trans. Michael Hulse. Vincent Van Gogh: The Complete Paintings, Vol. I-II.

  110. West, Nigel. Games of Intelligence: The Classified Conflict of International Espionage. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

  111. White, Lawrence. Competition and Currency: Essays on Free Banking and Money. New York City: New York UP.

  112. Williams, Peter, and David Wallace. Unit 731: The Japanese Army’s Secret of Secrets. London: Hodder & Stoughton; Rpt. Unit 731: Japan’s Secret Biological Warfare in World War II. New York City: The Free Press.

  113. Williams, Walter E. South Africa's War Against Capitalism. New York City: Praeger.

  114. Wyden, Peter. Wall: The Inside Story of Divided Berlin. New York City: Simon and Schuster.

  115. Youngman, Henny. The Encyclopedia of One-Liners. Ed. Ed Shanaphy. Katonah, N.Y.: Ballymote Books.

  116. Zappa, Frank, and Peter Occhiogrosso. The Real Frank Zappa Book. New York City: Poseidon Press.

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