Saturday, November 22, 2003

Super Secret Update: The Iraqi National Library



You may recall the debates that raged shortly after our invasion of Iraq concerning the looting of the Museum and the destruction of the National Library. There was some discrepancy concerning what was stolen, what was destroyed and what was lost. It was estimated that as many as 30,000 pieces were looted form the museum, while some claimed that "only" 30 were stolen. As if "only" 30 were somehow better. Imagine of the Smithsonian Institute had "only" 30 pieces stolen from it. It was pretty quickly determined that no, in fact, 30,000 was an inaccurate estimate, however it was a lot closer to the mark than 30 pieces. Whichever way you slice it, large selections of archeological and cultural artifacts, all of them of an historical weight and heft, were missing. As for the Library, it was feared utterly destroyed.

However, I've just received an e-mail from Lynne, a friend who works at the Library of Congress:


We just had the Iraq report from our three person investigative team now returned from Baghdad. It was fascinating. In the National Library building, the books (stacks) were messy and neglected, but not burned. Looters mainly took computers and furniture.A very specialized force (from the Baath party) had infiltrated and incinerated all of the archives relating to Saddam's regime. Go figure.

There is a remarkable story of librarians saving the rarest and oldest, the Islamic archives. They moved 50,000 manuscripts from Saddam's House of Archives into a bomb shelter. They enlisted the neighborhood to help with security. Women would sit on balconies and ululate if strangers approached and the men guarded the facility at night. They were completely saved.

Most of the Ottoman records were stored in a basement full of leaking sewage. Those have been removed to freezers and about 20% were destroyed.?Not a fun cleanup project.

Two clerics removed quantities of modern archives (1920's-70's) and machinery to several mosques. Those items are now being returned. The new National Library of Iraq will be housed in the former Senior Officers Club. A large, opulent building full of marble and sculptures- a better use to be sure.


So it's good to see that someone was looking after the priceless historical treasures from the cradle of civilization. Notice, however that it wasn't George II, King of the Philistines or any of the Visirs in Washington but the Iraqi people. You know those backward folk who had to have Democracy foisted upon them at gunpoint. Of course these are the same people who left the Ministry of Oil building completely unguarded, forcing our brave soldiers to completely encircle it. Otherwise I'm sure they would have sent more than just one tank and two PFCs to guard the Museum and Library.

It's all about perspective.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Creating the Digital Peasant




If anyone had any vision in this godforsaken city, they'd order the main branch of the Free Library at 19th and Vine streets gutted. Pull up a fleet of dumpster trucks to the front and throw in all the passe books written by the long since dead and decayed--books that nobody looks at anyway.

Once loaded, the fusty tomes would be transported to Altoona or Erie or North Gipip--someplace where they could be stored for cheap.

No one's saying the books should be set on fire or anything. In fact, they ought to be made reasonably available to the two dozen or so contrarian throwbacks who still get their kicks opening up crusty volumes of outdated prose. Let's just get all them the hell out of harm's way so the building can be put to some real use.


No this isn't Adolph Hitler's cryogenically frozen head or even Captain Beaty from Fahrenheit 451. It's Tim Whitaker, writing in the Philadelphia Weekly. Mr. Whitaker seems to think that now that Amazon allows you to scan the text of books for free, that libraries (and librarians by association) are obsolete. Like a modern day Theodosius, he suggests gutting the Libraries of the Western World (starting with the venerable depository in Philadelphia), replacing books with iMacs and handing over the keys to IT people. That's right because IT people know where to find everything! They are the new Gods of this Brave New Digital World!

Let me say for the record that TimWhitaker is an idiot.

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone from IT? You'd get more sense out of a half rotten pumpkin. Here at the University of Maryland we have our own Office of Infernal Torment, staffed by the most socially degenerate and uncommunicative people this side of Tiger Ridge.

As he points out, Amazon has limited the search to 120, 000 books and then only excerpts. But surely that's enough to do any sort of research Tim can imagine, therefore it should be good enough for everyone!

Now I'm not poopooing the Amazon Free Search. As a Student Librarian, it's a great idea and very handy for finding some of those quotes in books that I'd otherwise have to order through Interlibrary Loan (poor Tim's head must surely implode at the notion of Librarians shipping whole books to one another, paper and all. You mean, no little ones and zeros zipping over a telephone wire?). But it's not the New World Order it's hyped in this article or by others who can't wait for the demise of the printed word. The Amazon Free Search is little more than what academic databases have had for years, the ability to search text of journal articles. And if you use ERIC or Worldcat you can even search the whole journal article not just excerpts, making this Amazon Free Search a second string resource, at best. If this is alitterate mankind's savior from the tyranny of print, I say good luck to you, bub. You'll need it.

As a secondary thought I'd like to address this creeping alitteracy that seems to be spreading like the plague through our country. I can't speak for Europeans, Mexicans or Canadians but in the Good Old US of A, half the population gets all of its Information from a handfull of networks owned and operated by Draconian Neocons who gleefully stifle dissent and smash Dixie Chic records by the bushelfull. If ever there was an argument for not just keeping the Libraries open but expanding them, it is this. Unless you like your peasants stupid AND poor. And what Dictator doesn't?


__________
I've just touched briefly on this matter here. Once the semester is finished and I have more free time I'll elaborate on this matter further.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Evil That is Kitty Porn



Over at Corrente, The Farmer warns us about the evils of kitty porn, or as he rightly calls it, feline exploitation curiosa.


I'm telling you, heed this admonishment, do not allow yourself to be lured by the fervent milksopian glow of feline exploitation curiosa dependence. Once you've got that kitty on your back theres no telling how far you will go to satisfy any slavish maudlin craving. You'll start out with one kitty cat, and the next thing you know you'll need another kitty cat, and another and another and yet another. Nothing will satisfy your hunger and pretty soon you'll have kitty cats dangling from the draperies and crawling out from under the French settee with carved mahogany swan heads and your head will fill with spectral yowlings and incorporeal ululations as if your home were bedeviled by a thousand ruttish ghouls haunting a heathered moor!


I must admit, I am a recovering addict.

Once I was just a lad who enjoyed the company of dogs, those trusty tride and true canine companions that have guarded us against the dreaded night and aided our hunting expeditions since time immemorable. But I strayed from the pack, as it were.

First it was a growing atatchment for my friends cats, then my wife and I aquired our own precious, Lucy. We hadn't intended on becoming feline exploitation curiosa producers. That happened gradually, as Lucy grew from a mere puff of fur with giant ears to a sleek and agile creature, capable of knocking down even the heaviest glass vases. A regular feline newton, this one. If you catch her at it, I swear you could see her calculating tragecteries, so that the vase or glass of tea hits the floor just right.

But you see how easy it is to get swayed into this dastardly underworld? Fisrt it seems harmless. But before long you have framed pictures of your own Lucy, sitting pretty in a rocking chair hanging from the walls, sitting on the book shelves. It's madness I tell you! madness!

I'm sick. Help me.

What's the Frequency, Bernie?



Bernie Goldberg was just on the Daily Show promoting his new book, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite which from what I gathered from his blathering, is about how Dan Rather lives in a Liberal bubble. Apparently Bernie thinks that Mr. Rather and the rest of the Big News Mannequins are insulated from the world and out of touch. While that may be true to an extent (what celebrity isn't insulated from the harsh realities of an existential world?) it hardly seems accurate to say that some of the most respected journalists in the world are collectively twiddling their thumbs and ignoring the real issues. The only person living in an insulated bubble seems to be Bernie "Darn that Liberal Media!" Goldberg. He told John Stewart that he's an Old Fashioned liberal, you know the kind who hasn't changed his ideas or expanded his domain of knowledge in thirty years and thus has become as entrenched in his beliefs as any conservative.

Pardon my snark but I'm a bit underwhelmed by all the talk of the Liberal Media. We live in an effective one party Conservative Dictatorship with a compliant media that is willing to sit on stories about Bush that, had they been about Clinton would have been front page headlines and garnered round the clock coverage, accompanied by the most rabid of howls from the Uber Powerful declaring an end to civilization as we know it. Hell they did do all of the above when all Clinton did was get a blowjob from someone not his wife. Meanwhile Bush has lied us into an illegal war, trashed our economy, turned our foreign policy into apathetic excuse for looting sovereign nations and generally undermined our civil liberties.

So, to the FBI agent assigned to read my Blog, I say excuse me if I don't take Bernie's ramblings about a Liberal Bias in the media seriously.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Monkey House Politics, Again



Over at Eschaton they're arguing about the economic pros and cons of Bush's recent bid to bribe American based Multinational Corporations to send British Jobs to the US, once again, proving that Bush never hesitates to lean our allies over the most convenient chair and bugger them silly, all the while shouting, "How's that for a stimulated economy, bitch! Yeah! I'm from Texas! My daddy baught me the Presidency when what I really wanted was a pony! Yehaw!" And so forth.

Also, Mustang Bobby discusses the Infamous Feith Memo which some Neocons are waving in the face of Liberal AntiWar skeptics saying, "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo! We were right and you were wrong!" Except that the memo is practically a shopping list of bad Intel, already debunked pipe dreams and hearsay. If this is the best "proof" they can give us, I'd hate to see their lies... Oh, wait... That's right the whole iraq debacle is based on one Big and several smaller but equally poisonous lies.

Meanwhile, Margaret Cho made us all a mix tape.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

President Bush Invades Visits England



It seems the Queen Mum was none to pleased at President Bush's request for additional security at Buckingham Palace and various other London environs.

Perhaps Queen Elizabeth took his requests, which included, "rebuilding part of the palace to blast-proof it and having a heavily armed Black Hawk helicopter hovering overhead," a bit personal. I guess she doesn't like it when foreign dignitaries insinuate that HER FRICKIN CASTLE isn't secure enough.


Britain has been placed on its second-highest state of alert, coded ``severe general''.


Which makes me wonder, why? They apparently haven't had any threats (other than the veiled ones that come from Bush and his staff every time they open their mouths) so what is with the heightened security? Maybe Bush was flipping through the channels one day and caught the tail end of the History Channel showing a documentary about the Blitz. It's OK, George, the Nazis haven't dropped any bombs on London recently. You don't need all the artillery, which includes:


    150 National Security Advisors
    250 Secret Service Agents
    200 representatives from other US Departments
    50 White House Political Aids
    15 sniffer dog teams
    Personal Chef and his team of 4 cooks
    two identical Boeing 747s
    Sikorsky Sea King helicopter
    The aforementioned Blackhawk
    And two identical motorcades of 20 armored vehicles, including limousine


And you thought your wife packed too much for that trip to London last spring.

The British public don't seem to happy about Bush or his numerous security requests, which include shutting down part of the Tube, creating "Free Speech Zones" (just like the ones he has back home, you know, so he doesn't get homesick)and roof-top snipers:


The You Gov survey found just seven per cent of people believed he was a good leader, while almost 40 per cent said he was ``stupid''.

*snip*

Up to 100,000 protesters are expected to converge on Trafalgar Square as the Queen and Prince Philip greet Bush at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.


Via Hesiod at Counterspin Central.

Number of the Beast



Most people know what 666 means. At least they think they do because it's been used in every mediocre horror movie of the last thirty years. Few people realize however what the numbers actually mean or that there is a whole area of esoteric study called Gematria that delves into the numerical relationships behind words.

Regular visitors to the Library may have noticed the little sign in the right hand column declaring that this site is certified 45% evil. The curious may have even clicked on the button and visited the Gematriculator, where you can have various blocks of text and even whole websites scanned for their content of good and evil. But how do they know? Well:


Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.

Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are absolutely correct.


The Gematriculator is based on the work of Ivan Penin, a russian Numerologist who notticed something interesting while studying the Bible:


In the original languages of the Bible, mostly Hebrew and Greek, there are no separate symbols for numbers, letters of the alphabet are also used to indicate numbers.

The numeric value of a word is the sum total of all its letters. It was curiosity that first caused Dr Panin to begin toying with the numbers behind the texts. Sequences and patterns began to emerge. These created such a stirring in the heart of the Russian that he dedicated 50 years of his life to painstakingly comb the pages of the Bible.


Gematria actually goes back much further than Mr. Penin, as there is lengthy debate about the various numerical relationships between words in a lot of Alchemical and Kabbalistic literature of the middle ages. Some of it is quite fascinating. For instance, there's the Kabbalistic Idea that all words that have the same numerical value are thus metaphysical synonyms, that in fact they are the same thing. This can get you into some thorny theological territory when you discover that the Hebrew word for Serpent has the same value as the Hebrew word, Messiah. This implies that the snake that offered the Fruit of Knowledge to Eve was Jesus in disguise, or the same metaphysical entity.

Some schools of Gnostic Christianity believe that Jesus and Christ were two separate beings, that Jesus was a man and Christ the Holy Spirit, who inhabited him for a time on Earth, which is why he could do all the miracles. Christ left Jesusí body while on the cross, right before the man, Jesus died leading many a Gnostic to believe that when Jesus asks, "Why have you forsaken Me?" that he isn't talking to God, but to the Christ Spirit. This further implies that Christ both instigated and redeemed the fall of Mankind.

So you can see what sort of wild theological notions this sort of numerology can inspire.

Now if youíre like me and donít put much stock in theological games, donít worry. Gematria ìworksî just as well with any text.

Some examples:


ìMother died today.î (First sentence from The stranger)= 1390 (1+3+9+0= 13); 43% evil, 57% good.

ìHe gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.î (Last paragraph from 1984) = 27040 (27040=13x13x160 2+7+0+4+0= 13); 97% evil, 3% good.

ìStately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on a mild morning air. he held the bowl aloft and intoned: Introibo ad altare Dei.î (First paragraph from Ulysses) = 2425 (2+4+2+5= 13); 53% evil, 47% good.


See what fun you can have with useless knowledge?

Friday, November 14, 2003

Taking The Queen's English Out Back for a Spanking



Margaret Cho responds to a letter from an audience member who was offended at her use of expletives at her show at the University of Texas in Dallas.


I understand that you may have a lot of anger built up inside about the world and what it has become. I even think it's a good idea to point these things out, poke fun at them and have a good laugh. I mean you're right; the Terminator is governor of California. But why add to the already vulgar world we live in? If you're so much against all these bad things why not make fun of them in a clean way? To me, you have less credibility when you use such offensive language. Many of the students that will one day make a difference and perhaps create a "revolution" for the better are not the ones that cuss and use vulgar language.


Yes, that's what is really wrong with the world today. It's not the infinite corruption infesting the White House, the dubious wars fought for God and oil or the disperate devide between the haves and the have nots, it's a commedian that decides to talk like a real person, instead of a fifties sit com character. The ghost of June Cleaver, inhabitting the body of an eighteen year old college student lamments, "But if only Miss Cho would keep it Family Friendly, then maybe all the world's problems would just shrivel up and blow away!" Right. And if Osama Bin Laden would only get himself baptized, there'd be no more terrorists. This disgusted Undergrad mentions how the offended had to cover their ears and quietly leave the auditorium. She goes on to say that there are even college students who don't know what the word "pussy" means. Margaret's response:


I appreciate your fucking righteous attitude and thank you for being so fucking honest. I really think that it is weird that pussy is something that kids don't know. What do they call the vagina then? Or would they rather pussy just didn't exist?


First off, I find it hard to believe that there is anyone outside of Amish country that doesn't know what the word "pussy" means in all its beautiful, nasty, and multipurpose connotations. I've been to Texas. They are some pussy loving motherfuckers down there. If you think a sailor's vocabulary could peel paint, you should go to Austin and get yourself educated in the art of the swear word. Now maybe out on the Farm in Poteet or New Brunfals this sheltered little Undergrad might not hear the Queen's English getting worked over like Jenna Jameson in a hot tub but she'd still have to hear that awful nasally twang.

And as a writer, no word is off limits. Words are our tools and sometimes you need a rusty screwdriver instead of a shiny little wrench. I've been all through this with my mother, who is a third grade school teacher and wishes my prose wouldn't conceal the occasional blinding rosy red fuck. Now certainly, Mom shouldn't tolerate a nine year old swaggering around spitting out "Goddamn!" and "Shit!" and "Suck my dick!", but for adults, especially ones who make a living (or dream one day of making a living) describing the world in purple prose, their can be no off limit words just because your grandmother or some sheltered nitwit in Texas with a pristine ear and unsullied mind might want to cover her ears and think about kittens whenever someone says the word "pussy."

Now, I generally do keep the cuss words to a minimum but not out of a desire to beautify the world with my hygienic prose. I'm more subversive than that. I keep the cussing to a minimum so that when I do whip out the four letter word, it shines like a lighthouse on the page, confronting the reader with all the preconceptions of that word and its context. But that's simply a stylistic choice, one I typically reserve for my longer works. Here on the blog though, it's a different story. I roll up my sleeves and get dirty from time to time. Fuck anyone who thinks it should be otherwise.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

You Didnít Just See That




For more than 30 years the Shortwave radio spectrum has been used by the worlds intelligence agencies to transmit secret messages. These messages are transmitted by hundreds of ìNumbers Stations.î


I didnít know this until a few months ago, when my wife brought me home a printed out PDF version of the Conet Project Book. Itís a fascinating concept, using a code based on a quantum algorithm that is unbreakable unless you know the specific number sheet being used. Because even if you sit down and crunch through all the possible combinations even in a known Number Code you end up with at minimum, two distinct answers. Just like Schrodingerís Cat. And each code is used only once and is unreplicable.

Perhaps this is too technical an idea to wrap your mind around. Maybe youíre sitting there reading this, saying to yourself, ìSpies using an old fangled unbreakable code, sounds like a Tom Clancy Novel.î

This is exactly my point.


Shortwave Numbers Stations are a perfect method of anonymous, one way communication. Spies located anywhere in the world can be communicated to by their masters via small, locally available, and unmodified Shortwave receivers. The encryption system used by Numbers Stations, known as a ìone time padî is unbreakable. Combine this with the fact that it is almost impossible to track down the message recipients once they are inserted into the enemy country, it becomes clear just how powerful the Numbers Station system is.


Various governments have been using this system of low frequency radio communication since the Cold War. Even today, in the age of digital broadband and supercomputer laptops, these Number Stations, which are only little more advanced than Marconi and Tesslaís own radio experiments, are still in use. Not only that, since the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War, use these Number Stations have not decreased. It has increased.

The most disturbing fact about Number Stations is that only one Government even admits to using them, The Czech Republic. Everyone else, from the US, to China, Russia, Britain and most mainland European nations does use them. But why do they use them? And why donít they admit to using them? In Great Britain, itís technically illegal to even listen to them, despite the fact that they broadcast on common low frequencies, audible to anybody with a shortwave radio.

Since the purpose of the Number Stations is unknown, we can only speculate as to just what sort of Information is being gathered and disseminated over them. And why have they become more used after the Cold War than during? I could screw on my tinfoil hat and speculate until the Moon turns to green cheese but it wouldnít get me closer to the truth (something Moulder should have realized around season five of the X-Files: the Mystery is always more intriguing than the truth, no matter how far out that truth really is).

My wife and I have been discussing this off and on for the last few months, as itís really a creepy and strange modern mystery (fans of Wilco will know what Iím talking about, as they sampled these eerie transmissions on their album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot).

Iíd like to think that it isnít part of the US Governmentís increasing stagger towards a Police State. That the mailman is really just listening to a walkman, not keeping an eye on me or anyone else. But then I read about the latest attempt by Bush to install his Total Information Awareness plan and I canít help but reach for the tinfoil.

Once, while driving along I 295 in Maryland with my uncle, who works for the National Security Agency, we passed the NSA campus. We happened to be on an elevated ramp and so had an unobstructed view of the rooftops of the compound. I spotted a strange antenna cluster protruding from the top of one building and pointed it out to my wife, as it resembled several pictured in the Conet Project Book.

My uncle looked at us both and said, ìYou didnít just see that.î

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

A Light Has Gone Out



Neal Pollack is quitting the blogosphere. I don't blame him, it's a tough thing to find something interesting and witty to say every single day. Dad after day, night after night... Who would want to put up with this tedium for longer than they have to?

But seriously, his blog was one of the ones that got me started on this wild thing called the internet and he'll be missed.

Via Atrios.

Monday, November 10, 2003

I've Been to East Molesey and No Sheep is truly Safe There



Neil Gaiman has the goods on the Prince Charles scandal. Maybe. It's a fascinating situation that the British libel and slander laws have created. Every reporter in England, plus their Shropshire Sheepdog knows what the Prince of Whales did or didn't do. But they can't say it outright. So they elude. Insinuate. Some might say, titillate?

From an Information Use perspective, this is a nightmare. How can anyone be expected to make any sort of meanignful reference the the events without obfuscating the known variables further? I certainly pity my counterparts in the British Library System. Is 'Naughty Prince' a Boolean descriptor in the Eric Thesaurus or would that be a Natural Language search?

The questions are endless.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I Really Am a Pinko Lefty Anarchist



Over at the Political Compass you can take a quick test to find out where you place on the Compass. At -7.50 x -7.08, I'm in the lower left quadrant, towards Collectivist Anarchist, a little south west of the Dhali Llama, which is about what I expected. What is interesting about this is that it adds an extra dimension to the usual Left vs. Right seesaw of politics, which I've always found a little too simplistic. The compass is by no means any more scientific or absolute than the old Left/Right hobbyhorse but as a descriptive metaphor it's far more accurate. Take it yourself and find out where you place.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Where Fancy is Bred




So I came to the conclusion some time ago that imagination and reason were two powers that didn't always agree, and that the one who had sovereignty was the imagination. There's nothing democratic about what goes on in this business. Everything about the act of writing fiction is an exercise of absolute and despotic power. There's no point in deploring this, or wishing it were all nicer and kinder, or gentle and caring and inclusive. It's a tyranny, and that's that.

However, none of this is to say that we have to abandon every other faculty just because we've ceded dominance to one. In fact, we mustn't. If we don't bring everything we have to the task of writing a story, there's a psychological cost: we feel that it's a fundamentally trivial and worthless occupation, and we despise ourselves for wasting our efforts on something so contemptible.

Reason, memory, emotional experience, whatever we know of social and political truth, the craftsmanship we have slowly and laboriously acquired ó all these things must come into play. Only then is the task worth doing. But these faculties must work under direction; there's no discussion, and there are no votes. They must behave like the devoted subjects of a tyrant, and dedicate their utmost efforts to serving their ruler.


ñPhilip Pullman, on why he doesn't believe in ghosts but writes about them anyway (in a metaphorical sort of way, at least).

He makes a valid point: that when you're writing a story, you can't be a reasonable person, in regards to the story or the characters. Reason is great but Imagination is the tyrant that rules the world of fictionand if you try to depose that Sweet Benevolent Dictator, you end up with a pointless republic od mishmash that no one wants to read, no matter how "realistic".

I've had a long and ongoing war with "realism" for many years. It all stems from the fact that the people who call themselves Serious Literary Realists (I'm looking at You, Franzen!) usually write the most boring, unimaginative fiction, stories that seem to have no inspiration from dreams or whimsy or the Divine (What William Blake called the Imagination). It's all dreary nerosis, dressed up in a witty necktie for the Status Quo Ball.

As a result, I read (and write) in that vague area where the tone is overall rather naturalistic but I feel no need to restrain myself from tossing in the occasional wolf-headed baby or demonic doll, just to see what the characters will do with it. Apparently this sort of writing is defined as Slipstream but don't ask me for a definition. I've yet to find one that didn't resort to defining itself by what it is not. lets just call it Strange Fiction (ala H.P> Lovecraft) and leave it at that.