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Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@ Jason R.,

"how do you distinguish totalitarian societies from garden-variety autocracy?"

I've never considered that question specifically, but I imagine it would be a combination of culture and structure. Autocracy seems to revolve around one or few people making all the decisions. So a tribal culture with a king 10,000 years ago would be autocratic. But to be totalitarian that culture would also have to incorporate the belief that the individual's primary duty is to serve the state. While modern retrospectives tend to view any autocratic government as being ipso facto a tyranny, in fact I suspect that many historic cultures were both autocratic but also dispersed in terms of its values. For example, a feudal England had a king but also places high value on the rights and individual powers of the local lords and dukes, who - while subject to the king - were not mere slaves but had a significant dignity and authority of their own. The feudal system worked on the spreading out of honor and a decentralized governance, even while the king was overall sovereign. Autocratic after a fashion, but not totalitarian by any means. The Roman Empire is probably another example of an autocracy in which the individual was by no means understood to be a mere vassal of the ruler or ruling party. The plebs, maybe, but the patricians had more standing than that. For a third example, I just read Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the WWI-era Arabs seem to be very much an individualistic society (so not totalitarian) but they did have a king; therefore autocratic. They, too, had a dispersed power arrangement.

By contrast, the USSR seemed to place little to no value on any human life, and even though Party members had exclusive rights and privileges, they too could vanish if they stepped out of line; and this is probably even true of those right at the top. I've not versed enough in the minutiae to be able to argue whether even the ruler himself was afraid of stepping out of line, but my guess would be yes. So from this perspective the Soviets were utterly totalitarian, but depending on how you look at it maybe not so autocratic. Could the chief really just do anything he wanted, or was he tightly reigned in by the mob around him? Perhaps you could call that an oligarchy, but once we go down that road many cultures that have oligarchic elements could just as soon be said to have autocratic 'flavor'. But I think the sense in which you're using the term implies a clear individual or circle at the top exercising clear and absolute power (like in North Korea). And I would say that China falls under that category. But now I have to admit that I'm not familiar enough with the Chinese government structure to say more. Maybe they are both autocratic (the rulers(s) can do anything with impunity) and totalitarian (the culture and power structure place the individual as completely subservient to the state).

There's a moral, or perhaps philosophical element to this as well, which is that totalitarianism not only involves the populace being subject to the state, but like in 1984, the morality actually stating outright that this is their function. Contrast with certain types of autocracy, such as let's say Vikings or maybe the Mongols under the Khans, where while there was an absolute ruler (the best warrior, perhaps) but where the individuals were really in charge of themselves and vital in serving their own interests. The Klingons are similar to this, maybe. In this kind of culture the morality of following the absolute leader necessitates that he's the greatest of them, is above them in power, but still has to prove his worth time and again. And the public morality in this kind of culture seems to involve some kind of guarantee that the individuals will profit or at least gain honor from participating in the ruler's demands, but that they will probably depose him if he is weak or starts disregarding the spoils due the warriors that go into combat. It's not just a governance thing I'm trying to point out, but the actual morality that you're only fit to be ruler if you are XYZ, win us battles, get us booty, etc. This is certainly autocratic in terms of power structure but more or less the opposite of totalitarian.

I could list many other examples of divergence between autocracy and totalitarianism, but I should probably stop...
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Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Maybe it's wrong-headed to define totalitarian in terms of being a monstrous tyranny that wreaks havoc on the populous. I think the term in its basic sense means a society where the priority of health is on the society, government, or state, rather than on the individual. This can probably include states where the individual's well-being (and rights) are merely secondary to that of the state, or in fact are totally irrelevant. We could get into whether the rights of individuals being irrelevant can even possibly result is a stable society, but putting that aside the chief feature of totalitarianism seems to be that the totality (however it's seen) is the chief sovereignty. Contrast with a democracy, where the sovereignty of the individual is inalienable and (according to that philosophy) is subservient to no one without consent.

To the extent that China's society allows for government to exercise any means it deems fit to establish control; that individuals would have no say or recourse if the government acted against them personally (like if you were disappeared or arrested); and that even morally the general ethic is geared up towards the collective rather than the individual vis a vis one's duties and allegiances; so from this standpoint I have no trouble suggesting that China is totalitarian in the most meaningful sense of the term. That doesn't need to mean it's a brutal tyranny burning fields and disallowing commerce. Even Nazi Germany was still a commerce-oriented society, and from the perspective of a well-off German they probably would have felt that it was a pretty free country in terms of what they could choose to do with their day (so long as that didn't include criticizing the state or helping 'dissidents'). There's a big difference between that, and between the sort of tyranny where really no one is allowed to have anything and you can expect a pogrom to come any day for basically no reason.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Jason R.

Your hope is misplaced.

The only reason these "true believers" exist in such numbers is that there's an efficient system of propaganda that generates them and fuels their fire. The vast majority of them were ordinary people just a couple of years ago. And when the current craziness ends (which *will* happen eventually) they will drop their fanaticism just as easily as they adopted it.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Booming
"As an adage, only Stalinist Russia and Maoist China were totalitarian, everything after that was/is just good old autocracy."

Are you seriously claiming that present China is not totalitarian? Come on now...

"Being a socialist I'm against people accumulating riches in general but, for different reasons, I'm also against extreme riches because of the danger they pose to a democratic society. In the end money is just power and the rich are getting richer."

I'd like to remind you that historically, this so-called "solution to inequality" never worked. You take away the "money = power" equation and something else will fill its place. In the end, the powerful just become more powerful, and those who used to be "poor" become even more oppressed.

In short:

Money itself isn't the problem. The real problem is twofold:

(1) There are almost no balances that keep the super-powerful from abusing their power.

(2) Our society currently rewards people based on how well they manipulate others, rather than on their actual contributions. This is true both for monetary wealth and political power. The way our society is currently structured, it is virtually *guaranteed* that all the worst scumbags will float to the top.

It is these two things that need to change, whether by official legislation or by changing social norms. And limiting the accumulation of material wealth isn't going to get us any closer to these goals.
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Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

Putting aside that the TOS Romulans were given Roman titles and an aristocratic bearing, I'd say the Dominion is most like the Roman Empire. They conquer regions that are sometimes allowed to self-govern within parameters, the legions come in when there's a problem, and the leaders are declared to be gods. Although to be fair, this was probably not uncommon, since afaik the Persians for example also deified their leaders.
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Tom
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

So all the established species in Trek had real-life analogues then? So what were the Cardassians? The Ferengi? Borg?
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, May 12, 2021, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Dave in MN

"What's worse is using a cloak of utilitarianism to mask the true intentions to socially engineer a race-based utopia."

The "race-based" utopia thing is - in itself - another mask.

The actual intention here is to simply make the powerful more powerful. The tech and media giants couldn't care less about race. What they are aiming is to socially engineer a world in which they have absolute power.

To reach this goal, they need to build some kind of "us vs them" narrative. It's Propaganda 101. Dictators throughout history always used this trick, and for a good reason: It works. Indeed, it achieves many different goals at the same time:

(1) It provides an excuse for silencing and/or persecuting any individual or group.
(2) It creates an atmosphere where people are discouraged to think for themselves.
(3) By focusing on various "us vs them" issues (racism, religion vs science, left vs right) the masses are distracted from far greater dangers. Like the very fact that these megacorporations are in the process of taking over the world and creating an Orwellian nightmare for all of us.

So basically, the BLM/PC-culture thing is just a convenient excuse to further divide the population. And of-course, as Booming said, this specific agenda also has the added bonus of making these tyrants feel like heroes.

@Booming
"Religious institutions were fighting the worker movement and for the rich long before Marx wrote Das Kapital."

Classical religious institutions have far more in common with Soviet Russia or Communist China than either side would be willing to admit. The problem in both cases is not the core values, but the absolute power they have over their populations.

As the famous Trek maxim goes: "Absolute Power corrupts absolutely".

At any rate, this doesn't contradict Dave's point about why totalitarian regimes stamp out religions. Let me rephrase his statement in more general terms:

"I think you'd have to be nihilistic to decide that the best course of action is to consolidate and increase governmental power while eroding/ eliminating the rights of individuals.

If there's no reason behind anything, then any action is justified. That's why totalitarian regimes discourage individuals and groups from believing in an absolute source of morality (with the exception of the state)"

This is why communist regimes fear religion as well as any form of spirituality.

This is why theocracies fear competing religious view points.

And this is why the ability to think critically and independently is deemed as dangerous in both.
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Tidd
Wed, May 12, 2021, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Whom Gods Destroy

ANOTHER episode I swear I haven't seen before! (Like "Plato's Stepchildren" and "The Empath"). So I did some research and came up with an incredible fact:

The BBC banned four episodes of TOS and didn't show them for decades. The three I listed above, plus 1 other. So having watched TOS on the BBC since the early re-runs of the early 70s, and through the 80s, I never got to see those episodes, and never even knew they existed. The BBC used the excuse that these particular episodes contained themes (cruelty, torture, insanity) that were not suitable for the 'childrens show' they considered Trek to be. Even Roddenberry was roped in to trying to get the Beeb to change their mind, to no avail.

Anyway, to this one... I wasn't that impressed, though there were some good 'Journey To Babel' aliens, and the roles of Garth and Marta were well acted. I rather easily guessed that the appearance of Spock with phaser was the shapeshifter Garth, and the torture scenes in the chair were somewhat pathetic. I did like Spock's careful judgement of which Kirk was the 'wrong one' at the end.

The 'Queen to Queen's rank 4' gambit was admirably clever, but - with all due respects to the plot needs - it was poorly thought out. There should have been at least three responses:

'King to Queen's rank 1' (or whatever it was): "All is well, beam us up"
'Knight to Rook's rank 3': "Give a reassuring response but do NOT beam us up - stand by for further instruction"
'Rook to Rook's rank 5': "We are in danger! Intervene but do not endanger the ship"

2 stars only
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Peter G.
Wed, May 12, 2021, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

"The rich people living in gated communities in California are Marxists."

It's probably more accurate to say that the rich people living in gated communities are often amoral in regard to how money is made, and pandering to a social movement of any stripe would be acceptable if it brought in the bottom line. That the far-left BLM movement is in vogue in powerful circles seems to me to make it obvious that people will try to cash in on that. It doesn't make them Marxists; quite the opposite, in fact, since they are the very type of people co-opting public discourse for personal benefit.

That being said:

"Nihilism and Marxism are completely incompatible"

I think Rahul's point is perhaps less that Marxism is put forward as a kind of nihilism, but rather that on a psychological level the same motive spurring people on to Marxist paradigms can also lead to a nihilistic outlook; or perhaps that too long spent in a headspace of resentment will lead to a decline in the positive energies of life, which is perhaps equivalent to becoming nihilistic. At any rate, I don't think Rahul was suggestion that nihilism is some sort of philosophy spelled out through Marxist. That indeed wouldn't make any sense.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, May 12, 2021, 3:02am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@EventualZen
"I agree that Discovery and Picard mostly don't feel like classic trek, but wasn't trek always left-leaning? Even in TOS the crew were diverse and there were moral messages about racism, sexism, and war. I mean it was always preachy. "

The difference is that Old Trek preached for timeless progressive values which transcend present day politics. Advocating diversity and preaching against racism does not have to be a political thing, you know. In Classic Trek it usually wasn't.

Nu Trek, on the other hand, is seldom interested in values or morals of any kind. It is too busy conforming to the present day political expectations and playing it safe. Its view on (say) diversity is no different (for good and for ill) then any other TV show. And it never EVER challenges the status quo or poses difficult questions about the society we live in.

See the difference?

@Booming
"They kind of did that in the movies already."

i don't recall anything of the sort. Can you elaborate a bit more?
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EventualZen
Tue, May 11, 2021, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Scorpion, Part I

@Silly
>I shudder to think of the reputation Voyager left behind in the Delta Quadrant. I would expect it so bad that most of quietly created an anti-Federation alliance.

Watch the Voyager episode “Living Witness”, it shows a future Delta Quadrant species who think voyager was a warship.

@15:30 Janeway orders the ship towards the defeated Borg ships at only warp 2, why so slow? I look past this issue in early TOS because the show was still finding it's footing but this is Voyager.

Chakotay points out that they would be helping the Borg assimilate another species just so Voyager can get home which he finds morally wrong. I thought that was a really good point. Is this Janeway's equivalent of Sisko poisoning a planet or deceptively dragging the Romulans in to the Dominion war?

Seven says she was assimilated 18 years ago. I thought the Federation hadn't met the Borg that long ago?

Over all score: 8/10.
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EventualZen
Tue, May 11, 2021, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Rahul
>I can completely understand why those who love classic Trek are saying DSC, PIC aren't Trek anymore. And I agree with them -- these idiotic writers don't appreciate the ethos of classic Trek that gave hope and earned the love and support of generations of fans. Now they are more interested in turning Trek into something like Marvel action hero movies and pushing a hyper-progressive, left-leaning agenda.

I agree that Discovery and Picard mostly don't feel like classic trek, but wasn't trek always left-leaning? Even in TOS the crew were diverse and there were moral messages about racism, sexism, and war. I mean it was always preachy.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, May 11, 2021, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Dave in MN
"I prefer to focus on the positive: the Orville Season 3 will be premeiring later this summer."

I heard it was more like December. Where did you see "later this summer"?
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, May 11, 2021, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Rahul
"But I hang in there b/c once in a while they do get it right with a somewhat standalone episode that is truly excellent. For example, I really appreciated 'Nepenthe' -- was wonderful to watch. And with DSC, 'Forget Me Not' was outstanding in a number of respects."

Why is it an all-or-nothing proposition?

Reminds me of the drop in quality in the later seasons of Futurama. It has some wonderful gems but there's no way I'll slog through an entire season just to enjoy them.

@Nolan
"Why do you think so many are simply saying "This isn't Star Trek!"? It's to save ourselves from this slushpile of misery."

Isn't it the other way around?

Are you saying "this isn't Star Trek" as a mere excuse to avoid things like Icheb's eye being graphically gouged out? Or does watching Icheb's eye being graphically gouged out makes you realise "How the **** can anybody call this cr*p 'Star Trek'"?

Apparently CBS has taken Rule of Acquisition #239 to heart: "Never be afraid to mislabel a product".

"I quit after Picard. I couldn't take watching the broad ideals I value in Trek being nose-dived by these clueless writers."

Not just nose-dived, but - way too often - actively mocked.

What they did to the character of Picard is simply unforgivable. PIC was a never-ending fest of direct mockery: Mockery of both the legacy of TNG itself, and of the iconic character of Jean Luc Picard.

"I still have to deal with people talking about the new shows favorably on social media, and keep an eye on the news and review sites to see what aspect of the franchise they aim to butcher, ruin and rot next, (it's Q, btw) and get frusterated by that"

I've honestly stopped caring at this point. Since none of it is "Real Star Trek" anyway, why bother?

I'm simply curious with morbid fascination: what in the name of devil are they going to do this time? How low could they go? After the sheer offensiveness that was PIC, could they sink any lower?
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Crobert
Tue, May 11, 2021, 3:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Qpid

Vash is an annoying Irene Adler ripoff.

I can handle goofy Robinhood stuff just fine, but I don't buy her as a character let alone a Picard love interest.
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Crobert
Tue, May 11, 2021, 3:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Nth Degree

I don't like episodes that should result in giant technological leaps forward but instead just end with credits and the show goes back to its normal routine.

It was fun seeing Barclay become a badass but it's always funny to me that after all this he apparently just goes back to being a nervous wreck engineer on Geordi's team. You'd think that Starfleet would have wanted to study him to see what else they could learn.
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Shrantastic
Tue, May 11, 2021, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Marauders

I agree it's not a 4 or even 3 star episode; I give it 2 1/2. But one thing I got out of watching this episode again, an episode I like, was when Archer told Tessic that when the Enterprise mission started, he planned to meet people like those in the mining colony, but after fighting the Suliban thought that wasn't what he signed up for, that he originally thought he'd be mapping star clusters or making first contact, but then realized he had to fight back.

Simply put, life changes, and we must adapt. And like Picard said in First Contact, thus far and no further....the line must be drawn here...you can't keep letting someone bully you. These things still needs portrayal, and think of the new Trek fans watching and realizing these things for the first time.
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Tidd
Tue, May 11, 2021, 2:21am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Elaan of Troyius

Wow, not many seem to have “got” the Helen of Troy analogy - kudos to Peter G, and to Steve!
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Tidd
Tue, May 11, 2021, 2:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Elaan of Troyius

I don’t read comments until I have written my own review so I am guessing that most others have seen the obvious Trojan War nomenclature: Helen of Troy and their war against Hellas (Elas) ie Greece. Someone at Paramount loves their Classical analogies. Let me get these out of the way then:

- the face that launched a thousand starships
- at least they obeyed the Priam Directive
- “I’m a doctor Jim, not Achilles “

(I’ll get me coat!)

A fairly good but not great episode, with some echoes of Journey To Babel: one imaginative alien, a diplomatic mission, Klingon involvement with a ‘shadowing’ starship initially beyond sensor range...

But a single line of dialogue shows the troubled nature of this episode:

KIRK: (to Spock): On Vulcan the women are governed by logic. That’s the only planet in the galaxy where that’s the case.

And of course, who in the crew is infected by Elaan’s (Helen’s) tears? Why, our very own lothario, James T. Aaaaargh. The spanking dialogue was beyond kinky!

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the episode on several fronts: Elaan being taught manners, the despair of the Trojan (sorry, Troyian) ambassador, the stranding of the Enterprise without power during a Klingon attack.. it wasn’t too shabby.

I’d give it 2.5 stars.
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Tom
Mon, May 10, 2021, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Sixth Season Recap

Is it just me, or does anyone else think the composer of season 6 and 7 makes some episodes almost unwatchable with a terrible score? I absolutely hate it. I can't fully articulate it, but it's mostly in the non dramatic scenes. I'd just be curious if anyone else noticed a difference in the later seasons.
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Frake's Nightmare
Mon, May 10, 2021, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Kir'Shara

So Emperor Palpatine is actually Darth Sidious ???? Sorry must have been watching something else. Can't think why I said that.
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Tidd
Mon, May 10, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Empath

It's weird. I'd swear blind that I've seen every TOS episode at least twice before this Netflix binge, yet I have NO memories of this one whatever. Did they omit it from the UK re-runs of TOS? At any rate, this review will be as if seeing it for the first time, which to all intents and purposes it is.

Let me say of this "Marmite" episode , that I loved it. Low budget sets? Sure, but that lent it a claustrophobic intensity which helped the story rather than hinder it. No big action scenes? Maybe not, but it wasn't that sort of episode , and for me, it didn't flag.

In that it concentrated on empathy, passion, and the will to survive, this was a kind of theatrical mini-play which makes a great change from the average sort of TOS episode .

Details: like William B I wasn't sure if Hays' mute emoting was good or bad of its kind. I liked the idea, but like Jimmy, I found the musical score was intrusive and of an overly sentimental 'Hollywood 40s romance' nature that really didn't help what she was trying to convey. I did like the character, and breathed a sigh of relief that Kirk just ended up holding her hand (if she was an empath though, surely she would have pulled away!)

And like Jimmy, I thought the name Gem was unnecessary. For one thing, it was too like 'Jim', for another I don't see why the Vaians would also have used it, and finally I don't think she needed a name, and wouldn't have been given oone if made nowadays.

On the whole though, I agree with Jammers' rating 3.5 stars, and I thought it was a high quality piece of theatre and made a good change for Star Trek. And the aliens were better than so often in TOS - convincingly different, and their cruelty amounted to an experiment conducted for noble altruistic purposes (discuss and comment...) .. but did anyone else think that one of them sounded unnervingly like DeForest Kelly?
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Tomalak
Mon, May 10, 2021, 7:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Price

I think you'll have to explain that one! Obvs the viewer is meant to root for Riker but in what way was Ral a sex pest??
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Crobert
Mon, May 10, 2021, 5:58am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

The most remarkable thing about this episode is how the writers almost certainly never envisioned how it would suddenly become relevant with the advent of deepfakes and how famous people must feel about their likeness being used for AI-generated porn that is more and more indistinguishable from reality.

I liked a lot about how they developed the Brahms and Geordi relationship, it felt mostly realistic which is high praise considering how most of the single-episode relationships go down in TNG.
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Crobert
Mon, May 10, 2021, 5:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

I found this episode tedious and goofy. There was never a moment where we thought Arda was really the devil and I don't think we were ever supposed to. So it just became a question of 'how is Arda running this scam' and the answer wasn't particularly clever.
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