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Melatonin, screen media, light and sexuality

Melatonin is a very important hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain (the seat of the soul, according to Descartes).  Since melatonin controls nearly every other hormone produced by the body, it is often defined as the master hormone.

Melatonin is involved in many physiological functions and has varied therapeutic applications: It acts as a neuroprotective; improves headache, bipolar disorders and ADHD symptoms; protects against Alzheimer’s disease; offers antioxidant properties; strengthens memory; improves cancer survival; protects from radiation; improves autism, and much more.

A 2012 study on obesity and diabets concludes that “epidemiological studies link short sleep duration and circadian disruption with higher risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes” and “prolonged sleep restriction with concurrent circadian disruption alters metabolism and could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.” (Buxton, 2012).

The popular use of melatonin supplements is for jet-lag symptoms, promoting sleep. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in darkness; thus, production takes place at night and is more pronounced in winter than in summer.

Being continually exposed to screen media and the light associated with it makes our brains believe it is still daytime.  Being exposed to such light during nighttime can disturb sleep patterns and trigger insomnia. While modern civilization has always used artificial light, the introduction of light-emitting laptops, tablet computers and smartphones created what Mercola (2011) defines on his website as “a state of permanent jet-lag.”  The light emitted by gadgets is much closer to us than ambient lights, which makes their melatonin-inhibiting action stronger.

Also, the type of light the screens emit makes a difference: Screen media mostly emit blue light, covering only a portion of the visible spectrum.  Our eyes are especially sensitive to blue light because it is the type of light normally found outdoors.  That way, gadgets can stop the production of melatonin needed for sleeping and for other health functions.  Among other risks, prolonged exposure to light can increase the risk of cancer.

Melatonin is also essential for healthy brain function, being one of the main endogenous brain antioxidants protecting the brain from free radicals.  Furthermore, there are connections between melatonin production and cognitive capabilities. Technology use, other than subtly affecting our psyches, has a direct physiological impact on our bodies, which, in turn, leads to changes in our inner attitudes.

Melatonin also has a strong connection with sexuality and sexual hormones. When melatonin levels rise in the body, usually in winter, testosterone levels drop, reducing sexual desire and frequency of mating.  For females, estrogen is also reduced. Just before puberty, melatonin levels drop suddenly by 75%, giving strong hints about the involvement of the hormone in the onset of puberty.

The last couple of decades saw a significant growth of precocious puberty, which, considering the concomitant massive use of screen media (video games, computers, Internet) by kids, can lead us to wonder whether there is a correlation between melatonin-inhibition by screen light and hormonal changes triggering early puberty.

Melatonin levels are inversely proportional to sexual desire and to the levels of sexual hormones.  Less melatonin, as when the production is inhibited by natural or screen light, increases sexual desire.  That’s probably good news for porn producers.

References

Mercola, F. (2011, January 10). The “sleep mistake” which boosts your risk of cancer.

Buxton, O.M., S. W. Cain, S. P. O’Connor, J. H. Porter, J. F. Duffy, W. Wang, C. A. Czeisler, S. A. Shea, Adverse Metabolic Consequences in Humans of Prolonged Sleep Restriction Combined with Circadian Disruption. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 129ra43 (2012).

See also:

Close, Closer, Closest to the Screen

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Personal orgasm

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Many human activities began as social ones and were shared and with time got transformed into individual and personal ones. This happened especially with the media and technologies. Two examples: transportation, where cars (which are mostly used as a means of personal transportation) imposed themselves on other forms of travel; and the media, where TV, for instance, started being viewed collectively, went on to a TV set for every family, then to one for every single member of the family.

At the root of this there are obvious commercial reasons: the more a product becomes invidividual the more the sales. But this is not the only reason. Commercial needs are coemergent with psychic transformation – the one affects the other. The tendency toward individuality also develops in areas which were “traditionally planned” to be shared.

One of those is sexuality.  Masturbation is an evergreen activity, but it hasn’t always been accepted historically. It has been condemned for a long time, mostly through religious rulings, even scaring boys that it would make them blind. Even though masturbation is still not socially accepted in many parts of the world, especially for women, during the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s women established a more direct and aware relationship with their bodies, which included the right to masturbate withour guilt feelings.

But then, as anything which starts as counterculture and a spontaneous social movement, once it becomes somewhat accepted in the mainstream, it then becomes part of the economy, which makes products out of it.

Masturbation is expanding. Among the reasons is the AIDS emergency which produces suspicion compared to the “golden years” of free love; another one is the fast growth of singles and in general of short-term relationships.

Thus a big market is being opened, a market made of objects, porn, sex toys of the more variegate kinds, even remote-controlled and technologically complex sex machines, the Rolls Royce of sex toys. This phenomenon can be creative, fun, and liberating, but at the same time marks an anthropological transformation.

At first glance it seems that sex is becoming technological, but actually it is technology which in the process of digitalization of reality is assimilating human activities more and more. Social life is moving in a digital realm through social networks, the search of a partner and sexual meetings through the dating sites sites, and human biology is seen as a long list of DNA codes.

Becoming part of the big hotchpotch of technology, sex in turn is becoming “personal” and “at click range,” where pleasure, according to what technology offers, has to be immediate, personalized, with various options and, of course, efficient: a guaranteed and quick orgasm. A long wait for orgasm would be as annoying as waiting for a website with a slow Internet connection.

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Molte attività umane sono iniziate come sociali e condivise e nel tempo si sono trasformate in individuali e personali. Questo è avvenuto in particolare per i media e le tecnologie. Due esempi per tutti: il trasporto, dove l’automobile si è imposta sulle altre forme di trasporto ed è perlopiù utlizzata come forma di trasporto personale, e i media, dove ad esempio la televisione, iniziata in forma di visione collettiva, è passata ad una televisione per ogni famiglia e poi ad una per ogni componente del nucleo familiare.

Alla base di questo vi sono ovviamente ragioni commerciali per le quali più un prodotto diviene individuale maggiori sono le vendite, ma non è la sola ragione. Le necessità commerciali sono coemergenti con la trasformazione della psiche, l’una influenza l’altra. La tendenza verso l’individualità si sviluppa anche su aree che erano “tradizionalmente progettati” per la condivisione.

Una di queste è la sessualità. La masturbazione è un’attività sempreverde ma non è sempre stata accettata nella storia. Perlopiù tramite dettami religiosi, è stata condannata per lungo tempo, fino al punto di terrorizzare i ragazzi dicendo loro che sarebbero diventati ciechi. Anche se in molte parti del mondo la masturbazione non è tutt’ora accettata socialmente, in particolare per le donne, durante la cosiddetta rivoluzione sessuale degli anni ’60 e ’70 le donne hanno instaurato una relazione più diretta e consapevole con i loro corpi, includendo in questa il diritto a masturbarsi senza sensi di colpa.

Ma poi, come qualsiasi cosa che inizia come controcultura a partire da un movimento sociale spontaneo, nel momento in cui diventa un minimo accettata, entra come parte dell’economia e vengono creati dei prodotti al riguardo.

Ecco che si apre allora tutto un mercato fatto di oggetti, pornografia, sex toys delle specie più variegate, anche con il controllo remoto via Internet da parte del partner, e sex machines ingegneristicamente complesse, le Rolls Royce dei sex toys. Il fenomeno può risultare creativo, divertente e liberatorio, ma allo stesso tempo segna una trasformazione antropologica.

A prima vista sembra che il sesso stia diventando tecnologico, ma in realtà è la tecnologia che nel suo processo di digitalizzazione della realtà sta assorbendo sempre più  attività umane. La vita sociale si sposta in un ambito digitale con i social networks, la ricerca del partner e degli incontri sessuali sui siti appositi, e la biologia umana viene vista come una lunga lista di codici DNA.

Diventando parte del gran calderone della tecnologia, il sesso a sua volta si sta rendendo “personal” e “a portata di clic”, dove il piacere, secondo le offerte della tecnologia, dev’essere immediato, personalizzato, con opzioni variegate e naturalmente, efficiente: l’orgasmo deve essere garantito e veloce. Una lunga attesa per l’orgasmo diventerebbe fastidiosa quanto l’attesa di un sito web con una lenta connessione ad Internet.

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Cybervirgins

The tendency of spreading sex has been adopted by many magazines of large circulation and by other media such as TV and Internet news sites. Magazines with large circulation have a well-defined and advertised section of “tips, tricks and secrets” concerning sex. It reminds me of the time when I was publishing computer science books where the tricks of using the software were revealed.

Apart from the fact that communication about sex has become technicized, giving space for tricks and the advice of “experts,” perhaps for exorcising the intense and inner engaging nature of sexuality, it remains a fact that sexual messages are present in a pervasive way in every media. It seems that the world is like a global “Sex and the City” set, made of free and varied sexual meetings. If this can be true in some areas of the world, the planetary diffusion of sexual messages culturally does not find much similarity worldwide. The reality is that at least two-thirds of the world lives in a rather restrictive, traditional, and sometimes even very repressive culture regarding sex.

The massive process of worldwide urbanization caused the appearance of a growing number of singles not only in the West but even in every emerging country, especially in Asia and the Middle East. In Shanghai, Delhi, Seoul, Bangkok, Dubai, Manila or Jakarta, the growing class of office employees is formed mainly of women, connected to the Internet.

They often live alone or with female roommates, are members of Internet social networks and dating sites, like Western women. During breaks at work they chat and a growing percentage connects to the Net from home also. This seems to be the lifestyle of many women in the West, but there is a fundamental difference: they live in a traditional society as far as sexual roles are concerned. Even though some countries, like Thailand, are well-known for their hot night life, the majority of people follow very traditional behavior and lifestyles.

As a contrast to their upbringing, a culture without filters can sneak through their computer screen (which has almost nothing to do with tradition) of virtual meetings, erotic chats and porno sites, sometimes extreme ones. The ease of getting in contact with anyone through dating sites is a great difference between ordinary reality and what one lives online on the screen. The gap between traditional culture and the online becomes more and more wide because the culture of a whole country evolves more slowly compared to the speed of technological and online transformation. A great dichotomy is being created between the way one should be and appear in a certain manner according to the requirements of traditional culture and what the Net offers.

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Questions about the media

escher-another-world[en]

Marshall McLuhan summarized his view of the media in a model called the tetrad of media effects. The tetrad asks the following four questions about any medium to evaluate its qualities.

1) What does the medium increase? For example, TV amplifies the view of the whole world from our homes.

2) What does the medium make obsolete? TV makes family communication obsolete.

3) What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolete earlier? TV provokes a re-tribalization and homogenization of cultures.

4) What does the medium turn into when pushed to extremes? TV can turn in a global Big Brother show where everybody is on the airwaves. TV as well can become a tool of social manipulation.

The number and role of the media in our lives having expanded exponentially since McLuhan’s times, both in terms of the time we dedicate to them and the scope of their applications in our lives, we need to probe the media with a broader range of questions.

I won’t consider the computer and Internet as individual media since they are sums of several media, both traditional and new. Using a computer to write, shop, program software, look at porn or read news are different modalities which involve different needs, though they share the same tool.

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Marshall McLuhan sintetizzò le sue idee sui media in un modello chiamato la tetrade degli effetti dei media. La tetrade usa le seguenti quattro domande per valutare un medium:

1) Cosa permette di espandere il medium? Per esempio, la TV amplifica l’immagine che abbiamo del mondo dalle nostre case.

2) Cosa rende obsoleto? La TV rende obsoleta la comunicazione all’interno della famiglia.

3) Cosa recupera che era divenuto obsoleto in precedenza? La TV provoca una ri-tribalizzazione e un’omogeneizzazione delle culture.

4) Cosa succede quando i limiti del medium vengono spinti agli estremi? La TV può trasformarsi in un unico Grande Fratello in cui la vita di ognuno è in diretta. La TV può anche diventare uno strumento di manipolazione sociale.

Poiché oggigiorno il numero e la funzione dei media si sono espansi in misura esponenziale rispetto ai tempi di McLuhan – in termini sia di tempo che dedichiamo a essi sia di loro ricadute nella nostra vita – abbiamo bisogno di vagliarli tramite più domande.

Non considererò i computer e Internet come media singoli, in quanto sono la somma di diversi media, sia tradizionali che nuovi. Usare un computer per scrivere, fare acquisti, programmare, guardare pornografia o leggere notizie sono modalità diverse che rispondono a bisogni diversi, benché usino lo stesso strumento.

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Disembodying at broadband speed

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Overcoming our identification with the body has traditionally been a mystical path, but that took place after having had a fully integrated body-mind-soul connection and having become aware of the full range of emotions and bodily sensations.

The split between body and mind in our society is still present and is further pushed away by long computer use where our bodies are involved in a minimal way, removing the connection in a premature manner.

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Tradizionalmente, il superare l’identificazione col corpo era parte di un percorso mistico, ma questo avveniva dopo aver integrato completamente la connessione tra il corpo, la mente e l’anima e dopo essersi resi consapevoli di tutta le sfera delle emozioni e delle sensazioni corporee.

La scissione tra mente e corpo è tutt’ora presente nella nostra società e viene ulteriormente ampliata da un uso prolungato del computer dove i corpi sono coinvolti in modo minimale, togliendo la connessione in modo prematuro.

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Porn 2.0

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=93">cupid psyche</a></h1>[en]

The liberation to be internally free in having sex the way we feel like or to be free not to have it doesn’t come by merely acting out or by repressing the actual act, but by the level of awareness that we are willing to give our sexual needs, be them indulgence or asceticism.

With the pervasivity of porn we got desensitized towards sexual images and their relationship with our soul.  In this overwhelming input towards sex in society, a certain kind of independent porn could paradoxically reveal the vulnerable, human side and the connection with introspection.
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La libertà interiore di fare sesso nel modo che vogliamo, oppure di non farlo, non dipende dalla semplice espressione o repressione dell’atto sessuale in sé, ma dal livello di consapevolezza che desideriamo portare ai nostri bisogni sessuali, siano essi l’indulgenza o l’ascetismo.

Con il dilagare della pornografia ci siamo assuefatti alle immagini sessuali e al loro rapporto con la nostra anima. In mezzo a questo sovraccarico di input sessuali nella società, un certo genere di pornografia indipendente potrebbe paradossalmente rivelare un lato umano e vulnerabile, e un legame con l’introspezione.

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Sex black hole

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=77"></a></h1>[en]

In our present-day society, one of the most fast growing trends is the transmission of sexual imagery and sexual messages. Opinions, apart, it's just a fact.

We pretend that teenagers don't act out the sexual messages they receive or, if they do, we expect that they will be responsible and safe. Yeah, sure. We educate them in technology, we train them in sports and we prepare them to enter the highly competitive information society. However, when it has to do with sex, the most powerful energy that a teen faces, we leave the whole responsibility to them, resulting in earlier pregnancies and HIV infections.
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Nella società contemporanea, una delle tendenza in maggior espansione è la trasmissione di immagini e messaggi sessuali. Opinioni a parte, è un dato di fatto e una realtà con cui fare i conti.

Facciamo finta che gli adolescenti non mettano in pratica i messaggi sessuali che ricevono o, se lo fanno, che siano prudenti e responsabili. Come no… li istruiamo sulla tecnologia, li alleniamo nello sport e li prepariamo a una società delle informazioni altamente competitiva, ma quando si tratta del sesso, l’energia più potente che gli adolescenti devono gestire, lasciamo a loro ogni responsabilità, con il risultato di gravidanze precoci ed infezioni da HIV.
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Superego orgasm 2.0

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=56">Orgasm</a></h1>There are many good reasons for saying that orgasms are good. They feel good. When a person has an orgasm with a partner, they trust the partner enough to release their control for a while and be taken over by an overwhelming energy.

Orgasms make us vulnerable; they show our intensity and we can let the other hear our deepest screams of pleasure. As a man, it’s beautiful to see and feel the shakti energy of a woman as she has an orgasm. Orgasms trigger the release of many hormones, among them oxytocin that induces feelings of love and bonding. They are good for health and circulation; they can start in the body but expands to the soul, or vice versa, representing a holistic experience for the person. Everybody could list more benefits for themselves.

But… Having “ordinary” orgasms seems not to be enough anymore. Clitoral orgasm is just for beginners. G-spot orgasm, trigasm, multiple orgasms and squirting are all musts now for a woman. Men usually don’t have any problem reaching an orgasm so the frontier for them is to become multi-orgasmic; having a 30-minute orgasm or reaching a prostate orgasm. Oh yes and than orgasms should of course be simultaneous.

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Cool, hot media and gender attraction

Dali - A Couple with Their Heads Full of Clouds[en]

During these very hot days in Italy a lightweight article about media and gender relationships. Marshall McLuhan as a media analyst coined the terms hot and cool media.

Hot media are those media that express an analytical, precise and well-defined message. Most of the visual media, especially the high-definitions one, are hot media. The message conveyed by hot media usually doesn't need much participation from the audience. For instance a movie is hotter than television since has a higher definition. Other examples of hot media are radio, the photograph, a lecture.

Cool media are those media that need the participation of the audience. Comic books and cartoons are cool media since the audience has to fill missing details. A seminar is considered a cool media since it requires an active role of the participants.

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In questi giorni di gran calura, un articolo leggero sui media e i rapporti uomo donna. Lo studioso dei media Marshall McLuhan ha coniato le espressioni media “caldi” e “freddi”.

I media caldi sono quelli che trasmettono un messaggio analitico, preciso e ben definito. La maggior parte dei media visivi – soprattutto quelli ad alta definizione – sono media caldi. Il messaggio trasmesso dai media caldi di solito non ha bisogno di molta partecipazione da parte del pubblico. Per esempio, un film è più caldo della televisione, perché possiede una definizione più elevata. Altri esempi di media caldi sono la radio, la fotografia, una conferenza.

I media freddi sono quei media per i quali è necessaria la partecipazione del pubblico. I fumetti e i cartoni animati sono media freddi, perché il pubblico deve riempire i dettagli mancanti. Un seminario è considerato un media freddo, perché richiede ai partecipanti un ruolo attivo.

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Downloading our life on Internet

Sinapsi frattali[en]

The technological society permeates more and more every part of our life and we are downloading more and more parts of our real life onto the Net. Personal communications, finance, work, news, work, dating, shopping are just few of the activities that have been moved massively to the Net. Those are separate areas of our life where we usually apply different modalities of our mind.

Our attitude is different when we are at work, when we are shopping, when we talk to a friend or when we are communicating with somebody we are attracted to in a sensuous and intimate way. In addition, we usually have different settings for the different range of life activities. As we activate different parts of our mind, our body is involved as well. On the other hand, when we are stuck in front of a screen, our setting is always the same and the dynamic and tactile experience is missing.

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La società tecnologica permea sempre più ogni parte della nostra vita, e noi stiamo scaricando come fosse un download sempre più parti della nostra vita reale in Rete. La comunicazione tra le persone, gli affari, le notizie, il lavoro, gli amici, la ricerca di un partner, lo shopping sono solo alcune delle attività che sono state massicciamente trasferite in Rete. Si tratta di aeree distinte della nostra vita che solitamente richiedono l’attivazione della nostra mente in modalità diverse.

Il nostro atteggiamento cambia a seconda che siamo al lavoro, facciamo shopping, parliamo con un amico o comunichiamo con qualcuno che ci attrae sentimentalmente o sessualmente. Di solito, abbiamo diversi ambienti e situazioni esterne per i diversi tipi di attività. E non solo attiviamo aree diverse della mente, ma anche il corpo ne viene coinvolto. Invece, quando siamo fermi di fronte a uno schermo, il nostro ambiente esteriore è sempre lo stesso e mancano le dimensioni dinamica e tattile. [/it] (more…)

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My friend got a “minditis”

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Everybody gets some inflammation in his or her body. Sinusitis is quite common, as are bronchitis, tendinitis and other “i’ itis’s”. External attacks, as a sudden change of weather, bad food, carelessness, stress or too much effort, can trigger some unbalance in our bodies. Human beings are not perfect. If the inflammation episode does not repeat itself often and it does not become chronic, in most of the cases it will resolve itself spontaneously after few days. No need for special cares but occasionally, some natural treatments or chemical support might be necessary. However, once the symptoms are gone, we can stop the treatment and we use the experience to learn how to take better care of our bodies. Of course, nobody would take painkillers or antibiotics for a year after a complaint is already over.

Nevertheless, when the mind is involved, this is considered a special case. I have a friend in her early 40s, a teacher at university, who is a brilliant and emotionally alive woman. Almost one year ago, she experienced an acute mental episode triggered by a problematic relationship with her lover.

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Tutti sviluppiamo infiammazioni del corpo. La sinusite è abbastanza comune, così come la bronchite, la tendinite e altre “iti”. Le aggressioni esterne – per esempio: un improvviso mutamento climatico, cibo scadente, mancanza di cura personale, stress o sforzo eccessivi – possono provocare squilibri nel corpo. Gli esseri umani non sono perfetti. Se l’infiammazione non si ripete spesso e non diventa cronica, nella maggior parte dei casi sparirà da sé dopo pochi giorni. Non occorrono cure speciali anche se, di tanto in tanto, può essere necessario fare ricorso a trattamenti chimici o naturali.

Tuttavia, una volta spariti i sintomi, possiamo abbandonare la cura e usare l’esperienza per imparare a prenderci meglio cura del nostro corpo. Naturalmente, dopo la scomparsa della malattia, nessuno continuerebbe ad assumere antidolorifici o antibiotici per un anno intero. Ma quando si tratta della mente, il discorso cambia. Una mia amica – professoressa universitaria poco oltre la quarantina – è una donna brillante e molto viva dal punto di vista emotivo. Quasi un anno fa, ebbe una grave crisi psichica provocata dalle difficoltà nei rapporti con il partner.
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Eros and the sexualization of society

Eros statue[en]

Eros was the ancient Greek God of lust and desire. Eros is an essential part of the human experiences that has been redirected and often repressed by religions and societies. Our present-day society is probably more permeated by sexual messages than any other ages in our history and the trend is just on the rise, but Eros is yawning.

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Eros è il Dio greco della lussuria e del desiderio. Eros è una parte essenziale dell'esperienza umana che è stata deviata e spesso repressa dalle religioni e dalle società. La società dei nostri giorni probabilmente è permeata da messaggi sessuali come nessun'altra epoca nella storia e la tendenza è in espansione, ma Eros… sbadiglia.

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