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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Kian wrote:
As I pointed out against the "Nothing is random" assertion, quantom mechanics add an element of randomness we haven't been able to eliminate yet. Einstein didn't like it, but he had to live with it. Noone's been able to find the subyacent mechanism that makes it look like some particles have a probabilistic behaviour yet. So I'm sorry, but I won't take your conviction as proof. Particularly since you're not bothering to offer any explanation for it. The universe either has randomness or it doesn't, we don't know.

Also, you're assuming that omniscience works in a particular way. I don't believe omniscience exists. It may very well be that some information is unknowable. Too early to tell.


Just because it's unknowable, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Also, just because no one's discovered it yet, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:50 pm 
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Slamlander wrote:
Kian wrote:
As I pointed out against the "Nothing is random" assertion, quantom mechanics add an element of randomness we haven't been able to eliminate yet. Einstein didn't like it, but he had to live with it. Noone's been able to find the subyacent mechanism that makes it look like some particles have a probabilistic behaviour yet. So I'm sorry, but I won't take your conviction as proof. Particularly since you're not bothering to offer any explanation for it. The universe either has randomness or it doesn't, we don't know.

Also, you're assuming that omniscience works in a particular way. I don't believe omniscience exists. It may very well be that some information is unknowable. Too early to tell.


From this, I'm having a difficult time figuring out if we disagree or not. It almost seem that we are talking past each other. I am offering much more than conviction. However, to go any deeper requires a paper that I don't have the time to write. What part of "A digital system is fully deterministic by definition" do you disagree with? Is it the "fully deterministic" part or the "by definition" part?

Edit:
I assume nothing regarding omniscience. As near as I can tell, it doesn't exist and I didn't bring it into the discussion. It's PSI that is envoking God and not I.


Eh, I was actually responding to PnM ^^

PsionicsNOTMagic wrote:
Just because it's unknowable, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.


Actually, by unknowable I literally meant that the information did not exist as such. It could well be the case that the universe is 'incomplete', and it 'makes up' whatever information it needs when it needs it. In order for us to prove this is not the case, we would need to have an example of a system where we know all the information for a given state. In other words, we might be unable to determine everything about a given system simply because the information is not there.

I'm not saying it is so, simply that it could be so.

PsionicsNOTMagic wrote:
Also, just because no one's discovered it yet, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.


And just because it doesn't doesn't exist doesn't mean it does.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:55 pm 
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Slamlander wrote:
Deterministic, in the software context, is code that is absolutely predictable, like ones and zeros. Quantum Mechanics doesn't enter into it and is irrelevent. ALL digital systems have no choice but to be fully deterministic. Therefore, we cannot use them to build AIs. BTW, this was also the context of our previous discussion along these lines.

Analog Neural nets do something that digital neural nets cannot do and that is to have an infinite variation between two values. Digital systems, because they are digital systems, have a finite and fixed number of values within the same context.


This is precisely what I mean by us using different notions of "deterministic": analog systems, in classical (pre-quantum) models, were still considered fully deterministic, in the sense that physics and philosophy (e.g. questions regarding free will, consciousness, etc) use.

I believe I asked this question before, but I'll ask again: in your sense of "deterministic", assuming quantum theory to be false (that is, assuming that the world is fully deterministic in the physical, philosophical sense), would weather patterns be a deterministic system or not?

Also, do you distinguish your sense of "indeterminism" from <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonlinear">nonlinearity</A>, or is the subject of the forgoing wiki link the sort of thing you're talking about?

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I know I've brought this up before and been ignored, but why does determinism have to be absolute? Why is the condition for non-determinism simply "sufficently complex to not be absolutely determined within plausibly bound limits?" At a sufficently detailed level, an analog brain is equivalent to a digital brain imitating its functions at that level. All that is required for free will is that the level of complexity of neural activity be so much greater than the complexity of the action that no observer can tell the difference between determinate and undeterminate. That level of complexity is so minimal a squirrel's brain can probably manage it. You do not have to go down to the quantum mechanical level or assume an omniscience which may or may not exist.

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I was thinking that what Kian was trying to get at is that, while people may be predictable, the universe as a whole is not.

HOWEVER! It's been stated that, if you KNEW how a particular particle was moving, and where it was, you could state where it will be x seconds from that time. Since an omnisentient being would be able to do this without affecting it, an omnisentient being would be able to determine the One True Future. There is actually no need for said omnisentient being to exist. The only thing that needs to exist is the fact that the omnisentient being, should S/He exist, would be able to determine the One True Future.

And, since a being of omnisentience could determine a One True Future, then there is, in fact, only One True Future.

The uncertainty principle states that WE cannot know the exact state of the universe at any given time. HOWEVER! An omnisentient being could easily know every aspect of the universe and a single time, and thus, even from a split second, see the One True Future. Hence there is only One True Future, and there has always been One True Future.

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My point being, it could be that a particle does not have a position and speed at any given time. Thus, not even an omniscient being would be able to know it, because that knowlodge would not exist. Thus, there might be a number of possible futeres, and not a single one.

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Hello all. Popping out of long-time lurkerdom to weigh in.

First, I'll second Forrest in suggesting that there's a bit of equivocation going on, more even than he points out.

The determinism which quantum mechanics predicts is impossible need not disprove philosophical determinism, and vice versa. The apparant fact that certain values can't be predicted for a given individual particle, but only as percentages of a population, doesn't require free will in any normal sense.

It's really only a matter of what you can predict with a given possible measurement. Measuring (for example) the x-component of a particle's spin invalidates any previous measurement of its y-component... So even if you've already screened out (say) all negative y-spin particles, measureing for their x-spin ensures that another, identical measurement, will show an even y-up vs. y-down split, absent some other influence.

What Einstien objected to was the impicit assumption that in any situation short of certainty (i.e., "I know it has y-up spin because I just measured and sent all the y-downs along a different path") you can't predict the answer for any specific particle, only the probability. He, and a few others, came up with a fairly simple experiment that, based on some fairly complicated math, would have solved this situation by proving that the unknown information did exist. It failed. It's not that he never found the answer... it's that he came up with a test and it proved him wrong. So, to the limits of its most brilliant detractor, quantum mechanics works. Deeper understanding might invalidate this, or it might not. We don't really know because we don't yet have that understanding.

Philosophically, on the other hand, determinism usually implies a subset of materialism, namely the argument that all mental iactions are, in fact, predetermined based on non-freewilled causes (I consider it a subset of materialism only because I can't think of a single thought system that accepts a concept like a spirit or soul that *is* deterministic... it's possible, though, I suppose... I think there's a pretty strong attraction in minds which find determinism acceptable toward reductionism as well, though, so I'm not sure how likely it is). Freudianism on steriods, essentially. Not only did you leave the umbrella behind so that you'd have a reason to go back and patch up the argument, the whole situation was completely unavoidable. As was the invention of umbrellas, the development of human life, and the subtleties of the English language that caused the misunderstanding that led to the argument. Predictable to the extent that billard balls are... which is to say completely predictable with sufficiently accurate information. To answer an earlier objection to this example, errors only increase if there *are* errors to begin with... a completely accurate measurement of initial conditions would mean, at least in deterministic theory, a completely accurate prediction. Having an infinite range of values alone doesn't really solve this problem, it just makes it more difficult to practically determine the solution because it makes that initial measurement harder.

QM is relavent only to the extent that it seems to prove that certain measurements are mutually exclusive. So even a deterministic universe wouldn't necessarily seem that way (unless you're God, as my physics prof used to say semi-seriously, and don't need to measure anything). If you can't be sure of the problem, of course you can't be sure of the answer, but that doesn't mean there isn't one.

Which is essentially the argument for determinism in the seeming face of free will. I think I freely chose to post this reply. I could be wrong. It might just be too complicated for me to understand that I didn't really choose. In fact, if my actions were predetermined, I'd be the last person one would expect to notice. I'd be too busy with the reasons I think I chose them to be aware of the fact that I really didn't have a choice.

On the other hand, it's hard to see how quantum mechanics alone proves that I could have chosen to post this in a nondetermined way, as most people who argue that people do, in fact, make free choices aren't arguing for sheer randomness, which is ultimately what you get if my choices are in fact determined by quantum mechanical values. QM predicts randomness, philosophical nondeterminism usually implies some sort of guided cognition, at least on the human level if not on some higher level (a possibly omniscient God, for example).

My actions could, philosophically speaking, be determined utterly by a set of physical variables, some of which are random. I could also, if you'll pardon a brief jump into metaphysicsland, be a free-willed entity in which all purely physical interactions are deterministic.

On the subject of analog networks, I can only say this: Suppose we have a truly random number generator. Problematic, true, but if you could make one, you could build a non-deterministic digital binary system. There doesn't seem to be anything inherently for or against determinism about binary systems, and the reading I've done on the physics side of determinism does seem to indicate that analog systems weren't considered problematic. One the philosophical side, lumping them more in line with human minds, it seems like the best we can really say is "too complicated to really prove it either way, but easily explainable under either view." ANother equivocation, I think, but I'm not as well-versed in computer programming, much less computer engineering, as the other relevent fields.

Quite a post for what essentially amounts to a clarification of terms, but that's one things physics and philosophy do have in common. An obsessive need to clarify initial premises so that the final results are convincing.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:03 pm 
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Slamlander wrote:
However, as an analog, think of it this way. A fully deterministic system has no freewill (see above). Humans do. An AI built on a digital system is by definition, fully deterministic. Humans are non-deterministic by construction and have freewill. Therefore, one cannot build a system that will mimic a Human using a fully deterministc system, ever!

It is certainly true that a given program, running on a single sequential processor, must necessarily produce the same answer every time if you keep giving it the same inputs. However,
  1. once you have multiple communicating CPUs running concurrently, even when they're running off of the same clock, all bets are off -- check out what the Intel manuals say is supposed to happen when two processors write to the same address in a shared cache at the same time: "Unspecified". Which is not to say that the crypto people will place any particular reliance on this effect when they want some kind of usable randomness (or, rather, having the probability that one result or the other prevails known and maybe also being 50%). But it is certainly one opportunity for weirdness to creep in. And once you have multiple digital processors each with its own clock communicating across a network where arbitrary timing delays and line noise can be introduced... all bets are off. Also,
  2. any real world digital processor (or collection thereof) that is doing anything we care about is going to have an environment to interact with, which means sensors capable of introducing (digital) noise. And there exist algorithms that can react arbitrarily chaotically/randomly to changes in the low-order bits. Even if it takes some work to define what "chaotic" or "random" might mean in this context, as a practical matter one can arrange things so that it's impossible to predict in advance what's going to happen
or, in short, modern digital hardware is not deterministic in the sense that you think it is, or rather, the only way it can truly be deterministic is if we only give it discrete problems to solve or we build it into a closed system that never talks to anyone, and then we're back to arguing about trees falling in the forest where nobody is around to observe.

Nor is there any evidence one way or the other that the human brain cannot be simulated in exactly this way (i.e., by some large network of digital processors simulating neurons, communicating across noisy transmission lines simulating axons/dendrites).

The real problem with Artificial Intelligence is we still don't have a good definition of "Intelligence"; defining it is every bit as problemmatic as defining "Magic".

And while Roger Penrose may be a brilliant physicist, "The Emperor's New Mind" -- the main proponent of this "consciousness must be a quantum effect" point of view -- with its wealth of CS mistakes should really be taken as a cautionary tale for what can happen even to world-class experts when they try to make pronouncements too far outside of their own fields.
Slamlander wrote:
For definitions of computational determinism, see Alan Turing and his work. Also look up Dykstra.
Also look up Gregory Chaitin on randomness.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:10 pm 
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Kian wrote:
My point being, it could be that a particle does not have a position and speed at any given time. Thus, not even an omniscient being would be able to know it, because that knowlodge would not exist. Thus, there might be a number of possible futeres, and not a single one.


I don't really know of any scientists who believe this.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:25 pm 
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Kian wrote:
My point being, it could be that a particle does not have a position and speed at any given time. Thus, not even an omniscient being would be able to know it, because that knowlodge would not exist. Thus, there might be a number of possible futeres, and not a single one.


This is what makes quantum theory indeterministic (in the proper philosophical sense): it's not just that certain bits of information are inaccessible, it's that certain bits of information do not exist, and the lack of these bits of information makes the deduction of the state of affairs at one time from the state of affairs at another impossible, even for God (if such a being exists).

The definition of determinism, as used in philosophy and as applies to things like quantum theory is, that for some proposition "P" which describes EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF INFORMATION IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE at a given time t1, and some similar proposition "Q" which perfectly describes the entire universe at some other time t2, "P" together with the laws of nature ("LN") logically entails "Q", for any times t1 and t2. That is to say, if you could somehow come to know "P" and "LN", and had perfect reasoning ability and unlimited time to do the calculations, you could deduce "Q". It's irrelevant whether anybody can ever know "P" or "LN", or whether anybody has the infinite time and flawless reasoning to deduce "Q" from it - all that matters is that "Q" is logically entailed by "P" and "LN" (which is to say, it would be logically impossible for both "P" and "LN" to be true, and yet "Q" false).

Quantum theory (at least standard interpretations of it in which true randomness is considered to exist) implies that there are some missing bits of information in the conjunction of "P" and "LN" that you would need to deduce "Q". Take a really simple deduction for an illustrative parallel:

(1) R and S.
(2) If R and S then T, and if U and V then W.
Therefore (3) T

Now imagine that you were missing the "and S" from (1), or missing "If R and S then T" from (2). You can no longer deduce "T" from (1) and (2). It might still be the case that "T", but you can't be sure of that just by knowing (1) and (2). Likewise, if the indeterminate interpretation of quantum theory is correct (that is, if things like radioactive decay really are truly random), there just is not enough information in the world at time t1 (including the precise state of affairs at t1 and the laws of nature) to deduce the state of affairs that obtain at time t2. It's not just that we can't know the electron's precise position and velocity at the same time; the electron does not HAVE both a precise position and a precise velocity. It's not just that we can't tell whether or not the C-14 atom will decay in the next 5 minutes; right now, there simply is no such fact about the future. Neither "this C-14 atom will decay in the next 5 minutes" nor "this C-14 atom will not decay in the next 5 minutes" is true, yet; which is just to say that the sum total of the information in the universe right now does not contain any facts about whether or not that C-14 atom decays in the next 5 minutes. 5 minutes from now, the universe will contain such information. In this sense, quantum theory implies a sort of presentism: there just aren't any facts about the future, yet. Only the present is really real.

Note that this goes harshly against general relativity which implies eternalism or "block time", where the past, present, and future are all equally real, even right now. Eternalism likewise implies determinism; if there is a fact right now about what will happen in the next 5 minutes, then if you knew everything there was to know about the universe right now, you would know what would happen in the next 5 minutes, and it could not be otherwise without contradiction. Also note that I'm not taking any position on whether eternalism, presentism, general relativity or quantum theory are correct; I'm just reporting the logical implications of these various theories on each other.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:01 pm 
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Melkarion wrote:
On the other hand, it's hard to see how quantum mechanics alone proves that I could have chosen to post this in a nondetermined way, as most people who argue that people do, in fact, make free choices aren't arguing for sheer randomness, which is ultimately what you get if my choices are in fact determined by quantum mechanical values. QM predicts randomness, philosophical nondeterminism usually implies some sort of guided cognition, at least on the human level if not on some higher level (a possibly omniscient God, for example).


This is one of my favorite arguments for compatiblism. Our notion of "free will" seems to require that a free agent could have done otherwise than he did, and that something about the agent (personality characteristics, deliberation process, etc) was the cause of his action. If we take "could have done otherwise" to require indeterminism, and yet take causation to require determinism (the cause determines the effect), then free will is impossible. Yet since we go around using the term "free" to refer to all sorts of actions, and come to learn what "free" means (that is, acquire the very concept of freedom) by seeing such applications of it, this dilemma seems to illustrate that we've got a faulty philosophical analysis of this concept of free will. We obviously do have free will; if we didn't, we'd have no concept of it. But free will can't be like described above, because that's logically impossible.

So we've either got to adopt some understanding of causation which does not require determinism, some understanding of "could have done otherwise" which does not require indeterminism, or both. If quantum theory is right and the universe really is indeterministic, and yet we still say that one event causes another, then we've already got some notion of non-deterministic causation. But I think the other thing is equally important: "could have done otherwise" doesn't mean "was not determined to do so".

Determinism entails that, for any proposition about a person's future action "P", that "Necessarily (P, if P)" - that is to say that it is logically necessary that (a person does what they do, if in fact that is what they're going to do) - and that there is some fact about what that person's going to do. But what would negate free will would be "(Necessarily P), if P", which is to say that whatever it is a person did, they did necessarily, and could not have done otherwise. While spoken aloud both of these read as "everybody necessarily does what they do", where you place those parentheses makes a big difference. [](P <- P) is a very different statement from ([]P) <- P.

In more simple English, this just means that if a person did something freely, it must have been logically possible to do other than they did, had some contingent facts been different. The relevant contingent facts, of course, are the person's choices. So, a person acted freely if he would have done otherwise HAD HE CHOSEN TO DO SO. This pushes free will back to a psychological, rather than a metaphysical, question. Free will is self-control, just as consciousness is self-awareness. Do you have control over yourself? By that I mean, do you just do whatever you feel like, whether or not you WANT to feel like that, or do you have the ability to effectively regulate what desires you have and, more importantly, what desires move you to act?

For a personal example, I have compulsion issues; I'm formally diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. I'm not a compulsive hand-washer or anything, but certain things which I know are trivial bother me immensely and I cannot bring myself to ignore them, no matter how much I want to. That is, say, some object in my living room is out of place, and I feel a strong desire to put it back; however, as this obsessiveness annoys my girlfriend, and I don't want to annoy her, I want to not feel that drive, or at least, I want to not act on it. But when I try to not act on it, and suppress that drive, the best I can do is like trying to steer a train off it's tracks: I become a wreck and break down. I'm unable to effectively steer in another direction. All I can do (in such cases) is follow the tracks, or crash.

To that extent, I have limited free will. I have freedom of action, in that I am able to do what I want to do; but I do not have freedom of will, in that I cannot bring myself to will what I want myself to will. "Choice" as I understand it is what you want to will; so I choose not to fixate on misplaced objects in my living room and, despite that choice, I still do, and thus I am unable to do other than what I do even if I choose otherwise - I lack, in such cases, freedom of will. And all of this is completely irrelevant to determinism or indeterminism; this may seem like a deterministic issue, but it's epistemologically possible ("possible, for all we know") that the universe is indeterministic, e.g. if quantum theory is correct, and yet still here I am with these issues, indeterminism be damned. Free will has everything to do with psychology and nothing to do with metaphysics.

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Ye Ancient Gawds! The world is indeed undone when there are more physicists that perverts on the Khym forum! :wink:

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Eh. I doubt anyone here has a degree in physics. I just read A Brief History of Time is all.

Well, I read a couple chapters.

...OK, it was a few pages.

OK, a paragraph, really.

ANYWAY! That makes me right and you all wrong.

Please note: The entire post above this line is a joke, except the first sentence.

The fact of the matter is, there are those that say that, for us to have free will, God blinds himself to the far-off future. This seems to be true, as with Satan, Lucifer, and many events on Earth in the Old Testament.


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Boss Out of Town wrote:
Ye Ancient Gawds! The world is indeed undone when there are more physicists that perverts on the Khym forum! :wink:


I find it refreshing, really. It'll change back soon enough, I'm sure.

^-^'

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Hey! You never heard of the dual nature of things? We're both physicist AND perverts. But only when you're not looking.

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Kian wrote:
Hey! You never heard of the dual nature of things? We're both physicist AND perverts. But only when you're not looking.


I would really hate to see that niche porn.

Look what you've done, BOoT! You should be ashamed!

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Hey, I was the one who suggested a Khym forum erotic writing contest! Of course, I would ruled, as part of the challenge, no standard expletives and no snark. Most of the potential contributors would have had seizures.

No matter, I get all the erotica I can handle reading Laurel Hamilton novels. Or at least all the erotic Anita Blake and Merry Gentry can handle. Apparently the key to a woman's heart in this century is a hard body, a tragic past, a moody attitude, and flowing hair hanging down to your well-toned ass. Get to work on that, single guys!

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Boss Out of Town wrote:
Apparently the key to a woman's heart in this century is a hard body, a tragic past, a moody attitude, and flowing hair hanging down to your well-toned ass. Get to work on that, single guys!


Pfft. What's new?

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Boss Out of Town wrote:
Apparently the key to a woman's heart in this century is a hard body, a tragic past, a moody attitude, and flowing hair hanging down to your well-toned ass. Get to work on that, single guys!


Had it all, got the girl, lost the hard body and well-toned ass. Apparently women are fattening. I'd stop eating them but... they're just so yummy :-)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 12:16 am 
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Location: Nyon, CH, near Geneve, on the shores of the Lac Leman. The heart of Suisse Romande.
PsionicsNOTMagic wrote:
Eh. I doubt anyone here has a degree in physics.
...
Please note: The entire post above this line is a joke, except the first sentence.

The fact of the matter is, there are those that say that, for us to have free will, God blinds himself to the far-off future. This seems to be true, as with Satan, Lucifer, and many events on Earth in the Old Testament.


I might point out that the Bible that you mention is the best selling and most popular work, of fiction, of all known history. But, it is a work of fiction and it is completely irrelevent to the current topic. However, it does bring me to invoke Maude's law.

Maude wrote:
In any forum discussing free will, eventually someone brings in notions of God, or Goddess, and tries to build argument around such a mythical and mystical being. When such happens, the thread may be considered a dead-end. The presence of such a mythically omnipotent being simply trumps all other argument and the other participants are better off playing 'jacks' on the nearest freeway.


Thank you.

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