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TUCoPS :: Wetware Hacking :: Others :: mgvsth3.txt

Counter response to response of Mind Gear


My counter reponse

Originally posted to the Mind-L mailing list 7/11/95


                               MIND GEAR VS THETA II

 Mind-L readers:   Please visit The Mind Machine Page for a new posting
 comparing the sound (graphically) of the XCELR8R II and Voyager XL.  Also
 find further commentary on the following issue and transcripts of the
 Mind Gear VS Theta discussion.

 I'd like to thank George Szeless for his in depth response to my post
 "MIND GEAR VS THETA".  I apologize if I have offended you personally in
 any way.  My intent was not to criticize your excellent machine 
 only to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the Voyager XL and 
 XCELR8R II machines.  As I stated in the original post, each person 
 should try
 a few machines before purchasing.  I stress this because each user 
 responds to
 the L/S experience differently.  Ultimately, you should purchase the L/S
 machine that *you* feel is most effective and pleasing to your senses.

 My original post was intended to present my opinion of the overall
 experience of the two machines, with minor notes on certain given
 features.  It was not my intent to delve into great technical detail.
 Nor did I make an attempt to cover all the bases.  However, I now see
 that greater detail and explanation is in order.

 I'm glad that George made the effort to take the discussion to a more
 specific and technical level as this will allow the many facets of this
 issue to emerge.  George made several comments (in response to my own)
 which I feel need to be addressed.  Although I deeply and honestly
 respect George's knowledge and experience in the field of L/S, many of
 his attempts to refute my comparisons of the two machines just don't hold
 water!  Please read the following counter-response to George and 
 thenvisit the Mind Machine Page ( to
 view images (from and *INFORMAL* test comparison; see: Mind Gear VS
 Theta) of the two machines.   There, you will find additional commentary
 on this issue.

 I have omitted my original statements and have kept only George's
 comments to shorten this post (stick with me here, there's some good
 information to follow).  Please see original post for reference.

 >As President of Mind Gear Inc., I want to address a number of
 >incomplete, misleading and somewhat inaccurate statements made by
 >Andrew Clayton (Rhygin the Rudie) concerning the Voyager XL and the Mind
 >Gear Product line.

 As you will see, it is George's counter-responses which are "incomplete,
 misleading and somewhat inaccurate"

 >The writer makes a very important point about programmability in that
 >everybody reacts to these devices (and their L/S sessions) differently.
 >This is why having a system that allows users to design programs "just
 >right for your needs" can be CRITICALLY important... not just "fun & 

 "CRITICALLY important" . . . Hmmm . . . Is this feature a MUST for all
 light sound users? No.  Is it a nice feature to have?  YES!  It's a
 wonderful feature to have and I acknowledge its value. However, as I
 stated in the original post, the Voyager XL programs are so well written
 you are nearly GUARANTEED to find many programs that fit exactly your
 need.  That's because the entire range of brain wave frequencies
 (*UTILIZING RICHLY TEXTURED SOUNDS*) are used to design the Voyager XL
 programs.  If the 50 programs aren't enough (and they should be), you can
 download new ones, play a PolySync tape (not an option with the XCELR8R
 II), or  your favorite music CD or tape.

 >This is also the reason why our program descriptions ARE lacking in
 >great detail. We only provide very general comments about each of
 >our programs (e.g. relaxing, creative etc.). If it were as simple as
 >saying run program X and you will reach Shangrila, we would all have
 >retired a few years ago. In reality, everyone responds differently to a
 >given frequency and/or program with some preferring Alpha frequency
 >programs, others Theta, and so on. Still others will find a "magical" or
 >"Window" frequency to which they personally resonate and which can lead
 >to very special states of awareness. This is why it is so important to
 >have a digital display that ALWAYS shows the specific frequency that is
 >being generated.

 >The Voyager products do *not* have digital displays.

 A very misleading statement.  When I reach that "magical" or "window"
 frequency how will I know what that frequency is?  I need to come back
 from "Shangri-La", take off the light frames, and view the frequency
 display (possibly taking the time to write it down).   By then, will I be
 certain the displayed frequency is the frequency I enjoyed so much?  Or,
 you could, I suppose, try the machine at each frequency for a period and
 see if you like that frequency.  Will this mirror your regular L/S
 experience?  It may or may not.  A L/S session usually begins within beta
 (normal, awake thought) or high alpha and ramps down lower and lower.  In
 theory, this will assist your journey to your personal "window"
 frequency.  If the theory holds, it is unlikely that you will reach this
 "place" if you simply try a given frequency.  With the Voyager's
 excellently written documentation you can know what the program does (the
 frequencies, ramps etc.) before you start the session.  For example (from
 the description for the Voyager XL program Customized Progressive
 Relaxation by Frank Young. Ph.D..):

         Part 1 of the session begins in high beta(18 hz), then ramps
         down stepwise into alpha and theta.  The first segment of the
         session features rapid down-stepping as you contract and
         release you major muscle groups.  In this segment each unit
         is 40 seconds.  The unit begins in 18hz, holds for 35 seconds,
         then abruptly drops to 1 hz. in the last 5 seconds of that 40
         second step.  There are six quick steps until minute 4 . . .

 This goes on.  There is a total of 4 parts (all longer than the above) to
 this program description, each part being explained with great detail
 from the author of the program.  Nearly all the 50 Voyager XL programs
 have this same sort of documentation. Finally, after the program ends you
 can assess how the program has effected you and use it again or try one
 that's similar.  Again, this is not to say programmability is not a "FUN
 & USEFUL" feature (as stated before) but hardly a "CRITICALLY important"
 one (water is CRITICALLY important . . . food . . . programmability . . .
 well?)  I've talked to many XCELR8R II users who quickly grow tired of
 the programmability feature and stick to the main programs wishing they
 knew more about them.

 >The SLX does, in fact, have Binaural sound built-in to the machine. It
 >is apparent that the writer has had only a very limited exposure to >the
 >SLX system. I do agree that the sound quality of the SLX is not as good
 >as the PR-2X or the XCELR8R but remember that it costs less than half
 >the price of the Voyager XL and is intended as an entry level system.
 >Additionally, most people use L/S systems while listening to tapes, so
 >the tones blend into the background.

 George, thank you for correcting my mistake in saying the "SLX has no
 binaural sound (as far as I'm aware)".  Neither I nor a friend could
 detect it when listening to the SLX machine.

 Well, should a mind machine sound HAVE to blend into the background?
 Shouldn't it ADD to the overall experience not detract from it?  Please,
 see the Mind Machine Page to view an image (from an informal test) of the
 SLX "saw-tooth" (nearly block) wave form.

 NOTE: Theta also sells a nice entry level machine of comparable price to
 the SLX,  the Voyager Galaxy.

 >Finally, the Voyager System that I have has a very obvious and annoying
 >electronic hiss or squeal that needs to be masked with some external
 >sound input.

 I've listened to MANY different Voyager machines and have NEVER heard a
 "hiss or squeal".  Not to say George's machine doesn't hiss or squeal.
 All electronics can have problems from time to time and from what I've
 seen George's  experience is an anomaly (maybe George *accidentally*
 dropped  his Voyager :-)

 >I am not sure what the writer means by 'complexity and tone variance"
 >since we offer 4 different tones (they are single tone, white noise,
 >pink noise, and Binaural sound). Additionally, we have 36 different
 >levels of pitch by which the single tone and Binaural sound can be
 >adjusted. These are in half note increments so that you can know the
 >exact pitch (sound frequency) that is being generated. This is just
 >another example of why a digital display is important.

 OK, let me be more specific in defining my use of the terms "complexity
 and tone variance" (also see latter in this post for more detail)  George
 claims the XCELR8R II has 4 different tones, white and pink noise being
 among them.  Well, technically white and pink noise are just that,
 noise.  White noise is the sum of a given set of frequencies (pitches)
 produced by the given sound source.  Pink noise is the sum of ALL the
 frequencies (pitches) produced by the given sound source.   Some might
 argue that this is exactly what makes them unique tones.  Well it is no
 feat to create white and pink noise.  It is a stretch to even call them a
 unique tones (NOTE: George only says the XCELR8R II tones are different);
 they are the default in many cases.  In my opinion, this leaves the
 XCELR8R II with only two tones.  Which is still actually incorrect since
 binaural sound is NOT a unique tone within itself.  Binaural sound occurs
 when two different frequencies (pitches) are played in each ear inducing
 the binaural beat effect.  Again, it is a stretch to call binaural sound
 a "different" tone when it is actually the same tone in each ear at
 different frequencies.  So in reality, the XCELR8R II is left with only 1
 unique tone.

 One of the most important factors in sound "variance" is the levels of
 pitch an instrument has.   Unlike the XCELR8R II the Voyager XL has
 continuous (smooth) levels of pitch.  This allows you to select (on any
 program) *ANY* level of pitch within a 4 octave range.  This means you
 can use a program with an extremely deep low tone or with a pitch so high
 it is nearly inaudible (and any of the pitches in between).  This makes
 the levels of pitch available on the Voyager XL nearly immeasurable.
 With XCELR8R II you are limited to "half note increments".

 I'm sure few of you have access to both machines, but if you do, cycle
 through the levels manually on both machines.  You will hear an obvious
 difference in pitch variance.

 >Music (even the music on a PolySync tape) can be played with ANY of our
 >systems in conjunction with ANY of the built-in L/S >programs!!

 The Voyager XL allows you to play ANY of its 50 programs with ANY music.
 In addition, the Voyager XL can use PolySync programs (not just play the
 music portion of the program).  Again, the XCELR8R II can not do this.

 >The user is not limited to the one L/S session that was specifically
 >made for the tape.

 Nor are Voyager XL users!!!!!

 >Once again, I would like to emphasize that no two people react to a L/S
 >session in exactly the same way. Suppose you find that you like the
 >audio portion of the PolySync tape, but dislike the L/S program. You're
 >out of luck with the Voyager.

 Here, George FALSELY states that you can't play a different Voyager
 program with the PolySync music.   You are *NOT* "out of luck" as George
 suggests.  Indeed, you CAN play ANY of the Voyager programs with ANY
 PolySync tape!  How?  Simply avoid downloading the program at the
 beginning of the PolySync tape and play the music only.

 >BTW, another claim that is made for Polysynch tapes is that they are
 >EXACTLY synchronized to the L/S session that is downloaded just prior
 >to the music beginning. This is just plain false. As I am sure we all
 >know, ALL tape player transport mechanisms are not alike. Each has a Wow
 >& Flutter tolerance that makes it impossible for them to be perfectly in
 >synch with the light pulses. This also assumes that the L/S session
 >starts exactly when the music does.

 I'm sure George would agree that few in life things are EXACT.  The
 tolerances on the space shuttle are getting close, but are still not
 exact.  Besides, I've never read any claims that the sessions are
 "EXACTLY" synchronized to the L/S session.  Unlike what George claims,
 the Voyager XL manual merely states that they are "synchronized." (see p.
 36)   Besides, this is a moot point.  The light and music don't need to
 be EXACTLY synchronized to be effective.

 The "Wow and Flutter" George speaks of is generally minute in today's
 tape players.  Even IF a program IS slightly out of sync (which I've
 never noticed BTW) in no way would this detract from the *overall*
 subjective feeling of the PolySync experience.  When the lights rise and
 fall with the music they do so with gentle transition.  A listener/Viewer
 would not notice a slightly "imperfect" match to the light program and
 the music.  The subjective experience would remain the same (that is if
 the PolySync tapes did fall out of sync :-)

 >The writer neglects to say how frustrating downloading a PolySynch tape
 >can be since the volume levels, equalizer settings etc. need to be JUST
 >RIGHT or guess what?

 Frustrating?  I have NEVER had any trouble downloading a PolySync
 session.  I have also never heard of any other user having problems with
 this feature. It's as simple as turning on your tape player and your
 Voyager and pressing play on the tape player   True, the sound should be
 about 3/4 to maximum and Dolby should be turned off.
 However, I would hardly say that it is frustrating to turn a volume knob
 and flip a switch.

 >This does not mean that the PolySynch tapes don't work. In fact, I'm
 >sure there are some that are very good. It simply means that they may
 >be no more effective than a favorite tape used with a another L/S session.

 Well it appears that George has never tried a PolySync tape ("I'm sure
 that they are very good")  You really should try one before making such
 strong statements about how well they don't work!

 BTW, the PolySync sessions ARE highly effective.  However, this again is
 relevant only to each users subjective experience.  For what its worth, I
 think the PolySync sessions are mind blowing!

 >I am at a loss to understand this comment since anyone that has an
 >XCELR8R and has looked at the actual graphs (frequency vs. time and
 >phasing) can clearly "see" that this is just not TRUE!

 Although I cannot produce frequency vs. time and phasing graphs, take a
 look at the Voyager XL's graphs (SEE:  The Mind Machine Page) before you
 make up your mind on this issue.  The richness and tone color of the
 Voyager XL's sound can not be matched by the XCELR8R II.  This is clearly
 displayed by these graphs.  The Voyager XL produces sound with complex
 HARMONICS (a complex of pitches).  The Voyager XL  has a distinctive
 TIMBRE (tone quality) that makes it unique amongst L/S machines.  The
 timbre of a sound is what distinguishes it from other sounds.  The timbre
 of a Stradivarius is what distinguishes it from an average violin.  Many
 (most) of the programs on the XCELR8R II produce simple (albeit pure),
 sine waves.  Listening to a violin which produced only simple sine waves
 would quickly grow boresome.   The sound on the Voyager XL is not limited
 to pure sine waves (although it easily, and does produce them).   The
 Voyager XL's programs interveave pure sine waves and harmonics with 
 strategic changes in amplitude to allow for both an "entraining" (it is 
 pure sine waves which produce a binaural sound) and a rich and colorful 
 sound experience.

 >Furthermore, both the XCELR8R and the PR-2X have, in addition to the 50
 >preset sessions, an INFINITE number of new programs called "AUTOPILOT,"
 >each targeting a different band of brainwaves ( ie beta, alpha,
 >theta....). When any of these programs are run, the system automatically
 >generates a NEW & UNIQUE L/S session targeting the particular band that
 >was selected. These provide a virtually unlimited number of L/S sessions
 >which can also be stored (up to 10) as the user decides. This randomness
 >allows the user to "create" a special L/S program without actually
 >having to custom program a session.

 I like this feature.  I wish the Voyager XL had it, then it would be and
 even better machine!  Remember however, you can always download new
 sessions into the Voyager XL.  That will have to suffice for me for now.

 >I agree that our documentation needed work. That is why we have just
 >rewritten it. Having said that, I do not want to mislead anyone into
 >thinking that we now have lengthy descriptions of all our programs. WE
 >DON'T, because the more we would say the less accurate and misleading we
 >would be.

 How can it be "less accurate and misleading" to describe what exactly the
 L/S program is doing (ramps, frequencies, etc., as does the Voyager XL

 >Again, no two people react the same way to the same program. It is up
 >to the individual users to experiment with the different programs to
 >discover what works best for THEM. We provide all the tools necessary
 >(e.g. display of frequency, phasing, etc.) for users to arrive at their
 > optimal settings.

 The diverse and unique programs on the Voyager XL allow users to
 experience any frequency range.  Furthermore, the Voyager XL provides
 highly accredited authors' descriptions and opinions (yes opinions) of
 the programs they created.  I suppose this is what George is referring to
 when he talks about  the misleading, lengthy descriptions for the Voyager
 XL programs.  Try a Voyager XL program, it's perfectly OK to disagree
 with the authors comments on that program.  Personally, I enjoy knowing
 what the authors thought process was when she/he designed the program.
 If a person prefers to guess why the program was designed the way it was,
 she/he doesn't have to read the manual.

 >I wish the writer would be more specific. We have 3 different machines
 >and this comment sounds ambiguous and/or uninformed
 >to me. I say this because the XCELR8R & PR-2X come standard with a
 >lead-acid battery, so this is not really an option, although, I suppose,
 >I would remove it for those that can't handle the weight ;-).

 I apologize, I believed Ni-Cad batteries were an option for these
 machines.  I should have said  that it is an option to replace the lead
 acid battery of your own volition.

 >Each of these systems weighs in at 2 lbs-4oz. Unless you're travelling
 >ultralight, you'll hardly notice it. The SLX has the option of a
 >rechargeable battery and weighs in at 1 pound-3 oz. with the battery

 To be exact (using a zeroed digital scale at a hospital) the XCELR8R II
 weighs 2 lbs-3.7oz to the Voyager XL's 9.1oz.  The Voyager XL is lighter
 than both the XCELR8R II and the SLX.

 As far as weight is concerned (and size for that matter) the XCELR8R II
 would be very cumbersome to carry in an average size purse (not so with 
 Voyager).Your briefcase space is less, your backpack is heavier . . .  
 I don't want to belabor this point but portability is an important factor.
 A great many users carry their machines to work, school, and on public
 transit where the extra size and weight would be a hassle.

 >Much of the weight IS due to the lead-acid battery which we chose over
 >Ni-Cad batteries because they are SIGNIFICANTLY better. Not only do they
 >not get a "memory" (a common problem with ni-cads) which reduces their
 >useful life, they also have a lot more capacity, so you don't have to
 >recharge as often as with other systems. Additionally, both of the "very
 >heavy machines" come packaged in their own custom carrying case to
 >facilitate transport without having to resort to pulleys, cranes or
 >forklifts ;-)

 Although I appreciate George's humor, I have VERY STRONG contention with
 his claim that the lead acid battery is "SIGNIFICANTLY" better.  I have
 used both the XCELR8R II and the Voyager XL extensively and have compared
 battery discharge times.  I've found that the Voyager XL battery lasts
 nearly 2X longer than the XCELR8R II!  (I would like to hear other Mind-L
 readers' experiences with this, a test perhaps?) Furthermore, the lead
 acid battery in the XCELR8R II starts to fade about 3/4 way through its
 discharge (as is the case with lead acid), making the machine unusable
 during the last 1/4.   On the other hand, the Voyager XL's Ni-Cad
 produces consistent and strong power output throughout battery
 discharge.  The Voyager XL's manual claims that the battery has a total
 life expectancy of 7000 hours.  If this is even remotely the case, by the
 time I need new $15 Ni-Cads it will be time to upgrade to a new machine!

 >Mind Gear has well over 150 Clinicians (mostly PhD's and some MD's)
 >using our systems on a daily basis in their practice with very
 >impressive results. We have good reason to believe that we lead the
 >field in clinical applications!

 George makes no mention of PhD's and MD's actually DESIGNING the
 programs.  He says they are "using our systems".  It's hard to tell from
 the XCELR8R II's documentation who the programs WHERE designed by. 
 Dr. Rayma Ditson-Sommer is mentioned for several program designs. 
 As matter of note, Dr. Ditson-Sommer designs programs for the Voyager 
 as well. The Voyager XL's manaul credits each program author and 
 provides a short biography of each author.

 >I am willing to provide both an XCELR8R and a VOYAGER XL system to any
 >QUALIFIED & INDEPENDENT Electrical Engineer for the specific purpose of
 >analyzing the sound output of each machine on an oscilloscope and
 >reporting back to the group their findings on the QUALITY of the sound
 >output as measured by "noise" content and accuracy of the sine wave
 >produced by each system.

 I would love to see such a test done!  However, I'm not sure what it
 would prove.  As I stated above, sine wave purity is not the only measure
 of a quality tone.  George may argue that a less "noisy" sine wave would
 produce a better binaural effect.  I think he's splitting hairs on this
 point.  There is no research which proves this.

 The more harmonics a sound has the richer the resulting sound will be.
 By comparison, a sound lacking harmonics will sound thin. Consider
 the resonant harmonics of the sacred OM. The human voice does not produce
 pure sign waves, it is richly layered with harmonics.  Should your L/S
 machine only produce pure sine waves?  If your aim is purely to drive
 brave waves (entrainment) through binaural sound, this may make sense.
 However, the Voyager XL engages the use of  binaural sound, diverse 
 harmonic tones,  complex changes in pitch, and stratigic changes in 
 amplitude (pulsed sound). The resulting effect is synergistic  (factors 
 enhance each other; see above comment on a Stradivarius and a
 simple violin).   

 In my informal test (see: The Mind Machine Page) I noticed that both the
 XCELR8R II and the Voyager XL produced nice "clean" sine waves.  However,
 my computer is not as sensitive as an oscilloscope so should *NOT* be
 considered an exact measure.  I would love to see the test done and I'm
 considering sending both machines to a "QUALIFIED & INDEPENDENT
 Electrical Engineer" myself (Depending on time and cost factors).
 However, this actually will "prove" very little and says nothing about
 how "subjectively pleasing" both machines are.  Besides, I'm not
 convinced the Voyager XL's sine waves are any less "pure" than the


 >L/S systems are not designed to replace or act like musical
 >synthesizers and ALL the systems on the market only provide very basic
 >sound capabilities. If you want complex sounds and symphonic music, plug
 >in a CD or tape- that's what the external input is for.

 Again I ask, should a L/S machine's sound detract from the total
 experience?  George is correct about L/S systems having "very basic sound
 capabilities."  However, the Voyager XL has more complex sound
 capabilities than most (if not all) others.  Why not plug your CD or tape
 into a machine with sound that will compliment the music, not detract
 from it.  I refuse to be forced to cover up the sound pulses of my L/S
 system with music.  I enjoy the Voyager XL sound emesely by itself 
 and even better with music.

 >I accept that the writer, personally, finds the VOYAGER XL smoother and
 >more pleasant. Different strokes for different folks. Again, everyone
 >responds differently to a given set of stimuli. Whatever works for "you"
 >is the right answer. However, I do not agree that the Voyager compares
 >favorably against either the PR-2X or the XCELR8R simply because it has
 >a thicker manual, can use PolySync tapes, and weighs a little less. I
 >know for a fact that it does *not* have better sound quality as
 >determined by an oscilloscope. This does not mean you may not like what
 >you hear better... just that from a PURE sound standpoint there can be
 >no argument.

 I believe George sums it up here at the end  "This does not mean you may
 not like what you hear better . . . "  I hope it is abundantly clear by
 now that sound quality cannot be measured by the simple factor of sine
 wave purity alone!  Again, it is your subjective experience which is most
 important when deciding the issue.  If you can, listen to both machines,
 let me know what you think.

 >Finally, a few points that the writer omitted to make in his comparison:

 Again, it was not my intention to cover all the points in the original
 post.  It was a casual post.  However, in the current post I attempted to
 be more complete.

 >1) All Mind Gear Systems have the ability to be operated manually. You
 >can set it to any frequency you wish along with whatever phasing you
 >would like to try.

 This seems to fit under the heading of programmability which was

 >2) Both the PR-2X & XCELR8R are two-user systems so that you can share
 >the experience.

 Buy a $2 "Y" jack at Radio Shack.

 >3) They have pulse width (duty cycle) adjustments allowing precise
 >control of the stimulation. This is a very interesting parameter to
 >play with.

 I like this.  Sorry I didn't mention it before.

 >4) All Mind Gear systems allow for the time of a program to be adjusted
 >in 5 min. increments.

 Yes, the Voyager XL would benefit from programmability like this.

 >5) The XCELR8R is the only L/S that can connect to a PC! This allows
 >users to acquire new L/S programs from our WWW site or via diskette.

 Well actually all L/S systems can connect to a PC.  The sound and
 frequencies can be analyzed with nearly any share-ware sound utility.
 Just plug your machine into your sound jack.  I've seen the DOS interface
 for the XCELR8R II.  It's more convenient to just program from the base
 unit itself.

 Although I at first enjoyed programming the XCELR8R II, I soon grew tired
 of it.   I always returned to the Voyager XL and found just the program I
 needed (in addition to all the above mentioned benefits).

 >Thanks for listening to my (somewhat longwinded) side of this
 >discussion. I would also like to take this opportunity to personally
 >thank all Mind Gear owners for their continued support and comments
 >made to this list in the past. Please be assured that you have one of
 >the VERY BEST L/S systems made in the world today.

 >Any one with comments or questions are encouraged to call me toll-free
 >at 800-525-MIND (6463).


 >George Szeless
 >President & Chief Thinker
 >Mind Gear, Inc.

 I also thank you for working your way through this discussion.  I hope
 this has helped to highlight the major differences of the two machines.
 I want to note again that I find the XCELR8R II a fine L/S machine with
 many great features.  However, as for daily L/S use, I turn the Voyager
 XL for all the above reasons.

 Drop me an e-mail and let me know what machine you like and why.  I'm
 hopping to incorporate much of the above discussion into a L/S buyers
 guide for The Mind Machine Page.

 Keep in touch and happy mind journeys!

   /__ /_  _ _   ___  ___ _    _              FEATS OF INTELLECT SHALL NOT
  // /// \/// \ / _/ /__  \\  //              ACCOMPANY MAN IN THE HEREAFTER."
 // ////\_//__//_/\ /___   \/\/                                       Sikism


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