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Author Topic: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.  (Read 3676 times)

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Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2011, 07:08:44 PM »
Agreed. Many people in our immediate area have made the switch to reusable bags because:

a) You get 5 cents off for each bag you use, which means if you keep one for about 6 months and you shop weekly, it pays for itself. Takes a little longer if you shop monthly (would take about 2 years) but using the bags less means that they won't wear out nearly as fast, too.

b) They are ubiquitous. Plastic bags are still fairly easy to get around here, and we still use them every once in a while when we make a quick trip (bread or milk or something) and forget the canvas bags. However, the cloth bags are everywhere. There are endcarts and racks with them on there ev.er.y.where.

True and it is like that pretty much everywhere I live. I think of the attempt to ban Barbie in West Virginia when something that is as 'all or nothing' as the Oregon measure. I agree to the trend of using the 5 cent off per bag used carrot, something my mom told me about first off. (She keeps like nearly a dozen cloth bags in her car now..even keeps a bundle in my dads) but any measure that is as clear and total as the measure in Oregon makes the cynic inside to look and see if the penner of it isn't invested in a paper bag factory somewhere.


Offline Zakharra

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2011, 09:39:44 PM »


... are ignorant, in addition to being flat out incorrect. Wake up and smell the science: we only have one planet and attitudes like yours are destroying it. Just as much, if not more, than greed is.

"I don't care to be inconvenienced by having to bring my own bags to the market." Feh. Whatever.

 I'll grant you the first part but I know for a fact that oil will on it's own degrade into organic sludge that is NOT toxic because oil is at the base, an organic liquid. Everything that spilled into the Gulf will in time degrade on it's own. Nature cleans up it's own messes in time  It might not happen as fast as we humans want, but it will happen eventually.

Offline Trieste

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Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2011, 09:51:23 PM »
The problems with assuming that oil/plastic/pesticides/whatever will 'fix itself' because it's 'natural' are that:

a) We are putting them into the environment in unnatural quantities. At what point do you think the Gulf of Mexico randomly developed a mile-deep rupture and dumped millions of barrels of oil into itself?

b) Waiting for it to 'fix itself' usually puts local wildlife at risk. Usually this wildlife is endangered or threatened already (because we've already been trashing their environment, usually) and further tipping the balance in a catastrophic direction is, well, catastrophic. We are driving species to extinction with our carelessness. A tangentially related example would be the manner in which manatee populations have been decimated by human influence. (Please don't randomly start talking about manatees. They are an example, and not really on topic.)

c) Sure, it might clear up in a couple hundred thousand years or so. After we've scorched our planet and made it unlivable for ourselves and everything else. We may be the global apex predators, but in order to survive, we need to take care of our home. "Well, it'll fix itself" is asking to go the way of the dinosaurs. We need to be proactive. The second option is death - for us as a species and all of the critters that have to live with us.

And even when you don't consider all of that, it's really not a huge deal to remember to take a stupid little canvas bag to the grocery store in order to save a tree, or maybe the gloogy remains of a triceratops. :)

Offline Caeli

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2011, 10:47:15 PM »
True and it is like that pretty much everywhere I live. I think of the attempt to ban Barbie in West Virginia when something that is as 'all or nothing' as the Oregon measure. I agree to the trend of using the 5 cent off per bag used carrot, something my mom told me about first off. (She keeps like nearly a dozen cloth bags in her car now..even keeps a bundle in my dads) but any measure that is as clear and total as the measure in Oregon makes the cynic inside to look and see if the penner of it isn't invested in a paper bag factory somewhere.

I definitely think that a complete ban is a little over the top, though I don't think it's wrong to charge five cents per paper or plastic bag that you use from the grocery store (main reason being, paper bags aren't all that much better than plastic bags when it comes to resource waste). I think providing a little incentive - five cents off if you bring your own bags, for instance - as a carrot is a much better method than a ban, but this change has been a long time in coming, and despite the outward concern about the environment, people aren't making enough change in their daily lives to make the move an easy one.

There are several stores I can name off the top of my head that do the carrot thing - Trader Joe's is the first (I love Trader Joe's), and I think the local Whole Foods does, as does the local Albertson's in my neighborhood that recently went completely green - and I appreciate that step that's being taken. It's a step in the right direction, and that's the kind of thing that's needed to get people to slowly change their habits.

However, I sincerely believe that the main problem is that many people simply don't realize how bad for the environment plastic bags really are - they don't think about where or how it was made, how far it was transported, and the volume at which we consume them - and so they don't think it's that big of a deal if they forget their reusable bag in the house/car/wherever or if they just use a few plastic bags during their grocery trip.

It took the combination of living the principles of my service organization, a compelling documentary, and some research to really become aware of how it all adds up - and since then, I've been making a more focused effort on remembering to bring those reusable bags, reusing any plastic bags I have for household trash or other things, and so on. I think if people were educated or made more aware of how serious this issue is, and how our careless waste and usage of plastic bags is making a very negative impact on the earth and the animals that live here with us, they might also make a greater effort to make that change in their shopping habits.

Offline elone

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2011, 11:11:36 PM »
I know we have been talking about grocery stores here, but what about all of the other stores that put things in plastic bags? How about convenience stores? If you buy just about anything they put it in a plastic bag, even a single item. Unfortunately, this is true of too many stores. I am constantly saying "I don't need a bag".  I have been refusing bags for years. I am also old enough to remember when there were no plastic bags at stores. People seemed to survive just fine. It takes a lot of energy to produce plastic, and the paper industry is a major polluter, although they have made improvements. Besides, I love my forests. Unless wood is sustainably harvested, paper is also a problem.

One of the problems is that we get used to our conveniences. Our Earth is not one of these conveniences, it a finite resource. When we use it to its breaking point it will fix itself, by making humans an extinct species. Any small step we take now may extend our lifetime later.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #30 on: February 08, 2011, 11:22:16 PM »
I say that a lot too. "I don't need a bag." When I go to get a six pack or a couple of liters, typically I have a shoulder bag or such when I go shopping for a few things. Particularly when I'm looking for tools or such. I don't usually use bags aside from grocery shopping and most of them I reuse as garbage bags or such or drop off at recycle spots around the area.

I don't like the idea of an outright ban, particularly one this forthright and sudden.

Offline Vekseid

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2011, 12:16:54 AM »
I'll grant you the first part but I know for a fact that oil will on it's own degrade into organic sludge that is NOT toxic because oil is at the base, an organic liquid. Everything that spilled into the Gulf will in time degrade on it's own. Nature cleans up it's own messes in time  It might not happen as fast as we humans want, but it will happen eventually.

Zakharra, this is not about oil. This is about plastic.

Oil takes a few weeks to degrade into a useless sludge in an environment like the Gulf. This is because oil is a relatively simple substance that is easily converted into fuel for things to eat, and things are well adapted to eat it. Even then, large quantities can still be significantly ecologically and economically disruptive. The 'let it happen and live with it' argument is like saying we shouldn't try to mitigate the effects of volcanic eruptions or hurricanes.

Plastic is not the same thing as oil, like diamonds are not the same thing as coal. One is a lot more chemically stable then the other - and plastics usefulness is due to that chemical stability.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2011, 07:36:37 AM »
One of the issues with the idea of reusable cloth bags for groceries and what not is, people don't wash them and they can be a carrier of germs to and from home and public places. Easily resolved if people take the time to wipe them down at least, with a disinfectant wipe, but I have my doubts people would do this often enough.

I myself reuse plastic bags for liners in my bathroom and computer area trash dispensers. That said, I believe a market based approach to these kinds of problems would be best, not government edicts imposed by a class of people who haven't seen the inside of a Walmart or Target in a decade or two.

Offline Ket

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Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2011, 07:49:38 AM »
One of the issues with the idea of reusable cloth bags for groceries and what not is, people don't wash them and they can be a carrier of germs to and from home and public places. Easily resolved if people take the time to wipe them down at least, with a disinfectant wipe, but I have my doubts people would do this often enough.

-blinks-

Anymore so than your own clothing (made out of cloth) or hands - which are just filled with lovely little buggers - or your shoes that track in dirt -filled with lovely little buggers- or anything else you might be bringing into the store?  I mean, how many people are handling your bags at the store? Unless there's some real scientific data out there showing that reusable shopping bags are ticking time bomb petri dishes carrying the next epidemic of the plague, I really don't see how germs are an issue when it comes to switching to them.

The issue is that people don't want to change. They don't want to have to remember to bring their own bags to the store and they don't want to have to pay for paper bags when plastic has always been 'free'.

Offline Vekseid

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2011, 08:03:54 AM »
I myself reuse plastic bags for liners in my bathroom and computer area trash dispensers. That said, I believe a market based approach to these kinds of problems would be best, not government edicts imposed by a class of people who haven't seen the inside of a Walmart or Target in a decade or two.

Mandating a 5 cent charge is a market based approach.

Plastic waste is an externality that is effectively a public concern. No one has an inherent right to impose externalities on others.

So a cost is figured for the externality and imposed on those who wish to commit it.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2011, 09:31:04 AM »
In the Atlantic there is this HUGE swath of sealane the size of Texas I think or larger of plastic waste it was not biodegrading and styrophome I would just ban that will never break down 100% millions of years from now aliens could come down and test the water finding trace amounts of that most likely. What is the big issue get a cloth bag, tuck in on your person when you go shopping and take it. If you can remember your money to buy things that should not be an issue.

But I would use a carror bring your own bag and maybe they could knock off 2% from your receipt and if you don't add 2% instead. On a $10 bill that would be 20 cents off or 20 cents added and do that pre-tax the business can write off any loss on Federal Taxes perhaps.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2011, 04:51:30 PM »
Mandating a 5 cent charge is a market based approach.

Plastic waste is an externality that is effectively a public concern. No one has an inherent right to impose externalities on others.

So a cost is figured for the externality and imposed on those who wish to commit it.

I'm sorry, I don't consider government mandates, i.e. taxes, a market based approach. I just don't think it is the government's place. I'm sure you disagree, but that is how I feel about it. Even if, syntactically I may be wrong.

-blinks-

Anymore so than your own clothing (made out of cloth) or hands - which are just filled with lovely little buggers - or your shoes that track in dirt -filled with lovely little buggers- or anything else you might be bringing into the store?  I mean, how many people are handling your bags at the store? Unless there's some real scientific data out there showing that reusable shopping bags are ticking time bomb petri dishes carrying the next epidemic of the plague, I really don't see how germs are an issue when it comes to switching to them.

The issue is that people don't want to change. They don't want to have to remember to bring their own bags to the store and they don't want to have to pay for paper bags when plastic has always been 'free'.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/video/carrying-reusable-bags-11006319
http://www.examiner.com/sustainable-foods-in-portland/clean-your-reusable-bags-or-risk-food-poisoning

-blinkity-blink-

Offline Trieste

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Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2011, 05:05:07 PM »
... you know about it because it's being disseminated via the news and health blogs. So that people are educated about it and get into the habit of washing their bags. Not everyone will - but some people still leave the bathroom without washing their hands, too. (We've all heard someone come out of the next stall over and leave the public washroom without touching the sink. I know it's not just me.)

Offline Serephino

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2011, 07:43:18 PM »
Everything is covered in germs.  Medical and news shows do spots on this kind of thing all the time.  The keyboard you type on probably has more germs on it than a cloth bag.  If I let germs stop me, I'd have to live in a sanitized plastic bubble.

From my experience, people respond better to saving money rather than being charged more.  I remember there used to be a recycling center around here that payed for aluminum cans.  My babysitter used to get them anywhere she could, and make me crush them, so I can tell you she probably recycled at least a few hundred cans a month.  I can also tell you that woman would never have put such effort into it if she wasn't getting money for it.  That recycling center closed last year because of county budget issues, so no one around here can recycle unless they want to drive a good 30mi, which would defeat the purpose because of the gas used.

I agree that we have a problem, and need to fix it, but it won't happen overnight.  When I was a kid oil was cheap and plentiful, so it was used for everything.  People didn't start thinking about these things until a little while ago.  Sadly awareness came a bit too late.  Pretty much everything we do everyday involves an oil based product somehow. 

Offline Jude

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2011, 09:35:23 PM »
I'll grant you the first part but I know for a fact that oil will on it's own degrade into organic sludge that is NOT toxic because oil is at the base, an organic liquid. Everything that spilled into the Gulf will in time degrade on it's own. Nature cleans up it's own messes in time  It might not happen as fast as we humans want, but it will happen eventually.
Nature is not some anthropomorphic entity with a limitless capacity for adaptation to overcome damage and return to its original state like a stress ball:  it's our environment.  When we change our environment we are changing nature, and these changes in turn result in a myriad of other changes.  Natural + natural may equal natural, but it does not always equal hospitable.  That's just a complicated extension of the naturalistic fallacy.  And we can thank Rush Limbaugh for injecting that nonsense into culture most recently.

Offline Oniya

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Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2011, 10:02:03 PM »
Here's another example along those lines:  Salt is perfectly natural.  Ocean's full of it.  Dump a couple tons of it in a pond, or in an open meadow, though, and you kill off everything, and it may or may not recover.  There's a reason that the ancient Romans talked about 'sowing the enemy's fields with salt'.

Offline Vekseid

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2011, 11:27:29 PM »
I'm sorry, I don't consider government mandates, i.e. taxes, a market based approach. I just don't think it is the government's place. I'm sure you disagree, but that is how I feel about it. Even if, syntactically I may be wrong.

A non market-based solution would be an outright ban, quota limitation, or rationing system. Market based solutions impose costs in order to direct behavior to more favorable ends.

Conservative libertarianism, to my knowledge, doesn't actually have a solution. If you have one, I'd love to hear it. You use 'market based', but then claim that a market based solution isn't what you were talking about. So what, exactly, is your solution to curbing public externalities like this?

Offline Jude

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2011, 11:58:27 PM »
A non market-based solution would be an outright ban, quota limitation, or rationing system. Market based solutions impose costs in order to direct behavior to more favorable ends.

Conservative libertarianism, to my knowledge, doesn't actually have a solution. If you have one, I'd love to hear it. You use 'market based', but then claim that a market based solution isn't what you were talking about. So what, exactly, is your solution to curbing public externalities like this?
The libertarian solution is pretty much the same solution that's offered for every problem through libertarianism:  get government out of the way and rely on non-governmental entities to fix things through voluntary compliance.  That just doesn't seem realistic to me at all because there are no immediate consequences for failing to comply, but there are advantages for refusing to do so.  People will do what's in their best interest usually, not humanity's as a whole.

Offline BayushiTopic starter

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2011, 02:07:58 AM »
A non market-based solution would be an outright ban, quota limitation, or rationing system. Market based solutions impose costs in order to direct behavior to more favorable ends.

That's the thing, Veks.

It IS an outright ban. The proposed bill says: No more plastic bags, PERIOD, in Oregon. Five cents per paper bag ONLY if said paper bag is 40% or more recycled material; otherwise, paper bags will also be banned.

The government has no place making these types of laws.

Offline Vekseid

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2011, 03:30:40 AM »
Ah, sorry. Regardless, the five cent surcharge is still a market incentive to reduce waste.

The government has no place making these types of laws.

Then how do societies stop this, if not by governmental laws?

Non-market based solutions are typically inelegant, yes, but if you want to declare that this is not a solution, then you ought to propose one.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #45 on: February 10, 2011, 07:52:39 AM »
A non market-based solution would be an outright ban, quota limitation, or rationing system. Market based solutions impose costs in order to direct behavior to more favorable ends.

Conservative libertarianism, to my knowledge, doesn't actually have a solution. If you have one, I'd love to hear it. You use 'market based', but then claim that a market based solution isn't what you were talking about. So what, exactly, is your solution to curbing public externalities like this?

The libertarian solution is pretty much the same solution that's offered for every problem through libertarianism:  get government out of the way and rely on non-governmental entities to fix things through voluntary compliance.  That just doesn't seem realistic to me at all because there are no immediate consequences for failing to comply, but there are advantages for refusing to do so.  People will do what's in their best interest usually, not humanity's as a whole.

Well first off, we are presuming that there is a problem that needs resolving, and from what I read in the article linked by Akiko, there isn't a consensus that there is a problem, or at least one as significant as some would have us believe. Now I'm no scientist or researcher, but I'm not of the opinion that plastic bags are going to be the end our world as we know it. Additionally, our first knee-jerk reaction when presented with a problem shouldn't be, in my opinion, to turn to the government for a mandate, tax, or other corrective action. By market based solution I don't simply mean a monetary one, but one that comes from the private sector. It is in the private sector the best solutions come from. Again, my opinion.

Now what might be a solution that doesn't involve the government? Perhaps interest groups campaigning to the corporate entities to either change their offerings of bag types, or otherwise offering an alternative. Also, entrepreneurs selling and marketing reusable bags and promoting the concept themselves.

I don't suggest the government never have a part to play, but it shouldn't in my opinion be the first go-to option. In most cases, it should be the last. There is a reason we have state rights, and a reason we have a constitution, and a reason our government is formed the way it is. It's not to consolidate power and decisions in one or a few entities. I would think liberals would appreciate this concept, after all. This is simply my opinion, and not a judgement upon how other people see government's role.

Offline Caehlim

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #46 on: February 10, 2011, 08:10:18 AM »
We, (South Australia) banned non-reusable plastic bags a few years back, people were a little annoyed at the time but now we all seem to be completely used to it. I have an entire cupboard full of canvas bags. I don't just use them for shopping anymore either, once you have them you find a lot of uses for them.

Honestly I don't notice the difference at all any more. If it works out better for our long term survival and resource management then I'm willing to make an almost unnoticeable sacrifice.

Offline Valerian

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #47 on: February 10, 2011, 08:20:35 AM »
I'm not as qualified as some to discuss the question of governmental vs. private sector regulation, so I'll skip that part.

However, regardless of the relative size of whatever clumps of plastic are floating in the oceans, the mere fact that we're discussing such a thing is bad.  Someone had to go out and try to measure the amount of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean.  Saying that there's less toxic crap out there then we originally thought doesn't exactly reassure me.  Even in that article, the scientist in questions flat out says there's too much plastic in the oceans.

I don't think anyone's trying to say that plastic bags = the end of the world as we know it.  You can't point to any one factor and say that's the one that's going to bring us down.  But we know plastic bags are a problem.  We also know they're a problem that's relatively easy to fix.  As Caehlim says, it's an adjustment, but one that people can easily make.  Now is the time to make it, before we really do have piles of plastic out there the size of Texas.

Offline Trieste

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Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #48 on: February 10, 2011, 08:46:03 AM »
Now I'm no scientist or researcher, but I'm not of the opinion that plastic bags are going to be the end our world as we know it.

No, you're not. Fortunately, there are scientists and researchers on this board, so you were conveniently provided with a bunch of sources - both governmental and independent - that elucidate how big the problem is. The problem doesn't come entirely from little plastic bags; the problem is largely contributed to by plastics, though, of which little plastic bags are a significant part.

Offline Vekseid

Re: I thought that it wasn't possible to get any more ridiculous.
« Reply #49 on: February 10, 2011, 09:51:30 AM »
Well first off, we are presuming that there is a problem that needs resolving, and from what I read in the article linked by Akiko, there isn't a consensus that there is a problem, or at least one as significant as some would have us believe.

There isn't even a consensus that the Earth is round.

The only consensus that matters is that of those who honestly and objectively study the question at hand.

There is nothing preventing you from doing this. It's not hard. You don't even need to become an activist. Environmental concern is not a binary switch from 100% treehugging hippy to 100% sociopathic corporate stooge, where you choose one or the other with no ground in between.

Quote
Now I'm no scientist or researcher, but I'm not of the opinion that plastic bags are going to be the end our world as we know it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10781621

I could alternately respond with 'how is that sentence relevant', but yes, humanity is doing mass extinction level damage to the biosphere, of a sort not seen since the Permian-Triassic boundary.

We're also in the rather unique position of actually being able to mostly stop it.

But there is no 'private sector' solution.

Quote
Additionally, our first knee-jerk reaction when presented with a problem shouldn't be, in my opinion, to turn to the government for a mandate, tax, or other corrective action. By market based solution I don't simply mean a monetary one, but one that comes from the private sector.

How would a private sector initiative clean up an ocean?

Seriously. How.

Quote
It is in the private sector the best solutions come from. Again, my opinion.

This is demonstrably false.

Name one private sector initiative that created a better worldwide network than the Internet. This one is pretty egregious. Prodigy. Compuserve. AOL. None of their efforts hold a candle to the Internet.

Name one private sector initiative that manages water resources better than the USGS.

Name one private sector initiative that landed us on the moon.

You can have an opinion otherwise, but these are feats that have never been matched, by anyone else in the entire world, ever. The rest of the world, combined, dreams of rivaling them.

These do have something in common, however - they are projects specifically for the public interest and benefit.

Quote
Now what might be a solution that doesn't involve the government? Perhaps interest groups campaigning to the corporate entities to either change their offerings of bag types, or otherwise offering an alternative. Also, entrepreneurs selling and marketing reusable bags and promoting the concept themselves.

I imagine this was actually lobbied for by retailers as well as environmental groups. The optimal solution is for everyone to carry as few types of bags as possible, while also making sure that no other retailer can offer the 'convenience' to try to undercut them.

Quote
I don't suggest the government never have a part to play, but it shouldn't in my opinion be the first go-to option. In most cases, it should be the last. There is a reason we have state rights, and a reason we have a constitution, and a reason our government is formed the way it is. It's not to consolidate power and decisions in one or a few entities. I would think liberals would appreciate this concept, after all. This is simply my opinion, and not a judgement upon how other people see government's role.

And there is a reason the promotion of the general welfare is explicitly laid out in the Constitution.

Even then, it is a 220 year old document whose authors had no comprehension of the profound advances humanity would make, nor could they and nor can we blame them for that. We have top cope with the advances that they did not foresee, though they did in fact see advances would come that ought to be accommodated, as Jefferson himself noted.