Lessons from Duct Tape

thDuring my son’s time in the Marines, one of his subordinates approached him. “Sir, I can’t find my rifle.” An odd thing, indeed, for a marine to say. On top of that, this particular individual had a history of misplacing his rifle.

So my son took him on a quest to find two things-

1. His rifle       and        2. A ROLL OF DUCT TAPE.

When both were located, he had the young man hold his rifle, parallel, against his chest. As the private slowly spun, my son wound him in duct tape, securely fastening the weapon to him. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, he then took the man around for everyone else to see, and instructed him to say, “This is my rifle. I won’t lose it again.”

When I was told that story, my mouth dropped. “Son, what a humiliating punishment. Wasn’t that a little harsh?”

He shook his head. “In battle, that weapon stands between life and death for that marine and for his comrades. Learn his lesson now, and stay alive when it matters!”

My son was right.

Have you ever felt like God is punishing you? Like your burden is too much? Have you ever wondered why God allows awful things to happen to you?

Maybe you should considered the notion that He’s trying to teach you a lesson.

Christians want the roses without having to deal with the thorns. It’s sometimes hard to accept, but God disciplines us, and discipline can hurt.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all our pain, suffering, and trials are a direct result of God’s discipline. There are also troubles this world throws at us. And sometimes our struggles are due to our own stupidity. Yet the Bible tells us God disciplines those He loves.

Hebrews 12:5-7 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”

God is forging us, making us more Christ-like. Sometimes the process might hurt.   Change hurts!

So if you’re having an I’m-Wound-in-Duct-Tape kind of day, ask yourself, What’s the Lord trying to teach me?

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Fun With Snow

I surrender! I give in to the great white fluff, pressing on my brain. Last night, as I gazed from my window at the snowy white landscape, which looked more like an image of the moon than my front yard, I feverishly worked to create things to do with the snow. Not normal things. Oh no. We need fun things . . . Wild things . . . Things that bubble the brain and excite the imagination! Things that match my snow madness.

Here are my top three.

TinySnowman1. THE MYSTERIOUS SNOWMAN   Sneak over to your neighbor’s front door at two o’clock in the morning, and build a snowman. Make sure it’s so close to his door, he can’t get out without running into it. Make it as ominous looking as you can. Perhaps place a sign in its hands which reads, “The End is Near” or “Have You Hugged a Snowman Today?” or “We’re Watching You”. Then ring the bell and run! If you have a neighbor who’s been bugging you in some way (loud music, a dirty yard, etc.), it’s even more fun.

2. THE DISNEY DANCE        Reenact “Let it Go” from Frozen. Put on a gown and dance around your yard, while you build a giant ice castle. With a fist raised to the sky, scream out, “The cold never bothered me, anyway.” I did this and surprisingly the neighbor called the police. FYI- It was the same neighbor who’d found a mysterious snowman on their porch at 2 AM. Will wonders never cease.

3. THE AMAZING, GIANT DOG (with a bladder problem)    Get a fifty gallon jug of yellow food coloring. Where can you find this? I’m not sure. Probably one of the big box stores. Once you’ve acquired the goods, you have two options. Either soak your neighbor’s yard or soak your own yard with the stuff. If you choose your neighbor, it will be revenge fork9962351 him calling the police on you, simply because he’s not a fan of Disney songs. If you soak your own, you can call the police yourself. When they show up, you should have this amazed, mortified, the-martians-are-landing kind of look on your face, as you proclaim, “You should have seen the size of the beast that left this.”

That’s all I have. If you think of more creative uses for snow, let me know.

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Fear versus Trust

Have you ever felt like your life’s tailspinning out of control? That you’re swirling down into a deep, dark hole, with no way out? That’s me the last few months. Between health issues, financial difficulties, job concerns, and other things.
Don’t get out the tiny violins. I’m not looking for sympathy. Read on. I’ve a point to make.
To top everything off . . .over eighty inches of snow in less than three and a half weeks. Sure. It’s good for skiers, snowboarders, and penguins. I’m none of these. I’m one of the millions who have run out of places to put the snow. I’m the man with water dripping in his kitchen from the ice build up on his roof.
Wonderful! More financial concerns.
A couple of nights ago, as I was stewing over my problems, the phone rang.
“Hi dad.” It was my son, Jerry. Something was off in his voice. “I’ve had an accident.”
It seems his car hit black ice. It spun out of control, hit and sailed over a five foot tall snow embankment, then flipped over and slammed into the ground. The roof crunched against his head. All the airbags deployed.
During this, the car’s contents flew through its cabin- Glass bottles, ten pound weights, his gun safe, his German Shepherd, amongst other items.
He then had to kick the door open to get out.
My heart sank. I pictured him lying in a hospital bed, his arms and legs in traction. “Are you OK?”
“I’m OK.”
“Broken bones? Cuts? Bruises?”
“None. The car is totaled, but I’m OK.”
All of a sudden, the black hole that had been consuming me disappeared.
My son Josiah, a paramedic, told Jerry these are the types of accidents he pulls dead bodies out of.
Even while I’m typing this, I’m tearing up. Not because of the ice on the roof, or water in the attic, or financial troubles. They seem so trivial now.
It puts things in perspective for me.
Are you sinking in a black hole of despair, because of life’s situations? Consider this verse.

Psalm 56:3-4 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?

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Jonathan Edwards Set the Bar High

Each New Years, people make resolutions. Check these out.
Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), from the Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humble entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake. [I will] remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, Never to do anything out of revenge.

Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession which I cannot hope God will accept.

Resolved, To ask myself, at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.

Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

Resolved, Always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.

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imageWhat? You say you’re a Christmas expert? You actually know valuable information like when tinsel was invented? Then test that knowledge by answering the following questions. After you’re done, check your answers down below. See how many you got right.

No fair peeking at the answers ahead of time. If you do, Santa will leave coal in your crisper. Not a nice thing.

1. What year was the poem, “The Night Before Christmas”, by Clement Clark Moore, published?
A. 1822      B. 1876      C. 1901     D. 1923

2. Which two Bible books tell the nativity story?
A. Luke, John      B. Matthew, Luke       C. Matthew, Mark      D. Paul, Luigi



3. In the TV Special, “A Charlie Brown’s Christmas”, what did Lucy want for Christmas?



4. What was John the Baptist’s mom’s name?
A. Priscilla     B. Elizabeth     C. Sarah     D. Mrs. Baptist

5. What was the name of George Bailey’s hometown in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?

6. Who told the wise men to find the baby Jesus and bring word back to him?
A. Herod     B. Jay Leno     C. Caesar     D. Joseph (He went for a walk after JESUS was born, and got kind of lost)

7. In “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” what was the dog’s name?image

8. What did my true love give me on the ninth day of Christmas?

9. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but where did Mary and Joseph come from?
A. Jerusalem     B. Nazareth     C. Jericho     D. Egypt


image10. What year was the film “White Christmas” released?





Are you ready for the answers? Here they are.

1. A. 1822! Yes, that’s right. It’s that old. This poem was a Christmas Eve favorite at our house. My kids always wondered about the “Threw up the sash” part. What in the world is sash? And why did it make the fella sick?

2. B. Matthew and Luke. The other two Gospels begin at different times in Jesus’ life. Mark begins his story with the baptism of Jesus. John takes us all the way back to the beginning, pointing us go the deity of Jesus.

3. The young girl was smart. The answer- Real Estate.

4. Though I really like the answer “Mrs. Baptist”, the real answer is B. Elizabeth.

5. Bedford Falls. So just like George Bailey, you should run around your neighborhood on Christmas Eve, shouting, MERRY CHRISTMAS, BEDFORD FALLS! I do this every year. The neighbors love it! They even call the police to give me an escort. Isn’t that nice of them?

6. A. Herod. The man was insane. His motivation for seeking the King of kings was murder! Thankfully, God warned the wisemen to head for the hills!

7. That cute little pup’s name was Max.

8. If your answer was Nine ladies dancing, you’re wrong! Look at what the song says. “On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle dove, and a partridge in a pear tree.”

9. B. Nazareth

10. 1954. It’s a classic, well worth watching. I always tear up a little in the last scene.

That’s all she wrote. Tally up your correct answers. We asked Rudolph to come up with a scale to measure your Christmas know-how.

If you got-

10 Answers Correct, but you looked them up on the internet, or asked your mother for help. Bad. bad, bad. Santa says that’s like cheating off someone else’s paper on a test.

0 Answers Correct,  you deserve coal in your crisper.

1 to 3 Answers Correct,  you’re a Christmas Elf- Fourth Class. You gotta try harder.

4 to 6 Answers Correct,  Hurray! Get yourself some figgie pudding and eggnog. You’re on the way to Christmas Quiz Greatness.

7 to 8 Answers Correct,  you are so good, you can add a slice of fruit cake to the egg nog and figgie pudding.

9 Answers Correct, you are an Elf-First Class!

A Perfect Score. Wow! You deserve a ride on Santa’s sleigh!

So how did you do? Leave a comment and let me know.


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Solving the Thanksgiving Dilemma

k4982533The other day (November 2nd) my wife and I went to a Chinese restaurant. They were playing Christmas music. Shades of the movie, A Christmas Story! FA-RA-RA-RA-RA.

At Staples an employee was complaining about the store staying open all day Thanksgiving. ALL DAY ON THANKSGIVING!

For some reason stories like these anger people. They’ll grumble, “We’re forgetting Thanksgiving!” I’m sure you’ve heard this.

Well, I’ve put on my thinking cap and come up with some ideas on how to solve this national crisis.

1. Make Thanksgiving more Commercial. You know. Come up with some Thanksgiving Carols. I’m Dreaming of a Huge Drumstick or Fill my Plate With Tons of Stuffing (to be sung to the tune of Deck the Halls).

How about advertising Tony the Turkey who slides through doggy doors in the middle of the night and leaves giblets and turkey necks for good little boys and girls.

There’s one problem with this solution. The Christmas Syndicate wouldn’t allow it. santa-17140275Thanksgiving would be muscling in on their territory. Next thing you know, there’d be major rumbles. Men dressed in Santa suits would be duking it out in the middle of the mall with others dolled up like turkeys. Vegas would be setting the odds as to who would win.

2. How about this. Demand People to Be Thankful! Make it a law! Wag a finger in people’s faces and growl, “Be thankful!”, like you were disciplining a dog who’d just done his duty on your kitchen floor.


Nope. That doesn’t work either. You can’t force people to be thankful. Frankly, most of them would exchange bragging for thanking. “Look what I’ve done.” or  “Look at the good year I’ve had.”

Here’s the solution I finally came up with. The REAL ONE!

Christians, Be Thankful. Plain and simple. Forget what everyone else is doing. How in the world you expect non-Christians to act like Christians is beyond me. You be thankful. If those around you are grumbly & grouchy, and are caught up in a society gone mad, you be a nonconformist. You be thankful to God for what He’s done for you. Stop worrying about the stores that are open or the fact that people don’t truly celebrate Thanksgiving. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing. What a radical idea. You, praise God for Who He is. Be an example to those around you.

YOU! YOU! You be thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


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How to Become a World Famous Author- NOT. Two

IMG_0699Friends, this is part two. Please read, “How to Become a World Famous Author, NOT”, before proceeding or this will make no sense at all. Not that it makes much sense anyways.

Maddy was a beautiful woman. Ringlets of blond hair framed her perfect face. Her sky-blue eyes made even Raoul the florist’s knees go weak. However, as for intelligence, she was a couple bells short of Quasimodo.
She decided her best bet for happiness was to marry a rich, older man.
Hiram Grey was the opposite of Maddy. Intelligent, but ugly. Beady eyed, uneven lipped. But his most prominent feature was his nose. It was so big, he’d suck all the air out a small room, and others would faint due to a lack of oxygen.
That didn’t stop the 21 year old Maddy from marrying him. It wasn’t long before an awful truth set in. Hiram was a tightwad, and Maddy was forced to live on less money than she’d have made cleaning toilets.
Her only hope was for him to kick the bucket, which according to her, should have been any day. “After all,” she thought. “he’s as old as dirt . . . 65, to be exact.”

Er. . . Did I mention Maddy wasn’t the brightest?

On top of that, people said Hiram suffered from some dreaded disease- Hypochondria. Surely this would claim his life, and let her inherit the millions.

But no. Years passed.

In her anguish, Maddy turned to two men for comfort- Ben and Jerry. A pint of ice cream every night helped ease her pain. Before long, her inflating figure gave new meaning to the term, Chunky Monkey.

“Why won’t he just die!” There were plenty of near misses; times when bouts with his disease brought the ambulance to their house. As a matter of fact, it came so often, the EMTs wanted to set up a substation there.
Thirty years went by. Over two thousand trips to the hospital. NOTHING! Hiram clung to life.
Then came the one time Maddy refused to call the ambulance. “You’re not choking. It’s all in your head.”

Alas, it wasn’t. Hiram finally succumbed to a lump of potato, stuck in his throat.

The mourners gathered at a cemetery, set on such a steep hill that the undertaker had to put extra supports on one end of the casket to keep it in place.
Everyone glared at Maddy. She knew what they were all thinking; that she’d killed him!
Poor girl. After all, all she did was marry for money and wish her husband dead. Was that so bad? . . . Let’s not answer that.
Maddy stood there, chewing on her pudgy bottom lip. “I have to do something to show I loved the old coot.” In a desperate move, she threw her 300 pound girth on the casket, pressed her head against it, and sobbed uncontrollably. “O Hiram. Why did you die so young?”
Young? Ha! He was 95.
Something thudded against the cheap pine box. The other mourners gasped. Maddy looked up. If she’d been in her right mind, she’d have simply seen a silly looking stuffed moose, dressed in a cowboy outfit.

But no, looking square into the beast’s snout, she saw Hiram, come back from the dead. She screeched and fell forward, slamming into the support holding the casket in place. It snapped and she slid into the grave.

Maddy looked up in time to see the casket roll away. It raced down the hill. The moose’s foot was stuck in a hinge. It rode atop the box, its parachute fluttering like superman’s cape in the breeze. Winding through the gravestones, it proceeded out of the cemetery, leaped over an embankment and landed on a passing freight train, headed for Canada. Hiram (and the moose) were never seen again.

Moe and Zeb had a bird’s eye view of this spectacle from the airplane. They too headed for Canada, also never to be seen again. However, evidence of Moe’s existence kept popping up.

A well dressed Caribou would stroll out of the woods every now and then.

If you’d like to meet some local authors, and discuss dressing moose, join us on November 1st for the “Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors”. To find out more, go to http://www.EventBrite.com and enter “Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors” in the SEARCH box. If you prefer to speak with someone, call Clarice James 603-578-1860 or email her at meetgreetchristianauthors@gmail.com.

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How to Become a World Famous Author- NOT!

IMG_0699How to Become a World Famous Author has been the subject of my recent posts. But today’s topic is . . . .

How NOT to Become a World Famous Author.  

Good Example- my friend Moe, from Maine.    His book, How to Dress a Moose in Under Fifteen Minutes, bombed. As a matter of fact, PETA hated it. Of course, Moe thought people were saying “Peter”, not “PETA”, and assumed we were talking about his cousin. He couldn’t figure out why he kept sending him hate mail.
PETA was confused, too. They thought the book was about Field Dressing a Moose, which means . . . well you can look that up, if you’d like.
But no, Moe’s book was about dressing a moose . . . Literally! Hey, I never judged him; never wondered what went on, deep in the woods of Maine. One day, when I went to visit, he was struggling to get a dicky on his pet moose, George, who gave me a look of despair that said, “Please, help me!” Though, I have to admit, once dressed, George looked rather dapper.IMG_0713
But, I digress. Moe came up with what he thought was a great way to promote his book. He would purchase some stuffed moose (the toy kind, not the actual thing), dress them up, and drop them from an airplane. His cousin Zeb, a pilot during the war, had a plane. Which war? Moe couldn’t remember. For that matter, neither could Zeb.
There’d been a mishap with a herd of cows, a duck, and a barn door, and Zeb’s pilot’s license had been revoked. That didn’t seem to bother this duo. Moe figured, one quick trip up, drop the parachute-wearing mooses, and everyone would be talking about his book. It was a sure winner.

The day came. Moe had three hundred Moose, dressed in a variety of outfits from tutus to tuxes, stuffed in the small aircraft. They took off!

Of course, Moe never considered where the moose would land. About sixty got hung up in the trees, looking like a scene from a horror flick- Death Antlers from the Sky. Five hit the windshield of an 18 wheeler on I-95, causing the driver to swerve into a gaggle of irate geese.
Many were lost in the woods, maybe picked up by wolves or real moose, with confused looks on their faces. “What the heck are these?”
A dozen descended on an old folks home. The residents, including some war vets, were out in the yard, enjoying the sunny day. Seeing the descending parachutes, they thought the huns were attacking, grabbed up canes as rifles and bedpans as grenades. Needless to say, it was messy.
But perhaps the greatest story that came out of this, the one that will live in dressed-moose infamy, was the story of Maddy Grey.
More tomorrow. 

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Part Two- How to Become a World Famous Author

Scientists at Upper Massachusetts University researched the following hypothesis: “Mice IMG_0699will follow the crowd?” Several alpha mice (the cool ones) were fed a diet of mud, and taught to exclaim with their Mickey-like voices, “Wow, this is good!” By the end of the week, all the other mice were ignoring their regular food and munching on mud pies, squealing, “We’re cool! We’re cool!”
Lesson learned – People will follow the crowd.
That leads us to our next sure fire way to become a world famous author.
The Papparazzi Principle.
It’s simple. Get a bunch of your friends to stage mock events. When people see the crowd, they’ll join in.
For example, let’s use the venue of a bookstore. Your friends enter the store in a casual manner, not all at once. We don’t want the manager to have a heart attack. “Oh look! Thirty customers! My dying business is saved.”
No, they meander in.
At the assigned time, you make your entrance and your friends go into action.
“Hey! Isn’t that the world famous author, (Insert your name here)?”
“By George, I think it is!”
“His book is better than pepperoni pizza!”
They mob you, demanding autographs. Just by chance (wink, wink), you happen to have a few copies of your book with you. If your friends are fast thinkers, they could set up a table, complete with a life size cutout of you. An impromptu book signing! Others will see it and ask, “What’s going on?” Unsuspecting people, like the mice with the mud pies, will flock to your table.
Who knows where this will lead. As a matter of fact, my friend Larry found true love using this method.
His book, Making the Right Connections, was a big hit with the women. For some reason, they all assumed it was about romance and dating.
What was it really about? Plumbing. Chapters entitled, “Don’t Flush Before Your Time” and “Going with the Flow” should have been dead giveaways. Oh well. Before he knew it, Larry married one of his groupies, a beautiful model. They were together for five years before she realized he was a plumber!
Wanting to make her happy, Larry changed the course of his life. He became one of the biggest relationship gurus on the West coast. Who’d a thought it? All because he followed the Papparazzi principle.

If you’d like to meet authors who might or might not have used the “Papparazzi Principle”, join us on November 1st for the “Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors”. To find out more, go tohttp://www.EventBrite.com and enter “Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors” in the SEARCH box. If you prefer to speak with someone, call Clarice James 603-578-1860 or email her at meetgreetchristianauthors@gmail.com.

And remember, if you’re there Saturday, crowd around my table, shouting, “Isn’t that the world famous author, (insert my name). Hey. It couldn’t hurt.

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How to Become a World Famous Author. Part One

IMG_0699What’s the quickest way to become a world famous author? Here’s the old fashioned advice- “Write and rewrite”, “Work hard”, etc.

Hah!! I’ve scoured the earth, searched every matchbook cover, touting, “Five Easy Lessons to Become a Writer”, and have come up with a couple sure fire ways.


Here’s Technique #1. The Is There a Doctor in the House Method.
Have you ever been in a crowded restaurant when someone keels over in their tomato soup. A voice hollers, “Is there a doctor in the house?” An MD rushes forward, saves the man (AND THE TOMATO SOUP), and is an instant hero.
This will work for writers, too.
Of course you’ll need a couple helpers (Confederates); friends not worried about potential lawsuits or making fools of themselves.
Here’s an example of how it would work.
Let’s pretend you have a new book- “Beekeeping Techniques of the Ancient Mesopotamians“. A best seller ready to happen!
Everyone is in place at the restaurant. Your tingling with anticipation. Hold on, my friend! Don’t rush forward too soon. You don’t want to jump up before heads plop into soup. That would look silly.
At the designated signal, one of your confederates splashes into his soup. Please note- Tomato is not needed. In a pinch clam chowder will work.

But it must be New England style, not that awful Manhattan stuff.

Your other confederate races to his side. “What seems to be the trouble?”
The collapsed man answers, “O woe is me. My beehives are dying. What will I do?” He falls backwards, fading fast.
Your confederate scans the crowd. “Is there a beekeeper in the house?”
People gaze around. All seems lost, until you leap to your feet. “Wait! I’m an author! I’ve written a book on ancient Mesopotamian beekeeping techniques!”
You rush to the man’s side and talk him through his beekeeping dilemma. Hurrah! You save the day! You’re a hero.

Now if you could repeat this in about five to six hundred restaurants, you’ll become a world famous author.

If you’d like to meet people who may or may not have used this technique, join us on November 1st at the Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors, being held in Nashua, NH. For more info, go to
http://www.EventBrite.com and enter “Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors” in the SEARCH box. If you prefer to speak with a real person, call Clarice James 603-578-1860 or email her at meetgreetchristianauthors@gmail.com.
Who knows . . . Perhaps we’ll have a live demonstration of this method. You bring the soup.

Next time, we’ll talk about The Papparazzi Principle.

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