Thursday, January 27, 2005

OODA Loops and Decline

An OODA loops, based on the works of Colonel John Boyd, is an Observation - Orientation - Decision - Action Loop. Chuck Spinney, in Comment # 536 elaborates the following:

"Many Blasters have discussed and explained the strategic theories of Colonel John Boyd. I will only summarize his ideas here; new subscribers or interested readers can find these Blasters as well as Boyd's work throughout the DNI archive, particularly Thread 1. Boyd built his theory of conflict around the moral - mental - physical aspects of an organism's decision cycle—what he called the Observation - Orientation - Decision - Action Loop. Boyd showed that an OODA Loop (the decision cycle of an individual or any collection of individuals) is an open, far-from-equilibrium process. This is a crucial finding: students of chaos theory, systems control theory, or the theory of evolution will immediately recognize the implications of such a construction: the OODA Loop is capable of expansion and growth, but it is also inherently unpredictable and its pathway can lead also to chaos, because it incorporates positive as well as negative feedback control loops. OODA loops are enormously powerful, but with that power comes real danger.

The most dangerous form of positive feedback comes from the most powerful part of the OODA Loop—the Orientation activity. Orientation and the ability to change one's Orientation give the OODA Loop both its power and its vulnerability.

Observations feed into Orientation, but they are also shaped and filtered by the lens of Orientation. The idea of an "objective" observation existing independent of the observer is a myth still held by many hidebound defense analysts, sociologists, and economists but is now rejected by most anthropologists, biologists and physical scientists.

Observations feed into the organism's Orientation activity. Boyd showed how Orientation exhibits a shaping pressure on what is seen and on the interpretation of what is seen. Decisions and actions flow out of this two-way interplay of Observation and Orientation. He showed why the most dangerous internal state of an OODA loop occurs when the Orientation process becomes so powerful that it force fits the organism's observations into fitting a preconceived template, even when those observations threaten the relevance of that template.

In essence, like the communist ideologue, the organism sees what it wants to see, interprets events the way it wants to interpret events, and sees no reason to change. It makes decisions and actions accordingly. When this happens, the loop has turned inside itself. It loses its capacity to adapt to changing external circumstances, and in effect, the open far-from-equilibrium system becomes an incestuously amplifying closed system—and echo chamber amplifying its own echoes: Any tendency toward self-correction breaks down, because Observations of the results of its Actions are fed through the same non-adaptive template, over and over again. The organism becomes increasingly disconnected from reality.

The power of Boyd's intellectual achievement is that he showed why the inevitable result of such an inwardly focused OODA Loop is a build up of internal confusion and disorder (entropy). He showed why, when such loops are put under menacing pressure, the confusion and disorder naturally expands into panic and chaos, which in turn can generate overload, paralysis, and even collapse. Boyd's entire strategy of conflict centered on the idea of inducing his opponent's OODA loop to turn inside itself.

But you don't need conflict to close an OODA loop. A closed OODA loop, with the attendant build up of entropy, can be also be the result of a self-inflicted wound, as was the case in the old Soviet Union.

With these thoughts in mind, I urge you to read carefully the attached article which appears in the current issue of Newsweek International. Judge for yourself whether or not America is in danger of folding itself inside its own OODA Loop."

The article cited is Dream On America.

It's always nice to see the same thing from someone else. Our approaches differ, but if I understand correctly, I believe flawed Orientation regarding determinism is both attributable to Positivism and a failure to understand the ramifications of 20th Century science which disallows objectivity. One affects the world by the act of Observation. Hence, Orientation must account for it. However, I do differ in that I also believe that decadence has affected all the sciences, and not just "hidebound defense analysts, sociologists, and economists ." Biologists and physical scientists have thinking errors as well; the former are merely more affected (and fun to bash as a result.) Discounting anthropologists (about whom I know little), biologists and the physical scientists are too influenced by money and its demands for results. As a consequence, many scientists have sold their funding sources on the idea of determinism. Their mistakes and by-products can be very harmful, but little caution is ever initially shown. Although I don't condone it, It's no wonder why reactive types have taken to burning the buildings of biologists. The chemists and physicists set a poor example to follow. It's one of the reasons I build roads (with the help of a lot of other people).

Monday, January 24, 2005

Iraqi Rebel Propaganda

Here is an article (reprinted in full) concerning a recent Iraqi Rebel Propaganda Campaign. I doubt they will have many takers, but it shows a relative level of sophistication, thus earning its authors the status of second tier Masters of Propaganda.

Iraq rebels in video taunt

Wed Jan 12, 2005 03:05 PM GMT

By Michael Georgy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Departing from fiery Islamic slogans, Iraqi guerrillas have launched a propaganda campaign with an English-language video urging U.S. troops to lay down their weapons and seek refuge in mosques and homes.

The video, narrated in fluent English by what sounded like an Iraqi educated in the United States or Britain, also mocked the U.S. president's challenge to rebels in the early days of the insurgency to 'bring it on'.

"George W. Bush; you have asked us to 'bring it on'. And so help me, (we will) like you never expected. Do you have another challenge?," asked the narrator before the video showed explosions around a U.S. military Humvee vehicle.

Threats intended to demoralise and frighten in the tense build up to elections at the end of the month were tempered with invitations to desert and escape retribution.

A masked guerrilla from an unknown group called the Islamic Jihad Army, eschewing past impassioned Arabic-language threats of holy war, told U.S. soldiers: "This is not your war, nor are you fighting for a true cause in Iraq."

"To the American soldiers we say you can also choose to fight tyranny with us. Lay down your weapons and seek refuge in our mosques, churches and homes. We will protect you," he said.

There was no way of verifying the authenticity of the video obtained by Reuters.

Previous insurgent videos have been dominated by grisly beheadings of foreign hostages who kneel beside radical Islamic banners before their deaths.

The Islamic Jihad Army video featured familiar scenes of guerrillas blowing up U.S. convoys but also highlighted some of the key issues of the Iraq war, from weapons of mass destruction to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

"We have not crossed the oceans and seas to occupy Britain or the U.S. nor are we responsible for 9/11. These are only a few of these lies that these criminals present to cover their true plans," said the narrator, apparently referring to the Bush administration's assertion of a link between Saddam Hussein and those attacks.

A masked speaker with a machine gun beside him delivered his message to triumphant music with the ring of U.S. military propaganda films during World War Two.

He said the enemy was on the run as the video showed guerrillas firing on U.S. convoys, standing beside the corpse of an American soldier, or loading a large shell for an attack.

The U.S. military has said it would stay in Iraq until the country is by its definition secure.

The rebels focused on political issues that divided the United States and its European allies over the war in Iraq while reminding troops of casualties with images of burning trucks.

"We also thank France, Germany and other states for their positions, which we need to say are considered wise and valid until now," said the narrator, who also urged economic warfare against Washington.

"Stop using the U.S. dollar. Use the Euro or a basket of currencies," he said on the video dated December 10, 2004.

At least 1,067 U.S. troops have died in combat since the start of the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A Conclusion - Four

Censorship appears acceptable when self-imposed. The same corporate media which will happily collude with the government in most circumstances will fight a subpoena to appear in court. Failure to do so would lessen their credibility / entertainment value. American mainstream press is mostly amusement and diversion. News is nothing more than a means to provide filler for the advertisement. News consists of either the banal, such as cute little bunnies rescued during a flood or fuzzy human interest stories, or hype. Criminal acts are endlessly aired, thus altering perceptions and inducing dread. Thus, the population as a whole become fearful and stays home. Wars make for high ratings. Only an industry could produce the saturation necessary for such undertakings. The First Amendment of the U.S. can be abused and exploited to Maximum Advantage. A major flaw is the backlash created as deep divisions are exposed by such tactics. However, discounting systemic destruction, the corporate press mill is basically unstoppable by any means by inertia. The result is many simply look away. Legitimacy is threatened by a general lack of civic participation. Only whores and thieves remain–as the only type left with anything to gain. Of course, many people do go through the motions, sometimes enthusiastically, but more often fail to bring about more than cosmetic reforms or an occasional table scrap from on high. As the protests prior to the Iraq War illustrate, even mass actions can be ignored. The power elite have grown arrogant. Their system is declining toward eventual failure. Their blunders are magnified as accomplishments are diminished. Enemies, both internal and external, are created daily. Conspiracy is as unnecessary as it is impossible; only collusion has potential. Do nothing. Let religious fanatics do the dirty work.[1] The after life. Apathy kills. In the end, as everything falls apart on its own, the power elite will be stunned–the possibility will never have occurred to them–and I will laugh at their inbred brows furrowed in a vain attempt to understand that which they cannot.

[1] At least, the Islamic zealots have the decency to make the world a better place–by leaving it! If only Christians maniacs would follow their lead into active nihilism...


Monday, January 17, 2005

A Conclusion - Three


The Sloth War is decadent (but not depraved).


Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Conclusion - Two

Unless you bash the collective, nobody seems to listen. The best time to kick someone is when they are going down–then you stomp ‘em flat–but don’t push. It’s best they trip themselves and leap in panic. Fear is such an easy thing to instill and exploit for maximum advantage in all things. One doesn’t need the blame nor credit for the fall. The backlash would be far too severe. Only a religious fanatic would become a willing martyr (we already have plenty of the willing anyway.)


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A Conclusion - One

The following is the first in a series of conclusions for the Maximum Advantage Collection. Why have only one?

-I will enjoy watching you suffer

"Yeah, it's a nugget alright. How's that for a verbal world?"
–I said that.

Draft 1.0

Predators may be found almost anywhere. Many a road rage incident has been averted by that contained therein. Many a brutality was contained. One day I realized the people on the television set were not real. Have you ever met a flat person? Why be traumatized? Why be anathematized? Of course, I knew that already. That's pretty boring. The stupid are not worth killing. They do it to themselves and deserve it. I just hope they don't kill me. Sometimes equality really sucks (not really–please don't hurt me). Or maybe not; one does need some amusement at the end of a long day–doing nothing but spewing. It beats vomiting–or going on a killing spree. Except, how does one kill a system?
Having established the premise that the whole system is different than its parts, combined with the resignation that systems cannot be fundamentally changed through reform, the only inevitable conclusion at which anyone mostly arrives is to either kill everyone else, or kill a targeted few in an attempt to terrorize and paralyze through fear and hatred. The first path is basically nihilistic and pointless; the second is more often than not psychotic but does produce advantage (but never Maximum Advantage). Societies generally promote action as virtuous by reward and respect. All cultures condition their products. In retrospect, success is often the result of patience. Those capable will come to know better the timing and means. The failures, attributable to lack of patience, may be contemplated. Striking involves risk; readiness will often bring about reduction. In the pursuit of victory, the Western notions concerning time are best discarded. Those products which never fully adopted the ways of the clock will possess inherent advantage (but again not Maximum Advantage). Unless sufficiently knowledgeable, systemic opponents are inherently disadvantaged. Their contempt is blinding. They refuse to neither fully understand nor accept the implications. An object lesson is the current state of perpetual war.
Systems require competitors; humans create enemies. Wars have been fought for thousands of years. The technological system, which was itself a product of industrial development, is a relatively recent occurrence. Common beliefs, such as that technological societies would forever alter the world and the acceptance of the modern state as eternal, may be unfounded. Time will tell. All things are transitory. All things change (or end). The world cannot be turned back; some things reoccur. Failures are common. Myths are never sustainable. The life spans of ideas can include senility. Nobody wants to hear it. Unquestioning prefers betrayal over disillusionment. Some find a cause over worth dying. Some kill in the process. The fanatic can never be repressed. Folly demands example. Who could ever know? It really is not difficult–we can see what we will. We do not have to wallow in ignorance. We just enjoy it. Addiction is prevalent–it cannot be avoided. Withering nurtures cogitative invalids. The world delivers the deathblow. Insight is not difficult. Fear is a major obstacle. Self-awareness is a curse. The population is repulsed and repelled. One cannot expect anything more–only that resources drive all attempts at influencing mass perceptions. Autocratic systems waste too much energy on the irrelevant. Suppression is best concentrated and sustained bursts, thus attempting to impress a verbal world. We are free to believe as we will, but we will mostly pay too high a price. Pride does not come cheap. We can become anyone; we will probably stay right where we were born. We do not want to believe it. We are free–a piece of paper says so.
Dreamers believe in change for the better. Reform is always resisted–it betrays weakness. The opportunistic will exploit change. In a technological society, the path of least resistance is demarcated by Maximum Advantage in all things. One can only advance so far. Tyrants are too easily exposed. One must rely upon inference. One must buy it. Too many do.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Follow The Path of Least Resistance 11-End

11. Sometimes it's best to just go with events and let events carry one along. This way of life is especially useful if the final destination appears inevitable–let the world chose the path. The ego is suspended; the outcome is completely beyond control. What will be will be. Uncertainty is rarely total. Only effort is required (and very little besides). Relax. Learn to laugh as the world eats itself. One cannot stop it. One can attempt to hasten things a bit. The quickest end is a qualitative and quantitative improvement over dragging everything out. More will survive; the fall will not be as high. All plummets are not equal (some are just less equal than others). Only an idiot would forget a parachute (or a rope).

12. Belief sustains systems. Creation is a far greater task. Belief can be represented spectrally as rightness v. consequence. The former almost always overcomes the latter. Fear does not have the same power as the sense of being a part of something far greater. Causes may provide the motivation, but religion is enduring.

End. Anyway you look at it:
You cannot win. So why try? You futile attempts are humorous. You make me laugh. It cannot be any other way. I just follow the path of least resistance: start with the working assumption that you will always do the wrong thing. You are incompetent. You are not up to the job. You cannot succeed. You cannot make it right. Nobody can. The best that one can expect is to do no net or excessive harm. You can never accept your limits; therefore, you mostly fail. To be human is to be mostly stupid. You only shame yourself. Your loss is my gain.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Follow The Path of Least Resistance 9-10

9. Watching vain stupidity destroying itself is extremely amusing. Watching the elite negate itself is gratifying. I need do nothing but watch the world go by. All things fall apart. Empire declines exceptionally with great force.

10. As the world burns, we hear the sounds of laughter. . .

10a. In the case of wildfire, the low ground possess a certain advantage not unlike a chimney. Heat rises and the flames will more quickly spread up slope. Anything caught in its path is consumed. A century in fire suppression has left too much fuel. In the past, forest fires burned with a much lower intensity. An entire region might burn, but the fire did not kill or destroy everything. Old trees, which actually benefitted, show frequent fire incidents. The heat was not intense enough to kill the tree. The smaller trees were thinned, thus enabling the larger trees to flourish. Now everything perishes. In the western U.S., Federal government policy has actually made forest fires worse. The inevitable is worsened as it is prolonged. All forests burn.

10b. Even if only metaphorically, in so many way, as goes nature, so goes society. All fires are not equal. A system can only preserve itself by accommodation. History contains many examples. In the U.S., during the 1930s, the system appeased the unemployed masses by creation of government programs. Busy people do not revolt. In China, its system has been altered by discarding ideology in favor of Communist Party control as the primary concern of the elites. Remaking society is too costly. The discontented are better either suppressed or occupied. One way or another, a periodic controlled burn is good policy.

10c. At present, the U.S. system is incapable of anything beyond cosmetic change. . It cannot see the wisdom of buying-off alienation nor can it outright bottle it up. It can only prolong the inevitable via military spectacles and public relations campaigns. Even the elite are affected. They actually believe their own bullshit. In modern times, any empire that began to formulate policy has eventually failed. Reforms only prolonged the inevitable. Those empires, like the Soviet Union, that mostly avoided bloodshed had already lost faith. Ideology, embraced to the bitter, end invites disaster. The fuel is piling up, and will burn most hot.

10d. An entrenched system will resist change. Often external forces decide the matter. Size will determine whether internal constraints will override outside influences. Smaller entities are mostly less rigid. Vast organizations, like the U.S. military-industrial complex, develop means unto themselves. The components will never voluntarily reduce their societal influence. Such actions are against the nature of bureaucracies. Unlike the USDA Forest Service or the Department of Interior, the Pentagon at el. is not accountable in the slightest manner.[1] Congress will often add money to its budget. The final flames will burn brighter for it all.

[1] Unless someone was stupid enough to actually take pictures.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Follow The Path of Least Resistance 6-8

6. On the World:
Americans are idiots, but the rest of the world is no better. Humans are a stupid lot. No people has a monopoly on hubris and idiocy. Due to its enormous power, American folly is amplified above the rest. It is held to a higher standard and delivers the image. Hence, it has further to fall. The world cheering will be defining and we will deserve their scorn. The best time to trample someone is when they are down. Universal application is always a myth.

7. On the Opening of the Floodgates:
As we are beginning to see, Fourth Generation Warfare has the potential for profound impact on media-centric societies. Impacts are magnified far beyond the original scope and altered in significance. Fear is transmitted via cultural disease vectors.

8. On Chaos:
Chaos is both profitable and destabilizing. Media interests can never get enough of it. Even the self-restrained whores, who pass for journalists and editors in the U.S. theses days, cannot suppress or merely parrot the government line for long. Competing media interests from non-western societies will have no qualms about presenting the story in the most unfavorable light to U.S. interests. Al Jazeera and similar satellite news services are new phenomenon watched by hundreds of millions. The Internet is another obvious avenue for information whose implications are obviously not appreciated by the lackwits who populate the District of Columbia. The Vietnamese had nothing like it. Years dragged by before war coverage became critical. Now, it takes months. The U.S. press might not show dead children in Iraq, but you can bet Al Jazeera will. Hence, hatred of the U.S. becomes more widespread throughout a territory spanning half the globe and alienating much of the rest. Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) is effective. Simply blow up a couple of buildings[1] and the rest will follow.
Forays into Afghanistan and Iraq represent the beginning of the end of U.S. Imperial pretensions. Iraq is not Vietnam; it is Lebanon. Afghanistan is Afghanistan. There can be no peace with 4GW forces.
The incompetence of politicians would be amazing if not entirely typical in an Age of Mediocrity. Leadership is a casualty of eroding legitimacy. The only things these so-called leaders can be counted upon is too always whore themselves and never do the right thing in any long term context. They will drive themselves into crushing debt to avoid making realistic choices. Their fantasy land is manufactured by a combination of myth and flawed thinking. They believe their power is absolute. How could any sane person believe a state or system omnipotent?
Sham leaders are products of a media-centric society. In this environment, systemic mechanisms ensure vision will always be lacking in a product; hence, the concept of leaders, at least on any large scale, must be discarded. If something needs doing you will have to do it yourself. The Empire is fading fast or is it? Nobody knows; or cares. How many narcissists can dance on the head of a pin? None. Do nothing. See nothing. Be nothing. Why waste more time on the obvious?

[1] Attacks must be multiple and simultaneous to instill maximum panic and project power. Other than actual victims, which are relatively small, a media-centric society will spread the effect in an effective verbal world.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Follow The Path of Least Resistance 4-5

4. On Appeals to the Lazy:
America is a (mentally) lazy nation; therefore successful appeals should be directed to that laziness. The unthinking can be exploited to maximum advantage in all things. Their disabilities are an opportunity for others; why not exploit it? Some other interest undoubtably will seize the advantage.

5. On American Politics:
i. Fortunately, in the U.S., the authoritarian Left has made itself irrelevant by too strongly embracing European notions. Their Marxist and European socialist models do not fit the U.S. Its vision is espoused by people who largely do not understand Americans beyond their own narrow confines. They do not associate with anyone outside their general socioeconomic class (which is typical). Many often become so sectarian as to be effectively isolated (which is unusual–most antisocial types avoid social entanglements). In fact, they are just as much a product as anyone else, but prefer to believe otherwise. As things stand, thankfully as I see it, the authoritarian Left will never accomplish much besides organizing demonstrations and disseminating information. If they ever managed to seize power, the authoritarian Left would be just as bad as the authoritarian Right. It’s better that they do not make sense of America–we don’t need that kind of understanding. The libertarian Left should cease all association–else neither will never amount to anything.

ii. On the other hand, the right, which unfortunately understands America all too well, has never suffered a decent purge. Too many reactionaries are among its ranks. The religious types are among the worst due to their numbers. Albeit potentially violent, groups like the Klan and Neo-Nazis, are an irrelevant fringe. They offer a convenient target.[1] Christian fundamentalists are like roaches. They deserve to be squashed. The libertarian Right must either do the job or be dragged down. Unfortunately, that which is needed will not be properly done; they all love capitalism too much–only the drug and weapons trade remains. The days of John Locke and Adam Smith are long gone.

iii. The Democratic and Republican parties offer nothing but an alternative to each other. “The two party system is the one party system times two.” “Elections are like choosing between eating dog or cat food.” For the majority, the parties are not even worth discussing.

iv. The Bush jr. Administration is an aberration to the typical Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee routine. Their collective verbal world is delusional. No wonder Fundamentalist Christians are their core supporters. These religious freaks do not care about anything but their insane beliefs concerning rapture. The purple kool-aide is just not enough; they want to take everyone else down. The amazing part is the broader support. It proves America is infested with the stupid. Perhaps it’s time to call an exterminator?

v. In any event, excepting who, politics is irrelevant. In a technological society, only economics has meaning. Politics is not quantifiable except in terms of money. The qualified is not measurable. Hence, fund-raising ability defines politician rather than leadership qualities. The day of leadership is long past. Politicians can only be counted upon to always do the wrong thing even as the money rolls right into their re-election coffers. Systemic change may only occur as a by-product of economic collapse. Politics is, at present, only for pimps and whores.

[1] If you’re ever in the mood to assault someone, skinheads make easy pickings. Nobody cares what you do to them (or will admit to it). You will never be arrested, let alone charged for stomping a skinhead in a big city. Likewise, nobody will care if draconian drug laws target skinheads in the crystal meth trade. They make the perfect victim because they ask for it; so they must deserve it.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Follow The Path of Least Resistance 1-3

-It's better than the yellow brick road.

1. On Fear:
Fear is an enabler. Manipulation is facilitated by fear. Fear may be spawned; it may happen. Fear is always possible to exploit. Irrational fears are even easier. Although not universal, conditioning is difficult to break. It's not impossible; those successful often become the most intractable opponents. Nobody likes feeling used–some simply admit it. Others resist through the hubris of tools. Sacrifice should not be in vain. Unfortunately, it is. Self-interest becomes confused.

2. On Competing Verbal Worlds:
Verbal world cannot be avoided in a technological society. Competing verbal worlds will inevitably clash. Repetition strengthens–relatively and to a point. Internal appeals can prove disastrous externally. Internal Verbal Worlds can be most damaged by external backlash and formulation of a competing international Verbal World. Militant Shia Islam and radical Sunni Islam ideology and resultant verbal world have each developed in response to both external and sectarian pressures. Similarity can sometimes lead to conflict greater than difference. The familiar should know better. The outsider cannot help but be any other way. The foreigner's differences are not felt personally. Their ignorance is not subtle. Those close should be identical or destroyed.

3. On Threats:
Threats are everywhere. Most threats are mundane. One is far more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than a terrorist. Mass tragedies are difficult situations.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The State is Doomed! 24-26

24. A stateless society is often viewed as a land of continual war. Perhaps other factors are responsible. Yet, many states are no better. Indeed, many failed states are the resultant product of external state imperialism and interference. Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, have collapsed for this very reason. In the past, empires would simply demand tribute. Modern empires attempt to externally impose systems and legitimacy–mostly succeeding at neither. Meanwhile, their own states fragment.

25. Things fall apart on their own. Patches only work for so long. Systemic corruption is a brake. Reform is always lukewarm. Power cannot change its fundamental state. Why say more? Less is preferable–at least stop boring everyone. Directly, the power structure does little for most. Loyalty is fading away toward other things. The State is stubborn, but cannot undo the damage and loss. By their inherent nature, tools become dull and break with age. Verbal worlds cannot stop the break. Verbal Worlds are only a mask on reality. The universe does not care about such things; it will always reign supreme. The mass mind is a weak substitute for the singular. Always different, the whole is sometimes less. The whole does not even care about itself. The means is an end.

26. Civilization is not guaranteed to be universal. The State is not guaranteed to be universal. Universal concepts are an error. The simple desire simplicity; the complicated yearn for complexity. Belief does not make reality. The universe poorly accommodates vanity and arrogance. Stupidity is resolute; it does not know itself wrong. Error does not exist; only mistakes to be buried. The population cannot grasp anything more complicated than the lowest and base. A sucker is born every minute. Idiots are allowed their say.

2003 - 2004

To Be Continued.