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Government Transportation Technology

Electric Cars May Be Made Noisier By Law 620

Posted by timothy
from the this-one-goes-to-11 dept.
msgtomatt writes "The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act would require electric cars and hybrids to make noise, and would fund the Department of Transportation to create a set of rules for automakers, who would be allowed some leeway in how they carry out the guidelines." Downloadable and do-it-yourself car-tones are the future: my own snoring could keep deer and toddlers off the road.
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Electric Cars May Be Made Noisier By Law

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  • by haystor (102186) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @11:50PM (#34637602)

    I want a recording of an eight year old making car revving noises.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dwarfsoft (461760)

      Cue the Crazy Frog making vroom-vroom/ding-a-ding-ding noises... Like we need to hear that again. I'd be more likely to step out in front of such cars so I wouldn't ever have to hear that again.

      • Red Flag (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @06:22AM (#34639346) Journal

        I'd be more likely to step out in front of such cars so I wouldn't ever have to hear that again.

        There may be more of a future in that than you suppose. I expect that we'll regress to having a person walk in front of such vehicles, waving a red flag to warn bystanders of its approach.

    • by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @11:59PM (#34637650)
      I'd go for a vuvuzela on mine.
      • I'll be rolling with the Wilhelm Scream [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:The sound I want (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sjames (1099) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:03AM (#34637678) Homepage

      How about George Jetson's bubble car sound?

    • by teh dave (1618221)
      I'll have a lightsabre sound, thanks. And when I turn the steering wheel, the pitch changes.
    • by PunkFloyd (817784) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:21AM (#34637810)
      Just put a few playing cards in the spokes. Problem solved.
    • I want the "Ferrari from India [isitcool.com]" sound.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I want one that makes the Pacman wakka-wakka dot-munching noise as it goes up the road!

      (Would be even better if you could eat a power pill and make the traffic cops turn blue and run away...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The sound of two coconuts banging together.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      I would like a reverse doppler sound, when coming close sound like going away and viceversa. Probably will be something that must be activated when i want to surprise someone.else whatever sound i would make will have its own doppler.
    • by SmoothTom (455688)

      My first choice would be maniacal laughter, second would be the sound of a steam locomotive...

      --
      Tomas

    • Sesame street has a toy with a steering wheel and various sounds. One is Cookie Monster saying "Me Drive car!".
  • they generally dont make any audible noise at all from close distance. that would be rather dangerous on roads for pedestrians.
    • by skids (119237) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:12AM (#34637740) Homepage

      Really, to be consistent, it should apply to all cars, not just electrics. Even with the motor running, a coasting car can be hard to hear.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Even better: how about 'It should apply to all OBJECTS'. Every single object, mobile or immobile should emit a different tone constantly.

        That's why futuristic cities are built out of glass: the whole mass is one great big set of chimes.

      • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @01:39AM (#34638286)

        I disagree.

        No cars should make noise. Its an arms race.

        Instead of taking the advent of electric vehicles as an opportunity to quiet our cities, requiring them to make more noise seems counter productive.

        Make them all quiet enough and you will be able to hear the tire noise.

        Cover that noise with a louder noise and pretty soon all you know is its noisy and you can't hear the cars because they disappear into the noise.

        Ok, Won't somebody please think of the Blind!!??
        Yeah. Why not equip the blind with the sensors that they need to detect large/fast moving objects instead of equipping all large moving objects with noise makers to be drowner out by other noise makers.

        Relying on everything that might hurt you to carry a warning is just counter-productive and costly. Hear nothing, step off the curb and get hit by a bike messenger, or a car with a defective noise maker.

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:06AM (#34638870) Homepage

        This is actually an old story. Originally marketing and PR firms noted that cars produce distinctive engine noise that promote the label and with electric cars this would be gone, hence they worked on the idea of electric cars making marketing driving noise and seeking excuses to force it on customers.

        This bit of legislative douchery is the means by which they can enforce it. They admit that above 20km per hour tyre noise is sufficient to alert pedestrians and below 20km per hour, well excuse me but if you hit a pedestrian below 20 km per hour your not paying attention. Even at low speeds rolling resistance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_resistance [wikipedia.org] is a measure of tyre flex, hence abrasion and noise.

        • by xaxa (988988)

          I know people have no problem hearing the tyre noise from my bicycle as I approach, they often turn round, see that there's plenty of space for a bicycle to pass them, and continue.

          However, they can't hear it if there's noise from other cars' engines. But if there's that much background noise, I don't see how adding to it helps a blind person.

      • by Rob Kaper (5960)

        Even with the motor running, a coasting car can be hard to hear.

        Making noise is the shittiest of workarounds and by no means a fix.

        Our local approach, now that's a solution: we build infrastructure for different types of traffic while minimizing yet clearly marking level crossings. There are virtually no busy roads without sidewalks within city limits where I live, most even have parallel bicycle lanes as well. I can safely frollick across town with earplugs in playing loud music: other than the designated crossings I simply don't share infrastructure with bikes or cars

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by houghi (78078)

        Police and people driving Ambulances are talking about increasing the noise levels of their sirens because many people do not hear them. The reason is better sound insulation in cars.

        So on one hand manufacturers will be trying to reduce the sound inside, while the government will ask them to increase the sound outside so it can be heard inside.

        And this is just because of sound insulation. I am not talking about people walking around with iPads or having the music too loud.

        So I would suggest that there shoul

      • by Skater (41976)

        Really, to be consistent, it should apply to all cars, not just electrics. Even with the motor running, a coasting car can be hard to hear.

        Totally disagree. When I was in grad school, the busses at the school had a diesel engine in the rear, making them pretty much impossible to hear approaching until it would be too late. Why are electric cars different? What makes blind people able to deal with busses like that but not electric cars?

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @01:29AM (#34638214)

      Really, huh? Last time I checked they still taught "FIRST look left, THEN look right, THEN cross the streets" to our kids, did they forgo that in your country?

      I honestly don't get it. How is it safer for pedestrians if cars make noises? First, are there not traffic lights in your country? At least where it counts, i.e. where there's actually a chance to meet a car on the road? Are there no pedestrian crossing areas on your roads? Along with pedestrian traffic lights telling you when it's safe to walk? Are drivers in your country so reckless that they ignore those traffic lights that LOOKING ain't enough to cross the road safely, you have to listen?

      And most of all, are there still teenagers in your country that remove those iPod earphones from time to time from their ears?

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        How is it safer for pedestrians if cars make noises?

        You don't have blind people in your country? People always look left and right properly and are never alerted by the sound of a car?

        • by vbraga (228124) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @07:12AM (#34639566) Journal

          I used to work in a neighborhood with a college (I don't remember if it was a college or a high school, right now) with a large number of blind people.

          Street crossing had a different kind of texture in the walkway. The traffic lights would make noises like "cross", "stop". While it was possible to cross it made a distinctive tone, changing it's pitch as time goes.

          It worked. Way better than blind people jaywalking and relying on car noises.

      • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @01:56AM (#34638392)

        Almost ALL of the demand for noise makers on cars comes from the blind lobby.

        In a quieter world, the blind would hear the tire noise just fine.

      • The blind should be equipped with radar/sonar based sensing equipment.
        For the rest: If you don't look both ways evolution is at work.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Natural Selection at work. Quiet cars are a good thing.

  • With the recorded sound of a blown 454.

  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @11:58PM (#34637646)

    Obviously, the below statements do not take into consideration those that are visually impaired. But that final point (Road Noise) probably already handles most of that.

    I'm sorry, but I never trust my ears when deciding whether to cross the street. Even if I'm in a fairly quiet suburban road off away from the main streets and such, I always look. And you want to know what? I learned to do that at a really young age.

    If you're an adult, you should know better. I see adults cross the street without looking while on the phone and not even notice me beeping at them. And this was back when I drove a beat up car that sounded like a Boeing 747.

    As for kids, I'm sorry to say but a lot are either stupid or their parents are doing a really poor job raising them. I've seen the whole "chase the ball into traffic" scenario when they SEE the cars coming and assume that magic fairy dust will make the SUV go from 25-to-zero in less than 3 feet. Often times these kids are really old enough to know better: by the time your kid reaches 10+ years old you really should've educated them to not do that.

    Besides, lastly but not least... unless the car is accelerating the biggest noise is the road noise (pavement vs vulcanized rubber). Last I checked, electric cars don't solve this problem. If you're relying on Engine noise to determine if a car is coming, you're already fairly screwed.

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:17AM (#34637776)

      I see adults cross the street without looking while on the phone and not even notice me beeping at them. And this was back when I drove a beat up car that sounded like a Boeing 747

      Amen to that brother.

      The thing that floors me is that people get hit by trains. TRAINS! We're talking like five-thousand plus tons of steel rumbling down a track, and people don't notice. How is this even possible? How self-absorbed do you have to be to notice a freaking TRAIN. I used to live not far from a freight line and the whole bloody ground shook when a train went by...

      • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:48AM (#34637974)
        I would totally have to disagree with you on this sorry. I lived in Newtown sydney right next to a very very busy set of train lines, and while they were noisy, you could rarely hear a train as it was approaching.

        Here is Sydney, the trains are quite large, double storey and mainly 8 cars long [sydneytrains.com.au] but even with that they are almost silent as they approach.

        Secondly, even if you see a train, the stopping distance is so long that if you trip, fall, whatever while it is approaching, it won't likely stop in time to not hit you.

        Finally, you would be surprised about how many accidents involving people and trains are not accidents at all.

        The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) suggests that the main issues for rail safety in Australia are suicides, level crossing accidents and pedestrians struck by trains (BTRE 2002).

        This is directly from a report published using data obtained [flinders.edu.au] (link to full PDF) from our Bereau of Transportation.

        • Trains are hard to miss. The actual train itself, well it isn't all the loud. The big diesels are very low frequency and the wheels make surprisingly little noise. You feel it, more than hear it, and then only as it is passing you.

          HOWEVER you do hear them because at every rail road crossing they blow their horns and those things are fit to wake the dead. They are required by law, and they do, to sound their horn as they approach a crossing. You cannot miss the sound. At close range it is over 120dB, so you

          • by xaxa (988988)

            Trains in the US also go relatively slowly. Most (perhaps all?) tracks in the UK are fenced off. The rails are welded, and the expansion joints are tapered, so there isn't a "clackity-clack" noise. The locomotive may well be electric, or there might not be a locomotive -- instead there might be smaller electric motors on several axles through the train. It's more like "ssssssSSSSHHH-ompff-ompff-ompff-ompff-ompff-ompff-ompff-ompff-ompff-ssssh" (e.g. here [youtube.com]).

            There's still the occasional death, typically on a l

            • by adolf (21054)

              Tracks in the States tend to be welded, as well, unless it's a particularly old line that isn't frequently used. Our lines are not generally fenced -- generally, not at all. And, as you say, trains move relatively slowly here (generally 55MPH, IIRC).

              But our trains are LOUD. Huge diesel-electric locomotives, sometimes three or four of them, all grunting along and pulling enormous quantities of cars. Our signalling system is antique in design, relying on physical gaps in the track to trigger things like c

        • by Skater (41976)

          Here is Sydney, the trains are quite large, double storey and mainly 8 cars long [sydneytrains.com.au] but even with that they are almost silent as they approach.

          Those are passenger trains. They're relatively light and as you say, you don't really hear them. The GP was talking about freight trains, which is mostly what we have in the US. I camped near a rail line once for a couple days, and the difference between the two was night and day - the freight trains rumbled like nothing else, but the passenger trains felt like it was just an engine rolling past.

    • You don't rely on the sound alone, but it does help especially as you said, with people who are visually impaired. Cars make quite a bit of noise at highway speeds but at lower speeds, there is less noise produced from the interaction between the tires and pavement. As far as peoples' behavior is concerned, it probably doesn't justify their deaths.

    • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:58AM (#34638036)

      If you're an adult, you should know better. I see adults cross the street without looking while on the phone and not even notice me beeping at them. And this was back when I drove a beat up car that sounded like a Boeing 747.

      For every adult pedestrian who's been hit for jaywalking while talking on their cell phone without looking, there's another who got hit in a signaled crosswalk by a driver on a cell phone who checked only the oncoming vehicle traffic before pulling out, a guy who had a car door opened in his face while riding a bicycle in a marked lane, or a pedestrian who got hit by a car on the god damn sidewalk. I've been hit all three of those ways.

      I'm sick of self-righteous, insouciant comments such as yours (see also http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/09/19/2026211 [slashdot.org]) about how stupid pedestrians are, about how it's just legislation to protect idiots, etc. If you're driving 4,000 pounds of steel you have to be more careful than the guy driving 175 pounds of meat, and guy driving the meat deserves some extra warning, including an auditory warning, when you're not doing your job. If he walks out without looking, you hit him and he dies. If you fuck up, you hit him and he dies. Staying alive is all on the pedestrian, no matter who would be legally at fault if they get hit. Don't act like they're all idiots and pedestrian safety is a trivial problem and this just one more step into a total abdication of personal responsibility. This is serious stuff and I believe the majority of people who get hit by cars were not stupid and not doing the wrong thing. Your snarky anecdotes about idiot children and cell phone users are a strawman, drawing all attention away from the thousands of pedestrians who get hit and killed by bad drivers while the pedestrians were doing everything right.

    • If you're relying on Engine noise to determine if a car is coming, you're already fairly screwed.

      I agree with your post completely. I would like to add that in the city, I am primarily a cyclist; thus, my vehicle is even quieter than an electric vehicle (even when freewheeling). You would not believe the number of pedestrians who dart out onto the street in front of me without looking. Luckily, unlike a car, I am (in good weather) usually capable of going from 20 to 0 in a ridiculously short distance.

      The real solution to this problem is to look before you cross the street. I realize this doesn't help v

      • by delinear (991444)
        Exactly - the answer is not to put in place incredibly fallible systems that lead people into a false sense of security. That won't do as much to reduce accidents as raising awareness of the need to take care when crossing, there are other ways to address the visual impariment question that don't rely on making things noisy for everyone else. This just sounds like yet more knee-jerk legislation that fails to provide time or thought for investigating better solutions (and once every car has these things it w
    • by Idbar (1034346)
      I agree. Gas engine based cars have become really quiet. I used to play to determine the brand of a car near me, when walking anywhere by ear. I've been aware of the noise cars produce and some cars are so quiet that sound like hybrids if you don't pay careful attention.

      I would assume that they would have to start imposing noise levels (on the low range) for gas cars too.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylNwSv6c7m0 [youtube.com] What, were you expecting the ST NG Enterprise or something?

  • Parking lots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by devleopard (317515) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @11:59PM (#34637654) Homepage

    More than once I've had to side step quickly to avoid a Prius in a store parking lot - I'm used to audio cues of my environment, and they just weren't paying attention while backing out.

    Sound-makers on Prius and others is already being done in Japan [edmunds.com]

    • Re:Parking lots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @01:33AM (#34638248) Homepage

      More than once I've had to side step quickly to avoid a Prius in a store parking lot - I'm used to audio cues of my environment, and they just weren't paying attention while backing out.

      I call bullshit on this.

      In a busy parking lot, someone backing up quickly is going to be mostly inaudible regardless of the vehicle involved - and either way, your ability to respond is roughly the same. (And with a Prius, at least you'd probably survive the impact.)

      I hardly see how it being a Prius makes any difference. I've seen people back up into others walking behind their vehicle - hop in, quickly turn the ignition and then quickly throw into reverse. There's no consideration for others; people go myopic.

      It's not going to do shit if you're in the vehicle, driving. You can sometimes not hear the large truck next to you due to road noise, never mind a Prius.

      The fact is, Prius drivers (apparently) have little to no respect for the others who share their environment. (This goes for SUV drivers, too, btw.) "Oh, we'll just zip out quickly because we can, and I looked in my rear view mirror about 10 seconds ago when i got in the vehicle" is demonstrative of their mentality.

      I've said it once and I'll say it again, because it still (mostly) applies: there's a reason we've only got one 'reverse' gear. GO SLOW. The same applies to the asinine regulations requiring reverse cameras in newly made vehicles (to the tune of another $200 to the purchaser).

      I wonder how much it'd cost to buy a vehicle if we could get one with "just the road safety features invented in the past 50 years, please". I would not be surprised if stripping all the extraneous stuff out (dangerous-to-children air bags, ass heaters, electric windows, thermostats, etc.) resulted in a $25k vehicle costing less than $20k, and a $45k one less than 35k (assuming it's not $45k simply due to said luxury items).

      Imagine what that would save the environment. (Here's an idea: "Imagine" what a city without automotive sounds would be like.)

  • ...cuz that's hoe I roll.

  • Hell, NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@hot[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:00AM (#34637660) Homepage

    So here we are on the verge of winning the war against noise pollution, and those motherfuckers WANT cars to be noisy?

    • No kidding. I'm sure the law will end up requiring beepers that can be heard 2000 feet away, just like the ones that supposedly keep people from being accidentally backed over by garbage trucks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      So here we are on the verge of winning the war against noise pollution, and those motherfuckers WANT cars to be noisy?

      Unless electric cars don't have horns, or don't have car alarms, we're nowhere close.

      Speaking of, I would be in favor of legislation banning car alarms. A few cities have tossed around that idea before, but got shot down by the car alarm industry, if it were to gain traction at a national level, I'm guessing certain radio personalities and certain cable news networks would cast it as "Government bails out car thieves."

      I'd also favor regulating horns. I think fining people $5 every time they honk within ci

  • Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Blank (172031) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:01AM (#34637666) Journal

    As Green Car Reports notes, the legislation would allow for a common set of standards, rather than than a motley crew of approaches attempted by various automakers.

    Brilliant. Legislate away the possibilities for innovation before the new market has a chance to solve the problem. Is it only in America that "leaders" push science and math and the entrepreneurial spirit, and then quickly make it illegal to innovate lest anyone gets hurt? sheesh

    What this country needs is a good five cent nickel.

  • by dx40sh (1773338) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:04AM (#34637680)
    This whole thing could be solved by:

    a] drivers watching for pedestrians, like they're supposed to be doing [but who actually follows the laws these days?].
    b] pedestrians checking for traffic before they walk into areas that might be occupied by cars; as it would actually be smart [this may be too much to ask].
    c] lawmakers passing laws that actually benefit a majority of people, not just a small minority.


    If this does go into effect, though, my car is totally going to have the TIE Fighter sound.
    • by jamesh (87723)

      This whole thing could be solved by:

      a] drivers watching for pedestrians, like they're supposed to be doing [but who actually follows the laws these days?].
      b] pedestrians checking for traffic before they walk into areas that might be occupied by cars; as it would actually be smart [this may be too much to ask].
      c] lawmakers passing laws that actually benefit a majority of people, not just a small minority.

      It's a tricky one. Should we be making cars noisy just for the one or two blind people who might walk the streets? I can't really think of another way of doing it. You can say that drivers should watch for pedestrians but someone can walk out from behind a large vehicle in a car park giving you very little time to react so they really do need a few hints to know that something is coming.

      I know that blind people do make a very small minority, but this is the society we live in. If you don't like it go elsewh

  • All you need is a deck of playing cards or some old baseball cards to poke through the wheel well. It worked for my bicycle.
  • ..so? (Score:2, Informative)

    ...you're required to have tail lights, turn signals, a horn, and a whole load of other otherwise unnecessary stuff on your car, all primarily for the safety of people other than yourself. This is how automotive safety works; you identify problems (cars running on electric power are hard to hear; pedestrians rely to varying degrees on the sound of a car for situational awareness, the blind moreso than others,) and you take reasonable steps to rectify the problems.

    Do people really have problems with this

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Those things don't add to noise pollution, and they address *real* problems. Walking through a parking lot these days you'll notice that very few cars make any engine noise audible from more than a few feet away. I hear tire noise long before I hear engine noise. The fact that electric cars have no engine noise isn't really a significant change.

      • Exactly. Tire roar is the biggest source of noise from any modern car, barring ones modded with the express purpose of making the engine louder.
    • Re:..so? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:19AM (#34637792)

      Do people really have problems with this kind of thing?

      Yes. I don't feel any "safer" when I'm awakened by a dump truck backing up a quarter of a mile away. Do you?

      Consider the rapid growth of hybrid/electric cars' market share. If the same epsilon-minus bureaucrats responsible for backup beeper regulations have anything to do with this law, it will almost be worth moving out of the city to avoid the racket.

    • by mewsenews (251487)

      but dude. our stealth cars.. we could totally drive around without anyone noticing us.. and the fucking government wants to put a card in our spokes like we're in 8th grade or something.. uhhh no thanks obama your not my president

  • Personally, I'm between the Jetsons car noise or a running horse.
  • They better include an option to link the playback sample rate to to the accelerator pedal.
  • Custom cartones sound good now, but just wait until you have to pay the auto companies for making your electric ride sound like a Ferrari.
  • The "whistle's go whoooo" guy becomes an overnight entrepreneur. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnzw_i4YmKk [youtube.com]
  • by lhaeh (463179) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:23AM (#34637826)

    It seems unnecessary to make things nosier for everyone when the number of people that need the noise is very small. Why not just have an electronic transponder system so that people can know where cars are relative to them. It would even work on vibration for those that are blind and deaf. It could give out more information, like speed and direction, and it it could work from further away if necessary.

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @12:39AM (#34637932) Homepage Journal

    Two halves of a coconut being clopped together.

  • by n_djinn (1883738) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @01:09AM (#34638100) Homepage
    I have a black Nissan Titan with a 6 inch lift and a winch bumper that is made from 1/4 steel. My tires are 35x ProComp Xterrains and my truck has a Banks exhaust (not my choice, it's annoyingly loud, rumbles even at idle), The truck is huge, ominous and pushing 400HP with a wide open exhaust. People step in front me all the time in parking lots. In fact the one thing I don't like about my truck is that the windshield edges are huge blind spots. Some lady tried to walk in front of me today in the parking lot of a local box store. HEY STUPID, IF YOU CAN'T SEE THE DRIVERS FACE, HE CAN"T SEE YOU. [anyone with issues with guys that drive big trucks; I am in Alaska, I am a volunteer medic and wilderness rescue tech. I have used the winch on my truck no less then 120 times to pull stuck cars out of snow banks, rivers, etc since I bought it in 2006]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @01:23AM (#34638170)

    Loud pipes save lives.

"Life is a garment we continuously alter, but which never seems to fit." -- David McCord

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