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The Antikythera Mechanism: Physical and Intellectual Salvage from the 1st Century B.C.
USNA Eleventh Naval History Symposium ^ | 1995 | Rob S. Rice

Posted on 08/14/2004 3:01:21 PM PDT by SunkenCiv

The Antikythera mechanism was an arrangement of calibrated differential gears inscribed and configured to produce solar and lunar positions in synchronization with the calendar year. By rotating a shaft protruding from its now-disintegrated wooden case, its owner could read on its front and back dials the progressions of the lunar and synodic months over four-year cycles. He could predict the movement of heavenly bodies regardless of his local government's erratic calendar. From the accumulated inscriptions and the position of the gears and year-ring, Price deduced that the device was linked closely to Geminus of Rhodes, and had been built on that island off the southern coast of Asia Minor circa 87 B.C. Besides the inscriptions' near-identity to Geminus's surviving book, the presence of distinctive Rhodian amphorae among other items from the wreck supported Price's deduction and date once Virginia Grace had re-examined the pottery recovered in 1901.

(Excerpt) Read more at ccat.sas.upenn.edu ...


TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Books/Literature; Cheese, Moose, Sister; Education; History; Hobbies; Reference; Science; Travel; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: antikythera; antikytheramechanism; archaeology; archimedes; casson; cicero; geminus; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; hipparchus; history; mithridates; ovid; plutarch; poseidonius; posidonios; rhodes; vitruvius
Thanks to OCR technology:
Did the Ancient Greeks Make a Computer?
by Ormonde deKay Jr
and Richard Cravens
"Mysteries of the Past", p 156
[O]ne retired professor insisted that the device had to be a modern orrery -- of the kind he had seen as a child used to demonstrate the Copernican system -- which had somehow intruded on the wreck... Price persuaded the Greek authorities to let his collaborator, Dr. Karakalos, take gammalographs and x-radiographs of the fragments. These revealed so much detail, so clearly, that after analyzing them the two men could confidently relate the gear ratios to known astronomical and calendrical data... There is no mention of the Anrikythera device in ancient literature. But a similar mechanism was described by Cicero, and later by Ovid and others: this was an ingenious planetarium, simulating the movements of the sun, the moon, and five planets, that had been devised in the third century B.C. by Archimedes. Cicero, incidentally, was on Rhodes between 79 and 77 B.C., just when the Anrikythera mechanism was presumably lost at sea; while there he saw a geared planetarium that may have been built by Posidonios, a renowned geographer (among other things) who lectured in Rhodes. The Anrikythera device derives, then, from Archimedes, either by a gradual, unrecorded evolution or by the massive innovation of some unknown genius, perhaps of the school of Posidonios. If only for his use of the differential gear, "one of the greatest basic mechanical inventions of all time," its maker should, says Price, "be accorded the highest honors."
One is tempted to think that the Antikythera device is the very one seen by Cicero.
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1 posted on 08/14/2004 3:01:24 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; A.J.Armitage; ...
We've probably all seen this on various mysterious-truth-stranger-than-fiction type shows, but there is plenty of legitimate interesting stuff available about it. Sorry, missed those OCR typos in the previous post.
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2 posted on 08/14/2004 3:06:17 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: All
The Antikythera mechanism
The Economist
Sep 19th 2002
Michael Wright, the curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, has based his new analysis on detailed X-rays of the mechanism using a technique called linear tomography. This involves moving an X-ray source, the film and the object being investigated relative to one another, so that only features in a particular plane come into focus. Analysis of the resulting images, carried out in conjunction with Allan Bromley, a computer scientist at Sydney University, found the exact position of each gear, and suggested that Price was wrong in several respects... It also provides strong support for Price's theory. He believed that the mechanism was strongly suggestive of an ancient Greek tradition of complex mechanical technology which, transmitted via the Arab world, formed the basis of European clockmaking techniques. This fits with another, smaller device that was acquired in 1983 by the Science Museum, which models the motions of the sun and moon. Dating from the sixth century AD, it provides a previously missing link between the Antikythera mechanism and later Islamic calendar computers, such as the 13th century example at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. That device, in turn, uses techniques described in a manuscript written by al-Biruni, an Arab astronomer, around 1000AD.

3 posted on 08/14/2004 3:11:37 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: SunkenCiv

Coolbeans.


4 posted on 08/14/2004 3:11:48 PM PDT by Darksheare (I'll bayonet your snowmen and beat you down with a chinese yo-yo!!)
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To: All
some photos:
Pictures of a Mechanism
by Bill Casselman

5 posted on 08/14/2004 3:15:20 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: SunkenCiv

Some of the most significant progress on chronometers was done by a single researcher, working alone in England. And Charles Babbage's "difference engine" dates back about two hundred years.

The mechanisms of both devices could have been produced anytime during the last four thousand years, indeed, over and over again -- and then, of course, lost again.

Careful measurement, and artful craftsmanship, which has been available since before the historical record began, is all that is required. And perhaps a gullible and tolerant patron...


6 posted on 08/14/2004 3:16:14 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Kerry’s OTC Lt. Thomas W. Wright said, "three of us told him to leave.” He was VOTED OFF the island!)
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To: Darksheare
Looks like someone else OCR'ed the same article, same source (but misattributed the author); already in the GGG keyword (whenever that starts working right again):
Did The Ancient Greeks Make A Computer?
An Article | 1977 | Lionel Casson

Posted on 11/01/2003 9:21:03 AM PST by Holly_P


7 posted on 08/14/2004 3:20:14 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: SunkenCiv

Rats.


8 posted on 08/14/2004 3:21:06 PM PDT by Darksheare (I'll bayonet your snowmen and beat you down with a chinese yo-yo!!)
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To: SunkenCiv

Although not nearly as noteworthy for it's scientific ground breaking, for sheer beauty one should check out Giovanni deDondi's astronomical clock. I have a book which relates the historical development of clocks and it devotes a large section to someone who built a replica of this, based upon the original drawings and specifications. I don't remember if this is the one which is in the Smithsonian Institution or not, but I sure would like to see it in person.


9 posted on 08/14/2004 3:23:51 PM PDT by Socratic (Yes, there is method in the madness.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Very interesting.


10 posted on 08/14/2004 3:25:46 PM PDT by Grzegorz 246
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To: SunkenCiv; Darksheare

Regarding post #6, a little googling...

"John Harrison (March 1693 - March 24, 1776) was an English clock designer, who developed and built the world's first successful maritime clock, one whose accuracy was great enough to allow the determination of longitude over long distances."


11 posted on 08/14/2004 3:35:15 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Kerry’s OTC Lt. Thomas W. Wright said, "three of us told him to leave.” He was VOTED OFF the island!)
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To: NicknamedBob

Cool.


12 posted on 08/14/2004 3:46:40 PM PDT by Darksheare (I'll bayonet your snowmen and beat you down with a chinese yo-yo!!)
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To: Darksheare; SunkenCiv

And a little more... (Regarding Charles Babbage)

"In 1821 Babbage invented an Engine to manufacture error-free mathematical tables, Difference Engine No.1, the world's first programmable automatic digital calculating machine, in which the only human intervention was the setting of the machine at the start of the production of a table and the turning of its handle."

"It was a machine embodying the mathematical principles of the Method of Differences using only mechanisms for addition repeated many times over."

It must be admitted, rather reluctantly, that this machine, and its later versions, never quite got into production in a way that made a significant impact on society -- but the mechanical design was correct in its application, and would have made an enormous "difference" in our histories had it been completed.

It was, literally, the first computer -- nearly two hundred years ago!!


13 posted on 08/14/2004 4:07:28 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Kerry’s OTC Lt. Thomas W. Wright said, "three of us told him to leave.” He was VOTED OFF the island!)
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To: NicknamedBob
One has to wonder whether this machine was invented not just to wow aristocrats jaded from overeating and listening to poetry and music, but to help calculate longitude for purposes of navigation.
14 posted on 08/14/2004 5:05:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: Socratic
Casselman also sez, "Several kinds of evidence point incontrovertibly to around 80 B.C. for the date of the shipwreck." One of those bits of evidence is the accuracy of the mechanism. It's possible that the reason more of these haven't been found is that they ceased to be useful, and wound up getting used for other things. And of course, the ships could have gone down.
15 posted on 08/14/2004 5:08:08 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: SunkenCiv

Saw this on TV several weeks ago...fascinating. We only think we are smarter than man 2000 years ago because of our machines. Maybe something like this will force us to give up such silly notions.


16 posted on 08/14/2004 6:17:58 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Chaplain, US Army, retired)
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To: LiteKeeper
We only think we are smarter than man 2000 years ago because of our machines.

In terms of IQ, we are identical to the first modern humans. I have no doubt we will find remarkable human achievements that were lost due to ice ages, pandemics, and other catastrophies.

I also believe that "mainstream" science down't think this way is that it is uncomfortable to contemplate a total collapse of our civilization, as others collapsed before us.

17 posted on 08/14/2004 7:54:43 PM PDT by eno_ (Freedom Lite, it's almost worth defending.)
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To: SunkenCiv; LiteKeeper
There is another possibility which to me seems quite likely.

That the device was made much later than the date of the shipwreck, that it was being transported by sea over the wreck and due to a second wreck or some act of vandalism, caused to sink onto the older wreck, where it was eventually found.

IIRC, devices with this level of sophistication were being developed as early as the late renaissance.
18 posted on 08/14/2004 9:37:38 PM PDT by BenLurkin (Who was Madame Binh's messenger boy?)
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To: BenLurkin

There is too much corroborating evidence to the contrary and an early date


19 posted on 08/14/2004 9:47:56 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Chaplain, US Army, retired)
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To: SunkenCiv
"...to help calculate longitude for purposes of navigation."

Calculating longitude is one of the most difficult things to do in maritime navigation. Today we use accurate clocks and sun-sightings to know our position, when we don't want to just read it off an electronic device.

I have to wonder just how accurately one could know the longitude from the positions of major planets and star-sightings, which actually give more information than daytime sun and moon sightings. If the machine worked as I think it worked, day- and night-time readings would be set on the machine, and the output would be a navigational position in both longitude and latitude.

With the appropriate map-discs set up to display, it would be like our current dashboard location devices. The only thing hampering navigation then would be fog and rain, and lack of wind. Hence the newly realized importance of the lighthouse at Rhodes.

Need I also point out that such a device could easily show one's position anywhere on a globe, and thus one could theoretically circumnavigate Antarctica, and map its perimeter? (See the controversy regarding the Piri Reis(Sp?) Map.)

Or, in an appropriate vessel, sail to the new world?

20 posted on 08/15/2004 6:18:17 AM PDT by NicknamedBob (Kerry’s OTC Lt. Thomas W. Wright said, "three of us told him to leave.” He was VOTED OFF the island!)
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To: NicknamedBob

http://www.csc.liv.ac.uk/~ped/teachadmin/histsci/htmlform/lect4.html

The history of calculating machines post-Leibniz can - admittedly with hindsight - be seen as a series of ideas and technological advances that progressively dealt with these lacunae. With the sole exception of the final point, ideas relating to all of these aspects were developed in the 19th century. In this lecture we shall examine the work of, principally, three people - Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1834); Charles Babbage (1791-1871); and George Boole (1815-64) - and their contribution to the development of computational devices.


21 posted on 08/15/2004 7:17:28 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: BenLurkin
"That the device was made much later than the date of the shipwreck," isn't possible. The device was inside a concretion that was part of the wreck debris. Interestingly enough, off Turkey some years ago an "age of sail" wreck was found near some scary rock; under it was a sandwich of two other wrecks, the oldest being ancient. Each had hit the rock in turn, probably in the night, and each sank to rest on the same bit of seabottom.
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22 posted on 08/15/2004 7:20:29 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: NicknamedBob
I was tryin' to tiptoe around that one, just write it so others would infer it. ;') Navigation today relies a lot on GPS, as well as tried and fairly true methods. Other problems (and these are major) for earlier navigators would be reliance on natural objects (sun and moon, almost exclusively) for nighttime illumination; the need to establish an accurate circumference of the Earth (interesting that it was done pretty well in Ptolemaic Egypt by Eratosthenes, during one of the periods of brisk east-west trade); piracy (a big problem); mutiny (actually related to piracy); lack of currency standards (this would be intermittent, and as trade increased, would shrink in significance); language barriers; non-decimal number systems (math being used to calculate position and whatnot)...
23 posted on 08/15/2004 7:30:03 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
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"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
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Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

24 posted on 12/04/2005 9:53:44 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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A gifted faker name Alexander founded an oracle in a backwater on the south shore of the Black Sea. Here, for stiff prices, a talking serpent he had rigged up answered questions for the local hayseeds... (p 135)
Travel in the Ancient World Travel in the Ancient World
by Lionel Casson


25 posted on 12/04/2005 9:57:21 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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26 posted on 04/12/2006 7:07:23 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...
An update, and well worth reading. Some of the numerous earlier FR topics pertain to these new finds.
Was the Antikythera Mechanism the world's first computer?
by John Seabrook
The New Yorker
May 14, 2007
Andrew Ramsey, X-Tek's computer-tomography specialist, who was operating the viewer, zoomed around inside the 3-D representation until he found the right slice. Written on the side of the gear were the letters "M" and "E" -- "ME." Was this the maker's mark? Or could "ME" mean "Part 45"? ("ME" is the symbol for forty-five in ancient Greek.) Freeth joked that Mike Edmunds had scratched his initials on the fragment. Others suggested that this particular piece of the Mechanism could have been recycled, and that the "ME" was left over from some earlier device.

Altogether, the team salvaged about a thousand new letters and inscriptions from the Mechanism -- doubling the number available to Price. Together with earlier imaging, the new inscriptions support theories that both Price and Wright had advanced. On Fragment E, for example, the group read "235 divisions on the spiral." "I was amazed," Freeth said. "This completely vindicated Price's idea of the Metonic cycle of two hundred and thirty-five lunar months on the upper back dial." They also read words explaining that on the extremity of "the pointer stands a little golden sphere," which probably refers to a representation of the sun on the sun pointer that went around the zodiac dial at the front of the Mechanism. Wright had proposed that the rings of the back dials were made in the form of spirals; the word eliki, meaning "spiral," can be seen on Fragment E. On Fragment 22, the number "223" has been observed, pointing to the use of the saros dial as an eclipse indicator.

..."So you think that the letters 'ME' -- "

"Precisely," Wright interjected. "I think they must relate to whatever that bit of metal was used for before."

27 posted on 05/28/2007 6:48:08 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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To: SunkenCiv
Other recent articles on the 'net:

Ancient Moon 'computer' revisited (BBC, 29 November 2006),

Decoding an ancient computer, (C|Net, November 30, 2006).
28 posted on 05/28/2007 7:07:59 PM PDT by Mike Fieschko
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To: Mike Fieschko

Thanks.


29 posted on 05/28/2007 7:33:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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To: SunkenCiv

It was found on a 1st century wreck — but it could just as easily have originated fifteen hundred years later and arrived on the wreck by being tossed off the side of a passing galleon.

Probably by the owner’s ex-wife.


30 posted on 05/29/2007 6:27:12 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: SunkenCiv

On another thread, or several, the death of the music CD was noted. Music recordings have been around since Edison, so this is a relatively new phenomenon—recorded music. But wait! Mechanical devices for playing music have been around far longer than that. This antikythera thing is merely one mechanical thing from an age when they were making all kinds of mechanical things including things that play music. So, the CD goes away, but recorded music is ancient and will continue.


31 posted on 05/29/2007 7:45:07 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: SunkenCiv

Looks good, you’d recommend it?


32 posted on 05/29/2007 8:44:46 AM PDT by norton
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To: norton

Definitely! I think I’ve got an Amazon review of it, not sure about the level of detail I did though.

Professor Lionel Casson’s Acceptance Speech to the AIA, January 8, 2005
Volume 58 Number 2, March/April 2005
http://www.archaeology.org/0503/etc/casson.html


33 posted on 05/29/2007 10:27:09 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Thanks,
Amazon has me on speed dial since I retired.


34 posted on 05/29/2007 10:33:48 AM PDT by norton
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To: norton

Ok, I checked, and I did review it: “Time to take a trip, June 14, 2000 by Holy Olio”.


35 posted on 05/29/2007 10:38:24 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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To: SunkenCiv

The most amazing thing about the Antikythera Mechanism, for my money, is that some clever geek over at slashdot actually got the thing to boot linux. Amazing.


36 posted on 05/29/2007 10:39:56 AM PDT by Petronski (Fred!)
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To: BenLurkin
Probably by the owner’s ex-wife.
Hey, at least you're not bitter.
37 posted on 05/29/2007 10:40:55 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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To: Petronski

Didn’t those originate at the same time? ;’)


38 posted on 05/29/2007 10:45:22 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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To: RightWhale

http://www.hebrewhistory.info/factpapers/fp038-2_cremona.htm

...As a musical instrument, the organ has ancient Judaic roots. The magrephah, the original organ, is described in the Talmud (Arachin tractate) as a bellows-operated pipe-organ with ten different sized reed-pipes, all pierced with ten holes and keyed to a reverberatory box. The magrephah emitted “all the hundred sounds of which our rabbis speak.”3

The Babylonian Bible (Tamid tractate), describes one of its uses: A Levite musician “took the Magrephah and sounded it… The priest who heard its sound knew that his brother Levites had entered to sing, and he hastened to come.”

After the destruction of the Second Temple, a ban was placed on the use in services of musical instruments giving forth “joyful sounds” until the Temple was restored. Among the many Judaic musical practices the Christians adopted and continued was the use of the organ. Some of the early church fathers campaigned to ban the use of this “Jewish instrument” because it would seduce Christians to the “hated religion.” Ironically, some contemporary Judaic religious groups disdain to use the organ in services because of its Christian association.


39 posted on 05/29/2007 10:51:03 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Time heals all wounds, particularly when they're not yours. Profile updated May 26, 2007.)
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40 posted on 11/28/2009 9:18:48 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/__Since Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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