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Syndicated 2012-02-27 21:54:56 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

England vs Germany

Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win. The words of Gary Linekar, the famous striker of the English team that lost to Germany in the 1990 World Cup semis.

As arch-rivals England and Germany gear up for the 2nd round match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup match later today, I am also getting a little more excited than usual. In school, I used to be an avid follower of football, reading and watching about the games as much as I could. I remember Oliver Bierhoff’s golden goal in Euro ’96 final and the famous match Germany and England played in the semis. Lately, I have watched only a few matches. Though the English have good players and play well, for some unknown reason, I have never liked their team- and always wanted them to lose. As I root for Germany today, here are some interesting pieces of information I collected for the pre-match consumption.

Games against Germany represent some of the lowest points in England’s 44 years of hurt. Of course England wants to win the World Cup but if we can’t, we at least want to be beat the German: a life-long England supporter in the Deutsche Welle.

The New York Times: “Three World Cups!” the Germans like to cry, gently mocking England’s sole success in the competition, a 4-2 victory over West Germany in extra time in 1966 at London’s Wembley Stadium, and comparing it with Germany’s success in 1954, 1974 and 1990 (all as West Germany, before German reunification). “Two world wars!” has been the English supporters’ response.

The British tabloid has been quick to draw comparisons between the game and the war. The Daily Star writes, GERMANY is set to kick up a Reich stink at the World Cup by playing in Nazi-style black shirts. The German tabloid Bild calls The ‘Daily Star’ headline is just sick. The SS and Fascist groups in Italy and England were known as ‘Black Shirts’. It says, it was the height of poor taste, coming the day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Independent gets humbler than the tabloids and makes a list of good things about the rivals including the invention of 23-year-old German university student, Paul Nipkow, who thought up the first electromechanical television system in 1884, without which, we would be listening to today’s match on the wireless. Read more in What has Germany ever done for us?

Germans watching the World Cup (source: The Welt)

The BBC reports that a psychic octopus said to have correctly predicted many of Germany’s previous match has predicted a German win in today’s match.

Since ’66 the Germans have always finished at least one stage ahead of England in the World Cup and there was a time, until that amazing 5-1 win in Munich in 2001, when they regularly got the better of us. But you don’t have to be burdened by history; the point is to try to make it… I see it’s the youngest side the Germans have brought to the finals since 1934. (The Independent)

Germans thrive when under pressure. (The Independent)

Germans: Eleven years ago, half our rival’s squad would not qualify as citizens under rules introduced by Kaiser (nice pictures): The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail also writes about how economy will boost if England wins and how people in both countries have stocked beer for the occasion.

In an interesting article, The Daily Mail writes, why do we love to hate them? It can’t just be that deep down we know they’re better than us at football, and particularly at taking penalties? Can it? The piece is aptly titled: Why we still love bashing the Boche: as we face Germany in the World Cup tomorrow, we salute the silly side of our old enemy.

The German and British Prime Ministers to watch the big game together during the G8 summit: The Local

The Guardian writes about “Das Englische Elfmetertrauma“, the famous penalty-shootout duels between Germany and England.

The Bild gives six reasons why the Germans think they will beat England. The Daily Mail has its own set of reasons why England will win.


The Welt has another interesting photo gallery titled Again and Again against England, with classic pictures from previous matches between the countries.

The Spiegel has a nice photo gallery too.

The Psychological War

According to The Daily Mail, the English FA wanted to book the five-star Hotel Velmore Grande for the Sunday’s game, but Germans were quicker. The Bild said They wanted to pitch up in the Hotel Velmore Grande for the quarter finals but the DfB [German FA] was quicker – and now we are getting ready in the luxury five-star accommodation for victory on Sunday.

Psychological War? Sure. Read ahead.

The man fielded for the pre-match press conference by the German team was Andreas Köpke, the German goalie who saved England’s penalty in the ’96 Euro Cup victory.

The German team recently visited the Lions’ Park in South Africa. The English team are called “The three lions” by the press, in reference to the English Coat of arms. The Welt has a photo gallery of the visit to the Lions’ Park. The Daily mail story also writes in length about it.

The Tabloid War

More World Cup

The Bild: What kind of people don’t watch the world cup ? (with a gallery).

The Telegraph: WAGS arrive in South Africa to back England. (I am of the opinion that England would make a better pop-band than a football team ;) )

Syndicated 2010-06-27 10:13:54 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

Welcome back to reality !

I’m sure you had almost started thinking of yourself as a global citizen as you wished each other “Merry Christmas” and partied well over the weekend. Especially to those in Kathmandu and cities. I’m sure some of you had already made plans for the New Year celebration. Life was sailing all right. You had those usual complaints and ideas on how to improve the system in the country but even without them, things seemed to be working just fine. At least they weren’t getting on your way. The crippling strikes (bandhas) and road-blockades wouldn’t deter you from doing your work or enjoying your leisure (Read: Nation of Strikes). Who cares about Nepalese politics anyway?

That was until I read the news today that next week onwards, we’ll have eight hours of power cut every day. Another 15 days, and the duration will be ten hours. Soon, it will be sixteen-hour a day.

Well friends, welcome back to reality ! I think power-cuts should be a part of our national priority and policy-agenda. Nothing, not even strikes, has as strong effect of grounding the unruly youths of the nation, as the power-cut schedule has. To those guilty of thinking of themselves as competitive and capable-of-anything generation of energetic youth, nothing is as humbling as this schedule. Back to where your belong, fellas!

Source: The BG Experience

It was about a year ago that I wrote a couple of posts on the same topic. I just went through them, and found some points worth repeating:

  • I challenge you to contemplate – really stop and think for a moment - what your life would be like if you had to live 10 hours of each and every day without electricity.
    - Jules West on Kura Kaani and Jai Nepal
  • It’s gonna be 82 hours/week from tomorrow. 12 hours for 6 days and 10 for the one remaining day. More reason to celebrate the glorious darkness in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
    - ShutUp, commenting on More Darkness
  • Oh BTW, I heard some stats that said the city with the most load-shedding (least electric power) – major city that is – in the world is Kabul, Afghanistan. Kathmandu is #2.
    - sirensongs, commenting on The Load Shedding Conspiracy
  • Life, so blissed to be so utterly ignorant and so happily incapable of any voice and resistance, of anything at all beyond frustration, dejection and surrender. Of course, in Nepal, all this and more go on as if this is the way things should have always been. (from The Load Shedding Conspiracy)

With an predicted economic crisis (triggered by a liquidity crunch) in six months, and a foreseen political crisis in four months, load-shedding was just the missing ingredient for a wonderful new year gift for the population.

Ankur on Load Shedding:

अँध्यारोमा जन्मेको थ्यौ, अँध्यारोमै मर

घुस खाको पैसा बाँकि भए, जेनेरेटरमा भर ।

Meanwhile, I recently read about people like us declaring independence from Nepal and forming a separate country.

And, oh yes – Happy New Year 2010.

Syndicated 2009-12-28 21:47:52 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

Solved: Plone installation Strange Error


After installing Plone 3.3.2 as a standalone server from the Unified Installer in Ubuntu 9.04, adding a new plone-site (from the ZMI) produced strange error. I have been facing this for quite sometime now.

The Error Message:

Site Error

An error was encountered while publishing this resource.

Error Type: KeyError
Error Value: ''

Here’s the error log taken from the file instance.log.


In the instance section of the buildout.cfg file, add the following (replacing your own timezone if necessary):

zope-conf-additional =
        TZ Asia/Katmandu

Run the buildout again, start the Zope Server and the problem will be gone.

What happened:

For some strange reason, Python couldn’t pick up the timezone of my machine. We fixed that by explicitely providing one in the buildout.cfg file.

Matthew Wilkes told me on IRC, “when Zope creates a date object it uses the timezone of the local machine, if not otherwise specified. Every object gets a creation date, which is then stored in the portal catalog so it can be searched for. The catalog tries to normalise the timezones so searches don’t have to take account of the fact that 1pm EST is the same time as 6pm GMT. Zope couldn’t find my machine’s timezone for whatever reason, so used the timezone ”, which caused a key-error when the date-time machinery tried to look up what the offset from GMT is.” He said that they will have to work on making the installation process adress this strange problem.

Matthew has added a ticket for this bug: #9857.

Thanks, also to cbess (I guess he is Christopher Bess) of the #plone IRC channel.

More Help:

How to install Plone with the Unified Installer and managing projects with buildout. The later link also explains how to install Plone using paster, which I’m told is the ‘advanced’ way to do the thing :)

I’d prefer installing from my Package Manager. But there also seems to be some problem in Jaunty’s plone3-site package as attempting to install plone3-site from synaptic gave this error:

Setting up plone3-site (3.1.7-1) …
dpkg: error processing plone3-site (–configure): subprocess post-installation script returned error exit status 10
Errors were encountered while processing: plone3-site

Posted via web from Scribbles

Syndicated 2009-11-26 07:40:59 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

Has the SRK detention story been overblown?

Recently, bollywood superstar ShahRukh Khan (SRK) was detained for a little over 1 hour (according to the US authorities, 2 hours according to Indian news sources) in an American airport when he was travelling to perform in a show. It has been attributed to his Muslim name and is said that the Indian government had to apply diplomatic measures to release him. A lot of furor has been created since and heated comments from SRK and his supporters have been coming.

Profiling people based on their names, religion, country of origin, race etc is totally wrong. Worse is the unlawful detention, extra-judicial powers to law authorities, surveillance and the increasing attack on freedoms and civil liberties. This escalated after 9/11 and has been continuing unabated since. Many other countries have joined the league and freedom of people all over the world is being restricted day by day.

SRK isn’t an isolated case. On 15th August, a similar fate met Bob Dylan. Though SRK mighet be more popular than Hollywood actors, Dylan’s personality and role in the rights-movement some decases ago and in the protest of Vietnam war are stuffs legends are made of. A few years ago, a famous singer Cat Stevens who is a Islam-convert was deported after being denied entry to the US, also because of his Muslim name. Unlike SRK, he’s one of “them”, the western world. Studies by civil liberty groups claim that more than 5% of the American population itself is kept on a possible terrorist-suspect list and are subjected to harrassment at airports. A foreign minister of Hugo Chavez was “threatened and shoved” by airport officials, even after informing them of his identity. Even Nelson Mandela was (there have been reports that his name has since been removed) on a terrorist watch list prepared by the FBI which contiues to grow longer and longer every day. Similarly, names of many American leaders and people are also there.

IndiaTimes blog has an entry that requests not to make a big deal over the SRK case. In my experience, South Asia in itself is a very racist place with the North-Indians in India and the residents of Kathmandu being the most frequent offenders I’ve seen. Sometime ago, a racist slur was made on an Indian Idol from North-Eastern India belonging to a Nepali-speaking community by a Mumbai FM RJ. In my observation, such behaviour is common, especially in the Indian capital, to North-Eastern Indians, Bhutanis and Nepalese of mongolian origin. Dinesh Wagle echoes my observations in a recent article. Kathmandu-residents are very intolerant of anybody from outside the valley and especially the Terai.

In my opinion, racism in any form, any where is deplorable. Such activities remind of colonial days. It is a good thing that India has risen to the capacity of defending its citizens even at the world’s sole superpower – maybe this reckons of days when it will stop being the sole-superpower. However, the basic flaw is in the state of civil liberties worldwide. Unless this realisation dawns, getting emotional over SRK issue may be benefitial to his upcoming movie that is said to be based on similar issues, but it will make no significant change on the way things are.
 They were never different. Just because SRK is SRK, expecting them to change is only stupid. The issue has been overblown.

Posted via web from Instincts

Syndicated 2009-08-16 06:47:37 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

Code Obfuscation

By Binit Thapa

“Real Programmers don’t comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to read.”

Obfuscation: confusion resulting from failure to understand, mystification. Try telling someone you’re a programmer and he knows you’re an ugly, boring specimen of homo sapiens1 who has neither girlfriend nor time. Why, only today there was a discussion going on at InRev2 about how less frequently the software team went to toilets. Once you are into the programming spirit, everything else becomes moh-maya3. When you misplace something, you miss find and grep4. And when you’ve got par with all the games you have, you start writing code for fun. Maybe a small useful tool or maybe a piece of code that only bows to its creator. While this technique is not new, it’s so unique and diverse that it can easily cause a mild heart-attack if you’re not a really good programmer. Here I’ll present some of the best ones, which I’ve collected over time. But I won’t explain those to you as I’ve never fully understood them myself.

C program

C program

This is a valid C program that generates a nice poem when compiled. Author: James O. Coplien

The next one is prime number test by Abigail. This prints “prime” as 7 is a prime number.

perl -wle ‘print “Prime” if (1 x shift) !~ /^1?$|^(11+?)\1+$/’ 7

Next ones are taken from JAPH5 section of CPAN.








The examples above were scripts with some meaningful output. There’s also poetry which may not produce any output but compiles perfectly and looks nice. These are some of those, all compiling perfectly in Perl.



While most of these are written in C/C++ and in Perl, hackers have created plenty in almost all languages. Code obfuscation is not only for fun. This technique has been used in making code very difficult to reverse engineer and hence secure. This is specially helpful Javascript where code is to be presented to the world.
I am signing off with some good references. Other examples are left as an exercise to the reader, etc.

1 homo sapiens - the set containing both programmers and Muggles
2 InRev - the company I work with
3 moh-maya - loving the materialistic things
4 find and grep - unix tools to search tokens in files.
5 JAPH - Just a Perl Hacker, scripts by Perl Hackers.

1. Wiki explains
2. The International Obfuscated C Code Contest -
3. The Perl Poetry -
4. JAPHs in CPAN

Download Code
C-program, Camel-code, tree-code, star-wars-code, love-code, poem-1, poem-2

About the writer: Binit Thapa is the Chief Software Architect of the Bangalore-based startup InRev. He has industry experience in scripting tools, Linux and Unix development environment, SOAP/XML and data storage technologies. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Engineering (IT) from NIT Durgapur, India.

Note: I would like to thank InRev, Binit Thapa and Bhupendra Khanal for making this guest-article possible. I welcome other guest articles on topics coherent with the theme of this blog.

Syndicated 2009-04-06 07:39:35 from Bibek Paudel's weblog


Not much to write today but I have moved back to Debian, having installed its latest stable release (5.0) named “Lenny.” I used the CD image for installation instead of DVD and the installed amount of desktop applications surprised me at first. They are very less in number. Even usual applications like, XChat, Pidgin, Transmission etc weren’t installed. The Synaptic Package Manager, GParted and other utilities were missing too. I have uploaded a full-size screenshot of my desktop for the reason that both GIMP and Imagemagick are not present in my system at present :)

Debian Lenny Desktop

My Debian Lenny Desktop

Here is a list of steps for those who might want to try what I did:
To install Synaptic package manager:

  1. Open the file “/etc/apt/sources.list” in a text editor and add these lines (skip if they are already present):

    deb lenny main contrib non-free
    deb-src lenny main contrib non-free

  2. Enter the command “apt-get install synaptic” as a root user.

My DVD drive isn’t working for some reason lately. I had to install using the CD image located in my hard disk. Steps:

  1. Download initrd.gz and vmlinuz files from:
  2. You need to have an existing GNU/Linux operation system in your computer. Copy the downloaded files to some location readable by GRUB (or LILO). I copied them to a folder named “lenny_install” in my /boot partition (/dev/hda7).
  3. Edit the GRUB configuration file (/boot/grub/menu.lst in Debian systems) and add these lines (be careful to replace (hd0,6) with your own correct partition name):

    title Debian Lenny Installer
    kernel (hd0,6)/boot/lenny_install/vmlinuz
    initrd (hd0,6)/boot/lenny_install/initrd.gz

  4. Locate the DVD/CD iso image in a partition that won’t be used during your new installation. If possible, remove/rename the other isos in your hard disk as it might confuse the Debian installer later.
  5. Reboot your system and choose the option “Debian Lenny Installer” from GRUB menu. After entering language and keyboard settings in the installer, opt for installation via hard-disk.

Syndicated 2009-03-14 02:08:44 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

The seduction of “Free Tibet”

Just ahead of the Beijing Olympics, a group of white men were discussing Free Tibet in a Thamel pub. Sitting next to me, they seemed to make some interesting points about why Tibet should be free and how China had been violating human rights. I got into a heated debate with one of them, who was a Russian. When I started talking of how Russia had been committing graver crimes in Chechnya and other parts of its neighborhood, his arguments seemed to fade away. He then tried to persuade me, saying that after Tibet, it’s Nepal’s turn to come under Chinese scanner. Well, to be honest many in Nepal fear such moves from India rather than from China- given India’s historical motives with Sikkim and Bhutan (called Sikkimization and Bhutanization in Nepal) and with Nepal itself. International refugees don’t have the right to engage in political activities in the host country.

If indeed China has been violating human rights in Tibet, it is condemnable. It should allow free practice of religion, freedom of speech and organization and of dissent since economic progress can’t be a substitute for political progress (and vice versa). At the same time, China has the right to control violence inside it’s territory (Tibetan protests often are very violent, read more, please.), even more so, if Israel and America can deploy army and use excessive forces against a silent population in foreign lands. Tibet is recognized as Chinese territory by almost all of the world, including the United States.

Tibet shares a long border with Nepal, over 1200 km long. And many Nepalese from the Northern part have a Tibetan/Mongolian origin- meaning that their religious, cultural and linguistic practices have some similarities.

More than a century ago, Nepalese troops made a couple of attacks on Tibet. (Interestingly, I’ve been to one of the forts of Nepal-Tibet war :) ) Often, Chinese troops would also be engaged in those wars. Having defeated Tibet, Nepal used to enjoy huge annual tribute in the form of cash and gold. This continued till 1950, when Tibet came under the direct control of Communist China (Some Indian “analysts” like this wrongly state that Nepal used to pay tributes to China- there’s no record in history to suggest that).

There is a large population holding the idea that Tibet was never free and was always under Chinese control. Almost all of the Chinese population belongs to this group. As I wrote in Slashdot last year, they blame the western media and rulers for all the controversy surrounding Tibet. Similarly, there’s a larger group that believes that Tibet was always free and that’s how it ought to be in the future. Both of them are misled. Tibet and China have a very long history of coexistence and struggle. Tibet was under Chinese control for a large part of its history. Tibet also had annexed parts of the Chinese territory during this time. Incidentally, during Nepal-Tibet wars, Tibet occasionally won over some parts of Nepalese land too.

Most Tibetans practice Buddhism. Sometime in the 16th century, a group of Tibetan aristocrats invented the myth named “Dalai Lama”- who could incarnate and rule over the people; much like the King in Nepal who’s now overthrown. An overwhelming majority of Tibetans (some sources say, 95%) were servants and slaves to the small group of aristocrats represented by the Dalai Lama. Nepalese folklores portray Tibet as a very poor state. In one of the most famous works of Nepali literature- “Muna Madan” by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, the protagonist goes to Tibet (also known as Bhot in Nepal) and suffers a lot. Tibet was known to Nepalese primarily as trading place for salt. Despite such abject poverty and backwardness, the Dalai Lamas lived in big, sophisticated palaces, owned large amounts of gold (there’s a popular Nepali proverb indicating Lhasa-the Tibetan capital’s collection of gold) and ruled unquestioned. From 1950-59, the Chinese allowed Dalai Lama to continue unabated. When Communist China started to make some minor changes, these aristocrats had their privileged stripped, and had enough reasons to revolt. Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and it was only then that China started to implement its policies in a full-fledged way.

Dalai Lama, Free Tibet and Nepal

Free Tibet protestors in Bauddhanath, Kathmandu on 10th March 2009 (Picture:AFP)

Free Tibet protestors in Bauddhanath, Kathmandu on 10th March 2009 (Picture:AFP)

Once in India, the Dalai Lama, then a celebrity, started a pseudo Tibetan government and parliament which runs till today. A few years later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, to many people, he represents everything divine. Many Hollywood stars, western leaders and ordinary citizens are his devoted followers and fans. Not surprisingly, many children grow up feeding on the idea that Dalai Lama is the incarnation of god, who believes in Peace and Love while the Chinese government kills his followers in Tibet. On the contrary, after 1960, Tibet has developed in an unbelievable pace. The once despised cities of Tibet have today grown far more prosperous than their Nepalese counterparts. Many Nepalese workers go to Tibet in search of work and Nepal imports a huge supply of goods from Tibet.

India has been an active center for Free Tibet supporters. Their government and parliament is located there and from where most of their activities are coordinated. Unfortunately, Nepal is also another center for such activities. Spend an evening near the Bauddhanath area in Kathmandu and you will perhaps get to observe the thick of events that go discretely in the city. An year ago, five ministers of Tibetan pseudo-government in India, all carrying Nepalese passports (illegally, of course), accompanied by the French ambassador to Nepal were reportedly meeting the Tibetans at Bauddhanath area. Nepal has been known as a route for ordinary citizens and criminals fleeing to India from Tibet. Apart from that, there are many Tibetan refugees in Nepal itself. Many years ago, the CIA-trained group of armed Tibetan rebels called Khampaas were disarmed by the Nepalese army. Some analysts think that similar armed groups might be on the move in Nepal. It is, therefore, imperative for Nepal’s government to curb any measures that might lead to violence in its neighborhood. China is one of the biggest sponsors of Nepal’s development projects and irking a neighbor as good as China is not in Nepal’s best interests.

Double Standards
So many Americans seem to be oblivious to human rights abuses by their government and allied nations. Debates regarding gross violation of Human Rights by Saudi Arabia and Israel are never allowed to gain mainstream attention. Similarly, suppression of dissident and civil right groups inside America itself through instruments like FBI and NSA (and activities like illegal wiretapping) are easily ignored and of course, Abu-Gharib and Guantanamo Bay don’t deserve much criticism. I have never heard of Americans or Britons protesting against the killings of over 5 million people in Congo in about a decade’s time. Talk of Chechnya, and a Russian cringes. Talk of Lebanon, Afganistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Cuba and the rest of Latin America, of Israel and of Saudi Arabia- and you have to consider being anonymous on the internet. But if you talk of Free Tibet, suddenly, you become a freedom fighter, a proponent of a noble cause. In fact, you will have a larger mass that will listen to you - your stance will be hailed.

Many Indians and some Nepalese also back the idea of Free Tibet and subscribe to all the western media’s fodder. Surprisingly, the same people take it as a personal affront when asked about Indian army’s excesses in Kashmir and the North Eastern states like Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. None of them seem to support the decades old Gorkhaland movement (for a state, not independence) by ethnic Nepali-speaking population of Darjeeling, Dooars and Siliguri. There are about a million Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees in Nepal- all of them driven away from their country (via India) and demanding to be sent back home. Bhutan is also accused of attempting ethnic cleansing, yet none among the Indian, Nepalese or American establishment seem to pay heed to their completely peaceful struggle.

Why This Post?
It was exactly fifty years ago, on the 10th of March that Dalai Lama fled Tibet. As the day drew closer, authorities in Nepal and China had heightened security around the border. Nepalese police tried to curb anti-China protests in the capital. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I am for even stronger measures against Free Tibet activists working in Nepal- anywhere else is OK, but NO to such activities in Nepal.

To Free Tibet aspirants of South Asia: I detest China’s crimes in Tibet. I am a strong supporter of freedom, activism and liberties, but such values should not be viewed in absolute terms. The freedom fights in many other parts of the world and in South Asia itself are in need of global attention and support. People there have been subjected to much harsher conditions and prolonged durations of injustice. Human Rights standards should apply equally to all the countries. Ignoring such issues for a propaganda like Free Tibet is a harmful seduction. Free Tibet propaganda is largely artificial and unjustified.

Further Reading:
Noam Chomsky on Tibet and Palestine
Was Tibet a peaceful paradise of spirituality and social order before the Chinese take over or was it just another feudal theocracy for the ordinary people who lived there?
The CIA’s secret war in Tibet
CBC, Canada - Tibet timeline
A Reuters reporter recalls the Dalai Lama’s escape to India
What does Free Tibet mean to you?
Comparing Kashmir with Tibet

Syndicated 2009-03-10 20:41:25 from Bibek Paudel's weblog

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