SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — If you’re starting to notice more ads on Instagram, it’s all part of Facebook’s plan.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has steadily built its advertising business to become the world’s second-largest digital ad platform after Google. Now it’s looking at ways to make more money from video ads and from newer services like Instagram, the mobile photo-sharing app that it bought for $1 billion in 2012.
Instagram recently announced it has over 400 million monthly users, surpassing the 300 million who use the rival social networking site Twitter. While Facebook has been introducing Instagram ads slowly – to avoid irritating users by overloading them with commercial messages – the company said in September that it would allow more kinds of ads, including longer video spots, on the photo-sharing service.
With those new formats, Instagram could produce more than $250 million in revenue for the current quarter, Evercore ISI analyst Ken Sena estimates. Businesses will spend about $600 million on Instagram ads this year – and nearly $1.5 billion in 2016, according to research firm eMarketer.
“When we talk to advertisers and ad agencies, they’re very interested in Instagram,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson.
One reason: In recent years, there’s been a debate over whether teens and young adults are forsaking Facebook in favor of newer, trendier online services. But Williamson said young adults are “very visually focused and pretty heavy users of Instagram.”
Facebook doesn’t disclose how much of its revenue comes from Instagram. The company beat Wall Street estimates on Wednesday by reporting third-quarter net income of $891 million, on revenue of $4.5 billion. Profit was up 11 percent, while revenue grew 40 percent from the same period a year earlier.
More than 1.55 billion people now visit Facebook at least once a month, up 14 percent from a year ago. Daily users increased by 17 percent, to 1.1 billion. As in previous quarters, Facebook said a majority of users are visiting Facebook on mobile devices, and mobile ads contributed 78 percent of the company’s ad revenue.
Those results drove Facebook’s stock up more than 3.5 percent in late trading, after shares closed Wednesday at $103.94.
Facebook has seen continued growth in revenue and users over the last three years, but the company is growing more slowly as it gets bigger. That’s led it to consider new ways of showing advertising.
Facebook is also increasingly introducing new ways for its users to share and watch video on the social network, positioning itself against Google’s popular YouTube service. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts Wednesday that Facebook users are now watching more than 8 billion video clips a day on the site, up from 4 billion in April. (Facebook counts any clip played for at least 3 seconds as a “view.”)
Analysts say Facebook has huge, untapped potential in both video and its growing stable of apps and services, many of which operate separately from the main social network. That includes Instagram, the WhatsApp messaging app and Oculus VR, which makes virtual reality gear.
More than 800 million people are now using WhatsApp, the messaging app Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014, and another 700 million people use the Messenger service that Facebook developed internally.
While the company hasn’t spelled out plans to make money from those apps, chief financial officer David Wehner told analysts Wednesday that he’s confident “there are going to be opportunities” in the future.
Zuckerberg also cautioned that it will take time for virtual reality technology to gain wide adoption. But chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg stressed Instagram’s more immediate potential during the company’s quarterly earnings call.
For advertisers, she boasted, Facebook and Instagram are the “two most important mobile platforms out there.” Instagram offers advertisers the same targeting and measurement capabilities they can get with ads on Facebook, she added.
Facebook still handles less advertising than Google, its biggest rival, but its share of global spending on digital ads is growing, according to eMarketer. The firm estimates Facebook’s share will be 9.6 percent this year, up from 8 percent last year, while Google’s will drop from 32 percent last year to 30.4 percent this year.
Experts caution that Facebook must be careful as it introduces new kinds of advertising, so it doesn’t overwhelm or annoy users. The company worked closely with advertisers to make sure the first ads on Instagram “met a high bar” for aesthetics and creativity, Williamson said. Still, she said she’s recently seen “a couple of duds.”
Sandberg acknowledged that concern, telling analysts the company is monitoring the quality of ads closely.
The US rapper and singer spent his 20s on the fringes of the music industry. Now, with his dazzling second album, Dr Dres latest protege is equipped to address his turbulent youth
Id be lying if I told you that my interview with Anderson Paak gets off to a flying start. The reality is anything but. The 30-year-old rapper and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles is ushered into my cramped hotel room in Salford looking like death warmed up. Hes battling a nasty flu virus that threatens to derail his European tour. While I do my best to be solicitous, his eyelids droop and he barely speaks. Fearing disaster, I quickly phone for black coffee and, fortunately, it does the trick.
He may not be a household name just yet, but Paak is well on the way to becoming one. For a start, he is making some of the most exciting new music around. His sound is a warm and hazy blend of styles funk, jazz, New York house, reggae, trap, blaxploitation-era soul, a hint of psych-rock anchored in R&B and hip-hop. He is equally at home singing and rapping. And he has a highly distinctive voice that somehow manages to be both smooth as maple syrup and raspy as a whisky-soaked barfly. Comparisons have been made with Frank Ocean, Andr 3000 and Innervisions-era Stevie Wonder.
Significantly, Paak has also been recently anointed as Dr Dres latest protege. The hip-hop mogul and Beats headphones founder has a habit of picking winners, from Snoop Dogg to Eminem, and Paak signed a deal with Dres Aftermath Entertainment in January. This followed on from his star turn last August on Dres comeback album, Compton. Paak co-wrote and sang on six of the songs, more than any other guest including Snoop and Eminem, as well as other heavy hitters, such as Ice Cube and Kendrick Lamar.
This was a remarkable achievement because at the time Paak was virtually unknown. He had independently released an album, Venice, in late 2014, which won widespread critical acclaim but made little mainstream impact (although it was championed by Gilles Peterson on Radio 6). Paak also had a project called NxWorries, a collaboration with the hip-hop producer Knxwledge their single Suede went viral in early 2015, and came to the attention of Dre, who apparently played it for weeks before getting one of his A&R team to call Paak and invite him to audition.
That must have been quite a moment. Paak flashes a toothy grin and perks up immediately. When I finally met him, for some reason I didnt have any super-fanboy jitter thing, where I couldnt be myself, he says. I was so confident by that point I just said: Let me get on the mic and try something. And I remember closing my eyes and going off the top, and then opening them and it was like, Whooaaaahhh!! He mimes Dre throwing his hands up in the air in appreciation.
It probably helped that Paak had already had a lot of practice by the time he met Dre. If hed called five years ago, I dont think Id have been ready, he admits. Paak is his real name, by the way. But as an artist he prefixes it with a full stop .Paak. Its a weird affectation, but he tells me it symbolises attention to detail. Its a reminder to himself to stay on top of his game because he hasnt always done so. I thought things would just fall into my lap, he says. So Id put my career in the hands of just about anybody. And before I knew it I was in my late 20s, and things just werent sticking. Plus, in LA image is more than half the battle, and I was just a music nerd who never gave a fuck about image.
Indeed. For most of his 20s he recorded under the name Breezy Lovejoy. I didnt always take myself that seriously, he admits. Image-wise, I was somewhat of a jokester. The first thing he put online as Lovejoy was a Coldplay tribute. I didnt really know what I was doing, he says. Eventually it was fatherhood his son, Soul, is now five years old that gave him the wake-up call he needed. Since then, he has ditched the cringy Lovejoy alias, stepped up his songwriting game, and independently released two dazzling albums Venice and, more recently, Malibu in January.
Like generations of African American musicians before him, Paak laid the foundations for his career during childhood in church. It was where he learned to play drums, tutored by kindly older musicians who recognised that he had talent; the singing and rapping came later. If you grow up playing in church, it removes a lot of the boundaries that other musicians might have, growing up with sheet music or whatever, he says. Its like [adopts booming preachers voice] youre dealing with the Holy Spirit! Gods working through your hands!
The church was in Oxnard, a small city 100km from Los Angeles. Brandon Paak Anderson and his three sisters (two older, one younger) were born and raised there, in a mostly white suburb. Church was a focal point for Oxnards fragmented black community; his short-lived first marriage at 21 was to a girl he met there.
Paaks mother is mixed race: half-black, half-Korean he has her eyes. She was orphaned during the Korean war, and adopted by a US soldier who took her back to America and raised her with his family in Compton. His father, meanwhile, was an identical twin from Philadelphia, an air force man who was discharged for drugs and who ended up severely addicted to both drugs and alcohol, with traumatic consequences.
He went to prison for assault and battery of my mum, Paak says, with calm detachment. I witnessed him beating my mum. He beat her within an inch of her life. We called the cops and he went to prison for 14 years [he was also found guilty of firearms offences]. I never saw him after that. I talked to him a little bit, but the next time I seen him he was being buried.
Paak was seven years old when he saw the beating. How do you process something like that? I dont know. Its had an effect, but I couldnt pinpoint exactly what it did. I know I have some issues maybe if I see a therapist they can tell you!
His mum is clearly a resilient woman who had a flair for business. She took over a small strawberry stall in Oxnard from a friend, and built it into a large organic strawberry company, supplying grocery stores and restaurant chains. She remarried, and life got very good we went from living in a one-bedroom apartment to a five-bedroom mansion by the time I was in high school. I had everything I wanted growing up, though all I wanted was music stuff drums, a PC, turntables. They supported me with all of that.
But their luck changed again: unusually heavy rainstorms linked to the El Nio weather phenomenon ruined the strawberry crops for two consecutive seasons, and everything went to shit. Mom had to file for bankruptcy. But during this time, she also developed a healthy gambling habit. We were in Vegas every weekend. My mom and step-pops were really good, and when youre really good at gambling, you dont pay for anything. Everything was on the house. Wed get all our meals free, all the room service. Id bring my friends from school. It was just crazy rooms, dude TVs coming up out of the floor and shit
And then that all went wrong, too. His mum and stepdad were arrested and charged for not declaring their winnings, and for illegally moving securities. Paak was 17 and knew nothing; he is sketchy about the details even now. They were making a bunch of money at the tables and not notifying the government Mom was actually using it to pay back what she owed from the bankruptcy. But when people found out that she had paid others back but not them, they reported her. His mum served seven and a half years of a 14-year sentence. Around the same time, it emerged that his stepdad had been having an affair, and was having a child with another woman. I never really liked him anyway, Paak shrugs.
When my mom went under, everything collapsed. Like, before that we were just spoilt brats. My mom paid for everything. My two older sisters were married with families of their own, but they were still being taken care of. One of them had to move back into the house to take care of me and my little sister but then the house got foreclosed, so we had to get out.
He has only recently felt able to write about all this and the years of hard living and family fallouts that followed. There is little sign of it on his light-hearted first album, Venice. But its game-changing follow-up, Malibu, is a much deeper proposition, full of long-buried and painful childhood memories, transformed into bittersweet melodies and woozy, punch-drunk raps. Is you gonna smile when your date gets issued? You know them feds taking pictures/Your moms in prison, your father needs a new kidney/Your familys splitting, rivalries between siblings/If cash aint king its damn sure the incentive/And good riddance, he raps on The Season/Carry Me, one of the albums many highlights.
I guess it just took time, he says. I dont think I knew before how to properly express what I had gone through in song form. Im glad I didnt try to force it before I was ready. Also, its part of my personality to be light; Im more about lightness than anything.Continue reading
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Attendances and broadcast deals are rising in China as the government looks to build its homegrown talent too
When a little known club just promoted to the top tier of Chinese football is buying a regular starter from a club placed fifth in Serie A then you know that times are changing. But Gervinho aside there is a hitherto unremarkable mid-table club chasing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and paying Chelsea over $30m for Ramires and a second division team paying $11m for a young Chinese player. China is set to become the biggest non-European league in the world in the not-too-distant future, overtaking the likes of the MLS, Mexico and any other you may care to mention.
The really big names that can be tempted to leave Europe often go to MLS Beckham, Lampard, Henry, Gerrard, Kaka and Pirlo but China is increasingly able to pay big money (often too big at the moment but that is due to necessity more than naivety) for players that are not quite so stellar but are usually much closer to their prime. Guangzhou have Ricardo Goulart, still only 24 and regarded as one of the top Brazilian prospects a year ago when he left Cruzerio, while Beijing Guoan has Renato Augusto one of four players from Brazilian champions Corinthians to make a recent move to China. East Asia is still a relative culture shock for players based in South America or Europe than North America but a growing number of Chinese clubs can offer huge salaries with Renato Augusto more than quadrupling his. The US transfer system can be complex with plenty of rules and regulations. In China, its naked capitalism. Theres lots of money and lots of people happy to see that cash buying players from overseas.
In terms of attendances, MLS and China are similar but perhaps not for long. The 2016 Super League season, set to kick off in March, is the most eagerly-awaited yet. Last year saw an average attendance of just over 22,000, less than two hundred behind Italy and France. A high-ranking league official told the Guardian that this season will see the 25,000 barrier broken and predicts that by 2018, the Chinese Super League will be the third most-watched football league in terms of average attendance in the world behind the Bundesliga and the English Premier League. Theres money, the political will, the infrastructure, the passion, the ambition and plenty of potential. Talk in Europe of whether the spending is sustainable is misguided. This is just one of many examples of the worlds second largest economy flexing its financial muscles.
It is already having an effect at home. In 2015 Chinese broadcasters paid just $9m to show local league games. In 2016 it will be over $200m as part of a $1.25bn package over the next five seasons.
Guangzhou Evergrande has become the prime mover in China after being taken over by a huge property developer. Five Chinese titles, two Asian Champions Leagues and two World Cup winning coaches later, the Cantonese giant wants to win the Fifa Club World Cup. With Robinho, Paulinho, Goulart, Luiz Felipe Scolari, much of the Chinese national team and an average attendance of over 45,000, it is already Asias premier club.
Shanghai SIPG was runner-up in 2015 but Sven Goran Eriksson lost out once again to Scolari. The Swede has been spending big, paying around $50m for Ghanaian goal-king Asamoah Gyan and Brazilian striker Elkeson. The club still wants Robin van Persie or Wayne Rooney. Shanghai Shenhua has Demba Ba, Fredy Guarin and Tim Cahill. Beijing Guoan risks getting left behind but still had 42,000 applications for 27,000 season tickets earlier this month.
Beijing has Serie A winning coach Alberto Zaccheroni in the hotseat and, as well as Scolari and Sven at Evergrande and SIPG, theres ex-Brazil boss Mano Menezes at Shandong Luneng and Dragan Stojkovic, not long ago tipped to be Arsene Wengers Arsenal successor, with Guangzhou R&F. Whatever the past failings of the Chinese system, the countrys best players are increasingly being coached by well-regarded international names.
The spending has been encouraged by a government headed by big soccer fan Xi Jinping. The president was tired of the worlds most populous country continually failing at the worlds most popular game. Wealthy businessmen get involved, in part, to curry favor and craft links with the politicians and even perhaps, to make money. Guangzhou may have spent over $150m on players and coaches since 2010 but Evergrande, who bought the club for $16m, sold 50% of it for $190m to internet giant Alibaba just four years later.
There is still, of course, much work to be done to improve the standard of local players. As well as in terms of mens national teams, China lags behind the United States in a big way when it comes to participation. Soccer may be the most played sport among American youth but kids rarely play the game in the Middle Kingdom often due to a lack of places to play or the preference of parents to have their (usually only) offspring aim for a real job rather than professional football.
The government has launched a scheme to get kids playing football at school and the target in 2017 is to have 20,000 schools playing the sport on a weekly basis. This is set to be expanded in a big way. Guangzhou has built what is purported to be the biggest soccer academy in the world (helped by Real Madrid) and the fact that there is more money coming into the game such as from the new television deal and increasing corporate interest should feed through to local players further down the chain, making professional football an increasingly attractive option a decade from now. By that time, the league should be thriving.
Producing more local talent would mean that the league would be less reliant on foreign stars, though the money is likely to be there regardless of any wider economic problems. It is debatable as to which league is the best outside Europe but whichever it is, China is catching fast. That may not matter much to fans in North America but is another sign that the balance of power is moving east along with Gervinho, Ramires and who knows who else?Continue reading
The US lawyer in the landmark 1973 case, which effectively legalised abortion, talks about the fight to protect Planned Parenthood
Sarah Weddington is the lawyer who, aged just 26, represented Jane Roe in the landmark case Roe v Wade, which in 1973 effectively legalised abortion in the US. The daughter of a Methodist minister, she was born in 1945 in Abilene, Texas. Having graduated with a degree in English from McMurry University, she enrolled at the University of Texas Law School in 1964, one of 40 women among a student body of 1,600. I thought I would be teaching eighth graders to love Beowulf, she recalls. But that wasnt working out so well, so I decided to go to law school instead. In this, I was encouraged by the dean of my college, who told me that it would be far too tough for a woman. As sure as dammit I am going, I thought.
After graduating, she joined a group of students who were seeking to challenge anti-abortion laws, agreeing to file a suit against the state of Texas on their behalf. Soon after, 21-year-old Norma McCorvey was referred to Weddington and her colleague Linda Coffee, now actively looking for pregnant women who were seeking abortions. McCorvey became the plaintiff Jane Roe, though by the time the supreme court issued its ruling, her baby had long since been born and given up for adoption. McCorvey later became an evangelical Christian and vocal anti-abortion campaigner, and claimed to have been the victim of the Roe v Wade lawyers. She died last month aged 69.
Weddington remains the youngest person ever to have argued a successful case at the supreme court. In 1973, she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, where she served for three terms. In 1973, she became the first female General Counsel at the US Department of Agriculture. From 1978 until 1981, she served as assistant to President Carter, directing his administrations work on womens issues. She now runs the Weddington Center, Austin, whose work focuses on women and leadership. She recently told NBC news that the election of Donald Trump may pose the biggest threat yet to abortion rights in the US.
Where were you on election night? Did you sense that Trump was going to win?
Austin is one of the more liberal towns in Texas, though the state itself is barely liberal. Most people I know strongly expected Hillary to win. But Id been on a panel a few weeks before where a man had said: You liberals think Hillary is going to win. Well, let me tell you, there are a lot of people out here who are voting with our finger the middle finger. So I knew there was resistance. There were a lot of parties on the night, but I had enough concerns to be afraid that going to one might turn out to be too depressing. So I came here to my office, and watched it on the New York Times website.
Whats your impression of the president so far?
I thought he would be terrible, and he has proven me correct. In Texas, we have a lot of people from Mexico and El Salvador, and a lot of them are worried family members will be deported.
What do you make of the growing fear that under this administration Planned Parenthood [a 100-year-old nonprofit organisation that is the largest single provider of reproductive health services, including abortion, in the US] will lose its federal funding?
The federal government has never given money to Planned Parenthood for abortion. It gives money to it for the provision of contraception and well woman care: for the treatment of venereal disease, mammograms, and so on. The anti-abortionists recognise that the money is not used for abortion, but they want it cut off anyway. It is a real threat. But Planned Parenthood may ultimately benefit from what Trump is doing and saying. Last week, I was in Houston for a Planned Parenthood event. Usually, there would be about 1,000 people in the audience. This time, we had 2,500. People are very worried, and they are giving more generously.
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Jim Justice is a big-talking, brash billionaire who saved one of West Virginia’s most precious historic hotels. But can he do the same for the state?”>
Everybody in West Virginia knows Jim Justice saved the states historic Greenbrier resort from bankruptcy and restored the jobs of 650 laid-off workers.
In a state that ranks low on almost every measure of prosperity, he boosted the local sense of pride by building a training camp for the New Orleans Saints on the property and convincing the PGA to host a premiere tournament at the Greenbrier, turning a dying resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Va. into a sports destination.
He also added a casino, which the Greenbriers web site describes as Monte Carlo meets Gone With the Wind. Its splashy motif tested the old guard, but thats how Justice rolls. According to Forbes, hes West Virginias only billionaire, and now at age 65 hes the frontrunner for governor in tomorrows Democratic primary.
A huge bear of a man with a shock of white hair, he stands 67, weighs over 300 pounds, and wears crocs on the campaign trail. Like Donald Trump, another billionaire businessman turned politician, Justice makes a lot of grandiose pronouncements about what he could do if elected to make the economy take off, promising voters in an April debate, Ill take you on a rocket jobs ride youll never believe.
Aside from a brief stint on the Raleigh County Board of Education 15 years ago, hes a political novice. He was a Republican before he was a Democrat, and a Democrat before he was a Republican.
Hes also dared to question the future of the states most sacred of sacred cows: Coal
Coal is so central to the states psyche and its economic well being that the minerals image is in the state flag.
I do not want to give up on coal. I do not want to throw it away, but you have to have a lot more than coal, Justice told students at Blue Ridge Technical Community College, according to the Martinsburg Journal. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out. No matter what I do, coal may never come back.
That passes for radical in coal country, but theres more to the story. Some accuse Justice of talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to coal, which is the source of his fortune.
He inherited Bluestone Coal, now Bluestone Resources, from his father, selling it to a Russian conglomerate when coal was still riding high, then buying it back last year for 99 percent less than what he sold it for in 2009.
The coal business did a nosedive in those six years, and Justice says he bought the mines back because he didnt want to see all those miners thrown out of work. He reopened several mines and put over 200 miners back to work. The United Mine Workers has endorsed him.
West Virginians blame coals decline on Obamas war on coal and EPA regulations. The state House of Delegates shifted to Republican control in 2014 after 83 years of Democratic dominance. Still,the voters elect Democrats as governor, and Justice leads in the polls over Republican state Senate leader Bill Cole, a local car dealer.
Justices chief asset is his larger than life personality, and his ability to convince voters that he can do for the state what he has done in his private life, think big, generate jobs and make money.
I can do what no one has ever done, no one, because I have a creative mind like nobodys business and I wont take no, he said in an interview with the Charleston Gazette-Mail. I can pick up the phone and call anybody and hell take my call.
Just like Trump on the national level, the braggadocio does not encompass much in the way of specifics. The message is trust me, Im a smart guy with a lot of contacts, Ill make it happen. If elected, Justice says he will be marketer-in-chief for West Virginia.
Where you think he stands on coal depends on what you choose to hear. But as a coal man himself, he is uniquely positioned to lead the way with tough love.
There are just 11,881 workers left in coal mining in the state, just over half what it was in 2012, and the lowest number in West Virginia since 1890, more than 125 years ago.
Candidates in both parties perpetuate the myth of coal returning, says Ray Smock, who directs the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. You cant get elected in West Virginia without suggesting positive things about the coal industry coming back.
Still, things are changing.
Don Blankenship, the disgraced former CEO of Massey Energy, was convicted last month on one misdemeanor count, which carries a $250,000 fine, which he paid, and one year in prison, which he is appealing. While way too little and too late for the 29 lives lost in an avoidable mine accident six years ago, such a verdict ten years ago would have been unimaginable. Booth Goodwin, the former states attorney who prosecuted Blankenship, is one of the Democratic contenders in Tuesdays primary.
Rob Byers, co-editor of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, told the Daily Beast that candidates are saying things they never would have said seven or ten years ago. Theyre saying the coal industry will not save us, and that climate change is real.
Of course any nod toward climate change is so couched as to be almost insignificant. Justice says theres no need to blow our legs off on a concept, but concedes he doesnt know for certain one way or the other, and thats progress of a sort.
When Justice visited with Gazette-Mail editors, he brought an enlarged photo of himself fishing in a creek he had saved and donated to a conservancy group. He wanted them to know he cared about the environment.
Thats not to say Justice isnt full of bravado about the coal industry coming back, which is politically expedient but disingenuous given the trend lines. This may be the last election you have to do that, says Byers, who has interviewed a number of Democratic House candidates, and a lot of them are saying flatly that coal is not coming back. Im not saying theyll get elected, but theres a mood shift, he says.
Justice often says that even when coal was king, West Virginia was 50th in everything else. The Greenbrier had been losing nearly a million dollars a week when he took it over in 2011. Its still not profitable. Its going to be easier to turn around the state of West Virginia than the Greenbrier, he told the students.
For all his altruism, Justice has a reputation for not paying his bills until he gets threatened with a lawsuit. He has a folksy explanation that as the CEO or owner of multiple businesses, including the largest agri-business east of the Mississippi, its like changing socks.
Most people change their socks probably a couple times a day, maybe once a day. Ive got to change (mine) 500 times a day. The likelihood of me putting one pair of socks on when one is green and one is blue during the course of the day is doggone high.
Thats the kind of explanation that at another time might have tested the confidence of voters in the barons of business to work the levers of government. Now, having lost faith in conventional politicians, voters seem ready for Plan B.
He chalks up a history of overdue bills and fines by claiming that any CEO and owner of multiple businesses is bound to make mistakes. Its like changing socks when you have too many, he says. The likelihood of me putting one pair of socks on when one is green and one is blue during the course of the day is doggone high.
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