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Writing do-overs based on truth

Lugh

Anyone finish stories that involved substantial truth, but a do-over? I'm trying something along those lines, redoing varying things that could have gone a different way.

Is this something that you plotted in detail? I'm tending to do something of stream of consciousness, with a plan of going back for major editing.

tendertouch

@Lugh

By 'substantial truth' do you mean initial conditions? Like the setup is true for the author but now the character gets a chance to do it over from a branching point but with knowledge from his/her older self?

Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

Anyone finish stories that involved substantial truth, but a do-over?


Not possible to do at all, because the moment you introduce a variation to move it from a biography to a do-over the truth must end to account for the new life you wish to have happen.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

True enough, but I was trying to do the first pass as mostly true autobiography, and then go back to insert the do-overs.

UPDATE

Some of my fellow authors may have gotten the wrong idea, in that I'm looking, at the moment, at great social or technical changes.

Nah. Personal events, mostly with real women in my life. Some of the alternate paths are my own thinking, some of them are things examined in deep and effective psychotherapy, and some are based on things I've learned fairly recently, such as why ex-#2 did certain things.

One thing, for example, that was brought up in therapy, a somewhat suppressed memory (no, I'm not talking about repression in the McMartin preschool scandal). I had started working out in a hard-core gym, for tension relief and physical fitness. I introduced my then second wife to it. She became compulsive about training for amateur competition bodybuilding, got a vampirish female training partner when I didn't want to work out 6 days per week, and, to a significant extent, shut me out of her life. With my therapist, in part using EMDR therapy, I realized that period made me start avoiding my own fitness activities.

Lesser fitness also had other negative physical consequences. My staying with the exercise, with her or not, could have affected a lot of things downstream.

Both before and after, I discovered some female friends and colleagues were interested in me, in a manner that would have been OK in our open marriage. I just didn't pick it up.

One is kind of funny. A very smart fellow engineer, it turned out, was a NFL cheerleader and occasional runway model on weekends -- and one of the sweetest, most supportive people you could meet. Later on, when we both worked elsewhere, I was teaching an engineering class on the road, as was another mutual friend. She thought she signed up for my section, presented at a motel just off the beach in Tampa, but was my other colleague's section. He told me that she routinely showed up in bikini under a coverup. A third mutual friend told me she had wanted some private time with me, and had gotten clearance from my wife, in whom she also was interested. I was oblivious to it all.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Lugh

True enough, but I was trying to do the first pass as mostly true autobiography, and then go back to insert the do-overs.


Ah, but the moment I keep myself on an AP track instead of goofing around, and start treating classmates decently(well, except some of the AP cadre) rather than engage in low grade psychological warfare (seeing how many different ways I can drive them nuts) everything else that follows changes.

Of course, even now I am not entirely certain what an alternate choice would have looked like for me.

But then, my issue is having been a teen in the 1990's many of the fun options are out, although some tech-stock plays are certainly more than viable. Assuming I could get hands on money to do so, and the means to use it as intended.

Otherwise trying to explain a desired educational path for pursuit of things which don't actually exist yet is another issue.

Replies:   Lugh
RedCzar

That's the category I like to call "Based on a true story", like so many made for TV movies. I have a few of those. (none of them are posted here yet though).

I really think we need that as a category. Until then, I just call it fiction.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@Lugh

Is this something that you plotted in detail? I'm tending to do something of stream of consciousness, with a plan of going back for major editing.

I recall reading one (I forget which) where they tried to make it fact based by having the MC corner the silver market back in the early eighties and make a killing.

However, that killed the story for me. I lived through that period while working in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. If anyone had attempted that, then no one else could have done it, so the MC would have lost every cent they invested!

It's one thing to use 'real life events', but it's another to understand WTF you're talking about. This author never did enough homework, which wouldn't have been simple, since hedging commodity trades is an incredibly complex business.

I could have set him straight, but he never knew to ask me.

Sticking to 'true events' in the author's memory might work, but pulling up events from a history book, without thoroughly understanding what was involved, is problematic.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Lugh

@Not_a_ID

A little confused here -- AP, as in Advanced Placement?

In some other time travel/do-overs, such as those pertaining to the Cuban Missile Crisis, I use detailed knowledge from declassified documents, and also professional military education/case studies where what-ifs were explored. The Cuban Crisis was far, far, closer to all-out nuclear war than many realize, until the Russians/Soviets shared some of their historical materials. I had been aware of some US intelligence, which I could use once I knew it was declassified. Still, the Cuban Crisis alternatives were relatively slight influences on JFK and certain other figures.

I was 14 at the time, but I had been my Army Reservist mother's study partner when she took some Command & General Staff College courses by correspondence. I could have been fairly convincing, I think, to any senior leaders I contacted. Later, going to school in DC, I can think of how I would have reached them -- and how to make best use of the MC/do-over features that added seductive resources.

I followed that with a story that I need to restart, dealing with some JFK what-ifs that might have made things happen very differently with Vietnam.

Haven't so much looked at alternate tech paths, although when I was in high school in the sixties, I actually did start a research project that anticipated a class of antibiotics. A pharmaceutical company let me use their library. My do-over, I think, would simply have stressed the direction that I was going, and suggesting that it could have been a new product line. Yes, I was a teenager, but I actually knew a good deal of this.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

I recall reading one (I forget which) where they tried to make it fact based by having the MC corner the silver market back in the early eighties and make a killing.

However, that killed the story for me. I lived through that period while working in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. If anyone had attempted that, then no one else could have done it, so the MC would have lost every cent they invested!

It's one thing to use 'real life events', but it's another to understand WTF you're talking about. This author never did enough homework, which wouldn't have been simple, since hedging commodity trades is an incredibly complex business.


If it is the story I think you're speaking of, they didn't try to corner the silver market, they just quietly bought into a significant amount of silver which they dumped when the other guys neared the end of their attempt to corner it. I don't think the "buy in" ever even entered the 7 digit range, although the sale should have done even better.

That said, an ongoing near universal complaint in all fiction is authors writing content outside of their own experience or expertise. Even having consultants on hand(who do have more relevant knowledge) often isn't enough to save things.

At some point you have to realize you're probably looking at "a 1% problem" in that about one percent of the audience(if that) is likely to know enough to call BS on whatever is going on, and likely to lose suspension of disbelief because of it.

That and realistically speaking, it seems the bar for Hollywood is a lot lower than that in most cases. They're more than happy to go with worse odds than that(say 10% instead) if they think it will make money.

Specialized knowledge is specialized knowledge and sometimes you have to realize that the stumbling block you just encountered with a particular fantastic story is that it just ran up against knowledge you have which isn't widely known by the general population.

Remembering that fictional stories are intended to be fantasy to at least some degree tends to help with such "rough edges" but I can fully relate to how frustrating said edges can be once noticed.

Not_a_ID

@Lugh

A little confused here -- AP, as in Advanced Placement?


That is the typical usage in my experience when discussing secondary education in the United States. Alternative (older) form would be "Honors" instead of AP. But in light of advanced placement classes tending to result in lower gradepoints except for the hyper-achievers or somewhat "gamey" GPA calculations, "honors" doesn't fully fit. An AP Calculus student with a B average technically doesn't qualify as an honors student, even if the Senior taking Algebra2 and getting an A for their efforts can do so.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
StarFleet Carl

@Not_a_ID

At some point you have to realize you're probably looking at "a 1% problem" in that about one percent of the audience(if that) is likely to know enough to call BS on whatever is going on, and likely to lose suspension of disbelief because of it.

That and realistically speaking, it seems the bar for Hollywood is a lot lower than that in most cases. They're more than happy to go with worse odds than that(say 10% instead) if they think it will make money.


I think the 1 / 10% difference comes into play with the difference in medium. Dead tree and/or electronic books, the author has to paint the picture for you mentally. And you have to purchase the book in the first place, so the blurb on the cover or whatever has to be enticing.

I'd be curious to see how many copies of the Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt novel 'Raise the Titanic' have been sold since the Titanic has actually been found. Sort of totally ruins the whole twist and plot of the novel when you REALLY find the ship.

And just to keep Hollywood involved ... Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt? Talk about suspension of disbelief ...

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

If it is the story I think you're speaking of, they didn't try to corner the silver market, they just quietly bought into a significant amount of silver which they dumped when the other guys neared the end of their attempt to corner it.

That's the key, though, buying a 'significant' amount of silver would dramatically increase the price, which would have precluded the attempt to corner the market. They could only attempt that because the price of silver was so cheap at the time. Any large scale purchases, however small each individual purchase was, would have rippled across the industry, raising the prices. Again, this is the stuff you study when you're in the commodities trading and hedging markets, so someone 'investing heavily' influences others, it's not something you can do in such a way that 'no one notices'.

Though I agree with you, I pointed it out to the author at the time, but like I, I figured I was part of that 1% who'd understand why it wouldn't work. If more people truly understood what's involved with hedging commodity trades, more people would be doing it. The other key with hedging, is the general rule on Wall Street and Chicago Merchantile Exchange is that every Commodity trader has to personally lose Hundreds of Millions before they finally figure it out and understand how to trade successfully. Thus it's even more unlikely that some kid, untrained in Commodities trading in their previous life, would be able to master it in their very first try.

Still, aside from that isolated 1% problem, the rest of his story was pretty good.

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

An AP Calculus student with a B average technically doesn't qualify as an honors student, even if the Senior taking Algebra2 and getting an A for their efforts can do so.

Except, those AP courses are the cause of much of the 'grade inflation' you hear people bitching about. They're the reason why people are now graduating with 4.5 and 5.0 GPAs, when straight "A"s only earn you a 4. So even with "B"s in those classes, they'd have in excess of a 4.0 GPA. It isn't that "C" students are suddenly earning "A"s, it's that "A" students are now taking AP courses, making the 'average' GPA scores looks so much higher than they were.

Just one more example of the 1% information which can trip authors up when creating fictional stories.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  REP
REP

@RedCzar

Based on a true story


Which means the story will deviate from the actual facts and events, and that makes it fiction.

Replies:   PotomacBob
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Except, those AP courses are the cause of much of the 'grade inflation' you hear people bitching about. They're the reason why people are now graduating with 4.5 and 5.0 GPAs, when straight "A"s only earn you a 4. So even with "B"s in those classes, they'd have in excess of a 4.0 GPA. It isn't that "C" students are suddenly earning "A"s, it's that "A" students are now taking AP courses, making the 'average' GPA scores looks so much higher than they were.


Uh, how do you account for Grade Inflation complaints on college/university campuses then? They have no such thing as an "Advanced Placement" track which can enable you getting a better than 4.0 GPA.

Yes, a lot of the people complaining are responding to the higher than 4.0 GPA thing. But a very large number of other people are talking about "A" students existing in classes they shouldn't be acing.

Replies:   REP  Ava G  Ernest Bywater
REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I understand the concept of AP courses, but when the grading scale is 0-4, the GPA should be in the range of 0-4. A GPA higher than 4 invalidates the grading scale.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP

@Not_a_ID

how do you account for Grade Inflation complaints on college/university campuses


Are the complaints about the 4.0+ scores given in high school?

If the college/university is using the standard 0-4 grading scale, there shouldn't be 4.0+ grades.

Ava G

@Not_a_ID

Uh, how do you account for Grade Inflation complaints on college/university campuses then?


Part of this is that the worst students at the top schools are better than they used to be.

There are a lot of top liberal arts colleges where the total enrollment has been set at around 1800 students for the last few decades. The number of students at the top ten colleges would therefore be stable, at around 18000. (Note that this is a back-of-the-envelope calculation; enrollment at Middlebury, for instance, has increased a bit over the years.) The number of students at the top ten universities has also been constant, more or less.

While the total numbers at those top campuses has been constant, the number of 18-year-olds in the United States vastly increased from 1991 to 2012. Therefore, the fraction of young people at the top schools has decreased. This means the cut-off for acceptance has increased.

Consider a sorting mechanism for the top 2% where the average grade is "C". Double the population, but keep the number who get sorted constant. You're now working with just the top 1% now. If you don't change the mechanism, the lowest grade will be a "C" (because everyone worse than that has been excluded), and the average grade will be a "B."

PotomacBob

@REP

"Based on" means "based on." I am so accustomed to seeing movies claim they are "based on" a true story, that I was startled when my wife got me to watch a movie with her on Netflix. It was called "Shock and Awe," and the lead-in to the movie claimed "This is a true story." Not "based-on."

Replies:   REP  AmigaClone
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

Uh, how do you account for Grade Inflation complaints on college/university campuses then? They have no such thing as an "Advanced Placement" track which can enable you getting a better than 4.0 GPA.


From what I read some years back the US Grade Point Average (GPA) is based on the total scores divided by the number of subjects or modules for the standard course at that level, but if you do enough extra modules or courses at a higher level you can have them included but it can give you a higher GPA than 4 due to it being added onto your base GPA. Not having been to a US school I don't know if this is true or not.

Replies:   REP
REP

@PotomacBob

This is a true story." Not "based-on."


Yes there can be a significant difference between the two. Based on can mean an event inspired a story that is totally fictional (i.e., nothing in the story actually happened). I can also mean a few of the events happened and the rest is fiction.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@Ernest Bywater

GPA generally means the sum of the scores for all course divided by the number of courses. That will never give you a score higher than 4.0.

However, AP courses in high school are considered to be more difficult than the standard courses. Therefore to make things equitable, a multiplier is used for the grade given. If the multiplier is 1.25 and the grade is 4.0, the student gets a grade of 5.0 for the course.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@REP


I understand the concept of AP courses, but when the grading scale is 0-4, the GPA should be in the range of 0-4. A GPA higher than 4 invalidates the grading scale.


The rationale is solid though. You want the valedictorian to have been challenged in their pursuit of that title. Giving a multiplier to "Advanced courses" did two things:

1) it provided incentive to take those classes for the students seeking a high GPA.

2) it provided a disincentive from enrolling in basket weaving instead -- because while getting an A in it should be easier in theory, it still only gets you a 4.0 while that advanced STEM course can get you a 5.0, and even if you don't have the class, you can still potentially get a better than 4.0 average.

Which was the other side of it, taking the AP Bio class and getting a B in it would still leave you ahead on the "regular" bio class student who gets an A in it so far as GPA is concerned.

Replies:   REP  Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@REP

However, AP courses in high school are considered to be more difficult than the standard courses. Therefore to make things equitable, a multiplier is used for the grade given. If the multiplier is 1.25 and the grade is 4.0, the student gets a grade of 5.0 for the course.


That may be what they meant in what I read. The point of what I was reading was how you could lift the GPA a lot more than expected by doing well in certain AP courses that could replace generic first year college courses.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Not_a_ID

Yes there are pros and cons.

Basket weaving on your transcript is not that impressive to a college/university unless of course you failed the course.

I imagine there are schools around that don't offer AP courses. Trying to compare kids with high GPAs from those schools to kids who took AP courses makes evaluating a student for entry into college/university more difficult.

Replies:   aqm7832b
AmigaClone

@PotomacBob

"Based on" means "based on."


Whenever I see a story that has "based on real ..." I think of a Dr. Seuss book - "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street".

The MC sees a horse pulling a wagon on Mulberry Street and lets his imagination go wild ending up imagining a crazy parade.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@REP

Based on can mean an event inspired a story that is totally fictional

I do not question that 'based on' is frequently used as if it meant that. I would classify stories like that as totally fictional.

I think the term should be used only for stories with a known set of facts filled out with plausible scenes when what actually happened is not known.

Ross at Play

@Not_a_ID

The rationale is solid though. You want the valedictorian ...

Agreed, but you can't call anything measured on a 0-5 scale a GPA.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

And in the vein of "1% problems" a recent example for me just crossed my path.

"She had been a soldier in the Navy for several years." Where it then goes on to talk about the several generations of family who served in the U.S. Navy. ...

Just no. But that gets back to "only somebody tied to the Navy is going to notice" and so long as that isn't a focus for the story's progression you're safe enough. But if the author keeps constantly calling sailors as soldiers instead they're going to be annoying a not insignificant number of potential readers. (Although they still fall under the 1% marker)

Replies:   helmut_meukel  REP
helmut_meukel

@Not_a_ID

"She had been a soldier in the Navy for several years."


Ok, I get the distinction between 'soldier' and 'sailor'.

I'm from Germany, and we have no separate Marine Corps, so for us those men (and women) are 'Marineinfantristen' (dated: 'Seesoldaten') and part of the Navy ='Marine'.

Now how do you call the men and women serving in Air Force and Coast Guard?

HM.

AmigaClone

@helmut_meukel

Now how do you call the men and women serving in Air Force and Coast Guard?


Airmen and coasties respectively.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP

@Not_a_ID

While each branch of the service has its preferred term, soldier is commonly used as a generic term for anyone in the service.

rustyken

It was my understanding that the advantage to AP courses was that those who did well earned college credit for them as well as counting toward HS requirements.

Replies:   aqm7832b  Crumbly Writer
aqm7832b

@REP

Selective colleges recaluate the high school GPAs according to their own formulas. That can result in the elimination of puff courses like high school sociology, psychology and economics that are not taken at the AP level.
I interview and make presentations for one of the top ten colleges. The basic standard is that the students have to take the hardest courses available in their schools - and get As in those courses. When hard courses aren't available, there is greater reliance on SAT/ACT scores to evaluate the student.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
aqm7832b
Updated:

@rustyken

The "elite " colleges give little credit for APs. For example my daughter had 7 AP courses with 5 AP test results. Five is the highest grade and 4 generally the minimum for credit. She was only allowed to use 2 courses toward college graduation. The rest were used for placement.

Less selective and non-selective colleges will let you use all of them.

richardshagrin

Another reason for grade point inflation has been happening since I was in High School in the early 1960s. Teachers give more A's and B's than the "curve" would predict. Parents won't sit still if their wonderful child only gets a C. The PTA requires parent approval of how their kids get graded. The more college graduate parents, the more pressure for their kids in class to be given higher grades.

Teachers are less accomplished educationally than they used to be. If you look at who goes into Education to be a teacher, they tend to have lower grade point averages and SAT scores, and do worse in studies not given in the Education Department. If a High School teacher's students are smarter than she is, they tend to get higher grades. I used "she" because more guys want to do something better rewarded after college than teaching. With the exception of Coach who wants to be involved in playing games all his life.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

That may be what they meant in what I read. The point of what I was reading was how you could lift the GPA a lot more than expected by doing well in certain AP courses that could replace generic first year college courses.

Many VERY bright people do extremely poorly in most 'Intro Courses' simply because they're bored out of their minds. If a course isn't challenging, why be forced to study 'Intro to Psychology' when you've been reading Psychology articles for most of your life and already understand the basics. If I could have taken an AP class instead, back in my day with my Neanderthal classmates, I would have jumped at the chance!

Crumbly Writer

@AmigaClone

Whenever I see a story that has "based on real ..." I think of a Dr. Seuss book - "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street".

Consider the long-running "Law and Order" series on TV. Every week, they'd pick a 'real-life' event, based on a court case, and without ever once investigating the actual case and what might or might not have happened, they'd spin a completely fictionalized account on the basic premise—completely divorced from reality.

Not having to deal with reality gave them greater creative freedom, but those stories could hardly be called 'real-life stories'. A better description would have been "Completely fictional accounts of real-life issues".

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

Now how do you call the men and women serving in Air Force and Coast Guard?

I don't think that anyone would call a Coast Guardsman or an Air Force mechanic "soldiers" (except when encountering a vet on the street and not being sure what branch they were in).

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@rustyken

It was my understanding that the advantage to AP courses was that those who did well earned college credit for them as well as counting toward HS requirements.

That was an additional benefit, but it wasn't universal, depending upon specific schools to accept the individual courses. Thus, anyone planning to attend those colleges would sign up in greater numbers for the courses.

Replies:   aqm7832b
Crumbly Writer

@aqm7832b

Selective colleges recaluate the high school GPAs according to their own formulas. That can result in the elimination of puff courses like high school sociology, psychology and economics that are not taken at the AP level.

AP courses were never expected to (and never did) reduce the 'puff' courses (otherwise known as 'athletes courses'). Instead, they were mostly STEM courses to help the advanced students get a leg up in the more advanced colleges. Those student athletes typically already had much of their future career paths planned out, and they were dependent on their scores on the field and not being injured, rather than their grades.

Replies:   aqm7832b
aqm7832b

@Crumbly Writer

I think you misunderstood me.
A selective college takes the high school transcript and recalculate the GPA. When it does this, it eliminates the puff courses and uses only the grades in what it considers core subjects.

aqm7832b

@Crumbly Writer

Anyone planning on attending an "elite" college should take every AP available whether they will get college credit for it or not.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

but those stories could hardly be called 'real-life stories'. A better description would have been "Completely fictional accounts of real-life issues".


What the "Law and Order" writers called them was ripped from the headlines.

Replies:   PotomacBob  PotomacBob
PotomacBob
Updated:

@Dominions Son
PotomacBob

@Dominions Son


What the "Law and Order" writers called them was ripped from the headlines.


Remindful of what "Dragnet" claimed.

Not_a_ID

@AmigaClone

Airmen and coasties respectively.


Coasties are sailors too, in wartime, they're Department of Navy.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I don't think that anyone would call a Coast Guardsman or an Air Force mechanic "soldiers" (except when encountering a vet on the street and not being sure what branch they were in).


Calling an Air Force member a soldier is more historically accurate(and acceptable) than calling a sailor a soldier. The Air Force WAS part of the Army at one point, so they all were soldiers once upon a time.

No such intersection happens with the Navy. Closest things get is with the Marines, who can also get called "soldier" without getting too fussed about it, although they're going to make clear that they're Marines and not Army pukes. ;)

The Nautical traditions and perspectives from the age of sail and earlier are quite colorful, and it carries through to the modern era. While modern day sailors know people will sometimes call them "soldier" it simply is not what they are, and outside a very narrow hand of specialists, most Naval personnel do NOT identify with "soldier" at all.

Which is why having someone coming from a family with a long running Naval tradition who is currently serving in the Navy self-identify as "a soldier" is rather jarring for those with "specialized knowledge" (People in, or closely tied to the Navy) as it simply doesn't fit. Those are the ones who tend to be deeply entrenched into the "we're Sailors" mindset.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

Coasties are sailors too, in wartime, they're Department of Navy.


Actually, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security now.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Actually, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security now.


And in the event of a declared war, they'll be part of the Navy again.

They've been part of a number of different Government Departments over the years(typically Revenue/Treasury, IIRC), and the only time they "belong to the Navy" is wartime.

Besides which, at no point in time have they NOT been mariners as part of their primary mission. Their origin is nautical, their mission purpose is nautical, they're sailors.

Edit: Yes, by that logic, the Marines almost qualify, and even they would, albeit begrudgingly, admit it. As their origins trace back to Snipers on the sailing ships of old, the first (United States) Marines were sailors, not soldiers.

Except they don't normally participate in the operation of ships anymore, even if a significant amount of their time is spent on ships. Their current mission and normal taskings give them more in common with soldiers today.

But those somewhat ornery sailor streaks remain, in that they Identify as Marines first, not as Soldiers. They tolerate the "soldier" moniker because it does a very good job of describing what they do, even if it isn't "their history."

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Not_a_ID

Marines

If they help crew a sub, are they sub Marines?

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