aang: okay, past selves that i'm talking to through the avatar state
aang: i have
aang: THE MOST
aang: important question for you
aang: how do i get katara to like me back?
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Autistic Toph Masterpost
It’s a long one folks. The @mightyoctopus and I are both autistic, and the other day we were discussing and concluded that Toph is also autistic. Here’s some canon evidence to prove it.
It has been said before that bending is a metaphor for neurodivergence. An innate, often unconscious extension of the person, connected to emotions.
Toph is the best earthbender in the world, and this didn’t happen by chance. She took to bending incredibly naturally. Here’s how it links to her being autistic.
Special interest - Toph knows everything about earthbending, more than most people as she learned from the badgermoles. She is truly an expert, and it’s her favourite thing to talk about, and the topic she knows the most about.
[ID: Toph at Earth Rumble holding up her Championship Belt, a serious expression on her face. /End ID]
Heightened senses - Many autistic people are more sensitive to sensory inputs than non-autistic people. Toph is incredibly in tune with the world around her, constantly aware of everything through her earthbending. This saves people on multiple occasions: hearing Azula in The Chase, and saving the pregnant lady’s husband in The Serpent’s Pass are two examples
[ID: Image 1: Toph lays on her front on the ground in an earthbent tent, her head tilted as though listening, one palm flat to the floor. Image 2: On the Serpent’s path, the man falls off the cliff. Toph, somewhat far ahead, has instantly turned and bent out a rock ledge to catch him.Momo sits on her shoulder. /End ID]
Stimming - Self-stimulatory behaviour is defined as “the repetition of physical movements, sounds, words, or moving objects”. Toph is almost constantly bending. This is partially due to using it to ‘see’, but through the lense of bending being neurodivergence, we know benders need to bend, and to deprive them of their element makes them depressed (See: Hama, or the LoK).
[ID: Toph in greyscale, white beams traveling along the ground and over her to show the waves of sound and movement she uses to earthbend. /End ID]
It is not uncommon for adults, usually parents or teaches, to try and stop an autistic child from stimming, (very harmful for the kid’s mental health).
Toph’s parents and teacher discouraged her from bending, wanting to keep her only to the basics. It’s no wonder baby Toph ran away, overwhelmed and confused. The freedom she found through earth bending and Earth Rumble is what helped her be comfortable and confident, much like when autistic teens and adults allow themselves the freedom to stim and it benefits their mental health.
[ID: Image 1: Toph sits quietly in a chair at her parents’ house. In focus is her earthbending teacher, talking. Image 2: Baby Toph has her eyes closed and sniffs at the nose of a badgermole. Image 3: Toph at Earth Rumble, she is pointing and laughing. /End ID]
Moving away from bending to other general autistic traits
Shoes - Toph doesn’t like shoes as they restrict her sight. Consider also: it’s very common for ND people to hate the sensory hell that is shoes and socks. Toph is the poster girl for shoe-hating autistic people
[ID: Toph wearing Fire NAtion clothes and her Earth Kingdom head band. She is pushing one foot into a shoe, the bottom of which is straining against its seems as though about to break. /End ID]
Sensory - Toph hates the sensation of shoes and loves the texture of earth to the point of always being dirty
Toph: “You call it dirt, I call it a healthy coating of Earth”:
[ID: Toph in her underclothes having just woken up in Ba Sing Se. Her hair is a large messy mane around her head, and she is speaking. Katara is out of focus in the foreground, looking at Toph. /End ID]
Blunt - Toph is blunt often to the point of insult, and sees no reason to pointlessly soften her words, which is a very common trait of autistic people.
Toph: You blew it. You had a perfect stance, and perfect form. But when it came right down to it, you didn’t have the guts.
[ID: Toph poking Aang in the chest and shouting at him. He looks sad. /End ID]
Theory of Mind - this is understanding someone else’s thought process and perspective, which is harder for most autistic people. In Bitter Work when Toph starts training Aang, she gives him one set of instructions, then gets frustrated when he can’t grasp them. It isn’t until Katara suggests that “He responds well to positive teaching” that Toph tries again, and even then she doesn’t compromise her brash teaching style, just occasionally adding in a small nod of approval
[ID: Image 1: Toph stands looking slightly cross. Katara is next to her, talking brightly and gesturing back towards Aang, who sits on the ground urther behind them. Image 2: Aang high in the air with his feet on 2 different pillars, holding a weight in both hands, he is smiling big and bright. Toph stands on her own pillar, hands behind her back. /End ID]
Masking - This is something autistic people learn to try fit in. When we see Toph around her parents, she is soft and quiet, nothing like her usual self. When a change in routine occurs (the avatar visits), she gets overwhelmed and angry by Aang’s threat and lashes out.
[ID: Image 1: A close-up of Toph at her parents’ house, hair tied back, smiling serenly with an open expression. Image 2: Toph at her parents’ house, hair tied back wearing a fancy dress. She is stood up at the table, leaning forward on her hands and yelling. On the wall behind her and her mother’s face is smeared food from where bowls have flown. /End ID]
Inflexibility - Autistic people love routine, and we struggle when things go differently to how we expected. This is part of why Katara and Toph clash so much. As the lovely @rolandtowen made a couple of great (and correct) posts and is working on a masterpost for, Katara is also autistic
They initially clash in The Chase, as Katara has an expectation of how to set up camp (divide tasks among the group), whereas Toph had a different expectation of travelling (carrying her own weight). When faced with a routine different to the usual or expected one, both girls get overwhelmed, frustrated and constantly argue
In The Runaway, they keep fighting.
[ID:Image 1: It is night, Katara is angry with her hands on her hips. Toph is angry with one fist up and clenched. They are in the middle of an argument. Image 2: Toph and Katara wearing Fire Nation clothes, both stood in mud, hands braced against the other’s hands as they are fighting. /End ID]
Autistic people often have a very strong moral compass, as seen many times throughout the show in Katara. It’s also common for autistic people to reject or ignore social rules they see as pointless, as seen through Toph having no qualms against stealing.
Part of why they fight is a clash of morals, which also links back to Theory of Mind, neither girl fully understanding the other one’s thought process or behaviour reasoning, nor do they take the time to talk.
[ID: Sokka, Toph and Aang in Fire Nation clothes, carrying baskets of supplies and laughing brightl.y /End ID]
Jokes - Despite finding many things funny, Toph doesn’t always pick up on jokes
Toph: Zuko needs to go back to whatever the original source of firebending is
Sokka: So, is he jumping into a volcano?
Toph: I don’t know. For earthbending the original benders were badgermoles
Here Sokka is trying to set up a joke, and knows Toph has a dark sense of humour. But she doesn’t interpret his statement as a joke, she’s too focused on talking about her special interest: earthbending.
[ID: Toph sits holding a bowl, staring straight ahead. Sokka sits next to her, smiling and looking at Toph. They are lit by a campfire’s light /End ID]
Boundaries - Toph struggles to know other people’s boundaries, and assumes them to be the same as her own. This results in her punching her friends harder than they’re expecting, and throwing around the gaang with earthbending.
[ID: Image 1: An image of a large rock potruding out the ground as though just earthbent. Image 2: Sokka in his sleeping bag flying through the air, screaming. Image 3: Katara with her arms out, angry. Toph in front of her, back to the viewer, one arm to the side. Following this arm’s motion Aang is flying through the air towards Appa, having just been thrown by an earthbent rock. Image 4: Toph and Katara walking away from the viewer, Toph punching Katara’s arm, Katara stumbling slightly from the impact /End ID]
Gender - There is a high comorbidity between autistic and trans and non-binary people. Some think this is because autistic people are more likely to know their gender and not care about societal roles and expectations, thus more likely to transition. We’re also more likely to be gender non-conforming, as we want to be ourselves and be comfortable, rather than bother with gender roles.
Toph is not just happy at being played by a man at the Ember Island Players, she is exstatic. She doesn’t care about hwo society percieves her, and potentially prefers being percieved by others as more masculine. Her relationship with gender is different to what is expected of most cis girls
[ID: Toph holding the box railings at the theatre, beaming excitedly. Katara lounges next to her, looking disappointed. /End ID]
This concludes my masterpost on why Toph is autistic. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts or additional points, please let me know.
Have some happy baby Toph as thanks for making it this far
[ID: Baby Toph kneeling on the ground laughing as a badgermole licks the side of her face. /End ID] @atladescribed
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ok but genuinely i think if anything was going to be a really interesting interaction it’d be katara and ty lee. i think katara would be so unsettled by ty lee because waterbending is so tied to katara’s identity as a person and how she’s grown up, and ty lee is capable of taking it away like that. and ty lee does it with a smile on her face. katara also wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t quite understand when people don’t. and ty lee is the opposite, she does a lot of acting and keeping her true feelings a secret to keep herself safe. and i think it’d be really cool to see them become friends (or at least friendly) after the war, especially when ty lee is learning that she doesn’t have to act all the time now that she can do what she wants.
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u know that baby korra and baby katara had the exact same energy. “IM THE AVATAR AND YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT!” vs “IM A WATERBENDER AND YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT!” only difference being that katara didn’t have a perfect little polar bear dog to temper her boundless energy, but rather a very exhausted and beleaguered older brother
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One more Date.
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Who pouts better?
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there’s just smth about sun and moon dynamics
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One aspect of Zuko and Katara’s arc is that Katara learns to accept ambiguity and not knowing all the answers.
We talk a lot about how hard on herself Katara is, how much pressure she feels to fill her mother’s shoes, to keep up hope, to take care of everyone else, and also push herself to be the best waterbender she can be.
And of course she is also strongly principled, which is one reason why she gets so angry at Zuko, not only because he betrayed her, but because she can’t trust him to do the right thing, as she says in “The Western Air Temple” when she tells him he’s had trouble choosing to the right thing in the past.
And one of the main reasons why it’s important that Katara ends her own journey in “The Southern Raiders” without the episode providing us an easy right or wrong solution is because it’s about Katara learning to accept that sometimes there are no easy answers, not only in relation to Zuko but for herself. This is why Katara ends the episode not knowing whether she did the right thing, but why it’s important that she comes to accept this ambiguity, and why she is able to forgive Zuko.
This also culminates in her victory against Azula, which is not framed as a triumph but a tragedy, Katara weeping while silently observing the scene because now she has a more nuanced understanding of the world and she’s able to see the complexities of the situation on a deeper level than she maybe would have before.
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Click image for better resolution
I need more modern AU Zutara🥲
(Zuko and Katara at a photobooth- Zuko gets playful and gives Katara a sudden peck on her cheek)
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katara: i wanna kill this man for murdering my mother
zuko: maybe revenge isn't the best idea right now? i mean, we're all wanted fugitives and all
katara: look your dad was responsible for my mom's death, and we all want that guy dead
katara: maybe work with me on this a little
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Zuko's attitude in The Southern Raiders is "selfish" in the same way that any desire to earn friendship and forgiveness can be said to be focused on a personal quest for inner peace. He perceives Katara as someone whose good opinion is worth having, so he naturally wants it, and is proactive about earning her trust.
Still, it blows my mind that people try to reduce or vilify his actions in The Southern Raiders just because he happens to have wants and needs as well. While he wants to be forgiven and liked, Zuko’s aim to help Katara takes precedence over his own stake in the matter, and he consistently puts her needs first. This aligns with what we saw of him before (also in relation to other characters) and with his portrayal afterward.
For that reason, I wholly reject the interpretation that Zuko was being self-serving and a bad influence for Katara during the course of The Southern Raiders.
For starters, it would be really hard to argue against the notion that Zuko’s repentance is 100% genuine. He honestly regrets his actions and the harm they brought upon, is indisputably committed to his new cause, and has cast his pride aside when he humbled himself in front of the Gaang (most notably during The Western Air Temple). We’ve spent the four previous episodes delving deep into Zuko’s redemption and his mission to be useful to Aang and the others, often acting in self-sacrificing ways for their sake. The audience should already understand that Zuko is highly imperfect, but that his heart is in the right place.
This is his starting point in The Southern Raiders. He has some more to grow, but he’s intent on doing the right thing. This need for growth is emphasized early on in the episode, when he confronts Katara over her hostility toward him.
Zuko: This isn't fair! Everyone else seems to trust me now! What is it with you?
This line comes pretty much right after he claims “not deserving” the group toasting in his honor, but here he begrudges Katara’s attitude and implies that she’s wrong for feeling the way she does. He’s being petulant, hypocritical and invalidating, and while his outburst happens out of frustration and lack of understanding, he’s acting as if he’s entitled to her forgiveness (whether he intends to or not).
However, that sense of entitlement doesn’t last long and is something Zuko immediately rectifies with very little prompting. That’s the point of this moment of weakness. We needed to experience his wounded pride so we could see him humbled when proven wrong, and this speaks volumes about his true character and intentions regarding Katara. She explains herself, and... that’s it, Katara doesn’t need to do more than literally just tell him for Zuko to internalize the source of her anger. Katara tends to bottle up her innermost feelings when she perceives them as a weakness, so her finally snapping and being upfront about the source of her anger is an important moment of vulnerability for her.
Without further prompting, Zuko quickly adopts a proactive outlook (”What can I do to make it up to you?”) which signifies a complete turnaround from his earlier attitude. Zuko lets go of his pride and places himself in Katara’s hands. Katara still shuts him down, though, in saying that he should maybe reconquer Ba Sing Se or bring her mother back. Zuko can realistically do neither, and they both know it. But while the fall of Ba Sing Se is totally on Zuko, Kya’s death most definitely isn’t.
This is where a more self-focused person would still begrudge Katara. How dare she bring up something that has nothing to do with him? Isn’t it unfair that she’s setting such an impossible bar? But Zuko doesn’t do that. Zuko remembers what she said in Ba Sing Se and makes the connection. Instead of making up excuses, Zuko listens. His frustration is still evident (and understandable), but he stops forcing it on Katara and focuses on getting to the heart of the issue. He wants to know about Kya’s death so he can understand why Katara’s anger at him, which he fully accepts and honors as its own entity, has become tangled with her grief over losing her mother.
Now, he doesn’t want Katara to be angry at him. He certainly wishes she would stop (and can anyone seriously blame him and vilify him over this?). But this desire is secondary to Katara’s feelings, and this starts becoming apparent when Zuko no longer demands answers from Katara. He goes to Sokka instead, and at this point, Zuko doesn’t have much of a plan beyond listening to the story of their mother’s death to understand Katara’s anger better. The idea of taking Katara to Yon Rha only comes up to him while Sokka is telling his side of the story. It pops into Zuko’s mind because of what he has gone through in facing Ozai, and learning that Ozai was directly responsible for the loss of his mother.
He’s been there. He thinks he can help. And on that end, Zuko goes too far in empathizing and falls into the trap of outright projecting. He assumes Katara would want precisely what he himself would want (and to be fair, Katara did act in ways that suggested that). However, this projection is never forced onto her. When Katara doesn’t act in ways Zuko would expect her to, he observes, internalizes and learns instead of resenting her for it, and this is how we know he’s being genuine. He’s not too caught up in his own wants, or his own assumptions of right and wrong, to trample over her ability to determine what’s right for herself.
Moreover, he gives Katara space all throughout the episode. Zuko is not a bad influence for Katara because he’s not trying to act as an influence to begin with. Quite the opposite, he keeps his distance. He waits for her to wake up to talk to her, though it’s blatantly implied that he has a strong desire to do so (he does wait up all night!). During and after the mission, he doesn’t even address her unprompted, only with mission-related things. He never passes judgment on her actions or desires. Zuko is too respectful of Katara’s anger at him to push his presence or ideals onto her.
(Interestingly enough, the only time we see Zuko nudge Katara toward an action, he... realizes she’s tired and tells her she should get some rest. This is an act of genuine and selfless care on his part, and Katara opens up to him as a direct response to his worry).
In any case, Zuko is being guided by what he believes Katara needs. This is emphasized in the text. Not only is this his only argument to Aang when the mission is first brought up (”she needs this”) but once she forgives him, he is able to admit he was wrong... not about his motives, or his outlook, but her needs (and so was Aang, for that matter, which is pretty much the point: The only one who can determine what’s right for Katara is Katara herself). Whatever his mistakes were, Katara’s needs were Zuko’s motivation and the thing he sought to cater to when offering to help, and he did that in a way that prioritized her agency over his wishes and assumptions.
This is not him just speaking empty words or fooling himself. The subtext backs it up. He sets out to help her (his words) and help her he does. Zuko shows it with his actions. He does all of the heavy lifting in regards to the mission. He’s taking care of logistics and strategy. He’s monitoring her emotional state. He’s doing much of the “dirty work” including threats, intimidation, and neutralizing bystanders, to ensure Katara’s journey is as smooth-sailing as possible. Katara takes the reins whenever she wishes to, and relies on him whenever she needs to.
Similarly, his support of her is not a front or a pretense to influence her decisions. Zuko is constantly characterized as earnest and socially awkward beyond this episode; the idea of him being selfish, underhanded and opportunistic is blatantly antithetical with all we know him to be already. He can be sarcastic and aggressive, but he doesn’t have a deceitful or manipulative bone in his body (which is explicitly what set him apart from Ozai and Azula). Zuko’s help isn’t transactional or conditional, and his actions don’t have ulterior motives. He’s offering support because he thinks it’s the right thing to do, and while he hopes that doing the right thing will eventually speak for itself (which is a natural thing to hope for in his position) this isn’t something he expects, demands, or acts entitled to.
Bottom line is, Zuko helps Katara even though he has no guarantee she will forgive him afterward. He would have helped her even if he’d had nothing to prove because this is bigger than his ego. He’s considerate of her afterward, too, because his consideration isn’t dependent on what he gets in return. This is consistent with his attitude toward everyone else (including the other two “field trips”). If you believe he’s being self-serving when going on this mission with Katara, then the same should apply for everything else he did for the Gaang. Zuko does want to prove himself, but he proves to the Gaang he’s trustworthy by being trustworthy, not by pretending to be. His attitude toward Katara is no different on this end.
Lastly, and perhaps more of a sidenote, another point to consider is that portraying Zuko as a bad influence who was acting solely on his selfish desires is denying Katara’s agency in all of this. Katara was far beyond anyone’s influence, be it Zuko, Aang, Sokka or anyone else. Zuko does state his willingness to help as a fact, but we see Katara instigating the trip right then and there out of her own free will - it’s not like Zuko kidnaps her and forces her to face Yon Rha to atone for his sins, or that he begrudges her acting in ways he wasn’t expecting. Similarly, forgiveness is Katara’s choice alone, and this episode goes to great lengths to portray it as a deeply personal matter. It’s not something that’s imposed or demanded of her; Zuko doesn’t even bring it up again after their mission.
So in the end... yes, Zuko made errors of judgment over the course of The Southern Raiders and corrected when proven wrong (it’s called growth). His wants and desires impacted his actions, but this admission can, should, and does coexist with the fact that he prioritized Katara’s needs before his own, and his behavior toward her was a genuine display of support.
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comics and additional material i need to be made real
a scholastic kids learn how 2 read book set in season 1 where zuko tries to budget for his ship and iroh ruins everything by buying too much tea.
yangchen series of any kind
mai and ty lee go on a vacation
aang bringing mai down the omashu mail system chutes and mai having the time of her life.
ty lee and katara forced to work together and katara has to come to terms with how much ty lee unsettles her with the chi blocking thing now they’re friends.
parks and rec/the office type of sitcom set post war. can be set with fire lord zuko dealing with bureaucracy, katara running the southern water tribe, sokka’s day to day life honestly, or just entirely original characters having to deal with the gaang’s decisions from an entirely outsider pov.
aang’s adventures pre-iceberg
aang’s adventures post-iceberg; both including his silly ones and the more important avatar ones. as well as him and his friends trying to restore the air temples.
3 parter comic set in between avatar: the last airbender and legend of korra where zuko and katara get a las vegas wedding and divorce because of their lack of impulse control while everyone else including the fanbase watches in horror.
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Your Kataras are soooo fucking hot 🥵 I too would like to be Zuko
hi anon! i’m so sorry it took me so long to answer this, life kinda slapped me in the face TT
i’m so honoured, lmaooo i swear i made the weirdest laugh reading this. I was feeling pretty bad about my art when you sent this, so when i tell you this made my day, i mean, it made my day!
here’s zutara reacting to it keke 💜
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Zuko leaned heavily on her, barely clinging to consciousness as they made their way through the maze of ornate halls.
"You have to stay awake. We're almost there." Katara nearly plead.
"There." Zuko weakly lifted an arm and pointed to a set of carved mahogany doors depicting a rat viper twined around a staff.
Pushing through the doors Katara expected to find someone, anyone. A healer, a nurse, she'd take a servant at this point, but the infirmary was empty. Just like the rest of the palace.
They were alone.
Zuko hissed when she dropped his weight on the nearest bed. He gripped her arm with a bruising force, his face contorting with pain as he leaned back on to the mattress.
Water, she needed water. Katara frantically looked around the room and down the row of beds before spotting a workstation. She gave Zuko's hand a reassuring squeeze before leaving his side. Behind the workstation a large cauldron of water sat over a fireside built into the stone wall. They sterilized thier water too, just like in Northern Water Tribe. Katara didn't bother looking for a bowl, the water was close enough that she could call it to her.
She needed to hurry, Katara raced back to Zuko's bedside and began pulling at his sash.
Zuko winced, his hand fisting the edge of her dress, "Agni, at least take me on a date first." the words came through gritted teeth but the watery smile made her eyes tear and her throat tight. He almost died for her and even now he was trying to make her feel better. Katara forced an upturn of the corners of her mouth and continued to pull apart his tunic. What she found there made her freeze.
His abdomen was a burnt red ruin but along the edges were familiar streaks of color. Strips of black, grey and white paint slashed over his shoulders, along his biceps and across his sides. War paint, her tribe's war paint. Katara confused looked at Zuko.
"Sokka." Zuko's voice cracked and his eyes glistened as he spoke, the words coming in a quiet rasp, "I promised him."
The adrenaline that had been burning through her veins finally died out. The armor she had worn all these months finally shattered and the tears she had been holding back finally fell. Tears for her brother halfway around the world, for her father who she bid goodbye too many times, for Gran gran at home waiting for them all to return.
Sobs clawed their way up from her throat as it all came tumbling down, Zuko wincing, slipped an arm around her waist, the only comfort he could manage as she broke in his hands.
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Bad news to Zukka and Zutara shippers: from how canon 16 year old Zuko mistreats and behaves toxically toward Mai, it’s very likely that he would also mistreat or behave toxically toward Sokka or Katara if he was in a relationship with them.
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Katara: Name a more iconic duo than my fear of abandonment and my anxiety.
Zuko: You and me.
Katara, tearing up: Oh.
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S1E4 The Warriors of Kyoshi
He’s glad they’re glad :)
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Katara: pick me up, i'm drunk
Zuko: send me your location
Katara: oh my god, i love that song
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Councilman: As they say, "Happy wife, happy life."
Zuko: Why would I ever want Katara to not be happy?
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katara being bad at jokes is just a defense mechanism from living with sokka. if you don't encourage him, he eventually shuts up
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