Nexialism, Null-A and A. E. van Vogt

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Transcript Nexialism, Null-A and A. E. van Vogt

Slide 1
Nexialism, Null-A and A. E. van Vogt
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 2
Presentation Outline
Personal Biography
Professional Writing Career
Influences and Interest in General Semantics
Publication History: Null-A Books
Story Summary: The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Publication History: The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Nexialism and General Semantics
Nexialism in Action
Influences on and Developments of Nexialism
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 3
Personal Biography 1
A. E. (Alfred Elton) van
Vogt (pronounced ‘vote’)
was born to parents of
Dutch origin, around
10am, 26 April 1912, at
his maternal grandparents’
farm, Gretna, Manitoba,
Early upbringing was in Neville, a small town in
Saskatchewan. Then he moved to Morden, Manitoba
(when he was 10), then Winnipeg, Manitoba (when he
was 14), back to Morden, back to Winnipeg, then to
Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 4
Personal Biography 2
Got a job in Ottawa
working on the 1931
Canadian census, for ten
Went back to Winnipeg
and starting writing stories
in the public library.
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Married Edna Mayne Hull
on 9 May 1939, after he
had written his first two
science fiction stories.
Slide 5
Personal Biography 3
Worked for the Department of National Defence,
late 1939—1941. Resigned to become a full-time
Entered the United States, 7 Nov 1944, and moved
to Los Angeles, California.
In 1950 was approached by L. Ron Hubbard to
become involved in Dianetics. Became an auditor,
but left around 1961, when Dianetics turned into
Scientology. Mayne stayed on as an auditor for
another 10 years or so.
Edna Mayne Hull died 20 January 1975.
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 6
Personal Biography 4
Married Lydia I. Brayman on 6 October 1979.
A. E. van Vogt died 26 Jan 2000.
Powerful figures learn they are pawns, and pawns become
major players. Victims become heroes in a blink of an
eye, and bring invincible villains low. The world of
every man is constantly recreated in a new image with
every turn in the labyrinth of life.
Joe Rico, Transfinite: The Essential A.E. Van Vogt
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Slide 7
Professional Writing Career 1
Van Vogt’s stories are for thinking readers
H. L. Drake
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First exposure to science fiction was at age
eleven, in the pages of an old British Chum
annual, which a friend loaned him.
‘When I was fourteen, I picked up on the
newsstand the November 1926 issue of Amazing
Stories...I took it home and read it, and I must
have read every issue published while we were in
Winnipeg that first time.’ (Reflections, p30-31)
Slide 8
Professional Writing Career 2
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‘During the first time I was Ottawa [1931], I
took a course from the Palmer Institute of
Authorship. It was entitled “English and
Self-Expression”...It was a course in
advanced English.’ (Reflections, p37)
Used the books The Only Two Ways to Write
a Story by John Gallishaw and Narrative
Technique by Thomas H. Uzzell to further
his writing education.
Slide 9
Professional Writing Career 3
Sold his first story: ‘I Lived in the Streets’,
published as ‘No One to Blame But Herself’,
to True Story magazine in 1931-32. Received
$110. He was 20-years-old.
Won $1,000 prize in a True Story magazine
monthly competition, for the 7,000-word story
entitled ‘The Miracle in My Life’.
Worked as a trade papers representative, wrote
radio plays (beginning in 1934) and ‘slick
confessional’ stories, and took the advanced
course in writing from Writer’s Digest.
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 10
Professional Writing Career 4
Earl Livings 2010
‘ day, in 1938, I went into
McKnight’s Drug Store in Winnipeg, near
where I lived, and causally picked up a
copy of Astounding Science-Fiction.’
(Reflections, p46) [July issue]
He was inspired by Don A Stuart's 'Who
Goes There?' to contact the editor John
W. Campbell with a story idea.
Stopped writing confessional stories in
1939 and devoted himself to science
Slide 11
Professional Writing Career 5
Earl Livings 2010
His second science fiction
story written, ‘Black
Destroyer’, published in
the July issue of
Astounding ScienceFiction, 1939. Also
containing stories by Isaac
Asimov and C. L. Moore,
this issue is considered to
have started the Golden
Age of science fiction.
Slide 12
Professional Life 6
His first science fiction story written, ‘Vault of the Beast’,
published in the August issue of Astounding Science-Fiction,
‘While I was up in the Gatineau [1941, in a rented cottage in
Farm Point, Quebec], Campbell wrote and said, “I would like
to contract you to write for Astounding...’ (Reflections, p65)
‘...during that period I lived a very ascetic existence, because
in order to produce what I was producing [approx 300,000
published words per year], I worked from the time I got up
[usually 9am] until about eleven o’clock at night, every day,
seven days a week, for years.’ (Reflections, p65)
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 13
Professional Writing Career 7
His first novel, Slan, published by
Arkham House (hardcover) in 1946.
In 1980, Van was the first recipient of
Canada's Prix Aurora Award, for
Lifetime Achievement.
Published over 45 books.
Last novel, Null-A Three, publ. 1984.
Awarded SFWA Grand Master Award,
27 April 1996.
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 14
A E van Vogt's Popularity
Results of analysis of 'The Analytical
Laboratory', 1938-1976 (a monthly reader's
poll in Astounding Science Fiction,
renamed Analog in 1960):
Earl Livings 2010
Anson MacDonald (10 stories)
Robert A Heinlein (25)
E E 'Doc' Smith (13)
Jerry Pournelle (11)
A E van Vogt (59)
Slide 15
Influences 1
Earl Livings 2010
‘From the age of thirteen to the age of twenty I
must’ve read from two hundred to five hundred
books a year...In history, I was fascinated by the
Napoleonic era, by the Julius Caesar-Augustan
age of Rome, Italy of the Renaissance, the King
Richard the Lionheart period of Britain and
Europe, and ancient Egypt.’ (Reflections, p109)
A. Merritt, Max Brand (one of the pseudonyms of
Frederick Faust), Fred MacIsaac, Don A Stuart
(the pseudonym of John W. Campbell), E.E.
Smith, E. Phillips Oppenheimer, John Dickson
Carr, Edgar Wallace, Frank L. Packard (the Gray
Seal stories), and Rafael Sabatini.
Slide 16
Influences 2
‘I read Balzac, Dickens, Jane Austen, Arnold
Bennett, George Moore, and other 19th century
novelists of England and Europe...I read hundreds
of plays: most of Shaw, Ibsen, and Moliere, some
of the Greek ancients.’ (Reflections, p108)
Sir James Jeans on the universe; Edward Wiggam
on the mind; the series of books with titles like
The Wonderful World of Coal, or The Wonderful
World of the Atom; The ABC of Relativity.
Also, J.B.S. Haldane, Arthur Eddington, Alfred
Korzybski, Oswald Spengler, Alfred North
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Slide 17
Interest in General Semantics 1
‘For my second semantics-orientated
novel, The Players of Null-A, I wrote a
twenty-two paragraph explanation of
GS, and used one paragraph as the
heading of each chapter. The summation
took three weeks to do. When it was out
of the way, I had essentially completed
my eight-year study of general
semantics.’ (‘The Semantics of TwentyFirst Century Science’, Best, p103)
‘General Semantics is a systematic approach to reality...’
(Best, p101)
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 18
Interest in General Semantics 2
He was loaned a copy of Science and
Sanity sometime before he left Canada for
the USA. Given that The Players of NullA was published in 1948, and assuming a
one- or two-year writing and publication
period, van Vogt probably commenced his
study of GS around 1938-39.
‘Some years ago I wrote two science-fiction novels The
World of Null-A and The Players of Null-A in which, in
thousands and thousands of paragraphs, I employed the
various GS recommended usages for rectifying what
might be called the shortcomings of English.’ (Best, p101)
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Slide 19
Interest in General Semantics 3
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‘My GS training stayed with me even though I
had turned to other things. In talking to people I
would automatically hold up two sets of two
fingers to indicate quotations. I used dates...I
indexed...I was careful not to label people or
things. I noticed when I was referring to the
object (the territory)—then I pointed—and when
to the word that described it (map or symbol). I
differentiated the rituals in which most of us
engage in some areas from the individual
himself. And I was nearly always aware of selfreflexive sentences. Etc. Pretty precise.
Sometimes irritating to other people.’ (Best, 104)
[my underlining]
Slide 20
Interest in General Semantics 4
‘An implication of general semantics is that words that
contain assumptions that are only partially true interfere with
reasoning at sub-awareness levels.’ (Best, p110)
‘The mind needs signals to indicate insistently that our
universe is an incredibly dynamic complex.’ (Best, p115)
‘...GS was a system, an orderly way
of looking at the world that
prescribed, essentially, being acutely
aware of the symbols that man used
to describe said world and think
about it.’ (Best, p117)
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 21
Interest in General Semantics 5
‘What is reality? General Semantics
may not bring you any closer to a
positive answer. But it is a
systematic approach, a series of
methods that, as a starter, may
restrain you from jumping to hasty
conclusions about people and the
world we live in.’ (Best, p118)
‘If you are a person who notices the sometimes tiresome
behaviour patterns of individuals, a picture of me as a
systemizer should at this stage have taken firm form in
your mind. (Best, p146)
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 22
Other SF Writers Interested in GS
Harlan Ellison
Frank Herbert
Aldous Huxley
Samuel Delany
Henry Kuttner
Alexei Panshin
Robert Heinlein
L. Ron Hubbard
Robert Anton Wilson
Philip K. Dick
Poul Anderson
John Varley
The science fiction 'What if' as a variation of the three
questions of GS:
What do you mean?
How do you know?
What have you left out?
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Slide 23
Publication History: Null-A Books
The World of Null-A: First published in
Astounding Science Fiction in 1945 (August
to October issues), and in book form (hc) by
Simon & Schuster in 1948.
The Players of Null-A: First published in
Astounding Science Fiction in 1948 (October
to December) and 1949 (January), and in
book form (pb) by Ace Books, as The Pawns
of Null-A, in 1956.
Null-A Three: first published, as a limited edition, in 1984,
by Editions J’ai Lu in France and the Morrison, RavenHill Company of Berkshire, England and Beverley Hills,
California. Then published in 1985 by Sphere Books.
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 24
The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Earl Livings 2010
The novel is a science fiction version of Darwin’s
voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle. In this
case, the space ship is journeying around and beyond
the galaxy and features a new type of scientist, a
Nexialist. The adventures related in the novel concern
encounters with various creatures, some of whom are
in direct conflict with the ship and its crew and one, a
race of bird-like telepathic creatures, which accidently
attacks the ship when trying to communicate with it.
The novel features the actions of the one Nexialist on
board, Elliott Grosvenor, as he tries to help the crew
deal with these problems, deal with the conflicts
between various factions, and demonstrate to the
specialist scientists in the crew how valuable the
science and practise of Nexialism is.
Slide 25
Publication History: Space Beagle 1
‘Black Destroyer’, Astounding
Science Fiction, July 1939
[Chapters One to Six. Nexialist
Elliott Grosvenor was not in the
original story.].
‘War of Nerves’. Other Worlds,
1950. [Chapters Nine to Twelve].
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 26
Publication History: Space Beagle 2
‘Discord in Scarlet’, Astounding
Science Fiction, December 1939
[Chapters Thirteen to Twenty-One.
Ixtl’s quest to implant eggs in crew
members was duplicated in the Aliens
franchise, and van Vogt received an
out of court settlement (reportedly
$50,000). Again, Grosvenor was not
in the original story.]
‘M 33 in Andromeda’, Astounding Science-Fiction,
1943 [Chapters Twenty-Two to Twenty-Eight].
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Slide 27
Publication History: Space Beagle 3
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Published by Panther Books, in 1959, as a
‘fix-up’ novel, which is made up of
previously published short stories with
added material, such as transitions. He
added approx 30,000 words in this
Is seen by some as a precursor to the Star
Trek franchise.
Slide 28
Gosseyn and Grosvenor
Earl Livings 2010
Both are examples of van Vogt's theme of
the 'super-man'.
Names start with the same letter.
Gosseyn (Go-sane).
Grosvenor (‘contains’ governor, as in a
leader and a self-regulating mechanism).
Gosseyn has null-a training and a second
brain that gives him psychic-type powers.
Grosvenor only has his nexialist training,
plus the teaching instruments of the
Nexialist Foundation.
Slide 29
Definitions of Nexialism 1
... “Nexialism? What’s that?”
“Applied whole-ism,” said
Grosvenor, and stepped across the
threshold. (p37, The Voyage of the Space
Beagle, Panther Books, 1977)
“At the Nexial Foundation we teach that behind all the
grosser aspects of any science there is an intricate tie-up with
other sciences...” (p44)
Nexialism is the science of joining in an orderly fashion the
knowledge of one field of learning with that of other fields. It
provides techniques for speeding up the processes of learning
knowledge and of using effectively what has been learned.
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Slide 30
Definitions of Nexialism 2
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“...Nexialism is a tremendous new approach to
learning and association...” (p55)
“I refer to the science of Nexialism, which has
its own mathematics, and is a method of
training designed to bridge the gap between
facts that are related but separated, for
instance, by being contained in the brainpans
of two individuals. Nexialism joins. It seeks to
unify apparent irrelations; and its scope is so
great that the data of an entire galaxy is not too
complicated for it to cast into a recognizable
design.” (M 33, p143) [my underlining]
Slide 31
Nexial Techniques
Hypnosis (usually with gas equipment)
Miniature transmission equipment
Encephalo-adjuster (direct stimulation
of brain cells)
Musical tone instrument that stimulates
the brain directly...
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Slide 32
Nexialism & General Semantics
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‘Since there are many sciences, it is
obvious that I cannot in a short article
give examples from them all. So I asked
a group of people to whom I had given a
talk on GS to ask me test questions. My
preliminary statement to them was that a
GS analysis could probably be made of
the terminology of any science.’ (Best,
p115. A possible Nexialism approach at
‘joining’ sciences?)
Slide 33
GS Principles and Techniques
The map is not the
The map doesn't cover all
the territory.
The map is self-reflexive.
The word isn't the thing.
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Delayed Evaluating.
Et Cetera (Etc.).
Logical Fate.
Multi-valued Orientation.
Structure, Relations, Order.
Structural Differential.
Slide 34
Nexialism in Action: Coeurl 1
Earl Livings 2010
“We have enough evidence now,” he
[Grosvenor] dictated into the recorder, “to make
what we Nexialists call a Statement of
Direction.” (p21)
Grosvenor made no reply. His part in the
incident was finished. He had recognized an
emotional crisis, and he had spoken the
necessary words in the right tone of peremptory
command. The fact that those who had obeyed
him now questioned his authority to give the
command was unimportant. The crisis was over.
Slide 35
Nexialism in Action: Coeurl 2
Earl Livings 2010
The suggestion [Space Madness] irritated
Grosvenor. It was a meaningless phrase,
still current after all these years of space
travel. The fact that men had gone insane
in space from loneliness, fear, and tension
did not make a special sickness of it. There
were certain emotional dangers on a long
voyage like this—they were among the
reasons he had been put on board—but
insanity from loneliness was not likely to
be one of them. (p29)
Slide 36
Nexialism in Action: Coeurl 3
“I know something of metallurgy,” he said.
He appreciated the forcefulness and the
purpose of the attack that was about to be
made. He could even imagine that it might be
successful. But it would be a hit-or-miss
success, not actually successful. The affair was
being handled on the basis of an old, old
system of organizing men and their knowledge.
Most irritating was the fact that he could only
stand by and be negatively critical. (p35-36)
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 37
Nexialism in Action: Coeurl 4
What Morton wanted was integration of many sciences,
which was what Nexialism was for...The trouble with
what the scientists had agreed on was that it was not
thorough enough. A number of specialists had pooled
their knowledge on a fairly superficial level. Each had
briefly outlined his ideas to people who were not trained
to grasp the wealth of associations behind each notion.
And so the attack plan lacked unity. (p38-39)
It struck Grosvenor that the end result might well be death
for people who had inflexible ways of dealing with
unusual danger. (p41) [Outside Context Problems]
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Slide 38
Nexialism in Action: Riim
How could you influence another’s mind? By
changing his assumptions. How could you alter
another’s actions? By changing his basic
beliefs, his emotional certainties...In the history
of life, few thinking beings had done anything
illogical—within their own frame of reference.
If the frame was falsely based, if the
assumptions were untrue to reality, then the
individual’s automatic logic could lead them to
disastrous conclusions. (p89)
“It is unwise for birds—or men—to live too
specialised an existence...” (p92)
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Slide 39
Nexialism in Action: Ixtl 1
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He [Morton] said, “Recently, I have
personally come to feel that the science of
Nexialism may have a new approach to
offer to the solution of problems. Since it is
the whole-istic approach of life, carried to
the nth degree, it may help us to a quick
decision at a time when a quick decision is
important...” (p109)
Slide 40
Nexialism in Action: Ixtl 2
Earl Livings 2010
But there was another factor in this
developing situation: the conviction and
hopes that men had. Only an actual event
would change the minds of some people.
When their ideas were altered by reality—
and then only—they would be emotionally
ready for more drastic solutions.
It seemed to Grosvenor that he was
learning slowly but surely how to influence
men. It was not enough to have
information and knowledge, not enough to
be right. Men had to be persuaded and
convinced. (p133)
Slide 41
Nexialism in Action: The Anabis 1
Earl Livings 2010
Unfortunately, men who had knowledge
of only one or two sciences might not be
able, or even willing, to comprehend the
potentialities of the deadliest danger that
had ever confronted all the life of the
entire intergalactic universe. The
solution itself might become the centre
of a violent controversy. (p161)
Slide 42
Nexialism in Action: The Anabis 2
“...But the fact is that people who
are wrapped up in pleasure,
excitement, or ambition are easily
controlled. I didn’t devise the
tactics I’d use. They’ve been
around for centuries. But historical
attempts to analyse them just didn't
get to the roots of the process. Until
recently the relation of physiology
to psychology was on a fairly
theoretical basis. Nexial training
reduced it to definite techniques.
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Slide 43
Nexialism in Action: The Anabis 3
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“A baby is conditioned when it learns
to walk, move its arms, speak. Why not
extend the conditioning to hypnotism,
chemical responses, the effects of food?
It was possible hundreds of years ago.
It would prevent a lot of disease,
heartache, and the kind of catastrophe
that derives from misunderstanding of
one’s own body and mind.” (p183)
Slide 44
Nexialism in Action: The Anabis 4
Earl Livings 2010
“The problems that Nexialism confronts are
whole problems. Man has divided life and
matter into separate compartments of
knowledge and being. And, even though he
sometimes uses words which indicate his
awareness of the wholeness of nature, he
continues to behave as if the one, changing
universe had many separately functioning
parts. The techniques we will discuss
tonight...will show how this disparity
between reality and man’s behaviour can be
overcome.” (p190)
Slide 45
Nexialism and GS Concepts 1
Changing assumptions [of the Riim] relate to a basic
formulation found in general semantics: i.e., sometimes
the behaviours of individuals are based on assumptions
which are false when compared to facts. “War of Nerves,”
and The Voyage of the Space Beagle touch on additional
concerns of general semanticists: how we know what we
know, logic, and a proper “order of abstractions” (what
we perceive, the proper stages of how we perceive and the
labels given to our perceptions)...
continued next slide
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Slide 46
Nexialism and GS Concepts 2
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...“Non-allness” (we cannot know all that there is
to know about a given person, place or thing) is
very much part of general semanticist theorizing,
but, van Vogt may have contradicted this
formulation when later in the novel Grosvenor
seems to know all that there is for humans to know
at the moment, which is one way that Nexialism is
defined. Alfred Korzybski’s general semantics
theories of human communicating also include the
idea that “unsane” individuals...have the ability to
correct their false assumptions and become “sane”,
if they correct errors in their abstracting and
labelling processes. (Icon, p37-38)
Possible Influences on and
Developments of Nexialism
General Systems Theory
International Society for the System Sciences
Institute of Nexialism (ION),
The Nexial Institute,
Paper: Theory Theory: An Introduction to
Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics
Ken Wilbur's Integral Theory (AQAL: All
Quadrants, All Lines)
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Slide 47
Slide 48
Van Vogt’s stories emphasized that only smart and well
disciplined Homo sapiens can survive on earth and move
us to interstellar space conditions. (Icon, p45)
The undisputed idea man of the futuristic field.
Forrest J. Ackerman
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Slide 49
Bibliography 1
Drake, H. L. A. E. van Vogt: Science Fantasy’s Icon.
Lancaster:, Inc, 2001.
Kodish, Susan Presby and Kodish, Bruce I. Drive Yourself
Sane: Using the Uncommon Sense of General
Semantics. Pasadena: Extension Publishing, 2001.
Van Vogt, A. E. M 33 in Andromeda. New York:
Paperback Library, 1971.
Van Vogt, A. E. ‘My Life Was My Best Science Fiction
Story’. Fantastic Lives: Autobiographical Essays by
Notable Science Fiction Writers. Martin H. Greenberg,
ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press,
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 50
Biography 2
Van Vogt, A. E. Reflections of A. E. van Vogt. Lakemount:
Fictioneer Books, 1975.
Van Vogt, A. E. The Best of A. E. van Vogt. Intro. Barry N.
Malzberg. Markham: Pocket Books, 1976.
Van Vogt, A. E. The Voyage of the Space Beagle. St
Albans: Panther Books, 1977.
Van Vogt, A. E. Transfinite: The Essential A.E. Van Vogt.
Ed. Joe Rico and Rick Katze. Framingham: The NESFA
Press, 2003.
Earl Livings 2010
Slide 51
Bibliography 3
Websites:, 16 Aug 2010.
.html, 5 Aug 2010., 5 Aug 2010., 25
Nov 2010., 5 Aug 2010., 5 Aug 2010., 5 Aug 2010.,
6 Aug 2010., 6 Aug 2010.
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Slide 52
Bibliography 4,
6 Aug 2010., 5 Aug 2010., 6 Aug 2010., 5 Aug 2010.
x.html, 5 Aug 2010.
Earl Livings 2010