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Author Topic: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance  (Read 49223 times)

Gary LaPook

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Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« on: July 01, 2012, 11:49:55 AM »

While I must admit that I am somewhat skeptical of Betty's Notebook, not because I do not believe her but rather it is possible that a local hoaxer might have created the broadcast,

Explain how a local hoaxer could create a broadcast that was not heard by hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the local area.
The answer to that one is easy, how many people listen on short wave radios? How many even have short wave radios?

But, on the other hand, why would a hoaxer send out a hoax transmission of a frequency that almost nobody is going to be listening on? And why wouldn't he use 3105 or 6210, frequencies that he might expect people to be listening on, not some high harmonic?

So I agree with you Ric that it was not a hoax transmission that Betty heard. I think she heard several different transmissions as her radio frequency drifted around, as she retuned her radio and she jumbled all that she heard in her notebook. I think Betty is being perfectly honest in what she reported only that she is mistaken about what she had heard.

gl
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 07:04:34 PM by J. Nevill »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2012, 02:29:08 PM »


If you believe that Betty heard "This is Amelia" that is a bit of a stretch to think that she heard random transmissions and invented the rest.

Also, we are straying from the topic. ;)
I never said that she "invented" anything. I believe that she heard several different commercial broadcasts as the various signals faded in and out and she retuned her radio and her radio drifted in frequency. One of these broadcasts contained the words "Amelial Earhart" and Betty just wrote down what she was hearing, mixing all of the words from the different broadcasts in her notebook.

Another problem I have with the Betty reception report is that TIGHAR had to come up with the harmonics theory to have any chance of a signal making it from Gardner to Florida. TIGHAR has her listening on 24,840 kcs, the fourth harmonic of 6210 kcs. (And to even get the probability up to one chance in one and a half million, Brandenberg used used an unsupported and unrealistically low signal strength requirement at the receiver and and other unrealistic assumptions of the power of the transmitted signal on the harmonic, but, I digress.) TIGHAR has never explained why Betty would be tuning her radio to such a high frequency. I used to be an avid SWLer (Short Wave Listener) and I have the QSL cards to prove it. (Acknowledgment post cards mailed from the broadcast station in response to reports mailed in by the SWLer.) This was in the '60s and my radio was better than the one that Betty had but all of these radios had the same problem, the sensitivity drops off at higher frequency so you can't hear anything on such high frequencies. I will review my QSL cards but i am certain that I never heard a foreign broadcast on any such high frequency. So why would betty be tuning around up on such a high frequency since she wasn't going to hear anything there and knew it from her prior experience. And, even though in theory, there are such high broadcast bands I don't think any international broadcaster used them because they knew that nobody would be able to hear them on the insensitive radios.

gl
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Heath Smith

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2012, 03:40:57 PM »

As I recall of her story, she said the woman sounded like Earhart and she had heard her voice before so that piqued her interests. I could see how your theory could be reasonable if it were not a hoax however I recall that the woman, that sounded like Earhart, claimed she was Earhart. If this were true, this would be by definition a hoax if it were not Earhart herself saying these words. Also, the story told by what Betty wrote would not seem to fit well with any public discussion on the air waves. In my opinion it is pretty black and white, either it was real or a hoax.

I leave the debate about high-frequency propagation and harmonics to those with a working knowledge of the subject.
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2012, 10:45:04 PM »

Betty's notebook is a conundrum. Gary has wisely pointed out the problems concerning the odds against the message being picked up on the fourth harmonic. However a very basic question also remains which is how certain are its proponents that it isn't a fake - besides Betty herself were there other living witnesses? I have read the account of it and it has that certain hook that drags people in about how she was ignored for years etc., which being a bit of an old cynic myself tends always to set my alarm bells ringing.

Is TIGHAR 100% certain that it is all kosher, I ask this because there have been many famous forgeries concerning historic events, a couple of recent ones are - the Hitler Diaries which even took in the great historian Hugh Trevor-Roper; the Jack the Ripper Diary which had Ripperologists all abuzz for a brief spell. What's to say that the Betty notebook isn't a hoax? Just asking.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 12:23:28 AM by Malcolm McKay »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 08:23:23 AM »

Betty's father ran next dooor to see if his neighbor could hear the transmission.  They could not, but then they didn't have the long wire antenna that Betty's radio had.  The antenna makes a very big difference in ability to receive weak signals, and tends to be most sensitive in particular directions.  The transmissions would have been easy to pick up from near the source, but the inability for the signals to be picked up by the neighbor's radio implies they must have originated some distance away from their neighborhood.  That complicates the idea of a hoax, but the ability to pick up more signals than the neighbor's radio actually increases the opportunity to hear a number of transmissions from great distances.  I think that most people who've scanned the radio waves have some experience with trying to discriminate mixed signals, especially with old radios that have poor rejection circuitry.
If she was listening to something like parts of a "March of Time" rebroadcast, where did it originate from?  Is there a record of known broadcasts of "The March of Time"?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 09:11:03 AM »

If she was listening to something like parts of a "March of Time" rebroadcast, where did it originate from?  Is there a record of known broadcasts of "The March of Time"?
The March of Time broadcast was just one part of a 30-minute radio program.  Betty's notes span from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.  As Ric has written in Finding Amelia, "March of Time dramatizations were half-hour programs broadcast via the local CBS affiliate and included narration, music, and, of course, commercials."  There would have been plenty of clues for Betty of it being a re-creation if she had been tuned into any broadcast or rebroadcast of that program.

Those interested in reading more online about the discussion of the program and Betty's Notes can go to the Ameliapedia article on The March of Time.
LTM,

Bruce
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 06:42:18 PM »


I don't see anything wrong with healthy skepticism, Malcolm.  Fair question I think given all that went historically in the AE case.  Also maybe fair to point out other famous hoaxes and frauds, although I doubt Betty's humble case carries anywhere near the import or dark-promises of such things as would have those of Hitler and the 'Ripper'.  I also think a bit of cynicism is just human; most of us have some of it, and it is not always such a bad element in our make-up if we keep a healthy balance, of course - just Jeff's HO.

I'm not sure how anyone can be 100% sure that Betty's notebook is 'all kosher' - I guess anything is possible.  That said, I personally believe Betty as a hoaxer is probably a stretch.  That's one conundrum - if it's important to us, we each just have to decide what we think of it. .......

My question is related to the actual document - did the ink get tested for being within the correct period, was the paper tested etc. As Betty appears to be the only witness then there is always room for doubt, and therefore basic tests like I outlined would be essential.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 04:18:27 AM »

Betty's father ran next dooor to see if his neighbor could hear the transmission.  They could not, but then they didn't have the long wire antenna that Betty's radio had.  The antenna makes a very big difference in ability to receive weak signals, and tends to be most sensitive in particular directions.  The transmissions would have been easy to pick up from near the source, but the inability for the signals to be picked up by the neighbor's radio implies they must have originated some distance away from their neighborhood.  That complicates the idea of a hoax, but the ability to pick up more signals than the neighbor's radio actually increases the opportunity to hear a number of transmissions from great distances.  I think that most people who've scanned the radio waves have some experience with trying to discriminate mixed signals, especially with old radios that have poor rejection circuitry.
If she was listening to something like parts of a "March of Time" rebroadcast, where did it originate from?  Is there a record of known broadcasts of "The March of Time"?
What evidence do we have that her father went next door? Was he interviewed? did he leave any notes? was the neighbor interviewed?

Betty also claims that her father notified the Coast Guard and was told that they had ships in the area. What proof do we have that her father went to the Coast Guard? any documents at the Coast Guard? any notes from her father?

All that we have for this story is hearsay from Betty. She didn't say, "I went with my father to the Coast Guard" so she has no personal knowledge that her father really went to the Coast Gurard. Her statement that her father contacted the CG would be inadmissible hearsay at trial as evidence that her father actually did contact them.

 "Daddy, Daddy, did you go to the Coast Guard today?"
"Oh yes, Betty, I did and they told me not to worry about it because they have ships in the area."

What parent hasn't told a story like this to his kid to stop the pestering? So Betty could be telling the truth, that her daddy told her that story while, in fact, he didn't report it because he didn't really accept Betty's story at the time.

So there is no other support for Betty's story than her own words. And the note book contains neither the word "Gardner" nor "Phoenix" words that an authentic emergency message from Amelia on Gardner should have contained.

And why was she tuning such a high frequency as I pointed out before? It is critical to TIGHAR that she tuned 24,840 kcs because none of the lower harmonics or the primary frequencies had any chance at all of being heard in Florida and even Brandenberg only claims a one chance in 1,500,000 that the 24,840 kcs could get to Betty and this only after a thorough massaging of his assumptions. I think it most likely that she was tuned to a much lower frequency and she heard a mish-mash of broadcasts which is what shows up in her notebook.

Could she have been the victim of a hoax, possible but not likely. Could she be a hoaxter, possible but not likely. Could she be honest but mistaken, very probable.

gl
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 04:19:33 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Ed Rosales

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 09:14:38 PM »

The March of Time broadcast was just one part of a 30-minute radio program.  Betty's notes span from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.  As Ric has written in Finding Amelia, "March of Time dramatizations were half-hour programs broadcast via the local CBS affiliate and included narration, music, and, of course, commercials."  There would have been plenty of clues for Betty of it being a re-creation if she had been tuned into any broadcast or rebroadcast of that program.

Hello, This is my first post, but I can't help but think that only a year after AE disappeared, another famous radio dramatization, was not only heard by thousands but taken very seriously, that being "War of the Worlds" narrated by Orsen Welles. The broadcast was ran without commercial breaks for about an hour, and was in a format that made it appear as breaking news. At the time many people listening in actually believed that the drama was an actual alien invasion. How many of these types of dramatized radio programs existed during the golden age of radio??

Ed
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 10:04:59 PM »

How many of these types of dramatized radio programs existed during the golden age of radio??

That's a question you could actually do some research on.

We've dug up the March of Times episodes.

We know how long they lasted.

We know that they were full of musical cues and had a voice-over.

We may, I think, suppose that Betty would have heard some of the fictional radio dramas in her lifetime.

Now, if you can show that there was an Earhart drama on the air a few days after her disappearance that, like the War of the Worlds, deliberately suppressed the elements that helped to identify it as fiction, you would have a case.  Of course, as Ric noted in another post, if there was such a clever production intended to fool listeners like Betty, listening on shortwave, there ought to have been a lot of other people fooled, too.
LTM,

           Marty
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 10:44:24 PM »

Of course, as Ric noted in another post, if there was such a clever production intended to fool listeners like Betty, listening on shortwave, there ought to have been a lot of other people fooled, too.

Whatever the results of that research the question remains was the notebook actually physically checked that the ink is of a type not anachronistic for the period. Forgeries and hoaxes, given that there is no one to give witness to Betty's version of events (as Gary has pointed out), are often done for quite small gains - often just transitory fame.

Certainly testing the ink and other physical properties of the notebook would have been my first step if I was considering the value of the diary. And whatever some say about its role in the hypothesis, it is taken by many to be the main plank in the survived after landing hypothesis. Especially by those using that strange broadcast to argue for Noonan being injured and the aircraft remaining on the outer reef long enough to broadcast a distress call. There is much scepticism outside of TIGHAR regarding the proposed reef landing, especially that it could be done without destroying the aircraft, and it is clear that the Betty notebook transcript is at the heart of the hypothesis that TIGHAR is advancing that such an event occurred.
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Adam Marsland

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2012, 03:02:44 AM »

I think Gary's skepticism of the high odds against reception are totally valid.  The alternate explanation, though, really doesn't make any better sense.  As someone else pointed out -- and again we're back to the issue I keep bringing up about coming up with counter theories where we try to make optimal things happen without thinking through the scenario within the limitations of the actual situations at hand (something that, again, I have found TIGHAR rarely guilty of) -- it was not that easy to make a bunch of sound clips and arrange them in such a way that it would sound like a host broadcast.  In fact, it would be nearly impossible.  Forget digital recording...tape itself was not invented until World War II.  (On the topic of sound, I can claim some expertise)  If I was going to try to do such a thing with 1930s technology...well, I imagine it would be within the capability of sound and movie professionals, but not too many others.  And why?

But the main issue with the hoax theory is
1. why did no one else hear it? Even if it was a War of the Worlds kind of a thing, a lot of people were freaked out by WOTW.  It beggars belief that someone mounted such a hoax and only one person heard it and commented on it/were fooled by it; and
2.  why were the messages themselves so garbled if it was a hoax?  I think it's significant that all of the known hoaxes contain semi-clear information that any person could dream up, and the possible post-loss messages don't.  Again, I submit that this is much more in line with how the real world works.  If you're a hoaxer, you broadcast what people expect you to broadcast.  But if you're hearing a crummy signal that's fading in and out and threes sound like Z's and fun sounds like 1, you're going to get a transcription that looks exactly like Betty's Notebook.  And if the people on land didn't know exactly where they were and, for example, their plane was going over, then something like that might conceivably get broadcast.  As unlikely as that might be, I find it more unlikely a hoaxer would dream that particular scenario up and broadcast a bunch of random numbers and letters.

Gary has rightly stated that the odds of receiving the message were on par with winning the lottery.  Very fair statement.  But I do want to point out that...people do win the lottery!  And that's because there are a lot of people buying lottery tickets.  Gary has asked how many people were listening on the radio at the time, and I would say that, as it was at that time the primary form of mass communication, the answer is, a hell of a lot, more than we can conceive of now.  So yes, the chances of that one person hearing that one transmission is pretty unlikely.  But so are the odds of a lot of things if conceived that way....one in a million occurrences happen to most of us each and every day.  When considered in isolation, they are miracles.  Taken together, it all evens out as just the random skein of God's day-to-day creation.

So do I have a problem believing someone on a Pacific Island sent out a message to the world, and of the whole world one random teenager in Florida stumbled across parts of it?  Frankly, no I don't.  Because, as is the case with so many other parts of the TIGHAR saga, I find the alternative explanations objectively less convincing.  And weird stuff happens all the time.  What are the chances another family with the unusual surname of Marsland booked a room at the same hotel the same day my band dropped in to town to play a gig, causing great confusion when we all tried to check in?  Pretty low, but it happened to me in 1997.  Unlikely stuff happens, and if a statistician calculated the odds of it happening on that particular day it would be astronomically small. 

To me, the only two plausible scenarios are either she heard what she heard, or Malcolm is right -- she made up the whole thing.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 03:11:01 AM by Adam Marsland »
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2012, 04:46:02 AM »

I think Gary's skepticism of the high odds against reception are totally valid.... 
To me, the only two plausible scenarios are either she heard what she heard, or Malcolm is right -- she made up the whole thing.

Bear in mind that I am not declaring the notebook a fake but it need not have been faked at the time. If in the 50s and early 60s she became aware of the increasing interest in Earhart - especially the Goerner theory it is a possibility (I stress possibility) that she could have taken a notebook she had retained from her childhood and composed the text then. That is why I think it is important to know if proper tests were done on the ink used.

From the TIGHAR references to the notebook it seems to be a genuine late 1930s artifact but do we have an exact time span for the manufacture of these notebooks?  The earlier faked texts I mentioned used stationery which was historically correct but fell apart when other features were forensically tested. I am not deliberately attacking this woman - all I am suggesting is that in matters such as this search in which a lot of money has been invested then it is important to establish where ever possible the validity of each material item used as evidence. The Nikumaroro finds have been thoroughly tested and we know the results - this notebook is a key part of the reef landing proposal and needs to be tested thoroughly. Certainly if I was relying on such an artifact I would want it proved beyond doubt.   
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Ed Rosales

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2012, 08:13:08 AM »


That's a question you could actually do some research on.

I may just do that, and seeing that I too live in St. Pete, I'll see if there might had been a local radio drama program that existed at the time, which might had done such a program on AE

Quote
We've dug up the March of Times episodes.

We know how long they lasted.

We know that they were full of musical cues and had a voice-over.

We may, I think, suppose that Betty would have heard some of the fictional radio dramas in her lifetime.

Having been reading this forum for awhile, this is where I have my concerns. Fast forward to today, we have TV, the internet (and we still have the radio) I'm sure that most of us had come across a fictional program designed to dramatize situations or events, sometimes these dramas are intended to appear like the real thing. Now I wasn't around at the time, but my hunch would be these were common techniques designed to draw in listeners when radio was king, and just as today, most people aren't usually fooled into believing that the events are actually taking place. But sometimes people do get fooled, as witnessed by the War of the Worlds broadcast.

Now I don't know if there was some dramatized program about AE, but we do know that interest in AE has existed even before her disappearance. She has been the subject of news since her absence and she has even been depicted in science fiction. (If I recall in a Star Trek episode) We also know that there were dramatized broadcasts in that era.

As for Betty's notebook, I can't help but think that when I read the transcripts, it comes across as a dramatization. In fact if we took away the hypothesis that AE & FN landed on Gardner and go with the "officially" accepted theory of running out of fuel and ditching at sea, which many believed happened, then the transcripts seem to make more sense.... the drama of a heroine in the aftermath of a crash at sea who was trying to control a delirious and injured navigator while the plane was sinking. The only problem of course is that they couldn't transmit if the plane was floating on the ocean. This of course is a matter of fact. Yet, in Betty's transcripts, the water was knee deep and the "voice of the man" was trying to get out of the plane. The whole thing just seems too dramatized.

Quote
Now, if you can show that there was an Earhart drama on the air a few days after her disappearance that, like the War of the Worlds, deliberately suppressed the elements that helped to identify it as fiction, you would have a case.  Of course, as Ric noted in another post, if there was such a clever production intended to fool listeners like Betty, listening on shortwave, there ought to have been a lot of other people fooled, too.

Just as a speculation (and we all know the worth of speculation) Who gets fooled? Even during the War of the Worlds broadcast there were many people who just weren't fooled, even though the program was designed to sound authentic, but then again, when we look at our contemporary media how many times do we see authentic looking broadcasts on the TV or online and normally we aren't fooled by it? Sadly some people do get fooled by what they see or hear. The question, I guess becomes, was there a dramatized broadcast of AE shortly after her disappearance? As to who would had heard it? There could had been thousands, but it won't be easy to prove. Most of that generation has passed on, and just as today, I think most people if they understood the broadcast to be fictional would had eventually dismissed it or simply forgot about it, but for that one teenage girl who happened to write down what she heard.

Ed
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Edgard Engelman

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Re: Re: Betty's Notebook - ethics of acceptance
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2012, 08:46:23 AM »

I think Gary's skepticism of the high odds against reception are totally valid.... 
To me, the only two plausible scenarios are either she heard what she heard, or Malcolm is right -- she made up the whole thing.

Bear in mind that I am not declaring the notebook a fake but it need not have been faked at the time. If in the 50s and early 60s she became aware of the increasing interest in Earhart - especially the Goerner theory it is a possibility (I stress possibility) that she could have taken a notebook she had retained from her childhood and composed the text then. That is why I think it is important to know if proper tests were done on the ink used.

From the TIGHAR references to the notebook it seems to be a genuine late 1930s artifact but do we have an exact time span for the manufacture of these notebooks?  The earlier faked texts I mentioned used stationery which was historically correct but fell apart when other features were forensically tested. I am not deliberately attacking this woman - all I am suggesting is that in matters such as this search in which a lot of money has been invested then it is important to establish where ever possible the validity of each material item used as evidence. The Nikumaroro finds have been thoroughly tested and we know the results - this notebook is a key part of the reef landing proposal and needs to be tested thoroughly. Certainly if I was relying on such an artifact I would want it proved beyond doubt.

Malcolm, years ago, when the notebook surfaced, this board did not exist, but there was a discussion board disrtibuted by E-mail. The first thing that everybody tried to do, was to ascertain (at least try to) that it was indeed written during the days surrounding AE disappearence. When you look at the notebook, you see that the text concerning AE was preceded and followed by lists of songs that Betty was supposed to have listened to on the radio during the previous and following days.  One of the methods used was to recover the dates these song were composed and  appeared on the music market. This was a tedious task but some members came with dates for many of these songs. None of these dates conflicted with the fact that the notebook could have been written in 1937.
Of course this is not a definit proof of anything, but if it is a fake, it could not have been produced easily and would have needed a huge effort on the part of the faker.
I think that it is possible to find these discussions by using Google and you will see all the doubts and research that was done at that moment, when the notebook surfaced.
This does not, of course, answer the question of what exactly did she hear, which is a completely other kettle.
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