D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

My last post ended with the sentence, “stick a fork in us, we are done.” My husband of 27 years commented that it’s painful to walk around with an embedded fork. That is true.

I can’t fix our fate, much as I’d like to. But I do think, a lot, about how we could make life better here in America, while it all falls apart.

One of the best loved doomer novels is Nevil Shute’s On the Beach. The action takes place in Australia after a catastrophic nuclear event. Because of the hemispheric differences, Australia is the last area to get the extinction level fallout. And because radiation sickness is painful and drawn out, the merciful government hands out suicide pills.

I think that is a lovely gesture. We’re doomed, but we could go quietly, painlessly, and with dignity.

To that end, I propose some actions for your consideration.

I’ve said before that I think Abraham Lincoln was wrong to spill 600,000 lives to keep the confederacy in the union. We should have freed the slaves and let those states go. Our divisions cannot be healed.

I’d like a divorce. I don’t want to be married to the idiots anymore. I know it’s going to be wrenching and painful and costly, but the relief we will feel (and they will too) when it’s over will be lovely.

Let’s break up. The GOP…all of them, from Trump to everyone else….out. You go live in the former slave states.

Florida, Alabama, Texas, both Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia would all go. And I’d throw Missouri and Arizona into that group. The idiots in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana would have to make a choice, assuming they are not registered as Republicans. But all registered Republicans go.

Think of it.

All of the people who believe the earth is 6,000 to 8,000 years old (and flat) and that evolution is not real, who want a theocracy, who deny climate change….all of them….gone. Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, the Koch Brothers, the Mercer’s, the KKK, the Nazi’s, they can continue on in another country, not ours. Their guns can go with them, of course.

Oh. Just thinking about what a relief that would be is so so lovely!

Trump can rule from Mar-A-Lago and everybody can be happy.

We can have a free and open election and elect someone competent. The US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and Guam can vote on whether or not they want to become states in our United States with full representation and voting rights, or go the independent country route.

Of course, we would have to build a wall and have security to keep the cult members where they belong and our country safe.

There would be hardship and turmoil, of course. This happens in any break up of this magnitude. But it would force a rethinking on both sides of how to proceed. One side could have sensible regulations, universal health care, a secular government, good public education, and qualified public officials to make policy and laws that benefit and protect the citizens.

The other side can implement whatever the fuck they want, as long as they don’t bother us.

At the very least, this would keep us occupied. We would need to concentrate on our own problems for a period of time, so we would stop bombing, intervening, interfering, and otherwise screwing up other countries for awhile. Considering we have done all of that for about 93% of our entire existence as a country, I’m sure the world would appreciate the break.

It’s a great mulligan in the sense that we could use this opportunity to fix some problems. Like, overturning Citizen’s United and repealing the laws that say that corporations are people. Having independent commissions do the redistricting. Public financing of elections. Sane gun laws.

People who don’t identify with the groups named above, who are not registered as republicans, can choose which country they want to live in. But they will swear an oath to the abide by the constitution of the United States of America.

I see this as essentially bloodless because both sides win. The people who want white male supremacy and a theocracy can go ahead and have what they want. They just won’t be able to impose their unconstitutional ideas on us.

I think it’s time to quit pretending we can compromise and fix all of this together. Yes, that’s a wonderful ideal, but not practical. Our differences are deeply entrenched and I doubt any amount of counseling can or will work. We’ve been fighting the same fights over and over again with no one really happy with the outcomes. The idiots hate us and we hate them and these are irreconcilable differences.

Clean break, with maybe a 24 month period for people to move to their assigned or preferred countries, and then we start with the wall, which I’m sure people on both side of will pay for, and then we can all get on with our lives until the big collapse.

It could be done.

 

 

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2018 Predictions

Yes, it’s time for predictions for the coming year, and frankly, it’s going to be a supremely bad year for everyone but the healthy and the rich.

I think most of what Americans will face in 2018 is what I call Death Panel Bingo. Remember when the republicans were crying about death panels in the Affordable Health Care Act? They’ve actually implemented them, only without fanfare.

Every safety net that Franklin Roosevelt put into place after the Great Depression will be mostly gone by the elections of 2018. Food stamps, medicare and medicaid, social security……all of it will be gone or weakened.

Because our idiot President and his supporters haven’t funded any help for Puerto Rico, they are without power. IV bags and many medications are made there, so of course there is a shortage here. If you have cancer, or any illness, or you live in Puerto Rico, you are on the Death Panel Bingo card. Ain’t the GOP great?

Then, the Americans with Disabilities Act will be gone or diluted.

Programs for children aren’t being funded.

The old, the young, and the sick are pretty much being targeted by the Greed Over People Party.

They will repeal every environmental protection they possibly can. OSHA will be weakened so that business can do whatever they want. Get hurt on the job, tough luck. But this will keep big Pharma in the bucks, to profit from man made illnesses.

The Nazi’s just rounded up people with illnesses and gassed them. Here, it’s more “civilized” but the sentence is still death. And that these assholes call themselves “pro-life” is enough to induce vomiting.

We didn’t have a financial crash this last year, so I’m guessing (based upon history) that by fall of 2018, Wall Street will require yet another bailout. That should wipe out what is left of the middle class and have the extra benefit of completely fucking over retirees.

So, there will probably be another war. Your guess is as good as mine on whom we shall drop the bombs upon. Syria, Iran, North Korea are the current frontrunners, but you never know.

Disasters in 2017 alone cost over $300 billion in damages. This is not an anomaly. Whether it’s wildfires, storms, flooding or drought, climate change is costing huge amounts of money and it’s only going to get worse. The idiots in charge deny that climate change is happening, because they want to rape and pillage everything that is left.

The only really good thing about being a doomer is that I know we are already past the point of no return. The deniers have “won”. Even if we stopped burning all fossil fuels today, the climate would continue heating for another 20 years or so, and we know we aren’t going to stop burning fossil fuels today or tomorrow. That ship has sailed. If I weren’t a doomer, I would be even more pissed than I already am, because they are putting the nails in the coffin. And if I were young, I would be rioting, because the GOP is ensuring that the future is going to be absolutely horrific. I would be absolutely out of my mind if I were young or had children.

In a way, what we are seeing are the mirror images of collapse. The earth is collapsing under the weight of 7.5 billion people and growing, and pollution, and climate change. As people starve, and move, and make war, the social systems collapse under the weight of the physical collapse.

And these can be manipulated further with net neutrality being repealed, which will result in increased censorship and repression of dissent, and for profit prisons to take all those dissenters. Because, unlike the Nazi’s, we want to profit until we can’t profit no more. There is a reason why the GOP is content to let us play Death Panel Bingo. They are culling the herd.

When culling the herd, it’s important to take out the weakest, the ones that slow down the group. Sick people, old people, and regrettably, children, tend to be a drag. These will go first. Workers are what is wanted, and preferably slaves.

Poor people have always been on the death panel bingo card, and they will suffer terribly.

There are a couple of wildcards. The Mueller investigation is one. The November elections are another. Some are predicting a “Blue Wave”, but I’m not putting too much stock in that. For one thing, you have 65 so-called Democrats voting for the privacy invading survellience bill.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Stick a fork in us, we are done.

 

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Cultists

You really are never too old to learn.

I’m 60 and experiencing something new.  For the first time in my life, I’ve started to hate a whole class of people.

I’ve hated individuals before.  Institutions as well.

But a class of people..well, that is new.  I go to bed at night hating them, and I wake up in the morning despising them.

They are the Trump voters.  I don’t care about their religion or race or politics, even. I hate them because they revel in being wrong, in lies, in hatred for “the Other”, because they reject even the tiniest bit of basic human decency.

The Trump lovers looked past the sexual harassment, the disparagement of people with disabilities, the lie after lie after lie.  They look past the fact that this individual inherited millions of dollars, lives in a gilt-lined world, and thinks there are very fine people who happen to be Nazis.

The Trump lovers like the lies.  They believe he is an outsider who is non politically correct.  They think that diplomacy and tact are signs of weakness.

They reject any objective reality outside of their understanding.

In other words, they are stupid.  And proud of it.  They hate education because it makes them feel inadequate.  It apparently does not motivate them to educate themselves.  Ignorance can be fixed, but they are not interested in that.  They want to be respected because they are stupid.  They want the rest of us to be as stupid as they are.  In my district, only 85% of people have graduated from high school, and way fewer than that, from college.

Watching the Senate confirmation hearings of Trump nominees is painful.  Men have been nominated to life time appointments to the bench that have never tried a case and have no understanding of the law.  The very, very few females that have been nominated are just as bad.  Betsy DeVos would be hilarious if she wasn’t so freaking dangerous.

The Republican party is all in.  Just witness the Roy Moore debacle in Alabama.  A man who was kicked off of the bench twice for violating the law was supported by the Republican National Committee.  The child molestation claims were icing on the cake.  Some Republicans found the claims credible and still supported the guy.

There is no line they will not cross.  There is no standard of quality.  The only thing Trump lovers want or need is loyalty to Trump.  They are prepared and willing to trash the constitution (especially the Bill of Rights), the separation between church and state, the rule of law…everything that this country was ostensibly founded upon to prop up their awful selection.

The Trump lovers in Congress are willing and maybe even eager for another Civil War.  They are constantly demonizing anyone who questions President Bone Spur.*

They live in a world without nuance.  Without logic.  They live in a faith-based world that demonizes any non-believer.  There is no room for compassion or love or empathy or learning.  They attack everyone and everything that is different.  They believe everything they see and hear from Trump and nothing that anyone else has to offer.  And they don’t see that as dangerous or ill advised in the least.

Which makes them a cult.  Look up that word and it describes, perfectly, the phenomena existing today in the US.

So, I hate them.  I hate them with abiding rage.  And I hate them because I hate them.  Hate feels energizing for a little while, but eventually, it just eats the person up from the inside.  I know this.  I can feel it.  I don’t enjoy hatred, actually.  I would much prefer a world and a country based upon fairness, empathy, justice.

If we survive this administration (and I put the odds at 50/50), we are going to have to deal with the surviving cult members.  When the first Civil War ended, the losing side didn’t go to jail for treason.  They weren’t even tried for treason.

Let’s not make that mistake again.  If we survive this administration, there should be consequences in store for the cultists.

 

*Not my invention.  H/T to Jim Wright.

 

 

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Aarrgghhh

I usually do a year end review, just to check and see how I did on my predictions this year.

But I don’t need to do that, because I know I was pretty right on the money, and that just depresses the hell out of me.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how on earth I’m going to survive another year.  Clearly, something needs to change and it’s going to have to be me.

I want to show you.

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What I want for Christmas is a bunch of indictments.  Failing that, tons of heroin.  I can’t stay informed, stay sober and stay sane for much longer.  The cognitive dissonance is too great.  And the idea that this could go on for years makes me so heartsick I can hardly stand it.

Being right makes me sick.  Where this country is headed will make us all suffer.  Well, except for the one percent.

While the memes have been funny and insightful, the pain of watching this country descend into fascism with the help of people who have sworn to defend and protect the constitution is high.

I guess that makes me a snowflake and a libtard, according to my duly elected “representative.”  According to my moral guidelines, that makes me a patriot.

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American Mourning

Another day, another mass shooting. This time in Las Vegas, with 59 dead at this writing.

I wrote about two other mass shootings, in 2012 and then I stopped.  What is the point, after all?  Money is all that matters.

It’s heartbreaking.

Thoughts and prayers are offered. Because they don’t cost anything.

All of the treasure in lives and money that has been spent on this “war on terror” and I feel more terrified today than ever before. Like the “war on drugs”, this endless war is more about profits than safety. The military/industrial complex has a healthy bottom line and that is all that matters.

At this same time, Congress has gun laws before it. The SHARE act, and two others. Since the US Congress is pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA, I expect all of the bills to pass, none of which will make anyone any safer, but will add profits to the gun manufacturers.

The NRA, with a membership of somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 million has the clout to buy legislation.  It’s not the membership that our congress fears, it’s the financiers, aka, gun manufacturers.

Regular citizens have no clout.

The bullshit about calling and writing your “representative” only applies to people living in an area that still has a relatively independent thinker, someone who puts country before party. Those are rare and they are leaving because the money backs ideology. Whether it’s Soros or the Koch Brothers, money is all that matters. The amount of money it takes to run for office these days is just obscene.

We’re expendable.

Meanwhile, American citizens are still suffering in Houston, Florida and it really sucks to be in Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, what with being surrounded by an ocean and all.

The denial of climate change and the denial that guns kill people are coming from pretty much the same people. You know, the people in charge. The people that don’t want us to have an efficient health care system that covers everybody. Those people, who are 100% “pro-life”.  Liars, all.

Every time I hear about rebuilding, I want to vomit. Yeah, rebuild all the same crap and watch the same thing happen all over again. Einstein was right.

And people eat it up! The flag is at half-mast over the Capitol building, so it shows that they care! Because it doesn’t cost anything.

This is what collapse looks like. This isn’t accidental, or even coincidental. All of the damage being done by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and humans cannot be fixed. There isn’t enough money in the world to cover everything that is happening all over the world right now. It’s ludicrous.

We elect people who will not change a thing, because it feels better than having to make hard choices.  We are selfish, destructive morons.  I don’t want to live here anymore.

 

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Turtle Love

I keep seeing turtles.  Specifically, three toed box turtles.  They are a land based turtle that is a sub-species of the Eastern Box Turtle.

I’m seeing them so often now that I can differentiate between them.

DSCN2766I named this guy Mitch.  I was wrong, though.  As you shall see.  These markings on the shell are very different than other of the three toed box turtles.  I wonder why.

DSCN2844This is Mildred.  I’ve seen her most.  She hangs out in the paddock, where the garden is, and around in the bird room, where we have elderberry bushes.  Here, she’s on the pool deck, having just had a poop.  Because of Mildred, I can now identify turtle poop from other kinds.  When I see turtle poop now, I’ll say, “all right, which one of you did this?”

DSCN2884Mildred likes cantaloupe, too.  I saw her nestled into the side of one of the beds, and decided to conduct an experiment.  The cantaloupe had been mostly eaten by some other critter, so I put it on the ground to see if turtles would eat it.  Yup.  Using this same method, I’ve determined that she won’t eat green beans, carrots, or cucumbers.  Loves lettuce and cantaloupe and elderberries.  They don’t have teeth, but they do have strong jaws.

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DSCN2880I’m calling this one Margaret.  She’s smaller than Mildred, but just walked up this morning to have some berries.

DSCN2861This is Milton.  He hangs out near the little orchard on the east side of our house.  He is much shyer than Mildred, who seems to be the most outgoing three toed box turtle on the property.

Although, not all that shy.  I saw him approach her, and sort of spin her around.  She would try to walk away, and he wasn’t about to let that happen.

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I’ve been reading a bit about turtles, since stumbling over them so much.  They are omnivores.  They are very attuned to their environment and are constantly needing to adapt to temperature changes.  They need moisture.  So now I water various piles of leaves around the house, since I see them nestled under a pile of leaves so often. These turtles seem to have adopted certain areas around the house.  It’s been pretty dry.  This is the first time in three years here that I’m seeing 3 to 4 different turtles every day.  It’s cool.  But it worries me.

DSCN2817While eating breakfast the other day, we spotted this couple just outside the window.  Apparently, turtle breeding season goes on all summer long.  Since turtles are sparse, they kinda gotta grab the opportunity to mate whenever they come across one another.

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This is how I found out that Mitch was female.  So now, her name is Michelle.

I really don’t mean to be a turtle sex voyeur, but they are doing it right in front of me.  This guy had a style all his own, and he looked to be having such a great time, I took video.  This encounter took over an hour, and I didn’t see the dismount, but she dragged him around a little, and his head would go back and I could just see the thought bubble (Oh Baby!  Yeah!).  The males hook their clawed back feet into the females shell and ride them, literally.

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Mildred gets around.

Females can apparently decide when to fertilize the eggs.  So maybe she’s selecting the best of the bunch.  They lay eggs at night in sandy soil, according to the experts.  We’ve only seen one baby turtle in the three years we’ve been here.

According to what I’ve read, box turtles are most active right before or right after a rain.  I’ve seen them after a rain, for sure, but there are at least four different turtles wandering around our house at the moment and we haven’t had rain for days and aren’t forecasted to have any for days.  It’s strange.  I’ve looked in the various books I have and online, and people really don’t know shit.  Some sources say they don’t travel widely at all, others say they can travel 5 to 6 miles a day and that females, in particular, move around to look for the perfect place to lay her 3 to 8 eggs.  Some sources say they can live for over 100 years, others say 50 to 60 years.

Turtles are reptiles and have been on this earth for over 250 million years.  Sorry, creationists.  Box turtles are hinged, which means that they can close up their shells very tightly.  They aren’t born with that, though.  Their shells are soft and unhinged which makes them very vulnerable to predators.

These guys are under threat due to shrinking habitat.  And cars.  And idiots that use them for target practice (which is illegal, but idiots don’t care).

All of the turtles in Missouri are protected, with only two of the aquatic species considered game.  Those can be taken for food only under certain circumstances.

Supposedly, turtles mate and lay eggs in spring.  But all of these matings took place in September.  Maybe this is a last party before they dig themselves a space beneath the frost-line and go to sleep for a few months.

Most of September was hot and dry.  We’ve cooled off the past few days, with highs in the 70s.  I haven’t seen a turtle since.  I miss them.

 

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Mainlining Books

I’m a book addict.

When events overwhelm me, I reach for a book. Losing myself in a story is the best way I know to cope with the disappointments in life.

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Increasingly, here in America, reading feels like a revolutionary act.

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Not to brag, but I can and have read a book a day. Not real thin ones, either. I sort of inhale without chewing that first time through. If it’s a good one, I’ll re-read it. Sometimes right away. Other times, not.

I’ve missed some things that way, but I can’t help it. A compelling story grabs me and I’ve got to find out what happens next.

All of which is kind of preamble to confessing that I’ve joined a book club.

I’m not real big on joining anything, ever. But I’ve admitted to being a bit lonely here in the deeply red state of Missouri, and I love books so much that I’m willing to gamble that other people who love books will not be total assholes.

And so far, it’s going okay.  The club meets once a month, for one hour. It’s all white, all women over the age of 50, about 10 or 11 of us. The list is selected in advance. It’s generated by the club members, each one recommending one or two books. I’ve read everything I’m interested in reading from their lists of last year and this year.

I’m already obsessing over how the hell I’m going to recommend one book. One book! That’s torture! There are so many!

And I take the act of recommending a book or an author extremely seriously. To admit to loving a book is a revealing act. It tells what moves you, what makes you think. And there is a jealousy in it as well, because when I read a great book, or a great sentence, I’m jealous of that skill/talent. I only recommend books (or authors) I really love. And, I try to match a book to the reader, if possible.

I was recently introduced to Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Series. Book one was on my book club’s list for last year. Book two is this month’s read. Well, there is no way in hell that an obsessive compulsive like myself can read this year’s without reading last year’s first. And I found the books sufficiently compelling that I ordered the whole thing. It’s ferocious story telling. Not for the faint of heart, and not because of the violence, of which there is some, but because of the truth telling about women’s friendships, and humanity in general.  The series covers a friendship over five or six decades, and everything that is life is in there.  It was disappointing, but not surprising, that none of the other book club members were sufficiently interested in reading the series, and that most didn’t like the second book.  I don’t fit in anywhere anymore.

The pressure of selecting one book sends me down to my library. The library is arranged so that the non-fiction is on one side of the room, and my fiction is on the other, alphabetically by author. The non-fiction is grouped by subject matter. So, for instance, all American history is on one shelf, despite being by different authors. A Sorrow in our Heart, the story of Tecumseh, is near Washington, for instance.

I’ve got a raft of books about Katrina, all by different authors. A section on plagues and viruses. I get into a subject and read to satiation, I guess. Another large section on the “war on drugs.” More on evolution and the paleolithic. Nature is another big section.  Then there are memoirs, biographies and autobiographies.

Decision number one, then, is fiction or non-fiction? I have no idea how to decide that. Although, it does seem that the non-fiction tends to be weightier, thicker, more pages than fiction. And I don’t want people to hate me for “making” them read a big ass book. Because, as I’ve learned, not everyone reads or wants to read a book a day. I’m weird and I know it.

If I just focus on fiction, it’s worse. There are certain authors I love, just love everything they’ve written. How to select one? I love them for different reasons, none more important than another.

Maybe what I should do is to count how many books I have by one author and pick my favorite book by that writer. That would make Larry McMurtry the winner (21),* and that would make Lonesome Dove my pick for the club. But jeez, Lonesome Dove is 945 pages. I’m trying to make a friend, not enemies.

Genre comes up in our club discussions. Several of us have said that we don’t like science fiction or fantasy. Few of us, even those with grandkids, have read any of the Harry Potter books. I read Tolkien in my teens and never felt the need to re-visit. Comic books I left behind even earlier. Frankenstein is on our list. I’ve never read it, don’t really want to, and haven’t decided if I will or not.

I used to read lots of mysteries, but I get bored with formulaic writing. That happens faster with some authors than others, and hasn’t happened yet with a few (Minette Walters, I’m talking about you).

I’ve read romances, but again, the formulaic conventions get old. Never got into westerns, except for Larry McMurtry.

Though reading needs to be encouraged, it is surprising that some people essentially read the same book, over and over again.   That’s how formulaic some of these genres can get, and is a very good reason to expand beyond genre.

Authors that surprise me are the ones I go back to again and again. Not just with plot, but with insight or humor or a concept or a character; something that stays with me after I’ve finished a book. Most of the writers in my fiction library are white, probably mostly male, but I enjoy the hell out of writers who take me inside of another culture, time, or place.  Maybe that’s why I don’t feel an urge to travel.  A good book can take me to a place, share it’s history, it’s culture, it’s people, with a depth and insight no tourist could approach.

But as I’ve said previously, I learned that I’m a middle brow from Susan Jacoby’s book, The Age of American Unreason. So while my reading tastes may not be mass market, I’m hardly an intellectual. There are a whole bunch of dead white guys I’ve never read, and probably never will.

When I’m between books, I get kinda like an addict needing a fix…restless, short tempered, bitchy.  I’m between books, right now.  Just finished Sherman Alexie’s new one, called You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.  It was beautiful.

You’d think, with my impatience, that ebooks would be right up my alley.  You would be wrong about that, and I can’t even tell you why, exactly.  I have a Kindle, and just didn’t like it…didn’t like having to charge it, didn’t like how it felt in my hands…it felt so wrong.  Fortunately, the plastic casing over the wiring disintegrated, and now I have an excuse to not use it anymore.

So, as a reader, I’m still stunned to find myself living in a country that is actively devaluing knowledge, education, learning, and where alternative facts, fake news, science denial, and ignorance of history is preferable to reality.  The Dark Ages were awful enough that I’m amazed people want to repeat them.

Dictators share at least one characteristic in common:  They want to control what people know, what they think, and what they say.  There is a good reason that Mao Tse Tung and his regime burned books by the thousands, closed universities, and otherwise discouraged independent thought.  He said, “the more books you read, the more stupid you become.”

I will take that as a compliment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Not everything he’s written, just what I own.

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