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Loose Cannon, Part II

Summary of Part I: Iraq military vet Brandon Douglas wins the lottery and decides to campaign against voting, which he thinks plays into the hands of corrupt governments.   He uses his fame as the lottery winner to help draw attention to videos he makes in which he argues his position.  In his movies he refers to himself as Loose Cannon.  His gorgeous girlfriend Jeesee gives him grief but otherwise helps him out.  National commentator Lyman Lovett ridicules him, but Douglas regards it as free publicity.

The degree to which his videos are winning converts is still unknown.  


PART II, FADE IN:   

INT - LIVING ROOM - LATER

A terrycloth robe mostly covers Jeesee but her good looks are anything but camouflaged. She takes a seat on the couch next to Brandon. 

She doesn't look happy.

Everything is set up for the video shoot but he seems agitated.


JEESEE
Speak.

BRANDON
It doesn't make sense -- that news commentary.  Why put a light on something that is so insignificant?

JEESEE
Well, you're a news item, like you said.

BRANDON
Maybe that's all it is.

JEESEE
What else could it be?

BRANDON
I don't know. Usually challenges to the status quo are ignored until they reach a certain critical mass.  At that point they're ridiculed.  I haven't reached a critical mass yet, so why was I ridiculed?

JEESEE
Maybe their idea of critical mass is different than yours.

BRANDON
Not orders of magnitude different.

JEESEE
Well, are you gonna sit here and spin your wheels or make a video?


He hands her some printed pages.


JEESEE
What's this?


EXT - YOUVIEW - DAY

Employees enter a glass-and-steel building.  A sign in front reads: YouView - Videos that Reshape Our World


INT - YOUVIEW OFFICE - DAY

Three young male employees are watching Brandon's latest video on a big screen computer while picking at their takeout.

ON SCREEN we see Brandon addressing Jeesee as they move idly in front of the beach posters.

She reads her lines from a script.


BRANDON
Jeesee, I'm trying to put an end to a bad story.  Will you help me?

JEESEE
Only if I can call you by your real name.

BRANDON
Deal.  We're in a long story that has caused death and destruction throughout human history.  We think we can change it by voting in presidential elections, but we can't.

JEESEE
The elections are fixed.

BRANDON
They are.  They're fixed before we vote.

JEESEE
Yet people still vote.  They think a high voter turnout keeps us from having a dictator.

BRANDON
And that's where they're mistaken. George Will wrote recently that in three German elections, from 1932-1933, turnout averaged 86 percent.  As he put it, "The elections decided which mobs would rule the streets and who would inhabit concentration camps."

JEESEE
So if voting doesn't work, what can we do?

BRANDON
Vote outside the system.

JEESEE
Vote outside the system.  That sounds like think outside the box.

BRANDON
That's right.  To think outside the box you've got to vote outside the system.  Listen: The powers that be tell you if you're eligible to vote, tell you where to vote, tell you when to vote, and give you a lineup of candidates who all sing the same tune.

JEESEE
Then they count the votes.

BRANDON
Yes, they count the votes, not you or me.  Then after that's done, something called the electoral college casts the final vote, the only vote that counts.  How crazy is that?  Are you a member of the electoral college?

JEESEE
No.

BRANDON
Neither is anyone else who puts in an honest day's work.  But when those votes are tallied, they produce winners and losers.  And the winners rule us.

JEESEE
It's a racket.

BRANDON
It's a polished racket.  People think this time will be different.  They're always wrong.  It's never different.  It's designed that way.

JEESEE
We're trapped.

BRANDON
As it turns out, we're not.  We're not, Jeesee.  I'm asking anyone who wants to think outside the box to vote for me -- today, tomorrow, this weekend, but sometime soon.  You vote by liking this video.

JEESEE
Can anyone vote?

BRANDON
Of course.

JEESEE
Will that be fair?

BRANDON
As fair as a raise of hands.

JEESEE
But that means kids or foreigners can vote.  Maybe even convicted felons.

BRANDON
I hope they do.  Whoever votes will be saying they reject root and branch the system we have now.

JEESEE
And they vote for you, Loose Cannon, by liking this video.

BRANDON
That's right.

JEESEE
But they're really voting for you, Brandon Douglas.

BRANDON
No, they're not voting for me.    Their vote does not have the potential to put me in office to make decisions that affect their lives.

JEESEE
But then who's going to run things?

BRANDON
Wrong question.  We will run our own lives free of government force.  We will rely on voluntary cooperation.

JEESEE
But someone's going to be elected president.  All of this is just a waste of time.

BRANDON
Not if enough people like this video.  If they like it they shouldn't vote on Election Day.  If enough people stay home, it will repudiate whoever wins the government's election.

JEESEE
A lot of people stay home because they don't care who wins.  How will that repudiate anything?

BRANDON
Those people probably won't like this video.

JEESEE
Maybe.  I don't know.


Jeesee turns away from her script to give the camera a caustic "Can you believe this?" look.


BRANDON
What if we get more likes than the total number of voters?  What if we get millions more?  Tens of millions more?  Those people will care.  Maybe for the first time in their lives.

JEESEE
. . . I lost my place.

BRANDON
What I'm proposing is nothing new.  It's boycotting an organization you don't like.


Jeesee tosses her script.


JEESEE
Now you're starting to make sense.

BRANDON
Great.

JEESEE
But I said "starting."  You're a long way from convincing me.

BRANDON
Maybe my next video will.

JEESEE
I look forward to it, BRANDON!


Brandon smiles and turns to the camera.


BRANDON
And until next time, this is Loose Cannon saying take care of yourself and stay away from voting booths.


A YouView employee burps.


EMPLOYEE
God, she's hot.


EXT - COMPANY JET - DAY

Establishing shot of jet cruising above the clouds.


INT - JET - DAY

GARRISON GREEN, 30s and lean, dozes on a sofa.  Head of YouView, his relaxed attire is straight from GQ.

Seated across from him is his attractive secretary, KAREN WALSH, typing on a thin laptop.

She pauses to take a call on her smartphone.


KAREN
Karen . . . Hey, Brad. . .
(Glances at Garrison)
He's grinding some Zs right now. . . Well, Garrison believes he's a poster boy for PTSD, and it's best to leave him alone.  He's a welcome distraction.
(laughs)
Or that!


Garrison lifts an eye open.


GARRISON
(mouthing)
Who?

KAREN
 (mutes her phone)
Brad Romney.

GARRISON
Who?

KAREN
The guy from the Office of Internet Responsibility.


He closes his eye again.


GARRISON
Christ.

KAREN/PHONE
Brad, listen, Douglas is a complete loon.  A sideshow.  Just relax and enjoy the idiocies. . .  Yeah, he's getting a lot of hits but he doesn't know it.  And he never will.  Never, never, so stop worrying. . . Shutting him down would only create sympathy.  Let him rave.  As far as he knows he's pretty much talking to himself.


INT - TV NEWS STUDIO - DAY

Lyman Lovett delivers the news.


LYMAN LOVETT
The Pentagon today issued an apology to Uganda for killing 22 members of a wedding party.  The wedding was thought to be a cover for terrorist Almeni Al-Umdaga.  It is now believed that Al-Umdaga, who suffers from headaches, was in a nearby hospital undergoing a surgical procedure to disable one-half of his brain.

Back home, the presidential candidates staged rallies and energized their audiences with glib rhetoric.  Meanwhile, the Department of Labor said consumer confidence rose on the rumor that the government was considering a helicopter drop.  A helicopter drop is a slang term for giving consumers money to spend.  Presumably the Treasury would hand it out after the Federal Reserve created it.

Since wages have been stagnant for years or even decades, depending on who you believe, and given that economies don't thrive unless people buy things, free money from the government might be the stimulus the economy needs to get growing again.  And by golly if this revives the economy we have found the cure for world poverty.

Of course there's the trivial matter of producing things for people to buy and what those items will cost, but let's not get distracted by details.


EXT - 57th FIGHTING GROUP RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Two VETERANS, one of whom is Sam Harris, follow a stone path leading to the entrance, marked "Headquarters 57th Fighting Group".

Located off a runway at PDK airport in Atlanta, the exterior of the 57th has the stylish simplicity of a 1940s European farmhouse.

A WW II-era fighter plane and jeep contribute to the war setting outside.  A mortised split-rail fence fronts the building.


INT - 57th - CONTINUOUS

The vets head around a curved corridor to the seating area.  The walls of the corridor are mock sandbags, giving one the feeling of entering a trench.

A young HOSTESS greets the vets with a smile.  Small planes, including corporate jets, intermittently take off and land on the runway beyond the windows.

1940s Big Band music flowing from the 57th’s overhead speakers add to the nostalgic setting.


57TH HOSTESS
Welcome back!  They're waiting for you!


She nods at a dining room at a far end.


INT - DINING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The two vets join Travis Roden and THREE OTHER VETERANS at a large table.  A young WAITRESS brings them two bottles of American beer.


VETERAN 1
Where you guys been?  They're almost out of beer.


Travis stands up suddenly. He's well-lubricated.


TRAVIS
We thought you'd gone over to the enemy, Harris.

SAM
(still standing)
You mean Douglas?

TRAVIS
I mean Douglas, Loose Cannon, back-stabber, whatever the hell his name is.


They sit.


SAM
Well, an enemy that rich could buy all the support he needs. Even us.

TRAVIS
You saying we're for sale?

SAM
Isn't everyone?  "Virtue rises from conquered temptation."  How's that for a quote?  No one here's turned down a million bucks, right?  Or am I drinking with saints?

VETERAN 1
You're drinking with the greatest fighting force that ever pissed in the Kabul River.

SAM
So he's not planning to help veterans.  So what?  None of us are, either.

TRAVIS
None of us fell into a boxcar full of money.

SAM
So tell me what you would you do with a billion dollars.

TRAVIS
I don't know, but it wouldn't be nothing.

SAM
Actually, he is doing something.  Something big.  He's trying to uproot our war and welfare machine.

TRAVIS
Give me a break!  The guy's a freak show.  If he wasn't a rich lottery winner nobody'd notice him.  He's a disgrace to everything this country stands for.

SAM
And in your astute view, what is that?

TRAVIS
Freedom!  The land of the free!

SAM
And how exactly does he disgrace that?

TRAVIS
By trying to overthrow the government, dummy.  You can't have freedom without good government.  Otherwise you have chaos.

SAM
You really think there's such a thing as good government?

TRAVIS
Yeah.  I do.  I really do.  I think there's a real possibility that someday we could have good government again.

SAM
Freedom and government.  Our boy Cannon would say they don't mix.

TRAVIS
Yeah?  Who the hell is he, Thomas Jefferson?  He's an ex-grunt with an attitude who's been reading the wrong books.  Our founders believed in government and gave us a damn good country.  He's a traitor.  If the guy weren't certifiably crazy I'd punch his lights out.

VETERAN 2
Don't see why that should stop us.

VETERAN 3
He deserves more than a punch.

SAM
Humor me, guys.  Raise your hand if you love bombing backwater countries that have not attacked us or threatened to do so.

TRAVIS
Raise your hand if you think a soldier with a bully pulpit ought to be saying ugly things about our government.

VETERAN 3
Raise your hand if you think we ought to shoot the bastard.


Hands shoot up.


SAM
Because he said something you don't like?

VETERAN 3
The guy's trying to tear down everything we fought for.

SAM
Which is?

VETERAN 3
The freedom to vote for the government we want.

SAM
Look closer and you might notice we only have the freedom to vote for the government that government wants us to have.

TRAVIS
What?

SAM
Why isn’t None of the Above ever found on a ballot?  Why are we forced to choose between unacceptable choices?  What if we take a look at history, see a pattern of abuse from day one, and decide to scrap government altogether?  Or do we wait for the abuse to bring the roof down on our heads?  Or do we pretend there is no abuse, that American soldiers died for our freedom, rather than American empire?

VETERAN 3
All I know is he lives in a country where he can win a billion dollars with a two-dollar ticket.  Christ, man -- try doing that in North Korea or Cuba.

VETERAN 2
Or any other country.

TRAVIS
I say we kidnap him until the election is over and wrap a big towel around his mouth.
(laughter)

SAM
He's hired some bodyguards.  Too bad he didn't hire some out of work vets.  I know a few.

TRAVIS
Ask him!  Call him up.  Say, "What's with not hiring vets?"  I'm sure you'd love his answer.

SAM
You're on.


INT - BEDROOM - MORNING

Jeesee hands a smartphone to Brandon while pointing to some figures on the screen.  She's gloating.

JEESEE
Guess what?

BRANDON
So?  I question those numbers.

JEESEE
Well, I don't.  They say no one likes your campaign videos, other than a few loons. I'll bet most of the votes are really votes for me.

BRANDON
Yeah, that was my fault. I thought your looks would help but they're distorting the results.  Probably.

JEESEE
Based on the comments, I would say definitely.  Your two weeks are up.  It's time to do something rational with your life -- BRANDON.


Brandon starts to hand the phone back but hesitates. He has an idea.  He taps the screen's keyboard, views the results.


JEESEE
What are you doing?


He taps the phone several more times, puts it to his ear and waits.


BRANDON/PHONE
Good morning.  Can I speak to a senior analyst please?


INT - YOUVIEW RECEPTIONIST - DAY

She's pretty and perky.


RECEPTIONIST/PHONE
Certainly.  Anyone in particular?


INT - BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

BRANDON
I don't know anyone in particular.  Pick one for me.

RECEPTIONIST/PHONE
Ah, sure.  One moment please.  May I ask who's calling?

BRANDON
Loose Cannon.

RECEPTIONIST/PHONE
Excuse me?

BRANDON
The guy who won the lottery.

RECEPTIONIST/PHONE
One moment.

BRANDON
(to Jeesee)
Hang on.


He puts the call on speaker.


TOM/PHONE
Hello, this is Tom.

BRANDON
Hi, Tom.  This is Brandon Douglas, aka Loose Cannon.  I have a question about the videos posted on your website.

TOM/PHONE
(cautious)
Okay.

BRANDON
For each video you show the number of views it's had.  How is that total arrived at?

TOM/PHONE
Do you read Java code?

BRANDON
Don’t read any code.  How about English?

TOM/PHONE
Well . . . okay.  Our software checks to be sure the visitor has viewed at least half the video and has not viewed it previously.  If both conditions are true, then the total is incremented by one.  Same with likes.  If the visitor votes we increment the totals accordingly.

BRANDON
That's it?  It's that straightforward?

TOM/PHONE
No, but it’s close.  We do what we can to keep the counts from being artificially inflated.  We’re close but not perfect.

BRANDON
One more question.  Suppose you wanted to promote a certain video.  How would you do that?

TOM/PHONE
That wouldn't be up to us.  A customer would pay to have his video sponsored.  Sponsored videos are associated with specific search tags and appear identified that way at the top of search results.

BRANDON
So, a customer can’t buy views?

TOM/PHONE
No, of course not.

BRANDON
No tinkering with the numbers?

TOM/PHONE
No.

BRANDON
What if your company found a particular video offensive?  Say, politically offensive.  And what if it got a lot of hits?  Would you just hold your nose and let it alone?  Would you delete it?

TOM/PHONE
We wouldn’t delete it.

BRANDON
Would you do anything else?

TOM/PHONE
Not as a matter of policy.

BRANDON
Not policy.  Interesting. . .  You know I'm the rich lottery winner, right?

TOM/PHONE
I guess.  Yeah.

BRANDON
So you know what I'm about to say is on the level.  I would like to offer you a part-time job.  A very lucrative part-time job.   Plus a fat bonus.  A humongous bonus.  Are you interested?
  (A long silence ensues)
Tom? 

TOM/PHONE
I don't like the sound of this.

BRANDON
I'm serious.  I need a little help.

TOM/PHONE
What's the job?

BRANDON
Chief information officer of my campaign.  Here's the good news: You don't have to leave your present job.  You'll actually have two jobs.  Mine will require very little time on your part.  All I ask for is accuracy in the information you post about my videos.

TOM/PHONE
What information are you talking about?

BRANDON
Honest totals.  Do you accept my offer?  I can wire you the bonus today, this afternoon.

TOM/PHONE
Why me?

BRANDON
You have access to the information I want.  I want verification that the totals on display are accurate.

TOM/PHONE
What makes you think your numbers are off?

BRANDON
Call it a hunch.

TOM/PHONE
Huh.

BRANDON
What do you think?

TOM/PHONE
I could get canned.

BRANDON
Why is that?

TOM/PHONE
Call it a hunch.

BRANDON
What I hear you saying is, the numbers are off.  How far?


Silence.


BRANDON
Tom?  Will a half million dollars loosen your tongue?


More silence, then--


TOM/PHONE
Orders of magnitude.  Maybe.

BRANDON
My friend, one of the advantages of being very rich is I can afford expensive lawyers.  Let's not go that way.  Bad publicity.  You and I can arrange things, I believe.

TOM/PHONE
(to himself)
Jesus Christ.

BRANDON
Do we have a deal?

TOM/PHONE
Listen -- I mean, who the hell are you?  You're just a voice over the phone.  I'm hanging--

BRANDON
--Let's do it face to face, then.  Shall we Skype?  Do you know what I look like?

TOM/PHONE
Damn it!  I was afraid of this.  

BRANDON
It isn’t too late.   Go straight.  Let the totals fall where they land.  If your boss gets upset call me and I’ll find you a better job.  And you’ll still get the bonus.  

TOM/PHONE
 (tortured laugh)
Upset.  That’s good.  I’ll be fired on the spot.

BRANDON
Let me know when you're canned.  Okay?

TOM/PHONE
Yeah.

BRANDON
I'm serious.  Call me.


The line goes dead.  He looks at Jeesee.


BRANDON
It's in Tom's hands.


EXT - PARK - DAY

Brandon is strolling along a paved walking trail with Jeesee, who's recording him with a camera.


BRANDON
In my last installment the love of my life asked me where this campaign of mine was leading. I'm about to tell you.  My idea is simple.

But let me back up.  You’re the eternal voter trying to deal honestly with governments.  You cast an honest vote but get a dishonest return. You get a dishonest return because government is inherently dishonest.

Remember, government is the big fish in the pond.  It doesn’t like other big fish.  It doesn’t like competition.  It allows no competition.  You might think of it as a monopoly.  If you do you would be correct.  It doesn’t have a monopoly on shoes or drugs.  It has a monopoly on violence. 

We wear our little "I voted!" stickers with pride, showing off our patriotism.  We voted, we made a choice, even if the choice was an illusion. Even if the elections are a racket.

No matter how futile, we stay the course and keep voting.

And by voting we keep the racket going.

This is democracy.  We throw the rascals out and bring in new rascals.  Until finally everything falls on our heads.  Our heads, not theirs.

I'm saying let's stop this insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting better results.  Let's stop voting.

Here's the good news: Most of the stuff government does doesn't need doing by anyone.

We don't need a ministry of education.

We don't need a ministry of drugs.

We don't need a ministry of the internet.

We don't need armies of spies spying on us.

We don't need tax collectors. We don't need taxes.

We don't need a central bank diluting the value of money we're forced to use so that bankers and speculators can get filthy rich.

We don't need a warmonger-in-chief picking fights all over the planet.

As free people we would address the problem of defending our land rather than invading the land of others.

As free people we can solve the problems that need solving.

Without government.  Without ordering people around.

Listen: If you plan to vote in the government's election, give this video a thumbs down.

If you give this video a thumbs up, then please don't vote in the government's election.

Most of you already don't vote.  There have always been more nonvoters than voters.

But I'm asking you to do more than not voting in their elections.

I'm asking you to say why you're not voting in their elections.

I'm asking you to affirm your right to live free and respect the freedom of others, by liking this video.

I said my idea is simple.  I hope you agree.  And I hope you will like this video and not vote for a political candidate, ever again.

I can see the questions piling up.  I will answer them as best I can in future videos.

Until then, find a high place and stay there, my friends.  Don't get caught up in the senseless cattle droppings of the political season. Think for yourself.  Like this video.


They stop walking.   She stops recording.


JEESEE
Either you're crazy or the rest of the world is.


He looks at her for a moment, lost in thought.


BRANDON
I need you to turn the camera back on.

BRANDON
 (to camera)
If enough people like this video we'll be in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Tuesday afternoon.  It's a nice place to walk and talk.  Come join us.


INT- BEDROOM - NIGHT

Brandon sits up suddenly from a nightmare.  He's frightened.  Jeesee sleeps soundly beside him.   He fumbles for his cell phone and places a call to his buddy ROB.


INT - ROB'S STUDY - NIGHT

ROB, late-20s and a ponytail,  sits at a computer terminal surrounded by books stacked high on the floor.


ROB
(into phone)
What brings you here at this hour?


INTERCUT Brandon and Rob.


BRANDON
You still up?

ROB
For awhile yet.

BRANDON
You've seen my videos?

ROB
Yeah, I have.

BRANDON
What do you think?

ROB
Jeesee's good-looking, and you've gotten uglier.

BRANDON
About my message!

ROB
Naive.  Funny.  Mostly naive.

BRANDON
You think so?

ROB
You do, too.  But you're faking it.  You know you can't get rid of government even if you did the impossible and convinced no one to vote.

BRANDON
If no one voted where would they find legitimacy?

ROB
Beats me.  They'd come up with something.  But it's a point that will never be reached.  People will vote, government will grow, and matters will get worse.

BRANDON
People are fed up this time.  They're looking for a better solution.  They're ready to step outside the box.  I'm offering it.

ROB
When people get sick they go to a doctor not an executioner.  Elections are for choosing a better doctor.  But they get quacks instead.  Trouble is, they can’t tell the difference.  

BRANDON
A lot of people see me as the doctor.

ROB
Not enough to make a difference.

BRANDON
It's a start.  Next time--

ROB
--Next time you might not be around.  You're an enemy of the state.

BRANDON
True, but I'm nothing.  Getting rid of me would be a waste of time.

ROB
I can promise you this: If you graduate from a nuisance to a threat, you will be killed.

BRANDON
Then I won’t graduate.

ROB
I’m serious, Douglas.  We have a national security state.  It sees enemies everywhere.  It’s the perfect paranoid.  It will kill anything that looks even mildly threatening.

BRANDON
I’m just a damn redneck who got lucky and decided to shoot off his mouth.  Yeah, I’ve got some money in the banks but they own the banks.

ROB
I’ve got a question.

BRANDON
Yeah?

ROB
How many presidents do you suppose have crossed the CIA since November 22, 1963?

BRANDON
Come on.  Come on, that’s all talk.  No one's proved anything.

ROB
No proof is needed.  Only the possibility.  Subsequent presidents know what might've happened back then. Who therefore really determines national security policy?

BRANDON
What's all this have to do with my videos?

ROB
The reigns of control are not in the hands of the voters.  Even if no one votes the national security state will carry on.

BRANDON
You don't know that.

ROB
Who controls the muscle, the firepower?  Who are the enforcers?  A lot of bureaucracies have their own thugs now, but the real enforcers are part of national security.  No one challenges national security -- not since JFK.  Not Congress.  Not the Court.  Not even the IRS.  Especially not the voters.

BRANDON
Look, the people elected Truman, and Truman got the National Security Act passed.  The voters were in control.


A moment of patient silence ensues.


ROB
I'm glad you called.  I was going to call you and ask about your security measures.

BRANDON
They're fine.  Look, if enough voters boycott the election, Washington will notice.

ROB
I'm sure they will.

BRANDON
But you think it's futile.

ROB
At most it will annoy them. They're the enemy but they don't want to be seen that way.  You stand a chance of annoying them.  Congratulations on winning the lottery, by the way.

BRANDON
Yeah.  Thanks.  It's come in handy.

ROB
It's allowed you to become all you can be.

BRANDON
So, what would you do?

ROB
If I won the lottery?  I sure as hell wouldn't be on a crusade to end voting.  You're promoting anarchy.  People believe anarchy is complete chaos, the end of civilization.  The only law is the law of the jungle.  No matter how bad government gets, they’ll always regard anarchy as a rung lower. It would be easier to get people to change their religion than to get them to embrace anarchy.

BRANDON
Maybe not.  Life under government is increasingly chaotic and dangerous.  They see that.  They also see that in most day-to-day matters they're dealing with others on a voluntary basis.  That's how they get things done.  That's what anarchy is.

ROB
True, but most people wouldn't trust a social order without the iron fist of the state hanging over it.

But I haven't answered your question.  If I won the lottery I'd hide my money.  The government is spending itself into oblivion.  It won't stop until it collapses, but it will delay that day by stealing what it can, any way it can.

BRANDON
I don't have your patience.  I've got to try this.

ROB

I know, man.   Don't neglect security.   The government doesn't.

END OF PART II

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