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Coffee, Voting, and Acceptance Monday

Whether your weekend was filled with snow or rain, I decided to with some coffee, that seems fitting for Monday:

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And now on to something that we can call content for the blog. It might sound handy to have a Sherpa  help you carry your shopping bags down mall stairs during this holiday season?  Well, speaking of Sherpas, the NY Times got my attention with an article titled, Why Sherpas from a remote village walked for hours to vote in Nepal’s elections. The story of appreciation and benefits of a democracy… and the excitement of voting.

Nepal’s Sherpas are known as skilled mountaineers who help climbers in their adventures up summits. For years, they have lived in difficult circumstances with few rights and benefits. In the past 28 years, they have had 26 changes of government.

This summer, local elections were for the first time in 20 years. For Nepalis, they celebrate these elections and have a great appreciation of democracy. According to the article there was a 65% voter turnout. That shows voter “want to”. For many villages, medical treatment is 6 hours away from the village and education is only basic. As Sonam Sherpa summarized, “You should demand basic things like telephones, drinking water, health care and good schools“. That sounds like some good political talk!

For our pic o’ day, this made me laugh. This just seems like acceptance… and understanding!

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“Walk, Don’t Run To The Nearest Exit”

History.com gives us the account of the Brooklyn Fire on December 5, 1876. (wikipedia account)  It was an event that killed almost 300 people. Deaths that were later attributed to negligence of the owners, designers of the building, and management of the Brooklyn Theater. Here’s a brief recitation of the events and it effects thereafter.

The Two Orphans, was a popular play, causing almost all of the 900 theater seats to be filled that night.  It was between the 4th and 5th Act, with the stage back curtain still down. A gas light ignited some extra scenery stored behind the stage, near some straw. The stage manager initially did not realize the significance of the flames. Because there were no buckets of water, and the water hose was not working, he directed the stage hands to extinguish the fire with long stage poles. That was not successful, and the flames began to spread.

In spite of the flames and smoke, the actors continued to stay in character. Many in the audience grew restless,  but many thought that it was all part of the play.

Soon, the actors fell out of character. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle later reported that the primary actor said to the crowd, “There is no danger; the flames are a part of the play.”As she spoke,” the Eagle reported that “a burning piece of wood fell at her feet, and she uttered an involuntary exclamation of alarm. This broke the spell which had heretofore held the audience.”

Panic erupted and the stage manager J. W. Thorpe appeared, urging everyone to exit in an order manner. But, the audience was now thoroughly panicked and ignored the people on the stage.  Because a narrow staircase was the only the exit from the balcony  and that there were no fire escapes; the stampede resulted in many being crushed, while others were trapped. When firefighters arrived, it was too late. And 1/3 of the audience could not exit in time.All this had occurred in approximately 10 minutes.

Later, it was estimated that approximately 300 people died. A dangerous condition had been created with no safety precautions, in the event of a fire. Looking back, it was foreseeable and preventable. The attachments above give further detail in the design of the building and the negligence of management. Further details of the actors, including one who ran to his dressing room and tried to climb out of his window… only to get stuck in the window and ultimately die.

In 1919, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in an opinion (Schenck case) about the first amendment application and free speech that no free speech safeguard would apply to someone “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing panic“. Thereafter, people took that wording from that opinion to mean that shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater was against the law, with no protection of free speech.

In 1969, the Supreme Court heard the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio . It involved a Ku Klux Klan leader, Charles Brandenburg, who had been charged with inciting group members at a rally. He had used inflammatory language and racial slurs including calling “revengeance,”.  Ohio prosecutors had interpreted his speech as a call to violence. Thus, using the same Schenck case regarding shouting “Fire“, prosecutors charged Brandenburg as breaking the law without the protection of free speech.

Brandenburg continued to claim that the First Amendment protected his speech. The Supreme Court agreed with him, in contrast with the earlier Schenck decision.

According to the opinion, advocacy, even when it encourages law-breaking, helps the marketplace of ideas. Based on this opinion, it was clarified that shouting Fire in a crowded theater was protected by free speech… even though it is not a sensible idea.  There is one caveat to that, lest you think I am encouraging wild hollering at the theater!

If prosecutors can prove that someone incites “imminent lawlessness” by falsely shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater, then they can still be charged and convicted. Merely shouting “Fire” is protected. A change/clarification since 1969.

I know I got a little carried away with lots of words for this blog. But… this day in history grabbed me with lots of effects on the law. I will try to be shorter tomorrow… with lots of pic o’s to make up for it!! I promise!

Which leads me to the feeling that we need something of a smile for our pic o’ day. Isn’t life Grand!

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Consuming the Consumer?

Coming out of Thanksgiving, did you feel like this? Maybe I am blog confessing!

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Of course, this ad tells us it’s that time of year, not to mention that it’s a bit creepy. Right? Hopefully he is just being funny!IMG_1582

Which brings us to the real topic of being a consumer (since we are being bombarded with ads online and on TV that we need to shop)  and whether or not the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is protecting us, or slowing down business. (Is it causing Air Jordans to go up in price?)

The Agency was originally created under the Obama administration. It’s first director touts its accomplishments by stating that nearly 12 billion dollars were returned to consumers who were “cheated or mistreated by banks or other large financial companies“.

President Trump tweeted that the leadership of the CFPB “has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick. Financial institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!”.

Here’s the politics as described in USA Today (article) It’s a story about dueling appointments and why.

On Friday, the original Obama-appointed pick stepped down and appointed his own replacement, his chief-of-staff. (Leandra English)  Under the law, the appointment names an acting director until the Senate can confirm a new pick of President Trump.

On Friday, Trump announced that he was appointing his budget director to also serve as the new acting director of the agency. (Mick Mulvaney) Mulvaney once characterized the consumer protection agency as a “sad, sick joke“.  Mulvaney said that he intends to head the agency and continue his current job, until a new agency director is appointed.

So the question for the courts becomes, does President Trump have the right to name a replacement until the Senate confirms a nominee, or does the current appointment by the prior agency director stand, until confirmation of a new appointee.

Why is this appointment so important. Well, if the supporters of the agency are right, then this agency protects consumers. If the Trump administration is correct, then the agency must be changed or dismantled because it creates major obstacles with his burdensome regulations.

Politics! The article details more about the agency. But this story and the upcoming appointment fight?  It makes holiday shopping and crowds seem like a walk in the park!

Finally, I guess I felt that I had license to post our first holiday pic o’ day. Here we go!

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Harassment in the News

I always like to start the week with some positivity!

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Because sometimes the real stuff seems pretty arduous! Like the enjoyment of Thanksgiving; but maybe not the week leading up to it.

So let’s talk about food for a second, and the psychology of it. When we arrive at a restaurant, most of us don’t have in our mind that we intend to eat dessert. In fact, you are probably like me. You are thinking that you need to be a little careful, because too much food means too much weight.

Then at the end of the meal, the server discusses the desserts and sometimes even brings the dessert tray to the table. All of a sudden, that chocolate cake or peanut butter pie causes us to forget our immediate eating worries. Psychologists call it “present-focus bias“. What is right in front of us is what is important.

To date, I have not written about the instances of sexual harassment in the news. In fact, I suspect that many men are not discussing it. They just agree that it is wrong and that things need to change. This is a topic where there is no argument.

Sexual harassment is the present focus bias. Not long ago, it was racial issues and police brutality. Then guns and violence were in the news. Soon, the news was discussing whether Confederate monuments should be removed.

So I thought I would just give you some thoughts to consider. The dictionary defines sexual harassment as, “Uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate“.

This falls within such framework that includes student/teacher and employer/employee.

As to employer/employee considerations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace harassment with these thoughts and potential guidelines:

Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

This is a topic that could be a long blog. For now, I just wanted to use this forum to put these thoughts out there.

Hopefully, the current headlines will serve to truly bring awareness to the problem where no one feels that they just have to accept harassment, or have fear of speaking up, or take action to bring about change. For however long this is our primary focus, it should remain a focus. Maybe, it won’t just fade away into the news cycle

And for pic o’ day… this just makes me laugh. It’s all in a name!

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Lincoln Media Versus Trump Media

Recently, I have seen messages on Facebook that are being passed around by Trump supporters, that basically say that never before has a President been so attacked by people and the liberal media. Then, they issue their “unbiased” request to “leave him alone and give him a chance“.

This isn’t a blog about whether to agree or disagree with how our President is being treated. Instead, I thought that a look back to Lincoln and the coverage of his Gettysburg Address speech might give you a smile.

First, just like many witnesses in car crashes, there was a difference of opinion about that day of November 19, 1863. Some memories in history:

One spectator noted that the weather was “bright and clear.” The Washington Chronicle reported rain showers.

Crowd estimates hearing the speech have ranged from 15,000 people crowding the town for the event. Others have recounted that there were over 100,000 people there.

Some went to their deaths insisting that Lincoln took a tour of the battlefield in the early morning hours on dedication day. Others swore that he stayed inside the Wills House until it was time to mount up for the procession to the ceremony (source)

Next is how the speech was reviewed by newspapers:

The Chicago Times reviewed the speech ,”The cheek of every American must tinge with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States”. This was the same newspaper that had described Lincoln by asking, “Is Lincoln less refined than a savage?”.

On November 23, 1863, they continued their assault on Lincoln and his speech with descriptions of  “ignorant rudeness,” “boorishness” and “vulgarity“, because they claimed that he included “political partisanship”..

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper known as The Patriot and Union, reviewed the speech and the President by saying that he, “acted without sense and without constraint in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party than for the glory of the nation and the honor of the dead.” How about that meanness? 150 years later, they retracted their bad review of Lincoln’s speech. (Here at Time.com)

The London Times described the ceremony as “rendered ludicrous by some of the luckless sallies of that poor President Lincoln”. They were already known as a regular critic of Lincoln and his Presidency.

I could keep inserting more critical reviews of the speech, but I will end with one from his hometown paper. On November 24, 1863, The Illinois State Register gave this scathing review, “Nothing could have been more inappropriate than to have invited the prince of jokers, Old Abe, to be present at the consecration of the Gettysburg Cemetery,” the Register wrote on Nov. 24, 1863.

“But having been invited, it was hoped by his apologists that he would at least refrain from his clownish jokes about standing over the new-made graves of thousands who had been slain in the recent battle“.

History records that Lincoln faced harsh criticism. And the worst was yet to come.

So when I see people angered by the way that Trump is being criticized today, it fits in with seeing through personal opinion. That’s expected.  I don’t understand why they think that Trump is facing a liberal media like never before.

One thing for certain, it didn’t impact Lincoln’s Sense of humor. He had some great quotes. “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”. And he described tact as “the ability to describe others as they see themselves”. And finally, “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”  

See…some history and opinion.

I hope you have a great weekend. These are the good days!

And for our pic o’ day, sometimes I feel like this. Right?

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How About Some Politics

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Here’s the thing… I stayed up too late last night. I went to to the Washington Wizards game and then I watched the election returns unfold on my iPad, on the way home. (I wasn’t driving. I promise.) And I am going to do something that I rarely do in the blog. Talk politics!

I think election returns are like watching a sporting event. In the end, you feel true victory or loss. And every election, the candidates always say that “this is the most important election”. Is that possible?

All I know is that Democrats feel pretty happy about New Jersey and Virginia. Republicans in Virginia…not so much. (It is uncertain based on recounts, but Democrats may have erased a 16 delegate Rebublican majority in the house of delegates. Unexpected!) I think New Jersey republicans had already braced themselves for the outcome. The true test of an independent is whether last night caused mixed emotions.

But here is a reminder on how politics works. The Trump tax bill is a good example. In that bill, there is a tax credit for “unborn children” that applies under the college saver tax break. Do you see what that does? The bill summary specifically recognizes “a child in utero”. Abortion advocates are being impacted by a tax bill.

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Why would that be part of a tax bill? Because including that can motivate the base to support the tax bill, just to support an anti-abortion piece of legislation. And that’s how politics works! Legislation and laws determined the real wins and losses.

As application to the elections yesterday, what does it mean? Well, I personally don’t think it means anything to the national stage except that those two states did exactly what they wanted to do. No national message is being sent, despite what is being reported.  Just my thought.

Virginia had already previously voted for Hilary in the national election. Why is the election of a democrat for governor (Northam) all that telling? I think it’s just a reminder that Virginia is going to do what it wants to do. And the pendulum will swing back republican again soon. And that’s politics!

In the end, It kind of makes me miss the simplicity of Forrest Gump. In the movie, Forrest tells people, “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump“. Wouldn’t life be simple if that’s how it really worked! I crave real!

 

And for pic o’ day, a reminder that no matter what happened in the elections, it’s no time to panic. Or maybe it is!

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A Bit of Confusing History?

It’s fair to wonder, “If they can give us an extra hour on Saturday night, why not an extra hour every night?”. I have no answer for that, but it certainly would give me an extra hour to be on my iPad each night. Right? And why wouldn’t I want to sleep more fitfully by looking at a lighted screen about 8 inches from my eyes before fading right off to sleep. But… I digress.

Which leads me to some “computer humor” that was posted by my friend, Ken Price. (must give him appropriate credit)

Boss: How good are you at PowerPoint?

Me: I Excel at it.

Boss: Was that a Microsoft Office pun?

Me: Word

As Larry the Cable Guy would say, “that’s funny right there“.

And now on to our blog about body parts. Let me post these three “thoughts” without initial comment, and then I will comment. I just couldn’t bring myself to title the blog Two Brains and a Body. The pictures/posts probably say and source it better than an attachment, so here goes:

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Next falls under once was a conspiracy but this is a real explanation on what happened that day. I can imagine that Bobby Kennedy thought that he was just looking out for his brother’s legacy:

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And finally, this is interesting history that also let’s us know what was a possible fear of George Washington, and how a friend looked out for him:

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I post these three “in death” facts without real answers as to why. They all fall under the category of the macabre. Partly because I have always wanted to use that word in Our Blog.

What do you think about this history?  I started this blog with the thought of picking up an extra hour every night. Then somehow, I managed to focus on odd things after death. I guess it’s the subconscious saying “More Time”. Or maybe I am just fascinated with it all… and I don’t really understand why we moved our clocks back.

And for our pic o’ day, after those pictures I needed something that makes me laugh.

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And now

History, Lies and a Liar

How about this as a starter for Our Monday blog? Did you refuse to turn back your clock? Not so much?

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I did learn on the internet this weekend that February 22, 2022 (2/22/22) falls on a Tuesday. We will be able to truly call it 2’sday. How about that! And you have to believe it because it was on the internet. Right?

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Which brings me to what is truth? It’s hard to know. Watching any TV right now pretty much guarantees a political ad. Right? I mean, come on!

That led me to wonder how often one politician calls another politician a liar. In the courtroom, that is a “no no”. Although, I have heard liar used. Usually, someone says of another lawyer, “You are practicing sharp practice” or “you are misrepresenting facts”. I have referenced Roger Clemens before, when he came up with a new word for liar during the Congressional steroid hearings. In discussing Andy Pettitte’s assertion that Clemens had injected steroids, Clemens simply dismissed the claim by saying that Pettitte just “misremembered“. A new word for liar.

That brings me to a portion of a transcript from a now deceased, Washington DC, defense lawyer. He also once owned the Baltimore Orioles. (Edward Bennett Williams, also known as EBW)

This transcript of his cross examination occurred during the time of the Watergate Scandal and subsequent hearings. John Connolly had served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Nixon and was charged with taking a bribe. Williams was defending Connolly.

As background, this is the same Connolly who had been Governor of Texas and had been seriously injured while riding in President Kennedy’s car, on the day that Kennedy was assassinated.

I could write a long blog, just about stories of Connolly. He was known as a master manipulator who would do things like instruct his aides to call airports where he was just arriving. The aides would ask airport announcers to page “John Connolly, you have an urgent call“. He wanted those at the airport to know that he was there, and also make him sound important.

That background also provides context to the following transcripts of EBW’s cross examination of Jake Jacobson. Jacobson was the principal bribery testimony witness against Connolly.  Jacobson was also a disbarred Texas lawyer.

In defending Connolly against these bribery charges, Williams obviously wanted to discredit Jacobson and destroy his credibility. This is how Williams (EBW) began Jacobson’s cross examination:

Q: Mr. Jacobson, you’re a liar, aren’t you, sir?

A: No, I’m not!

Q: Take a look at this document. It says “Statement of Jacob Jacobson” on the top. That’s you, isn’t it?

A: Yes.

Q: And that’s your signature on the bottom?

A: Yes.

Q: And the first sentence says, “I lied when I testified before the grand jury,” doesn’t it?

A: Yes.

Q: So you are a liar, aren’t you?

BOOM!

I guess Al Gore had not yet “invented the internet” (I love that whopper of a lie)… and Benjamin Franklin had not discovered electricity. So may it was hard to find the truth!

 

And finally for our pic o’ day!

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A Conspiracy Conspiracy?

First, let’s start with some fax humor… because you don’t see fax humor very often!

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During football watching on Sunday afternoon, multiple times a FedEx television commercial ran from a supposed Conspiracy Bookstore. The employees in the commercial were explaining their theories on a recent hike in online book sales. It wasn’t funny the first time. Not funny the 20th time; which might explain why you don’t remember it.

One of the employees credits galactic entities for buying all the books to conceal their alien secrets. The other worker credits FedEx because of their affordable deliveries. The FedEx guy just shrugs at the conspiracy theory.

By the way, do you buy into the conspiracy of Apple slowing down old phones with their constant updates? For several years, the Internet has been warning (as I use the Internet like a person identifier) that Apple keeps sending updates, to cause your old phone to slow down enough to irritate you and make you buy the new phone.

All I know is that I am tired of having constantly being asked by my phone and iPad whether I want to download my update now or at midnight. No is my answer. I was perfectly happy with my phone and iPad until your constant pestering. But I digress!

The real conspiracy that recently grabbed my attention (Reuters News)  relates to a pharmaceutical company. The New Jersey Attorney General has accused Insys Therapeutics  of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to boost the sales of their fentanyl-based cancer pain drug. Recently, Massachusetts announced a $500,000 settlement with Insys to resolve similar allegations.

The New Jersey attorney is claiming that the drug company had created a fraud scheme to encourage the prescriptions of a fentanyl-based pain medication, usually reserved for cancer patients. The intent was to get doctors to prescribe it broadly to many of their patients; not just those suffering great pain.

The New Jersey filed lawsuit alleges that Insys paid kickbacks to doctors, including sham speaker fees to induce them to prescribe the drug, defraud insurance companies into paying for it.

The lawsuit states that Insys’ greed put hundreds of lives in jeopardy and led to the 2016 overdose death of a New Jersey woman, who was prescribed a fentanyl-based medication to treat fibromyalgia. “The conduct alleged in our lawsuit is nothing short of evil,” Porrino said in a statement.

The NJ lawsuit was filed on the heels of the Massachusetts Attorney General Healy announcing that Insys would pay $500,000 to resolve similar allegations of schemes and kickbacks. (Doesn’t sound like much of a punishment. Right?) The political rhetoric would lead us to believe that this drug company is just plain evil and needs real punishment.

Fentanyl is a powerful and highly addictive drug with deadly consequences, yet this opioid maker aggressively marketed its product and made illegal payments to providers to boost sales,” Healey said in a statement.

Now that’s what I call a conspiracy. Just not one that really surprises me.

And finally for pic o’ day, here’s one from the past that always makes me laugh. Some explanation for that conspiracy?

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A Mind Made Up!

I call it the Firefighter Fact Experiment (research paper here) I am a nut for psychological research studies. (which probably explains why I sometimes write about them in Our Blog) Plus, I hearken back to my political science college days, because that was always such a moving target of information anyway. (Notice how I just rambled on there about nothingness?)

So back to my Firefighter Fact Experiment and how it relates to kneeling during the National Anthem. Do I have your attention or are you so bored of hearing about the kneel down, that you are almost about to stop reading the blog. Wait… that’s exactly what the research says!

Two groups were given a story about firefighters, and then a questionnaire to answer about the fact pattern. The study was done by Anderson, Lepper and Ross in 1980. (attached above).

One group was given information that proved that successful firefighters are also risk-takers. The second research group was given information that supported the idea that firefighters are not risk-takers at all, and that’s the very reason they are successful. Complete opposite fact-patterns. The participants then filled out their questionnaires.

After that portion was completed, the research facilitator then announced that the information that they had just read “was completely fictitious. I made it up. There is no evidence one way or another“.

In a follow-up study after this announcement, the participants were then asked what they believed about firefighters, and why. In each study, the participants still believed the original information that they had received. The announcement that it had all been made up did not change their opinion. They couldn’t give reasons why they believed the different views on firefighters and risk-taking. They simply had formed that opinion and it was not changed by the announcement.

In jury trials, we call that the trial story. Once jurors make up their minds, it is typically difficult to get them to change their minds.

I think it’s the same way with political issues. Specifically, I have noticed that about opinions on kneeling during the National Anthem. Once an opinion is set, people don’t usually change their opinion. In fact, they just get stronger about their opinion. And I suspect you would also say to me right now.. “And they are not afraid to just keep repeating their opinion”. It’s the psychological effect of believing what I believe… because I believe it! And it keeps Facebook with many postings!

 

And for pic o’ day, sometimes it’s crazy what strikes my funny bone!

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