TIME Books

Quiz: How High is Your Weed IQ?

Bruce Barcott is the author of "Weed the People, the Future of Legal Marijuana in America."

Take this test to see how well you understand the new world of legal marijuana

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. has moved pot from the realm of criminal arrest to customer service. But many of those now-legal customers are entering a new world of products, prices, and potency. It ain’t about a ten-dollar bag of weed anymore. During the two years I spent researching Weed the People, I acquired a new vocabulary of weights, measures, brand names, plant strains, and markers of quality. With 4/20 upon us, test your own legal pot knowledge with the quiz below.

“Weed the People, the Future of Legal Marijuana in America,” from TIME Books, is available wherever books are sold, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Anna Kendrick Is Writing a Book of Essays

87th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images Actress Anna Kendrick poses inside the press room of the 87th Annual Academy Awards held at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Twitter's 140-character limit be damned

Anna Kendrick will join Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling on the list of funny celebs to write a memoir. The Pitch Perfect star’s book, a series of humorous biographical essays, is set to be published in the fall of 2016 by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The Academy Award-nominated actor has earned a reputation for her wit and sarcasm on Twitter and, according to a statement she released, is eager to see if she can extend a series of 140-character tweets into whole chapters.

“I’m excited to publish my first book, and because I get uncomfortable when people have high expectations, I’d like to use this opportunity to showcase my ineptitude, pettiness, and the frequency with which I embarrass myself,” Kendrick said.

“And while many of my female inspirations who have become authors are incredibly well-educated and accomplished comedy writers, I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to BuzzFeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea. Quick question: are run-on sentences still frowned upon? Wait, is ending a sentence with a preposition still frowned upon? I mean, upon frowned? Dammit!”

Read next: Aziz Ansari on His New Book and How Texting Is Ruining Our Relationships

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TIME Books

4 Things We Learned from John Green’s Reddit AMA

John Green Portrait The Fault in Our Stars
Gregg Segal for TIME

He talks Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska

Celebrities often have a transitory relationship with Reddit: they arrive hawking their latest project, they answer a few questions during an ask-me-anything Q&A session, then they leave, often never to return. But The Fault in Our Stars author John Green is after a more genuine and lasting relationship with his fans and readers — he pops in threads from time to time — so he’s planning to do one AMA every month until the release of the Paper Towns, the second film adaptation of one his novels. Here are four things we learned from his first session:

If he had to choose between video blogging on YouTube with his brother, Hank, and turning his books into movies, the choice is clear:

If I had to pick between YouTube and movies, I would pick YouTube. This would be a financially counterintuitive choice, for sure, but I love online video and love working with my brother. Don’t tell my brother I said that, though.

There are three main reasons he likes writing for and about teenagers:

[1] They’re experiencing so much stuff for the first time–love and loss and grief and individual sovereignty and driving cars and, in the case of nonredditors, sex. Because those experiences are new, they are extremely intense, and it allows me to think about that stuff in a heightened way that doesn’t need to be cut by irony […] 2. Teens are extremely intellectually curious, and I love the straightforward way they consider the biggest questions […] 3. Publishing as a YA author also has many, many benefits.

A line in his book Looking for Alaska was inspired by his wife:

My wife and I went to high school in Alabama together, but we did not know each other in high school. Years later, we became reacquainted in Chicago, where we were both living. The first time we had dinner together, I told her a story from high school about sitting on a porch swing and thinking about all the things that might happen to me, and how I never thought I’d end up in Chicago across a table from Sarah Urist. And she said, “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia,” which I put in my book Looking for Alaska.

He worries Paper Towns newcomers who see the trailer might think the movie reinforces the Manic Pixie Dream Girl myth instead of challenging it:

I’m not in control of the marketing of the movie obviously, and I might market it a little differently, but I also understand that you have to set people up with a world they think they know if you’re going to point out what is demented and evil about that world. That’s what the book (hopefully) does, and what the movie (hopefully) does. But that’s hard to do in a trailer for a movie, because you don’t want the trailer to tell the whole story. You don’t want the trailer to deliver the punch that hopefully comes at the end of the movie when Q finally acknowledges that Margo is not a thing to acquire or a miracle but rather a person.

Paper Towns hits theaters July 24.

Read next: Watch Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne in the New Paper Towns Clip

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TIME Books

A Self-Made Billionaire Uses This Easy Trick for Decisions

Seymour Schulich on March 31, 2014 in Toronto.
Rick Madonik—Toronto Star/Getty Images Seymour Schulich on March 31, 2014 in Toronto.

Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

A twist to the classic pro-con list

The first chapter in Seymour Schulich’s book, Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons, offers a decision tool that adds to the simple pro-and-con list that many of us have used to make decisions. Schulich, a self-made billionaire, is one of Canada’s richest and best-known businessmen.

I learned this tool in a practical mathematics course more than fifty years ago and have used it for virtually every major decision of my adult life. It has never let me down and it will serve you well, too.

You all know the simple pro-and-con list? The one where you divide the page in two and simply list out all the pros and cons. Well, the Decision-Maker adds a twist to that. Here’s how it works.

On one sheet of paper, list all the positive things you can about the issue in question, then give each one a score from zero to ten—the higher the score, the more important it is to you.

On another sheet, list the negative points, and score them from zero to ten—only this time, ten means it’s a major drawback. Suppose you are thinking of buying a house, and you tour one that’s in your price range, except the owners have painted every room to look like a giant banana. If you really hate yellow and can’t stand the thought of lifting a paint brush, you might give “ugly yellow house” a ten, and if it’s not that big a deal, maybe a two or a three.

Now add up the scores. But here’s the rule.

If the positive score is at least double the negative score, you should do it—whatever “it” is. But if the positives don’t outweigh the negatives by that two-to-one ratio, don’t do it, or at least think twice about it.

Yes that sounds simple. I agree. But I also don’t think that things need to be complicated in order to be effective.

The Decision-Maker is designed not to allow one or two factors to sway a major life decision in a disproportionate way. It forces you to strip away the emotion and really examine the relative importance of each point—which, of course, is why it works so well.

This tool works for groups too.

When we were considering whether to sell our royalty company, Franco-Nevada, to Newmont Mining, Franco’s executive team produced a collective Decision-Maker. We listed all the pros and cons, then the top four executives assigned their own point scores to each. We averaged them, the positives far outweighed the negatives, and we sold the company.

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

R.L. Stine Explains the Hardest Part About Terrorizing Teenagers Today

Don't Stay Up Late
St. Martin’s Press Don't Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine, out now

The author tells TIME about his new Fear Street novel and his writing process

If you’re a child of the 1990s, R.L. Stine has probably kept you up at night with his books. But while he’s best known for Goosebumps, he’s back to freaking out teenagers with Fear Street, the young-adult horror series that has sold more than 80 million copies since 1989.

After reviving the books in 2014, Stine returned to the city of Shadyside this month with Don’t Stay Up Late, about a girl named Lisa whose odd new babysitting job holds the key to a recent string of murders and the horrible nightmares that plague her. TIME spoke to Stine about his writing process, connecting with old fans on Twitter and what it takes to scare teenagers today.

TIME: April seems like a strange time to put out another horror book. I would have assumed your whole life revolves around the month of October.

R.L. Stine: That’s not a career—you can’t just do Halloween! [Laughs] That’d have to be year-round.

You said Don’t Stay Up Late was possibly your scariest one yet. What makes it so?

I think that was Twitter hype.

You’ve killed off a lot of teenagers in Fear Street. I’d imagine today’s generation of teenagers would be the most fun to write about yet.

It’s actually much harder, because the technology has ruined a lot of things that make for good mysteries—largely because of cell phones. You can’t have a mystery caller anymore. You can’t have someone making horrible phone calls and you don’t know who it is. Now, you know immediately. You look at your phone, and you know. You have to get rid of the phone when you’re writing the book. Everyone has a phone now and everyone can just call for help. In some ways, it’s much more challenging now.

How concerned are with you with capturing contemporary teen life?

I have to keep up with them. It’s a real important part of writing these books. You don’t want to sound out of date at all, but I’m very careful because the technology changes every two weeks. You have to be not terribly specific about what they’re using. And I have to be careful about language too. I spent a lot of time going to schools and talking to teenagers and kids for Goosebumps, just to see what they say, how they talk these days, what they wear, that kind of thing. But if I put too much of that in the book, it dates it.

So no Snapchat killer or One Direction zombie murderers?

[Laughs] No, I probably, I wouldn’t do that. Because in a month, that would be [over], and then you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. The lucky thing about horror is that the things that people are afraid of, it never changes. Afraid of the dark, afraid someone’s in the house, afraid someone’s under your bed—that’s the same.

How much do you care about making the dialogue sound realistic?

My rule for writing teenage dialogue is no complete sentences. You know someone doesn’t know teenagers when the teenagers are speaking in complete sentences, because they basically don’t. I remember when my son was a teenager—he basically grunted. [Laughs]

What’s off-limits in these stories? I know you don’t put larger social messages in there.

No messages, except that the ordinary teenagers faced with horrible things can use their own wits and imagination to survive, to triumph. That’s the only message that I ever put in. There’s a lot of real-world stuff that I don’t put in Goosebumps or Fear Street. In Goosebumps, no one ever dies. In Fear Street, you want to make sure that it’s a fantasy that’s not too real. There are no drugs in Fear Street. There’s no child abuse. There are hardly even divorced parents. Other teen horror writers have done a lot with teens with drugs and that kind of thing, but I don’t do it. My basic rule is they have to know it’s not real. That it’s fantasy.

You received a lot of negative feedback from readers when you featured an unhappy ending in Fear Street, which surprised meit seems like in the most popular YA stories today, the grey areas and moral ambiguity are a big part of the appeal.

Not in these horror novels. They want happy endings in these. I learned my lesson that time. The kids really turned against me. It was immediate. I got these letters. “Dear R.L. Stine, you moron. You idiot. How could you do that? When are you going to finish the story?” They just couldn’t accept it. I would do school visits, and that book haunted me. The hand would go up: “Why would you write that book? Why did you do that?” Maybe it’s changed, but I’m not going to try it!

What do you hear from people who read your books as kids and then revisit them as adults?

That’s why I’m on Twitter. It’s such a great way to keep in touch with the ‘90s kids, with my original readers. And I have to say, it was very good for my ego because all day long I hear, “I wouldn’t be a librarian today if it wasn’t for you!” Or “I wouldn’t be a writer today if it wasn’t for you!” Or “Thank you for getting me through a really tough childhood.” It’s very gratifying. It’s almost too nice.

Do people pitch you ideas on Twitter?

There’s not really enough room for them to write. It is interesting, people ask if they can collaborate on a book. One woman wrote to me on Facebook—this was great—and she said, “I have an idea for a horror novel called The Ghost Ship, but I don’t know what the plot would be. Do you think you could write it for me?’

That sounds like the start of its own horror novel.

[Laughs] That’s good, right? This morning on Twitter, a young woman said, “I’m sure you’ve written a book called April Ghoul’s Day, I’m going to go find it.” And I said, “What a great title!” I’m gonna have to steal it from her, I think! I never thought of it.

What is your writing routine like these days?

It’s sort of factory work, you know. I still enjoy it so much, so I just keep going. I still do a lot of books every year. I start around 9:30 in the morning and I write 2,000 words a day. I just go by words. And then I’m totally brain-dead and go out, take the dog for a walk and that’s it. I work maybe five, six days a week. If I started at, say, 10 in the morning, I’m done by 2:30. Those are good hours, right? You can’t complain about those hours!

Do you write on a computer?

Yeah, but I cannot outline on a computer. I do a chapter-by-chapter outline of every book. I can’t work without an outline. I have to know everything that’s going to happen in the book first. It’s one of these mysterious things. I have to write it by hand, and it comes so much better. But I would never write [the book] by hand.

There’s something about getting it out on paper first that I find very helpful in the brainstorming stage

I don’t even print manuscripts anymore at all. I had these universities asking for my archive–I have no archive! [Laughs] They say, “We would love to house your archives.” Well, one thing when you live in an apartment is you can’t keep things, right? I can’t keep stacks of old manuscripts and letters. I have no archive at all. I have nothing. It’s kind of embarrassing.

Read next: R.L. Stine: Twitter Is “Really Good For My Ego”

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TIME natural disaster

How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Dust Storm
Arthur Rothstein—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Father & sons walking towards shack, pace slowed by dust storm, in the Great Plains in the 1930s

April 14, 1935: The worst dust storm in history descends on the Great Plains—exactly four years before 'The Grapes of Wrath' is published

The dust fell so thickly on this day, April 14, 80 years ago, that even Okies and Texans inured to dust storms thought the end of the world was upon them. The fast-moving, low-hanging black cloud caught them unprepared, trapping motorists in their cars and forcing those who were caught out in the open to drop to their knees and crawl blindly toward shelter, according to an account by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. “Afternoon brightness [plunged] immediately into midnight darkness,” noted one National Weather Service observer.

It became known as the Black Sunday storm — the worst on record in the drought-stricken Great Plains. An Associated Press reporter and photographer who had tried to outrun the storm in a car were trapped for hours in the suffocating blackness. The next day, the reporter used the term “Dust Bowl” for the first time in print to describe the devastated region: “Three little words — achingly familiar on a western farmer’s tongue — rule life today in the dust bowl of the continent … ‘if it rains,’ ” he wrote.

Four years after Black Sunday, John Steinbeck marked the storm’s anniversary by publishing The Grapes of Wrath, the iconic tale of Oklahoma tenant farmers driven off their land and pushed into California in search of a new life. The fictional Joad family joined the real-life exodus of migrant farmers — roughly a quarter of a million of them, per TIME — who followed the same path out of desperation after the farms of the Great Plains were ruined by drought, overgrazing and unsustainable farming practices.

But in the promised land where Ma Joad dreamed of “a white house with oranges growin’ around,” they encountered hostility and living conditions not much better than in the dusty wasteland they’d left behind.

“Some of them camp in packing-box jungles and drink ditchwater; others are lucky enough to lodge in new government camps with modern plumbing and electric washing machines,” TIME observed in a 1940 article that compared the real-life migrant farmers to Steinbeck’s fictional ones. (Reviled as the penniless Okies were in California, TIME offered an ambivalent defense: “Strangely enough the incidence of venereal disease among the migrants is lower than among native Californians, and they have relatively little tuberculosis. Greatest plague: dietary diseases (scurvy and pellagra), resulting from lack of fresh meat and vegetables.”)

And while The Grapes of Wrath climbed to the top of the bestseller list, won the Pulitzer Prize, and became a “cornerstone of [Steinbeck’s] 1962 Nobel Prize,” according to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, TIME was similarly ambivalent about the merits of the book. In its review, TIME concludes:

The publishers believe it is “perhaps the greatest modern American novel, perhaps the greatest single creative work this country has ever produced.” It is not. But it is Steinbeck’s best novel… It is “great” in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was great — because it is inspired propaganda, half tract, half human-interest story, emotionalizing a great theme.

Read the full review of The Grapes of Wrath, here in the TIME archives: Oakies

MONEY deals

This Week’s Best Deals: Tax Day Freebies, Game of Thrones Box Set

Game of Thrones Season 5
Helen Sloan—HBO Game of Thrones Season 5

It's become an annual tradition for restaurants and office supply stores to give out freebies on April 15, a.k.a. Tax Day. There's a big sale on high-end, rarely discounted cookware too.

They’re among the best deals we’ve spotted this week. Here are our top choices for bargains:

Get Reading

Finally, Game of Thrones returned to TV this weekend with its season premiere on HBO, but fantasy fanatics can delve even deeper into the world of George R. R. Martin with a killer deal on a box set of books. Walmart currently offers books one through five of the Song of Ice and Fire series in paperback for $10.20 with in-store pickup, the lowest price you’ll likely ever pay for this collection of salacious, murderous, and completely addictive stories.

Dig Some DIY Discounts

Spring, too, seems to be making a return, which means homeowners will soon be turning their attention to their lawn and patio. If your grass is in a sorry state, pick up this bag of Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed while it’s half off. It might not seem like a thrilling purchase. But at $19.87 with pickup at Walmart, it’ll save you $20 that could be spent on something more fun — like brats for the BBQ. Alternatively, tackle any other DIY project you’ve been putting off over the winter by taking an easy $10 off $50 Lowe’s purchases; just click here, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up for email alerts to receive a unique code.

Invest in High-End Cookware

The famously high-quality brand All-Clad is normally too expensive for many people, but shopping the VIP Factory Seconds Sale — in which items with minor cosmetic blemishes or dents are marked up to 64% off — is an excellent way to score All-Clad at a fraction of the usual price. (Enter code “ALLCLADVIP” to view the sale.) It’s the best such sale we’ve seen from All-Clad since January. If you’re hesitant about the quality of the wares, know that each item still carries a full lifetime warranty. Hurry, though, as this sale ends on April 15.

Celebrate Tax Day Freebies

The biggest deal event of the week will come on Wednesday, April 15. Once you drop your tax return in the mail, relax with a wealth of Tax Day freebies to soothe your soul. Offers range from freebies that require no purchase at all, like a free
cookie at Great American Cookies
to discounted meals, free desserts with purchase, or “buy one, get one free” entrees (like at Boston Market). Keep in mind that almost all of these offers will only be valid on April 15, so plan accordingly. For a regularly updated list of the latest Tax Day freebies, click here.

Amazing bargains pop up at any given moment, so check out the DealNews Editors’ Choice page for the most recent offers, or sign up for a daily email digest sent directly to your inbox.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Shuts Down Another Harry Potter Rumor

This time it's about a supposed sex scene

J.K. Rowling shut down a rumor on Monday that she wanted Harry Potter to lose his virginity in the book, The Goblet of Fire.

A Twitter user posted a suggestion that Rowling had planned on adding in a sex scene in the second part of the book, but left it out after an editor complained it would bother parents. Rowling responded that she never wrote the scene, calling it “a load of cobblers.”

It’s not the first time Rowling has responded to rumors from readers. Rowling is very active on social media, frequently answering her fans questions and making announcements about her future work.

She made TIME’s 30 Most Influential People on the Internet list for 2015.

Read next: What J.K. Rowling Said About Writing More Harry Potter Books

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TIME remembrance

How Günter Grass Acknowledged His Controversial Past

April 13, 1970, cover of TIME
Cover Credit: ISADORE SELTZER Gunter Grass on the April 13, 1970, cover of TIME

The author has died at 87

Günter Grass—the German writer who died on Monday at 87—was known for much of his life for the success of his books, for his Nobel Prize, for his defining place in the conflicted cultural world of the divided post-war Germany. In later years,his admission that he had served in the Waffen-SS and his publication of a poem critical of Israel changed his reputation.

As an April 13, 1970, TIME cover story about the author—dated precisely 45 years before his death—pointed out, Grass had made his name partially for his willingness to blur the line between art and politics, a line that had been strictly observed by traditional German literature. In the West Germany of the time, he was an outspoken supporter of Willy Brandt; his work was often seen as an admonition to those who would sweep the country’s past under the rug in the name of moving forward. “He too has done his demonic best to break up all the going German rhythms, from the marching-to-destiny beat of Deutschland über Alles to the amnesiac waltz of postwar prosperity,” the piece said, comparing him to the protagonist of his most famous work, The Tin Drum. “In three war novels he has drummed: Remember! Remember! REMEMBER!”

Even then, Grass did not deny that he was involved with the Nazi party during the war. And as the article laid out, he was a true believer, not merely going along to get along:

Grass has succinctly outlined his own journey into that nightmare: “At the age of ten, I was a member of the Hitler Cubs; when I was 14, I was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. At 15, I called myself an Air Force auxiliary. At 17, I was in the armored infantry.” Grass left Danzig as a soldier in 1944. He was wounded on April 20, 1945, and the end of the war found him in a hospital bed at Marienbad. He was one of the first Germans to be marched through Dachau for a whiff of what the infernal was really like. He has not forgotten.

…Call those the live-or-die years. Grass characters are nothing if not survival artists, and Grass survived. He estimates that 80% of the Danzig he knew was bombed out. He had to abandon, naturally, the patriotic ideology he once held as a self-styled “dutiful youth.” Like Mahlke, the schoolboy hero of Cat and Mouse, he once could identify most German warships by class. Unlike Mahlke, Grass admits: “I myself was thinking right up to the end in 1945 that our war was the right war.”

How did a grocer’s son from Danzig ever put together the nerve, the innocence, the cold fury, the sheer talent to play tin drummer to the most traumatic decade in modern history? The general pattern was one of slow maturing and lots of retreat time in the desert—the training rules of artists and saints.

At the time, despite that past, his intellectual evolution earned him a comparison to a saint; his political stance allowed the world to see him as an example of how the nation could properly acknowledge and progress from its Nazi past. But his “succinct” version of his time during the war years glossed over the extent of his involvement, which he eventually revealed in his 2006 memoir.

Considering he had made his name urging his country to remember—for example, that cover story pointed out, in his 1963 Dog Years he had written of “magic spectacles that allowed postwar German children to see exactly what their innocent parents were actually doing between 1939 and 1945″—the fact that he had did not completely described his own history earlier was devastating to his reputation. Amid the outrage, Grass said that he was still coming to terms with the past during those intervening years. When TIME lauded his “slow maturing,” that process had still been unfinished.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The Dentist’s Chair as an Allegory of Life

TIME Books

Why TIME Declared George R.R. Martin ‘An American Tolkien’

TIME 100 Gala, TIME'S 100 Most Influential People In The World - Arrivals
Stephen Lovekin—Getty Images for Time Warner George R.R. Martin attends the TIME 100 Gala on April 26, 2011 in New York City.

TIME wrote about the author in 2005

In 2005, when the fourth A Song of Ice and Fire installment, A Feast for Crows, was released, author George R.R. Martin was still mostly unknown except among serious fantasy readers.

When TIME’s Lev Grossman reviewed the book and explained to readers who Martin was, he could still frame things by saying that Martin wasn’t the best-known American fantasy writer. Eragon author Christopher Paolini, Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan and Ursula K. LeGuin were all more famous.These days, of course, the slightest hint that Martin may be typing anything is met with near universal glee from fans of the immensely popular HBO adaptation of his work.

But not everything has changed since 2005: though Grossman noted that Martin wasn’t as famous as some of his peers, he also proclaimed that “of those who work in the grand epic-fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best.” He was good enough, in fact, for the story to be headlined “An American Tolkien.” Here’s why:

What really distinguishes Martin, and what marks him as a major force for evolution in fantasy, is his refusal to embrace a vision of the world as a Manichaean struggle between Good and Evil. Tolkien’s work has enormous imaginative force, but you have to go elsewhere for moral complexity. Martin’s wars are multifaceted and ambiguous, as are the men and women who wage them and the gods who watch them and chortle, and somehow that makes them mean more.

Martin’s series may remain unfinished, but his moral complexity returns to television on Sunday, April 12.

Read the full 2005 story, here in the TIME archives: The American Tolkien

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