2003-07-14 Iberian Notes is sound on the Tour de France:
Every single Old European out there is rooting for Lance to get smoked, since he's won their big prize for the last four years in a row.
Eggs-zactly. I think Armstrong is to be commended as much for rising above the petty European bullshit (especially the French flavor) and refusing to be rattled by it as much as for whipping that international peleton four years in row after surviving cancer. Greg LeMond was better liked (though not by much) but once or twice made the mistake of answering the hyenas' provocations. It never helps, and Lance does better to just shut up and win. Oh, how sweet sweet sweet those four times he rode up the Champs E'Lysee to all that muted French applause.
BACK FROM THE BRINK: Or, My Fish Bone Experience. I ate one, to be precise, and it got stuck in my throat. (Wasn't from carp, no.) I have heard that eating bread will shift the things, so I duly procured a few pieces from an obliging waiter and tried that. The results were inconclusive. It still hurt, but that certain sewing needle in the esophagus feeling was reduced. I decided I had flushed it out but that it had scratched the lining in the process. Over the next day and a half it remained sore, but on the morning of the third day my throat caught fire. At the doc's I received a severe tongue lashing (her usual patient manner, but still..) for not coming in immediately and was told I had a bad infection from the bone burrowing it's way into my throat canal, a common result when one doesn't get the bone out right away. There it will eventually dissolve but in the meantime I'm on antibiotics thanks to what was otherwise a fairly decent piece of fish.
So beware - don't swallow the bones. And if you do, go to your local fish bone extractor and have it out. Steve | 12:23 |
2003-07-10 OH, AND SPEAKING OF HITCH: What's his "summer reading" list?
Christopher Hitchens, author and journalist
CLARE SHORT, THEOLOGIAN:
Clare Short, politician
Well. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, Clare Short will sort out this "growing divide" for us by reading the Koran. I'll be looking forward to her set of proposals for bringing the jihadis under one big happy tent with the rest of us for a good old fashioned sing along.
ARRESTED: The Iraqi diplomat who may have met with Atta in Prague for a nice cup of coffee and a chat about blowing something up. Steve | 12:28 |
BANNER LOGIC: This is interesting - the banner ad at the top of my blog homepage at this moment (noon CET) offers links to "Securirty (sic) Camera" and "20% off ATN Optics". Then just below that we have "Related Searches," which the software behind this artificial intelligence suggests are "Christopher Hitchens," "see thru" and "x-ray".
Hmm. Perhaps some sort of reference to the penetrating nature of the typical Hitchensian insight? Steve | 12:17 |
2003-07-09 In the past two days, I wrote two long, deeply insightful and thought-provoking posts on important issues - and Blogger ate them both. So fuck it.
Wanna read about something, go read about Big Tits. Steve | 14:27 |
2003-07-07 I saw this article relating a wine-soaked conversation with Jan Kavan referenced first by new Prague blogger Goodfellow. Nicmoc was sufficiently needled by Kavan's whining to give him a couple of virtual back-handed slaps across the mug. Good job. I believe this is not the first time Kavan has equated the US with Cuba? Steve | 16:53 |
POST INDEXING: From time to time people visit the page after searching something in Daypop or Google. When I click the pragueBlog link referenced, it's never linked to the actual post in question (i.e. the permalink) - just the homepage. I once saw something about adding a robot tag that supposedly tells spiders to index the permalink. I tried it but it never worked. Any help out there? Steve | 15:47 |
RUMORS OF X-RAY VISION: Rumors about Americans circulating in Baghdad include certainty that their battle dress uniforms are air-conditioned and that their sunglasses and night vision goggles can see through clothes. Steve | 15:35 |
FAIR DUBLIN: Somehow, I'd never made it to Ireland before spending four days there last week. Dublin is very nice, of course charming and fun, and yes, everybody really is very nice. The Irish don't seem to be able to stop laughing.
Unless business takes me there, however, I wouldn't go back to Dublin - I'd go somewhere smaller, quieter and less likely to make me feel as if I'd taken up residence in an unopened can of sardines. True, we were mostly in and around the center. Further out I'm sure it would be less intense. One of the worst problems is the absence of a commercial by-pass or ring road. The roads on both sides of the river that bisects the town therefore are the only way through Dublin for trucks, and I don't mean Ford Transit vans. I mean big tractor trailers. Well, big for Europe. You don't know big until you've been passed 75 times in one day in the fast lane out on the interstate by triple trailer monster trucks somewhere in Nevada. Dublin's wee little streets just barely hold all that traffic, and it crawls along. Cyclists are mixed up right along with it, and every week there are a number of deaths (according to one taxi driver). The noise and exhaust are incredible. I'm sure that Dubliners spend so much time in pubs simply to calm nerves shattered from walking the streets.
The city needs urgently to do a Red Ken style exclusion zone in the center. In London, it seems to be working - so well, in fact, that they are raising less than half the dough they expected.
Dublin shows all the signs of its economic boom in the past 15 years. There is reconstruction/new construction everywhere, a lot of it big, public infrastructure projects such as a massive docklands renewal plan. There is a lot of EU money involved, of course. Not all of it produces obvious successes.
An EU funded project building a highway from Dublin heading south was percolating along just fine until it pointed its course into the narrow space between the coastal hills and the sea. A small wood concealed a few remnants of an ancient stone tower that nobody had ever paid attention to, and these few insignificant ruins lay directly in the path of the oncoming highway. The archeologists were duly called in. And they duly made the announcement that buried underneath a large area surrounding the tower were the remains of what was clearly one of the most important fortresses on the island at one time centuries ago.
This stopped the road building. Heads were scratched and experts consulted, and a compromise was reached. The tower would be rebuilt where it was. The rest of the fortress complex would be dug up, moved a couple hundred feet farther back inland and reassembled. The tower would remain where it was and would be situated between the two sections of the divided highway. It would be accessible by an arching pedestrian sky bridge to be slung from the tower to the relocated and rebuilt fortress ruins some distance off. Why people would want to walk on a narrow footway suspended over several lanes of rushing traffic just to look inside a recently rebuilt old stone tower was not explained.
[At this point I feel I should insert "And I am not making this up." This story was, however, related to me in a pub, by a Czech living in Dublin, after a couple of pints of stout. It may have been embellished and some details may be wrong, but he swears the essentials are true.]
This clever plan was just underway when the EU stepped in and said, "wait a minute. We funded this - we have a say in how this is solved. You cannot move those historical ruins." To date no alternative has been proposed. In the meantime, the firm building the southern half of the road continued working on their side and approached the area of the tower and ruins, stopping when they couldn't go any farther. And so the highway is complete, all except for a missing few hundred feet under which lies the ghosts and spirits of some ancient Celtic castle, the scrub growing slowly higher around it.
Steve | 15:23 |
This is not nice. When they catch the bastard that cut this poor guy's parachute ropes, it's just a pity they can't take him up for his own airplane ride 13,000 feet up, open the door and invite him outside with the words, "mind that first step, it's a doozy." Steve | 14:30 |
2003-07-04 GENIUS: A resort that "caters" to the obese (geddit?). It's unlimited helpings with no remorse at this Mexican boutique resort.
You're not supposed to say 'fat', or 'obese'. That's 'people of size', thank you very much.
"It is insane that most businesses don't cater to people of size, from an economic point of view," said Mindy Sommers, who runs a Vermont-based Web magazine called Abundance, which she says receives 13,000 to 14,000 hits a week. "We have a lot of money. We are not a niche market anymore; we're very much mainstream."
THE mainstream going by the statistics, actually. Well, that's free enterprise. We await more resorts and getaways where other socially stigmatized demographic groups can go and let their hair down (resorts for the bald excepted).Steve | 19:05 |
THAT T-SHIRT: Nicmoc saw it. Same person? It's possible. How about a description, Nicmoc? On the other hand, we may be witnessing a little summer fad-ette resulting from a container's worth of the shirts having recently populated the city's discount shops. It's a mystery. Steve | 18:30 |
2003-07-01 Leaving in a bit to head over to Dublin for a few days and do some dedicated quality control in a few of their pubs. (After the meetings, of course). Have heard rumors that the beer is good. Suggestions welcome. Steve | 17:00 |
YEP: Welch suggests that Dubya will get his Texas ass kicked next year. He will, but probably as much for another reason than for the one Matt mentions (which is just as deserving): that good old boy's turning out to be about as fiscally responsible as a lapsed shopaholic in the Mall of America with a no-limit piece of plastic in hand. Do Republicans still at least advertise themselves as the party of fiscal conservatism, or are they not even pretending anymore? Steve | 16:52 |
Here's a shot of the actress (Kristanna Loken) playing the cyborg who takes on Ah-nold in T3. You can see from her obvious aggressive, steely qualities why they picked her for the part of a robot that can make lots of stuff blow up, drive fast and crash an above average number of times, fight big, pumped up other robots and then sort of melt into runny metal, like, and then make herself back into a robot again.
I'll be seeing that, not. T1, T2 - you know what? Pretty good flicks. They had personality (not necessarily from anything Arnie did), a little heart and Linda Hamilton. But movies like this nowadays should really give top billing where credit is due. "Out now: Terminator 3! Starring the CGE Division of Superfine Galaxo Entertainment (followed by a long list of geeky sounding names of computer animation jockeys), and...oh yeah Arnold Schwarzenegger and some young lady whose name we already forgot. In a theatre near you!"
Here's what the NYT thinks - "loud and dumb". Snotty New York pricks, what do they know? Steve | 14:54 |
GUILTY: Karel Srba gets eight years for attempted murder-for-hire. Should have received the maximum if the court believed the prosecution's story - this was motivated by political revenge, which means there can't be any extenuation in the form of jealous lovers losing their minds temporarily. It was cold and calculated.
Sounds like it was an entertaining trial:
Also attracting attention was the presence in court of Srba's present and former wives, who spoke with each other out loud and received a court reprimand for doing so.
Reminds me of that Czech film, Vrchni, prchni!, where Josef Abrham dresses like a waiter and collects money from people in restaurants to finance his various mistresses and illegitimate kids, in addition to his current family. At his sentencing three or four women stand up trying to catch his eye as he's led out, a few are holding up babies for him to see.
POINT MISSED: Via KyberSmok, it occurs to me that young Ivo Lukacovic has perhaps been breathing the rarified air of success for a bit too long. He, or one of his minions, thinks they are fooling somebody (who?) by moving the Seznam's PR section to a separate domain and calling it a "PR blog". What's that? Let's see, it says here that it's an "Informacni blog pro tisk a verejnost o aktivitych portalu Seznam.cz". That should be hauling them in in droves - after all, it's got "blog" in it.
What's that emoticon for rolling eyes? Steve | 10:55 |
2003-06-30 If you're a Jew-hater, and furthermore hold a position of some responsibility and reputation, be advised that expressing your views by email is a pretty good way to get your 15 minutes of fame. What a wanker. Link via Sullivan. Steve | 11:54 |
2003-06-28 POETRY CAN BE POWERFUL: To wit
Exclusive Extracts From Harold Pinter’s New Book Of Poetry ‘Harold Pinter’s War’Steve | 21:01 |
IN REMEMBRANCE OF STROM: (That name must make Czech people look twice.) So, old Thurmond is up in the good old southern crackers club in the sky. Here's a page of tributes to him which includes this one:
"Had it not been for Sen. Thurmond's helpfulness and guidance in 1972, I would never have sought election to the Senate. I am therefore one of millions around the world who on this day are aware they have lost a good and faithful friend." - former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.
SEEN ON BUS: A young lady of fetching description wearing a tight t-shirt imprinted with the words "I wish these were brains" at about chest height. Steve | 18:58 |
2003-06-27 Adventures in Democracy (he of Homeland Security) responds to my question about whether there is any deliberate refusal of entry on a random basis to discourage citizens of certain countries from applying for visas to the US in the first place. Here's a comment to my post, and here's his own post.
His points are good, and it's useful to remember that they do provide a necessary service in preventing a lot of people getting in to the US that should not be there. As Adventures says, the law is clear and most people sent home are sent for having invalid or faked visas, or (interestingly) walk blindly into admitting that they have come to find work illegally. I'm still afraid that the point comes down to the fallabilities of the human doing the airport visa checks. Even if immigration officers are merely enforcing existing rules more carefully, there still seems to be a huge margin for personal or other bias to influence a judgment call on someone with a valid visa but a "funny look" about them.
But I do have more sympathy for the challenge they face. When you see articles like this, it's clear that many people from this country still have not come to accept the fact that ignoring the immigration and labor rules to work on the black market in the US is not a wise thing to do. And yet they come... Steve | 14:55 |
Driving back to Prague Thursday morning from a night out of town I passed the site of the crash that Petr noted yesterday. You look twice when you're driving along a highway and pass an airplane parked nonchalantly on the side. Mindful of what happened the day before, I looked briefly, but did not slow down. Steve | 14:28 |
2003-06-26 Hey, the afore-mentioned site, Lyinginponds.com, has a funny gimmick. He's got some kind of script which scans the emissions (columns) of the punditry and counts the number of partisan references contained therein. He then ranks their asses in order of blatant partisanship.
Not now, nor having ever been a member of the Republican party (nor ever will be), and regarding the Democratic Party as the party of Hope(lessness), I like all this non-partisan bile. Have a look. Might not be your brand of tea, but at least he's sincere: he even makes full disclosure of all his past political activities:
...he once waved at Jimmy Carter's motorcade at an Air Force base in Germany, once shook hands with Senator Al Simpson at a University of Wyoming football game, once took a couple of shaky pictures of Mike Dukakis at an Alabama campaign stop, once heard Governor Bill Clinton make some remarks during a July 4th program at a church in North Little Rock, once watched Al Gore's motorcade go by on the campus of North Carolina State University, and once walked right past Sonny Bono on a sidewalk outside the Capitol building.Steve | 16:49 |
FARCICAL AQUATIC CEREMONY: Some would suggest that the idea of the EU "constitution" is about as legitimate as strange women investing supreme executive power by lying in ponds and handing out swords to passersby.
MacMillan's not suggesting that, and he has a good discussion of European federalism today. Because he's done such a good job, I need not go too much further on the subject here, which is fine with me. I've stated elsewhere, with gawps of ridicule and visceral revulsion, that the merest thought of big bad bloated old bureacratic EU is enough to make me turn my mind off and float downstream. Here's my own Python allusion: the EU is to efficient government what Mr. Creosote was to healthy dieting.
OK, disclaimer: I have also stated elsewhere that I do support integration, expansion and the Euro business. Not that I can vote for it or anything. But as such I reserve the right to mock all those careerist, parasitic and unelected eurocrats mercilessly from time to time or when I need cheering up. And they deserve it anyway.
And I actually think the sword-bestowing lady notion is a pretty good one, since to believe that a (politically) federal Europe will somehow operate as truly one entity on anything but the most banal of matters requires the same sort of mindset needed to believe that the legend of King Arthur actually happened. But that's neither here nor there.
P.S. MacMillan, who knows a few things about movies, does a very good job of recreating the Holy Grail exchange mentioned above from memory. He not have looked farther than the blogosphere for the transcript: just type "farcical aquatic ceremony" into your toolbar-integrated Google search box, and you will find, of course, lyinginponds.com.
The Approach of European Federalism
UPDATE: Read the text of Scott's Boston Globe article he posted in his comments section. Steve | 16:22 |
“They shot the British in the head, several times. The executioners were standing right in front of the Britons,” he said.
2003-06-25 MEMORY AID: When people ask you if you were a collaborator or agent for the communist secret police back in the old days, do you find yourself answering, "Senator, I do not recall at this time"? Now, with the Interior Ministry's recently re-released list of friends of the STB, you can jog your memory! Download and browse the long list of names in the convenience of your own home, away from the prying television cameras recording the faces of those old techno-phobes who showed up at the distribution office for the dead tree version. It's all there, unless of course you've been clever enough to switch your citizenship to another country sometime in the past 13 years. In that case, the government won't include your name with the rest of the group! Steve | 11:52 |
2003-06-24 THAT'S IT: This past weekend I attended my last outdoor music festival ever. Way too old for that stuff. Staropramen brewery, makers of true swill (with one exception - Granat) threw a do with a lineup of musical groups that included Cechomor, one of the best things musically, IMHO, to happen to this country in a while. Trouble is they were the headliner, so I had to wait until the end. I foolishly arrived a couple hours in advance and spent that time being bumped into by drunk east Germans and sloshed with beer by drunk Czechs and deafened by the drunk braying of many other assorted nationalities.
Staropramen puts on a travelling event called "Chlapark," where they put up main stage and a smaller one some ways off. The area is well supplied with a few dozen beer stations of course, but to get any greasy seared flesh on a flimsy cardboard rectangle or a bit of ice-cream there were long long waits in the blazing sun. No, thank you.
"Chlapark" is supposed to be an oh so clever play on two words - chlap (meaning guy or bloke) and park. I see an implied third meaning to the first part derived from the verb chlastat which your dictionary will give as "guzzle, swill, tipple". I.e., to drink yourself stupid.
Saturday's event was set up behind the main Staropramen brewery itself. So 10-15,000 people were milling in amongst a bunch of warehouses and ill-maintained outbuildings on grease-stained asphalt and bumpy cobbles that bore as much resemblance to a park as the magistrale throughway at rush hour. Nice. Long lines for the porta-potties ensured copious volumes of piss deposited behind trailers, corners and the few unfortunate trees present.
The main stage area accommodated about 25% of all those present, with a huge number resigned to sitting on benches boozing away while the music was cut off from them by a row of buildings. Stupid, stupid, stupid. After it was all over, a 10 minute fireworks display took place directly overhead the crowd, and when you weren't blinking away tears from the thick clouds of burnt sulphur, you were being hit by a rainshower of exploded fireworks casings and debris.
Best part of the whole experience was taking a long walk home through a balmy Prague evening, leaving the cleanup of the year behind me. Steve | 12:48 |
"INDEPENDENT" JOURNALISM: You American scribblers out there - you're all a bunch of spineless sycophants lining up to kiss your leaders' asses! That's the view of the BBC's Justin Webb, preaching to the converted in a wonderfully British sneer in today's Independent.
I went to see the Vice-President make a speech a few nights ago. He finished with a reference to the war in Iraq, telling his audience: "You did well - you have my thanks."
But why are all American "journalists" so compliant, so docile, so trusting of anyone and everyone in authority? Easy:
Americans, remember, still go to church. For all their rhetoric of freedom, there is nevertheless an acceptance of a higher power here in the United States. And an acceptance, too, of unimpeachable motives.
I wonder if I should be reading the Independent more often. They seem so calm, so measured, so free of bias. The name itself says it all, doesn't it? How reassuring to know that there is a truly Independent voice out there with no sycophantic agenda to bend or sway the purity of its reporting. Sigh....
2003-06-20 TODAY'S UNLIKELY SEGUE: FROM RACISM IN THE CR TO EDUCATION IN THE US. A lively discussion ensues on the Roma evictions first mentioned by Ohrada News and followed by some of Scott's, Petr's and Nicmoc's thoughts.
I confess to a certain blankness of slate over this. I've lived here long enough (12 years) to have seen so many incidents like this that I'm afraid I've come to be a little fatalistic about Czech - Roma relations. In the bigger picture, this is not so high up on the scale of outrages that have taken place since 1989, either. I still remember the wretched death of the Roma teenager in Pisek years and years ago, chased and beaten by a gang of skinheads until he fell off the bridge into the river and drowned. Someone (a white woman, I think) who dove in and tried to save him was pelted with stones by nearby watchers. All the skins got off if I'm not mistaken. There was the American fellow who intervened in a pub when some local beetlebrows threatened a couple of Roms and was promptly beaten to within a whisker of his life outside in the parking lot. They caught the guy on security camera - the whole thing - and he got a wrist slap.
As a foreigner, it's always a loser to hold up a mirror to someone local and invite them to examine their prejudices. Ever noticed that? "Do not dare to presume to talk to me about our prejudices, outsider! You just don't understand." Try this: go to England and engage any English person in a discussion about Northern Ireland. Ask a question or two, and then wonder whether it wouldn't be better to relinquish this Cromwell-era hold over the province. Your host may offer you a choice of outright violence or a sputtering, purple-faced suggestion to shut it. You can't understand what goes on there.
One comment on the Slany evictions: whether right or wrong in this case to evict these families from their flats, the town worthies utterly forfeit any right to a voice in a legitimate discussion by vindictively charging rent for the sidewalk space. Fat idiots. They may have had the right to throw them out, but it seems to have taken about 30 seconds for them to reveal how pea-brained and vicious too many people are about dealing with their Roma neighbors.
However insoluble the problem, the unlikeliness of integration as normally understood is a point which has to be accepted. A new model needs to be devised, and until that time, perhaps the Roma can at least provide a useful service for some people not used to looking into mirrors that reveal something of their souls.
Moving right along, over in the Moronic Inferno, experiments in exorcising the vast reserves of guilt stored up by the paleface race continue to role along. Students sign up in droves for classes in "Whiteness Studies".
Advocates of whiteness studies -- most of whom are white liberals who hope to dismantle notions of race -- believe that white Americans are so accustomed to being part of a privileged majority they do not see themselves as part of a race.
Seem nutty? It's a nutty country. Or idiosynchratic. Or a mite susceptible to prolonged navel gazing.
2003-06-19 GET WITS, BRITS: Lovely, lovely scolding delivered by Christopher Hitchens in the Daily Mail, who lashes Britons for dithering over whether to join the Euro.
The anti-Euro campaign in Britain, which so ostentatiously waves the banner of "our history" seems, in fact, to be appallingly ignorant of it. Do we imagine that a few miles of dirty water truly separate us from the fate of our "continental" neighbours?
Can't think of one, myself. Can think of a lot of reasons to bemoan the fact that history is in fact nowhere in the picture in the whole of the European debate, apart from a few and sundry political figures piously clearing their throats with the rare and weak historical allusion. At its base, the opposition in Britain to the Euro comes down to tawdry zenophobia and idiotic and misplaced pride in tinny and mythical fairy tales of the plucky British, alone and defiant against a world of barbarians. Somebody should wake them up.Steve | 18:41 |
2003-06-18 EU AND IRAN: Let's spare a thought for the leaders of the European Union and those of Iran. They both share the same problem - how to censor the internet. The EU thinks we need hotlines and self-awareness campaigns - organized by conscientious paper-pushers - so that we common folk can protect ourselves from information out there that's "dangerous" for us. Kind of them. In Iran, they have rather a more acute problem on their hands at the moment, but the basic impulse is the same, if different in degree.
...the new law covers 20 types of online violation, including publishing articles that insult Islamic values, Iran's leadership, top clerics, revolutionary values and the ideas of late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Looks like most of the Iranian blogosphere, including our favorite Iranian girl, is batting 20 for 20 at this stage. Hehe..Steve | 17:08 |
G's SPOT: MacMillan duly notes the new Iraqi blogger "G," newly arrived on the scene. Nice to have another Iraqi Pepys at work, although he stumbles badly right at the outset with this mother of all oxymorons:
Tuesday, June 10, 2003Steve | 15:35 |
AH, RAIN: Unbroken good weather gets me down. All that sunshine day in and day out becomes oppressive. It's like being around some eternally chirpy and cheerful simpleton for whom everything is always super, just great and who sincerely wants you to have a nice day.
So today I'm pondering the virtues of summer rain. After two weeks of unrelenting heat and blue skies, today's cool breeze, cloudy skies and intermittent showers has me in a great mood. It's like the chirpy fool went on holiday taking his incessant optimism with him.
Steve | 15:06 |
2003-06-17 Fellow praguebloggers and others in the EUblogosphere: Better watch the "critical" remarks regarding someone of influence, or you might have the object of your scorn knocking on your door asking for his or her "right of reply".
Some online publications run by nonprofessionals can be very influential and therefore damaging to the reputation of other people," Thorhallsson told me. "It may be precisely against these (kinds) of publications that there is a need to grant a remedy. It's true that it may look burdensome for a blogger to be obliged to grant a right of reply. Some have suggested that a solution could be that individuals could make a deal with their service providers to administer the right of reply. (What the f....?!? - ed.)
Read this whole article. Having just voted on EU accession, it's worth pausing to reflect on the fundamental fact that all bureacracies spend an inordinate amount of time passing ill-conceived and unenforceable regulations simply to have something to do, never pausing to consider the effects. (Link via Andrew Sullivan.)Steve | 12:42 |
2003-06-16 OBSERVED: I have now on two successive days seen somebody shaving with an electric razor on public transportation. Is this possibly a new trend or fashion accessory to be added to the cellphone and those funny sort of lifeguard neck straps everybody wears now with 17 keys hanging off the end? Steve | 12:26 |
DO US A FAVOR, VASKU:
"I expected such a result. I had no doubts about the referendum result. The only question was the turnout," Klaus said.
Patronizing bastard, isn't he? So, Professor, if you were so sure about the extent of support in the country, i.e. 77% in favor, what does the turnout really matter?