December 28, 2005

A Day Out and a Time Remembered

On Christmas Eve, I had a complete blowout on my principle prosthesis. Strangely, the leg I had just before this, which should be my backup leg, was impossible to use. I couldn't fit into the socket. The only socket I could wear was part of my leg from the States, which is over 11 years old! But having been unused and banged around and stored in garages and closests for more than 5 years, the foot was cocked at about a 45 degree angle from centre. That's the long way of saying I've been rather immobile for several days.

The limb clinic will not be back in Hooterville until at least the 9th, so the best thing was to take the problem to them. Thus, we spent much of the day today in Birmingham.

I have to say that when it comes to traffic, if you have to visit Britain's second city, it is best to do this over the holidays. It was actually not too bad. We discovered that unlike the areas with all the shootings that we see on the regional news, there are actually some nice looking areas of Birmingham.

It took ages in the limb centre to replace what turned out to be a tiny little piece of rubber. Fortunately I was seen in the "family room", designed for child amputees, so Aidan and Abby could play with and on the wide variety of toys. They even had a slide.

When we were done, we thought we were going to Pizza Hut for lunch. I thought Mrs H had seen one and she thought I had seen one. I turned out that we were both relying on Aidan for information. He thought he saw one, but it was a similarly shaped Frankie & Benny's New York Italian Restaurant and Bar. Since we were there anyway, we decided to go in.

As we surveyed the empty tables we were told it would be a few minutes wait. This seemed strange, but not as strange as the 20-minute wait promised to some others that came in shortly after we did. We got our table soon enough and after we ordered, I looked at my watch. Mrs H commented that I was looking for something to complain about. I insisted that I wasn't. It wasn't like I was planning to build another website.

The service was slow, but our meals arrived within about 30 minutes, with starters in the intervening period. The portions were small, but nothing to complain too much about with the lunch menu prices.

After lunch, Mrs H wanted to visit the Jewellery Quarter. She likes to look at contemporary jewellery. We found a couple of galleries/shops but most of the shops produced/retailed the usual bling. I had heard of the Jewellery Quarter, but I had no idea how extensive it was. On shop owner said there were about 100 jewellers - a very plausible number from our observation.

I had been to the Quarter once before - on my 16th birthday. That was the same birthday I first visited Hooterville. I didn't see any jewellery shops that time. In fact, I didn't even know that's what the area was known for. I just knew we were in Hockley. My father was preaching at a pentecostal church which had been started as a Sunday school by two ladies during the Second World War. It was quite a big church when we were there in 1980.

I asked one shop keeper if he knew of this church, but the only church he knew of was the local Anglican parish. I don't remember much about that church, except for the two old ladies. I'm sure they are dead now. I would have liked to have made further enquiries, found the building, and taken a photo 26 years on, but we didn't have the time or the camera.

Posted by david at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

December 27, 2005

High Rent, High Wages, and Just Plain High in the Arctic

Pharmacies in the Northwest Territories of Canada are putting cold medicines behind the counter. It would seem there isn't a lot to do with your free time in the furthest reaches of the Great White North. As a result folks are making their own entertainment with crystal meth. Over-the-counter pseudo-ephedrine is a key ingredient, so local folks can't be trusted to treat their own sniffles.

When I found out that rents in Yellowknife were, until this year, the highest in Canada, averaging CD$1200 month, I thought maybe the DIY drug manufacturers were trying to save a bit of cash. Then I found out that the NWT have have the highest weekly wage in Canada, CD$999 - up 8% from last year. Yukoners are second on the wage ladder, averaging CD$805 a week.

Posted by david at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Chinese Underpopulation

The latest news out of communist China is that the government plans to jail anyone who helps the parents of an unborn child learn its gender. The goal is to stem the abortion of little girls. China's one child policy combined with the desirableness of sons who can work for the family and care for aged parents has meant that the male/female ratio in the country is 119/100. You think that is way out of balance? In some rural provinces, it is as high as 130/100.

The one thing the government won't do is change the policy. Why? Because as nearly 90 years of Communism (56 years in China) has demonstrated, it is not very good at feeding people. Hence, China is "overpopulated".

How not overpopulated is China? China is only the 54th most densely populated country in the world, with 136 people per square kilometre. Compare this to the UK, which is 33rd and has 245 people per square km. Just after us is Germany with 230. And we pale behind Japan in 18h with 337, the Netherlands in 15th with 395, or South Korea in 12th with 491.

China has 15.4% of its land in arable use. Japan, on the other hand, has less than 12.2% arable. It's not the population. It's not the land. It is the Communism. Communism doesn't work.

Posted by david at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

DRM, Guerrilla Warfare, and a Merry Christmas for EMI

For Christmas I received the CD release Music Inspired By The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Christmas night I finally had a chance to put it into my laptop to listen to it. Or so I thought.

When it fired up, it opened a menu with various multimedia options. One of the options was "Music", but that was a link to a website. I closed down the menu and tried to get into the CD manually. There were only two mpeg files listed.

I couldn't get the cable to Mrs H's CD player until the next morning, when I found out that the music is there after all. Then it dawned on me. I'd been had. Apparently EMI executives are now able to keep their heads above the flood of money - a situation which they find entirely unacceptable - so not satisfied with the cash cow handed to them by the Narnia movie, they have infected the CD with Digital Rights Management software.

Digital Rights Management (or DRM, as it is known) is a way that EMI has violated the implied warranty of merchantibility. When you purchase (or received as a gift) a music CD, it is reasonable to assume that you will be able to listen to the music. In fact, given long-standing US copyright law, it is reasonable to assume that you will be able to not only listen, but make copies of it for your personal use.

DRM software is EMI's way of saying, "No, you can only play our (not your) CDs on selected equipment, which may or may not be what you have, though we won't tell you that ahead of time, as you might not buy the CD. And forget all that copyright law crap. We will tell you what you can and can't do with your purchase. And by the way, we are so big and rich, don't even try to sue us. We use $100 bills for poo paper."

The State of Texas has started in the right direction by suing Sony over it's special XCP "anti-piracy technology" which goes a step further and not only sends information about the user to Sony, but also opens up a security breech for virus to infect the PC. The suit was recently expanded to include a complaint of deceptive trade practice.

The Texas Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005 allows for civil penalties of $100,000 for each violation. The expanded complaint could mean an additional $20,000 penalty per violation under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act.

If each violation is just a particular CD title, then with only 52 titles, this is a mere $6,240,000. That's nothing to Sony. If it is for each infected CD, that will hit them where it hurts.

Now this needs to be expanded to every record company that prevents consumers from using the CD purchased by the consumer in any way they choose and on any device they choose and to the full extent of their rights under copyright law.

What I am contemplating is whether it is incumbent upon consumers to take on these companies by more guerrilla means. As they tighten down the screws, perhaps a mass movement of P2P is in order. I have no problem with people, or even groups of people in corporations, making a profit. I do have a problem when they are willing to openly flout the principles of the common law to puff their excesses.

If they can be pinched by the state governments (and foreign governments) on the one hand and consumers on the other, they will have to rein in their abuse of the market.

I'm not saying this is the answer, just putting it out there in the marketplace of ideas and options.

Posted by david at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

Where's the Talent?

The music business must be about being at the right place at the right time with the right song.

I was just watching the best selling artist in Britain this year. His single "You're Beautiful" was at Number 1 for weeks, his debut album Back to Bedlam was the best seller in the UK for about two months. Call me conceited, but James Blunt doesn't have a better voice than me and his guitar playing is no more complicated than mine.

When I see most artists play, I say to myself, "Oh, that's why I've never played more than a few coffeehouses and churches." Most people with talent have developed more skill in a year of playing guitar than I have in 26.

Oh, what might have been...

Posted by david at 02:22 AM | Comments (2)

December 26, 2005

Avoiding the Argument

This has been a good Christmas for books. I've even finally found three books to buy with a book token I got last Christmas. One book I received from Mrs H is The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. She didn't realise that I already have a copy, because it is in a compendium still with my books in the States. I probably last read it over 25 years ago, so it certainly is time to read it again from the perspective of another time in life and theological framework.

As I opened to the first chapter, it was amazing how immediately applicable it is to issues I deal with on a daily basis. When I get the droning mantra of "There is no God" or "Prove it, prove it, prove it...." someone has been following Uncle Screwtape's advice of

The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle on to the Enemy's own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly inferior to Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient's reason; and once it is awake, who can forsee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sesne experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it 'real life' and don't let him ask what he means by 'real'.

Thanks to processes which we set at work in them centuries ago, they find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes. Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things. Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can't touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don't let him get away from that invaluable 'real life'. But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is 'the results of modern investigation'.

In the October 1997 issue of the "Internet Infidels Newsletter", a real-life Uncle Screwtape, cofounder Jeffery Jay Lowder, advised other "freethinkers":

The importance of clash in a debate cannot be overemphasized. When debaters fail to clash with their opponents, they make their position look stupid. Although all competitive debaters understand that one should not decide the truth of an issue upon a single oral debate, sadly most people in the audience do make decisions this way. Thus, when a debater fails to clash with their opponent in a debate, most of the audience will assume that is because they can't. That is why in competitive debate we have the expression "silence gives consent."

Sadly, the vast majority of freethought "debaters" either do not understand the importance of clash or they do not care. ... For the record, I do not blame freethinkers who do not wish to be bothered with debating. But I do blame freethinkers who don't take their debates seriously, and who do more damage to our position than our opponents ever could. It is always better to decline an invitation to debate than to accept an invitation and make one's position look bad.

Too me it seems like a lose/lose situation for atheists. If they don't enter the debate, they concede defeat. If they do, they come in contact with the real reality and they are ill-equiped to fight the Power they cannot see.

Posted by david at 11:43 PM | Comments (1)

December 24, 2005

Two or More Witnesses

It appears that I'm not completely out to lunch on my views about Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Many of the same conclusions were reached by Professor Lee Strang of Ave Maria School of Law in the National Review. It would appear that he reach his conclusions without any reference to my scholarly endeavor, as his article was published the day before I finished fine-tuning mine and sent it out.

Posted by david at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

Twas the Night Before the Night Before Christmas

Preparations are underway for the culinary delights of Christmas.

In fact, some of the delights have already been consumed. Mrs H made pecan tassies and despite the extensive amount of time they take to create, they are being consumed rapidly.

I don't know how it is with other families, but with ours, the Christmas Eve meal is as prescribed as Christmas dinner. Tonight Mrs H has been making tamales. Last year, when my parents were visiting and we spent Christmas in Cheddar, we didn't have tamales.

As persons of Mexican extraction or descent do not make up a significant demographic group in the Shire, the natural course of events would dictate the fate. Though Mrs H has only been Mrs H for six years, she decided that two years in a row was too long to go without Christmas Eve tamales.

South of the border and across the US, tamales are a traditional meal for Mexicans after Midnight Mass. We are not Mexican, but tamales have been a tradition going back to my mother's Southern Baptist childhood. As you might guess, she didn't grow up Midnight Mass. She did, however, grow up in a family-owned department store in small town South Texas with a 50% Hispanic population. After closing the store at the end of the last shopping day, they would have tamales brought in.

Growing up, I can only imagine one Christmas when we might not have had tamales - 1969, when we had a family reunion of sorts in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. (Also the only time to this day when I have ever put on a pair of snow skis, but that's another story.) Over Christmas 1983 I was on a mission trip to central Mexico, so I don't know if I had them, but I'm sure they were available.

Mrs H tried to import cornhusks from the US, but they haven't gotten here in time, so she's used paper. They are all wrapped up and ready to steam. We'll have to see how it goes.

In another place, 23 degrees south and 94 degrees west from here, my parents have ordered theirs. When when we sit down tomorrow evening after church (at tea time, no midnight service with our munchkins) with our taco soup (another tradition, though probably less than 25 years old) and tamales, a small piece of the 1940s in Goliad, Texas will be preserved across time and space.

Posted by david at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

Collect Before Delivery

Being 4000 miles from the grandparents when we can't be together for Christmas means large trans-Atlantic packages.

We got the presents from the States today. Well, at least most of them. Someone along the way decided that a box that big was just too tempting to pass up.

When Mrs H opened it up, at first she thought that the presents hadn't been wrapped. That seemed unusual, but we quickly sent Aidan upstairs so the surprise wouldn't be ruined. As it turned out, it was only the top gift that was completely unwrapped.

At first we blamed HM Customs and Excise. After all, the customs declaration on the side was a bit vague. Then we realised that there was no special resealing tape or stamped notice that the box had been opened upon arrival in the UK.

Digging deeper into the parcel, it also turned out that every other gift had been tampered with to some degree or another. Some had been almost completely ripped open. Others just had a hole poked in. One originally taped and tied on both ends with string had the tape missing and the string hastily re-tied on one end. This was too bad even for a Government job.

And we still don't know what's supposed to be attached to a piece of paper that says, "You will have to shorten for her I know."

Who steals Christmas presents? Don't tell me it was some desperate, underpaid US Postal or UK Parcelforce worker who otherwise wouldn't have anything. US readers will know that there is no such thing as an underpaid postal worker. Newly-hired Parcel Force workers outside of London make as much as £14,400 a year in basic pay, before shift allowance and the like. As with many other jobs, Inner and Outer London positions are paid even more.

Sadly postal theft, like other pilfering in this country, is endemic. Postwatch, the postal services watchdog, says 15 million items go missing every year. Sometimes it happens as part of a theft ring, like that run by Dido Mayue-Belezika, who was jailed this week for a £20 million cheque fraud scheme. A lot of it is just opportunistic. As one former postie told the BBC, "If you're determined to pinch something, you can do it. It's not hard at all."

Posted by david at 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

Dissent Will Not Be Tolerated

Say something of which the Government doesn't approve and it is very possible that you will be interviewed by the police and if it is determined that you haven't committed what amounts to a crime yet, the incident will be reported and recorded on a Government computer for future reference.

That's what has happened over the promotion of homosexuality in this country. First, author Lynette Burrows dared to say that she did not believe that homosexuals should be allowed to adopt. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, "She added that placing boys with two homosexuals for adoption was as obvious a risk as placing a girl with two heterosexual men who offered themselves as parents." Even more outrageously, she actually said it in a radio interview on Radio Five Live.

Police contacted her the next day, saying they had a report of a "homophobic incident".

"I was astounded," she said. "I told [the policewoman] this was a free country and we are allowed to express opinions on matters of public interest. She told me it was not a crime but that she had to record these incidents. They were leaning on me, letting me know that the police had an interest in my views. I think it is sinister and completely unacceptable."

Well, Scotland Yard might have taken a lenient approach with Lynette Burrows, but the Lancashire Constabulary was not so forgiving, and over much less, as a retired Christian couple from Fleetwood found out.

The Wyre Borough Council distributes gay rights leaflets and promotes its theatre as a venue for civil partnership ceremonies. Joe and Helen Roberts asked if they could display Christian literature next to the gay material.

Unfortunately, they had to ask the council officer responsible for the council-run campaign to promote to gay and lesbian rights.

Mr Roberts was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, "I asked him if I could put Christian literature on display alongside the gay material. He said I couldn’t because it would offend gay people. I said we had no objection to gay people, but we thought that homosexual practice was wrong and we were offended by the gay culture which the council is promoting."

The response of the council was to call the police. A council spokesman said that the couple had “displayed potentially homophobic attitudes,” so, he added, “The council referred this matter to the police for further investigation with the intention of challenging attitudes and educating and raising awareness of the implications of homophobic behaviour.”

Now it is the job of the police to re-educate those who have illegal attitudes. The police said that during their visit with the Roberts family, "Words of suitable advice were given and we will not be taking any further action."

Or as Mr Roberts clarified, "They warned me that being discriminatory and homophobic is in line with hate crime. The phrase they used was that we were ‘walking on eggshells’."

Then Mr Roberts asked a question that should be asked up and down the country again and again. "I asked the officer, if I phoned the police with a complaint that the council were discriminating against Christians would he go to interview them?"

Posted by david at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

The Vestiges of Establishment

Schools in England and Wales are required by law to provide "a daily act of collective worship". This was part of the deal brokered with the Church in the Education Act 1944. Is this just some forgettable provision from 60 years ago? No, the Education Reform Act of 1988 clarified that the collective worship should be "wholly, or mainly, of a broadly Christian character".

Despite this, over three-quarters of schools in England and over half of schools in Wales do not comply with the law.

These are the same schools that wonder why students don't obey the rules imposed upon them. But what message are these scofflaws sending? "You do what we tell you, but we'll do what we like."

It's not like the actual process of quiet orderly assemblies each day would create a calming effect generally. And clearly sidelining God as much as possible is fostering a postive ethos and environment. Otherwise schools wouldn't be doing so well, would they?

Posted by david at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

Kitzmiller from Over Here

As promised, the new Mental Meandering is now available.

After going over Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, perhaps I can offer a different perspective on teaching Intelligent Design in the US and UK.

Your comments welcome.

Posted by david at 11:55 PM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2005

We'll Issue our Opinion Soon

What began as a blog entry about the ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District is now becoming a Mental Meandering. I hope to publish it shortly.

Posted by david at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

From the Home Office in Wahoo, Nebraska

The digital channels on British television are slowly expanding. Recently ITV added a fourth channel. With it they added the Late Show with David Letterman. It comes on at midnight with the CBS broadcast from the previous night.

Another slice of American culture comes to Britain.

Posted by david at 12:23 AM | Comments (2)

December 20, 2005

ID and the Unbalanced BBC

I've just watch a BBC News segment on the Intelligent Design controversy in Dover, Pennsylvania. I would like to say I've never seen a more lopsided report, but there is too much bias in Broadcasting House suggest that. Stateside correspondent Matt Frei and his editors characterised the ID debate as funded and fueled by fundamentalists, juxtaposing Americans United for Separation of Church and State with an already-overused clip from Pat Robertson on the 700 Club.

Staging the first part of his report from the Gettysburg Battefield, he said, "Not since the civil war [sic] was fought right here has America been as divided as it is today about some really fundamental issues.

"Then of course it was all about slavery and states' rights.

"Today, amongst other things, it is about the role of God in society, the separation of church and state - strange issues you might say for a modern, industrialised nation."

Yes, that's right, there's really no role for God in a modern society. Of course he is representing a news organisation owned by a state which is not separated from the church (or at least for 92% of the population, as there is no establishment in Wales or Northern Ireland). This just goes to show you how impotent the established churches are in this country - that they are no factor in the perception of role of God in this modern industrialised nation.

The only quote from someone supporting ID was one of the people who got voted off the local school board, "Evolution is not the only way to look at science. There are other considerations here, life is very complex and there are other theories to look at, to know of, to round out the picture and complete the picture."

And other than Robertson's suggestion that Dover is under the judgment of God, all of the input was from anti-ID and anti-religion sources. It reminds me of a blog I saw recently that divided links to other blogs between "Fair and Balanced" and "To the Right".

I had a comment today from an omniscient 15-year-old (if you will forgive the tautology) who told me that there was no reason to study religion because scientists had proved there is no God. He was convinced that the truth of his statement was self-evident. His forensic method was simply to talk over me saying, "There's no God. There's no God. There's no God." (If he were in the US, he would be a high school sophomore. It is not surprising there is such a close relationship between that term and Psalm 14:1 or Romans 1:22.) When pressed, he finally coughed up his evidence: it's on TV all the time.

Posted by david at 11:25 PM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2005

Five Random Facts

I've been tagged by Grumpy Teacher to post five random things about myself.

1. When I first moved away from home, I paid my keep in part by being the announcer on a 15-minute daily program for Christian radio. We recorded it a week at a time in a mobile home than had been converted into a recording studio. I worked from the drum booth.

2. I once stepped on the head of kitten and crushed its skull. We had 14 kittens at the time, as two of our 7 cats had litters of 7 each a day apart. A raccoon got into the garage and in my effort to shoo it out one of the kittens got under foot. It had been my favourite of the kittens. I buried it in the back yard. A wild animal dug it up and took it away.

3. I've read every book written by Bill Bryson. As I read them, I am filled with envy - not that he gets to travel the world and write about it, but that he does such a good job of it.

4. When it comes to playing guitar, I can't finger-pick. I've been playing guitar for a month short of 26 years and I've never been able to do this. Thus it has always been important to me to have a plectrum with which I am comfortable. I originally used the Fender .45mm, though I soon changed to the unbreakable Dunlop .46mm.

5. The first CD I owned was Medals by Russ Taff. I own three medals. One I got in the 5th grade for third place in a regional science fair with a project on meteorology. I think I got the other two at a speech tournament when I was in junior high. I can't be sure and they are in Texas so I can't check any inscription.

You're it: Michael, Philippa, Elizabeth, Luz, and Laura.

Posted by david at 10:18 PM | Comments (2)

December 17, 2005

Santa the Perv

When my father managed the local radio station in my hometown, one of the annual events was the arrival of Santa to hear the wishes of the local boys and girls. Santa arrived early from his day job as guidance counselor at the local high school, changed into the red and white suit that stayed in a box in the back of the station most of the year. Children queued up for their turn on Santas lap to tell him the things they wanted for Christmas.

This same scene has been replayed in shopping malls, department stores, and other venues for years. It is one of the great social traditions of Christmas, at least in the English-speaking world.

Not anymore - at least in a number of shopping malls and toy stores throughout this country. Now that everyone is a suspected paedophile, if parents dare to take their children to see Santa, it is only to sit on a stool next to him.

One shopping centre Santa provider said, “Unfortunately, people in this day and age just don’t look favourably on a child sitting on Santa’s knee, so we train our Santas not to do it." This was echoed by the spokesperson of another mall, “Children are not allowed to sit on Santa’s knee because all our Santas go through rigorous police checks, and we’re advised on the basis of that training to ask the Santas not to touch the children.”

What is the world coming to when Santa has to pass a police check and still isn't fit for that most basic of Santa duties?

Posted by david at 01:35 AM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2005

No Sense of Humour

The Kazakh government may have no sense of democracy, but it has no sense of humour either. Only a central Asian dictatorship would take exception to a British comedian to the point that it would threaten to sue him, close down his website, and suggest that he is a comedy spy.

As Sacha Baron Cohen was wearing out his Ali G character, he created Borat. Borat is a Kazakh television reporter. The comedy plays upon the general ignorance of interviewees and other unsuspecting people about Kazakhstan. In the end, the joke is on the ignorant, not on the Kazakhs. At least it was until the Kazakh government made themselves the collective butt of the joke.

Sure, Cohen portrays Kazakhs as incestuous anti-Semitic drunkards. But he's just a comedian. First the Kazakh Foreign Ministry threatened to sue him. "We reserve the right to any legal action to prevent new pranks of the kind." That was after they declared his act "utterly unacceptable, being a concoction of bad taste and ill manners which is completely incompatible with ethics and civilised behaviour".

Then they pulled his website. The president of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies, told Reuters, "We've done this so he can't bad-mouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name." He was using the site to respond sacastically to the legal threats.

But now Cohen is apparently suspected of being the agent of a foreign government, entrusted with the mission of showing Kazakhstan in a negative light. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzham Ashykbayev told reporters, "We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way."

President Nazarbayev's government has also hired two Western PR firms to counter Borat's "claims". Their efforts have included running a four-page advertisement in the New York Times carriying testimonials about Kazakhstan's democracy, education system and the power and influence enjoyed by women. I would suggest that if you are going to attempt to defend a record on democracy, it might help to run an actual fair, democractic election and not worry about character comedians.

Posted by david at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)