Sorry to have missed yesterday. I somehow disturbed the forces of the Universe and the day just . . . disappeared!

(Yet according to the London Daily Mail, as I switched planes at Heathrow this morning, it did not disappear for everyone. Rape, greed and gossip ran rampant; a BBQ fork was plunged through a fellow diner’s heart; and, on the brighter side, it was reported that a daily dose of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fish oil capsules made the seven-year olds at Little Heath Primary School in Potters Bar, Herts, smarter and better behaved. After three months on the capsules, the best of the students jumped three years in reading comprehension.)

Turns out that the only wooden shoes in Holland are the ones they sell at the airport gift shop. A better bet is the $7.50 price of admission to the Anne Frank house – extraordinarily well done. (Meanwhile, on a related topic – Anne died at 16 in a concentration camp a month before the liberation – this new exhibit from The Shoah Foundation is just a click away.)

Amsterdam has a homo-monument – pink stone leading down to a canal, where any number of folks had tossed bouquets. That’s not my slang for it, that’s actually what the street sign says: Homo-Monument.

Dutch strikes me as eminently learnable. My favorite phrase? We have ‘the check,’ the French have ‘l’addition,’ the Italians have ‘la comte’ (sì?) – the Dutch have “de rekening.”  As you know, I am afraid we Americans will one day have de rekening, also.  You don’t borrow $700 billion a year without consequences.

(But in case the world doesn’t end, consider American Express [AXP – $52.50].  If you pick your own stocks, it could be a good core holding.  They are supposed to be selling their financial advisory arm.  The credit card business that will remain could get a boost now that banks are allowed to offer Amex without retribution from Visa and MasterCard.)

Gays can freely marry in Holland – as they can throughout the United States.  (An openly gay man can marry an openly gay woman in every state in the Union.)  But the Dutch take it one step further and allow gay people to marry the people they love.  Something about – if I got the translation right – “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

There are those who believe American gays want “special rights.”  Ironically, the only special right American gays have – exemption from military service – is a special right they don’t want.  And may not always have.  USA Today editorialized April 28:

“Let gay soldiers serve openly . . . The policy is particularly irrational at a time when the Army and National Guard are struggling to meet their recruitment goals. . . . many of the arguments cited a dozen years ago to justify the policy seem outdated . . . When Britain decided five years ago to allow gays to serve openly, military officers predicted that conflicts would break out between gay and non-gay cliques. But that hasn’t happened.  Gays should be able to serve openly in the U.S. military, as well. If they engage in sexual harassment or misconduct, they should be punished – just as heterosexual soldiers are punished . . . The current policy lacks common sense . . . The supply of soldiers didn’t dry up when the British army dropped its gay ban. And there’s no reason to believe America’s MTV generation would act any differently if Congress junked this archaic law.”

 

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