The Moron's Weekend Briefing

May 2 - It was a wet and gloomy day yesterday (see lead photo), so I didn't make it to the big Communist extravaganza in Fælledparken. The DMB tells me it isn't so much Communists as unions and trade groups these days, griping about their lousy six weeks of annual paid vacation and 24 paid holidays.

There was a big strike in the country a few years ago because the unions thought five weeks vacation wasn't enough. They struck and held demonstrations for about two weeks (with representative demands--seriously--of "More free time!" and "Less pressure!"). Eventually they got a compromise: you can either take five weeks of vacation and get an extra week's pay, or take six full weeks of vacation.

Six weeks of vacation may seem like a lot, but remember that this is a country where the luxury tax on cars is 180% (not a typo), where there's an "envy tax" on property, and where the sales tax is 25%.

They call the sales tax the Moms (which is kind of funny for the English speaker, because a lot of sales tags list prices "excl. Moms"). The various taxes all take the same suffix of skat, or "treasure," which is also the most common term of endearment in Denmark. (The equivalent of honey, darling, sweetie, etc.) So Danes are giving the vast majority of their income to their Moms and Darlings. Which is maybe ironic, maybe Orwellian, but more likely just another stupid coincidence.

Still, if someone proposes renaming our federal Income Tax "Honey Money," I say we kill the bastard.

So here's the traditional weekend briefing for May 2-4...

On May 2, 1729, Catherine the Great was born. More than any Russian head of state before her, she embraced a closer union with Europe. More than any Russian head of state to follow, she embraced a closer union with her horse.

Baron Manfred von Richtofen was also born on May 2, but in 1892. The World War I flying ace, better known to students of military history as the Red Baron, shot down over 80 enemy aircraft in World War I, sending dozens of handsome young men to fiery, terrible deaths and thereby earning himself a place in the Peanuts comic strip. (Which hardly excuses Snoopy's reprehensible bloodlust.)

On May 3, 1494, Columbus first sighted the island of Jamaica. He and his crew remained on the island for some time, no doubt attracted by the tropical drinks, lush golf courses, exciting night life, and the thrill of parasailing, but in the end were driven away by the high prices.

On May 4, 1970, twenty-eight National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd of demonstrating students at Kent State, in Ohio. Four students were killed, nine were injured. My music club took advantage of this somber anniversary last year to offer Neil Young's "Decade" at a special price: "When he sang the infamous lyric, 'Four dead in Ohio,'" they breathlessly promote, "he was merely echoing the outrage of a nation in crisis." Maybe. But $29.98 is still pretty steep, and I was never that into Neil Young.

And for the record, he wasn't echoing the outrage of a nation in crisis. He was stating a fact. The outrage of a nation in crisis was better reflected when he sang, "Our house is a very very very nice house." It was a virtual anthem for the millions of Americans disullusioned by Real Estate, and its dark hints at casual arson should not be overlooked ("I'll light the fire while you put the flowers in the vase that we bought today...").

Catherine the Great's birthday of May 2 is shared by Bianca Jagger (1945), Engelbert Humperdinck (1936), Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903), Baron Von Richthofen (1892).

May 3 is Niccolo dei Machiavelli's birthday (1469). It's also the birthday of noted vocalists Frankie Valli (1937), James Brown (1928), Pete Seeger (1919), Bing Crosby (1903), and Golda Meir (1898).

George Will and Pia Zadora both celebrate their birthdays on May 4, but probably not together. Mr. Will turns 62 this year; Ms. Zadora 47. They share their birthday with Audrey Hepburn (1929) and Heloise (1919).

May 2 is Sporting Holiday in Egypt. May 3 is Constitution Day in both Japan and Poland, and it's Labor Day in Ukraine. May 4 is Flag Day in Bosnia, Youth Day in China, and Memorial Day in the Netherlands. And also Holland.

Not many shopping days left until Cinco de Mayo!

Enjoy the weekend.

© 2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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