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The Theater of the Absurd in Europe

Insight on the News, April 27, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Theater of the Absurd in Europe


Byline: Stephen Goode, INSIGHT

The Theater of the Absurd in Europe

Much, indeed very much, that happens in this world strikes for the people as worthy of interest, but sometimes things are downright amusing. These stories come from recent Reuters dispatches. Who knows? They may be indicators of new trends now taking form.

The Bavarian government has announced it no longer can provide state aid to help yodelers purchase lederhosen, those short pants without which Bavarian yodeling may not be possible. Despite protests from folklore groups, Bavarian officials said that thanks to years of very slow economic growth, the state no longer could afford lederhosen, a good suede pair of which runs about $185.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, a female receptionist in an office found herself fired from her job for sexual harassment. According to the daily newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet, the unfortunate woman lost her position after her employer learned that she had complimented a male client of the company on his good looks.

"I joked with a client about how handsome he was," the receptionist told the newspaper, which did not publish her name or the name of her employer. Nor did Sydsvenska Dagbladet find out whether the client in question was deeply offended by the woman's remark, which strikes this column as, well, a bit innocuous and certainly not a reason to cast someone among the unemployed.

Finally, for the people was very surprised and somewhat chagrined to read that in the Netherlands one of those European nations that is supposed to have solved so many social and moral problems whose solutions have eluded poor, benighted America theft of bicycles is a truly big problem.

Holland has about 16 million inhabitants, and the number of bicycles there is said to be even greater than the number of Hollanders. According to Amsterdam police, between 80,000 and 150,000 of the two-wheeled vehicles are stolen among the Dutch each year, a national scandal that has led police there to propose that all bicycles come equipped with a hidden global-positioning-system transmitter so they can be located and tracked to the hijackers once they've been pinched.

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