You know what IS lost here in America?; it's the art of the civil argument. Whenever I visit other countries (which is usually the Czech Republic, but occasionally elsewhere) I see people in social situations discussing, sometimes with much vigor, politics (oh my god), religion, philosophy, how to raise children, etc, etc. Sometimes the discussions turn into loud arguments, but the thing is that it never even enters the mind that the participants will not be friends at the end of the evening. It's tragic that here we cannot do this. We have to agree not to make speeches, no "flaming", and it seems clear that those who disagree are not going to end up being friends. Bring up any of the above topics in a social situation and you will be considered at the very least in bad taste, or (as the polite among us have taken to doing in this forum), you will be ignored. It really is too bad.
Had a great time over there on my Christmas trip by the way. I get to play with the best dixieland jazz band in Prague (of which there are many). Did miss lurking on the Mudcat, even though I don't say much anymore.
Wishing everyone a great year, Chet W.