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It seems to us . . . Our friends in 'Nam, sniffing at trouble and a happy return from the Czechs

TRADING PLACES: Veterans of the Vietnam War might want to stop reading here. Otherwise, you might learn that the government of the United States recently presented a "country of the year" award to -- Vietnam.

Trade normalization and growing commercial partnerships prompted the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to present the award to Nguyen Tam Chien, ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Bygones seem to be bygones -- but then again, we're friends with Britain despite all that Buffalo-burning business back in 1812, and with Japan and Germany despite some unpleasantness a few decades ago. Seems it's not just soldiers, but time that marches on.


A SNORT TOO FAR: There's a little dust-up at the Grand Canyon these days, according to Congressional Quarterly. Seems National Park Service scientists are miffed that the gift shop sells a creationist book attributing the canyon to Noah's Flood a mere 6,000 years ago. What got us, though, was a park geologist's complaint that that would be equivalent to Yellowstone selling a book titled "Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan."

Back off, stone-ager. That's our tag line, as we redevelop an Erie Canal waterfront district once described as "the very nostrils of hell." Are those tourism dollars we sniff?


A HUNDRED THOUSAND CROWNS: OK, in Czech currency 100,000 crowns equals only about $4,600, but there's a really nice thought behind the amount the beautiful city of Prague has set aside to begin design efforts for a city memorial to the memory of Ronald Reagan. Reagan's message of freedom still resonates in Central and Eastern Europe, as does his crucial role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Prague's not sure whether it wants a statue or an abstract sculpture in front of a district hall, but this is definitely not the anti-American message we hear so often these days.

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