Sunday, July 25, 2004

Old pic, don't shoot me.

Hey you jerks and ladies out there, he did it!!! He is Mr. Armstrong of course. No, not the guy from Ohio, that one from Texas.
Ok, all of you baseball nutjobs probably look down on cycling but over here in the good ole (cough) Europe cycling is really considered a top-notch sport, and a guy who wins the Tour de France even only once becomes an instant hero. Four riders won it five times: that’s Frenchman Jacques Anquetil (in ’56 and again in ’61, ’62, ’63 and ’64), my compatriot Eddy Merckx (in ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72 and again in ’74), Frenchman Bernard Hinault (in ’78, ’79, ’81, ’82 and ’85),  and Spaniard Miguel Indurain (in ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94 and ’95). In ’99 Lance came into the picture and he has won all six Tours from then on in a row, which is AMAZING!!!! All the more considering this guy, at age 25, had    testicular cancer which had also spread to the abdomen, the lungs, and the brain.
Anyway, today he was so far ahead in the general classification that only some disaster could have kept him from winning the Tour. That, fortunately, did not happen. The only real thrills which were in store were in fact to whom the so-called Green Shirt would go. Australian Robbie McEwen, who happens to have married a blonde Belgian virgin (well, at least she used to be) had the biggest shot at it, although Norwegian Thor Hushovd still was not entirely chanceless. It turned out to be the Aussie though. God put a final smile on your servant’s face by prodding Belgian Tom Boonen to win today’s prestigious stage. Maybe you’ll remember he already won once in the early stages of this Tour.

In case Maine keeps smirking about the noble sport of cycling, take notice that in Texas they do know how to appreciate it.

Never mind the denigrating Frogistanese talk in this last link. Too bad Napoleon wasn't a Tour de France champ.

As an afterthought, I have compiled this little list for my dear readers. From a Time article. It shows the 2002 figures for European tax revenues as a percentage of GDP, in declining order:

Sweden                       50.6%
Denmark                      49.4%
Belgium                        46.2%
Finland                         45.9%
France                         44.2%
Austria                         44.1%
Norway                       43.1%
Italy                             41.1%
The Netherlands          39.3%
Czech Republic            39.2%
Hungary                       37.7%
Iceland                         36.7%
Germany                      36.2%
United Kingdom          35.9%
Spain                           35.6%
Greece                         34.8%
Poland                         34.3%
Portugal                       34.0%
Slovakia                       33.8%
Switzerland                  31.3%
Ireland                         28.0%

Notice the third country in the list (no, I’m not a Slovak; the third from above). I’m optimistic however because soon now, very soon (mid-August) I will start working for myself in 2004. Notice that all Scandinavian countries are well represented. It would be worth doing some research into the reason it’s precisely these countries which have the most appalling tax rates. Interesting too is that the Czech Republic and Hungary have already rather high tax rates too. Indeed, there, too, manufacture of low-key technical parts is already outsourced to Ukraine, with some Hungarian companies even investing in own plants in that country.


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