Men in lederhosen test their bullocks (videos); bubble tea cancer worry; herpes and animal cruelty; Germany’s sex tax

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STOP PRESS!! Have you tried the YouTube Playlist featuring all of my compositions for the TRANSFORMATES? Here it is:

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In this weeks blog I would like to bring to your attention a number of interesting subjects emanating from the alpine region. A couple of the articles are related to traditional alpine sports which I believe justify wider international coverage. I have also prepared two articles about animal health issues with serious implications for humans. Another article deals with nutrition and consumer health, and the last item relates to an important development in Bonn which could help other nations in their struggle to raise additional tax income.

This is rather a lot for one week because we had extremely good weather in the alps last weekend. Good weather meant that I had no excuse not to do some exercise and trek up the mountain a couple of times. This prevented me from providing an update to the blog last week. I was however able to write a couple of articles adapted from the local news which are included in the summaries below. This weekend it is raining again!

Sport in Bavaria

1. Fingerhakeln

Do you know what Fingerhakeln is? I was surprised to hear that my son in Vienna was unacquainted with this sport. However if you take a look at the video’s attached to the article you will see the impact this sport has on a participant’s middle finger. Since my son is a programmer his middle finger comes in quite useful for his job. Therefore any injuries to this digit could seriously impact his earning potential.

It is quite difficult to describe Fingerhakeln in words (although I have tried to in the article) so I do recommend that you take a look at the videos. By the way, in the video fingerhakeln is not what the two men joined by their necks are doing on the floor; this is another traditional Bavarian sport.

If you want to understand more about Fingerhakeln the article, and the embedded videos, are here

2: Ochsenrennen

Rather than write a separate article on this Bavarian sport let me describe it here. Try to imagine a land were people like to race with each other on the back of four-legged animals. Now try to imagine this in a place where there are not many horses (and the dogs are pretty small). In this place there are lots of cows and because of the plentiful supply of grass these cows are big and very strong.

These cows are the ‘Ochsen’ or to use a slightly more westernised term “bullocks”. Whereas fingerhakeln did not require much equipment (one finger to be precise) bullock racing requires a bullock. Therefore it can be considered a kind of ‘Upper Class’ alpine sport – a bit like horse racing in England. Although horse racing is often called the sport of Queens you will not find a single Queen participating in the alpine bullock races. Here we just have lots of well-built chaps dressed in traditional Lederhosen. In this respect it is quite similar to Fingerhakeln.

The reason I am introducing you to Bullock Racing now is that today we have the big Münsinger Ochsenrennen (‘Rennen’ is the German word for races). This is a huge event not dissimilar to the final of the Champions League in Football or the Grand National horse race in the UK. Rather than trying to explain all the details of how these brave Bavarian men and their trusty steeds battle it out on the alpine prairie why don’t you take a look at the video. Here come the Lederhosen Jockeys!

27th August update: STOP THE PRESS! I may have accidentally mislead readers with my comments about not having any Queens at the Ochsenrennen. If you take a look at the yesterdays photos from Münsing (courtesy of today’s Süddeutsche Zeitung) you will see on photo number 3 that we do indeed have a Princess participating in the Bullock Races; Jockey number 4 is indeed a very pretty Bavarian girl appropriately dressed in Lederhosen. Do not let it be said that Ochsenrennen is not an equal opportunities sport. The photos can be found here.

Animal Health Articles

The first of these articles describes how a polar bear caught herpes off a zebra. Fortunately this is not a particularly common occurence due to the fact that in the wild polar bears don’t tend to shack up with zebras. This is especially fortuitous because rather than simply picking up an unpleasant cold sore one of the infected polar bears died from the equine herpes virus.

This infection was instigated by humans. We placed the Polar Bears and Zebras much closer together than would be the case in nature and facilitated the transmission of the disease between them by ……………

…… to avoid any further deterioration in my repetitive strain injury I will not duplicate the gory details of what happened here. If you would like to find out exactly how the polar bear got herpes from the zebra please read my article which you can find here.

The second animal article this week is also a story of an animal tragedy caused by humans. Sometimes we think we are being kind to our pets but in reality we have the opposite effect. Find out how an old lady faces a court accusation of cruelty to her Pekingese dog and discover the other unpleasant things she threatened to do (to the vet) here.

Human Health and Nutrition

Since it was invented in Taiwan bubble tea has become very popular around the world. Scientists in Germany have carried out research into the ‘Bubbles’ and have come up with some potentially serious findings. If you, your friends or family like to enjoy a drink of bubble tea it will be worth reading about what these scientists have discovered. My bubble tea article can be found here.

Taxing ‘Financially Remunerated Romantic Activities’

Since this is a family blog I am trying to avoid the use of words which some of my readers will consider unsuitable for those members of the family who are not yet 21 years of age. I have therefore invented a new 4 letter ‘F’ word. I think the grown ups will know what I mean when I write about ‘Financially Remunerated Romantic Activities’ (or FRRAs). In Bonn they have introduced a tax during 2011 for FRRAs and recently the time arrived to determine whether this tax had been a success or not.

This article will explain the situation and also describes a fantastic innovation: a self-service FRRA permitting machine. No wonder this country leads the world in technological inventions (well at least as far as FRRA permits are concerned). Read more about these fiscal (and the associated physical) advances here.

Well that is all for this week. Please let me know if you have any feedback on the content or choice of articles I have presented. I am considering starting up a movement to get Fingerhakeln and Bullock Racing included in future Olympic Games. If you are interested in supporting this ‘Lederhosen Olympic Sports Initiative’ please let me know.

Happy Hakeln!

Chris Duggleby

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