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I absolutely agree with you about carving your own path through trails and finding new sections. I've had the pleasure to snowboard an entire season in Switzerland and that's the thing I enjoyed most. In Verbier you could hit untouched powder days after a fresh snow fall because the diversity of the mountain allowed for so many potential pathways. Verbier and many others are for the most part above the tree-line giving you much more opportunity to discover untouched territory. The runs are endless. Check out the map enclosed.
Even though Europe's Alps can be otherworldly, I think we have it a little better over here in the States. Europe is very different and absolutely worth the experience to ski/snowboard. Plus it's cheaper 9 out of 10 places you go compared to the States. But I would still say when it comes down to it the States just has the best spots. Tahoe, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming.... the list goes on.
As a bartender myself, and having had every form of income be from a restaurant service position I absolutely support tipping in America. I make $3.15 an hour as a bartender but have made as much as $700 on a a 13 hour shift. How much you make directly depends on how hard you work. What's wrong with that? Yeah, I've had great nights. I've also had horrible nights too. Try working in a bar in downtown Phoenix during the day when it's 115 degrees outside. You think anyone's around to tip you?
Let's also look at the failure rate of restaurants and bars. Nobody would even attempt to open a restaurant if you had to pay your staff even minimum wage. Two things are guaranteed to happen: price for your meal goes up to cover labor costs, or the failure rate goes up even higher further discouraging people to open restaurants.
One more thing, European servers and bartenders do receive a salary and depending on location, pretty good ones. The tip is then considered to be in the bill already, which doesn't mean that the servers get tipped at the end of the night by their employers. It just means they are in fact being paid. I worked in a restaurant and a night club in Switzerland. Yes you still would like to be tipped regardless, but 10% would have always sufficed.
You could argue, with concrete examples (Enron), that corporations have acted like evil empires. But in todays business world business ethics is not only the key driver for survival it's a form of gaining competitive advantage. The "easy", unethical, way of "taking care of things" doesn't prompt the best long term benefit. Besides the obvious penalties a corporation receives from acting unethically, a corporation's biggest incentive to be "good" is market share, or in better words keeping consumers loyal to their brand. Look at how Nike changed their ways of outsourcing let alone organizational structure after a couple articles in some big magazines exposed them taking advantage of poor working conditions in Asia. It's a liability to be bad these days. Corporations are also finding that there are real cost saving benefits associated with being environmentally friendly. Power plants that run more efficiently also require less coal or oil which are huge cost savings and in turn let off less carbon.
First of all, Escobar's own goal didn't lose Columbia the championship. They were eliminated in the first round of the world cup. Second, Escobar was definitely not the worst player and Columbia has never been the best team. Also, fans are known to turn on the "diamond in the rough" just as easily and become just as infamous for losing games. Look at England's reaction to Beckham shanking an 11 Meter clear over the net in the shoot out against Portugal in the Euro 2004. They blamed him for not advancing to the semifinals.
If you're just as good a player in both situations it's better to be the worst on the best. Yeah maybe you look better on the bad team because you're the best, but it's all about WINNING. The only thing that matters is winning games. It doesn't matter how good you are, and how well you perform, it's depressing to lose. Also in my experience in sports the better the team you're on the more you push yourself to become better as an athlete. If you're the worst on the team, one would hope you would do everything possible to change that status. Being the best on bad team hinders you from becoming an even better player (in many cases).
Suns made a very risky trade. Shaq could very well be close to the end of his career, while Marion shines in prime. At first I was in favor of getting Shaq in my optimistic ways. I thought a move to a team like the Suns would get the big guy's gears going again. But to replace an all around player like Marion is a difficult thing, and I think they should have kept him.
This question is not easily answered with a simple yes or no. In my opinion, almost anything that is brewed/produced in such large quantities like Bud, Coors, Miller cannot sustain high quality. I don't hate these beers, but do dislike them, and rarely ever drink them. On the other hand imported beers never seem to taste quite like the do where they're made. Most big imports like Heineken specially brew beer for American export, and a lot of imports include added preservatives to meet US regulation. Anyone who's had a Guinness in Ireland let alone Europe knows exactly what I'm talking about. Amstel light and Heineken light were made specifically for US drinkers, Amstel light being a disgrace compared to the original AMSTEL poured directly off a Dutch Tap. All things aside, there are some great American beers but such beers aren't mass produced and distributed. Anchorstream, a micro brewery in San Fransisco, in my opinion is the best American beer. I also recently have had the pleasure of trying numerous beers from Harpoon brewery in Boston, namely their IPA, and red ale. These are exceptions in the US, who resemble European breweries. The local brewery concept.