We're serious about this

D'ya know what "OK" translates to in French? Answer: "d'accord." How about "computer"? That would be "ordinateur." Why ask? Because this has become an issue in ... Germany (yes, Germany), where some university professors are campaigning to replace commonly used English words with the French equivalents. They deny their effort is a response to Americans who've renamed French fries "freedom fries" because of the Paris government's opposition to war in Iraq. On the other hand, Germany sided with France, and the educators say theirs is "a political signal" of solidarity.

OK, if that's what you want

But apparently it's possible to take this French business too far. Case in point: L. Philip Cote. His dry-cleaning establishment in West Hartford, Conn., had been known as French's for 92 years. Until, that is, he caved in to customer complaints about the Paris government and renamed the place Freedom Cleaners. But that didn't sit well with other patrons, and arguments ensued. So he put the matter to a vote. The majority ruled, and it's French Cleaners again.

Quote of the day

The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation.

- Miriam Beard, 20th-century American writer

From 'A History of Business' (1938).

Developed countries where the tax burden is heaviest

As Tuesday's tax-filing deadline looms, many Americans likely are grumbling about the bite the government takes out of their paychecks. Yet others have it worse. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the US ranked 14th out of 29 countries last year in household tax burdens. The OECD members with the highest taxes in 2002, with percentage of income paid by single workers, and by one-earner families with two children, respectively:

1. Denmark 43.1% 30.5%
2. Belgium 41.4% 21.6%
3. Germany 41.2% 18.6%
4. Finland 31.7% 23.2%
5. Poland 31.0% 25.0%
6. Sweden 30.4% 21.0%
7. Turkey 30.0% 30.0%
8. Hungary 29.1% 7.8%
9. Norway 28.8% 17.9%
10. Austria 28.6% 9.0%

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