This page collects pages on Switzerland. I live in this country and I think Switzerland has a lot to give to the world. Switzerland has a lot of foreigners, several official languages, and a political system that merits analysis. (RSS, Search)
Some people commented and said they agreed. I wrote that from what I heared Germans in Switzerland say, many like it here as well. I love the Swiss system. And the weird thing is: the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848 “was influenced by the ideas of the constitution of the United States of America and the French Revolution.” (Emphasis mine.)
I just finished listening to the latest bunch of episodes about the American Revolution and the drafting of the United States Constitution, and the List of amendments to the United States Constitution, at the Revolutions Podcast. Excellent material if you’re into podcasts at all.
When I read the FP article, I felt disappointed because of its shallow analysis. What about Exportweltmeister and the price the Germans paid, stagnating wages? What about the discussions of the 5% hurdle after recent elections? What about the historic justifications for the Senate in order to convince smaller entities to join the federation? These can be an important issue in heterogeneous federation like Switzerland (there was a time when each canton had its own currency)—and possibly also of interest for nations after a civil war (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Syria) or countries where so many regions strive for more autonomy and the state is always in fear of breaking apart (Spain, Italy). So yes, the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is great. But the US has its United States Bill of Rights, and a Constitutional Court, and that’s great. In contrast, Switzerland allows its citizens to easily amend the constitution, but there is no constitutional court, so sometimes issues linger for years before appropriate laws get passed! So it would seem to me that the US has all the tools it needs. I suspect it has mostly a broken process. Something needs reform, but I’m not sure that the German system is a good place to start looking.
Almost every country has some exceptions to copyright law. You need those in order for a modern society to work. In the US, it is called Fair Use. In Switzerland, the exceptions are listed in the copyright act itself. My favorite of these is for personal use. In other words, you are allowed to make copies of protected works for personal use. You are not allowed to distribute copies to strangers on the Internet, but amongst friends and family, copying is OK. In fact, you pay a tax on all consumer goods on which copies can be stored in order to remunerate authors. Empty tapes (remember those?), blank CDs, iPods and other MP3 players, hard disks… all of these are more expensive because of this tax. In return, you are allowed to copy things from friends and family. This is great.
Yesterday I was talking to a friend about a PDF for a game one of us might possibly have and he said he wouldn’t mind sharing with us since we were only going to play it once or twice. I was confused and explained that it was perfectly legal for him to share it with us. He laughed and said “but, you know, on moral grounds…” I was even more confused. Apparently the constant propaganda of the recording associations, of the movie associations, of the various collecting societies had already convinced him that he was doing something wrong even though it was perfectly legal and even though he had paid for the right to do it.
Remember how the Swiss government said in 2011 that there was no need to change copyright. Most significantly: there was no need to criminalize downloads for personal use. This was around the time of SOPA and NDAA. Sad panda times. And they just won’t stop. In 2012 the government decided to create a commission to investigate the need for reform and in 2013 they delivered a report. On Twitter, @olknz sent me a link to a discussion of the AGUR12 results (the German “Abschlussbericht”). It has some recommendations which look mostly helpless (IP and DNS blocks, best effort to not overblock, make sure there’s legal recourse), the need to inform the public about its rights (my point when I started writing this post), a general inability to adapt to the future of e-books (failing to see how and why the future is being dominated by Google, Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, all of them US companies).
It’s a good read, if you read German. Thanks, Oliver Kunz.
I have a cold. Third day at home. No more fever today, but my nose still seems to contain more on the inside than one would have thought possible when looking at it from the outside.
When I’m awake, I play a lot of Skyrim. Amazing how closely the weather seems to match the weather outside. Switzerland in winter… To be more precise, all the big cities are in the flat lands north of the Alps and south of the Jura Mountains (a bunch of hills, we’d say). In winter, the sky is usually overcast. If you want to see the sun, you have to go up. We live under a leaden sky. In the cities, the snow melts quickly. Outside, patches of white on brown grass.
The terms and conditions of the iTunes app store have changed. I need to agree to them. There’s 110 fucking pages of legal mumbo jumbo to read. I click the button to get on with the show, thinking that this can’t possibly be a contract I’m signing.
Meeting Creative Commons Switzerland – if you’re in Switzerland, and interested in copyright law, and Free Software or Creative Commons, this meeting is for you.
18.1.2010, 19:00, ETH Zürich, HG F33.5.
The stupid church bell rings at seven at night, at nine in the morning – I can’t sleep with the window open, I can’t talk with friends in the courtyard, I can’t walk past the church with my headphones on listening to music because of the noise.
This Sunday the Swiss accepted an initiative that runs counter to anything reasonable people would expect: Did they forbid the ringing of church bells? No. Did they stop the state church from getting their tithes via the state as part of ordinary tax payment? It’s true, if you belong to one of the state churches you have to opt out if you don’t want to pay church tax as part of your ordinary tax payment. The answer is “No” to both of these.
Instead, they voted to outlaw the construction of Minarets for fear of Islamification of the country. 
Yay for boneheads!
PS: Also, the initiative to ban the export of weapons didn’t win, so we’re still allowed to sell weapons and continue the disgraceful charade of “not dealing with warring nations" – but only by behaving like dogs and being faster than Bush in declaring hostilities in Iraq over so as not to endanger a major sale of armoured personnel carriers. Blech!
The median salary in Switzerland is CHF 5823 per month. For men it is CHF 6248 per month, for women it is CHF 5040 per month. Apparently the gap has widened again for the first time since 1996. 
(Median salary for top banking management now reached CHF 58333 – per month!)
CHF 1 is about USD 1 is about EUR 0.66 is about GBP 0.59 right now.
I’m reading the front page of this week’s WOZ and find some numbers:
Banish arms exports. November 29, 2009.
(Deutscher Artikel bei der WOZ: Tödliche Kontinuität.)