This page collects pages on the situation in the USA. Often this is also about fighting neoliberalism which the rest of the world seems to be adopting from the US. (RSS, Search)

2018-10-02 Paper Ballot, Please

The very long article The Crisis of Election Security in the New York Times is just a very long “please don’t introduce electronic voting” for me. In Switzerland, we have an initiative coming up where people try to stop this terrible blight on democracy.

Paper is best!

Paper is not without issues, of course. A systematic approach to study electoral fraud by Lucas Leemann and Daniel Bochsler investigates ways to cheat and uses Switzerland as an example!


Add Comment

2016-05-26 Proletariat, Precariat, Unnecessariat

The best explanation for the rise of Trump: Unnecessariat.

The Unnecessariat is not like the Proletariat of old, the people who worked hard, nor the Precariat, the people who feared for their jobs but worked. The Unnecessariat are the rest of us. No job, no hope, no future. I remember seeing the first glimpse of that as I watched the movie Winter's Bones (2010). White trash and Meth.

I also like the long arc the Unnecessariat story takes. Gay men dying of AIDS. The economy is not coming back. You can practically hear Bruce Springsteen singing about the post-industrial landscape. Politics for the rich. New tech gadgets for the rich. Tesla! Mars! iPad! For the rich… The rest are simply – unnecessary. No matter who they vote for. But if they vote Trump, at least we'll all go down in flames.

Hello, Hofer, Petry, Le Pen, Orbán. Blocher.

So much posting today. I am alone at home, with a cold. It’s sad, really.


Comments on 2016-05-26 Proletariat, Precariat, Unnecessariat

Erkältet? Aber nicht alleine! lese jeden Satz und denke ähnlich.

Chris 2016-05-28 12:54 UTC

Add Comment

2016-03-14 Crypto Wars

I’m sorry, another link post. If you’re a regular reader, you might wonder what this is. A bookmark? In way, yes. I find that I regularly search my blog for stuff I only half remember. I’ve used Google Bookmarks in the past to save links, but as it turns out, I hardly ever use it to find links. The few times I’ve tried, I failed. So now I’m trying to use the blog. And I try to update these posts with more links and summaries. 2016-02-15 With Regards from Russia has grown in recent weeks, for example.

Anyway, cryptography:

Why Are We Fighting the Crypto Wars Again? “American companies are worried that foreign customers might regard their products as direct conduits to American authorities.” Definitely! For the moment, Apple and Google are not too bad, but we think about it every time we put something on the American cloud. Dropbox? iCloud? Google Drive? We always joke about the NSA reading our stuff and nobody laughs.

Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study:

Elizabeth Stoycheff, lead researcher of the study and assistant professor at Wayne State University, is disturbed by her findings.

“So many people I’ve talked with say they don’t care about online surveillance because they don’t break any laws and don’t have anything to hide. And I find these rationales deeply troubling,” she said.

She said that participants who shared the “nothing to hide” belief, those who tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.

“The fact that the ’nothing to hide’ individuals experience a significant chilling effect speaks to how online privacy is much bigger than the mere lawfulness of one’s actions. It’s about a fundamental human right to have control over one’s self-presentation and image, in private, and now, in search histories and metadata,” she said.

I cannot stress this enough. This has happened to me, too. I avoided posting things online; I’ve had arguments with my wife regarding things I wanted to post online. She said something along the lines of “you’re simply stupid if you want to go ahead with it in times like these.” I argued that “if we’re censuring ourselves then there’s no point in fighting for our rights – the bad guys have already won!”

But then again, you learn how to control yourselves when talking to border police and other people of authority. The stakes never seem high enough. Miss a flight? Surely you jest. Is this Facebook post really necessary? Of course not. And thus, quietly, our world changes.


Add Comment

2015-11-16 Middle East

I haven’t written much about politics in years. I just read the newspaper and cringe. Sometimes I feel like I should “share” links – but with whom? Nobody on Facebook seems interested because it’s friends and family and coworkers and students from many years ago. Nobody on Google+ seems interested because most of the people I know there are there for the gaming with the exception of a small number of information sources, in other words, information just flows in one direction. Nobody on Twitter seems interested because I’m mostly following journalists and politicians and when I finally realized this, I figured there was no point in sharing anything because they don’t read what I’m sharing. Information just flows in one direction.

Luckily for me – unluckily for you, perhaps :) – this blog not only serves as a platform to share information, it also serves as my externalized memory. Which is why I’m trying to push myself to post interesting links here instead of on so-called “social” media – gated communities that will one day be replaced by something else, taking all the information down with them.

I really need to find links to sources outside of Google+ since the inevitable sunsetting of G+ will drag down all those links as well.


Comments on 2015-11-16 Middle East

Hi Alex,

I am interested in politics and welcome such posts, for one. By the way, I just read an article in The Guardian that you might find interesting, Mindless terrorists? The truth about Isis is much worse by Scott Atran.


– Enzo 2015-11-16 11:33 UTC

An interesting read! I hadn’t heard of Management of Savagery. Definitely something to remember for the next war, when we’re ready to bomb a foreign country. Wikipedia mentions “the value of provoking military responses from superpowers in order to recruit and train guerilla fighters” and I’m thinking this is the strategy all revolutions have been following since the French revolution. Expose the hypocrisy of the ruling elite by provoking them into acts of violence and use this to radicalize and recruit.

Yikes! I just googled for these keywords (expose radicalize recruit revolution) and stumbled upon Selected Literature on (i) Radicalization and Recruitment, (ii) De-Radicalization and Dis-Engagement, and (iii) Counter-Radicalization and Countering Violent Extremism. Using the same keywords and adding a country quickly leads to articles explaining this phenomenon and the dynamic of revolutionary movements. In my case, I just read The making of the Russian Revolution.

Sadly, I have no answers.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-11-16 12:18 UTC

Add Comment

2015-06-29 On the Supreme Court Decision

The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage in the United States has led to think about the situation in Switzerland and about the role of a constitution.

In Switzerland, a popular initiative can add amendments to the constitution, but we have no constitutional court to enforce these. All the constitution does is say that parliament ought to pass laws to make it real. Then parliament can’t agree on a law, these amendments linger for many years, decades even. I’ve heard it said that this construction was made on purpose. Why have a court to make these decisions if you can simply vote in a different parliament. The idea is that you just add more democracy, I guess.

I just think it’s interesting that there are alternative thoughts on this and some do not require undemocratic elections for life of powerful people.

When comparing a high court of justices for life and an inactive parliament, I think the inactive parliament has more democratic potential because in a few years, I can vote for a new parliament. So, for the moment: not much different. As a political institution: it’s better if you can change your vote.

And yes, of course a democracy usually goes hand in hand with the rule of law, a constitution that protects minorities, and many other institutional and cultural norms. You can vote in Russia, in Iran, in the USA, and still you’ll find powerful forces affecting your freedoms: existing legislation preventing the establishment of a viable alternative, financial incentives preventing the growth of viable alternatives, existing institutions preventing the implementation of meaningful change. Voting alone is not enough.

Note that as far as the US goes, I think what makes it impossible for me to be very enthusiastic about decisions of the supreme court I happen to like or the election of presidents I like is that I know full well that the voters that disagree with me are still there, they still make up about half of the population, we won but we didn’t convince. So yes, as far as I am concerned, Love Wins and Thanks Obama Unironically and all that. But the others are still there. The US system of legal and cultural norms, of financial pressures, of all the things that are not about the actual voting, made it impossible to reach out and make those positive steps together. After the fight is before the fight. No matter who wins, the other side is determined to fight harder next time. None of the news that reaches me across the Atlantic gives me hope regarding any sort of healing. Perhaps this is part of our Zeitgeist for the moment. Or perhaps it has always been thus and I’ve just grown older, and more tired.

Also note that same-sex couples still don't get the exact same rights and protections in Switzerland.


Add Comment

2015-04-04 Revenge Porn

I’ve seen a few posts in my Google+ stream happy with the 18 years a revenge porn guy got. They linked to news items like this Revenge Porn" Defendant Sentenced to 18 Years, “Kevin Bollaert was found guilty of posting sexually explicit photos of women online to extort them.”

I’m happy revenge porn guy gets punished. Fuck him! But, as I live in a country where a life sentence means 25 years (17 years if you behave well in prison), 18 years seems incredibly harsh. Well, at least he’s “eligible for parole after 10 years” as reported by the same news article.

I’m unaware of a similar case here in Switzerland. I’ll have to ask my wife. She’s the expert when it comes to crime and punishment in the family. :)

I looked at a few of the Facebook comments below the article and saw a few comments regarding revenge porn guys inadequate expression of remorse. I’m always suspicious when the punishment depends on the punished showing adequate remorse or some other reaction that depends on their social graces. If they have none, if the convicted are emotionally stunted, do they deserve harsher punishment?

I just looked at Art. 156 of the Swiss Criminal Code.


  1. Any person who, with a view to securing an unlawful gain for himself or for another, induces another person by using violence or the threat of seriously detrimental consequences to behave in such a way that he or another sustains financial loss is liable to a custodial sentence not exceeding five years or to a monetary penalty.
  2. If the offender acts for commercial gain, or if he repeatedly commits the offence against the same person, he is liable to a custodial sentence of from one to ten years.
  3. If the offender uses violence against another or if he threatens another with an immediate danger to life and limb, a penalty in accordance with Article 140 hereof is imposed.
  4. If the offender threatens to endanger the life and limb of a large number of persons or to cause serious damage to property in which there is a substantial public interest, he is liable to a custodial sentence of not less than one year.

I’m not sure what would happen if a person is convicted of multiple cases of extortion. I’m guessing that in Switzerland, Kevin Bollaert would have gotten ten years at most, eligible for parole after ⅔ of that.

What about the ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends, I wonder. Somebody sent those pictures to revenge porn sites. Shouldn’t they all get punished as well? It may not be extortion but I’m sure it’s something. Maybe Art. 177 is appropriate?


  1. Any person who attacks the honour of another verbally, in writing, in pictures, through gestures or through acts of aggression is liable on complaint to a monetary penalty not exceeding 90 daily penalty units.
  2. If the insulted party has directly provoked the insult by improper behaviour, the court may dispense with imposing a penalty on the offender.
  3. If there is an immediate response to the insult by way of a retaliatory insult or act of aggression, the court may dispense with imposing a penalty on either or both offenders.

A “daily penalty unit” depends on the punished’s personal finances and can go up to $3000, as seen in Art. 34 of the Swiss Criminal Code.

Monetary penalty


  1. Unless the law provides otherwise, a monetary penalty amounts to a maximum of 360 daily penalty units. The court decides on the number according to the culpability of the offender.
  2. A daily penalty unit amounts to a maximum of 3000 francs. The court decides on the value of the daily penalty unit according to the personal and financial circumstances of the offender at the time of conviction, and in particular according to his income and capital, living expenses, any maintenance or support obligations and the minimum subsistence level.
  3. The authorities of the Confederation, the cantons and the communes shall provide the information required to determine the daily penalty unit.
  4. The number and value of the daily penalty units must be stated in the judgment.


Add Comment

2014-07-11 Reform

Recently, Jürgen Hubert shared a link to a Foreign Policy post and said on Google+ that while the German system wasn’t perfect, at least it worked.

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 guess what I’m trying to say is that I wholly support efforts by Lawrence Lessig: Rootstrikes.

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.


Add Comment

2014-06-04 Net Neutrality

The United States of America are trying to nail their feet to the ground when it comes to the Internet. And knowing their power and influence, and their spying and blackmailing, I wouldn’t be surprised if their ideas start spreading elsewhere. That’s the unfortunate reality of life on the Internet: I feel like I need to pay $10/month to the EFF and $10/month to the FSF in order for them to fight for their rights such that their problems don’t spread to where I live. Globalising the fight for our right!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here are two recommended and entertaining videos to explain it all.

If you’re American, you can tell them how you feel. Or, according to FCC Establishes New Inbox for Open Internet Comments, you can send them email:

Here’s what I sent, even though I am not an American:

Dear FCC,

Net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) treat all data that travels over their networks equally, is important to me because without it users have fewer options. ISPs should not be the gate keepers to what we do on the Internet. As it stands, there is also precious little competition between providers. If I don’t like my service provider, what am I going to do? I cannot take my business elsewhere.

A pay-­to-play Internet worries me because new services cannot compete. There is no such thing as a video startup with slow download speeds. We’re automatically favoring existing businesses and making life hard for future entrepreneurs and startups. And we gain nothing in return!

The Internet has the unique ability to make all of us authors. We can read and write, share and consume. By making a fast service more expensive, we’ll be limiting good quality to commercial ventures. We also want non-commercial projects to succeed. We want to download free software, for example. We want to watch our own videos, hosted on our own servers. We don’t want an Internet Apartheid. That is not the “freedom” I want.

Help us make the Internet into the thing almost all of us want, not into the Internet the ISPs want.


Alex Schroeder


Add Comment

2014-01-15 Crypto-Gram

I recommend you all subscribe to Bruce Schneier’s Crypto-Gram newsletter if you aren’t subscribed to his blog. Today’s Crypto-Gram, for example, has this excellent passage:

Not only is ubiquitous surveillance ineffective, it is extraordinarily costly. I don’t mean just the budgets, which will continue to skyrocket. Or the diplomatic costs, as country after country learns of our surveillance programs against their citizens. I’m also talking about the cost to our society. It breaks so much of what our society has built. It breaks our political systems, as Congress is unable to provide any meaningful oversight and citizens are kept in the dark about what government does. It breaks our legal systems, as laws are ignored or reinterpreted, and people are unable to challenge government actions in court. It breaks our commercial systems, as US computer products and services are no longer trusted worldwide. It breaks our technical systems, as the very protocols of the Internet become untrusted. And it breaks our social systems; the loss of privacy, freedom, and liberty is much more damaging to our society than the occasional act of random violence. – Bruce Schneier, How the NSA Threatens National Security


Add Comment



Please make sure you contribute only your own work, or work licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Note: in order to facilitate peer review and fight vandalism, we will store your IP number for a number of days. See Privacy Policy for more information. See Info for text formatting rules. You can edit the comment page if you need to fix typos. You can subscribe to new comments by email without leaving a comment.

To save this page you must answer this question:

Please say HELLO.