Category Archive 'Switzerland'
13 Mar 2017
If you ever worked with someone Swiss or had a Swiss employee. you probably noticed that he was extraordinarily stubborn and opinionated and a trifle moody. The Swiss are different. Just look at their electrical plug.
Buzzfeed points out 25 examples of Swiss differentness.
11 Jan 2017
A left-wing Dutch vegan who campaigned against cowbells in the Swiss village where she lives has had a request for a Swiss passport thrown out after annoying the locals.
Nancy Holten, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to Switzerland at the age of eight, is a fluent speaker of Swiss German and has children who are Swiss nationals.
And she wanted a Swiss passport herself, but was refused after locals who were consulted about her request said they were ‘fed up’ of her challenging Swiss traditions by campaigning against the use of cow bells.
The campaign against cow bells by the 42-year-old vegan and animal-rights activist has made her unpopular in the Alpine confederation.
And now the majority of residents from Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau have successfully blocked her second attempt to get a Swiss passport.
The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.
She said of her situation: ‘The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?’
She also railed against the weight of the famous cow bells.
Nancy complained: ‘The bells, which the cows have to wear when they walk to and from the pasture, are especially heavy.
‘The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.’
The Dutchwoman, who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model and drama student, has also campaigned against a number of other Swiss traditions like hunting, pig races and the noisy church bells in town.
It’s a tradition for cows to wear bells in her Switzerland town. The bell is standard for alpine cattle when left to graze in alpine meadows.
In 2015 the villagers successfully stopped her application for naturalisation in a referendum.
While the town authorities wanted to give her the Swiss nationality, 144 out of 206 citizens voted against the plan.
This time her application was denied again, with locals especially angry about the increasing media coverage Holten seeks for railing against Swiss traditions.
Holten said she does not have anything against Swiss traditions but in the end only cares about animal welfare.
Local politician Tanja Suter agreed with the majority of the town’s citizens and said Holten had a ‘big mouth’, saying she did not deserve to get a Swiss passport ‘if she irritates us and does not respect our traditions’. …
The case has now been transferred to the Cantonal government in Aargau, which can overrule the decision and can still grant her a Swiss passport despite the objections of the locals.
Local residents in Switzerland often have a say in citizenship applications, which are decided by the cantons and towns where the applicants live rather than federal government.
About 20 per cent of the Swiss population is estimated to be foreign.
25 Jun 2016
This insult – based on a real Swiss surname – applies to those boring people who follow all the rules and make sure everyone else does too. A Bünzli is the sort of person who would never cross the street when the light is red, who never stays out too late and never gets too drunk.
He is also the person most likely to complain to the building president when you dare to do your washing on Sunday, or to ring the police when he sees someone parked in front of a fire hydrant. Think garden gnomes and socks paired with Adiletten and you have the idea.
Hat tip to Althouse.
08 Oct 2014
General Ulrich Wille, commander of the Swiss Army during WWI
A good story from Michael Z. Williamson.
While traveling around Switzerland on Sundays, everywhere one hears gunfire, but a peaceful gunfire: this is the Swiss practicing their favorite sport, their national sport. They are doing their obligatory shooting, or practicing for the regional, Cantonal or federal shooting festivals, as their ancestors did it with the musket, the arquebus or the crossbow. Everywhere, one meets urbanites and country people, rifle to the shoulder, causing foreigners to exclaim: ‘You are having a revolution!”
— General Henri Guisan
Switzerland has not been invaded in 800 years, because every man and most of the women are issued guns which they keep at home. Imagine a government that not only allows but INSISTS its citizens keep military grade weapons. That’s points right there. Even more, they hold quarterly Schuetzenfests, at which shooting, carousing and drinking are expected. And it’s entirely possible you will have your ass handed to you by a 13 year old girl shooting a select-fire StG90 assault rifle that she carried to the range from school, slung across her back while pedaling her bicycle. Swiss GIRLS are better men than most allegedly-male American liberals.
There is a story, possibly apocryphal but awesome nonetheless, that a ranking German (possibly the Kaiser) was visiting and watching the Swiss military on their summer maneuvers. He asked the Swiss commander, “How big a force do you command?”
The Swiss general confidently replied, “I can mobilize one million men in twenty-four hours.”
The German asked, “What would happen if I marched five million men in here tomorrow?”
The Swiss replied, “Each of my men will fire five shots and go home.”
Hat tip to commenter Darius.
16 Sep 2014
Stephen Hilyard, Dougal, Leysin, 1977.
“Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse.
Hat tip to Madame Scherzo via Karen L. Myers.
18 Nov 2013
Swiss Cavalry on patrol near the frontier, 1917.
Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.
06 Dec 2010
The Telegraph reports that the British manhunt for Julian Assange has begun.
Scotland Yard has received the paperwork required to arrest Julian Assange. …
[T]here is no longer any legal impediment to holding Mr Assange and making him appear before City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Some news agency reports:
The Swiss postal system stripped WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of a key fundraising tool Monday, accusing him of lying and immediately shutting down one of his bank accounts.
The swift action by Postfinance, the financial arm of Swiss Post, came after it determined the “Australian citizen provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process.”
Assange had told Postfinance he lived in Geneva but could offer no proof that he was a Swiss resident, a requirement of opening such an account.
13 Jul 2010
In the aftermath of the Swiss decision to reject the American bid to extradite Roman Polanski, the predicatable indignant editorials are beginning to appear.
Eugene Robinson, in the Washington Post, is not at all satisfied with the outcome.
It’s relevant that Polanski has never shown remorse. He claimed in a 1979 interview that he was being hounded because “everyone wants to (have sex with) young girls.” It’s irrelevant that the victim, now a middle-aged woman, has no interest in pursuing the case and reliving a traumatic episode. What matters is what Polanski admitted doing to her 33 years ago — and the fact that Polanski decided to run away rather than face the music.
Swiss officials noted the obvious: that Polanski never would have visited Switzerland if he had thought he was putting himself in legal jeopardy. Since he’s not a legitimate candidate for kidnapping and rendition by the CIA, he’s now home free — unless he somehow makes another mistake. He’ll always have to look over his shoulder.
That’s punishment of a sort, but not nearly enough. How about this: As long as he steers clear of U.S. justice, why don’t we steer clear of his movies?
I strongly disagree with the majority of the journalistic community on this one, and since I’ve already explained why at considerable length, today I plan to take pleasure in quoting myself.
The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that Roman Polanski’s flight thirty one years ago was precipitated by precisely the same sort of journalistic feeding frenzy which has been replayed all over again recently. A firestorm of sensationalized accounts of Polanski’s misdeed alarmed the publicity-conscious judge who intended to set aside the conventional processes of justice and overrule a plea bargain already agreed to by both the prosecution and the defense.
Polanski did not escape justice. He had already served a 42 day term of imprisonment, which was supposed to constitute his actual sentence. Polanski also settled privately with the young lady, paying her a sum of money of a specific amount never publicly disclosed. What Polanski escaped was injustice.
He escaped a breach of the normal, impartial, and objective processes of justice, which were in the process of collapsing due to official cowardice and unwillingness to resist a wave of public indignation, mischievously created by irresponsible journalism.
Long-standing cultural restraints on sexual expression and activity have been dwindling away in America for all of the last century, but one powerful prohibition not only survives, but continues to be able to turn ordinary Americans into something very much resembling belligerent Muslims bent on wiping out any stain upon the chastity of their females in blood: the issue of age.
Underage sex is still a kind of priapic third rail. And like Nabokov’s Humbert, Roman Polanski proved to be another sophisticated European gentilhomme d’un certain âge susceptible to the charms of the knowing nymphette. His sin happens to be relatively unique in being capable of getting Americans in general worked up into a lather of righteous indignation just as effectively in 2009 as in 1978 or in 1955 (the publication date of Lolita).
In exactly the same way that the idea of black sexual aggression directed at white women was once upon a time so horrifying an idea to the general community in certain American states that any close resemblance to that supreme phobia could suffice to set into motion the processes of storytelling which would fit the details of the actual case into the terrible archetype, frequently with lethal results, so too today is the idea of adult sexual aggression directed at children a compelling, and potentially dangerous, archetype.
Let’s try another literary trope. Picture Roman Polanski, not as Humbert Humbert, but as Tom Robinson, the black defendant in To Kill a Mockingbird. Just like the Polanski case, To Kill a Mockingbird features a public frenzy of indignation at a defendant accused of being a sexual aggressor toward an innocent victim, who is supposed to be protected from the advances of anyone like the defendant by powerful social taboos. Just as in the Harper Lee novel, adjudication of the Roman Polanski case revolved around issues of just who was the actual initiator and whether female consent had been given. Fearful archetypes and framing narratives can work in exactly the same in either case, can’t they?
12 Jul 2010
76-year-old Roman Polanski is now again a free man.
European civilization and rationality, for once, triumphed over American mobocracy and barbarism when the Swiss Ministry of Justice took a technical route to dismiss the US request for extradition of internationally-renowned director Roman Polanski.
The Swiss had asked to examine American records establishing whether a previous plea arrangement for an observation period of confinement in a psychiatric unit had been accepted by both sides and subsequently reneged upon by a press-conscious judge. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office refused to supply the relevant records, which tends to suggest strongly that they would have confirmed the reality of the alleged plea bargain arrangement. So, the clever Swiss, noting that the records could prove that Polanski had already actually served his sentence making the extradition request invalid ruled that the extradition request was incomplete and consequently defective, and deserved to be dismissed.
US justice in this matter was, by comparison, politically-motivated featuring, in 1977 and now, public officials posing as champions of the people in the midst of a firestorm of gossip, innuendo, and public misunderstanding whipped up by an opportunistic press. The Swiss tried to do justice. The Americans tried to score points with the mob. I applaud the Swiss.
New York Times story
Previous Polanski coverage.
30 Nov 2009
Poster urging an affirmative vote on the minaret ban
Switzerland amended its Constitution to prohibit minarets, the towers associated with mosques from which the muezzin issues his ululating call to prayer, reports the New York Times.
The referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, was a victory for the right. The vote against was 42.5 percent. Because the ban gained a majority of votes and passed in a majority of the cantons, it will be added to the Constitution.
The Swiss Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the rightist Swiss People’s Party, or S.V.P., and a small religious party had proposed inserting a single sentence banning the construction of minarets, leading to the referendum.
The Swiss government said it would respect the vote and sought to reassure the Muslim population — mostly immigrants from other parts of Europe, like Kosovo and Turkey — that the minaret ban was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture.”
Of course, it was a rejection of the Muslim religion and culture.
We couldn’t, and shouldn’t, do it something like this in the United States. The American Constitutional, and philosophical, commitment to religious tolerance, state neutrality, and pluralism is too fundamental, but the European case is very different.
Even Switzerland’s embrace of Enlightenment Liberalism is much less thoroughgoing than ours and European countries have contemporary problems with Islamic influence on a much more serious scale than we do. Just imagine if all the immigrant low wage workers we had were not comparatively readily assimilable Hispanics, but were instead Muslims from North Africa or the Middle East who typically had no intention of assimilating.
That uncertain embrace of Enlightenment Liberty does inevitably leave European peoples and governments looking wrong-footed in the way they handle issues of this kind. Europeans seem to move in an unprincipled way between extremes of supine indulgence on the one hand and a readiness to apply arbitrary power on the other.
12 May 2008
The London Times reports, 4/26, on another ethical breakthrough in the home of the cuckoo clock.
Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos.
From guinea-pigs to budgerigars, any animal classified as a “social species” will be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind.
The new regulation stipulates that aquariums for pet fish should not be transparent on all sides and that owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light. Goldfish are considered social animals, or Gruppentiere in German.
The creator of this animal Utopia is the Swiss federal parliament, the Bundesrat, which adopted a law this week extending to four legs the kind of rights usually reserved for two. The law, which comes into force from September 1, is particularly strict over dogs: prospective owners will have to pay for and complete a two-part course — a theory section on the needs and wishes of the animal, and a practice section, where students will be instructed in how to walk their dog and react to various situations that might arise during the process. The details of the courses are yet to be fixed, but they are likely to comprise about five theory lessons and at least five sessions “in the field”.
The law extends to unlikely regions of the animal kingdom.
Anglers will also be required to complete a course on catching fish humanely, with the Government citing studies indicating that fish can suffer too.
The regulations will affect farmers, who will no longer be allowed to tether horses, sheep and goats, nor keep pigs and cows in areas with hard floors.
The legislation even mentions the appropriate keeping of rhinoceroses, although it was not clear immediately how many, if any, were being kept as pets in Switzerland.
Also in Switzerland: Rights for Vegetables
04 May 2008
Happy new rights-holder in the Helvetic Republic
Wesley J. Smith, in the Weekly Standard, reports on Europe’s latest ethical breakthrough which extends liberal egalitarianism not merely beyond our own species, but beyond our own Kingdom.
You just knew it was coming: At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the “dignity” of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be called “plant rights” is being seriously debated.
A few years ago the Swiss added to their national constitution a provision requiring “account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms.” No one knew exactly what it meant, so they asked the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out. The resulting report, “The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants,” is enough to short circuit the brain.
A “clear majority” of the panel adopted what it called a “biocentric” moral view, meaning that “living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive.” Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim “absolute ownership” over plants and, moreover, that “individual plants have an inherent worth.” This means that “we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily.”
The committee offered this illustration: A farmer mows his field (apparently an acceptable action, perhaps because the hay is intended to feed the farmer’s herd–the report doesn’t say). But then, while walking home, he casually “decapitates” some wildflowers with his scythe. The panel decries this act as immoral, though its members can’t agree why. The report states, opaquely:
At this point it remains unclear whether this action is condemned because it expresses a particular moral stance of the farmer toward other organisms or because something bad is being done to the flowers themselves.
What is clear, however, is that Switzerland’s enshrining of “plant dignity” is a symptom of a cultural disease that has infected Western civilization, causing us to lose the ability to think critically and distinguish serious from frivolous ethical concerns. It also reflects the triumph of a radical anthropomorphism that views elements of the natural world as morally equivalent to people.
Why is this happening? Our accelerating rejection of the Judeo-Christian world view, which upholds the unique dignity and moral worth of human beings, is driving us crazy. Once we knocked our species off its pedestal, it was only logical that we would come to see fauna and flora as entitled to rights.
“Carrot Juice is Murder” 4:29 video
From Glenn Reynolds via Bird Dog.
25 Mar 2008
Jane’s Information Group launched last month a new intelligence service providing “Country Risk Ratings” evaluating the stability of 232 countries, non-contiguous territories and de facto independent political entities on the basis of two dozen security factors.
The London Times reports that the US failed to make the top cut, coming in as number 22. Vatican City was at the top of the list. And Labour Britain (7) beat out Switzerland (17).
Switzerland lost points for some sort of deficiency in “social achievements,” presumably meaning it didn’t have enough Socialism.
The US did so poorly because of “the proliferation of small arms owned by Americans” and “the threat posed by the flow of drugs across the Mexican border.”
What a bunch of Euro-wussies they’ve got at Jane’s! These are the guys assessing the merits of different weapons systems?
Americans are safer than Europeans precisely because we own guns, and can in an emergency shoot the criminal, repel the invasion, or overthrow the government. Sophisticated Americans, particularly those of us who were at Woodstock, look upon recreational drugs as “the doors of perception,” or an alternative form of weekend conviviality, not as a threat to national security. Those Jane’s analysts really need to go over to Amsterdam and undertake some first hand research.
They don’t like guns. They don’t like drugs. The list of “security factors” was hidden behind a subscription barrier, but I suspect that sex and Rock & Roll must have been in there, too.
19 Aug 2007
If you’re a leftist, it would never occur to you that Nature has cycles and that change is normal. If the weather is colder for few years, that must mean we’re headed into another Ice Age and human behavior is to blame. If the weather is slightly warmer for a few years, catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming has to be underway.
Glaciers couldn’t possibly shrink and grow at different periods of times. A shrinking glacier is a one-way process and event. Once it melts, its gone for good.
And, if you are a leftist, what can you do about this sort of problem? How do you change public policy? It’s very simple: you take off all your clothes and stand around naked in a public place out-of-doors in order to be photographed.
Reuters explains that Greenpeace thought all this would “establish a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body.”
Isn’t there something fundamentally preposterous about the supposition that anyone would be willing to be guided on matters of science by the sort of people who have so little grasp of cause and effect that they rely upon pointless symbolic behavior to try to achieve political goals?
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