Well, it’s official. I’ll be joining the Internet Architecture Board for a two-year term starting at IETF 89 in March. Among other things, the IAB provides architectural oversight of IETF protocols, which are surprisingly coherent given the nearly perfectly bottom-up nature of the process that produces them. I look forward to the challenge in meta-cat-herding.

On Vandalist Politics

Putting aside the discomfort of being an immigrant in a mildly xenophobic land, and the hypothetical ballistic solution to Switzerland’s furr’ner problem, I’ll add my voice to the growing chorus of confusion and ask what, in reality, just happened. So here, translated into English, is the new Article 121a of the Constitution of the Swiss Confederation:

Article 121a Immigration Control

  1. Switzerland controls immigration independently.
  2. The number of residence permits for foreigners in Switzerland is limited by annual quota and a maximum limit. The maximum limit applies to asylum-seekers as well. The right to settlement, family union, and access to social services are subject to limitation.
  3. Quotas are to be defined to the advantage of Swiss citizens in the economic interest of Switzerland. Cross-border commuters are covered as well. The application of an employer, level of integration in Swiss society, and financial independence are especially influential criteria [in the decision to grant a residence permit].
  4. No treaty may be signed in opposition to this article.
  5. The details are a matter of law. Continue reading

Come for the chocolate, stay for the xenophobia

Every time the Rovian Swiss People’s Party (often described as “extreme right” in the English-speaking press, though they’re really more nativist than explicitly fascist) manages to ram one of its populist cries for attention through the initiative process, I wonder why I, as a foreigner, insist on staying in a country so intent on doing silly and dangerous things to its constitution in service of its hate of us. Over time, Switzerland feels less and less welcoming. But self-deportation is exactly what they want me to do, a fact that strengthens my resolve to stay here long enough to become the aged burden to the social-insurance scheme the political discussion here assumes that I am. Continue reading

An American Postbank

Over the past couple of days, this article has been brought to my attention from multiple angles. The basic idea — that the US Postal Service’s collapse and the problem of banking deserts in America’s poorer and more rural neighborhoods are two problems with a single solution — is an intriguing one. As an American emigrant customer of the Swiss post bank, it seems like a good idea, but I’m not sure the history of American and European financial services are similar enough to allow us to predict the success of the former from the latter. Continue reading