Another year, another website, redux

Wasting time at Christmas by burning the site to the ground and starting over seems to be a tradition around here…

A Degenerate Binary Tree

Shamelessly inspired by Alexander Calder, who I followed from Atlanta to Pittsburgh to Zürich, and inexpertly crafted from stuff I found at Migros, I present my first attempt at a mobile. (And for those of you who have not yet heard, yes, this commission has a customer: we’re expecting a daughter in a few weeks. We won’t be boring the Internet at large with piles of baby pictures, though.)

Joining the IAB

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 Switzerland controls immigration independently. 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. 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]. No treaty may be signed in opposition to this article. The details are a matter of law.

Insel Schweiz

In order to outline a more effective defense against Ausländer than the Masseneinwanderungsinitiative can provide, and with a deferential nod to Randall Munroe, I decided to do some back of the napkin estimates of what it would take to make Switzerland a literal island. tl;dr: it’s probably not worth it.

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 sointent 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.

Is Traffic Traffic?

One can debate the usefulness of the traffic-traffic metaphor in network engineering. On the one hand, speed limits make a nice illustration of fairness in the network neutrality debate. On the other hand, motorway congestion and the effect of queueing in network congestion control look nothing like each other, at least until we develop motorways that change their length during rush hour, and we decide we’re okay with cars that take too long to get to their destinations being crushed and disposed of en route.

A Media Policy for the 17th Century

I’ve been reading Tom Standage‘s “Writing on the Wall” of late, which I can heartily recommend. It’s less subtle than “The Victorian Internet“, which counts among my favorite books of all time, but that was written before Twitter, and Twitter’s made us all less subtle, I think. What strikes me about his new book is not his thesis — that the “social media revolution” is nothing really new, just the application of new technology to our apparently instinctive love of gossip — but how well it illustrates that much of the present public policy debate over new media technology is very, very old.

QoF 0.9.0 (“Albula”) released

The QoF TCP-performance-aware IPFIX flow meter I’ve been working on, on and off, for about a year, now seems to produce halfway plausible results and hardly crashes at all anymore, which means it’s time to follow the path of real artists immemorial and ship it already: see here, or if you’re really serious about it, just track master on github.

The Impeachment of Barack Obama

Bear with me here for a minute, and this rant will get to the point. I was trying to explain the government shutdown to an Italian friend of mine last night (“so have you fixed the Silvio problem yet?” was my first-pass attempt to not talk about US politics before getting drunk enough to keep it from depressing me; I failed). I’ve come to realize that a successful overturn of the ACA by the petulant child wing of the Republican party would be an act of illegitimacy on the order of the appointment of George W. Bush as president by the Supreme Court in 2000.