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Stuff I (re-)learned this weekend

Published by marco on

  1. No matter how sunny it is or how dry the streets are, 15ºC in February means a windy, windy bike ride. It’s cold somewhere and the warm air is hurrying to get there. Still, awesome to be back outside.
  2. The Swiss are not nearly as prone to nationalism as the French. This, despite the obvious fact that Switzerland chose to blow a hole in the middle of the EU with their absence while France joined a union with its age-old enemies Germany, Spain and England. The French have a real problem with nationalism.
  3. Likewise, Swiss politicians and companies are far less prone to corruption or dissembling when it comes to gigantic infrastructure projects. Whereas a German or American cannot be trusted as far as one could spit a rat, the word of a Swiss is far more likely to be truthful. Politics is far less likely to be a factor in statements about technical feasibility or budget.
  4. Given two companies with highly suspect or even juristically criminal employment practices, the company for which family members work and for which you’d also like to work is less bad, a priori.
  5. I am far too sensitive to the topic of prejudicial exclusion or judgment on racial or ethnic grounds. When the first question a Swiss person asks about someone is whether they are a foreigner or not, that’s just friendly curiosity and will not in any way factor into how they will treat that person.
  6. For a foreigner to be considered integrated, they need to be inconspicuous, invisible. A person is considered integrated when they have elided that which makes them them, and has instead become the person who expects integration. Each person who expects others to integrate naturally considers themselves to be the average toward which all others should move. This, despite all evidence to the contrary that some people are just societally less desirable (e.g. I consume almost nothing and am supremely shitty for the local economy). Integration can only ever be a goal, though, because the foreigner will not ever be able to ever achieve it. Those damned goalposts just won’t stay put. No-one can define what integration is, but everyone knows what it isn’t and also that we definitely need it.
  7. Shockingly, the way that the Swiss discuss their demographic issues differs only in matter of degree from how Israel by Uri Avnery (CounterPunch) does. Where Israel is only now seriously considering getting rid of parliamentary representation for the 1/5 of their population that they don’t consider to be citizens, Switzerland’s ¼ of the population that have never been citizens have never had the possibility of parliamentary representation. This disparity bothers very few because the Swiss will naturally do the right thing because they are morally superior (see points 2 and 3 above).