C'est le moment de voter! [fr]

[en] Two UDC "initiatives" on the voters' menu: one to remove abortion from basic health insurance, and another one to "stop massive immigration". Vote no to both, of course.

Je suis toujours à la montagne, et j’ai profité d’un petit crochet en plaine hier soir pour ramener mon matériel de vote. Le 9 février approche!

Enveloppe de vote.

Deux initiatives UDC au menu:

Consignes de vote pour scrutin du 9 février 2014.

Les consignes de vote sont assez claires, et l’unanimité des différents partis (non-UDC, s’entend) pourrait nous encourager à céder à la tentation de négliger notre devoir civique. Personnellement, j’avoue que la dernière initiative UDC “contre les familles” (et son succès avant votation) m’a pas mal secouée de ma torpeur.

Comité d'initiative contre le financement de l'avortement par l'assurance maladie de baseSortir l’avortement de l’assurance de base. J’avoue que la page “arguments du comité d’initiative” me donne juste envie de vomir. Je résume les raisons pour lesquelles on va massivement voter contre cette initiative rétrograde:

  • obliger les femmes ayant fait le choix d’une IVG à la payer elles-mêmes ne diminue pas le nombre d’IVG, mais simplement le nombre d’IVG en milieu hospitalier (bref, le retour aux dangereuses méthodes de grand-mère)
  • les grossesses non désirées sont l’affaire des femmes et des hommes (mais oui, faut être deux, vous savez?), donc la solution de “l’assurance privée” pour les femmes désirant être couvertes pour une éventuelle IVG (parce qu’on planifie ça… ouais, d’ici 2-3 ans je me ferais bien avorter), c’est juste… j’ai pas les mots.

On a besoin que l’avortement soit couvert par l’assurance de base pour s’assurer que toute femme qui a besoin d’avoir recours à cette intervention puisse le faire dans de bonnes conditions. On voit bien aux arguments des partisans de l’initiative qu’on est en fait dans une lancée anti-avortement. Si cette initiative passe, soyez assurés qu’il y en aura d’autres derrière. Ne vous laissez pas avoir par son caractère faussement bénin: “on veut ‘juste’ pas que ce soit couvert par l’assurance de base”.

Immigration de masse

Quant à la soi-disant immigration de masse… un petit coup d’oeil aux arguments du comité d’initiative suffit pour voir qu’on fait porter le chapeau aux “étrangers” pour tous les maux: le transports publics bondés, le chômage, les loyers, bref, si le monde va mal, c’est à cause des étrangers. Je ne vous ferai pas l’insulte d’argumenter contre cet étalage de xénophobie primaire. Affaire classée.

Update: et bien sûr il faut voter OUI au FAIF!

Update 2: à lire aussi, l’article de ClaireNon à une initiative rétrograde

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USA Border Crossing Horror Stories [en]

[fr] Histoires d'horrreur en entrant aux USA. J'ai de moins en moins envie d'y remettre les pieds, j'avoue.

I’ve been listening to On The Media again, one of my favorite podcasts. You know, each time one of these US border crossing horror stories finds its way to me, what little desire I have to enter the US just melts away a bit more.

Here are a few I came across lately, and an old one that happened to a friend of mine.

Now off to less depressing things for what’s left of my week-end — like eating my delicious plum tart.

20.10.2013 update: adding more below as I stumble on them.

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Notes From San Francisco [en]

So, roughly half-way through my five-week trip to San Francisco, what’s going on? I haven’t been blogging much lately, that’s for sure.

For once, I took some photographs from the plane. Unfortunately my camera batteries ran out just as we were coming down on San Francisco, and my spare ones were in the luggage compartment above my head. Oh, well.

Flying to San Francisco 31

I got some first-level questioning at immigration coming in. No, not the sort where they take you to a separate room, become much less friendly, and have boxes of rubber gloves on the counter. This is how it went:

– …And what is the duration of your stay?
– Five weeks.
– …And what do you do in… over in Switzerland?
– I’m a freelance… internet consultant. *OMG that sounds bad.* …I’m actually here to work on a book project. *Yeah I know I should never volunteer information.*
– What’s the book about?
– Er… teenagers and the internet.
– And…?
– Er… Well, the situation with teenagers and the internet, and what we’re doing about it in Switzerland.
– And what are you doing about it?
– Well, not enough!
– And? Come on, tell me more about it.
– Er… OK. *OMGOMG* Well, see, teenagers are really comfortable with computers and the internet, and so they’re chatting, blogging, etc. — they’re digital natives, see? — and parents, well, they’re clueless or terrified about the internet, and they don’t always understand what’s going on in their kids lives online, so basically, we have teenagers who are spending a lot of time online and sometimes getting into trouble and parents don’t know or don’t care about what they’re doing there, so we have this… chasm between generations and…
– Thank you. You can go.

The pick-up from the airport was wonderfully orchestrated and much appreciated. Being driven into town by somebody friendly rather than having to use unfamiliar public transportation really makes a difference. Thanks to all those involved (yes, it took that many people!)

Waiting on the Sidewalk

Then, through some freak breakdown of all modern forms of communication (partially documented on Twitter), I ended up waiting outside on the sidewalk for almost an hour while my kind host Tara waited for me inside her appartment. We worked it out finally, and I was introduced to my (nice and spacious) room before going to hang out at [Citizen Space](http://citizenspace.us/). A nice dinner out with Chris, Tara and Jimmy to end the day, and I happily collapsed in my bed at a respectable local hour. You will have taken note that I did not collapse at 4pm feeling like a zombie, thanks to having taken [melatonin](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin) on the plane. (It [doesn’t seem to work that well for Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/6/29/3057876.html), but it works perfectly on me, and I’m never traveling between continents without it again.)

The four next days went by in [a blur of Supernova madness](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/21/taking-photos-at-supernova/): too many people, too many sessions, food with ups and downs, parties with [cupcakes](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600415592611/) and others at the top of [skyscapers](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600430915725/). I took [lots of photographs](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600420716687/) and even [a video sequence that got some attention](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/videos/5/).

Supernova First Day 33

During the next week, I started settling down. Met and hung out with old friends, made new ones, unpacked my suitcases, went walking around in town, saw [Dykes on Bikes](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600459417123/), the [Gay Pride Parade](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600487653731/), and the [iPhone launch](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600579979445/), photographed [skyscrapers in the night](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600607158151/), ordered a new camera, got my MacBook (partly) repaired, and even [dropped in at Google to take notes of Suw’s talk there](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/27/suw-charman-at-google-does-social-software-have-fangs/).

All this, actually, is documented in [my Twitter stream](http://twitter.com/stephtara) — maybe I should add a whole lot of links? — be sure to keep an eye on it if you’re interested in a more day-by-day account of what I’m doing here.

Overall, things have been good. A small bout of homesickness a few days ago, but I’m feeling better now. I need to start focusing on the things I want to get done (blogging, writing, book, writing, fixing things for clients…) — holiday over now!

Downtown San Francisco By Night 9

I’ve been thinking about my “work career” a little, too. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing, but I’m not going to be doing “Blog 101” for ever — I can feel my interests shifting somewhat already. I’ve been interested in the “social tools at large” department for a long time, but unfortunately it seems to translated to “blogging” in most of the work I do, so I’d like to expand my horizons in that direction a little. I’ve had a couple of talks with people in startups recently, and I realize it’s a kind of environment I wouldn’t mind working in — at least part-time. We’ll see what happens.

I’m also realizing that there is more potential than I first thought around [the two main things I care about these days](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/): teenagers online and internet language issues. Hence, the book, and also a talk on the subject of languages on the internet which I’ll be giving at Google this coming Tuesday.

Also in the “work” department, two other things have been on my mind. First, the idea of opening up a coworking space in or around Lausanne ([Ollie is having the same kind of thought](http://b-spirit.com/blogollie/?p=2140) — we’re talking). Second, trying to find a solution so that I don’t have to do maintenance on my clients’ WordPress installations once all is rolling, or spend hours swimming in HTML, CSS and WordPress theme PHP template tags. Not that I don’t know how to do it or don’t enjoy it once in a while, but it’s really not the kind of work I want to spend my time doing. So, I’ve been starting to ask around for names of people who might do this kind of thing (for a reasonable fee), and even thinking of recruiting some students in Lausanne that I could coach/train so that they can do most of the work, and call me up only for major problems. So, see, I’ve been thinking.

Some people have been asking me if I was planning to move here. Indeed, 5 weeks in the city looks suspiciously like a scouting operation. Actually, traveling has an interesting side-effect for me: I tend to come back home thinking “gee, Lausanne is *such* a great place to live! I’m never moving!” Sure, I have some underlying personal issues which contribute to making me overly attached to my hometown, and I know that someday I might end up living elsewhere. But really, for the moment, I don’t think I’d want that.

And even though I’m told San Francisco is very “European” compared to the rest of the US (which I have yet to see) I can’t help seeing how “horribly American” it is. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this city and am enjoying my time here. I know that what I say can give wrong impressions (for example, people — especially Indians — read [the story of my year living in India](http://climbtothestars.org/logbook) and think that I hated the country; it’s not true, I really loved it, and can’t wait to go back). But I walk around San Francisco and see all the signs with rules and regulations and “stupid” warnings (like, God, the pineapple chunks I buy at Whole Foods haven’t been pasteurized and may contain harmful germs! or, don’t use the hairdryer in the bath tub!), the AT&T Park and other manifestations of what to me is “consumerism gone mad”, I hear about health care and [“you’re expected to sue” horror stories](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/06/23/sicko_barack_an.html), visa lotteries for non-renewal, the education system…

So, yes, I’m focusing on the negative. And Switzerland, even though it’s a wonderful country ;-), has its negatives too. Like many natives all over the world, I’ve developed a selective blindness to what is “wrong” in the land I come from, considering much of it “normal” as I have been brought up with it. I know that. But too much of what I see here makes my skin crawl. I’m really enjoying spending some weeks here, I love my friends, the food and the sunshine, but I don’t think I’d be happy living here.

Misty Skyscrapers in Downtown San Francisco 10

Well, this was one of these longer-than-expected posts, and it’s occupied most of my morning. My tasks for this afternoon are (in this order):

– one WordPress install for a client
– spending a little more time trying to see if there is hope for the aggravating Google Groups problem I bumped into, and if not, setting up a Yahoo! Group instead
– writing a post for [bub.blicio.us](http://bub.blicio.us) or working on my book — whichever I most feel like.

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