Swiss voters against longer holidays, in favor of sex!


Prototype drive-in sex boxes in Zurich

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a proposal to give themselves more annual leave in a national referendum. The plan would have given workers six weeks off a year, but business groups warned about the cost to the economy.

In other referendums, voters in Zurich agreed to the creation of “sex boxes” where prostitutes can work…

Referendums are a key part of Switzerland’s direct democracy system.

The Swiss frequently have their say on changes to laws, budgets, or any issue that 100,000 citizens say they feel strongly about.

Two-thirds of voters reportedly rejected an increase in the country’s minimum annual leave from four weeks to six, which would have brought it in line with most other West European countries.

But a proposal to construct what have locally been referred to as “sex boxes” for prostitutes got the green light from voters in Zurich.

The plan would see the creation of special parking spaces with walls between them where sex workers can ply their trade away from suburban areas in Switzerland’s biggest city.

I still can’t imagine why they rejected longer vacations. Similar regs haven’t crushed the economy in Germany.

As for more sex – even the Swiss aren’t against that.

“MOVE YOUR DOMAIN DAY” inflexible – GoDaddy wins > losses!

GoDaddy gained more domains than it lost on Move Your Domain Day, a reaction to the company’s former support for the Stop Online Piracy Act. According to DailyChanges (via TechDirt), the combined domain transfers in and new registrations outstripped transfers out by a large margin. Still, the numbers were big enough for GoDaddy: the company went on record as opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) midway through the day.

The GoDaddy boycott began December 21 on reddit (Ars’ sister site) in the face of GoDaddy’s support for SOPA, an act that has been derided by opponents for its potential to infringe on First Amendment rights. GoDaddy backed off its support of SOPA on December 23, but refused to make any statements actively opposing it. Midday Thursday, the company officially announced its opposition of the act in response to “a spike in domain name transfers,” said Warren Adelman, CEO of GoDaddy.

But the movement appears to have made fewer people think “I need a new domain host” than “that reminds me, I need to make a website”: 43,304 new domains were registered with GoDaddy…in the 24-hour period preceding 1am PST on December 30, while 14,492 were transferred out. 35,907 more domains were deleted, and 27,843 domains were transferred in, for a net gain of 20,748 domains…

Inflexible insurgent political movements end up being viewed as sectarian religions, vainglorious quests, by ordinary folks. That includes geeks.

Much like Greenpeace irrevocably attacking companies which actually lead movements of businesses concerned with environment and organize their peers into bodies which change working and living conditions – the Reddit/Occupy folks who organized Move Your Domain Day missed a chance to [1] claim victory on the spot; and [2] demonstrate gracious acceptance of that victory.

Canada combat troops returning home from Afghanistan


Countdown to the return home in a tent full of Canadian soldiers
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Canada is formally completing its fighting mission in Afghanistan this week, a move that marks the end of a robust combat presence centered in the dangerous and violent southern province of Kandahar.

The Canadian military on Tuesday formally transferred its last district in the province to the United States, where the U.S. 3rd Battalion 21st Regiment took over from the Canadian 1st Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment…

This transition comes as other countries make preparations for drawdowns and shifting to plans for noncombat missions in Afghanistan, such as training…

One of more than 40 countries participating in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force with nearly 3,000 troops, Canada has lost more than 157 troops in the war, the third highest death toll after the United States and Britain.

Also, the government says, the “incremental cost of the current mission in Afghanistan to the Government of Canada from 2001 to 2011 is currently estimated to be approximately $11.3 billion.”

Up to 950 Canadian armed forces trainers and support personnel eventually will be based in Kabul until 2014. The Canadians will be working alongside Americans, Brits, Australians and others in a countrywide training mission, Stadnyk said.

Though much usable military material will be back in the GWN by Xmas – a sizable chunk will follow the traditional US model and be sold off in one of the world’s largest yard sales. Got to keep the military-industrial complex solvent producing non-consumable goods, ya know. That’s as true in Ottawa as it is in Washington, DC.

MILESTONE: Last U.S. Combat Brigade Leaves Iraq


Click to watch the video

This video is from the live telecast, last night, of the 4-2 Stryker Brigade, the last U.S. combat brigade leaving Iraq. They drove from Baghdad to the Kuwait border. And crossed over – clearing their weapons as they left Iraq.

There are several video clips at the MSNBC site. Their servers weren’t doing a great job of keeping up, last night. Try refreshing the page a few times. If things are keeping up, just let the videos load and run in sequence. Sorry for the occasional commercial between segments; but, the video[s] are worth watching.

I watched it live – last night. They did about 4 hours of uncut, live feeds from Iraq with reporters and guest commentators in Iraq and the MSNBC studios.

There is a great deal of historic review and analysis. Chickenhawk Republicans and Democrats will hate it.

Ivanchuk must not give up chess (and of course he won’t)


Disheartened from losing to a 16-year-old. Damn kids!

Vassily Ivanchuk : To my mind I should leave professional chess now. Chess will become hobby for me from now on. As for the signed contracts, yes, I will play in all tournaments which I have to. Perhaps I will even participate in a tournament before the new year. I should win something! And that will be the end. No serious plans, no professional goals….

It was not just a match, it was a crucial match. I am sure that from now on I should forget about any serious aims in chess. I don’t need anything from chess anymore. I will start new life with new goals. Chess… I will become just a chess fan now. I will follow chess, will follow the games of my ex-colleagues….

Chess is killing me. Chess is playing against me! Chess is destroying me! I would take it easy if my opponent would be much stronger than me, or he were better prepared. But my loss was so stupid, it is a sign of destiny, which screams: “Vasya, leave it, it is not your business”.

“Chess is a beautiful mistress to whom we keep coming back, no matter how many times she rejects us.” –Bent Larsen

Blair urged to ‘reconsider’ job

Lord Levy has told the BBC he thinks Tony Blair should consider whether to continue his job as an envoy for the Middle East Quartet.

The former prime minister’s ally said he should examine if he had “the time and tools” to help the peace process. He said he should think about what his role was “precisely” going to be.

Asked if he thought Mr Blair should step down, Lord Levy said: “As a friend I would say to him, do you feel you have the time, do you feel you have the tools, to really make a difference in this arena?

“And if you do, then what are you going to do and how are you going to go about it?”

Lord Levy said if there were not enough “ticks in all those boxes” he would advise someone else should take over.

Lord Levy is being way too polite to an incompetent. I’m not certain I would hire Tony Blair as counter help at a chip shop.

What is he best suited for? I’d say “greeter” at a Wal-Mart.

Car crash is scary – even worse is missing shampoo appointment

An elderly woman driver in the US state of Florida crashed into a man on a scooter, but drove on to an appointment at a hairdresser’s, police said. Louise Davidson was held for leaving the scene of a crash involving injuries in Palm Beach County.

The 77-year-old had veered into the path of an oncoming scooter that had right of way, according to police.

The man was reportedly thrown onto the windscreen and then fell to the road. The accused said she did not see him.

Boynton Beach Police said they later spotted the woman’s car after she had her hair washed at a salon.

You have to keep your priorities in order.

Steve Jobs is sicker than he thought – or admitted – even to himself

Text of email sent to Apple staff:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

Thanks, K B

Nouri al-Maliki tells Britain, “Time to go home”

British combat forces are no longer needed to maintain security in southern Iraq and should leave the country, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, has told The Times.

In an exclusive interview in Baghdad, Mr al-Maliki also criticised a secret deal made last year by Britain with the al-Mahdi Army, Iraq’s largest Shia militia. He said that Basra had been left at the mercy of militiamen who “cut the throats of women and children” after the British withdrawal from the city.

The Iraqi leader emphasised, however, that the “page had been turned” and he looked forward to a friendly, productive relationship with London. Of Britain’s presence in southern Iraq, Mr al-Maliki said: “We thank them for the role they have played, but I think that their stay is not necessary for maintaining security and control. There might be a need for their experience in training and some technological issues, but as a fighting force, I don’t think that is necessary.”

Britain wants to base its agreement on a similar deal being hammered out between Baghdad and Washington. But divisions on certain issues, in particular the immunity of US troops from Iraqi prosecution, have delayed the signing of that accord.

You have to consider whether Gordon Brown wants to weasel permission to leave from George W. – or wait till next January for the next president in case there’s a change in permission slips from the new headmaster?