And now… a political broadcast

Those of you who are Swiss or live in Switzerland already know what I’m going to say. Those of you who aren’t, or don’t, won’t get it. But it has to be said anyway.

Hooray!

Christoph Blocher is no longer in the Federal Council. Who is Christoph Blocher? He’s one of the big names of the SVP, the Swiss People’s Party. They’re part of the political system, but their right-wingedness has turned more and more into out-and-out racism, misogyny and political bullying. Their ads imply that foreigners, more often than not, are parasites, as are those receiving a pension for invalidity. Their implication has been that they are Switzerland and that they alone give voice to the Swiss people, cows, cheese’n’all. (No cuckoo clocks – that’s an invention of Harry Lime.)

Ding dong, the Christoph’s gone!

So, what happened? The Swiss parliament voted on the seven Federal Councillors, which Blocher was one of for the last four years. Since the SVP is successful with voters, they’ve been accorded two seats. But, oh no! The parliament voted two SVP members into the Council, but neither of them is CB. Instead – listen to this! – they voted for… a woman!

Putting it somewhat bluntly, the SVP is the sort of party that thinks proper women should be mothers and should be at home, looking after the kids, because otherwise you get broken families, youth violence, high school shootings and the like. And now an SVP woman is voted to one of the seven highest positions in the country. What a slap in the face for the old, white buggers… (Note for linguistically interested non-German speakers: her name is Widmer-Schlumpf, “Schlumpf” being the German word for “Smurf”.)

No Smurf she!

Irony of ironies, the demonstrators on the federal square in Bern, 99% of them on the political left, cheered when Widmer-Schlumpf, an SVP politician, accepted the election.

Now, what did the old fuddy-duddies do? They chucked both W-S and her other SVP colleague on the Federal Council from the party, so now there’s no one from the SVP on the Council. And then they went on to announce that “this was a black day for Swiss democracy” and that they’d been forced to go into opposition, because after all the rest of the kids didn’t want to play with them.

Okay, realistically speaking I don’t expect anything much to change. But still, it’s oh so satisfying to see the xenophobic old fogeys from the SVP end up with egg on their faces and stomping out of the sandpit because they think the others are being mean…

Are you going to San Andreas?

Okay, it’s “Plug an old game” time. Yesterday I finished my second or third playthrough of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And it’s still one of the most versatile games I know – it’s probably the truest “sandbox game” that’s out there. For those of you who aren’t computer game nerds like myself, here’s a handy definition from Wikipedia:

A sandbox-style video game (or a video game with an optional sandbox mode) is a video game with an open-ended and non-linear style of gameplay, or a mode of gameplay within a game that is more often played in a goal-directed manner. The sandbox analogy is used to describe this style of gaming because, as with a physical sandbox, the user is simply allowed to do what he or she wishes (with the available game elements and within the limitations of the game engine — the metaphoric toys within, and boundaries of, the sandbox).

Now, what does that mean in concrete terms? San Andreas is a story-heavy game, it’s “played in a goal-directed manner”, but it gives you a lot of freedom in a) how you go about achieving the goal and b) how you spend your time in between missions. The game world is huge – you’re given three virtual cities/states to play around in: LA-inspired Los Santos, San Fierro (based on San Francisco) and Las Venturas, which is eerily similar to a certain desert city replete with casinos and organised crime. And while the story itself is enjoyable enough, some of the most fun can be had just boarding one of the many vehicles (cars, bikes, boats, planes) and zooming around. Personally, I get most of a kick out of navigating the hills of San Fierro on my trusty BMX bike, but here’s some of the fun’n’games that others came up with.

Crazy jumps 
Bike stunts 
Base jumping