Tonight was the annual concert of my village’s brass band, L’Avenir. The brass band has two major concerts per year, in the spring and at Advent, and performs at events such as the 1er août and Désalpe. The band often has joint concerts with other bands in the region, both in Lignières and their homes, and competes in regional and national contests and has historically performed very well for a volunteer band from a village of around 1000 people.
The concerts turn out a substantial fraction of the village. I’m not skilled at estimating crowds, but this one pretty much filled up the school gymnasium where it was held, and I’d guess there were around 350 people there. I rarely miss a concert, but this was one where attendance was obligatoire, because I was to be made an honorary member of the band due to my support over the last quarter century. (If you knew how rudimentary my musical talent is, you’d appreciate what an honour this is.) I got a specially inscribed magnum of Neuchâtel Pinot Noir and applause from the crowd.... [Read More]
As noted in an earlier post, on Sunday, 2018-11-25 Swiss citizens will vote on the contentious issue of whether to amend the federal constitution to prohibit the removal of horns from cows and goats. Also on the ballot will be the (French title) “Initiative pour l’autodétermination” (Self-determination Initiative).
This is also an initiative to amend the federal constitution, whose full text you can read [PDF] in French. The relevant language, with my translation interleaved, is as follows.... [Read More]
Raclette is a quintessentially Swiss dish whose origins date as far back as those of the country (a.d. 1291). Although cheese fondue is often considered the national dish of Switzerland, many Swiss consider Raclette more authentically Swiss, since fondue is equally popular in adjacent regions of France.
Ever since its inception, radio and television broadcasting in Switzerland has been supported by a tax on receivers, paid by every household, regardless of whether they actually watch or listen to the broadcasts and how much they consume. Over time, the funds collected through this fee, now billed through a semi-private company called Billag AG, have been used to subsidise private broadcasters, at the discretion of the federal authorities. These fees are substantial: the household fee for television and radio reception is currently CHF 451.10 (US$ 481.87 at today’s exchange rate).
In an environment where there are myriad sources of entertainment, none supported by these tax revenues, this has generated a push-back. Since Swiss radio and television consists largely of content from broadcasts from other countries a year or more after it is available on popular streaming services and local public affairs programming with a hard collectivist tilt from the studios in Zürich and Geneva, more and more people are asking, “Why am I paying more for this stuff that I never watch or listen to than a fancy flat-screen TV costs these days?”.... [Read More]