December 6th, 2004

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Flying Penguins

I may have been out of the loop, but I was happily surprised to see how Linux was present everywhere during my air travels. First thing, I hear Dell spending several minutes in an on-flight radio program explaining how it installs RedHat Linux on its servers, or whichever other flavor of Linux suits their customers. Next thing, Oracle bought all the ceiling ads in SEA airport to say that Oracle makes Linux unbreakable. In San Francisco, Veritas puts Windows, Unix and Linux on par. Finally, on my trip back, the in-flight entertainment system by Panasonic reboots in Linux: I could see the penguin on my neighbour's screen as he desperately twiddled the command pad. Wow. Linux has gone a long way in thirteen years. The free market works around information protectionism, slowly but surely.

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Hitting the Road

I greatly enjoyed driving on highway 101 between San Francisco and Mountain View. Part from the reason was the nice rental car. I liked its automatic gear box a lot, though I couldn't manage to use it till I had some passerby explain to me that the brake pedal also served as the clutch. All the americans I met were so very nice, except for a civil servant from MBTA (who was notably lacking niceness though without being rude). Reminds me of Japan -- however, though the japanese might have seemed even nicer, I couldn't understand what they were saying, whereas I can speak english and enjoy american niceness.

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Positive Thinking

Another important way in which americans are free and french are not: in public messages, whether in ads or in public venue regulations, the main way that people are enticed to do things, in the States, is you can do it, you can help preserve the environment, you can achieve something for yourself, etc. In France, it's you must, whether you like it or not, you cannot, because someone who knows better than you has decided it this way. Of course, this is more visible in public regulations than in private advertisements, since the latter always rely on the good will of the consumer. Still, even french ads more often than not resort to bad conscience and other forms of self-loathing. This is not something to be found in the States.

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Spiderman 2

I quite liked the initial movie Spiderman, which was a didactic story about a geek whiz kid who discovers his moral choices make a difference (and other people's too). But this sequel is more than disappointing: where the first issue was an original ode to morality, this second issue is a boring cliché that instead that promotes a form of moral lunacy, of inversion of values, of philosophical absurdity -- the seed of madness, which leads its individual or collective victims to self-destruction.

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