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.
Another reason that makes driving pleasant is that roads are large, with more and broader lanes than in Europe. Roads mostly run straight, and when they are curved are curved in wide arcs. Signs are bigger. Cars are bigger and more powerful. Streets and avenues cross on right angles. Everything seems bigger, coarser, simpler. A child's play. No wonder the States give an impression of naivete or innocence to many sophisticated or corrupt europeans.
Yet another thing that made this driving experience fun was the radio.
Radio programs in California are so much more nicer than in France.
There is a broader choice of music, and it's more to my taste, too.
Not the tiny selection we hear in France,
but a great variety of american or classical music.
American music sounds so much better here.
California also has many spanish-speaking radio stations
with sweet mexican music.
As for the non-music programs,
there certainly is the occasional left wing nut who finds nothing to tell about
but his extreme contempt and hate at anyone who would ever even
consider voting for anyone but the democratic candidate
-- especially so on public radio.
But unlike what's happening in France, these programs are not 99% of airwaves.
I'm told there are also right-wing nuts who can speak freely;
but more importantly, I find that there are most interesting debates
about the limits of liberty:
should there be a Journalist Privilege to keep one's sources secret,
despite said sources committing a felony or a crime
by betraying an administrative secret?
Certainly, the problem setting could be improved a lot;
but can you even imagine freedom of expression being debated in France?
No, it's so obvious to the french media
that France is the freeest country in the world,
and that the french officials can safely
anything they don't like
without having to fear that they'd infringe on anyone's freedom.
-- And there's so much to censor for the benefit of