Note: this has actually been written yesterday, going from Preston, UK, to Bologna, Italy. I would have posted this last night, but Slashdot was unreachable. Anyway now is there. Enjoy it. I said enjoy it, tolerate it. I said tolerate...
So, I'm on the road again. The english countryside, here between Preston and Manchester, is all the same, a big humanised landscape made of small terraces, malls, and lands where soon no one will grow anything, because of the globalised commerce world we live in. When Chilean salmon is cheaper than the Scottish, why the hell should we grow anything at all? Without the big fat cheque this country blackmailed the EU for, "English farmer" would already be a forgotten concept.
As Manchester slowly approaches, more towers appear, and you can feel the urban landscape of a modern metropolis all around you. Nevertheless, everywhere it's full of imperial memorabilia, old buildings refusing to let the new shiny towers to win. It's, obviously, a lost battle: this city is growing fast, house prices skyrocketed (well, in England, where didn't they?). And, suddenly, I feel like being back to Milan: large streets, high buildings, and it's beautiful. I like big cities, and Manchester is quickly selling me the dream.
Ristorante don Antonio, Ristorante Bella Roma. All the world is the same, italians everywhere. We were like rabbits, the last two centuries: dirty, growing, and escaping from killing ourselves. Wherever there was a chance to live, there was an italian. In the '20s, our beloved Benito Mussolini even traded human beings, selling them to Belgium, Germany and other countries looking for cheap labour in mineral and heavy industry. Oh, "great dux", you were so good, it's obvious why Italy now wants you back so badly. What a fucked country I was born in.
I like traveling. It's probably because my parents took me all around europe when I was a child. My first travel was Hungary, but actually I never saw it, being just inside my mother's belly. Dad said it was this horrible mood, police everywhere watching you, controlling you, reminding you what you can see and what you can not even think of seeing. As today, probably, things are changed, but nobody knows that. No one talks about Hungary, in the Perestrojka years it was a small notes at the end of big columns about Chzech 'velvet revolution' or Poland Catholic-inspired riots (absolutely loved story in a place morally ruled by a Pope from Warsaw). I wonder if the police is still there, watching unwatched. It's not difficult to guess: capitalism loves police, it means stability, and stability means business.
11.05 (GMT +0, British Summertime): check-in done, I'm wandering inside Manchester's (better, Chester's) shiny new airport. Well, actually, it seems like shiny new, but alas, airports rarely seems something different from that. Anyway, it's beautiful. I'm always a bit scared of these places, so tremendously post-human, and Stefi knows that: the first time she took me to a Milan shopping mall, I was frightened by how enormous things were, and how clean. Don't be fooled, I already knew that sort of things: Bologna was one of the first cities in Italy to have a very big mall. And I've seen the past glory of Agrigento's 'Temple Valley', and Rome with its imperial public buildings and its amazing churches, and London, and Paris, and everything that has been really big in the past. Well, those places have never been big and clean. They could resist two, maybe three years, before being corrupted by weather, pigeons, and people living under them. Maintenance could have been carried on every once in a while, but only San Francisco's Golden Gate and some other metallic bridge here and there are kept in good conditions.
These new temples, sacred to the commerce gods, are always shining, their coloured lights sparkling all around, no matter how many people they contain each day, trading stuff, consuming goods, consuming them. Post-humanity is here, everything is now done without real materials: real stones, real wood, real flesh.
Have I got a problem with this? Am I one of those freaked out anti-globalisation guys regularly beaten by police, and armies, all around the world? No. I chose to live inside this, to let the past go and find a new place, one where temples have still to be built. Australia, New Zealand, Far East: the future is there, and I would like to catch it as soon as possible. Nevertheless, there is always something in my mind saying It's not real, it's fiction, everything is going to collapse in few years, the Earth is going to take its revenge above all you puny humans.
As I said before, I like traveling, and I traveled a lot with my parents, and alone as well (not so much as I liked to, but I'm young). I like to see different places, observe people, hearing different languages all around me. I like to write about this, as you can see, while waiting for the next train, the next bus, the next plane. I can be a very gross observer, missing the subtle details that good travel writers will spot in seconds. Much of what I'm writing is just plain rubbish, things said and said again and again and again. But I simply don't care, because I like this almost above everything else: hanging around writing rubbish and spotting new places around the world. Now, if just this airport had a wireless connection somewhere... ;))
13.24 Up above the clouds! :) And suddenly everything seems a big SimCity session... I love flying, I just wouldn't like to have to fight my stupid body each time, stoning me with drugs to avoid travel disease. I hope I won't fall asleep in the middle of this writing ;DD
At the airport, I bought Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men", just for fun, to know what is all about. It has been one of the greatest literary cases this year in the UK, topping the charts all around. I thought it was yet another Democrat rant about how Gore was the real president, and all the (true, but a little boring after more than two years) same old stuff. It turned out that yes, it's a rant, but it can be amazingly funny. Moore's writing, posing as "the man on the street", always pointing out to Dubya that "c'mon, bud, we know you made it, just don't pretend, willya? I mean, at least your father was a big CIA guy! Look at you, forcrhissake!" is real entertainment, and I found myself laughing loud in the airport lounge. And it turned out that Kevin, Bush's cousin (son of Dubya's mother's sister), basically made Moore what it is now teaching him all the cinema stuff! Sometimes, life is just much, much stranger than fiction...
I love this world so much, I want to see how round it is. I want to see everything. What a strange thing, this "space ball" full of gas and fire, where we live alone, ignored by the universe. A place where we desperately look for somewhere to hide, where we can shape our dreams as we want, creating fictious reproductions of how the world should be (operating systems, internets), because we are not having fun with the real world itself.
Battery level at 48%, it seems playing loud Beth Orton consumes this iBook's life like watching an action-packed DVD (ok, I've never done that on this machine, so it's actually not true). Actually it wouldn't be so bad if Apple didn't insert this small systems that resets the date settings when you turn off the machine whith battery under 15%. What a stupid thing. The only "solution" is to put the iBook in sleeping mode, and find a plug where topping up the battery, but you must be careful in the first place not to shut it down.
(oh, it seems I've eventually typed some geeky stuff, after all. I like it, let's continue)
OSX can be very, very beautiful. great interface, absolutely not invasive when you get used to it. A bit of confusion about the disk hierarchy, but it's a thing no one really still got it right, and anyway you can comfortably live remaining in your user ("home") folder, sure that will always be in a precise point, under harddisk/Users. Microsoft is doing an horrible work with XP, putting "My"s everywhere, hiding the real stuff going on, I'm almost lost in the XP start menu - and I use Windows since the 3.11 version! Bad, bad, bad interface. e.g. this thing of "My Documents", that is on the top of the tree but also inside "Documents and Settings" in "C:", is just plain silly. People needs just one entry point to the filesystem? make just that one. But they liked it so much, maybe because it added some kind of Unix desktop flavour to the Good Old Windows interface, they basically took this principle as the platform for redesigning the XP interface. Resulting in an absurd mess in the Start menu. "Those who don't understand Unix are damned to badly rebuild it again and again" (Ken Thompson; I know he's biased, but he's Ken Thompson, forchrissake: he's the frigging Charles Darwin of modern computer science!). It seems to me Microsoft tried to "embrace" the *nix-oriented networking culture, without changing its old "C:\" paradigm. Apple is a little more honest about this: they are doing Unix as best as they can, but it's still Unix and as this it must be used.
I don't know why, but I still find this iBook uninspiring for programming. Maybe it's the strange keyboard, with all those stuff not in their usual place (and let's thank God they switched to QWERTY after all). Maybe it's because this interface is so graphic it almost stops me from doing anything else than playing with 128x128 icons, wallpapers, and trying to convince myself Flash is not so bad after all. Maybe it's just that I use fonts too small in my editors. Maybe is just that is a new thing, and that I continue to use win2000 at work because I can't choose. Take this diary. I begun to write it yesterday, thinking about the Bernabeu and all the things I always liked to write about it and never had the time or the willing required. And now, I find myself unable to close this crappy TextEdit (oh-so-lame) and fire up jEdit or Eclipse for some serious work.
BTW, Eclipse runs better the more horsepower you put under its JVM, obviously, thus it runs much more straightly on this G3 800Mhz than the old, slowly dying P3 550Mhz at home. Eclipse scares me to the bones, I have to admit it. It's so huge in everything it does, so complex, I continue to find excuses to not try it seriously. Sorry Giulio, I know you're waiting a serious review ;)
Another half an hour left, and the battery is still there, fighting with us to not fall asleep :)
David Gray playing, I got all his albums ripped on this machine before leaving. I know how much Stefi likes him. These deays I found myself ripping all the things two times, one on the PC and one here. The reason? The new Sony NetMinidisc we bought works with windows-only software, a crappy WMA clone interfacing the PC with the MD. Dear Sony, dear Apple, could you please find a way to cooperate? Many thanks, your users. Anyway, iTunes works very well, I like it. The Sony crap, OpenMG (what an ugly name) is, well, crap. But as things are now, you can't do anything but play ball with it. Did you say iPod? we couldn't, for many reasons.
16.50 Finally (?) at home... the plane was early, anyway, British Airways is great, even in the low-fares-really-not-so-low class. I'm tired. I think I'll sleep as soon as the adrenaline from tonight goes down. Hope you liked this. I enjoyed it. I said "enjoyed", well, I tolerated it. Actually, it was like that time when I was hit by thousands of bees on my scrotum. Apart from that, well, I could be Mark Lamar. I would enjoy it. I said "enjoy", I would tolerate it..