Every year on July 14, my family back in Quebec pauses before dinner,
sniffles a few tears, and observes a moment of silence. Despite being
Canadian subjects, la famille
DuBaud still holds a soft spot for
les idees monarchistes,
which fell so violently that same day in
1789. I don't make it home too often, but I call every Bastille Day
to tweak Grandma's twinkies. "Vive la revolution!"
I roar in my best
tenor, and she mutters something about the guillotine
for us south-of-the-border savages.
The Bastille, of course, n'existe plus, ripped down by gleeful mobs
as the French
royalty went to the chopping block, but that hasn't stopped a high-tech
team of history ignorami from resuscitating its image.
GTE, Silicon Graphics, and the International Association of Chiefs of
Police are launching the Bastille, an online database chock full of crime
information that lets cops around the country share information, armed only
with a browser and an itchy clicker finger (plungers not
required). Dickensian visions of malnutrition, prisoner torture,
and rats the size of two-kilo Camemberts notwithstanding, the fact that the
real Bastille fell within hours as the authorities stood helplessly by--or
were drawn and
quartered--doesn't inspire confidence in our peace officers'
intelligence-gathering abilities, not to mention their choice of names.
Microsoft's longtime PR firm Waggener
Edstrom is also a fortress, with only the shiniest spin on MS news
emanating from its imposing walls. Despite Wagg-Ed's fealty to the anti-Sun king, its internal
security comes first. The company's IT manager won't let Internet Explorer
4.0 over the moat until it's been "thoroughly evaluated," according to one
of my Skinformants, who would no doubt be put into leg irons and deprived
of the moldy half-baguette du jour if identified.
One would expect that the people who promote the damn thing would be among
the first to enjoy the head-turning, jaw-dropping, meat-slicing,
diaper-changing, lifestyle-affirming phenomenon called IE 4. But if they
can live without it for a while, I'm sure you can, too.
Chief Gates finally decided he
couldn't live without a private jet, so he went and plunked down a cool $21
million for one of his own, breaking the longstanding company policy of
flying coach. He most likely insisted on being served an extra bag of
pretzels, not peanuts. Maybe he can drop me off above Grandma DuBaud's farm
the next time he heads to Europe.
My fellow Quebecois expatriates are all abuzz over a controversy concerning
online journaliste et Webmestre Jean-Pierre Cloutier. Mon
vieux J-P, who writes the Chroniques de Cyberie newsletter,
stopped publishing his column in disgust at the prospect of accepting
advertising to survive in the increasingly profit-driven environment of the
Internet. As he mulls over his options to set the electronic word free,
more than 2,000
letters of support have poured in while many Francophone Web sites have
adopted the "froid
Speaking of froid, the bitter cold in Cleveland last week led to one
of the ugliest
World Series games ever played, with eventual champions Florida Marlins
beating the home team 14 to 11. Just as ugly, no doubt, was Yahoo's 14-11
softball slugfest victory over search rival Excite Tuesday night, with
slick marketing wonks and pizza-stained engineers circling the bases with
wild abandon, pausing only to
swap business cards with the shortstop. If you're in Silicon Valley's
Sunnyvale area and have absolutely nothing better to do, mark your calendar
for the December 9 rematch.
If you have a Cobol-powered watch, you might want to write yourself a
sticky note. The crusty old language still at the heart of much of the
world's big mainframe iron is part of the reason everyone's freaked out
about the year 2000. But a note on IBM's Web site warns that
a 60-day trial version of a Cobol development tool was expiring incorrectly
and won't even run if installed after May 1997. Maybe the apocalypse has
come and gone, and we all missed it. Oh, well. Just set some bleachers
out in the sun and we'll get around to it soon enough.
Leonard Bernstein, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs all sent me rumors and they feel fine. Maybe you should, too, while there's still time.