Les ordinateurs ne marchent pas

The computers aren’t working. This is a recurring theme at the bank, where our account is not fully open after more than 5 weeks. We also see reboots of the Metro once in a while (every few weeks).

One of the things that amazed me when we first arrived was that it seems like there’s an app for everything; every mall has an app so you can see events and sales and a map of the mall. The city of Lyon has an app that covers events, holidays, and parks, and has an alarm feature that will wake you up with a list of cool things that are happening today. TCL, the operator of the rail and bus system in this region has an app that is really useful. The app for our bank is really fantastic; Simple isn’t really needed here. It seems like everyone has a smartphone app, and they’re usually well-crafted and generally worth installing.

However, things break.
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PANO_20130821_144224I arrived in Lyon, France with my family 10 days ago. The first thing I discovered is that the things I thought I knew were often wrong. Wow, was I that wrong in Portland too? Either way, fixing that bug will be a big win. The next thing I noticed is that France subsidizes very different things than I’m used to.

In the US, we subsidize big industries. Corn, oil, automobiles. Sure, there are smaller subsidies, but they aren’t as obvious. We have cheap gas, and HFCS in everything. Everyone has a car and many people have multiple cars.

Here in France, bread is subsidized. A French friend told me once “if bread was priced near its cost, there would be riots.” Dairy seems to be subsidized. There is a ridiculous amount of smoking so I have to guess that cigarettes are subsidized. The French auto industry is subsidized but they have always seemed like the Special Olympics of automobile design to me, an opinion I developed when working as a mechanic in spite of the fact that French engineers have often come up with automobile features that are way ahead of their time.

So based on my cherry-picked examples, the US gives money to corporations and France supports people (rich or not). I will verify and elaborate as I have time.