This article is more than 1 year old

The only thing worse than flying is open source code

The proof is in Burt Rutan's tears

And ninthly Worn down with labors from morning to night, and day to day; knowing them as fruitless to others as they are vexatious to myself, committed singly and in desperate and eternal contest against a host who are systematically undermining the public liberty and prosperity, even the rare hours of relaxation sacrificed to the society of persons in the same intentions, of whose hatred I am conscious even in those moments of conviviality when the heart wishes most to open itself to the effusions of friendship and confidence, cut off from my family and friends, my affairs abandoned to chaos and derangement, in short giving everything I love, in exchange for everything I hate - Thomas Jefferson

Before I get started, my mother asked to have a few words with you this week. Take it away, mom.

Dear Wonderful Friends of Otto,

I have spent so many years in awe of my precious, precious son. He is a model of moral rectitude, unabashed pragmatism, voluminous machismo and carnal fortification. No man has endowed this Earth with so clear a spirit of all that is right and fibrous in at least the last fourteen years.

Given such tremendous qualities, I'm always pleased when members of the mainstream media give my dear Otto his due. This week, for example, the venerable, upstanding, incisive New York Times pointed to Otto's work here at The Register. The writer of the piece seemed to have misread Otto's article, but he gave my wonderful son a nice plug, and I appreciate that. It's great to see Otto placed on a pedestal equal to that of David Vise - one of America's pioneering verbal pugilists. Oops, I mean somnambulists.

Thank you all for appreciating Otto so much. You owe it to yourself and should be proud of your commitment to his eloquence and overarching grandeur.

God bless.

Hilga P. Stern

While impressive, being featured in the New York Times means nothing to me. Righteous dromedaries such as John Battelle and Julio Stantore feature in the Times often, returning little glory to the paper or the American Spirit. My objective has never been to perpetuate the myth of goodness within the annals of respectability but rather to grab goodness by the gonads and then splatter these nuts of decency against the public wall of justice. In short, I'm after progress, while these others are happy to wallow in the filth of achievements past.

This brings me to one of the major problems facing America today - the airline industry.

The carriers stand as huge failures from a technology and pure commerce point of view.

During the holidays, you must funnel through massive ticketing and security lines with the masses. Government personnel touch you in gratifying places and force you to remove your shoes. (It's for this reason that I've started selling TSA SUCKS! socks and HANDS OFF, LIBERALS! butt plugs.) The whole process is revolting. Imagine such treatment accompanying the sale of a hamburger or a firearm. You'd never make a single purchase.

And this is just the layer of garbage coating the landfill of an industry.

You have to arrive way early for your flight. Then you sit around with a bunch of jerks who can barely spell the word "fly" let alone figure out the higher math behind the technology. More often than not, the airline has oversold the flight, meaning you don't even have a seat. Over the busy holidays, this can lead to 40 hour delays with the scum giving you nothing more than a $300 coupon to use their crappy service again. I can't possibly see how this is legal, but apparently it is.

Then, you get in a plane that flies at pretty much the same speed it was cruising at 20 years ago, if not more.

Penguin flying a planeEr, why is Burt Rutan in tears on TV because he's about to attach a meditation bubble to a space station, but I can't get from New Mexico to New York in under two hours? Hey, Burt, how's about you pull your head out of the stars and figure out a way for a chick in a mini-skirt to hand me a Pabst at 1,200 mph.

Not to prattle on, but the state of flight technology is just plain disgusting. These pathetic carriers appear determined to have us leaving late, receiving crappy service, arriving late, having our seats sold out from under our asses, flying slow, eating ass-rankling meals, coughing up $5 for gin and tonics and generally being abused by a dolt collective for the next 100 years. Our only real hope is that the genetic engineers splice out some human wings, while the good folks at Exxon Mobil craft a cow manure-powered jet pack. Maybe Burt Rutan can get on that.

No other business - except the blogosphere - could survive on this lack of innovation and tragic service. Imagine me ordering and paying for The Erotic Ins and Outs of Enema Play from and then not receiving the book until 2007 with Amazon compensating me in the meantime by mailing a bag of peanuts, a testicular shock device and an irate civil servant to my door. That's exactly what flying is like!

The only thing as goat-rendering awful as flying has to be the progression of open source code.

Travel to any open source love site, and you'll find the freedom fly boys gooing over how quickly they deliver bug fixes, patches and the like. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here typing away on a 128-processor Unix SMP armed with an ultrasonic file system and jet-fueled partitioning system, wondering when the Linux freaks are going to solve their Ubuntu versus Mandriva color scheme debate or maybe even write a printer driver so that something I buy actually works with my open sores PC.

Before pulling away from your crucial Mono project work to write a flame, please hand a normal 25-year-old your Linux box and show them how to connect the system to their bluetooth camera and then smack yourself.

Seriously, open source software progresses at commercial flight speed. I'm not sure the US can take 10 more years of this and remain a productive nation.

I'll leave you with one thought. Finns are socialists. Linus Torvalds is Finnish. Linus Torvalds got here on an airplane. ®

Otto Z. Stern is a director at The Institute of Technological Values - a think tank dedicated to a more moral digital age. He has closely monitored the IT industry's intersection with America's role as a world leader for thirty years. You can find Stern locked and loaded, corralling wounded iLemmings, nursing an opal-plated prostate, spanking open source fly boys, wearing a smashing suit, dropping a SkyCar on the Googleplex, spitting on Frenchmen, vomiting in fear with a life-sized cutout of Hilary Rosen at his solar-powered compound somewhere in the Great American Southwest.

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like