Thoughts on the Royal Wedding

The wedding of Prince Humperdink and Princess Buttercup this weekend got overshadowed by our collective blood lust on Sunday but I wanted to try and at least sort out a little of what was going on, at least in my head. Coming at it from the perspective of a dedicated little d democrat, it’s a silly farce fit for medievals and monarchists, the closeted fascists of Europe who every few decades get to drag out their Empire swords and shine them up good and proper. That so many Americans got swept away in this old timey display of ostentatious wealth of the excessively inbred makes one wonder if we Americans don’t have a secret cabal of Monarchists lurking in our closets. And in a way we do.

The Monarchy as a sort of archetype is embedded in our collective unconscious. It’s the rough edges of fairy tales and history peeking through the modern world. We spent so many thousands of years with kings and queens and the traditions that go with them that at least on some level we have a hard wired Monarchist neurocircuit in our brains. Some of us learn how to defuse it and others just embrace the occasional activation of fealty to tradition and the pageantry of culture. It’s weird, but a benign sort of weirdness, like going to Ren fairs or dressing up like psychopaths on Halloween. A sort of cathartic mocking of the old-fangled with just a touch of reverence for a way of life that we no longer live.

Or maybe we just like watching rich people get gussied up and fantasizing it’s us in those fancy clothes (which we can never, ever afford) and prance around in ancient hallowed ground (that we’re forbidden from looking at except from the far side of a velvet rope).

My New Toy

So for a few years now, I’ve been threatening to buy a cheep PC and install Ubuntu on it, just to see what Linux is all about and if it really holds up to the various shiny OSs that Apple has put out over the years. The only reason it’s taken so long to get around to it is because I haven’t needed to buy a computer in at least 5 years. My wife’s old iMac and my mini work just fine, even though they are outdated G4s. And for the last 2 years, our laptop has been a Powerbook that came with my job. But, since I’ll have to give that laptop back within the next 6 weeks, before my job ends, we were facing a near future with no laptop. This was unacceptable. And due to tight finances (did I mention I’m losing my job in about 6 weeks?), we couldn’t exactly afford the $1200 MacBook Air we’ve had our eye on.

So, last night I finally made good on my threat. We went to Best Buy and picked out a shiny new HP n455 netbook for a whopping $250. Downloading and installing Ubuntu 11.4 was pretty easy. It took a try or two to get everything working, but I’ve had more problems just installing Photoshop on a PC, so getting a whole new operating system up and running in the span of 3 hours is amazing. Haven’t fully explored lal the applications yet but the fact that it comes with Gimp, Firefox, LibreOffice and an assortment of other Open Source programs that I don’t have to bother hunting for on my own is a nice bonus.

Ostensibly, this will be my writing laptap, so I’m curious to see how LibreOffice performs. It looks pretty much just like MS Office circa 2004, which is a good thing. (Sometime beforeĀ  2007, the entireĀ  HCI team at Microsoft had an aneurism and coded up one of the least intuitive office suites I’ve ever seen. Office 2010 should be shunned like a leper). And there’s always Open Office if that ends up not suiting me, so I’m covered for Open Source software on this machine. Which is the plan: run this bad boy on nothing but Open Source software. I’ll keep the blog appraised as to how that goes.