Windows Macs, What’s Next?

I was shocked and excited when I read about Apple's decision not only allow Mac owners to install Windows on their machines, but also provide software to help them do it. This is certainly big news – so big it is the top story on the New York Times right now. Certainly this is a sign of the growing détente between Apple and Microsoft. Apple recognizes that Windows is the dominating desktop platform at this point and with the Intel chips they can give customers the choice.

I have to imagine all this is also about letting its customers do the Pepsi challenge with Windows and MacOs X. I think Apple will win this battle too. They operating system is much cleaner looking and relatively safer than Windows. I think the delay and shift to Windows Vista will help Apple too. Vista introduces a high end graphical interface and a lot of other features Apple has had for years, Microsoft's acknowledgement that Apple has out-innovated them on the desktop. To capitalize on all the features of Vista, graphically speaking at least, one will need to buy a newer, expensive computer. I expect that when we see the first real Vista-capable (not all "Vista-ready" ones will support the graphics) machines they will carry price tags that are not very different than what Apple is offering.

So next year the cost difference between getting a standard Windows Vista machine or a Mac will not be as significant. And with the power to still use Windows software on your Mac, the decision becomes a lot easier. Macs used to be viewed as an exclusive group of machine, but I think consumer views have changed a lot with the popularity of the iPod. Christmas should be very good for Apple, including its Mac unit.

So my next question is, if Macs can play with Windows, will we see iPods that play with Windows Media? Unlikely in the short term. The recent legislation in France may move things along though. And eventually to continue its dominance, Apple will probably have to adjust. They may not need to open up iTunes though, they just need to make a dual boot iPod or some way to play both file formats. Fight Microsoft on your home turf. Anyway, I am a closet Mac fan and this certainly has me considering buying one soon.

Lacrosse and Privilege

Athletes at Duke University made national headlines last week for a team party in which the athletes allegedly gang raped of a black dancer. It is interesting to note that the athletes in question here did not play football or basketball, but lacrosse. As a former high school lacrosse player, I am not surprised.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the sport, lacrosse is a game where people throw and catch balls with sticks and attempting to shoot the ball at the net for a goal. It is a fun game and I want to make clear that nothing about the sport of lacrosse itself prompts people to commit crimes.

Lacrosse, however, is also a sport of privilege. It requires at least $300 in equipment to begin with, plus fees for tournaments and indoor leagues. It is a relatively young sport, so it is still very regional. It is most popular in areas that predominantly upper middle class and white. The suburbs of southeastern Pennsylvania are among best areas for lacrosse. Duke has removed the roster from the athletics website, but I would guess at least a few players came from my area.

While I enjoyed playing lacrosse, I noticed with some hesitance the growing culture surrounding the sport. It is an elite sport and it attracts elite young men who form strong bonds outside of the game. Thus has emerged an old boy’s club where young men, not surprisingly, make poor decisions.

The Duke incident recalled a specific event during my final season. Lacrosse is an aggressive sport and altercations occasionally occur. In one game a black athlete from an opposing school punched one of my teammates.

I did not witness the event firsthand, but another player recalled with amusement on the bench that the altercation was precipitated by my teammate calling the black athlete a n—–. Knowing my teammate to be a moron and a racist, I believed the story.

A day later no one seemed to remember what happened, especially since someone filed a complaint and the school suspended my teammate. Many team members wore athletic tape with his number on their jerseys as a sign of solidarity. I did not, nor did a few others who likely suspected the story to be true. In the end my teammate was suspended for a week and forced to give a short speech in which he gave a non-denial denial, lamenting the situation and apologizing for any grief he had caused.

What impressed me was not my teammates’ bigotry, but how quickly my other teammates were willing to stand up for him – even when they knew he was wrong. Similarly the Duke lacrosse players have banded together and will not discuss the incident. This is teamwork at its worst.

These problems are not isolated to simply lacrosse, but any exclusive group that puts protecting itself above common decency. It speaks to the need for diversity throughout our academic community. 46 out of the 47 Duke players were white and many came from elite prep schools. It is unlikely they have had much expose to anyone outside their socioeconomic group. Perhaps if they had they wouldn’t view women, specifically black women, as sex objects.

Hopefully the players will eventually learn their lesson, but in the meantime we can all do a better job of being more inclusive in our lives.

Update: Corrected number of white players above. See comments for details.

Hiking Mount Nittany

Yesterday was a beautiful day: warm and breezy with temperatures in the 70s. Hundreds of fellow students were out on the lawns tanning, playing games, etc. We were outside the Creamery enjoying some Bittersweet Mint ice cream, trying to plan what we would do tonight. I imagine part of the motivation for what happened was the fact that we were hosting another Haverford alum, Steve Ahn, and wanted to do something fun for him. In the course of our discussion I mentioned that my roommate Rob was out for the day on some outdoorsy activity, hiking or something.

“We’re hiking Mount Nittany!” Chris suddenly exclaimed.

I agreed it would be something to do someday before we graduate. But Chris meant today and right now. He called up Greg with the same rallying cry and pretty soon we had formed our fellowship. We looked up the directions, which were kind of vague (“Go to Lemont, PA”), but eventually found a set that was pretty clear. I grabbed some jeans to protect my legs, but left my boots (bad choice). Within an hour of offering this idea up, we were standing at the base of Mount Nittany.  

Mount Nittany is only about 500ft high, but it is only about a half a mile to the top – which makes for a very steep trek. I already had jogging class earlier today, so my legs were pretty beat going into the trek. There was a clear path to the top, but it is littered with jagged rocks and logs, which are supposed to help but can be painful. It was a tough climb for the others, but it was an all out struggle for me. I am always out of shape, but I felt extra tired yesterday for some reason. We had to stop about 5 times on the way up just so I could catch my breath and rest my legs. We still made it up in the estimated time of 20 minutes though, which was good.

When we got to the top, it was pretty much what I expected – a bunch of trees. The whole mountain is a big forest, so the peak was no different. Apparently if we walked around up there a bit we should have found a clearing with a good view. We were really doing this for the sense of accomplishment though, so we didn’t waste much time. Going down was less wearing, but it was difficult in itself because it was hard to slow oneself down on the mountain. I was told that I had to go down in front of everyone else, because they were afraid of a domino effect if I fell. There were no spills and we quickly got down without incident.

All in all it was a very difficult, but rewarding experience. Another check off the “Things to Do Before I Graduate” list.