Friday, October 24, 2003

I just got back from the Apple Store in Chestnut Hill. Apple released the newest version of it's operating system today, Mac OS X 10.3, also known as Panther. I had never been to one of these first day of release events at an Apple Store, and it was kind of fun to be there. The place was packed, and people didn't seem to be too shy about spending money.

Panther seems to be a pretty good upgrade. One of the coolest new features is a window management feature called Expose. You know how you have a bunch of windows open on your screen and you can't figure out which one you need to get to? With Expose, you hit F9 and all your open windows shrink down to fit on the screen. When you run the mouse over the windows, the application name pops up. You click the window you want and it comes to the front automatically.

It doesn't sound so great when you write it down, but you really have to try it to get the full impact. In fact, I think it's so good that I'm sure Microsoft will be ripping it off in the next release of Windows.

I just finished a great book called "Foul Ball", by Jim Bouton. Bouton, of course, is the former Major League Baseball player who wrote the blockbuster "Ball Four" about his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots. This book is about his attempt to save Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, MA by fielding an independent minor league team there. Bouton and his group pledged to upgrade the 1919 vintage ballpark and maintain it at no cost to the city.

Opposing Bouton's group were various local interest groups intent on building a new $18.5 million ballpark at taxpayers expense. These groups included the mayor and city council, the Berkshire Eagle newspaper, Berkshire Bank, a local law firm and General Electric. Bouton's implication in the book is that these groups had a vested interest in building the ballpark on a piece of property owned by the Eagle which had been contaminated with PCBs and other pollutants by GE over many decades. Building a ballpark there would "cap" the site and avoid millions of dollars in potential cleanup costs.

The book is an expose about the shameful way Pittsfield's elected officials ignored the will of the people, which was to save Wahconah Park. The book, in the end, isn't about baseball, but about the subversion of the political process by special interests. It's written in that great, frank, tell-it-like-it-is Bouton style that you will remember if you read Ball Four. Bouton had to self-publish the book after the powers that be blocked his attempt to go through a publishing house. You can get the book at most bookstores or libraries, or head to

That's it for tonight. Go Marlins!


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