Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Google Map Hacks

So most of you probably already know, but Google recently launched the beta version (wonder what the full version will be like?) of their own maps feature. Having been a frequent visitor to some of their predecessors such as Yahoo or MapQuest, I can say that Google's are the best out there. They come with the feature of switching to satellite photo view, which is a giant step up over the competition.
Of course, they have inspired their own competition as Microsoft is coming out with their own version of maps, which look quite cool. I'm looking forward to their release, but I imagine that Google's final maps will add some of the same features soon.
As the best currently available, though, it didn't take long for the Google maps to be 'hacked' (channelling address or GPS info through the Google open source interface to create an easy-to-read map). Thanks to Chicagoist and other sites, here are some of the cool things you can view:

Finally, some ambitious people have found some pretty neat things amongst the satellite photos. One of my favorites is the aerial view of the White House.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Bean Viewing

I wasn't able to post as often this weekend as my family was in town for the Memorial Day weekend. We had a lot of fun. Yesterday we packed a picnic and headed down for lunch on the lawn in Millennium Park.
As most Chicagoans know, the park has become a Chicago can't-miss destination. For those who haven't been able to see it yet, I would encourage you to.
Beginning in a couple weeks, this summer's photo exhibit will begin. This year's features Chicago photographer Terry Evans' pictorials from the air above Chicago (in the vein of previous smash hit Earth From Above), now a book called Revealing Chicago.
The other main attraction is the Cloud Gate sculpture, which has become affectionately known as "The Bean." Unfortunately, at this point, it is not 100% complete and for most of this summer will be kept partially under wraps as they finish the final polishes. As of yesterday, you were able to see enough to know it's going to be very cool, but you certainly were left wishing you could see more of it. As well, as we know from seeing it before the polishing began, one of the coolest features was to walk under the bean to the middle part where your reflection encircled you. That is the thing you miss the most right now. But, I guess with patience a beautiful finished product will be wrought.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Class Matters

The New York Times' series on social class in America continued this past week. As I mentioned previously, these types of issues fascinate me. The latest two articles address the role of education and the potential for upward mobility amongst immigrants.
In the first article, the authors point out that the gap in earnings power between college graduates and non-college graduates continues to grow. Thus, the number of people who are starting college has continued to rise, but unfortunately, many of them aren't finishing. This seems to be a reason that the gap between rich and poor endures today, as the children of the well-off are those who are likely to finish college. The poor remain unlikely to finish, and thus, tend to remain poor. The route of upward mobility goes through college, but the question now is, how can we encourage those least likely to go to finish?
The second article discusses the question of whether Mexican immigrants are just as likely as previous immigrant groups to become integrated into American society. This is actually a hotly debated issue amongst social scientists. I tend to think that given time they will, just like every previous group has. The major difference, of course, is that the land of origin is next door, and thus it's more difficult to focus only on their new life here.
The encompassing question remains, does the unfettered opportunity for class mobility remain?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Celebrity Relative

Congratulations to my wife's uncle. He's featured in last week's Business Week.
He's one of the many trying to qualify for the Champions Tour, but one of few who are doing it after a career as an executive. The article tells all about it.

Bill Kirkendall

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Healthy Kids

As you should know, obesity is becoming a problem amongst children.
And now, the state of Connecticut is doing something about it. They are about to pass a ban on pop, chips, and candy in public schools. These things have been shown to negatively impact a child's performance in school and to cause a good portion of the weight gain today's youth are experiencing.
I think it's a good move.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Finagling Senators Foist Filibuster Fight

Was it all much ado about nothing? Regardless, it's over.
So what do the media and blogosphere have to say about it?
MSNBC has a rundown of the winners and losers and what major media outlets have to say.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Another day...

...another article on evangelicals. One might think there's something happening here.
Today MSNBC reports on the fact that national evangelical leaders have become aware that
evangelicals have become too closely identified with conservative political activism, at the expense of attracting new followers

I think this is great recognition on the evangelicals' part and a step in the right direction. One organization cited is the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) who have taken a move towards the forefront of this nation's evangelical movement. I personally think that a true evangelical movement is not one of politics but of like hearts and it is heartening to see some in national leadership agree.
The article discusses NAE's adoption of the document An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility. This is not a new document (from just pre-election in October 2004), but one which I think does a great job of outlining a Christian's responsibility in today's America.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ivy League Evangelicals

Here's another attempt in less than a week by a major media outlet to describe the evangelical phenomenon in America.
As a part of the aforementioned Class Matters series in the New York Times, this article addresses the growth of evangelical missions within the Ivy League universities. The article discusses the fact that evangelical Christianity is moving out of the middle to lower class realm, in which it first boomed, and into the veritable upper crust of society. They claim that being an evangelical Christian no longer is an indication of a lower status in America.
Again, I am struck by the seeming surprise the authors have at the success this movement is having. Again, might I suggest that this model is nothing new, but the reason Christianity has grown to be the largest religion in the world?
The article even states:

To many evangelical Christians, the reason for their increasing worldly success and cultural influence is obvious: God's will at work.

But then it goes on to suggest other possible explanations.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Star Wars

Most of you have probably known for years that the final film in the sextet was released this weekend, however, for those of you who didn't, The Revenge of the Sith already is setting records.
I haven't seen it yet, but hope to soon. Today, may the force be with YOU.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Body Worlds

Looking for something to do in Chicago?
Let me recommend Body Worlds at the Museum of Science and Industry.

It is an anatomical exhibit of actual human bodies. I had the chance to take it in earlier this year, and I will say, I was blown away. Our bodies are absolutely fascinating devices, and this exhibition reminds us of it. Different body systems are isolated in separate bodies, and you learn about the way your body functions. The overwhelming sense of gratefulness to be alive I felt was hard to describe.
I will warn you, however, if you have a tendency to be squeamish, this may not be for you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The evangelical church as a corporation?

In the latest BusinessWeek Online edition, the lead article is on the booming evangelical church in America.
The premise is that the evangelicals' success is a product of their early adoption of modern entrepreneurial practices in relation to their competitors. It delves into the creation of megachurches and the movement to create a church 'brand' amongst these successful church leaders.
At one point, the authors state:

"...evangelicalism's theological flexibility gives it the freedom to adapt to contemporary culture."

"Evangelicals' eager embrace of corporate-style growth strategies is giving them a tremendous advantage in the battle for religious market share."

This is what the authors miss, I believe. I don't think that all the leaders cited in the article are out for only their own personal or church's gain. I think that they are in it as a new form of evangelism. They are not out to be the biggest church on the block, but to win new people to Christianity. If they are successful doing that, their church would appear successful. That is a byproduct and not a goal.
In reality, is there another possible driving force behind the relative success of evangelical churches? Could it be that they speak the truth and that there is a divine force behind their growth?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Class Mobility in America?

The New York Times offered on Sunday an intriguing introduction to a series on Class in America they are running this week.
Called "Class in America: Shadowy Lines That Still Divide", it is a fascinating read. Where social science crosses with economics, I have great interest.
The article's basic premise seems to be that class mobility is decreasing in America due to a variety of factors.
I can't say I disagree with anything in the article, although I am a firm believer that with hard work, anyone can achieve success. That hard work must be applied towards getting a great education, however. There inlies the problem, though, as in order to get a great education, one must really begin scoring quite well in school as a 7th grader, which likely won't happen if you didn't before then, and likely won't happen if there's nobody in your life telling you that school/education matter.
I'd be curious what others think.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Link of the Day -- The Sports Guy

Tonight I had the chance to take in my first baseball game of the season, and so sports are on my mind.
Thus, today, I'd like to share with you one of the funniest people writing about sports today. None other than The Sports Guy.
A Boston fan, Bill Simmons has gone national as a part of ESPN's Page 2. As a member of that coveted 18-34 male audience, I know from talking with my friends that here's a guy who hits that audience. I know very few serious sports fans in my age range who do not read his columns. Advertisers, are you listening?
Highlights of his journalism season include the annual NBA Draft running diary and the Super Bowl week blog. Page through the archives to find something funny on almost anything sports related.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Being as it's Sunday, I feel it's appropriate to discuss a couple articles from the last couple days that discuss religion.
Yesterday, MSNBC had an article discussing the growing influence of James Dobson amongst evangelical Christian circles and now politically. However, as the article points out, because of that:

"Dobson has also become a lightning rod for criticism by weighing in on major political issues"

I respect Dr. Dobson, and agree with most of what he says, however, I do agree he needs to be careful as he steps into the political realm. He must be very careful of what he says and how he says it, as it will be judged, rightly or wrongly, by how a line may look in print. He must be articulate and bend over backwards to represent truth in a loving way. As he engages in the fight over the nomination of federal judges, I would hope he chooses his words carefully.

The other article I'll link to and discuss today was one from today's Chicago Tribune. It's written by John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopol bishop. It also discusses politics and religion and discusses the role of the Bible in Christianity today. Among the points he attempts to make is:

"There is no single pathway into the realm of God, and no eternal code of unchanging truth has ever been captured in any revered book of antiquity."

I must say that I wholeheartedly disagree with this article. I found it somewhat illogical and poorly reasoned. The basis for my disagreement I guess is that if one believes in an absolute, unchanging truth, would it not then be their responsibility to represent it as such?

After reading the articles, I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Another bad hurricane season?

My wife's grandmother lives in Florida, and so we keep an eye out for indications of what the next hurricane season may bring. Well, the news is not so good.
So is the lesson to move to California instead of Florida? Maybe not.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Today's post is all about reminiscing. I grew up in Minnesota and some of my fondest memories are of listening to sports on the radio (especially since my household did not have a TV).
I remember listening to Ray Christensen calling Gophers football and basketball games as we drove across the autumn or winter Minnesota countryside.
I remember listening to Herb Carneal and John Gordon calling Twins games as they marched to their two World Series victories.
But, when you think of sports in Minnesota, there is one person who tops the list.
Almost everyone in Minnesota knows him--a Minnesota celebrity right up there with Garrison Keillor. And he is known only as Sid.
He is the hall of fame broadcaster, Sid Hartman. In this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, there is a column about Sid, which gives you a taste of his unique style. Sid has long (since 1945) been a fixture in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and on the air at WCCO.
So today, in honor of my memories, whatever you think of Sid, here's to Minnesota sports, which wouldn't be the same without him.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


So as you probably gathered from below, me and my beautiful wife (more on her to come you can be certain) make our home in the great City of Chicago.
Where can I find out about Chicago, you ask. Well, if you want to know all about Chicago, web resources are not uncommon.
What blogs should I check if I want to follow Chicago's happenings? Well, the list starts and ends with 2, if that makes sense. And they are our double-bonus links of the day:
Gaper's Block

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It Is A Windy City

Or at least it was this morning. Us folks here in Chicago had our first true thunderstorm of the year roll through this morning! I know some of you out there don't like days like this, but to awakened by thunder and lightning is a calming feeling for me. Plus, we needed the rain.

Here's a shot of the radar just as the storm was poised to strike:

photo courtesy NBC 5

Speaking of Chicago, some of you may have heard of the The Encyclopedia of Chicago (published Fall '04). Well, today they launched their own online version, which includes several (most?) of the entries from the book. All in all, a pretty cool site to play around on.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Link of the Day -- Clicked

So here's today's (and my first) Link of the Day.
This is a column on MSNBC's Blogs, Etc. page that is basically a blog of what's going on in the blogging world. It's pulled together as a compilation of what the writer clicked today.
It's a great source of what's going on and for intriguing links. In other words, a great place to start your day online.
While you're there, check out the rest of the Blogs, Etc. page to read some more (mostly political) blogs.
I hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Book of the Day -- The Devil in the White City

Every so often, I would like to make a book or movie recommendation. These will constitute over time a list of my favorites.
The list begins now:
The Devil in the White City
This book is about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a notorious killer operating in its midst. It serves as a great introduction to Chicago history and is, as a resident of Chicago, required reading. Don't let my bland description fool you, it is one of my favorite books of the last few years and likely one of the best.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Welcome to my blog!

Hey everyone...
Do you hear that tree falling?
On 05/05/05 another blog hits the road.
Let me be the first to welcome you here.
Much more (I hope) to come.
I hope you enjoy.