Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chicago Movies

This Monday evening in Chicago, along Southport, the premiere of the new movie The Break-Up went down.

With the upcoming release of set-in-Chicago movies like The Lake House and The Break-Up, I am reminded of all the great movies that have been set in this great city. In fact, I've heard that one of the chase scenes in Above the Law was filmed in my office building's parking garage. Need I remind you of all these great Chicago films?
And potentially the two most classic of them all:

Monday, May 29, 2006

Welcome to the Family

This Memorial Day weekend here in Chicago, it was hot; there was no doubt summer is here. In our household, though, there were other changes aloft.

On Saturday, my sister arrived as the courier with our new dog.

She is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and we adopted her from their rescue society.

The weekend has seen many firsts and I'm sure there will continue to be adjustments. But so far, we're thrilled with our addition. We have bestowed the name of Allerton on her and look forward to the memories we'll make with her. It is sure to be an adventure.

(As her first bath was...) Here my sister and I do our best to clean her up:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cabrini Heat

On Tuesday evening NBC news here in Chicago reported on a new film called Cabrini Heat being produced in and about Chicago's much-maligned Cabrini-Green housing projects.

A trailer for the movie shows a harsh reality, as filmed by Cabrini residents, far removed from other more affluent parts of the city. What it does show, though, is a world that is all too real for many residents in inner cities still today.

An even better source for a view into this too often forgotten world is the highly recommended poignant story, called There Are No Children Here, of two boys growing up in other nearby Chicago Housing Authority public housing projects . This critically acclaimed book captures the essence of the community well.

I would encourage you to watch the clip showing a community I can't help but feel for as it is so deeply in need.

Caution: The linked clip shows graphic violence and extremely hostile and crude language. It is linked to offer a glimpse of a world often unseen. Compassion in our attitudes as we view is prerequisite.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Green Chicago

Most people who are Chicago residents greatly enjoy the city they in which they live. What makes Chicago today so great? Many have argued the renaissance began with the movement to make it a 'green' city. Mainstream media has begun to hold Chicago up as an example of what modern cities should and could do to be on the forefront of the 'green' movement. Even its Latin motto — Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden) — evokes these images. Has Chicago earned the title of America's Green Thumb?
To give you an idea of what Chicago has done, since 1989, 500,000 trees have been planted in the city. Mayor Daley, since coming to office, has ordered that the heads of all city departments make their operations environmentally friendly. Chicago is now one of the largest users of green energy in the country. I have previously mentioned the movement in the city to convert many rooftops to 'green.' Time magazine says,
The city has been decorated with fancy planters, park space has increased and the lakefront, while still soiled with pollution, is being cleaned and preserved at a level never before seen.
Mayor Daley's continued goal is to make Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the country. Says Chicago's environmental commissioner, Sadhu Johnston,
This is about quality of life. What we're talking about is creating a city that exists in harmony with the world, a place that can be a model. Cities have long been hurtful to the environment. Raw materials came in and waste went out. We're trying to redefine that relationship, and cities can be models.
All this work to create a 'green' city has made it an ever more attractive city. That in turn has served to revitalize many of its neighborhoods and helped sparked the urban population growth in areas of the city where much of the investment has been made. The New York Times says,
Chicago [has] attracted more than 100,000 new residents, added tens of thousands of downtown jobs, prompted a high-rise housing boom, reduced poverty rates, built thousands of affordable homes, spurred a $9-billion-a-year visitor and convention industry, and transformed itself into one of the most beautiful cities in America.
As a resident, all I can say is, "Keep it up!"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The future of transportation

In the movie Minority Report, one of the action scenes features star Tom Cruise in a chase scene involving this state of the art self-driving Lexus. The film was supposedly set in 2054, so it was obviously science fiction. But the scene whetted our appetites for the exciting technology the future will bring to transportation.

But is a self-driving car only the stuff of science fiction? Could that technology even be available soon? Can you imagine how nice that would be? No more lost driving time. No more traffic jams even. Imagine the possibilities! It would be pretty cool.

And you know what folks, forget 2054, it could be here sooner than you think.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Human Camera

The power of the human mind is unbelievable really. Our ability to harness it is measly at times. A spectacular example of that has recently been causing a stir. Stephen Wiltshire is a savant artist with uncanny ability.
"Given an aerial tour of Rome, for instance, Wiltshire soon reproduced the whole city, in astonishing detail, down to the correct number of arches on the Coloseum – drawing the sketch from memory."
Check out the truly amazing excerpt from the documentary featuring this story here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the moms out there, I hope this was an extremely special day. You deserve the accolades you've received.

And on this Mother's Day, one mother in particular has a very special present--a fantastic story that reminds us all how special it is to have a family. Amy Carlsen of Fargo, ND is the mother of conjoined twin baby girls who were just separated on Friday. Both are doing well, and their mother and father are now the parents of two individual girls. We pray for their continued health.

Again, happy Mother's Day to all you moms.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Return of the King?


Need I say more? When it comes to personal computer operating systems, Microsoft is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room--and they've been that way for a long time.


A mega-company, totally dominant in the music industry for a long, long time. Although slightly weaker lately, Sony's still an empire with deep pockets.

For you, the video game junkie, it's pretty cool to have these two behemoths competing against each other for your gaming dollars. After all, this competition has increased the quality and decreased the prices in the video game market.

But honestly, this post isn't about Sony or Microsoft. It's not even about you or me. It's about Wii.

Last time around in the U.S., Nintendo finished third in the home video game console market. This time around, the battle has barely begun. Maybe Microsoft Xbox 360 will hold onto its lead, or maybe Sony PlayStation 3 will do as expected when it's released and vault into first place.

But there is a third possibility... maybe, just maybe, the little guy will reclaim his throne.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Unintentional Comedy

Sometimes an attempt at serious reporting on your local news goes wrong. You all can probably remember a time when what was supposed to be a solemn report on a unique subject quickly but unintentionally turns into one of the funniest bits you've seen on the news in awhile. Many end up on AFHV, but some are politically incorrect enough that they only circulate as viral video on the Internet. What do these news items say about culture in America today?

Leprechaun (Mobile, AL):

Whistle Tips (Oakland, CA):

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mapping Religion

In honor of Sunday, let's take a look at religiosity in America. A fellow blogger has compiled a wonderful post outlining the degree and type of religious adherence on a county-by-county basis across the country.

The complete rundown is definitely worth checking out if you're curious where, say for instance, Mennonites are most predominate.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rural Abandonment

Globally, our world's rural areas are emptying as our cities fill. Say what you will about this trend, but it's creating a shifting cultural dynamic. This trend is felt in our country as well. Areas of our country are emptying back out, often after having only been settled in the last hundred and fifty years. Growing up in a part of the country where this was the case, it is easy to see the effects of rural depopulation. Some maybe unfairly call it the 'brain drain', but there's no denying young people are in short supply through much of the US's Great Plains. What is left behind is a sometimes depressing, but definitely stark, picture of what life there once was.

The New York Times Magazine profiled poignantly an area of our country in northwestern North Dakota where this is the case. It's an article well worth reading for a taste of the desolation wrought by abandonment and the efforts underway to forestall what some anticipate is the inevitable.

The picturesque vista of the plains invites new residents.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Today, May Day, was marked across our country with massive rallies for immigration rights. The largest was right here in Chicago, where about 300,000 marched through the Loop. Their march ended within view from my office and we watched as thousands upon thousands marched by and eventually dispersed.

Immigration is not an easy issue. Many of the folks marching have lived in our country for many many years and hold jobs that help support society. Unfortunately, they may be here illegally. What should be done with them? What should be done, if anything, to prevent future illegal immigration?

It has been pointed out that maybe it would be best to follow the example of our neighbor to the south in their own immigration standards.

This does not seem to be a practicable solution. For a country such as ours that was built on the backs of immigrants, a measure of thought must be given to the notion that this is the new face of immigration. There does not seem to be an easy answer.

Honestly, we are left hoping for a bit of Solomonic wisdom from a lawmaker who can lead our nation forward on this. We have seen the bills before Congress. Are they the answer?
What do you think is the answer?