Pittsblog may be on life support at the moment, but it still has a pulse, and I'm taking that pulse this weekend in some iconic Pittsburgh fun. Yesterday the family took houseguests from out of town to Kennywood; today we spent a sun-drenched afternoon at PNC Park. Tonight, there will be fireworks.

All over the area, I have been reminded of how much Pittsburgh is changing - slowly, and subtly, but inevitably. The girls in head scarves enjoying Potato Patch fries at Kennywood, and the Indian and/or Indian-American kids running the rides. On our way out of Downtown this afternoon we drove past the Igloo, ugly but distinctive icon of Pittsburgh's recent Tomorrowland past, and the Consol arena, bland icon of Pittsburgh's statist near-term future. Not everyone in the area likes all of the changes; mostly, I do.

Legions of Phillies fans showed up this weekend to support their team, and many of them stayed behind this afternoon to watch their children run the bases before heading out to enjoy Pittsburgh's rivers and tonight's fireworks shows. In a stadium of sit-on-your-butt Pirates fans, the Phillies fanaticism was and is refreshing, even if it is not always family-friendly. It's a nice coincidence that a passionate Philadelphia team is in town on Independence Day, reminding us of what America is all about. Not just freedom or liberty or opportunity but also duty and service.  The idea and the ideal of what the United States is today, was in its past, and will be in the future are products of our collective imaginations, efforts, and passions.

Passion and personal investment are keys. If we don't contribute our own time and energy, this country won't happen; it isn't enough to recognize and value those who have served in the armed services, the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and so on - though that's a good and important start. Passion for sport is a small tip of a large iceberg. Few care what happened on a ball field this afternoon in Pittsburgh (as we made our way down to the field after the game, a Lamborghini sports car emerged from the Pirates' players parking garage, a sure sign of the disconnect between the players and the city), but passions are riding high in southern Africa right now in a sport that matters more to far more people. Look for and seize related passions in your lives; celebrate what you do to make this country a great one. And celebrate, too, what your neighbor has done.

Happy Fourth.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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