Materialism as myth

Joe Carter renders materialistic cosmology as a creation myth.  Here is the first part, but you should read it all:

In the beginning was Nothing, and Nothing created Everything. When Nothing decided to create Everything, she filled a tiny dot with Time, Chance, and Everything and had it expand. The expansion spread Everything into Everywhere carrying Time and Chance with it to keep it company. The three stretched out together leaving bits of themselves wherever they went. One of those places was the planet Earth.

For no particular Reason—for Reason is rarely particular—Time and Chance took a liking to this little, wet, blue rock and decided to stick around to see what adventures they might have. While the pair found the Earth to be intriguing and pretty, they also found it a bit too quiet, too static. They fixed upon an idea to change Everything (just a little) by creating a special Something. Time and Chance roamed the planet, splashing through the oceans and sloshing through the mud, in search of materials. But though they looked Everywhere, there was a missing ingredient that they needed in order to make a Something that could create more of the same Somethings.

They called to their friend Everything to help. Since Everything had been Everywhere she would no doubt be able to find the missing ingredient. And indeed she did. Hidden away in a small alcove called Somewhere, Everything found what Time and Chance had needed all along: Information. Everything put Information on a piece of ice and rock that happened to be passing by the former planet Pluto and sent it back to her friends on Earth.

Now that they had Information, Time and Chance were finally able to create a self-replicating Something which they called Life. Once they created Life they found that it not only grew into more Somethings, but began to become Otherthings, too! The Somethings and the Otherthings began to fill the Earth—from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the sky. Their creation, which began as a single Something, eventually became millions and billions of Otherthings.

Time and Chance, though, where the bickering sort and were constantly feuding over which of them was the most powerful. One day they began to argue over who had been more responsible for creating Life. Everything (who was forever eavesdropping) overheard the spat and suggested that they settle by putting their creative skills to work on a new creature called Man. They all thought is was a splendid plan—for Man was a dull, hairy beast who would indeed provide a suitable challenge—and began to boast about who could create an ability, which they called Consciousness, that would allow Man to be aware of Chance, Time, Everything, and Nothing.

via When Nothing Created Everything | First Things.

Monopoly vs. Settlers of Catan

Once again, this blog scoops the mainstream press.  You might remember a discussion of Monopoly vs. Settlers of Catan between my brother and tODD not too long ago.  Finally the Washington Post takes up these board games, only without the depth of analysis:

More than 275 million copies of Monopoly have been sold, remarkable for a game that’s not particularly well designed. I don’t mean the graphics (which are bold and appealing) or the components (which I remember being sturdier when I was a child, before everything was made in China), but the experience of playing. In Monopoly, much depends on luck; strategic decisions are limited; once someone has Boardwalk and Park Place, it’s hard to beat them; there’s little to keep you occupied when it’s not your turn; and you can keep playing for hours after it has become clear who’s going to win. A game of Monopoly can take three or four hours, and many players, especially adults, will be bored much of the time. Idleness may not have been an acute problem in 1935, but in 2010, it’s a fatal flaw. . . .

Settlers of Catan is the pinnacle of the German style. It is, like Monopoly, a multiplayer real-estate development game, in this case set on an island rich in natural resources to which players have limited access. You need ore to build a city, and if you can’t mine enough yourself, you can trade – but the wood you surrender in exchange may help your partner, or boost or thwart someone else. In Settlers, the trading – and the interconnected fates of the players – keeps everyone involved even when they aren’t rolling the dice; there are multiple ways to win; and players are often neck-and-neck until the very end. The game has been constructed to last an hour, 90 minutes tops. And each time you play, the board, which is made up of 19 hexagons, is assembled anew.

Thanks to the Internet, Settlers has spread from Stuttgart to Seoul to Silicon Valley, where it has become a necessary social skill among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists (one tech chief executive calls it “the new golf”). Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plays it with his girlfriend. It is popular among programmers and college students, a set of forward-thinkers similar to those who played Monopoly years before Parker Brothers got in on the action.

via Like Monopoly in the Depression, Settlers of Catan is the board game of our time.

A new game for a new Depression!

Sporting News

The weekend’s big loser in sports was conventional expectations. My Oklahoma Sooners, BCS #1 for one week, were beaten by Missouri. This makes three successive weeks that the #1 team has bitten the dust (Oklahoma meeting the fate of Alabama and Ohio State). I’m sure the Sooner defeat is my fault, through a mechanism I don’t fully understand, due to my puffing them up on my blog.

Of greater significance, The San Francisco Giants upset the seemingly sure-thing Philadelphia Phillies to make it to the World Series.

And in the one upset that gave me great pleasure, the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees to go to their first World Series ever. And you’ve got to like the Rangers on a personal level. When they won the pennant, they celebrated with ginger ale instead of champagne out of consideration for an alcoholic teammate, series MVP Josh Hamilton, whose Christian faith turned his life around.

The pope as sportswriter

Mary Ellen Kelly reports on some remarks of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, nee Pope Benedict XVI, on the 1985 World Cup:

“The fascination with soccer,” he wrote, “lies essentially in that it forces man to discipline himself, such that, through training, he acquires dominion over himself. Through dominion, he achieves superiority. And through superiority, freedom.”

Soccer, he continued, teaches the person the value of “disciplined cooperation” and demands an ordering of the individual within the group. “It unites through a common objective; the success or failure of each one is tied to the success or failure of the group.”

via Cardinal Ratzinger on the World Cup » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Nice analysis, applying really to sports in general.

Why do fans trash their city when they win?

The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship.  Could somebody explain this?:

Violence erupted within 30 minutes of the game's end as rowdy fans poured out of area bars and, shortly after, the 19,000 ticket-holders inside Staples began to emerge. Phalanxes of LAPD officers successfully funneled the tightly packed revelers away from the venue, but bands of mostly young men grew aggressive and brazen as they moved into the surrounding blocks.

A typical scene played out on Figueroa Street, where revelers tore down a traffic sign, ripped open newspaper racks and lighted the papers on fire. As police in riot gear approached, the crowd hurled unopened cans of energy drinks at them. Several men stomped on an SUV parked on the street, breaking its windows.

Police chased the roving groups for about two hours, pushing them farther afield until they dispersed and relative calm returned.

Before it was over, police had fired tear gas and stinging pellets to disperse a scrum of several hundred people who surrounded a city bus filled with passengers and attempted to yank the driver out through a window. A cabbie fled when his taxi was set upon by another mob that kicked in the windshield and set it ablaze. A local YWCA, several restaurants and other storefronts had windows smashed. At least eight people, one of them beaten unconscious, were taken to area hospitals. Firefighters put out 19 rubbish and vehicle fires and police had made about 50 arrests.

via Lakers violence: Authorities release raw video of mob attacking cab, seek public’s help [Updated] | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times.

This sort of thing happens in other cities too, including college games.  But not all cities.  It’s a worldwide problem, common also with soccer.  (Let’s see what happens when some team wins the World Cup.)

Now I can see people getting angry when their team loses, but why get aggressive and destructive and mean against their own city when they win?

I’m just trying to understand the mindset.

America and the World Cup

The whole world is caught up in the excitement of the World Cup, the global championship of soccer. This is a true world series, involving virtually every nation in the world, all of whom care passionately about it. Except the United States! We have a team, which opens the tournament Saturday in South Africa in a game against England, but who here is noticing?

What I want to know is this: Why is the United States so apathetic when it comes to soccer? You could say that it isn’t part of our culture, and yet our kids play it, and many parents take that very seriously. Do even soccer-playing kids follow the World Cup? Despite the low scores, soccer can be an exciting game. The scores are no lower than hockey–in fact, the games are very similar, except hockey is on ice–and that sport is a big deal in this country (ask Chicago Blackhawk fans, whose team just won that championship). So how do you account for America’s lack of interest in soccer, unlike virtually every other country in the world? We get all excited about the Olympics, even with less popular sporting events. Shouldn’t we get similarly psyched up about the World Cup?

UPDATE:  The American team took a 1-1 draw with England, which counts as a major upset!  England is ranked way up there as a contender for the championship, and a tie gives you a point and undefeated status in the tournament.  C’mon, everybody:  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!


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