A billion dollars for the perfect NCAA bracket

Warren Buffett offered one BILLION dollars for anyone who successfully predicted the winners of all of the games in the NCAA tournament.  Early upsets–for example, Mercer over Duke–eliminated just about everyone who entered.  Now no one is left standing.  One person, Brad Binder, DID predict the first 36 games, including those upsets, but he wasn’t entered in the contest.  But now he missed Dayton’s upset over Syracuse, so–unless you did really well in your office pool–there is no record of anyone with a perfect bracket.  Maybe next year the BILLION dollars will be yours.

 

Predict the Final Four

It’s time to pay attention to college basketball now that the teams have been announced for the NCAA basketball tournament. [Read more...]

The Russian Olympics

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, get started today.  So far, much of the buzz about the Olympics has been about terrorism fears and complaints about the lack of creature comforts for visitors (undrinkable water, unfinished construction, public toilets without privacy, insects in food, pillows appropriated from hotels for the athletes).

With its legacy of communism, Russian society is not particularly oriented to satisfying consumers, certainly not by the standards of today’s consumer capitalism.  But Russian society tends to be very good, even to a fault, at “security.” [Read more...]

Luther and bowling?

Martin Luther’s influence goes far beyond the theology of the Lutheran Church.  His putting the Gospel and the Word of God at the center was the catalyst for all Protestantism.  But even his theological opponents have accepted his ideas like worship in the vernacular, congregational singing, and vernacular translations of the Bible.  Then there are his cultural contributions:  universal education, standardizing the German language, vocation.  But there are also things he is credited for that are questionable or uncertain, like inventing the Christmas tree.  And there are things that that he is credited for that are just wrong, like writing “Away in the Manger” and being the source of German anti-semitism.  Being a master of language, he is supremely quotable on all kinds of subjects.  But he is also cited as the source of things that he never really said (such as the “Wise Turk” quote).  I have recently learned that Luther is considered one of the inventors of bowling!  [Read more...]

The case against the Olympics

The Winter Olympics begin February 7 in Sochi, Russia, and people are getting nervous over terrorism threats, anti-gay laws, the toilet situation, and whatever Vladimir Putin might do.

Columnist Charles Lane argues that the Olympics have gotten too politicized, too expensive, too drug-saturated, too corrupt, and too corporate.  We should just end them.  Read his case against the Olympics here.

Does he have a point?  Or is there still value in having virtually all of the countries of the world come together in a huge athletic event?  Might the Olympics be reformed rather than killed?

Armwrestling and vocation

A Lutheran pastor, Guntars Baikovs, originally from Latvia but a St. Louis seminary Ph.D., has become the Super Heavyweight champion armwrestler–in both arms–in Australia.  After the jump, read a news story about him.  Notice how he works in a plug for vocation:

“In our society we celebrate achievements. That’s good, we need to nourish our gift and be proud of them. But for so many of us, it makes our lives difficult. Our value and dignity doesn’t depend on our achievements,” he said.

“In reality, what is much more important than our extraordinary achievements in our hobbies, are the ordinary things we all do on a daily basis – how we serve people around us.”

[Read more...]


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