NCAA Basketball Championship

We haven’t talked about basketball!  My alma mater, the University of Kansas, is in it to win it.  My current home state of Virginia has two teams in the Sweet Sixteen, not only in the same state but in the same city  (Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond University, both in Richmond).  My former home of Milwaukee is in it with Marquette.

So what are your predictions for the Final Four?

For the final two?

For the championship?

My prediction for the finale:  Ohio State vs. Kansas.  Ohio State will win.  (I say that because my teams never win the big game.  Also my predictions are always wrong.  So maybe if I predict Ohio State, my team will win it after all.)

 

NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Bracket – NCAA.com.

NFL labor dispute

One effect of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s successful effort to limit collective bargaining by the state employee’s union is that labor unions are once again in the national spotlight.  Unions consider this to be a good thing, after years of neglect, since much of the public seems to be taking their side.  And now a labor issue of even greater concern to the general public has emerged:  The National Football League is headed for a work stoppage.  After negotiations over a new contract fell apart, the players decertified their union, a tactic that allowed for court action, and the players essentially locked out the players.  Next year’s season is in jeopardy.  See  NFL talks collapse, shutdown of pro football expected – The Washington Post.

Unions for sweatshops, casualties of the industrial revolution paid subsistence wages, and other cases of the exploited proletariat are one thing.  It’s harder to be sympathetic to white collar unions and–what do we call them?–spandex collar unions, especially professional sports laborers who make untold millions and are in a dispute about how to share in additional billions.

Still, some may argue that the principles are the same?  Going from a 16-game season to an 18-game season would surely mean a greater chance for career-ending injuries.  Can’t millionaire athletes be exploited too?  Or is there a difference of kind as well as magnitude here?

And what would be the real effects of a work stoppage?  When the garbage collectors’ union goes on strike, the trash does not get picked up.  But who is hurt if professional athletes don’t go to work, other than themselves and the owners?  I have heard it said that “this only hurts the fans,” but I would contend that fans are not hurt at all, not really.  Missing a few hours of entertainment on Sunday afternoon will not hurt anyone.  Fans can always read a book, play video games, spend time with the family, or take a nap.

What do you think about all of this?

Girl-Boy Wrestling, pro and con

You’ve doubtless heard of the young man in Iowa who refused to wrestle a girl who was also competing in a championship wrestling tournament.  Here are two takes on the matter.

The first from Caryn Rivadeneira, writing at a Christianity Today site:

When Joel refused to wrestle Cassy, he took an opportunity away from her. An opportunity for her to shine using her own God-given strength and ability. An opportunity to win or lose, fair and square.

I don’t mean to harp on Joel. I’m sure he’s a good kid who clearly meant well. These thoughts aren’t so much for him as they are for the rest of us as we wrestle with these sorts of issues all the time.

As Christians, when faced with less-than-best-case scenarios, we need to be in the business of affording others equal opportunities. Usually this means expanding our view of other people beyond how our culture would have us see them or how we think they are and getting it more in line with how Jesus sees them. Doing this usually means things get awkward. Doing this means we’re stretched way beyond our comfort zone.

Doing this means we might need to step onto a mat and wrestle, not despite our faith but because of it.

via Her.meneutics: The Argument for Girl-Boy Wrestling.

The second from my colleague Mark Mitchell, writing at the Front Porch Republic:

The gentleman is a social role that implies a recognition of forms and limits that constrain action even as those very forms and limits elevate the meaning and nobility of actions they enjoin.

Forms and limits are not welcomed in a culture that sees freedom as the highest good, a culture that fairly worships at the altar of individual choice. The history of the liberal project has been a steady and determined attempt to defy limits, to destroy forms, to expand the idea and practice of liberation to all spheres of existence. How can the idea of the gentleman, the essence of which necessarily depends on the propriety of limits, co-exist with the goals of liberalism? One admits of limits and finds nobility in respect for them; the other finds limits offensive and seeks to break down any hint of limitation, form, or residue of difference. When seen in this light, the gentlemen appears to be a throwback to an older age, an era that progress has left behind, an ideal embraced only by romantics and the hopelessly and helplessly nostalgic.. . .

It seems to me that Joel Northrup was raised to be a gentleman, and when he drew his first opponent at the state tournament, this ideal ran hard into the leveling impulse of the age. Or to put it in old-fashioned terms, gentlemen don’t wrestle with ladies. Reversing the sentence provides another truism: ladies wouldn’t dream of wrestling with gentlemen or of wrestling with anyone for that matter. Now I am on thin ice here, for if I embrace the idea of a gentleman, I am simultaneously embracing the idea of a lady. Doing so must appear, through the caustic lens of liberation, to be suggesting that ladies and gentlemen are substantially different and that a gentleman treats other gentleman in ways markedly different from the way he treats ladies. Precisely.

Richard Weaver once wrote that when the gentleman disappears so too goes the lady. Both ideals depend on each other and a society that provides the space for each will be far different from a society where both are seen as quaint relics from another time. Still it is heartening to see a young man attempt to uphold the ideals of the gentleman. Perhaps that singular ideal can be sustained during our long sojourn through the wilderness of liberalism. If and when we emerge on the other side, it may provide a hopeful reminder of what is possible and how a decent society might be constructed around ideals that foster acts of nobility, deference, propriety, and kindness.

via Gentlemen Don’t Wrestle with Ladies

Notice not just what side both arguments come down on but the assumptions and the implicit philosophies that lie behind their arguments.  Notice too that both writers are “conservatives” of one stripe or the other.  Both are Christians of one stripe or the other.

Which one makes the better case?  What can we conclude from these two arguments beyond the specific issue of boy-girl wrestling?

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.


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