Into the wilderness

Today we head out for a little cabin in the big woods.  We will have no internet connection, no cell phone reception, no cable television, and no newspapers.  If we survive, we will crawl out of the wilderness like Rip Van Winkle, if Rip Van Winkle only slept for five days.   Still, we have been looking forward to this for a long time.  That does mean that I won’t be doing any blogging for the rest of the week.

If we can avoid dying of exposure or getting eaten by wild animals, I’ll be back the first of July.  In the meantime, if something happens in the world that you think I would normally blog about–for example, if the Supremes rule on Obamacare–please make a comment to that effect here and discuss as you think appropriate.

If all goes well, I’ll be posting again on July 2.  By then I’ll probably be grateful again for the blessings of civilization, technology, and the information age.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy being without them.

[Updated by tODD: Actually, at the risk of presuming on our good host's hospitality, I'm going to create at least one new post for the discussion of the Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. United States, as I assume that's one topic we'll want to discuss here, and it might keep discussion a bit tidier than having it all in one thread. And, come Thursday, I'll set up another one specifically for the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law.

Feel free to discuss other matters here, or to propose topics we could discuss in separate posts this week. I'll do my best to create posts on topics that seem of general interest. I know I'm often wrong about everything you hold dear, but I'll try to be impartial here -- at least, in the creation of discussion posts. I just don't want us all trying to discuss everything in one thread for four days. I know how whiny you guys can get when you're not getting your Cranach fix.]

So what happened while this blog was down?

This blog was knocked out of the worldwide web for a whole week due to technical difficulties.  I have learned that some of you have become overly dependent on this site as a source for what is happening in the world.  (I appreciate the sentiment, but you might want to broaden your web-surfing!)  Still, lots of things happened this past week that I wanted to bring to your attention but couldn’t.

We had posted about Chinese pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from house arrest in the provinces and made it to Beijing, hundreds of miles away, even though he was blind.  He took refuge in the American embassy.  But he was sent away–whether voluntarily, because he was talked into it, or because China reneged on a deal worked out by American diplomats is not completely clear–and he is now in Chinese custody.  Diplomatic efforts continue in an effort to protect Mr. Chen and his family (which had been threatened).  He may end up coming to the USA, which China has found is a good way of removing their dissidents from influence in the country.

In political news, Newt Gingrich dropped out, leaving Mitt Romney triumphant, with only one other candidate, Ron Paul, still in the race.  Though Paul has no chance for the nomination, his supporters have been maximizing their presence among convention delegates, especially in caucus states.  They put themselves forward as being willing to go to the convention, and though they have to vote as directed, usually for Romney, on the first ballot, they will be exerting their influence on the party platform and in other ways.

We blogged yesterday about the European anti-austerity elections and President Obama’s announced support for gay marriage.

So what else happened while this blog was away?  What else occurred that you had wished we could discuss?

A week without this blog

Hello.  Test. Test. Is this thing on?  I think so, now.  After a week!

So the hosting company’s server went down, but then they had trouble transferring the files to a new one, and then they gave me an alphabet soup of technical gibberish in an effort to help me understand what was happening.  . . .

Let’s see if this time the blog stays up for more than minutes at a time.  Try to get on several times during the course of the day and if you can, help spread the word that Cranach is back.

I do appreciate the numerous expressions of concern that I received from many of you.  Some suspected something sinister, that we were being blocked or hacked.  (As someone observed, that post about Islam and Mormonism surely offended both Democrats and Republicans!)  I’m pretty sure, though, that the only sinister force at work is with my hosting company.

I’ve put up a couple of posts, below, that I tried in vain to post all last week.  I don’t think they are too dated.  But we’ll get caught up.

I just hope you didn’t break your habit with this blog.  I hope I didn’t break my habit with this blog.  It was kind of nice not doing it.  I read.  Watched TV.  Went to bed early.  Went to a movie to see “The Avengers.”  But I realize that I need it.  It made surfing the web frustrating when I found something that I couldn’t tell you guys about.

Last year’s predictions & contest results

A New Year’s custom on this blog is to have readers predict what will happen in the year ahead.  That’s not particularly unique.  But what is unique is our other custom:  To review those predictions at the end of the year and actually check how everyone did.  Whoever has the most impressive prediction wins universal acclaim and bragging rights for the whole year.

I urge you all to read Your predictions for 2011 | Cranach: The Blog of Veith.  You will get a kick out of it, and you will be encouraged that the year was not quite as bad as many of us thought it was going to be.

Most notable is that Webmonk and Kerner actually made a bet over the number of troops that would be in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Kerner said that we would have fewer than 155,000 troops still fighting in those wars, and Webmonk said that we would have more than that.  Webmonk said that if Kerner is right he would write on this blog an ode “to the greatness of Kerner and all things Lutheran (LCMS).”  Kerner called the bet, agreeing to write an ode to Webmonk and to the religion of his choice.   Well, combat troops have withdrawn from Iraq, though 91,000 remain in Afghanistan.  So Kerner wins!

Webmonk, we await your ode. Not a limerick or a sonnet.  An actual ode.

Special Loser Awards for the predictions that most spectacularly did NOT come to pass go to:

 (1) The Jones, for predicting that Mitch Daniels would be the Republican presidential front-runner, with Tim Pawlenty “right at his heels.”  (We wish!)

(2) WeCanKnow, a follower of Harold Camping, who insisted that the world would end on May 21.

Honorable mention goes to someone who has placed in this contest I believe each year that we’ve done this:  Cindy Ramos.  She predicted that the Green Bay Packers would win their division this year with a record of 13-3.  She didn’t nail the record exactly–it will be either 15-1 or 14-2 (if, as if likely, the Packers rest their starters against Detroit, the perfect season being gone and the team already with a bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs).  Still, few people expected the Packers to have the kind of season that they did.  Cindy’s prediction I still consider remarkable, and more remarkable still is her record of at least three years making remarkable predictions in this contest.  (She is one of my former students.  I taught her all about how to do effective analysis and interpretation.  Wait a minute.  The Jones is also one of my former students.)

This year’s winner started off making some generalized predictions, then realizing that no one could agree on whether they happened or not, he took a different tactic:

The only way to surefire Prediction Glory is to make a rather unforeseen, falsifiable claim and manage to get it right. So I’ll shoot for the moon and say that some event (death or general incapacity) will cause Kim Jong-Un to succeed his father as leader of North Korea.

Kim Jong-Un!  Who even knew who Kim Jong-Un was this time last year?  But sure enough, with just a couple of weeks left in 2011, he became North Korea’s new dictator.  So all Prediction Glory goes to:  tODD!

 

Your predictions for 2012

Now it’s time for you to predict what will happen in 2012!  See the accompanying post that looks back on last year’s predictions for how the contest works.

Don’t worry.  We are not enforcing the Deuteronomy 18:22 rule.  Anyway, we aren’t asking for prophecy, just predictions.

The more specific the prediction the more remarkable it will be if it comes true, and the more likely you will be a winner.  (Highly generalized prediction:  “Politics will continue to be polarizing as the country goes through a bitter presidential campaign.”  Highly specific prediction:  “The deadlocked Republican convention will finally nominate a candidate who could defeat Barack Obama:  Hillary Clinton.”)

So what are your predictions for 2012?

A blogging hero?

I don’t like to blow my own horn.  I don’t even like to call attention to  when someone else is blowing it.  Still, since you readers and commenters are a big part of what makes this blog work, I can’t resist passing this along.

Tim Challies has a BIG blog, with like a million-reads-per-month.  Whenever he links to something I post, my readership statistics shoot up into the stratosphere.  So it’s gratifying that he listed me as one of his seven “blogging heroes” for 2011.   I appreciate what he says about this blog, since he describes exactly what I’ve been trying to do (among other things):

Cranach – Gene Veith has been blogging for quite some time, but it was really 2011 that showed me how valuable his site is. He has a knack for finding interesting material and highlighting it. He often finds material that the rest of us are overlooking. He does it well and I hope he just keeps doing it!

via My 2011 Blogging Heroes | Challies Dot Com.

While we are in this self-congratulatory mode, let’s reflect.  This blog is remarkable for the diversity of its readership and the range of opinions they bring.  Yes, mostly Lutheran–though even with that agreement there are lots of different views on issues–but also other kinds of conservative Christians, along with atheists, liberal theologians, and the occasional Muslim.  Politically we have the whole gamut:  conservatives of many different strains, but also liberals and libertarians and my quasi-socialist brother.  And on nearly every subject that comes up, from law to quantum physics, it seems that we have an expert in the audience.

What’s remarkable to me is that we have this range of views in this harshly polarized cultural climate and yet our discussions generally stay at a very high level.  (Sometimes they get too heated and personal, usually around comment #100, but even this is tamer than what you will find on most blogs.)

So let me ask:  Why do you read this blog?  What do you get out of it?


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