Fixing my technological fix

Friends, there has been some good discussion about yesterday’s post regarding the comments on this blog.  No sooner, of course, did the Patheos tech people implement the changes but, before I could even explain them, someone started flagging everything, resulting in a “flagocalypse.”  So to prevent any one person from doing that, or from flagging comments just because they disagree with them, I have asked the Patheos tech people to require THREE flags before the comment disappears, leaving behind only the “Comment Awaiting Moderation” line.  True, a sinister cabal could still banish innocent comments, but an individual will not be able to.  Also, this will enlist the virtual community that we have built up here in protecting itself and enforcing its rules of decorum. [Read more…]

Demonic possession & exorcism in Indiana?

The Indianapolis Star reports on a case of apparent demon possession and successful exorcism in Gary, Indiana.  I don’t know what I think of all of this, but this case–complete with walking on a ceiling and many other seemingly supernatural manifestations–is unusually well-attested, with police witnesses, psychologists, the Department of Child Services,  and the Roman Catholic Church all weighing in.

Reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski has written a bit of journalism that will leave you on the edge of your seat.  But don’t read it late at night.  I’ll get you started after the jump. [Read more…]

Obamacare update

So where do we stand with Obamacare, now that HealthCare.gov is more or less working?  Michael Gerson reports:

The early returns are in. A large majority of the 2.2 million people who had purchased insurance on the exchanges by year-end — 65 percent to 90 percent, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal — already had insurance. Economic writer Megan McArdle did the math, estimating that just 15 percent (750,000) of the 5 million uninsured that the Congressional Budget Office expected to sign up in the first year have actually done so. Meanwhile, administration claims about increases in coverage for the uninsured under Medicaid are badly, even deceptively, inflated, as Sean Trende has documented. [Read more…]

A technological fix for my New Year’s blog resolution?

So, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolution to monitor the comments on your blog and establish a higher tone of discourse?   That was the gist of what one of this blog’s readers put to me, making the point that the personal insults, hi-jacking of threads, and offensive comments have come back in force.   I told him that I was keeping my New Year’s resolution about the same way that most people have been keeping theirs by this time of the year (not even getting out of January)–namely, not keeping it at all.  I can offer excuses–another death in the family requiring unexpected travel, the press of other projects coming due, expected travel for professional commitments, classes starting, etc.–but I have not given up.   In addition, there have been other problems with Disqus, the discussion software this blog is stuck with, with comments disappearing and re-appearing, flagged comments sometimes going into moderation and sometimes not, and probably others.  So thanks to you readers who alerted me to these problems, and I apologize for the annoyances.  Anyway, I talked with the Patheos tech people, and let me explain what we have come up with. [Read more…]

J. Gresham Machen on the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

J. Gresham Machen was one of the 20th century’s leading Reformed theologians, a Princeton faculty member who battled the rise of liberal theology.  Rod Rosenbladt sent me a copy of an article that Dr. Machen wrote on the “Ordination Pledge” in which he discusses his appreciation for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, including the personal support extended to him by Lutherans during his tumultuous controversies at Princeton.  Among other things, he appreciates how Lutherans cling to their theology as being true for everyone, just as he and his fellow Calvinists do with their theology, as opposed to those who try to make everyone agree through some vague doctrinal synthesis.  He says that he feels that he feels much closer to the LCMS than to the “indifferentists” or “interdenominationalists” of his own tradition. 

He is thus proposing an ecumenism based on acknowledging differences, rather than grasping for similarities; being open to debate rather than forcing agreements; respecting convictions rather than treating them as problems.  Read what he says after the jump. [Read more…]

Food porn

Pornography involves watching somebody else have sex.  In South Korea, there is a new fad of watching somebody else eat.  It’s being called “gastronomical voyeurism.”

The news story, excerpted after the jump, speculates on some reasons:  More and more Koreans are living by themselves and miss the social interaction of eating with someone.  Many Koreans are on diets, restricting what they eat to the point of being able to take vicarious pleasure in watching someone eat sumptuous food for hours.  But I wonder if it is something even more primal. [Read more…]