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Archive for November, 2008

Waterless Urinal

No pee smell here

No pee smell here

Confession: I love using restrooms with waterless urinals.  They smell much better, seem much cleaner because there aren’t leaking water pipes everywhere, I don’t have to touch anything, and they make my environmental side happy.  And I hate it when I come into a restroom at a large building and the toilet handle is stuck and has been running for God knows how long, and you can just imagine how much water has been wasted.  If you haven’t seen these before, they are mostly at large venues; ballparks, malls, and large office buildings.  They are a perfect example of one of my passions – how economics and business are leading (and should be allowed to lead) the way in our conservation efforts.

If the manufacturers are to be believed, then each one of these toilets saves 40,000 gallons of water a year.  The Long Beach Water Dept. says the average residence uses 100,000 gallons a year.  So 2½ of these bad boys can make up for all the water usage in an entire household for a year.  In addition to saving all that water, it is saving the businesses that install them money.  They don’t have to pay for 40,000 gallons of water anymore, or extra maintenance costs, etc.  I truly love innovation because it most often melds efficiency of resources with lower costs of use.  A win-win.

Glad to know the people at the World Toilet Summit are looking out for us.

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I’m leaving for San Diego later this morning and I might be so busy having tons of fun at the Air & Space Museum, the Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, and Old Town (I’m going to none of these places) that I may not have time to post what have become “weekly wanderings.”   This week, courtesy of Geekologie, this email correspondence:

spider-2

David Thorne did end up coming out on top in the end (i.e. he sold the drawing for $10,000 on ebay).

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eHarmonious

Notes From Babel has a post on eHarmony’s anti-discrimination lawsuit settlement in New Jersey.  As part of the settlement eHarmony is required to set up a sister-site that will allow gay and lesbian daters to find each other, which is currently not a feature allowed on eHarmony.

Yet another example of private businesses not being able to do what they want.  eHarmony is hardly the only dating site available so there is clearly no limitation on availability.

Wonder when JDate will get their lawsuit from muslims?

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Part of my aim in defining the Church is to define the Gospel, arguably the central tenant of the Christian religion, and from a suggestion in a comment by Ryan B. I will express more of what I believe the Gospel is.

I believe that the best way to learn the Gospel is to explore the Scripture and how the Church has understood the Gospel. I believe that there is a common thread/trajectory running through the Scripture (and I believe this trajectory is also present in what Protestants refer to as the Apocrypha). Therefore, as a precursor to the Gospel, the proclamation of God’s decisive action through Jesus Christ, I believe one must examine the main theological thrust of the Scripture from the first book to the last.

In the first three chapters of Genesis we learn that:
God is preexistent in relation to the universe. God by his own good initiative created the universe (time and space). God created Earth and all of its inhabitants and they were all good. God created humanity and gave humans something unique among all created things: the Image of God. God gave humans a charge, which the humans disobeyed (the Fall). As a result of this disobedience mankind (and the cosmos) is in an unnatural, fallen state (original sin).

This is where the Abrahamic Covenant comes into play, arguably the primary way in which God wants to work to fix the brokenness caused by the Fall, the beginning of the Gospel.

God did not abandon humanity; by his own good will and grace God chose the descendants of Abraham, the Children of Israel, to be a vessel for his glory and blessing to the world. Throughout the Old Testament God continually worked through the oftentimes-disobedient Children of Israel, and this culminated in the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Christian religion, the climax of God’s covenant with Abraham. Jesus is the Son of God, incarnate through the conception by the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is essential to the Christian religion. In basic terms, the doctrine of the Trinity asserts that the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Father are eternally existent as one God (in essence) in three persons. Jesus is both fully man and fully God in the divine mystery of the Hypostatic Union. Jesus lived his life demonstrating the presence of the promised kingdom of God. Jesus lived his life fulfilling what mankind and Israel had failed at. Jesus—though he was tempted in all things—lived a sinless life. Jesus was tried, crucified, died, and was buried. Three days later Jesus was resurrected in glory (in a body) as a “first fruit” of the eventual resurrection of the Church. Jesus ascended into heaven and is at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit was thus given to demonstrate the power of God and the presence of his kingdom through the Church. In this, God has extended the invitation to all of the earth (using the language of the Abrahamic Covenant) to participate in his active kingdom, resulting in inevitable action from the Church.

In my estimate, the work of God in history is currently at a plateau. The resolution to the climax of the Son of God’s presence on earth has yet to happen. But this plateau is an exciting time, when God is actively pressing his kingdom forth through his Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the fullness of time Jesus Christ will return to earth, and in doing so he will resurrect the Church, recreate the heavens and the earth, and fully judge all that is in rebellion against him.

I believe that these are generally the primary tenants of the Gospel, things that Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox can agree on. Looking back on my words above they resemble a bloated Apostles’ Creed, and I suppose that is where a lot of my Ecumenical tendencies find their roots (though I am more partial to the Nicene Creed). I believe that the authority to determine what is the “orthodox Gospel” is found within the Scriptures as well as in Church history, for the Holy Spirit has been and remains active in both elements.

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Election Revisited

I have to admit that I have found myself more and more comfortable with an Obama presidency.  I don’t suppose I’m betraying my conservative views, but rather affirming faith in our leaders in general despite political differences.  Just as liberals were able to go to work everyday during Bush’s 8-year reign, so can I through Obama’s time in office.

An interesting site has sprung up called How Obama Got Elected.  It’s operator John Ziegler is apparently making a documentary on the media’s impact on this election… which sounds like a very promising premise.  His website shows election day exit interviews with Obama voters and asks them questions that were previously used in a Zogby Poll (Zogby – opens a .pdf file).

The responses are illuminating as to what voters knew about Obama versus what they knew (or thought they knew) about Sarah Palin.  Highlights:

57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)

82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)

88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)

And yet…..

Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes

Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter

My favorite:

And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her “house,” even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!

I think it’s clear that many people who voted for Obama were voting for the change he spoke of (Bush specifically, and republicans generally), and are probably not intent followers of politics.  Certainly, not knowing who controls congress shows an inspired lack of knowledge on current events, but that is well within people’s rights as voters.  But this polling is interesting in that it shows a distinct dissonance between what information is put out and, most importantly, what is absorbed by our nation.  The fact that a skit on SNL become’s public thinking, but a candidate’s stated policies does not is disconcerting.

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Disturbing Tolerance

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post as I have mixed feelings about the subject – that being Prop. 8, banning same-sex marriages.  For the record I voted No on Prop. 8.  I don’t feel that we should limit the ability of homosexuals to marry each other, and confer on their partners the benefits that result from that union.  I believe that as Christians we should not legislate our morality and force people to conform to our beliefs by making them into laws.  (note: this does not include abortion, as I believe that is taking a life which goes against secular and Christian morals)

However I am exceedingly disappointed and disturbed by the protests that are taking place by opponents of Prop. 8.  We as Americans have the right to protest, and as annoying as they can be for commuters and people in disagreement, they are a right.  But Michelle Malkin (a huge supporter of Prop. 8) has a post on the uproar and the vandalism and violence that have come along with it.  I find this behavior disturbing because it is the equivalent of what many minority groups have fought to get rid of; the intimidation and violence against their personal choices.  Gays have made huge strides in becoming part of the mainstream culture (in fact they are probably represented in our pop culture more than they are actually represented as a percentage of the population) and in most respects do not have to face the gay-bashing and fear that many felt for so many years.  I live in Los Angeles which has a large gay population, so this may not be the experience of gays throughout America.  But here are the opponents of Prop. 8, who are not all homosexuals, and they are punching people, and destroying property, and generally using the same tactics that gays faced in the first place.  Is that purposeful to show others what they had to go through?  I doubt it.  It feels like people who are unwilling to let a democracy work.  They believe a right is forbidden for them and they are lashing out.  But guess what, there are rights I believe we should have as well that we don’t have and I don’t go beating people down about it.  The proper and most reasonable method is to continue to get your message across and educate people about your position.  This behavior is certainly not that.

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Malkin refers to McCarthyism in her post, and I would have to agree.  On election day a friend had sent me this link, to tell me what churches, businesses, political leaders, and general “assholes” to boycott or protest against.  Here are people who are holding a view that are being singled out and harassed because their view did not suit someone else.  I think I can understand the anger of gay opponents of Prop. 8, this is their life and they want to be able to live it how they want.  But they are protesting against it by making it so others can not live their lives the way they want.  This is a backwards mentatlity and I fear it will only lead to people feeling less inclined to listen to them about their genuine issues.

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I’m no fan of video games, and as a result, no big fan of Guitar Hero, but I know how it is played and what the interface is like, so this I find mind-blowingly impressive:

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