Monday, March 26, 2007

For Your Listening Pleasure

Ah, Spring Break. It's nice to have time off. Well, that's what I've heard. I'll be spending the week catching up on errands, chores, studying, and a backlog of labs to grade. Yippee.

In the meantime, I do have some interesting things I've kept track of.

I listen to a radioshow podcast by the some of the guys at Powerline, and heard a rather interesting segment a week or so ago. They interviewed Father Neuhaus, author of a new book on the intersection of the Catholic Church and American politics, and also the editor of a Catholic magazine. It was fairly interesting, to say the least.

There were a few things that stood out to me during the interview. At one point, the host asked Father Neuhaus whether he agrees that the Catholic Church in America is going to move to a smaller but more dedicated body of believers. The priest answered that saying that people are out of your "club" if you don't subscribe to a certain list of requirements is "a very protestant way of looking at things." He went on to describe this pithy analogy about the Catholic Church being the "mother" church, but I thought his comment deserved notice.

I've heard it said that a man can curse God when his dog craps in the house and a pollster will call him a Christian. Silly anecdotes aside, it's pretty true that there are a lot of people in churches today, Catholic and Protestant, who call themselves by that label but barely hold to the teachings of that church if at all. I think Father Neuhaus' position isn't very fair, because there was a time when the Catholic Church excommunicated those who didn't tow the line. That's not too common anymore from what I understand, and it just goes into a "you've excommunicated yourself" kind of an argument, which makes no sense to me at all.

Anyhow, I didn't have much of importance to say about that, but I thought his answer was weak. Yeah, a person doesn't have to be perfect to be a Christian, and nobody expects it. There has to be a minimum standard of orthodoxy, or else there's no meaningful distinction between Christian and non-Christian, and therefore no compelling reason to be either.

There was something else that was brought up that made me think. It wasn't anything they directly said, but I have been thinking. If you remember my post on Mark Steyn's new book, you remember that the prediction is that Europe as we know it will be gone in the next 50 or so years. (Incidentally, Dafydd over at Big Lizards disagrees)

The idea I had was this: If Europe becomes Islamicized (Islamated? Muslimilated?), including Italy, what happens to the Catholic Church? I can't imagine that the Vatican will exist as we know it if Italy were to become a muslim country. What would happen, both to the institutional Catholic Church and to the faith of it's people around the globe? It's an interesting scenario to me.

Anyhow, there was one other thing I saw that was interesting this week. You should watch it in its entirety. Enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Crunchitize Me, Cap'n!

I actually hate those commercials, but it seemed like a clever post-title.

Anyhow, I'll be quiet (AGAIN) this week. It's crunch time, and I have a paper due at the end of the week that I've barely started. The good news, however, is that Spring Break is next week, so I should at least be able to post something.

In the meantime, read anything from my blogroll. I wouldn't link it if it wasn't worth reading. And have some lysine biosynthesis and catabolism. Just because.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Random Rules

So, Slublog isn't doing an iCarnival right now, but he did suggest a "Random Rules." It's from the Onion AV Club, where they have a celebrity talk about the first 10 songs on their iPod which show up on a random shuffle. Here's what I have playing right now:
  • Sammy Davis Jr., "That Old Black Magic."
Heh, classic swing. You gotta love it. This song came off of a 2 disc American swing album I bought at an outlet mall while on vacation with my family back in high school. I don't really listen to the songs on it much anymore, though it's not out of distaste. I just don't feel much like listening to classic swing much these days.
  • Deluxtone Rockets, "Doing Time."
This is from the album Green Room Blues, which was a huge disappointment. Originally, I had a CD from a band called The Deluxetone Rockets, which was this awesome New Swing band. Later, I saw this album in a store and thought it was the same guys. It wasn't. These guys were some rockabilly group using the name, but the style was almost completely different. The album is pretty good, but I was really hoping for more from the original guys.
  • Anathallo, "Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!"
So, I love Anathallo. Their music is superb. Except for Floating World, which this song comes from. It's as if they wrote it completely stoned. I just have nothing good to say about it. I'm not sure it's actually bad, I just don't like the style. I'd tell you to buy anything else of theirs without any hesitation. This one, buyer beware.
  • Five Iron Frenzy, "Plan B."
Ah, FIF. I was just thinking earlier today how their show at Milikin University (Decatur, IL) was the best concert I'd ever been to. Not that I've been to a great many concert, but it was still a freaking awesome show. Pictures from that show? Why, yes I do have some:

  • MxPx, "Do Your Feet Hurt."
Man, this takes me back. MxPx was my introduction to punk music and everything alternative. I learned about them through this olda-boy in the youth group named Jeff. I used to think he was the coolest guy on the planet. Thanks to him, I ended up at an MxPx show at Mississippi Nights when I was 14. It was ridiculously fun, though at the time I didn't realize how crazy it was for a 14 year old to be at that club. I nearly had my chest stomped in by some moron in a mosh pit. Thank God for bouncers.
  • Chicago, "Beginnings."
I will listen to anything with horns in it. I developed my love for Chicago tunes by playing them in jazz band when I was in high school. It's one of the few areas of musical taste that I share with my parents.
  • Thrice, "Stare at the Sun."
Now, here's another band I highly recommend, though it's really only for rock fans. These guys are great. I started listening to them on The Alien, a local Christian rock station which has turned into a country music/Cardinals' rerun station. I don't relish that change.
  • Reliant K, "K Car."
I haven't bought a new Reliant K album in a long time. After they took off, their fan base shifted towards 12 year old girls, and their music changed accordingly. Blech. Hey, at least I can say I liked them when they were playing the side stage at Cornerstone.

Yeah, I'm one of "those guys."
  • Anathallo, "Hoodwink."
This one is also from "Floating World." I believe I've made my feelings on this clear.
  • Christopher Cross, "Ride Like the Wind."
I'm not even sure what this song is about. I have it because we used to play it in jazz band in high school and I thought it was a neat sounding song. After listening to the original version, I realize that it sounded better played by a high school jazz band. Sad.

If you feel like passing on the meme, let me know in the comments.

Monday, March 12, 2007

No Man is an Island

This guy in China has been holding out against developers, being the only one in the neighborhood to not sell his house to allow businesses to be built.

I'm not sure he thought his cunning plan through.

I wish I was in that neighborhood. This would be hilarious to see play out.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Students Love Me

Heisenberg and his wife are driving down the road, enjoying a nice Sunday excursion. Suddenly, a cop pulls off of a side street and follows closely behind them.

"Honey, slow down!" Heisenberg says. "You don't want to get pulled over."

"Relax, dear," she replies. "Look, I'm only going 55."

"Great," he says. "Now we're lost."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Blagojevich the Siphon

In case you never read an IL newspaper, Blagojevich has come out with plans not only to dump billions of dollars into education spending, but also to offer universal health care to the citizens of Illinois.

How does he plan to pay for this? He's going to tax everything. (The link is a general round-up on the subject)

Well, not exactly everything, but every financial transaction that takes place, period. Apparently, this is known as a "gross receipts tax." Illinois already has ridiculous financial problems: Pension funds being raided constantly, businesses leaving at a steady pace, doctors leaving at a steady pace, more debt than any other state in the country, inability to pay doctors in a timely manner, etc. But instead of dealing with these problems, what does Rowdy Roddy decide to do? Ah, new spending initiatives. Always new ones. Can't afford it? Tax, tax, tax. Sounds like a bad idea? Don't defend the idea, attack the people who say so!

Hey Illinois, this is the guy you voted into office. Again. I hope you're enjoying this, because the fun's just beginning.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Health Insurance Blues

Helpful hint: If you're a commuter student, never use student health insurance.

According to my insurance provider, since I'm on student insurance, I have to use the student health center for my primary physician. It doesn't matter that it's an hour away. It doesn't matter that I live 15 min. from my physician. Oh, I can still see him if I want, but I have to have a referral from the student health center. No referral? $50 fine from the insurance company.

This, of course, screws over commuter students. I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do about this. In the meantime, like I said: If you're a commuter student, never use the student health insurance.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tests Done

Just like the headline says. I think I did pretty well, although I guess I'll let my professors be the judges of that. No real posts yet, though, since my brain is still decompressing. That, and I have a paper to be writing.

Until then, a quick anecdote: Yesterday while teaching lab, I was presented with a sight which I wish I could give back. You'd think that normally it would be the female students who have problems with shirts exposing their midriffs. No, this time it was a male student, and beside the short shirt he also had low-riding, baggy sweat pants.

Well, you can imagine what happened when he went to stretch his hands over his head. Not only did he expose most of his mid-section, but his freaking pubic hairs were sticking out the top of his pants!

"Good God, man! Pull up your pants!"

Blech. If I ever become a professor, I'm only teaching graduate courses. I can't put up with this nonsense.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

See You Next Week

Two exams this week. Translation: No posting. Go read something interesting. Read actual news. CNN, or something. As long as they're done talking about Anna Nicole.

Actually, before I go into radio (internet?) silence, I wanted to share a thought. I'm used to a lot of bickering over evolution. It just seems like the people who actually understand the inner workings are a rare specimen.

What I mean is, I'm pretty close to having a MS, with 90% of the classes leading to that being biology courses. The degree is in biochem/biotech, but that's not really important. In all of my biochem/molecular bio courses, we've mentioned evolution only in passing. This strikes me as so bizarre. I'm going to have a master's degree in a biological science and I won't have formally learned anything about a subject that is considered the paradigm for understanding all biological sciences.

Not that that's hampering me (that I can tell). Do you have to be a biology undergrad to get courses in this? At my undergrad school, evolution was largely a freshman level course, which most likely means it wasn't exactly scientifically rigorous. Do you have to get a PhD in biological evolution before you get courses where this is addressed specifically?

I find it odd that it's been mentioned so little in any of the courses I've had, and I'm left with a lot of curiosity. I'd be interested to know what the theory looks like on the development of the first nucleic/amino acids and their associated structures. I've heard rumors of an all RNA world before life really took off . . . what is the theory on how things worked there?

That's it. Go read something good.