Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I'm fully entrenched now in finals week, my sanity drains, my schedule presses in on me like a vice-grip. I'll get through it of course, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Specifically, I'm heading off for 10-days in merrie olde yngland. Can't wait.

Oh, and I'm planning to blog about my trip, though I'm not sure yet how steady I'll be able to be.

What I learned... on Slate: Arsenic and No Life

According to some scientists cited in Slate, the study which reports that a bacteria was able to replace phosphorus with arsenic was flawed, and the data is at best inconclusive. Well, if that's true, it's rather disappointing, though not nearly so much as NASA hinting they'd found alien life when earth-based arsenic life was all they had to report.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Music Review: the Orange Effect

I don't normally do music reviews, mainly because, while I love music, I'm no musician and I don't feel like I have the vocabulary to talk about it. That said, I recently saw the band the Orange Effect in concert for the second time, and they are so incredibly good, that I feel compelled to give them a review.

the Orange Effect is a local band in Orange County, and I'm not entirely sure how to describe their genre. They call themselves "Indie-Americana-Folk-Pop-Post-Rock-Alt-Country-Neo-Soul" which seems good enough to me.

The band has a very energetic, lively and varied sound. Harmonies are a big part of their music and the bass and drums are very prominent in their songs, giving them something of a martial sound.

The real thing that makes the Orange Effect stand out, though, is the sheer talent of its members. Every single one of them is a brilliant musician, and all of them but the drummer (who is one of the best I've seen) play multiple instruments and sing. A result of this is that the Orange Effect really feels like a band, rather than one guy with backup.

They also have a fantastic stage presence that makes their concerts a blast. It took me awhile to get out to one as a friend of mine, Tim Bauer, is in the band, and going out to a friend's concert can be a bit nerve wracking. If it's not a great band...  awkward. Well, if you live in Orange County, don't make the mistake I made, get out to one of their concerts. I'm certainly going to be making it out to every one I can.

They've also released a CD, which I recommend you pick up. A word of caution there, though. While their music is absolutely amazing, the mixing of the CD isn't perfect, and that has some unfortunate results. As I said, the drums, bass and harmonies are a big part of what makes their music, and the guy who mixed the CD doesn't seem to have gotten that as the harmonies have been turned into backup vocals and the drums and bass likewise pushed into the background.1 This by no means makes it a bad CD, it's just not a very representative one. Had I not seen them in concert, I wouldn't have noticed the problem, I just would have thought the band more generic than it really is.

All my criticisms aside, I've listened to the CD close to a dozen times since I got it on Friday, and you should definitely pick it up. More importantly though, if you live in or around Orange County, do yourself a favor and go to one of their concerts - you won't regret it and you'll be supporting some genuinely brilliant local music.

P.S. The sideshows for their CD release concert, Dawson and Marrie and Alex Rhodes were also pretty sweet.
1. I've found turning the bass and treble up on my sound system helps with the drums and base, though not the vocals.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What I learned... on KPCC: Arsenic and Old Life

This one even has a mohawk
There have been quite a lot of bizarre discoveries of bacteria, called extremophiles (makes me think of a hardcore sports germ), living in insanely harsh environments. Well, researchers have discovered that a bacteria living in California's Mono Lake can replace the phosphorous that serves as the skeleton of its DNA with arsenic. Pretty cool I'd say.

You can read and listen more about it here. 

Theology/Politics: That Monstrous United Nations (Some Vitriol)

There's a small group of people in the world today, almost entirely American, who have made something of a sport trying to tie current world events into the book of Revelation. Often, their reasoning is quite dubious - a beast with ten horns? Clearly a one world government with ten regions!1

One of the favorite targets of these prognosticators is the United Nations. The UN is a world spanning power (never mind that it's powerless) and that looks kind of like a on world government, which we all know will be the government of the anti-Christ (see above). And, they like to point out, the UN wants to split the world into ten governmental regions (something I've never been able to confirm outside of their circles) and the Bible talks about a beast with ten horns that is so clearly a one world government with ten regions, the connections couldn't be more clear (ten being a very uncommon number and all).

That isn't to say I'm a fan of a one world government or anything. Often, entities that seek one world government are grasping and imperialistic (Ancient Rome, Hilter's Germany, etc.) and, even where they aren't, they would set up an inefficient, centralized system of government, which you all know I'm no fan of.

Heck, the UN is a far from perfect institution. Mostly powerless, where it does exert influence it often does more harm than good (look at affiliate organizations like the World Bank) but all this has nothing to do with poverty.

But the UN is no one world government, it's not even close, and even if it were, their reading of Revelation is dubious to begin with.

What the UN does do is tell countries (mostly ineffectively) what to do. Countries like the United States.

And that's the real reason they hate and fear the UN, because it has the presumption to tell the United States of America (God's Country after all!) what to do.2

1. Actually, since at least some of the point of Revelation (I think) is to prophesy historical patterns (as opposed to specific historical events) they can even be right, but not for the reasons they think.
2. I should say I don't think most people who follow these "interpreters" of Revelation have this view, I solely blame the "interpreters." I doubt even they are quite aware of it. This is simply a symptom of patriotism meaning more than faith in God.