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Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.
Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)
Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!
My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])
The Economist daily news analysis
Global Higher Ed blog
Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.
There is a Chapter II.
Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA
Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.
Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.
Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.
Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.
Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.
A Philosophy of Decadence
Monday, 29 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
Mark Bernstein writes just about the most sensible thing I have heard in quite a while. Often, people who wish to avoid unhealthy food can strip a good thing entirely from their lives, or more frequently, go into binge cycles. Others (yes, you, my chocolate-obsessed friends) take their decadent pleasures whenever they can get them.
But such attitudes become meta-experience quickly, more about roleplaying and the experience of tasting or eating such things than actually savoring the thing they love. The abstainers abstain because they are abstainers. The Chocolate lovers (for example) eat chocolate whenever offered because, well they are chocolate lovers, and that's what chocolate lovers do. The binge eaters struggle between these extremes.
Mark, who got this idea from A New Way to Cook, by Sally Schneider, suggests an alternative. His example? Fat.
fat's just an ingredient. An expensive ingredient. You aren't going to eat lots of fat, so you've got to make it count: you want the fat you eat to be the tastiest, freshest, most wonderful fat you can get. Schneider has you hoarding the fat from your duck, to be doled out carefully over weeks or months for cooking potatoes. You use less fat because you'll run out, and you really enjoy the fat you use.
That, my friends, is the art of savoring. Say no to Bland Lard. Savor life instead.
To be honest, however, I'll still probably continue my habit of savoring salads and other meals composed primarily of vegetables. For me, such foods are an unending delight.
Thursday, 25 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
This morning, I will play taps in the Memorial Day service held at a park in Mount Joy. There, we will honor those who throughout the years have sacrificed to make the United States a land of opportunity and freedom. The actions of our nation have often been mistaken, sometimes insidious. Our wars are not always just, and they are never pretty. But whatever the large-scale reason, the courage, and dedication of our troops have always been a great credit to our nation. And in the long run of the last two hundred or so years, I believe that our nation's military has been a powerful, effective force for good.
This September, I will begin a course of study in a country that wouldn't exist without the ultimate sacrifice of millions of civillians and military.
So I can study English literature.
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
~John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.
Today's soundtrack is "America the beautiful," sung by the USAF singing sergeants.
It takes guts to love mercy more than life. May we all have the courage to do so.
Kites, and Roofs, and Cambridge, Oh My!
Tuesday, 23 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
Life is happening too quickly to describe. But it is marvelous.
So I will just summarize:
- Harbour Coffee's Online Store Just Went Online: www.harbourcoffee.com
- Susan, Mims, and I just finished "Read for the Sky." We were just notified that our sculpture, "Read for The Sky" has been selected for display on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Capitol building!
- Monday evening, my parents, Nate Wagner, and I replaced the fabric on the roof of my car, a 1989 Plymouth Horizon (can you believe? The backing was perforated! We just sewed on the new fabric!! It was brilliantly simple.). It looks beautiful!
- Today, I eat lunch at The Cosmos Club, with the members of the committee which selected me for the Davies-Jackson Scholarship. I'm thoroughly looking forward to meeting them, especially at such a fine venue.
** * **
Life isn't always so rosy.
On Sunday, I sat in church with an elderly man who can only breathe with an oxygen tank. At one point, he was gasping for air and writhing. His glasses went flying, as well as his oxygen tank. I replaced them for him and fetched an usher. When asked if he was OK, the elderly man described how much he was enjoying the service.
Each breath is a headier gift than any of the blessings I describe here, and yet these gifts too are marvelous. I know I can never merit such things, but I will continue to do my best to administer the grace which I am constantly being given. For every breath is a gift.
Going Up to Cambridge
Friday, 19 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
Last week, I formally accepted the Davies-Jackson scholarship, to read for the Affiliated Cantab in English Literature at St. John's College, Cambridge. I begin this two-year program in late September.
I have compiled more information about St. John's, the Cantab program, and my scholarship on the following page: In Which J. Nathan Matias goes up to The University of Cambridge.
Monday, 15 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
Mark Bernstein recently quoted an excellent post by Kathryn Cramer about immigration issues, a post which also explores deeper questions. The quote slapped me in the face:
Back when I was young and naive and he lectured me about Marx and Lenin, I signed up for a philosophy class on the Philosophy of Marxism and I read all that. And then I discovered that his Communism was not about philosophy at all, but about lecturing to a young blonde who hadn't read what he'd read. Once I'd stolen that high-ground and started asking questions about the base and the super-structure, he retreated into computer stuff, which he was much better at than I was.
I took the Fortran course; he got the point.
Last weekend, I spent an evening with a friend, lecturing him on all sorts of interesting things. I was exhausted, and I let my mind range. He was enthralled.
I talked entirely too much. It was quite impolite. Later, when I apologized, he demurred, saying that it was a fascinating evening.
But that doesn't make it right. I was being the person in Kathryn's quote, sans the blonde (we can't have everything).
Unfortunately, I have a tendency to do this semi-frequently. It's not consistent with true, Christ-like love. It is not the action of a priestly person who always looks to serve the needs of others. As a Christian, I should not revel in my intellect at the expense of others; rather I should revel in the truth of Christ and the Gospel more frequently.
To all of you whom I have treated in this manner, I apologize. One of you turned away from me in disgust (it hurt when you did so, but you were probably right. But why didn't you tell me?), but most of you became yet more interested.
So I need your help. Please keep me from slipping into this again.
** * **
I have derived a law: Smart people who win arguments often only prove the human inability to understand much at all.
If it were otherwise, people with little intellect, education or training would (from time to time at least) be able to win arguments against smart people. But complexity spoken by an intellectual looks more impressive than simplicity spoken by a simpleton.
There is always someone smarter than the smartest person.
** * **
This post began with Mark Bernstein. It shall now end with his finger. He has such a great way of putting things:
P.S. To B3: I still stand by my argument that 4'33, by John Cage, is actually a quality work, one with a poignant artistic message, and that it should be played more often. You can't get out of that one so easily.
Saturday, 6 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
To those who have been exercising futility by trying to contact me, I say:
I have been in the Cheasapeake Bay area since Thursday morning, for my brother's graduation from a Master's of Divinity program. He was the top academic achiever in his class! Unfortunately, I have had much less access to the 'net than normal. But I can answer your correspondence Wednesday evening, after I get back.
(Advice please?) A Solution for Bluebirds
Wednesday, 3 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
A mother bird and her egg-children just recently took residence in the basket/wreath/bouquet (artificial) that hangs on our front door. During last night's storm, we tied it down so it wouldn't fall off the door. However, to do so is to render the door quite incapable of opening.
We want the chicks to hatch and survive, as they are bluebirds. These birds are no longer on the endangered list, but we still want to treat them with the respect due to all life. But we also are aware that too much exposure to human scent could cause trouble for the birds.
We are thinking of moving the basket several feet to the left of the door and hanging it in an inside corner on the house exterior, a corner protected from the prevailing winds. However, we don't know how this will affect the mother and her likelihood to provide continuing care.
In the meatime, we are using the side door and will soon post a sign on the front which reads: Think of the (bluebird) children: use the side door.
Can anyone give any suggestions for how to proceed?
Hooray for Sponsors
Tuesday, 2 May 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
I have just received word that The Patriot News has decided to sponsor the sculpture design Susan and I submitted to Kitefest.
queue excited sounds