## Monday, December 30, 2013

### An Arbitrary World

It's interesting to think about how completely arbitrary everything in this world is.

Numbers, for example.  I can say that a train is moving at 50 meters per second or 5000 meters per second, and both statements could be true for the same train depending on whether I'm traveling in the opposite direction at 4950 meters per second or just standing still and watching it pass me by.  And the only reason that it's 50 in the first place is because we've been using that value as one more than 49 and one fewer than 51 for so long that everyone recognizes the quantity that it represents.  In reality, numbers are just names given to how much of something there is.  50 meters per second is just 50 of a meter (some arbitrary distance that we decided was significant) traveled for every one of a second (how long it takes to say "Mississippi").  I could even say the train is going 600 hoopdies per hippity, if I convinced enough people that hoopdies and hippities were better measures of space and time than meters and seconds.

Or languages, both written and spoken-- some guy decided that if the lines curve here, cross here, end there, and have spaces here, here, and here, then they'll stand for these sounds, which make this word, that describes this idea, yet some other guy can't make head nor tail of the runes in front of him.  For a while, we were content to have a bamillion different languages all over the world, but now, as the world is shrinking (it's not actually shrinking, guys, don't worry), we're starting to realize the inconvenience of not having a standard, so everyone's learning to read, write, and speak "English."  And why English?  Just because so many people speak it already-- it's no secret that it's not the easiest or most sensible language out there, but that doesn't matter because it's easier to convince twenty people to learn something complex than it is to convince fifty to learn something simple.  And I could even add my own words to the English language, if I'm popular enough; people call me a "nerd" all the time, but that wasn't even a thing until Dr. Seuss dreamt it up.

Think about all of the random signals you encounter on your average drive to work, school, or church.  You yield at the yellow triangles.  You stop at the red octagons.  You flash little lights on the side of your car to let people know you're turning, even though, technically, you're turning all the time-- this turn is just a little sharper than the ones you've been making up until now.  When you come up to the hanging metal contraptions, you stop if it's glowing red but keep going if it's green.  All the while, you're careful not to stray from the road, which is really just a slab of ground that's harder than the grass beside it, and keeping to "your side" of the line, which is just a brighter, straighter, and more permanent version of the line my six year old brother drew on the street with chalk a few months ago at his birthday party, yet everybody knows that if you cross the ones the people with their magic line-painting trucks created, you're going to get honked at, which we all somehow understand is a bad thing.

The funny thing is, and I mentioned this to my cousin in the car today, we don't follow all of these societal cues because we want to maintain order; we follow them because we want to avoid chaos.  We don't teach everyone in school about integrals and cross products because, in order to pay taxes and tip the waiter, all we need to know how to do is add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  We don't focus on writing as a form of art because you don't need to know how to write in iambic pentameter to fill our your resume.  We don't care whether the sidewalks have lines on them because no one dies if you accidentally walk into them.  But if you can't pay your taxes, then you'll go to jail, and if you can't fill out a resume, then you'll starve, and if no one knows what side of the road they should be driving on, then everyone dies.

But imagine if we did care.  Almost everyone knows that 80 miles per hour is too fast to be driving, but few know that your speed is the absolute value of your velocity, which is the derivative of your position in relation to the very frame of reference which determined how fast you were going in the first place.  Almost anyone could read what I'm writing, but few people pay attention to the parallel structure that I use so often or the conversational tone that I try so hard to maintain.  It's probably best if we stick to the basics with driving-- we don't need people practicing their drifting in the middle of busy intersections, but you get the idea.  I'm not saying anyone has to care-- preventing chaos is just as well, but it's interesting to me that so few people do.

So next time you're flying down the road at 80 miles per hour, maybe you should stop and think about the fact that 429 hoopdies per hippity is a little fast (feel free to email me, if you have any questions about that conversion).

## Friday, December 27, 2013

### Reconciling Physics with Christianity

Given an accurate set of initial conditions, the outcome of any situation can be determined.  For example, if you know that a ball was thrown at a certain velocity and went a certain distance, you can figure out how long it was in the air and at what angle it was released.  A thorough examination of this illustration could even account for factors that seem negligible, such as air resistance or the variation of acceleration due to gravity as a result of the ball's changing distance from Earth's center.  If the ball were to hit a tree branch, as long as we could deduce the spring constant of that limb, we could say for certain where the ball would land, so long as we're given enough details about the motion of the ball and of the branch at the instant before the collision.

Now, let's take this example and apply it to, say, the universe.  Assuming that the Big Bang Theory is true (which, of course, I do not), we should be able to anticipate every occurrence in all of creation (ironic, I know).  All we would need to determine exactly what would happen tomorrow is the set of initial conditions provided by that hot, dense baby of a universe that we started with all those billions of years ago and the formulas that describe whatever the heck was going on with it when it started to change and expand, along with the values of any variables therein that correspond with December 28th, 2013 (or December 28th, 13800002013, whichever you prefer).  Though I would probably spend far more than the next twenty four hours following this universal equation to its end, I would get there.  We could have super computers crunching numbers for every person at every second of every day, so that nothing would ever come as a surprise, and we could decide from the get-go whether our lives were worth living.  Am I going to get a job?  Find a girl?  Live long?  Prosper?  You wouldn't have to ask; you would know.  Actually, some super rich physicist would know and would probably charge you for the answer, knowing the world we live in, so you'd probably want to be a little more specific with him than I was with you.
Now, I'm not being completely fair, I'll admit.  I don't know how small scientists believe our universe started out, but I have a feeling it was subject to the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, meaning, basically, that we can only know so much about its particles' behavior and couldn't predict with complete certainty just what each particle would do with itself (things start disagreeing with Newton when they get really, really small or really, really fast).  But the idea is still very much the same, and the concept still very much applicable.  If we did know how it all started, then applied everything that we have discovered up until now, I'm sure we could devise a pretty darn good model to predict all of the things.  It would be just as simple as throwing the ball; you're told how the ball started moving and all you have to do is plug in the time to find its position at any given moment.  The ball doesn't care whether you've thrown it, yet; so long as you don't tell any lies about the way you plan on throwing it, it's going to move the same way every time.

I agree that much of what I've said so far is true.  I believe that thing about the ball and the branch.  I can gel with all of the intricate parts of the system, (air resistance, gravity, blablabla) as well.  I even think that all of the events in your life and mine are predetermined, though not by some all-inclusive formula but, rather, by God.  Here are a couple of reasons why.

First off, forever is a long time, and things in our world simply don't appear out of nowhere.  I think that any non-religious person would agree with me on these two points.  I find it difficult to reconcile these two facts without some creator.  At what point did nothing become something, in order to give birth to our universe?  More importantly and more fundamentally, what was the catalyst and how did the universe appear?  Where's the conservation of energy and matter?  If there was no moment when everything out there sprang into being, if it's all been around forever but expansion only started recently (if you can call something that happened billions of years ago a "recent" development), then wouldn't this whole universe expanding thing have happened infinitely long ago?  Eternity is a difficult thing to wrap your mind around, but suffice to say that if there was no moment of creation (or mysterious coming into being , to be more politically correct), then everything would literally have happened forever ago-- that's the nature of eternity.

The second reason is because math is a thing.  I took probability and statistics last semester, and if the math gods are confident enough to say that something didn't happen if they're 95% sure, then I don't know how any mathematically savvy human could give credit to any of the theories out there that don't involve intelligent design.  Let's throw the whole universe thing out the window and just look at our planet.  Do you know how unlikely it is that every species evolved from a teeny-tiny single-celled organism?  I'm not talking biologically-- I'm talking statistically.  What are the chances that some creature walking around with no ears (we'll call him Scruffy) gave birth to a little Scruffy Jr. with a system of hearing complex enough to work well enough to make him biologically superior, then that Scruffy the Third would inherit that same mutation from his daddy and so on?  Our ears use a hammer next to an amp made out of bones near some hairs in water that send electrical impulses to our brain.  That's how we hear things.  There's no reason that any of these individual parts would survive through generations without the others, and the chances of all of them occurring at once in a usable arrangement are beyond laughable.  As a self-proclaimed mathematician, I simply can't subscribe to the idea that an unfathomable number of these statistically impossible coincidences led us to where we are now in a mere four and a half billion years.

There had to be a designer, and an intelligent one at that.  I find it more sensible and more probable that there's a God in heaven than that any of the modern theories of the origin of the universe or the evolution of man are true.  I've been asked by more than one person how I can reconcile my religious beliefs with my pursuit of a career in physics.  I don't believe that there is any conflict between the two.  To me, physics is man's way of describing God's creation, and the fact that we don't have it all figured out (and never will), only bears testament to the magnificence of his handiwork.  In high school, when I asked my physics teacher why I (an aspiring English major at the time) should care about his class, he told me "So that you can quantify your world!"  And he was close-- it just isn't my world to quantify.

## Sunday, November 3, 2013

### Following the Train Back to the Station

Every "Bible Study" that I have been a part of has been a faith-defining experience.  For the purposes of this statement, a Bible Study is defined as a small group of Christians meeting regularly to study the Bible outside of the traditional Sunday and Wednesday meetings.  In this personal and comfortable environment, it's easy to open up and focus in on specific struggles or issues; three years ago, this would have meant lying and sneaking around for me, but today I face a different set of problems: speaking without thinking and maintaining a healthy relationship with my parents.  I'll talk about the former some other day, but this post is going to explore the latter.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

My parents did train me up in the way I should have gone.  Do your homework before you play.  Memorize as many verses as you're allowed to for Awana.  Don't play in the sink-- it wastes water.  But, somehow, I did manage to depart from it, as you already know from reading the first paragraph.  I struggled A LOT with lying in the past, and, as a result, I lost a lot of the trust that my parents gave so freely before they found forged signatures on report cards and Skype history reflecting calls until five in the morning with girls they'd never heard of.  The unraveling of the web of lies that I had been weaving for upwards of four or five years was the first, and probably most significant, crack in my relationship with Mom and Dad.  But, of course, the Bible isn't wrong; I'm not old, yet, and I'm working on returning to what my parents taught me when I was younger because, in all honesty, I was much wiser.  I kept my mouth shut and did what Mommy and Daddy told me (which covers both of my biggest problems today).

"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
Colossians 3:21

I've often felt that my father (or parents, as the verse probably refers to both of them) was (were) guilty of this.  But, when I look back, I see that nothing has ever been expected of me that was not within my potential to achieve and no punishment was ever given to me that was not well-deserved.  I've had few (practically no) responsibilities around the house.  My parents don't worry whether my mile time is faster or slower this year than last.  All that's ever been expected of me is a good report card, which is possible for anyone with the right amount of work.  Given all of this, I think it's safe to say that my parents have never provoked me to anger in a way that contradicted the teachings of the Bible.  The many times that I've found myself angry with them, it's been because I've had a selfish perspective, and I feel silly for being frustrated with them for trying to help me succeed.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."
Ephesians 6:1

This verse couldn't be much clearer.  It's underlined in my Bible.  I had it taped to the wall back home.  It's something I've struggled with for a long time.  It's something almost everyone struggles with.  To me, it's always seemed that I have to many rules to follow, but I'd rather have a hundred restrictions than none at all.  Someone who I respect oodles and oodles told me just the other day that I'm lucky to have parents who are involved enough to punish me when I screw up and push me when I slack off.  There are people out there who are entirely self-motivated, directed, and supported, and I'm blessed to have the motivation, direction, and support of two God-fearing individuals who, though I've betrayed their trust and failed to meet their expectations again and again, have never given up on me.

The title and introduction to the blog don't make any sense.  I know.  But I'm getting there.  My old youth pastor, who has become infamous for his ridiculous metaphors, once said to me during a Bible Study that a train travels a long way before it gets to its destination, but if you follow it all the way back to the station, it's origin is always the same.  With my parents, that origin is love, and, even though by the time the train gets to me it may not seem like it, everything they do to and for me is because they love and want what's best for me.  Sometimes, it's hard to believe, but that's because you can't see the station from the destination.  While this may not have been the analogy I would have used, I think it does a decent job describing the situation.

Thanks, parents.  I'm not as grateful as I should be-- I promise I'm working on it.

## Saturday, August 17, 2013

### Words

"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.  For in many things we offend all.  If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.  Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, withersoever the governor listeth.  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.  Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tames, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

James 3:1-8

I have struggled with my words ever since the sixth grade.  I'll try to explain why that was when it happened.  Up until that point, I could get away with being awkward and weird, largely because I was ignorant to the fact that I didn't fit in, but also because no one cared about cool or not cool at New Castle Elementary.  When I got to Kempslanding, however, I began to realize that I wasn't popular or outstanding in any good kind of way.  But I was still a weirdo.  Well, I didn't want to be alienated, but I couldn't pass for particularly strong, athletic, or even smart in that sea of scholars, so I decided I had some conforming to do.  One of the ways that I sought acceptance was with my words.  It was cool to curse, and by the end of my first year at that school, if coolness was calculated by curses per sentence, I was the coolest kid in Kempslanding.

What an enormous toll that took on me.  The three years that I spent at that school truly tried my faith.  I didn't live for the God I worshiped in the Sunday services.  It took a few summers at the WILDS (a Christian camp in South Carolina) and years of accumulated guilt to lead me to change my ways (or words, rather).  Sometime during my eighth grade year, or maybe before it, I decided I was done with foul language, so I quit cold turkey one day.  And now I'm the best Christian ever, right?

James doesn't say that he who doesn't curse is a perfect.  He says that "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man."  I'm sure every person reading this knows that I come far from meeting that criteria.  Last year, I looked a friend of mine in the eye and told her to cry.  And she did.  She had been having a bad day, and though I had been kidding, I brought tears to that poor girl's eyes.  Now that's setting a good, Christian example.    When you've earned yourself the label of the "Christian kid," your reputation is important.  I've made mistakes with more than just words that I've payed for when confronted by people who challenge my beliefs.  Your light begins to cast a pretty big shadow, when you're given a laundry list of your sins in front of someone to whom you've been trying to witness.

Long story short, the tongue truly does rule the whole body.  Your words reflect your heart, and they also affect the way others view you and your God.

## Saturday, August 10, 2013

### Lasts

I'm in a weird place.  In less than two weeks, I'll be posting a lot of the same things I'm seeing on my friends' Facebook walls-- "Last night at youth group... Last box of clothes... Last time pulling out of this driveway..."  In less than two weeks, I'll be gone.  In less than two weeks, I'll be working on my degree at The College of William and Mary.  And, honestly, that doesn't scare me.  I'm not scared of setting up my dorm, meeting my room mate, or sharing a bathroom.  I'm not scared of late nights studying or putting all of my efforts into breaking the curve.  I'm not scared of making it to class on time, remembering my due dates, or keeping my head together.  I'm not scared of leaving my family - -  most of them have left me already.  I'm more afraid of the things I'm leaving behind. And all of this has gotten me thinking.

Believe it or not, there are things I'm going to miss.  I'm going to miss Glory and Chad and Jeffrey, the three people in my life to whom I've grown the closest..  I'm going to miss my church, which has given me more love, prayer, and support than I've realized over the past few years.  I'm going to miss having a car to jump into and drive to wherever I need to go.  I'm going to miss my friends from school, who, though I haven't seen them much this summer, have been in my thoughts and prayers as I've been preparing for college.  I'm going to miss cabinets full of food.  I'm going to miss milk in the fridge.  I'm going to miss having things handed to me and having people come up behind me to clean up my messes.  But I'm ready to take responsibility.

If I had a dollar for every time my dad told me that I'm going to flunk out of college, I would have a lot of dollars.  Maybe I will; he's right lots of the time.  But maybe God doesn't have failure in his plans for me at William and Mary.  I plan to work hard, study long, and pray without ceasing (because the Lord knows I'll need His help).  Despite what lots of people seem to think, I do recognize the things I need to change to become a big boy who can look out for himself.  I do know that this is a critical point in my life.  I do understand that if I screw this one up, there is no other clean slate to follow; I've marked all of those up, already.  I get it.  And I'm ready to fix my faults and face this new frontier.  But not quite yet.

Before I leave, there are still some things I'd like to do.  A few last things.  I need to sing my last worship song at my church, and it would be great to have another sleepover with the Floods.  I want to stay up late testing bad deck ideas with Jeffrey, then take a deck that actually works to locals the next morning.  I'd like to take another shower in the bathroom I don't have to share, but maybe I won't because two weeks isn't all that long.  I still need to hug my girlfriend one more time and say goodbye to all of the people I'm going to miss.

It's not like I'm going away forever.  I'm just leaving for a few months at a time over the course of four years to start building a life of my own.  And, honestly, I'm excited, so instead of throwing in the towel beforen the referee even blows the whistle to start, I'm going to keep walking down the path to which I feel I've been led, and we'll see where it takes me.

## Wednesday, July 31, 2013

### The Unbroken Path

I recently attended the Eagle Scout Ceremony of a friend of mine, Daryl Intravatola, and there was a tradition that struck me.

When Daryl was awarded with his Eagle Scout Neckerchief, his fellow scouts tied it around his neck on top of the existing neckerchief from his previous rank, while a man at the podium explained that the path to Eagle Scout is an unbroken one, that the scout has moved seamlessly through the ranks, from one experience to the next, up to this point.  Once the white cloth was tied around Daryl's neck, the yellow one was removed, and a smooth, unbroken transition was made to the prestigious title of Eagle Scout.  This boy scout tradition mirrors a trend that exists in our everyday lives.

As a person grows and matures, he or she makes changes daily to adapt to the ever-evolving world around him or her and to better fulfill his or her newly-discovered potential.  What's interesting to me, though, is how quickly these minor shifts in behavior or thinking translate into massive personality or maturity overhauls.  Your best friend from Elementary school doesn't turn into the pot-smoking porn addict over night, just as a baby's babbling doesn't become the polished and practiced words of a politician or public speaker in the blink of an eye.  It's almost impossible to imagine that these transformations could happen, yet Billy, despite what he's been told his whole life, takes his first coughing breath of the stuff when he's in seventh grade and finds himself addicted less than a year later, and little Samuel's fight with Robert on the playground is long forgotten by the time he finds himself running for a position on the United States Senate.  These changes happen little by little, leaving an unbroken trail that leads from where someone started to where he or she wound up.

This gradual change explains why a mother sits crying over old photos whispering through the choking sobs, "she grew up so fast."  It's difficult to notice the transformation when it's happening ever so slowly right in front of your eyes, yet your cousins from New Hampshire are amazed at the difference a year has made in the child you swear hasn't changed a bit since last Christmas when they came.

There isn't that much else that I'd like to unpack about this idea, but it's interesting to think about all the blades of grass that make a pasture or the grains of sand that are collectively called a beach.  Congratulations on your Eagle Scout status, Daryl, and on all of your accomplishments along the unbroken path that you've followed to get there.

## Monday, July 29, 2013

### y=mx+b

This post will be an adaptation of something that I wrote a year ago as a part of a journal that only ever contained three entries; this was the first.

Most people see the world as a structured system that flows consistently by the wind of hard-working, up-standing citizens who've spent their lives in rigid, unwavering dedication to whatever cause got them to where they ended up.  While this may be an accurate depiction of society, it creates a narrow-mindedness that limits the potential of an individual.  The average Joe refuses to humor the concepts of quantum physics or the delicate chess game of modern politics for all of the wrong reasons; he sees himself as unqualified or, I'm going to make up a word here, unqualifiable for such aspects the contemporary world.  What he doesn't realize is that all of the people who do involve themselves in the aforementioned practices are only able to because that's what they decided to do.  Basically, people tend to over-complicate things.  They see the little working parts of a system without acknowledging the predictable patterns and functions that govern each cog in the gearbox of the "big picture."

Let's take a few steps back and undress the familiar idea of basic algebra.  Where the average student finds himself throwing formula after formula at the page and reciting the silly properties of mathematical function, the more adept student understands that the entire class boils down to the idea that every line has a name, and that name is y=mx+b, the equation for the slope of a line.  I'm not saying you can pass Algebra without memorizing your properties or learning how to use the quadratic formula, but all of that stuff is just the icing on the Algebra cake.  Of course, my point isn't to simplify Algebra; it's to show that the world is just a math problem, and, fortunately for you, many of the variables cancel.

The equation of the world is not a simple one, like the equation of a line.  The world's problem has infinitely many variables raised to innumerable powers locked away in layer after layer of parenthesis and mathematical operations, but, like I said before, many of the variables take care of each other and make the equation easier to work with.  Food is processed, bagged, and shelved.  Clean water flows from the tap at the turn of a handle.  Even those out of work and money can find refuge in a homeless shelter.  All the rest is luxury, and everything is at your fingertips.  If you need to know something, type it into a computer.  If you need to build something, buy the materials from a store and get to work.  If you want to study something, enroll at a college, and bury your face in a book.  There are countless ways to easily access any highway to the destination at which you wish to arrive, and claiming your own incompetence is nothing short of giving up, only you haven't even tried, yet.

Obviously, we can't do anything we want to; I'm probably never going to grow wings and fly, but if I want to see the world from the clouds, I could always purchase a plane ticket.  Today, there is little that we can't achieve, it's just a matter of plugging the numbers you want into the variables you control.

## Saturday, July 27, 2013

### Shaking a Bag

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has shaken up a bag of trail mix, trying to get more of the delicious M&Ms to the top of the bag, only to find that my next handful contained more nuts and raisin clumps than chocolate drops.  It's likely that I'm also not the first to wonder why that is.  There are a few good ways to explain the tendency of larger objects to rise in a mixture; there's the physical way, which I can't claim to fully understand, but can assure you is true, and there's the other way.

This planet is an enormous, diverse bag of trail mix.  God created the Earth, and it began to shake.  As the big ball of dirt and water spun around its axis and circled the Sun, the M&Ms, the nuts, and the raisins began to separate themselves.  We'll look at the humans as raisins, the animals as nuts, and the plants as M&Ms.  Most people tend to clump together, we get lonely by ourselves, and flock to others for security, comfort, and entertainment--overall fulfillment.  When we do, we begin to form little communities, and these raisin clumps climb to the top of the bag.  Animals, setting aside the fact that humans technically do fall into this broad category, are very good at surviving and don't focus on much else.  If they band together, it's for the purpose of ensuring the next meal (or that they won't become one for another animal), and so they never truly stick together like people do.  Despite that lions have their prides and birds their flocks, they're quite separated creatures, and tend to fall beneath the raisin clumps at the top of the mix.  That being said, a tiger could kill a man, should he be separated from his friends; likewise, a raisin could find itself below a nut, if it never clumped up with another of its kind.  After all, I've never seen a bag of trail mix neatly separated into three distinct layers.  Bringing up the rear, or landing at the bottom, are the plants.  Unfortunately for whoever bought this snack, the M&Ms are simply the most delicious thing in the mix.  In the same way, plants get picked on in nature.  People eat salad.  Giraffes chomp on leaves.  Cows... you get the point.  Plants get eaten, and they don't eat animals--not really.  They're always at the bottom of the food chain and, similarly, the bottom of the bag.  We literally step on them every time we go outside.

Cool story, the world has order to it.  But I want to zoom in because no one really cares about the plants or the animals.

Some people just seem to rise to the top.  They all rise for one reason: they're good at what they do.  Einstein was a really good thinker.  Fabio was really good looking.  Michael Jordan was really good at basketball.  It doesn't matter what you're good at, as long as you excel.  That's what makes a person big in the bag of societal trail mix.  I realize that I've just reduced the greatest human achievers to raisin clumps, but that's essentially what they become: a part of the mixture that's no more important than any other one to achieving the sweet and salty taste, but that reaches the top simply because of its size, and as a result, they get eaten.  It's a strange and sad way to put it, but that's the reality; the pressure of fame and status in society often breaks people under its weight, leaving it up to historians to tell a more attractive and appreciable tale than the clusters of dried grapes often deserve.

Why would you even want to be a raisin clump?  The idea isn't so bad.  But when you're not expecting the sticky, sweet mass in what you thought was just an average handful, it makes you want to spit and sputter.  But being an M&M would be the worst.  First of all, nobody likes to be at the bottom, and, to make matters worse, you get picked on by the guy who bought the bag.  Being the sweetest treat in the mix means being the most oppressed citizen in society.  You get your rear end constantly booted by the man himself, and you never asked for this fate.  Personally, I'd want to be a nut.  They may not be the most delicious.  They may not be on the top.  But they're the only salty among the sweet and turn what would have been an indulgent, fattening treat into an energy-supplying balance of proteins and carbohydrates.  What a role.  I'm sure I don't have to draw out the parallel that can be drawn between the nut and the working, middle-class citizen.

In summary, don't be an M&M, keep in mind that it's okay be a clump of raisins, just understand that, at some point, you'll make someone cringe, and never forget the nut is the most valuable and least appreciated member of the trail mix team.