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There are a bunch of scientific formulas about increasing entropy. They are all way over my head, although I think they suggest that everything will disintegrate (or be ripped apart if you’re a fan of the macabre) into tiny little nothings drifting around in near absolute zero un de ces beaux jours. The kind of ending the Norse gods would have appreciated, gloomy gusses one and all. Recalling Twain’s adage that knowing you are to be hanged in the morning focuses the mind wonderfully, there is a slim chance that if people are around billions of years from now, they will have figured out some solution, having increased their intelligence exponentially, no doubt without increasing their wisdom one iota. So instead of getting bogged down in real science, I will use a lay definition of the term “increasing entropy” (namely this lay person’s definition). I cite two impeccable sources to justify this. Back in the day (if you think I’m going to actually research this for dates and stuff you’re nuts) a NY produce importer appealed a tax case all the way to The Supreme Court. NY taxed fruit and vegetables at different rates. The importer claimed that botanically tomatoes were fruit and should be taxed at the lower rate. The Court ruled that the science didn’t matter. If commonly tomatoes are considered vegetables and eaten like vegetables, then they are vegetables. For my second impeccable source, I will quote Humpty Dumpty: “When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean — nothing more nor less.”

Therefore increasing entropy is the process of moving from the one to the many, from a state of unity to a state of division, from three television channels to three hundred (all filled with reality shows featuring people I wouldn’t hire to clean my pool), from the harmony of Mozart to Pink Floyd (unless you’re stoned), from pure fresh snow to polluted slush. Speaking of which, Tullulah Bankhead once said that she was as pure as the driven slush, which is neither here nor there, well maybe mostly there. It certainly isn’t here. I don’t think I’d want Tullulah here. Her reputation was worse than Joan Crawford’s, and we know what Bette Davis said about Joan Crawford: “I wouldn’t sit on her toilet.” But I digress. Anyway, I consider increasing entropy to be the quantifiable (but not by me) manifestation of evil in the universe, the festering hand of Satan at work, and nowhere is this more evident than in the proliferation of frivolous choices. We all have a friend who dithers forever over a menu or a wine list. This is the mark of someone who has been touched by evil. They should be banished from civilized society. Fortunately most of those lost souls move to Florida and manage homeowners associations, where they can foreclose on some poor guy who has neglected his lawn because his little girl has cancer.

imageWhen I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chad, Africa, on the southern border of the Sahara, where it’s very hot and dry, we used to play volleyball at the Ambassador’s Residence, and then say five or so of us very dehydrated PCVs would head to a bar. We’d sit outside at tables. When the waitress approached, before she even got to the table, in Chadian Arabic I’d order five cokes and five Galas (the excellent local beer brewed by Heineken). I wasn’t going to permit individual ordering until I’d quenched my thirst. We’d drink the old-fashioned fully loaded cokes first to rehydrate, then the beers. And yes there was usually some grumbling about my high handedness, but I wasn’t going to sit there dying of thirst while some nimrod decided whether or not he/she wanted an orangina. Plus the more complicated the order, the more likely to get screwed up. Nothing was ever left undrunk. Now I just know that there is some self-styled expert out there right now screaming that cokes have caffeine and therefore are not good for rehydration. Nonsense. In Chad you could actually feel your body rehydrating when you drank a coke, and don’t get me started on the proliferation of experts on everything, another sign of increasing entropy. Go to any hot dry place in the world, and you’ll find people drinking lots and lots of tea, usually really strong tea. I’ll give you a gallon of water and a Chadian a teapot full of his strong super sweet tea, send you both out walking in the Sahara, and we’ll see who drops first. But once again I digress.

Now I’m not saying that choices don’t matter. Some do. In the words of Patrick H. T. Doyle, “If Pavlov had tested a cat he would have failed.” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, “We are our choices.” Think about that the next time you order a decaffeinated almond vanilla latte. Perhaps the most troubling satanic abomination to plague the earth in recent years are those ridiculous individual cup coffee makers. I want to pull a Belushi every time I see one. Not only do they create litter with every cup, but they represent the ultimate example of frivolous chaotic self-indulgence, in other words increasing entropy. A good cup of coffee is a beautiful thing, a natural work of art. Making a thousand variations of it, none of which taste as good as the original, is an act of spiritual disintegration.

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline — it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.” (Frank Zappa) And finally I come to beer. Finally I always come to beer. To paraphrase and totally abuse a couple of speeches from Kennedy I think, for someone out on the cutting edge of freedom engaged in the long twilight struggle against increasing entropy, it is disheartening to see respected beer brands like Leinenkugel and Sam Adams brag about all the different kinds of beer they brew. My reaction is to resolve never to drink any of those again. I have this vision of their most experienced brewer working on the vats of their signature beer, when a boss approaches. “Frank, it’s summer, we need you down on the shandy vats. You know, where we dump lemon juice and sugar into the beer. Mergatroid will take over for you here.” I don’t even like the concept of light beer, but I lost that battle long ago. One man can only do so much. Me? Heeding the immortal words of Willie Nelson, “There are more old drunks than old doctors,” I’ll just have a Beck’s. Gotterdammerung y’all!