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March 8, 2000

The 2nd Law of MoronDynamics

Ted Mooney <mooney@finishing.com>

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics rules nature and can be expressed in many ways, one of which is "no process is possible whose sole result is transfer of heat from a cooler body to a hotter one".

Engineers express the 2nd Law in two words: "Entropy increases" (speaking inexactly, entropy is disorder or randomness).

I'm an engineer myself, but I was first exposed to the 2nd Law at about age 5, on which occasion I expressed it as: "Not fair! and I'm TELLin'!" See, my big sister had the playing cards, and when I demanded to be allowed to play, she said okay but we'd play a new game called 52-Pickup and she would be the dealer.

It's much easier to scatter cards than to pick them up again . . . to break things than to fix them . . . to wreck a structure than to build one. The 2nd Law in action.

And as the U.S. "primary season" wound down to its ugly close, the 2nd Law warned us that it would be very easy for a candidate to quote a half dozen of his opponent's votes & statements out of context in 30-second attack ads -- and impossible to restore the context within the attention span of the average moron. Unfortunately, politicians really are smarter than the rest of us, they understand this 2nd Law of MoronDynamics. They know that despite our claims to hate sicko attack ads they will continue to work extremely well because we morons fail to see the 52-Pickup style dynamic of it.

- - -

To relate the 2nd Law to the world of finishing, we've all seen inquiries on the finishing.com Hotline page as well as at other sites and on the science newsgroups to this effect: "Pleeze email all detals of all aspects of metal finishig: types, use, costs, advatages/disadvantages." Or the popular student question: "What juice cleans pennies best? I need it tonite!".

I'm happy to help inquirers when I can, and our other readers demonstrate that they are too. But it's a fool's game of 52-Pickup to spend serious time trying to assemble an answer for a question dealt by an inquirer who had no intention of spending more than a few seconds on his problem himself. So if anybody occasionally decides to just answer a query with "2nd Law" or "52-Pickup", we'll understand. And if you see that reply from me on a bad hair day, you know what it's about.

By now you've guessed: Super Tuesday was not a good hair day 'round these parts .


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