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PIQUE and the Universe.

by Dear Jon
May 7, 2002

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Sort 137_Dear Jon-PIQUE and the Universe. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Do you realize you did "Sort 135" twice? Shouldn't the second Sort 135 actually be sort 136? Will the next Sort be 136 or 137?

Counting the numbers

Dear Numbers,

That would be the Webmaster’s fault, since I don’t have time to look up which column I’m sorting. Now let’s see what parenthetical note he inserts to sabotage me.

[The Webmaster parenthetically notes: This oversight was corrected early on, and I take full responsibility for trusting Dear Jon to remember what sort he was on, as he apparently was just taking a stab when he submitted "Sort 135" as the title for his last column.]


Dear Jon,

I do have a Ph.D. in Rockology, so please stop referring to me as "Doctor" Spin!

Dr. Spin, Ph.D.

Dear Ph,

Bring it on, man! I can take both you and the Webmaster down with my eyes closed and one hand q3eoi baoi;wer bmauy . (Dear Readers: Sorry. I typed that last bit with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.)

[The Webmaster intervenes: Dear Readers: The PO apologizes for this unwarranted spat between columnists, but for the record, Dear Jon started it. Though he begs to differ, Dear Jon does not own the concept of taking questions from readers. Future attempts at sabotage between these two will be censored (i.e., omitted).]


Dear Jon,

How come road maps are almost impossible to fold up the right way after unfolding them?

Weary traveler

Dear Ary,

There are a number of imponderables that cannot be explained by current scientific models. There is the Map Folding Mystery. There is also the Product Packing Mystery, in which, when you find out your new inkjet printer is missing a ribbon, it is impossible to pack it back into the box and return it to the vendor.

Since these imponderables are common-place, it is obvious that current scientific models for understanding the universe are inadequate. It is time for Dear Jon to propose a new model for understanding reality. I call it the Physical Inconvenience Quotient of Universal Entropy, or PIQUE.

According to the theory of PIQUE, the time-space continuum bends itself relative to the Stress Waves generated by your brain when the future you desire becomes less likely and the future you dread becomes more likely. As the future you dread becomes more likely, your stress waves manipulate matter to provide you with additional obstacles and inconveniences to make the future you desire even less possible.

Suppose that a male person J needs to travel 10 city miles to a location in order to meet an appointment that will enrich him greatly. Suppose J plans to allow 45 minutes to travel those 10 miles. Suppose that J is held up from leaving because an irate vendor is demanding a commitment to pay outstanding bills. Instead of 45 minutes, J now has only half an hour.

The anticipated future AF has now shifted so that the Desired Future DF is less likely than it had been and the Dreaded Future DR is more likely than it was. Even if the Desired Future still has a higher probability, the diminishment of that probability has produced an entropic reaction called a Stress Wave SW.

SW radiates out from J, and the fundamental forces of the universe respond. J unfolds the map to double-check his route. He cannot get the map folded up properly. He curses as time ticks away. He gives up and stuffs the chaotic wad back into the glove compartment, which he knows will upset Mrs. J. who demands a tidy glove compartment.

Because he is specifically in a hurry, he ends up behind a city bus in one lane, shifts to pass and ends up behind a Buick with Alabama plates driven by an elderly in town to visit their nephew and they have never been off the interstate in a town larger than 10,000 people in their whole life. Because he is specifically in a hurry, the lights synchronize to turn red at every intersection, even at half-streets where lights normally turn red about once every half-hour, but when they do, it is for at least five minutes.

Each obstacle presents a diminished value to DF, a corresponding increase to DR, and an entropic reaction in SW. As SW increases in frequency, so do the obstacles. J arrives at the appointment twenty minutes late, thus starting the new relationship on the wrong foot and putting his financial future in peril.

Compare that to J and Mrs. J’s visit to Mrs. J’s parents in the suburbs for dinner. J could not care in the least when he arrives. No stress waves originate. All lights are green. All the traffic is in the other direction. They arrive 20 minutes early.

I am convinced that PIQUE is a fundamental law that governs our universe. PIQUE prevents us from folding maps properly.

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