Southern California and the Universal Law of Conservation of Mess


Southern California and the Universal Law of Conservation of Mess
by Shazde Asdola Mirza

This year was hard on me, with my dad’s stuff and all the associated emotional and material loads. So, now that I am back in S. CA; kind friends are inviting me places and showing me attractions. It is fun and funny to again become a tourist where you were many years ago.  

LA is so silly and sure of itself, that reminds me of Shah’s Iran. Nothing seems to change in this seasonless land of dryness and vanity. It conserves them all … good, bad and ugly. Further south is much better, more civilized and urbane.  

In San Diego, they take me to see the old navy aircraft carriers. Those colossal monuments to the American might, that are now sitting peacefully for visitors to come and receive their fair share of shock-and-awe. Then a political discussion breaks out, as it’s so often the case when you place two Iranians at a distance of 10 yards or less. As our tradition goes, it quickly descends into a bitching-and-complaining session over “what was so much better before and what is so awful messy today”.  

At night, all that experience makes me think: “were things better before or worse”? Was the world a better place 50 years ago, 100 years ago or 1000 years before? Screw me, but in 1961, didn’t we come so close to a full-scale nuclear war of mutual-annihilation over the tiny Cuba? In 1911, wasn’t Iran gripped by a tremendous amount of civil and foreign war, which created large-scale famines and deaths? Back in 1011, wasn’t everyone killing, raping and torturing everyone else, under the name of religion, race or nationality?  

Then, like Moses on Mount Sinai, it downs on me that lo and behold: “Mess is not created and Mess is not destroyed, Mess just turns from one form to another”!  

I am so elated with my new scientific discovery, which is going to rival the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy, that I call a learned friend in Caltech to check the math and help with the patent application! But my dear Mo just has a chuckle and orders me to Google something called the “2nd law of thermodynamic”; which I do and call him after an hour for more explanation, because honestly wtf is thermodynamic?  

Mo patiently explains that the 2nd law means that actually “only if we are really really lucky, the Mess is conserved, but most of the times, Mess increases by whatever we do”! Questions the now deflated ego of mine, “but aren’t we now living in better houses, nicer cities, better civilizations than 1000 years ago”? Mo agrees, but says that all that Mess cleaning comes at the cost of even more Mess generation somewhere else.

Never pay too much attention to what a university prof says, or they will be fucking your ears for the next two hours … free of charge! So now I know that when we leisurely drive along the “59 mile track”, our clean and brisk experience is offset by all the gas that is burnt, depreciation of the car and the silent wear-and-tear of our own bodies. Anyhooo … I place the speakerphone on mute, and start playing backgammon and listening to the “Radio Golha” oldies, while Mo keeps blabbering about the science of Mess and something called the Carnot cycle.


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نیکولا سعدی کارنو




by incognito on

I am not a fan of Jonah Goldberg, but I think the following quote from him sums up what you wrote about, as far as we – the Tehr Angeles denizens– are concerned.

Nostalgia, wrote the great sociologist Robert Nisbet, "is even at best a rust of memory, often a disease." Nostalgia causes us to exaggerate what we liked about the past while editing out what we didn't.

We have amassed a 2500-year load of Mess that we are more than willing to dish out to others – be it Eingilisa, or Arab invaders – when we cannot edit out.

My apologies for quoting two unabashed conservatives to make a point. Welcome back to So Cal.

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Dear Friends: thanks for your comments

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Dr. Noury jan: for sure that Sadi was a 3rd cousin of our own Saadi, twice removed from the grand father side!

Solo dear: sorry but we have to catch up with that Chelok some other time. 4th law: iranians may forget many things, but not a free chelo kabab.

Bad Stories for Bad Kids

Flying Solo

The three laws to live by

by Flying Solo on

Dearest Shazde,

What an intriguing admission.  Once again you impress me with your humility.

I would add that the three laws of thermodynamics indeed work in cyber space, as evidenced on this very site.

First Law: Energy is not created, but merely transferred from one form to the other. Here we have energy (heat) from ghormeh sabzi and gheymeh polo transfer to keyboard banging (motion).

Second Law: Entropy is always negative, i.e. disorder is the order of the day.  No matter how hard the administration of this site attempts to introduce order to the site, the tendency of the readership is towards chaos.

Third Law: All action and reaction stop when temperature drops to absolute zero. This is felt on those chilly blogs, which, inadvertantly are filled with truth and yet draw no reaction from the crowd; the latter being more prone to keyboard bang on stuff and nonsense instead.  

 I am sorry to have missed you when you visited my neck of the woods. I'd have gladly bought you a Cummerbund Kabab in Westwood.  :)

M. Saadat Noury

Dear Shazde Asdola Mirza

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for sharing your excellent article on your great observations. It is documented that the basic theory of Carnot cycle was developed by Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot. Does this guy has any relationship with our famous Iranian poet Saadi? Is it worth to investigate?!