License Plates and the Entropy of the Universe

So today I’m leaving my house (good riddance, believe me) for the truly final stage in my Dublin stay. Moving, as anyone who has ever moved ever knows, is generally not loads of fun. I have too much stuff and it’s kind of awful. But I’ve managed to pack it all up and the move itself shouldn’t be too crazy. Ugh, anyway. It’s absolutely insane to think that I only have two months left in Ireland. I’ve so, so  loved my time here. All good things, I guess.


Freddy helped me pack

I have a couple more days with the parentals, back in Dublin after gallivanting about Ireland. Then it’s hardcore dissertation time (I don’t want to talk about it). My father and brother are, I’m pretty sure, coming to visit in July, and then it’s… you know, whatever ends up being next. I don’t really want to talk about that either.

I’m going to have a TV interlude before I go into the whole entropy thing, because it’s just a depressing mess. And the preceding mess is bad enough.

Past: Dollhouse (2009-2010)

This super crazy quasi-dystopian show revels in showing us the depths of human nature and how easily we can slide into self-annihilation (how scarily apropos). But it also shows the perseverance of humanity in mind, body, and soul. Maybe there’s hope for us after all, even if it takes almost complete destruction for us to find it.

Present: Sherlock (2010- )

If you’re unfamiliar with this show, I must presume that you live under a rock. Not only is it immensely popular, but it is abundantly worthy of its fame. Absolutely fabulous retellings of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries with a great cast and stellar everything. Watch it now please.

Golly. I know it’s already the end of June, but I kind of just want 2016 to start from the top and give it another go. I mean, my life has been chugging along just fine, but the world at large seems to be having a tough time. Granted, it pretty much always is. But. The election race in the US, Brexit, Syria, Zika, Orlando, Istanbul ect ect ect. I feel like the world missed most of the rehearsals for this year and so all the actors are improvising and everything feels a little chaotic.

To be sure, the status quo can be dangerous–very much so. Obviously, just because it’s the way things are doesn’t mean it’s the way things should be. But by the same token, just because it’s new doesn’t mean that it’s better. It takes wisdom and thought, research and reflection, dialogue and exchange to see things clearly. And, as this article discusses, we’re helplessly blind about things we don’t know we don’t know. The misdirected, if justified, anger against things that are difficult to understand continually confounds me even though the pessimist in me ensures that it never surprises me. The world will go on, whether or not the US passes gun legislation and however Brexit plays out. But it’s a tremendous leap in the dark–not because it’s unknown but because it’s shrouded in the darkness of xenophobia, fear, and selfishness.

And so I turn to license plates for solace. This is going to be absolutely absurd to the vast majority of you, but I promise I actually do care this much about it. In Washington, I was a little bit outraged when we started to transition our plates from the standard XXX-XXX format to XXXXXXX, eliminating the dash for no good reason. Not even bothering to do something like XXX-XXXX. Ugh, it was horrible. You may know this about me: I don’t handle change…well. In Ireland, though, license plates are blissfully ordered and a source of much comfort in a world all too often careening haphazardly into chaos.

In Ireland the format is ##(#)-X(X)-#. The first set is the year. So if the car was licensed in 2008, the plate would begin with 08. A couple of years ago, they added a third digit to indicate which half of the year. So a car licensed in September of 2015 would begin with 152. The next letter or letters indicates the county. It’s either the first letter or, in the case of multiple counties with the same initial, first and last (with a couple exceptions due to overlap). So Kerry is KY while Kilkenny is KK, Waterford is WD (or just W) while Wexford is WX ect. The final number is the number of car that was licensed in that area at that time. So the 5,468th car licensed in Westmeath in the spring of 2016 would have this on their plate: 161-WH-5468 with the Irish for the county (An Iarmhí, in this case) written above it.

Like I said, most of you readers probably could not care less about license plates. But I genuinely find these here in Ireland so oddly comforting. A small bastion of reason in an otherwise bizarre and unpredictable world. Truly stranger than fiction. Say what you will about my mild license plate obsession, but you’d better find your own source of order or you’ll go even madder than you are now (as I’ve said previously, we’re all maniacs already). Of course, there’s also recourse to a much better fortress of certainty and constancy, and he’s made it pretty clear that everyone’s welcome, madness notwithstanding. And so I do not despair.

Here’s to fighting entropy and rebelling against the universe because, as Queen Latifah tells us, just to sit still would be a sin.