Dec 102002
Authors: Ken Hamner

First of all, I want to express my severe disappointment with Subway for no longer offering pepper-jack cheese, replacing it with Swiss. They made me very sad.

I am happy, however, that it is the end of the semester, Christmas is near, and the year is coming to a close. Many things have happened to us as a nation this year, some of which have fragmented the “United We Stand” stance we so readily embraced not long ago. I believe one of the problems is that we no longer have any symbols to rally behind. While classic symbols such as the peace symbol, the Statesican flag, Uncle Sam and, crazy as it may seem, even our president have their place, I believe we need something new, something fresh, something powerful. We need a new symbol, and if it is seasonal, all the better. The symbol that we need is the fruitcake. When you read the laws of fruitcake-dynamics, you will understand why.

The First Law of Fruitcake-Dynamics states that fruitcake is neither created nor destroyed, it only changes households. This law demonstrates two things: that fruitcake is enduring and that it is a symbol of friendship/family – the gift that continues to give. I mean, sure, it could be symbolic of other things. Take congress, for example. We’ve just changed households and the Republicans seem to be in charge. A lot of people seem to think that with a Republican congress and a republican president, a lot of “stuff” will get done. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that divisions within the party will result in the same kind of petty bickering and gridlock that we’ve seen before. Even our dear Senator Ben Knighthorse Campbell was a Democrat just a few years ago, so it’s reasonable to contemplate how divisions among party members will be revealed in the coming term. If they can eliminate gridlock and push through bills that the people want (i.e. campaign promises), all the power to them. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that both the House and the Senate will remain sticky and tough to chew through in the next two years.

The Second Law of Fruitcake-Dynamics states that fruitcakes will catalytically enhance the general tendency of systems of high order to become disorderly. In other words, entropy must always be increased in any closed system, and fruitcakes can only enhance this effect. Think, for example, when your crazy maternal aunt comes over for the holidays and tries to make your dad eat the results of her old family recipe, so old that it was her great grandma that passed on that very fruitcake to her in the first place. Only chaos can ensue. A lot of our nation’s foreign and domestic policies certainly are in alignment with this law. Take our “Wars on Terror” in Afghanistan, for example, or even Iraq right now. We are taking fairly orderly systems and replacing them with what? It is true that many of these systems are not nice systems. The Taliban and Saddam Hussein are not nice people. Still, we are messing around with other people’s systems. We are introducing much chaos into areas we have little business and not even bothering to introduce stability afterwards. That’s bad. Then there are our own, private wars. These are the wars on crime, the wars on drugs and the wars on poverty. These are wars we’ve been fighting for years and years and years, always thinking that somehow, with enough energy devoted to erasing these things, they will go away. Trouble is, they can’t and they won’t. No matter how orderly we try to make our society, pockets of disorder will always pop out and remind us that the “American Way” isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

The Third Law of Fruitcake-Dynamics states that all molecular motion of a perfectly formed fruitcake can only be halted at a temperature of absolute zero, thereby reducing it’s entropy to zero. This law isn’t very useful because there is no such thing as a perfect fruitcake and it is very hard to reduce the temperature of anything to -273 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, it does remind us that, try as we may to form a “perfect world order,” there will always be problems. These problems will make people sad and they will do mean things like blow up buildings to voice these concerns. Try as we may to root out and erase these mean people, the problems will still be left behind, waiting for someone else to again voice these concerns with fire and explosives.

Is the fruitcake a happy, patriotic symbol that all of us can feel good about? No. Is it an honest symbol of who we are as a nation and where we are going? It certainly is. Luckily, the United States, like the fruitcake, is enduring, and it is likely to be around for a long time to come. The question is, will any one want to have it passed around?

Ken would like to thank all the people who responded to his column this semester, except for the mean people. Further comments may be sent to

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