Strength in Damage: Chaotic influences aren't all that bad.

posted 1999-Dec-13
I was waiting in the Doctor's office one day, amusing myself by looking at the floor. What I saw were a set of square tiles where each row (or column, depending on which way was north) had been offset from its neighbors:
Tiles Offset By Row

(The pattern was also rotated 45° with respect to the walls, but I was quick-witted enough to rotate it back with my wicked-smart brain.)

Looking at it, my brain tried to push the blocks around. (I was bored, see?) And I craftily noticed that pushing the blocks in one direction was relatively easy:

Sliding Along a Row

but I found sliding them in the other direction much more difficult:

Can't Slide Offset Blocks

(Imagine the consternafication of my fellow patients when the floor tiles kept sliding around underneath them! I slyly hid a grin, lest I betray my part in their motion.) I thought to myself, if these blocks were aligned in a perfect grid, boy wouldn't I be able to have some fun pushing them all around! But notice...the very instant they're not perfectly aligned...as soon as one row is offset by just a little bit, life becomes so much harder!

I quickly ran home (shrieking in terror, along with the rest of the occupants of the seemingly-posessed doctor's office) and built a wall out of square cinder blocks, erecting it on a soft, sandy spot of my yard. Jumping up and down on one section of the wall, I caused it to sag:

My Sagging Wall

"Oh dear," said my neighbors, who weren't really all that sad to see it happen.

I made biting motions at them, knocked down the wall, tamped-flat the earth, and created it in all its gridded-beauty once again:

Cleanly Built, Squarely Cut!

I caused a slight local earthquake, and it jiggled my wall all about:

What a Mess!

"Oh dear," said my neighbors again, this time with a slight smirk on their faces.

"Ha HA!" yelled I, and leaped upon my wall, jumping up and down with mighty force. Did it budge? Did it sag? Of course not!

Strength in Damage

Is there a point to this story?

I feel like there should be one, something which talks about how cold-pressing steel hardens it because you force the internal arrangement of the molecules out of alignment. Some far-reaching statement claiming that there's often a greater strength in a chaotic system than in an ordered one, something that would make The Man keep an eye on me. A moral which says "the things which disturb the order of our lives are the very things which make us tougher".

I know the moral is here somewhere...

Anonymous
05:42PM ET
1999-Dec-22
How about, "Gavin is a certified nut!"?

(Or should that be ...nut,"? Maybe ...nut!?" I don't know...the rules for puctuating Sentences Culminating in Quotes have always perplexed my poor little ol' brain...

GREAT SITE! Keep it rolling...
Anonymous
03:12PM ET
2000-Aug-25
i Like it. it gives me hope that all this chaos is somehow strenghening- In Chinese Stress is made up of the symbols "Danger" + "Opportunity"",2000-08-25 14:30:54
63,42,17,"

I just thought of another example. When a new, particularly infectious computer virus comes out, it goes crazy in the ordered system and runs rampant. These virii are almost always based to exploit holes in the Windows operating system, and since I use a Macintosh, I have no worries at all.


If everyone's computer runs the same operating system configured the same way, the entire world is a sitting duck for a massive virus attack. But the more diversity there is, the harder it is for one virus to hit everyone.


If every person held the same beliefs, and behaved the same way, it would be easy to for corporations and psychiatrists to manage them. And would leave us wide open to mass molding. That we are all different makes each harder to understand, but it makes the whole more robust and resilient.

Gavin Kistner
11:20AM ET
2000-Dec-08
And put another way:

http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20001027
Ben Lipkowitz
09:57AM ET
2002-Apr-06
And if we destroy everything on the planet except rice, corn and chickens, everything will die.
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