Fire

Picture a chaotic scene. I’d assume that probably eight out of ten of you just thought of something that had fire in it. A scene like 9-11 or maybe even a hellish scene, regardless, fire is included. To me, this is ironic. Fire is such a simple thing in chemistry. The formula for combustion is: some carbon fuel + O2 –> CO2 + H2O. Reactants and products, inputs and outputs. However, when you put fire into a situation, it automatically turns chaotic and people panic. A sleeping, peaceful family? Throw some fire into the mix, and everyone is crying, panicing and you have a scene set for a tragedy. The scene below shows how quickly fire can change things. One moment, a barn is standing, the next, the hay, manure, and finally the wooden frame of the barn are engulfed in flame.

 

I find it so strange that this simple chemical equation can cause such devastation. If you think about it, many chaotic situations are the exact same way. A stampede of animals, a tornado, a tsunami, all relatively simple things to understand, yet they cause so much devastation. To me, I would think it would be the opposite way. Until I thought about it more, it made sense that chaotic situations would come from complicated chemical reactions or engineering. The reason I think this is is that these simple things are out of our control. We cannot control when fires start, or natural disasters happen. We can do our best to prevent fires, but even trying our best wont stop them all. Chaos is so simple, but it invokes such devastation.

The Debates

In September and Early November I was paying a lot of attention to the election and especially the presidential debates. My first reaction was disgust. The amount of disrespect the candidates had for each other was ridiculous. The entire thing was a chaotic mess of each candidate and the debate leader each trying to control the debate. If you watch from about the 34th minute to the 35th minute (I obviously don’t expect you to sit there and listen to the entire hour and a half debate), you can see just one of the many examples, where the moderator is trying to stop each candidate to stop talking, while each of the candidates are still arguing with each other. You realize just how ridiculous the two candidates are being, when you hear how much of the vote is actually decided by the debates.

In political scientist, James Stinson’s, study, Tides of Consent, he reveals that close to none of the vote is actually decided by the debates. So, basically the presidents are just arguing for pride.

In my personal opinion, someone running the country should at least have enough decency to respect when others are talking, and understand when it is their place to talk. Imagine a president going into another country and just interrupting the leader of the foreign country the entire time. Respect earns respect, and neither candidate seemed to understand this during the debates. I have always stuck by my belief that more important than anything, a president should be a good person. They should be someone who is personable, and seems all around friendly. However, after watching these debates it seemed like each president thought that they were above everything else. They did not even respect the moderator. How can a president represent the populous, if they cannot even act appropriately in a controlled environment?

I know that the presidency is about more than respect, it’s about policies, charisma, and if you can put a whole country onto your back, but something about those arguments really just irked me.

The Blues

When you think of blues, you probably think of either some big black woman scatting and belting out some gospel inspired comfort lyrics or Eric Clapton, but I’m here to talk about chaotic blues. Contrary to popular belief, blues does not always sound slow and depressing. Music from artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, and Jimi Hendrix (might get some argument on whether Hendrix played blues or not, but I definitely think that he did) is upbeat, and I love to roll down my windows and drive to some dirty blues. Every one of these musicians primarily used three tools: The blues scale, slurs, and flurrying.

It is interesting because that one blue note (called the blues note, also known as a flat 3rd) in the diagram above changes a solo from having just a classic rock feel, to a muddy, dirty blues feel. That one note is the one that clashes with the rest of the solo, yet still works for some odd reason. Pretty much any blues musician, even singers will use these blues notes to spice up their vocal routine and keep the listener interested because that note just stands out to your ear.

Slurs make blues “cool.” Guitar players usually call slurs hammer-ons, pull-offs, or slides. This technique just adds a feel to the music that livens it up. A classic SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan) technique is sliding up to start a riff. If one listens closely to his solos, you can hear it in probably 1 out of 10 riffs he plays. Personally, I love starting riffs off like this it’s such a classic sound that is now a staple in blues music.

Everything I have described so far makes a blue solo, but flurrying is what makes it chaotic. Flurrying is basically just playing riffs really fast. This is a signature of Joe Bonamassa. He plays his entire solos with flurrying. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix would mix flurrying in with slowhand blues, which is why they are so renown, but Joe Bonamassa is probably the most chaotic blues player that I know. The strange thing is that he is also more knowledgable about music than either SRV or Hendrix. For some reason, even though he knows a lot of theory, he decides to play more chaotically than SRV or Hendrix (don’t get me wrong, they definitely are chaotic blues).  This sort of reminds me of when English teachers say, authors can break the rules because they already know all of them.

I’d like to end with a classic blues video of Stevie Ray Vaughan absolutely shredding. Hopefully you can hear a little bit of the techniques I talked about above!

 

 

Pandora’s box

Pandora’s box or rather a large jar, which was what it really was, originated in a Greek myth where all of the evil in the world was released after Pandora opened it. It was sort of like the Greek’s explanation for sin. In modern times there are also figurative pandora’s boxes. War creates the most chaos out of anything else in the present day. The declaration of war foreshadows the words death, destruction, and cruelty. The chatter of machine guns and the sound of explosions always come with war, and personally I cannot think of anything more chaotic than these two sounds. The sounds destroy families and homes. There have also been times throughout history where there were kids shooting guns and launching mortars who did not even agree with the wars. They were drafted into the war, and there was no escape from it.
Pandora’s box was not all about the chaos and sin though, it was also about the temptation of the box. Even though war is so chaotic and destructive some are still drawn to it. Movies are filmed about war all the time and they make quite a bit of money. Even if you are not openly drawn to war, everyone is a little bit curious about it, and it is part of everyone’s lives. Our country, the United States wouldn’t have even been free if it wasn’t for the Revolutionary War. Blacks would not have their rights if it wasn’t for war. So, even though the declaration of war lets loose a slew of evils, if war did not exist, it would be impossible for anything to get done.

Upsetting the Balance.

Sometimes all that we need is a little chaos. After a nice orderly day at school, there are days where I would like to come home and listen to some chaotic music like this song by Cymbals Eat Guitars:

The feedback and the crunchy, yet still somehow slightly jangling chords mixed with the singer’s rushed, and shouty voice, somehow send a calm over me. On some days, this music is even more calming than folk or acoustic music, just because it upsets the balance that I have had to endure. I can only take so much order. Everyone has those days where they just wish that they could tip the scale a little too far, and spill everything all over everything else.

This is the role that chaos plays in our live. Order is no fun. If you want everything to be orderly all the time, you might as well be a robot! I for one would rather live in a life of chaos and freedom than order and control. Take the novel a Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for example. Most people are completely okay with order and the World state controlling their lives. However, as soon as John gets a taste of the freedom that he sees on the New Mexico reservation, he craves it with every fiber of his being. Huxley and other authors like him already feel like there is too much control over our lives, and I tend to agree with them. Everything seems to be set in stone from the day we are born. If you are a white middle-upperclass male, you are going to college. If you don’t, everyone gives you strange looks, or talks about how much of a wasted talent the kid was. I personally want to go to college, but it is nothing that I was forced into. I am thrilled for the opportunity to be able to make a contribution to society through my education, but some people just go to college because “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” Maybe these people just need to take a step back and realize that you can make a contribution in other ways. Maybe they will end up going to college, but maybe, just maybe, they will find their calling in something totally unexpected that will upset the whole balance of their lives.

Freedom Without Responsibility

Recently I have been thinking a lot about this concept as it was the topic of my college essay. I never realized. After thinking about it for a while, I came to the realization that freedom without responsibility is quite simply, chaos. We see this everyday in life, whether it be a neglected neighborhood, or a neglected house, without someone taking on the responsibilities in these places, they fall into disarray very quickly. Below is a video with which many adults can relate. In the video an Icelandish man talks about the responsibility of debts and loans. He believes that one of the main causes of the financial troubles throughout the world are that people do not take out responsible loans or mortgages. In the United States, we have seen how chaotic debt can get, with national debt going up four trillion dollars in the last four years. If the United States can just get control of how loans are given out, maybe we can erase some of the debt that is piling up.

The Chaos Theory

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The Chaos Theory, also more commonly known as the butterfly effect, explains why balance is so delicate. According to science, it is extremely difficult to predict something long-term because one small detail could be changed and the entire prediction that a scientist came up with would be completely incorrect. Say, an unpredicted earthquake changes the rotation of the earth ever so slightly to slow it down, now any scientists prediction of time with respect to how something occurs would be incorrect. 

Etymology of Chaos

Chaos comes from the Greek word Khaos, meaning “Gaping Void.” In ancient times chaos was often considered as being void of anything, which is funny because in the present day, we consider chaos being too much activity. For example, compared to Morris, Connecticut, many people would consider New York City chaotic, but compared to the ancient definition, Morris would be much more chaotic than New York City.