Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the butterfly effect “as a property of chaotic systems (such as the atmosphere) by which small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system.”
Mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz found that a very small change in initial conditions could create a significantly different outcome as he studied how data, that had been rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner, greatly impacted the outcome. In other words, a very small change in the initial conditions created significantly different outcomes.
The concept, that small causes may have large impacts to weather patterns was also studied by French mathematician and engineer Henri Poincaré and American mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener.
The butterfly effect concept is now often applied to any situation where a small change is supposed to be the cause of larger consequences.
Last week, Sue & I traveled to North Jersey for another granddaughter’s birthday. What we noticed as we drove the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway was that traveling the speed limit made us a “road hazard.” Even traveling 5 or 10 miles over the posted speed limit saw our car being passed as if we were standing still.
It made us wonder, how fast does one need to exceed the speed limit to be pulled over by a New Jersey State Trooper? Does everyone breaking the law, make it alright? Does speeding in one’s car have implications for other aspect of our lives?
Bicycling on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City
Growing up, my family enjoyed vacationing in Atlantic City. I remember rising early in the morning and heading to one of the many bicycle rental shops to ride the boards as the sun came up. In the 60s, bike riding was only permitted between the hours of 6 and 10am, and anyone caught riding a bike after 10am was immediately escorted off the boardwalk.
In July, 2016, the hours for riding bikes on the boardwalk were extended from 6am to 12 Noon.
But Sue & I, along with other pedestrians would find ourselves constantly dodging bicycles at all hours of the day and night as we strolled the boards and no one seemed to be enforcing the rules.
But it wasn’t just bicycles, people were also playing loud music, drinking alcoholic beverages, riding skateboards and walking their dogs along this world famous boardwalk.
Simple rules for the good of all, and no one enforcing them. Did these people think that because they can exceed the speed limit when driving, they can ignore other regulations too?
Wearing Face Masks
The places we stayed at, all had signs stating that face masks must be worn by everyone while inside the building, yet most people didn’t wear a mask. Some that did wear them, wore them below their nose or under their chin, which amounts to the same thing as not wearing one at all.
Is the reason we can’t get people to do this simple preventative measure, stem from the fact that we are okay with people doing their own thing, regardless of the consequences?
When we were out on the west coast for our oldest granddaughter’s high school graduation in Oak Harbor, Washington, we experienced the heat dome that impacted the northwest back in June.
It was dangerously hot, but it didn’t just happen by itself. It happened because like the disregard we show for speed limits posted on our roadways, the lack of respect we give to rules about when we can ride a bicycle on a crowded boardwalk, whether our discomfort in wearing a face mask outweighs infecting another person with the Delta virus, we continue to ignore the impact we’re having on the climate of the only planet humans have to inhabit.
To change the world, we must all first start with changing ourselves.
Speaking of change…
Radio on the Beach & Boardwalk
Walking the boardwalk, back in the 80s and 90s when I managed radio stations in Atlantic City, you heard radios playing all over the beach and every boardwalk store you entered, but that was then. Today what you hear are advertisements for casino shows, restaurants, and other coming attractions coming from digital signs with speakers placed every couple of feet along the boardwalk or music coming from the speakers placed in front of the various boardwalk casinos that broadcast messages to come inside.
Again, it’s worth noting that in each place we stayed, our rooms came equipped with high-speed internet and flat screen high definition television sets, but not a radio in sight.
Where Have All the DJs Gone?
Spinning the radio dial in my car, I was sad to hear nothing but songs, commercials, promos and jingles. The radio personality has vanished from most radio stations.
Pipe Organs and Radio Stations
At 12Noon every weekday, Boardwalk Hall offers a free 30-minute organ concert featuring the World’s Largest Pipe Organ. Sue and I have walked through the inside of this mammoth instrument and enjoyed hearing it stir our souls.
It occurred to me that maybe the reason I so love giant pipe organs is because sitting at the console of one these beasts, is like being surrounded by turntables, cart machines, reel-to-reel recorders and the master control board at a radio station.
Nothing happens from either, until a talented performer takes command and makes the magic happen.
I’m happy to report that we were entertained by a 19-year old organist last week who made the Midmer-Losh Boardwalk Hall pipe organ with 33,112 pipes and 449 voices that are all controlled from a seven-keyboard console on the arena’s main stage come alive.
I only wish I could say the same for radio stations we listened to, which today all are running without a new generation of broadcasters plying their trade. Most are simply running on auto-pilot.