Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Flapping of Tiny Wings

The title of the week's post is a reference to what is commonly known as "The Butterfly Effect."

I'm not referring to the movie The Butterfly Effect, nor am I referring to the movie A Sound of Thunder, which was based on Ray Bradbury's short story of the same name. Both the movies and the short story were centered on the idea that going back in time and making a seemingly insignificant change could result in drastic changes in the present. The movie The Butterfly Effect, despite its title, doesn't feature any actual butterflies, although it was obviously inspired by the Bradbury story, which does feature an actual butterfly.

I always used to think the whole butterfly effect thing was named after the Bradbury story, but according to Wikipedia, both the idea and the name were conceived of long before Ray Bradbury was even born. And, as it turns out, the real butterfly effect doesn't have anything to do with time travel -- it has to do with small changes in a system ultimately causing significantly greater -- and often unpredictable -- changes.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that I didn't post anything last weekend, and I don't really have anything to talk about this weekend either. But the last time I didn't post anything for two weekends in a row, there were significant consequences. You'd think that if an insignificant little blog like mine weren't updated regularly, it wouldn't cause any major changes in world events, but the last time I let this happen, a young man in Kuala Lumpur got in a fight with his older brother, an elderly woman living in Tokyo accidentally dropped and broke a vase, and a bicyclist in Salem, Oregon rode his bike through a red light and was given a ticket.

Those are just a few of the minor mishaps that occurred. There were also a fair number of accidental deaths, traffic accidents, and robberies.

Of course, not every change was bad. I'm happy to report that healthy babies were born, students did well on tests, and dogs throughout the world enjoyed playing the game of "fetch" with their owners.

It's hard to determine if the good outweighed the bad, but that isn't really the point. The point is that having the power to alter the course of world events -- even if unwittingly -- is a lot of responsibility to place on one person. And that is why it's so important for me to post something today. And having posted this, I must now attend to other matters that demand my attention.

But before I go, I must apologize to the man in Kuala Lumpur and the woman in Tokyo if my failure to post anything twice in a row caused you any inconvenience. I have mixed feelings about apologizing to the bicyclist, however. In all my years of bicycling, I've never once run a red light. I've never even failed to stop at a stop sign, and I can't imagine anything that would compel me to -- not even the butterfly effect. So I'm not apologizing to the bicyclist.

As a matter of fact, I'm rescinding my apologies to the guy in Kuala Lumpur and the woman in Tokyo as well, because now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I never let two weekends go by without posting anything.