• Member Since 11th Oct, 2013
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Okay, I admit it, I'm probably not your mom. But odds are I'm old enough to be. Now with Patreon account (under alarajrogers) and short stories on Amazon (under Alara Rogers).

More Blog Posts365

  • Saturday
    Back on track with 52 Project... mostly

    I fell way behind in the last part of 2020. Missed my deadline on Nov. 27, so story 35 came out week 36. Story 36 came out week 37. Story 37 didn't come out until shortly after Christmas, and then I declared an official hiatus where I wasn't going to come back until Jan. 15.

    38 came out today. We should be in week 42, I've officially lost 4 weeks.

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    2 comments · 91 views
  • 3 weeks
    An interesting dream

    I spent most of last night's dream plotting an MLP fic and then figuring out how to file all the serial numbers off and make it original fic. Since I was asleep, it didn't end up being quite as "original" as I might have made it when awake, but it still gave me a lot of ideas.

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    10 comments · 275 views
  • 16 weeks
    Halfway through 52 Project!

    I posted story number 26 yesterday to my writing blog (alarawriting.tumblr.com), so I am halfway through this thing!

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    6 comments · 245 views
  • 22 weeks
    52 Project is still going

    And going, and going... I'm up to story 20 now.

    Since my last update, I've done:

    • "Norris and the Plague Doctors", a novella about a kid in a zombie apocalypse which is thematically more hopeful than most zombie stories (and also has people dressed as plague doctors who are trying to find a cure)

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    3 comments · 411 views
  • 28 weeks
    Wrote, like, three words in June

    I'm exaggerating. It was actually 18K, which sounds respectable until you realize it was a third of the recent chapter of No Escape From Yourself, and one other story, and that's it. Work has been brutal this month.

    I expect things to be more relaxed in July, so I hopefully will get more written.

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    7 comments · 315 views

Chaos != Entropy · 3:34am Jan 31st, 2014

From Wikipedia: Introduction to Entropy

Introductory descriptions of entropy:

Traditionally, 20th century textbooks have introduced entropy as order and disorder so that it provides "a measurement of the disorder or randomness of a system". It has been argued that ambiguities in the terms used (such as "disorder" and "chaos") contribute to widespread confusion and can hinder comprehension of entropy for most students. A more recent formulation associated with Frank L. Lambert describing entropy as energy dispersal.[4]

It always bugs me when I see the term "entropy" used in context with Discord, because given what entropy really is, Discord screws with it bigtime.

Entropy describes a few things. It refers to "waste heat", energy which is not used to do work but which simply disperses. It refers to the tendency of thermodynamic systems to reach equilibrium, where heat transfers from areas with more heat to areas with less until the whole thing is the same temperature. It refers to the type of disorder, specifically, which occurs naturally as part of decay: irreversible, or difficult to reverse, processes. Mixing milk with chocolate to create chocolate milk is an irreversible process; there's basically nothing you can do to get it to separate into milk and chocolate again. Smashing a ceramic plate is semi-irreversible; you could put the pieces back together but it won't ever be solid again. Mixing salt and water is reversible but with a lot of work (you need a still, basically, unless you just want the salt and you're okay with losing the water, and either way you need to add a lot of heat to the system.) Entropy is a natural tendency toward disorder and homogeneity -- you have salt, and you have water, and they are separate; mix them and you have salt water, homogeneous. You have hot tacos and cold ice cream; leave them sitting out long enough and they'll be the same temperature.

Because entropy describes waste energy, and the reversal of entropy consumes energy (usually in massive proportions in comparison to how much energy the entropy took up to cause), the heat death of the universe is caused by entropy. As the energy runs out all things will be the same temperature, molecules will fall into complete disorder, and there will be nothing but hydrogen, essentially, spread through the universe. That's the theory, anyway.

This... is pretty obviously not what Discord does.

Total disorder isn't chocolate rain, it's a primordial soup in which nothing is alive, or a universe where matter is evenly spread throughout and there is nothing left. Of course, the lack of all energy turns into extreme cold, because molecules need energy to move, and extracting all the energy from them freezes them. Absolute zero is a state in which nothing moves and nothing can change. Perfect order. At the extremes, chaos and order aren't opposites; they're both descriptions of what happens to a system where the energy has run out.

Discord does not operate on that plane. Most of his chaos consists of creative category smashing. He identifies rules that operate on a macro scale (meaning, not stuff like the strong and weak force, but like grass is green), and subverts them. He combines things that taxonomy suggests should not be combined. He is very much about remixing, repurposing, recombining. Everything he creates has order to it, but at a deeper level than the ponies are looking.

Here's a way to think about it. Say Discord decides to screw with Twilight by messing up her books. Books contain information in ordered patterns, and the disruption of that order will disrupt the information. Discord is likely to change all the books to a different language (in which case they are perfectly well ordered, but the schema used to order them is not familiar to Twilight), or mix up all the pages so that books have their pages in the wrong order, or mix up all the pages so that the books have random selections of pages from different books. Viewed in a certain sense, he has increased the entropy of the library, because the work that needs to be done to re-order the books is pretty massive. But the change isn't irreversible. The information isn't lost. Entropy destroys information; Discord's antics would just make the information much, much harder to interpret.

If Discord burned down the library, that would be entropy. But Discord wouldn't do that because burning down a library is mundane.

What Discord represents is not the destroyer aspect of chaos, entropy, but the creator aspect of chaos, which I don't think has a name but we could call it remixing. He does indeed destroy things but usually in the process of making them into something else. His creativity isn't pure -- I've never seen him create something that never existed anywhere else in any way shape or form -- but then, how could it be? He's invented by humans, who aren't capable of pure creativity either. We are all demiurges, not creator gods; Discord didn't make the world he lives in, he just rearranges the pieces of it into new shapes.

Discord represents the force of change, of transformation. Of destroyed categories and decreased homogeneity. He does not tend toward everything becoming the same; he tends toward everything becoming completely different, frequently. He re-orders, and re-orders again. Chaos, for him, is an act of creation. And he reverses irreversible processes all the time, because entropy is a natural law, but Discord subverts natural laws.

This is why he doesn't kill, but also why he seeks to destabilize ponies psychologically. Discord wants constant change and motion. Things that die can no longer change in any meaningful way, nor can they move. But fear and anger drive action, where happiness and contentment preserve the status quo. If you like the way things are, you want them to stay that way. If you hate the way things are, you'll seek change. By promoting conflict and strife, Discord pushes ponies to seek change. Of course most creatures can't tolerate total instability and will fall into learned helplessness, where they learn that no matter what they do they never achieve a positive result, so for best results Discord would have had to frequently back off, let ponies build up some order and stability in their lives, and then wreck everything again.

None of this is entropy. Entropy is a change, but it's an irreversible change, and Discord doesn't want irreversible changes because he wants the changes to keep coming. Discord seeks a perpetual motion machine (which is the antithesis of entropy, btw). Discord's frequent re-ordering of everything infuses tremendous amounts of energy into what would otherwise have been a closed system, which actually counters entropy.

The force of entropy personified would be horrifying. Because entropy is destruction that leads to homogeneity. The personification of entropy destroys what it touches and mixes it with everything else it touches. It would be something that melts reality or that throws reality in a blender and purees it. The ponies are damn lucky they got an avatar of Chaos and not Entropy.

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Comments ( 5 )

Really good insight on what Discord is/does :pinkiesmile:

Yes, dude, everything you said is right. You've gotten at the root of what Discord is and what he wish to do in his life. But don't waste your time in wane, case most people here probably have never studied Physical Chemistry or any other branch of thermodynamic (which is sad).

Very nice, and very strong.

You stated it very clearly and simply. Kudos. :pinkiehappy:

Well, I found this after I attempted to claim he was the avatar of humor (the proscribed meaning of irony, "subverted expectation"), but it's wonderful.

Most of his chaos consists of creative category smashing. He identifies rules that operate on a macro scale (meaning, not stuff like the strong and weak force, but like grass is green), and subverts them. He combines things that taxonomy suggests should not be combined. He is very much about remixing, repurposing, recombining. Everything he creates has order to it, but at a deeper level than the ponies are looking.

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