On a piano, the simplest key is the C major key. The C major scale starts from the middle C key, then the seven white keys to the right are pressed in order. The notes are named as follows: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. This is known as the diatonic order of the piano. There are various other keys, but every one involves the black keys as sharp and flat notes are used.
Why does the diatonic order – the simplest scale – start at C instead of A?
When the modern system of written music came to be, the lowest available note was named “A” for simplicity, then each note above it was named alphabetically. However, at the time the notes were not matched to any specific scales. Furthermore, they started by only using seven letters, but later agreed on a 12-note octave. To make room for the extra five notes, they invented accidentals – the flats (b) and sharps (#). When the piano keyboard was invented, they made the white keys play natural notes and black keys play accidentals (flats and sharps).
As Western music developed, people became fonder and fonder of major keys (the “happier” sounding keys, to simplify things). This created a problem, as the simplest major key to only use natural notes was the C major key, which starts at C. The notes return to alphabetical order in the natural minor key, as the A minor scale plays as A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A.
Have you ever stopped and pondered what a millionactually is? Sure, you might easily pass it off as the number 1,000,000, or a thousand thousands, but have you really tried to get your head around how big a number that is? For example, you may be able to visualise a hundred people, a thousand people or even tens of thousands of people in your head, but it is very hard to visualise an image of a million people.
Now consider this. When was a million seconds ago? You know a second is very short and a million is a very large number. But it is difficult to put the two together. Make a guess. Last year? Two months ago? Surprisingly, the answer is only a week and a half ago (11.6 days).
Then what about a billion seconds? A billion is a thousand million so you might think it is easy to just add some zeroes, but a billion seconds is 31.7 years ago. Just by changing one syllable, or adding three zeroes, we went from a scale of weeks to years. If we go one step further to a trillion seconds, you leap back in time 31,700 years. You can probably remember what happened a million seconds ago, you might not have even been born a billion seconds ago and our ancestors were still hunter-gatherers roaming Europe a trillion seconds ago. That is how mind-blowing the scale of large numbers can be.
Now let’s look at some other things to really understand how big a million and a billion can be. A million dollars (USD) could buy you a luxury house, a manufacturing line, a 41-acre island in Belize or over 200 years’ worth of coffee (if you drank two cups a day). A million dollars in $1 bills would weigh 1000kg and stack to 30 stories high. A billion dollars – even if you were to convert it into $100 bills – would weigh 10 tonnes, almost as heavy as the truck that would carry it.
The pitter-patter of raindrops on your face feels nice, but a million drops of water weighs 50kg and would break your neck. A billion red helium balloons would have enough lift to carry 14,000 tonnes – enough to lift a hundred small, two-storey houses up into the air. A million grains of rice will feed a person for almost two months, while a billion ants would weigh twice a standard car (3 tonnes total).
According to the ancient writings of Chinese author Han Feizi, a dragon is a gentle creature that a man can tame and even ride on the back of. However, one must be extremely cautious of the inverted scale on the neck of the dragon. Touching this scale will cause the dragon to become enraged, immediately killing the person.
Any person has strengths and weaknesses. Some people love to draw out another person’s weakness and are deluded that finding a person’s greatest weakness is a victory. But in human relationships, touching another person’s “inverted scale” can be a critical mistake. Who would want to deal with a person that prods at their weakness? Even during a heated debate, attacking the opponent serves no purpose and is only a destructive act. This kind of dirty move may bring you short-term “victory”, but in the long-term it can cause you to be forever alone. No matter how gentle the person may be, picking on something they are sensitive about may cause them to strike down with great vengeance and furious anger upon you.
The wisdom of the anecdote of the dragon’s scale can also be applied to how people should treat those below them. Whatever your position may be, making fun of your staff’s weaknesses will lead to the loss of trust and respect from them. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War teaches that a general must never attack a soldier’s faults but rather show wisdom in helping the soldier fix the problem on their own.
Lastly, when persuading another person, instead of speaking of their weaknesses, bring up their strengths. Avoiding the “inverted scale” is one of the most important skills in the art of persuasion.
The most important aspect of relationships is following the philosophy of 1 + 1 = 3 by co-operating and having a constructive meeting. A destructive person that attacks others can never progress.