Investigators of accidents such as airline crashes or nuclear reactor mishaps will tell you that it is very rarely some big catastrophic event that causes the accident. It is almost always a series of small missteps that brings about eventual disaster. In an overwhelming number of airline accidents the plane was running late so the pilot was trying to make up time. Other factors include not enough rest or not enough time flying together as a crew. The typical accident involves seven consecutive human errors. No one of those errors is enough to bring about disaster, but combined, they almost always are.
“Flak’ is a word that is a type of acronym derived from a German word: Fliegerabwehrkanonen (Flieger flyer + Abwehr defense + Kanonen cannons). Flak is one of those words that often is misused. Flak on its own cannot inflict any damage, but the bursting shells from flak can do quite a bit of damage. If nothing else, flak is the evidence that the enemy is nearby and would like to do us harm. Under normal circumstances flak would be something to be avoided, but as Steve Kerr, once the chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs said, “If you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target.”
It is a little ironic that the greatest enemy of those that followed Christ in the early days of the church was what was assumed to be known (Gnosticism). The irony occurs because in these days of easy access to almost anything regarding information, the trend is to that which cannot be known. The Gnostic is the person that says I know, while the agnostic is someone that says I don’t know. As one person put it, the battle has shifted from a spurious (disingenuous/false) knowledge to a spurious ignorance.
Cape Horn is thought by many to be the most dangerous sea passage because so many factors come together there. Antarctica extends far to the north toward the Cape, creating a funnel effect. Ice is a hazard of varying degrees depending on the time of year and the position of the vessel. In 1865, the CSS Shenandoah made its way through the area and said the winds were so strong that they made 262 miles in one day. The surgeon on the vessel recorded that the icebergs they maneuvered through were 180 feet high out of the water. Even today it is not an area for the inexperienced or weak hearted to venture. Some of the great events of the Bible surround the sea. The writer of Psalm 77 was probably referencing the crossing of the Red Sea with what he wrote, but as the followers of God we are able to see the broader application.
Knowing what you know, or what researchers call metacognition, is a key to top performance. Many people operate somewhere in the two extremes of thinking they know a lot when they don’t or thinking that they only know a little. The problem with many people is that they are not committed to knowing or searching for answers. People that are not afraid of such a search or of being committed to the answers they find almost always do well. The difference is being committed to knowing, meaning that you are committed to finding out. However, you also have to be committed to doing, after you know.
It doesn’t take much in the way of observation to see that these are very volatile times. However, to keep things in perspective we should also realize that they may not be anymore turbulent than any other era, but due to the access to immediate information sources, we are more aware of the volatility. Bringing war right into your home as it happens can make it seem like the end is near every day.
Hundreds of small tremors take place along fault lines across the world every day. However, they are too small to detect. Recent research shows that those small tremors are very important. Signals emanating from fault zones are thought to be silent earthquakes. They are slow moving quakes that displace the ground without shaking it. They do not generate seismic waves, so they are harder to detect. It’s thought that these silent quakes do two important things: they relieve seismic plate tension so that major quakes are less likely and they may help predict when a major seismic event is about to take place.
Most of what people experience and from which they draw their conclusions come down to two primary areas: sensation and reflection. Sensation relates mostly to initial reaction in the physical such as if something is cold or hot, soft or hard, yellow or blue and so on. If we go by that alone we may get a very limited view of what is happening though it may be superficially correct. Reflection relates to perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing and willing. Reflection isn’t necessarily about what is happening around us; it is reflection on the operation of our own minds. It is knowing why we think what we do (metacognition), and in that knowing, becoming better at seeing things more clearly and then responding appropriately.
Those involved in the field of graphology (handwriting analysis) say that how a person crafts letters and words can indicate as many as 5000 personality traits. If when you write in cursive and your writing slants to the right, you tend to be open and like to socialize. If your writing slants to the left you like to work alone or behind the scenes. If you are right-handed and your handwriting slants to the left you may be expressing rebellion. If your writing does not slant at all you tend to be logical and practical and are guarded with your emotions.
Most of the demands of life are rather ordinary; consuming our days, months, years and lives. We have things that we have to do from day to day, but we have to be careful that we do not let those affairs obscure the pursuit of real meaning. There is a nautical term that describes what those circumstances might do to us if we aren’t careful. One of them is “Boxing the Compass,” which refers to a wind that is constantly shifting. It is an interesting term because another meaning is that of stating the 32 points of the compass, starting at north and proceeding clockwise. The first suggests a situation that is out of control, while the second refers to a greater awareness and thus greater control of the direction in which our lives are heading.