Power of Words...

Posted by redthil On 7/10/2007 07:44:00 PM

Some believe the school-yard taunt: "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." They're wrong.

I'm not referring to the caustic ones spoken (or received) tainted with sarcasm, irritation, anger or frustration, carrying an emotional punch. I'm talking about simple, everyday, normal word choices.

What I want to emphasise is the unrecognised power of words. the value of the individual word. We take words - language - very much for granted, just as we take our eyes, our power of vision for granted. But both are tremendously flexible and wide-ranging powers - which have hardly been described in any complete way, never mind explained.

The follwing real life incident illustrates the power of words, the different roles which language plays.

Avianca Flight 52

On Thursday, January 25, 1990, Avianca Flight 52 - a regularly scheduled flight from Colombia's José María Córdova International Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, a Boeing 707-321B, crashed into the town of Cove Neck, Long Island, New York after running out of fuel. 73 out of the 158 passengers and crew on board were killed.

I know that you're wondering as what connection does this accident has with the "Power of Words"... You'll certainly get cleared when you've finished reading this...

The last minutes of Flight 52

Avianca Flight 52 had been in a holding pattern over New York for over one hour due to fog limiting arrivals and departures into John F. Kennedy International Airport. During this hold, the aircraft was exhausting its reserve fuel supply which would have allowed it to divert to Boston in case of an emergency or situation such as this one.

Around 77 minutes after it had begun holding, New York Air Traffic Control asked the crew how long they could continue to hold, to which the first officer replied "...about five minutes." The First Officer then stated that their alternate was Boston, but since they had been holding for so long they would not be able to make it anymore; the controller then cleared the aircraft into runway 22L.

As Flight 52 flew the approach, they encountered wind shear at lower than 500 feet (≈ 150 metres) and the plane descended below the altitude needed to safely descend into the runway. Air traffic controllers had only informed the flight of wind shear at 1500 feet (≈ 450 metres) and not at lower altitude. This forced the crew to announce a missed approach, yet, at this point, the plane did not have enough fuel to make another approach.

The crew alerted the controller that they were low on fuel and in a subsequent transmission stated "We're running out of fuel, sir." The controller asked the crew to climb to which the first officer replied "No, sir, we're running out of fuel." Moments later, the number four engine shut off, quickly followed by the other three. With the aircraft's power supply now drained, the cabin's lights shut off and the aircraft was plunged into darkness. Within seconds, the entire aircraft had lost all power, causing it to plunge into the small village of Cove Neck, New York in northern Long Island, 15 miles (24 kilometres) from the airport.

The aircraft struck and slid down a hill in the town, splitting into two pieces as it reached the bottom. The impact flung the cockpit into a nearby building. Due to the lack of jet fuel, the aircraft did not burst into flames, probably saving the lives of the 85 survivors. In the aftermath, 73 passengers and crew lay dead, and another 85 had been injured.

I think you've got some idea about the connection of this incident with the "Power of Words". Even if you've not figured out the connections, the following investigation report by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) helps you in identifying the connections...

Cause and Investigation

The NTSB report on the accident determined the cause as pilot error due to the crew never declaring a fuel emergency to air traffic control as per IATA guidelines. The crew was reported to have asked for "priority" landing which, due to language differences in English and Spanish, can be interpreted as an emergency to the Spanish speaking pilots but not to the English speaking Air Traffic Controllers. This may have caused some confusion amongst the pilots when the ATC confirmed their priority status. Some NTSB board members felt that ATC was negligent in not providing arriving aircraft with the latest wind shear information which may have alerted the crew to possible difficulties in landing. Avianca Airlines threatened to sue the FAA for the actions of the air controllers, who they felt were negligent in misunderstanding the pilots reports. The FAA countered stating that the crew never declared a fuel emergency until the final minutes before the crash, and had never reported the amount of fuel they had left when asking for priority landing, making it impossible for air traffic controllers to give them correct priority status. It was also determined that the crew never attempted to divert to the alternate destination of Boston despite being aware they would be in a holding pattern for up to forty-five minutes, though this may have been due to the fact the pilots misunderstood their priority confirmation.

The following is snapshot of the actual report submitted by the NTSB... Click on the image to view the enlarged version and Do read it...
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You can download the complete report here

I came to know about the above accident thru one of my fav TV show "Air Crash Investigations -Deadly Delay" telecasted in NGC(National Geographic Channel), which i watched today morning 11 AM. This is the one which inspired me to write this post.

What one word onboard the plane could have saved more lives? I think now you'ld have definitely understood the true Power of Words.

Words create impressions, images and expectations. They build psychological connections. They influence how we think. Since thoughts determine actions, there's a powerful connection between the words we use and the results we get.

Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and hold people back. Well chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking and alter results.

Words can hurt you even in the workplace. If you want to be winning at working, learn to harness your word power to work for, not against you; select words that create a visual of the desired outcome; and choose each word as if it mattered. You might be surprised how much it does.

Want better results? Check your words.

References :
http://www.answers.com/topic/avianca-flight-52
http://www.ntsb.gov/Recs/letters/1991/A91_37_38.pdf
http://www.airlinesafety.com/editorials/HumanErrorVsTerrorism.htm - LANGUAGE BARRIERS/NON-ASSERTIVE BEHAVIOR
http://www.flightsafety.org/ap/ap_apr90.pdf

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Murpy's Laws....

Posted by redthil On 7/02/2007 03:36:00 PM

Little bit of history...
I think most of you have heard Muphy's Laws...
This part is for those who hear it for the first time and for those who dont have an idea about its history behind it...

Murphy's Law ("If anything can go wrong, it will") was born at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949 at North Base. It was named after Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on Air Force Project MX981, (a project) designed to see how much sudden deceleration a person can stand in a crash. One day, after finding that a transducer was wired wrong, he cursed the technician responsible and said, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll find it." The contractor's project manager kept a list of "laws" and added this one, which he called Murphy's Law. Actually, what he did was take an old law that had been around for years in a more basic form and give it a name. Shortly afterwards, the Air Force doctor (Dr. John Paul Stapp) who rode a sled on the deceleration track to a stop, pulling 40 Gs, gave a press conference. He said that their good safety record on the project was due to a firm belief in Murphy's Law and in the necessity to try and circumvent it. Aerospace manufacturers picked it up and used it widely in their ads during the next few months, and soon it was being quoted in many news and magazine articles. Murphy's Law was born.

Few Laws - feast for your thoughts...

  • If anything can go wrong, it will
  • If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong
  • If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway
  • If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop
  • Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse
  • If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something
  • Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value
  • Research supports a specific theory depending on the amount of funds dedicated to it.
  • In nature, nothing is ever right. Therefore, if everything is going right ... something is wrong.
  • It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
  • Rule of Accuracy: When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.
  • Everything takes longer than it takes.
  • Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
  • Every solution breeds new problems.
  • The legibility of a copy is inversely proportional to its importance.
  • You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
  • The chance of the buttered side of the bread falling face down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
  • A falling object will always land where it can do the most damage.
  • A shatterproof object will always fall on the only surface hard enough to crack or break it.
  • A valuable dropped item will always fall into an inaccessible place
  • If your looking for more than one thing, you'll find the most important one last.
  • After you bought a replacement for something you've lost and searched for everywhere, you'll find the original.
  • No matter how long or how hard you shop for an item, after you've bought it, it will be on sale somewhere cheaper.
  • In order to get a loan, you must first prove you don't need it.
  • When a broken appliance is demonstrated for the repairman, it will work perfectly.
  • Anything good in life is either illegal, immoral or fattening.
  • In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
  • Never argue with a fool, people might not know the difference.
  • If you want something bad enough, chances are you won't get it.
  • Great ideas are never remembered and dumb statements are never forgotten.
  • You will find an easy way to do it, after you've finished doing it.
  • You will always find something in the last place you look.
The last one is very true.. I got these details in the webpage after going thru around 10 other webpages and none of which had any details related to what i was looking for...

Murphy's computers laws...

Interestingly, i found some Murphy's Laws related to Computer Programming... Enjoy reading...

# Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
# Any given program costs more and takes longer each time it is run.
# If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
# If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
# Any given program will expand to fill all the available memory.
# The value of a program is inversely proportional to the weight of its output.
# Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capability of the programmer who must maintain it.
# Every non- trivial program has at least one bug
Corollary 1 - A sufficient condition for program triviality is that it have no bugs.
Corollary 2 - At least one bug will be observed after the author leaves the organization.
# Bugs will appear in one part of a working program when another 'unrelated' part is modified.
# The subtlest bugs cause the greatest damage and problems.
Corollary - A subtle bug will modify storage thereby masquerading as some other problem.
# Lulled into Security Law
A 'debugged' program that crashes will wipe out source files on storage devices when there is the least available backup.
# A hardware failure will cause system software to crash, and the customer engineer will blame the programmer.
# A system software crash will cause hardware to act strangely and the programmers will blame the customer engineer.
# Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable errors, which by definition are limited.
# Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
# Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers can not write in English.
# The documented interfaces between standard software modules will have undocumented quirks.
# The probability of a hardware failure disappearing is inversely proportional to the distance between the computer and the customer engineer.
# A working program is one that has only unobserved bugs.
# No matter how many resources you have, it is never enough.
# Any cool program always requires more memory than you have.
# When you finally buy enough memory, you will not have enough disk space.
# Disks are always full. It is futile to try to get more disk space. Data expands to fill any void.
# If a program actually fits in memory and has enough disk space, it is guaranteed to crash.
# If such a program has not crashed yet, it is waiting for a critical moment before it crashes.
# No matter how good of a deal you get on computer components, the price will always drop immediately after the purchase.
# All components become obsolete.
# The speed with which components become obsolete is directly proportional to the price of the component.
# Software bugs are impossible to detect by anybody except the end user.
# The maintenance engineer will never have seen a model quite like yours before.
# It is axiomatic that any spares required will have just been discontinued and will be no longer in stock.
# Any VDU, from the cheapest to the most expensive, will protect a twenty cent fuse by blowing first.
# Any manufacturer making his warranties dependent upon the device being earthed will only supply power cabling with two wires.
# If a circuit requires n components, then there will be only n - 1 components in locally-held stocks.
# A failure in a device will never appear until it has passed final inspection.
# Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
# A program generator creates programs that are more buggy than the program generator.

Even though these laws looks odd, I feel that these proves to be true sometimes... Don't you??

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redthil
Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
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