Air Travel and Chaos

Several weeks ago there were massive flight cancellations on Southwest Airlines and then a while later American Airlines experienced similar widespread cancellations. Immediately people began to speculate if this was a reaction to corporate decisions for mandatory vaccinations – a “blue flu” epidemic as people began to call in sick. Cancellations and very long delays were the norm of two different holiday weekend. And why were only two airlines so largely affected? It is not as though this was the first weather event these two airlines had experienced.

Let’s return to one topic that always fascinates me: chaos.  As mentioned in many other posts, mathematical chaos is not the randomness of a butterfly in China who flutters all the time, but on one occasion, the flutters give way to a tornado in Kansas – how random one might think. Such an event depends on the initial conditions in which the butterfly flutters (…. and why aren’t they called flutterbys?). Given the same initial conditions, the same tornado will predictably appear in Kansas. Continue reading

Francis and the Leper: the Order evolves

As noted last week the accounts of Francis and the leper were beginning to “evolve” from the first story that appeared in Thomas of Celano’s first book. Some 20 years later, there are additions being made to the story that seem to be less about Francis per se, and more about Francis’ legacy that should be central to the identity of the Order. Thomas of Celano’s second book was written at the behest of the then Minister General, Crescentius. This leader inherited the results of the leadership of the two previous ministers: Elias of Cortona and Haymo of Haversham. This week we will consider Elias.

Born in Bevilia near Assisi, Elias appears to have been one of the earliest companions of Francis. He seems to have joined the growing fraternity in 1211 within two years of it’s beginning. From the first he was given responsibility for leadership, first in Tuscany, then later (1217) to lead a band of missionaries to the Near East. In 1219  he became the first provincial of the then extensive province of Syria. Continue reading