The Silver Lining of a Cloud of Volcanic Ash

A New York Times article on the volcanic ash preventing air travel ended like this:

Leo Liao, a Hong Kong businessman who was stranded at the Frankfurt airport, was cheerful and philosophical. “It’s a natural issue,” he said. “Never complain. You can’t change this.”

Not cheerful enough. I once heard Edward Teller, the physicist, give a talk. In the middle, he said if we managed to control the weather we would take away the last topic of civilized conversation. Several years ago Berkeley had the rainiest winter in memory. It was never so easy to talk to strangers — you could commiserate about the rain. The stranded travelers have an unparalleled opportunity to meet people different from themselves, people they would ordinarily never be able to meet.

How to Talk to Strangers. Paris Syndrome.

3 Responses to “The Silver Lining of a Cloud of Volcanic Ash”

  1. q Says:

    > The stranded travelers have an unparalleled opportunity to meet people different from themselves, people they would ordinarily never be able to meet.

    Yes, but people like me, who were supposed to fly to Europe during the window but who are at home instead, have fewer chances to step outside their habitual mold.

  2. seth Says:

    q, you can go to Europe later.

  3. Nathan Myers Says:

    Funny, I would have described Teller as “the H-bomb promoter”. The U.S. probably wouldn’t have made and detonated them without his insistent promotion. He’s also known for publishing papers that sneakily exposed classified methods to improve yields of nuclear weapons, for the benefit of those still working on their designs.