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The Global Nervous System

The repercussions from that now infamous volcano in Iceland will reverberate for months, if not years. There is already talk of some airlines going to the wall. Commerce, world-wide, has been severely disrupted. And people found themselves where they didn't want to be.

Then there is how people were able to deal with the situation in this day and age. Writing in The Nation, Micah Sifry reflects on how he was affected and how things worked for him:

"Sixty years ago, on May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. My mother, who was just shy of 6 years old, traveled with her parents and older brother and sister from Antwerp to the coastal port of Ostend, hoping to get a boat to England. Alas, the Nazis were faster. She and her family had to walk back from the coast, dodging bombardments along the way. Less than three weeks later, Belgium capitulated. She and her family went into hiding, sheltered by the Resistance throughout the war.
Editor's Note: This article initially erroneously claimed that Air France's Twitter account had been "silent" about the flight disruptions. It was not, and we have removed that assertion.

Speaking to my mother by Skype this afternoon as I sat in a hotel room in Zurich, three days into my own odyssey of being stranded in Europe by the Icelandic ash cloud, I heard some of the pain of that experience in her voice. Despite my efforts to reassure her that I was really fine, despite not knowing if I would make it home sometime in the next week, my mother, now 77, still worried. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asked. I suspect that she can't understand just how much I don't feel like a displaced person, but more like a ball being buoyed by an invisible network of friends and strangers, all connecting to me and with one another via the Internet."


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