Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I attended a scientific conference a few weeks ago. Each day the meeting agenda followed a standard format. The morning and afternoon were each divided into two 90 minute long sessions, and each session consisted of a number of presentations by different speakers. If a session chairperson is on top of things, they might get all of the talks on a single computer so that the transition from one speaker to the next is efficient. However, it is not uncommon for each speaker to use their own laptops for their presentation. In such a case, it normally takes a few minutes to set up the connection between the laptop and the projector before the speaker can begin.

In this meeting, I found myself in a session with regular computer interchanges and the man sitting in front of me caught my attention. As each subsequent speaker fiddled with connecting their own computer, he began to grumble. As the session went on, his complaining grew in duration, volume, and vehemence. He had become outraged that the speakers had not put their talks on the main computer. However, what was interesting to me is that the moment the speaker began their presentation, Mr. Outrage paid not one iota of attention to the talk. I thought to myself, why is this man complaining so loudly when his only reason for being present in the session was to add carbon dioxide content to the room and take up space? Why did he make such a scene when he had nothing at stake and didn't even listen to the talks? I think folks sometimes like to work themselves up into a lather just to work themselves up into a lather. The bard would say that they are all sound and fury signifying nothing.