The total solar eclipse: One cumudgeon’s opinion
Published 10:52 am Thursday, August 10, 2017
Have you purchased your $500 bottle of Solar Red Wine?
It’s one of countless products created to cash in on the total solar eclipse that will cut a swath 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21.
Savvy shoppers can also obtain solar eclipse playing cards, solar eclipse neckties, solar eclipse dresses, glow-in-the-dark cakes and Darkest Hour black cherry soda. Festivals and tours? Oh, yeah! Discovery Channel may even throw together a last-minute “Things The Moon Blocks Your View Of Week,” complete with Michael Phelps racing a simulated Buzz Aldrin.
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My son Gideon’s school is busing students to Nashville to get a better view of the eclipse. I hope the Music City crowd obeys safety warnings and does not generate new stereotypes of the city. (“I’m a-pickin’.” “And I’m a-grinnin’.” “And I’m a-gettin’ my retinas burned beyond repair!”)
Yes, NASA and a legion of optometrists are cautioning amateur astronomers not to view the eclipse without certified eye protection. Unfortunately, no one has run an algorithm to determine how many nitwits will flip a car while texting their destination, fall off a cliff while taking a selfie or receive ricochet wounds while shooting the roof out of a Porta Potty so as not to miss a second of the eclipse.
Heartwarming essays predict this rare celestial event will bring people together. Well, maybe. (“Isn’t it amazing how God set this up like clockwork?” “God? This is just the way quantum physics has ordered the universe since the Big Bang.” “Star Trek could work wonders with a solar eclipse storyline.” “But Star Wars could do it better.” “Tastes great.” “Less filling.” Etcetera.)
Luckily, the total eclipse will be confined to the United States and won’t upset those primitives who think the sun is being devoured by a giant armadillo, instead of “the Electoral College and stuff.” Aren’t you glad we Americans don’t have those superstitions? (“Looking forward to the festival, but couldn’t it be rescheduled? My horoscope says the 21st is a bad day for me.”)
Forgive me if I’m “once burned, twice shy” about all the hullabaloo. I spent most of my youth awaiting the glorious 1986 visit of Halley’s Comet. Where I lived, it wound up being a tiny smudge in the sky. It wasn’t politically correct; but believe me, I did some “heavenly body” shaming. 31 years ago, the comet that had heralded the birth of kings and the fall of empires was more like the “your turn signal is still on” warning.
Granted, I’m looking forward to seeing videos of the confusion and anxiety experienced by pets and wildlife when the sun is blotted out in the middle of the day. As a recently translated Hebrew scroll reveals, “God don’t need no laser pointer.”
I try not to be swayed by a NASA spokesman who assures us, “This eclipse will be an unforgettable, transcendent event — the sort of experience you’ll cherish regaling your grandchildren with someday. Unless you die prematurely or suffer memory loss due to dementia or become infertile because of constant use of a laptop computer or get turned down by the adoption agency for something you posted on Facebook in ’02. Oh, let’s just forget your theoretical grandchildren! Pop open that $500 bottle of Solar Red Wine and enjoy what time you have left, you poor doomed losers.”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”