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Total eclipse of the mind

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 04:02 pm

At some point we have to accept the fact that the Internet is a cesspool of misinformation, ignorance and intentional missing-the-point condescension. The Socratic method is meant for teaching, not intellectual give and take, and anybody with a platform on the Web feels compelled and qualified to lecture and harangue, metaphorically wagging a finger at us and leading us through his arrogant version of "thought games" if we're too stupid to get it the first time around.

So it really shouldn't irritate me when one of these pseudo philosophers links to something online to make his point, telling me that it says one thing when it really says something completely different. Guess they think we won't go to the link and actually check it out. Maybe most people don't.

Since I am a creature of the right, I usually catch the misrepresentations on the left because I expect them to try to deceive me and sometimes actually go looking to have my bias confirmed. But sometimes, one from the right catches my attention, and it is no less irritating.

And some things are just so outrageous sounding that you have to go the link and check it out. So it was when I saw more than one post of righteous indignation in reaction to an article posted at The Atlantic about Monday's eclipse pointing out that the "band of totality" cut a swath through America that was almost totally white.

Here's the take of the Daily Caller, which sees the article as proof that the left's insistence on seeing race everywhere has finally pushed it over the edge into absolute lunacy:

The Atlantic, a once-great magazine, has determined that the total eclipse of the sun due to occur on Monday will fail to affect enough black people.

The Atlantic's very lengthy essay on the failure of the eclipse to occur where a sufficient number of black people reside is entitled “American Blackout.” It clocks in at a remarkable 4,544 words and does not appear to be satire.

Concerning “the Great American Eclipse,” Brooklyn Law School professor Alice Ristroph writes in the rapidly deteriorating magazine, “there live almost no black people” “along most of its path.”

The Atlantic's longwinded law professor assures readers that “implicit bias of the solar system” is “presumably” not the cause of eclipse's failure to affect enough black people.


“Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message.”

And there was pretty much a pile-on after that, with conservative site after conservative site (chronicled here by Vox) pounding the article's author for the absurd lengths she goes to to see racism where none can possibly exist. She wants us to think the sun and moon don't like black people!

But if you go to the link and read the actual article, that's not what she's up to at all. Here point, hamfistedly made though it may be, is that while we're busy here trying to create our own totality, one of meanness and spite and ill-will, good for whites and no one else, the universe creates its own totality. It's a variation on the "indifferent universe" theme so common in both fiction and nonfiction:

And then the shadow goes to sea, still indifferent to the Earth below, indifferent to the little creatures here, indifferent to these people indifferent to their own histories. Or perhaps we are not indifferent, but just no more capable than butterflies and bees of seeing the long path and of deciding to change it. The Great American Eclipse illuminates, or darkens, a land still segregated, a land still in search of equality, a land of people still trying to dominate each other.

It's an analogy as clunky as it sounds. ("A popular but unrelated news peg isn't always the best way to make a connection to America's deep and well-documented history with racism," is the way Vox puts it). And I disagree profoundly with her conclusion. But she's not an out-and-out crazy lunatic, and people on our side shouldn't resort to so claiming. It doesn't really make the point we want to.

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The universe may be indifferent, but it can unleash some mighty powerful forces against us. In our neck of the woods, the eclipse was about 85 percent, which you'd think would be enough to make it a pretty dark 2:25 p.m. But, honestly, I couldn't really tell the difference. It seemed just like a typical hazy day in Indiana. The highly anticipated eclipse turned out to be the most disappointing phenomenon since Y2K. Hell, I not only wanted it to be as dark as midnight. I wanted animals running in terror through the streets. I wanted the rivers to run red. I wanted the clocks to go backward.

It turns out that 15 percent of the sun is all we need for pretty normal-looking daylight. Imagine that. It gets darker out when the sun goes behind a cloud. Hmmmn. Wouldn't be a bit surprised if it had something to do with that global warming stuff I've been hearing so much about.

I was talking with my sister on the phone about how disappointed I was, and she said she and a friend had been watching the coverage of the"band of totality," and it looked pretty terrific on television. Yeah, well, I bet the Vietnam War looked swell on TV, too. But you know what? In person, I have to say it was kinda disappointing.

Hey, want a neat pair of Sun Catcher glasses guaranteed to protect your eyes from the sun's rays? I can let you have a pair for just half of what they cost. Of course, everything looks white through them, but you can't have everything.

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