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August 12th, 2018

I think back a lot to last year's solar eclipse, which I saw at almost-complete totality (99.4%) and which friends, some visiting Salem to the south of here and others visiting near Ontario in extreme eastern Oregon, saw at totality.

I also still make this face — 😕 — when I remember that some other friends, all of them smart people, kept saying in the time leading up it "What's the big deal? It's one thing passing in front of another thing." Even though it's at best exceedingly rare and possibly may not happen on any other planet beyond our own, and even though the effects on light during a solar eclipse are wonderfully weird and striking. (Seriously, of all the stars which we've learned have planets orbiting them, there's an astronomically small chance that those planets have moons the correct size and distance away to cause eclipses like this.) But they were dismissive of people making any special effort to see it — or, at most, would go "Oh, clouds are going to block it and all those people will have driven hours and camped for days for nothing."

And then they generally said nothing after many people said how profound and striking an experience it was to see the sky go dark, with sunset light on the horizon in every direction and the sun's corona (if you smartly watched through the special filtered glasses) leaping into that night-like darkness.

Sometimes too many of us, me included, are too f'ing cynical. (I can be, though not on this particular subject.)

We're allowed to be impressed.

Addendum

I got thinking about cynicism. Which got me thinking of Beavis and Butt-Head.

Beavis and Butt-Head try to be cynical. They do so each time they don't like a music video or some event they witness and reply "This sucks." But...notice that when they do like, or really like, something, they get so much more engaged, going "Yes!" and "This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen" and maybe they even dance.

I know. Beavis and Butt-Head are not role models. They're not even human. But I can be like them in that particular way. I LIKE LIKING THINGS.

Out-Of-Context Theater.

"I'm very fond of Natural Born Killers, which is about as subtle as a crashing satellite."