Late last month, NPR ran a good news/bad news story online. The good news, according to the headline, was this: “An annular solar eclipse is coming to parts of the U.S. in October”. The story went on to specify:
The moon will pass between Earth and the sun, treating viewers here on our planet to … annular solar eclipse. That occurs when the moon is at or near the furthest point its orbit and appears small in the sky, and its transit in front of the sun will look like a black circle on the gleaming star. In the U.S., the annular eclipse [will be visible] on Saturday, Oct. 14.
The bad news is the parts of the U.S. in which the solar eclipse was visible all started with the letter, B, and appeared to have been selective in other ways, particularly in the fact that they were poor and/or otherwise disadvantaged communities. They were, in alphabetical order:
- Baked, Alaska
- Bedsore, Mississippi
- Binge Gulch, Arkansas
- Boiling Pit, Wyoming
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
- Burnt Scrub, Oklahoma
Setting aside the fact that this is blatant alphabetical discrimination, it’s proof that climate, geography, and the alphabet are not the only things that are discriminatory. Indeed, the very cosmos are now aligned against particular groups of people.
Boots on the Ground
In researching this story, we reached out to people in each of the six communities listed above. For reasons we couldn’t get anyone to divulge, no one in any of those communities was willing to speak with us, perhaps out of fear that whatever they had to say might not fit with the following day’s narrative or perhaps for fear that they might not be in immediate accord with the ever-changine beefs of the Grievance Industry. Nevertheless, we did find one brave soul who was willing to go on the record.
Contrary to his peers in the other five communities, Floyd “Chilly” Chilblain from Baked, Alaska, seemed rather enthusiastic about the opportunity to get a little free ink. He agreed to participate in a recorded interview. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of that interview:
Us: Some people in the country seem unhappy about not being able to see the eclipse. Why do you think that is?
Chilly: Beats me. Near as I can figger, it’s garden-variety FOMO.
Us: Why do you think Baked, Alaska, was one of the sites selected to see the eclipse?
Chilly: I don’t know if you got any o’ them globes or maps or any such things. But if ya did, you’d see we’re dang near the top o’ the world. It ain’t nothin’ for folks around here to jes look up and see ‘most anything in the sky. Plus, we got a lot o’ moose crossings up here. So, maybe somebody thinks we’re liberal or progressive or sumpin.
Us: Wait. You think the only reasons you were selected to view the eclipse might be geography or politics?
Chilly: Maybe some o’ them folks at CHUMP [Cosmic Happenings Under Murky Pretenses] think the yokels around here don’t get enough celestial entertainment or sumpin. Do I look like some kind o’ diviner or soothsayer, for criminy sake?
Us: Okay. Whatever. All of that notwithstanding, and since yours seems to be an economically depressed community, do you think you were at any particular disadvantages when it came to seeing the eclipse?
Chilly: Well, we don’t have none o’ them new-fangled things like solar viewing glasses or pinhole projectors. Some of us went down to the Army-Navy store and picked up some o’ them military-surplus goggles they used to use in the atomic-bomb test blasts, yonder thar at Yucca Flat. The rest of us just bought a bunch o’ them cheap sunglasses from Clem down thar at the Pump ‘n’ Puke station, put ‘em on four and five pairs at a time ya know, and hoped for the best.
Us: But if you didn’t have adequate eye protection, you could have gone blind from looking directly at the sun.
Chilly: That wudn’t no matter. There ain’t nothing to look at up here but snow anyhow. I sure wish global warming or climate change or whatever they’re callin’ the weather this week would hurry up and get here so some o’ that stuff would melt off. We cain’t hardly get enough salt up here to keep the sidewalks and driveways passable.
Us: What about dogsleds? Don’t you have those up here?
Chilly: If you think anybody up here has dogsleds outside of The Iditarod, you probably think we put people on the moon, too, doncha? You city folk really need to get out more. Is there anything else? I gotta run along. Since Clem’s is closed, I cain’t get no Ring Dings or Twinkies. So, I gotta hustle down to the Army-Navy Store and get me some MREs for lunch.
Us: No. We’re good. Thank you for the … uh … local color.
If you tried to see the eclipse, we hope you had safe solar viewing glasses or a welding helmet, used a safe handheld solar viewer, or got a DIY Pinhole Projector Kit.
Otherwise, we hope you got over to Clem’s before all the cheap sunglasses and MREs were gone.