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In case you didn’t know, the start of the apocalypse might have occurred earlier today when parts of the eastern hemisphere (including China and India) experienced a full solar eclipse. Like Dick Cheney, eclipses have long been considered harbingers of doom. This one is particularly a big deal — the longest one of the 21st century. We won’t see one this long again until 2132. I personally can’t wait until that one arrives. Neither can Dick Cheney.
• Hindu mythology is suspicious of solar eclipses. If by “suspicious” you mean it is believed that eclipses occur when the demons Rahu and Ketu swallow the sun. This is bad news. Not only does it plunge the world into demonic darkness, but it turns food inedible and water undrinkable. Also, those are some really huge demons. Shudder.
• Hindu mythology also suggests pregnant women stay indoors during an eclipse, to keep their babies from developing eclipsey birth defects.
• Another good idea during a solar eclipse? Fasting and ritual bathing. Thousands of Hindus took a dip in the river Ganges today, just to be safe.
• Only it’s not safe when that ritual bath turns into a 2,500-person stampede like the one at Varanasi, on one of the river’s banks. A 65-year-old woman was killed and several others injured.
• In other not-safe news, Mumbai astrologer Raj Kumar Sharma predicted a violent attack on Indian soil as a result of the eclipse, along with the possibility of a devastating natural disaster in Southeast Asia. But Raj Kumar Sharma has always been something of a gloombucket.
• That is the first time in my life I have ever used the word “gloombucket,” which I made up just now. I love that word, though. I am going to start using it a lot, and I encourage you to join me.
• According to my neighbor, Skip, an eclipse is something God does to the sky when he tests out a giant new hole punch. Skip is clinically insane, though, so I don’t believe him.
• Chinese tradition explains an eclipse with stories about a heavenly dog eating the sun. From CNN: “As the story goes, people would make noise to scare off the dog and rescue the sun, said Bill Yeung, president of the Hong Kong Astronomical Society.” This might explain why Skip was shouting and waving around maracas today in his backyard.
• The Shanghai zoo put up special lights today to keep zoo animals from being too freaked out by the sudden darkness. My question is why didn’t they do this yesterday, before the giant dog ate the sun?
Enjoy this eclipse day, even though nothing happens at all here on the western side of the earth. Either way, tonight I’m going to turn on the lights, turn up my stereo, watch out for stampedes, and take a dip in the holy Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, just to be extra cautious. Me and Skip.
I implore all you gloombuckets to join us.