The Great American Eclipse from the centerline By Stephanie Osborn

[For those of us too broke or cheap — or yes — to have gone to totality to see the eclipse, Stephanie Osborn provides a lovely recap.]

The Great American Eclipse from the centerline

By Stephanie Osborn

(All images in this article courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D. and Patricia Murphy, R.N.)


On the afternoon of 21 August 2017, the Moon entered its “new” phase at the exact same time that the Sun, Moon and Earth experienced a syzygy.

It’s called a solar eclipse.

This would be my second total eclipse, but my first TRUE total eclipse: when I was in graduate school studying astronomy, a total annular eclipse (an eclipse which occurs with the Moon at apogee, the farthest distance from Earth, means it doesn’t completely cover the solar disk, and leaves a ring, or annulus, of visible disk) tracked across Atlanta GA one summer in July (if memory serves). So one of my fellow astronomy graduate students and I had picked up and made a road trip from Vanderbilt University in Nashville to Atlanta, with full blessing of our professors, as well as loaned portable telescopes equipped with objective solar filters. That in itself was an adventure, but today I want to talk about the most recent experience.

Having planned ahead, we spent the night at my parents’ house in the country a little south of Nashville TN. On eclipse day, I found myself, ISO-certified eclipse glasses in hand, with several family members and any number of new friends at the small Smithville TN Municipal Airport, FAA Identifier 0A3, elevation 1084.3ft, latitude 35º 59’ 07.6” N, longitude 085º 48’ 32.8” W. Normally this small regional airport would be closed on Mondays, but it was open especially for the astronomical event we were all there to witness. We were a stone’s throw from the center line, and per my Solar Eclipse Timer app (ain’t technology great?), would experience fully 2 minutes and 35 seconds of totality around 1:30pm local time (Central time zone).

By the way, for those who don’t know, the Moon’s shadow during a solar eclipse travels in the near vicinity of 1000-1200mph on average, though depending on the geometry and the curvature of the Earth under the eclipse path, it can go as slow as some 7-800mph and as fast as 8000mph or more. For this eclipse, maximum velocity occurred as the shadow was crossing the west coast in Oregon, at around 2,200mph; minimum velocity — thus longest duration — occurred in Kentucky and Tennessee, where it slowed to just over 1,300mph. It was already speeding up again by the time it crossed the East Coast in South Carolina, at nearly 1,500mph.

The maximum totality duration possible was 2 minutes, 40 seconds, which occurred very near Hopkinsville, KY, which area is the stomping grounds of my youth… but which was over an hour of additional driving, with nowhere to stay overnight, as my family has moved away from the area. Our duration of 2:35 was therefore not shabby at all.

We arrived at the airport around 10:00amCDT and set up chairs, a small awning, and a table with plenty of food and drink (sandwiches, chips, a veggie tray, several kinds of dip, cookies, brownies, iced tea, lemonade, water — all well chilled; yes, we know how to tailgate!), which we gladly shared with the airport staff and volunteers, as well as several emergency responders stationed at the airport. The airport expected up to 75 planes that day, all there for a special eclipse “fly-in.” I’m not sure we had THAT many aircraft, but I’d say we had easily in the near vicinity of 50, and the planes averaged 2 persons per, some more, some less. A few larger planes carried entire contingents of a dozen or more. Observers ranged from as near as Knoxville TN, to western Texas and beyond. I’m pretty sure I heard someone mention they flew in from Ontario, Canada.

The morning dawned bright and clear, with no rain forecast, but there was some cloud cover, mostly light high cirrus haze and some pop-up-type cumulus. As the day progressed and the heat increased, the percentage of cumulus cloud cover increased substantially.

Eclipse timings are defined by four principal points: first contact, second, third, and fourth contacts. These are geometrically defined; first contact is when the leading edge of the Moon first “contacts” the near side of the solar disk; this is the beginning of the eclipse event. Second contact is when the leading edge of the Moon first “contacts” the FAR side of the solar disk, and this marks the beginning of totality. Third contact is when the TRAILING edge of the Moon first “contacts” the near side of the solar disk, and this marks the end of totality. Fourth contact is when the trailing edge of the Moon “contacts” the FAR side of the solar disk; this marks the end of the eclipse event.

First contact was scheduled for 12:00:44pm CDT.

The temperature at the time of first contact, according to my weather app, was 94ºF. Cloud cover was substantial, and partly obscured observations of first contact, but not enough to prevent the observations being made. First contact occurred at roughly two o’clock on the solar disk (meaning, if the Sun were a clock face, the Moon touched it at the numeral 2).

first contact
First contact. Note slight dip at two o’clock on the solar disk. Close inspection reveals two spot groups; spot group 2671 is just above the center of the disk, while spot group 2672 is near the bottom left. Both spot groups are still visible as of this writing, though 2671 has decayed substantially and is about to rotate to the far side. They are the only spot groups visible on the solar disk for the last week. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.and


The eclipse proceeded steadily after that. Little was noticeable at first, though the “bite” taken out of the Sun grew larger and larger. At about the halfway point, the ambient light got “funny” — the sky grew marginally darker, and there was a sensation as if the illumination was dimmer. My impression is also that it tends to be slightly skewed to blue shades, but that may be only my eyesight, and is subjective.

Progression of the eclipse. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


As totality approached, we began to realize that the cloud cover was diminishing steadily, most likely as a result of decreased heating/evaporation from the ground providing for less and less water vapor for cloud formation. However, there was cloud cover around the horizon except in the direction of the approaching lunar shadow (roughly NW), where a distinct gap, surrounded by two cloud banks, made itself apparent. The temperature was also dropping noticeably; with 45 minutes still left to totality, my weather app indicated we were already at 90ºF, and it was continuing to drop. At 30 minutes to totality, it had dropped to 88ºF.

solar crescent
The solar crescent as totality approached and we near second contact. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.

As the sky darkened, the entire horizon took on the colors of sunset. I made a pinhole camera by punching a hole in a paper plate, to show some of the children that had gathered to watch with their families; it showed the progressing solar crescent quite nicely. At only 15 minutes to totality, we spread out a white quilted tarp for observing the diffraction-pattern “snakes.” There was nothing left of the cumulus clouds overhead, only a faint, high cirrus haze, which did not obscure viewing to speak of.

Second contact, and onset of totality, was scheduled for 13:29:20 (1:29:20pm) CDT. I called out a countdown to totality for the lay observers. Just before full totality was reached, my father spotted the diffraction pattern on the tarp, reporting that it lasted for a scant five seconds. Some observers with large camera optics reported Baily’s beads — the last glimpses of the Sun through mountain valleys on the rim of the Moon. My aunt captured the “diamond ring,” an illusion produced by the last rim of the solar disk still visible at the moment that the corona begins to become visible. (This also occurs at the end of totality; she captured both.)

“Diamond ring” at onset of totality. Mrs. Murphy was a few miles distant on a hilltop, where there was evidently still some small cloud cover. No filter used. Image courtesy Patricia Murphy, R.N.
Totality. No filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


The corona at totality. Note the striations due to the solar magnetic field. No filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


Solar prominences visible at totality. No filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


At the beginning of totality, some wags at the eastern end of the airport’s E/W runway began setting off a fireworks display in celebration; it appeared to be electronically controlled and quite the nice display, what little I saw of it. I suppose, had I been sitting behind it so I could see it against the backdrop of the eclipse, I might have enjoyed it more. But I had no problem with the already-jubilant atmosphere to which it added a bit of ambiance.

The sky at the airport was clear and cloudless, though there was still a broken ring of clouds around the horizon. The minimum temperature I observed on my weather app was 81ºF; it was quite comfortable and a slight breeze appeared to spring up. (Temperatures can drop during totality by up to 25ºF; the general consensus of the observers was that the weather app was lagging badly and may not have displayed the actual low temperature. We felt it was likely in the mid-to-upper 70s during totality.) At this point, unaided viewing was safe and possible, no protective devices needed.

The sky overhead was dark — enough so that the runway lights automatically switched on, as did the light illuminating the wind sock, and all street lights visible in the vicinity — and Venus was easily visible to the WNW of the eclipse; I also caught averted-vision glimpses of Mars (currently on the far side of the Sun from Earth in its orbit), and of Mercury (my first ever view of Mercury; I have never been in a location with unobstructed horizons whenever Mercury was at maximum elongation and therefore visible at sunrise or sunset). The entire horizon, the full 360º, took on a post-sunset look, with the deep orange right at the horizon rapidly fading through yellow and green into deep blues; a brief chat with an amateur astronomer confirmed my impression that the sky appeared to be some 45 minutes after sunset.

Given our position in the middle of the tarmac, there was little in the way of animal activity to observe; however, the ubiquitous cicadas ceased chirping, as did the birds, and save for the fireworks on the far edge of the airport, and a few human murmurs of delight and awe — and my occasional call-out of information — the experience was almost eerily quiet.

Third contact and the end of totality occurred at 13:31:55 (1:31:55pm) CDT. Again, I called out a countdown for lay observers, to ensure eye safety; at only a couple of seconds to end of totality, I called out, “GLASSES ON!” and just as I donned my own, I saw the outgoing “diamond ring.”

The diamond ring at third contact, totality’s end. Note lack of cloud cover. No filter used. Image courtesy Patricia Murphy, R.N.



Scant seconds after third contact. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


The sky began to lighten as rapidly as it had darkened. Temperatures, however, remained depressed according to my weather app, though it soon began to feel quite hot once more. I suspect that there may have been a lag in the app, though I cannot verify it. At any rate, according to the app, an hour past third contact, the temperature was still only 84ºF. The sky did remain amazingly clear except for that same high cirrus haze. Only in the last half-hour before fourth contact did the cumulus clouds begin to re-form. Ten minutes prior to fourth contact, the weather app showed the temperature had risen to 88ºF.

half an hour
Approximately half an hour past third contact. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


By this point, all was almost back to normal with the sky and the world, at least in our part of it. The casual observers had begun departing at the end of totality, and the airport became relatively quiet, except for a few hardcore observers like myself, determined to stick it out until fourth contact, and the airport staff. Every thirty seconds or so for the first hour after third contact, an aircraft took off. My family, not quite as hardcore as their professional astronomer, began to break down our “tailgate” and load up, leaving the chairs and the awning for last, to provide rest and shade as the temperatures ramped back up.

fifteen minutes
Only about 15 minutes left before fourth contact and eclipse end. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


Fourth contact, the end of the eclipse, was at 14:55:52 (2:55:52pm) CDT. The weather app still showed only 88ºF, but it felt considerably hotter, so I suspect it was still lagged. Cumulus cloud development was still underperforming, though it was gradually starting to rebound.

Fourth contact, the end of the eclipse event. Note the very slight sliver of shadow at about ten o’clock on the solar disk, and the reemergence of the sunspot groups. Filter used. Image courtesy Dr. Robert R. Murphy, M.D.


My estimation of the temperature as fourth contact passed would set it being at least the equivalent of the temperature at first contact: 94ºF. It did get marginally higher than that as the afternoon waned, though not by much. My estimates indicate it may have reached as high as 96ºF at Smithville TN.

Once fourth contact passed, we packed up the chairs and the awning and headed out, thanking our hosts along the way and donating to the airport’s upkeep. (It’s always courteous to help out the hosts.) We had an hour to drive to reach my parents’ house, where we took advantage of the facilities, as well as the air conditioning and ceiling fans. By the time we reached their house, the cumulus cloud cover had already reached and marginally surpassed its previous, pre-eclipse extent.

We allowed about 15-20 minutes to cool off in the excellent air conditioning, then headed home to Huntsville AL. So swollen by eclipse chasers was the traffic, however, that the nominal 1:45 drive took fully 2:40 to travel; the first leg of the drive, normally taking 20 minutes, took a full hour. Needless to say, we were glad to be home.

But I don’t regret the traffic, the long hours, the heat — any of it. Already scientific discoveries are starting to flow back from the data obtained during the eclipse, and much is being learned about such matters as the solar corona, how it behaves, and why it stays so hot (the corona has a temperature of several million degrees Celsius, whereas the photosphere, or visible “surface”, is only about 6000ºC).

The memories? Well, those are priceless.




Stephanie Osborn, award-winning author, is a 20+-year space program veteran with multiple STEM degrees. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to 35+ fiction and popular science books, including The Weather Out There Is Frightful: Solar/Space Weather and You; Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, the Displaced Detective series, and the new Division One series.

162 thoughts on “The Great American Eclipse from the centerline By Stephanie Osborn

  1. Only got about 70% up here where I live. And I didn’t have special glasses. One of these days I will go witness a totality.

          1. Dear Esteemed Hostess:

            We wish you improving health, joy, love and much time to write.

            As you have hopefully figured out by now, we like to read, and we enjoy what you provide for us to read. We want more of your books, more of your stories, and more of your blogs a long time to come.

          2. It’s always best to plan on being alive. At least that way you can be (or get) ready for it.

            Planning on being dead is either a disappointment, or a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            Me, I’m working on being Lazarus Long’s slightly younger buddy.

            1. Depends on what plans you make. All parents of minor children, for instance, should make plans for death within five years or less.

          3. I’m planning on you being alive in five years, and Peter being alive in five years. Just because that’s well past the his original expiration date, and the second (estimated) expiration date the doc gave me doesn’t mean I’m not planning on it! And if he’s going to be there (and I’ve told him he’s not allowed to try dying on me again until we’ve gotten at least twenty years of marriage!), then you darned well better be, too, missy!

          1. Hey, I’ll just make sure to renew my prescription and bring good binoculars, so you can point out the planets and the other features I’ve never been able to see or recognize!

    1. In seven years, one is supposed to pass right over the area where I live. Naturally, the weather will be dreadfully overcast, or else I shall have moved several hundred miles away at that time.

  2. Only experienced darkening here – it clouded just as things got started, of course. But also was nowhere near totality.

    Congratulations on finally being able to spot Mercury. That’s a right rascal, even with a good horizon. Seems to almost always be cloudy on the horizon around sunrise or sunrise, at least where I’ve been.

    Nor truly related, but once, many years ago now, I was out walking down a Truly Dark road one October evening and was surprised by a sort of cone of light coming up from the western horizon. It was something I hadn’t expected to see, having long given up on it. I was stunned to realize it was the zodiacal light – and it was, to me, just then, surprisingly bright. I’ve not seen it since.

    1. Yeah, “right rascal” is about the truth.

      I think I’ve seen zodiacal light but since I’m so rarely in an area with a flat, open horizon, I’ve never been sure.

      Something that comes in close in terms of spectacle was the time I was in the boonies in a dark-sky viewing site to see the Perseids the year after Swift-Tuttle came back through and laid down a fresh deposit of debris. We actually clouded up at one point and you could STILL see the meteors! You could read by a bunch of them…

      1. I can usually only see the milky way if I’m on vacation somewhere remote.
        But I got to see Hyakutake from the straits of Florida. A lucky accident.

    2. At peak here, there was some haze, but you could still see dark and light. And it was WRONG. The light was too dim without being as flat as it should be when there’s that little light.

      1. Exactly. The light just isn’t right, and the sky looks wrong, with the sunset around the entire horizon. And even as it’s dimming, once you get to the higher percentages of coverage, there’s an odd look to the sky and, it seems, the very air. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it.

          1. No, not even that. The whole spectrum seems to shift. You expect it to be like twilight, but it’s not — the light isn’t “flat,” the colors are “wrong,” and there’s almost a sense that the air itself is changing.

          2. It looked more like the light quality you see when you look through a tinted window, except it was all around you, not merely in front of you.

            Very disorienting.

          3. It’s very like the effect you get if you’re wearing polarized glasses (or probably closer to polarized glasses with a partially rotated polarized filter in front of them.)

        1. I’ve noticed this colorshift too, this time (low 90s% partial) and before (total annular); and since I decided not to roll the weather/traffic dice this time (next in 7 yrs.) I’d actually planned to look at this. I got pictures of the nearby land and sky all along, and watched too of course, and this effect was again subtle but striking. Though I *still* can’t even but begin to describe it exactly either.

          The sky, to me, looks like a more slaty-grayish blue, but one that’s if anything more saturated instead of less; the light looks quite visibly “different” but not like near sunset (which would have that watery “golden hour” colorshift like a cooler sun instead anyway) and not like clouds at all. Easy to detect but not describe.
          I remember the eye is more sensitive to blue when the light’s dimmer (Purkinje? effect), maybe this works for colors too, but also I’d bet against it being purely perceptual.

          And the pictures here are just flat awesome. And what color was the corona, this time?

          1. Yeah, that’s part of it — a sunset is golden, and a sunrise is red-white, but this is…BLUE. A very distinct blue light.

            My take on the corona was white with a hint of blue and a little gold. I saw no red, orange, or yellow, though I was expecting them. And that was with unaided eye, no filters. Pretty much just like the photos of totality in my article.

            1. That would have to be my summary too, I think; somewhat dimmer (despite the more-than-10x drop in brightness) and more blue (not just ‘bluer’ overall but, more blue.)
              Part of my ulterior rmotive in this is to try to get a backdoor idea of how other planets might look; golden-hour light for a cooler star, sunset light for an M dwarf, eclipse light for a dimmer star, and so on. While it does help, subtleties like this underline how much of a guess or an outright metaphor that really is.

              They actually (see comment below) have such photometers, for studying both twilight and the upper atmosphere using it; but I’ve never heard of one being used during an eclipse. Yet.

              And (to quote an old movie) you could probably sift through the whole Internet-now like breadcrumbs for the rest of your natural life, and never find “…guillotine with a 5-second timer…” anywhere else.
              It’s always a glorious ride. Many thanks.

              1. Good idea on trying to get a handle for other worlds/star systems. I tend to try to do that based on my astronomical knowledge, but even so, there are limits.

                Oh, I’m aware of the photometry aspect; photometry of variable stars was one of the things I did in grad school. I simply don’t have access to the equipment any more, being largely retired.

                HA! I hadn’t thought about the timer on the guillotine in that light, but yes, I suppose it’s a bit of a unique thing.

            2. Why do the photos of totality seem black and white? It looked very colorful to the naked eye. (OK, it looked like someone was playing with the CGI and didn’t understand subtlety.)

              1. There are several reasons. One is that the human eye is much more sensitive to color than the majority of electronic or mechanical sensors. The other is that the actual eclipse (by that I mean the corona, etc. in this instance) did not appear that colorful.

                I did find that B. Durbin’s video seemed to do a pretty nice job capturing the quality of light, with the nuances of color…when it was done attempting to adjust for the brightness levels, at least. (That could be a bit disconcerting, as I watched it. But that’s built in and I’m not sure how you’d deactivate it.)

                What I found most intriguing was, as we got close to totality, the impression was that the air itself was starting to change color, as if there were some sort of chromic “fog” around us, causing everything to look different. Did anyone else notice that impression?

                1. Ack! And I forgot to add that various and sundry filters are used for different aspects of the photography. So some of them create that deep red color we’re used to seeing in solar images, but the reality is that it would mostly appear white (if you could take such an image without frying your camera equipment).

                2. The odd fog-like ‘color of the air’ was something we also noticed when we had that partial solar some years ago (Some – prolly around 2012) but I didn’t know how to explain it to the kids. It was quite cool to them at the time though! It was seriously weird to me because my eyes thought there was very faint ‘mist’ but it was a very clear and rather dry day with few clouds. It was pretty much how I imagine being in a cloud when it’s in full sunlight.

        2. Dimness like twilight, but the sun is overhead rather than on the horizon, so the red/orange from light travelling through more atmosphere isn’t there. Or rather, the blue that would be filtered out or scattered or whatever is still there. I suppose some good spectrophotometry in an eclipse path might produce some interesting results.

  3. The only thing missing would be the soundtrack from 2010: Odyssey Two, as Jupiter is consumed by the monoliths prior to being turned into a small star. Favorite quote from the whole movie was John Lithgow as Walter Curnow: *It’s shrinking! It’s shrinking!*

  4. the Sun, Moon and Earth experienced a syzygy
    So, in the great interplanetary dance, we were getting syzygy with it?

          1. I never looked up (or heard someone who does know) the pronunciation. Huh. Sounds like it’s spelled.

            I don’t know why I try making something vaguely Czech-sounding out of it. (Sɪ-zf-gi, Assuming I copied the phonetics right. First “y” as “i” in sister, second “i” as in, well, “I,” third as in gee.)

                  1. “G” as in “gutteral.” In any case, I’ve made it my “word to pronounce correctly six times a day.” That’s the only way I stopped pronouncing “cache” as “catch a ball,” instead of “cash a check.”

                    Older I get, the more it takes to rewire the brain…

            1. I knew the word from an old Theodore Sturgeon story, “It Wasn’t Syzygy” (collected in E Pluribus Unicorn) but it has been so long since I read it that I no longer recall more than the name. A little cranking of the searchengine reveals:

              “It Wasn’t Syzygy was a short story written by Theodore Sturgeon. The premise was that there are about one hundred human beings in the world at a time. The rest of the population are empty shells. They exist as 2 dimensional cardboard characters when in the glow of the “real” human beings. They become wraiths, mere whisps of smoke when beyond the reach of their luminescence.

              “The story is told from the perspective of a shell. He believes he is one of the hundred as he basks in the glow of Gloria. He nearly ceases to exist after Gloria moves on and he struggles to understand his demotion to the netherworld of almost-being.”

  5. It slightly interrupted the work day for me. One of my co-workers had glasses so we looked at the maximum (80% iirc) for our area.
    Once I got home I laughed at the Smarter Everyday video where they were able to get access to a farm in Idaho and catch a transit of the ISS during the start of the eclipse.

  6. Not anywhere near totality here, but everyone at work ran outside like a bunch of goofy kids during the eclipse to get a peek. Our awesome IT staff provided us with known good viewing glasses to make sure nobody hurt themselves by using the fake ones (it is sad that that was even a thing). They called it a “business continuity risk” mitigation (They have a point. If the entire development staff goes blind for a day or two, a LOT of coding doesn’t get done).

    Still, it was a fun to see it. The only thing missing was dancing around a fire in nothing but loin cloths begging the moon to spit the sun back out (Like I imagine our distant ancestors may have done. Yes, I have an odd imagination, why do you ask?). strangely, I couldn’t get anyone at work interested in doing that.

      1. LOL!!! I have a story about freaking out an over-nosy neighbor one evening by cracking a couple glowsticks and putting them under a small pile of rocks in my back yard, then dancing around them in nothing but a loin cloth, just about the time I KNEW he would be arriving home from work. He never bothered me again! Served him right, he knew my parents and would call them every time I had people over or was out past 10 or anything.

        I have a group of friends that I can’t tell that story around anymore, because one of the ladies in the group gets a little TOO interested (If you know what I mean). AND SHE’S MARRIED! So far her husband hasn’t gotten bent out of shape about it, but to me it seems VERY inappropriate.

        1. OOh, I like that, I do.

          Storytime, of sorts. Preacher, retired was family friend. His wife… had more curiosity about their neighbors than was likely healthy. We heard a fair amount of the goings on (none of which was of any real import, fwiw). Eventually we worked out that to see what she saw, she had to be looking out a particular window, Not one above the sink or such that one might be near whilst tending to life’s tasks. No, this window was rather high and she was rather short. Thus for her to look out that window, she needed to be standing on a stool or such, specifically to look out that window.

          My take? Good thing we weren’t neighbors. No telling what Silent Plays we’d have come up with for her to witness and be taken aback by. And, oh yes we would have.

          1. Be fun to set up a video camera out of sight of that window, then do a whole scene of what would appear to be a “domestic dispute” followed by a murder. When the police arrived, you could show them the video of the two of you rehearsing a scene for a play……

          2. I have a 20 year charm against Jehovah’s Witnesses. All you have to do is open the door on them just as your Call of Cthulhu GM has reached the climax of the invocation.

            IA! IA! CTHULHU FTAGN!

            The two nice Watchtower carrying older ladies will turn around without saying a word, walk back down the apartment steps, and you won’t see another one at your door for 20 years, even if you move from AL to TX. 😎

            1. I had a friend who was an ancient languages major with a heavy background in biblical exegesis. He would invite them in to debate their translation of the original Aramaic, ancient Hebrew, and ancient Greek pulling out his own copies of the oldest texts for comparison. They tended to get scared off by being in over their heads very quickly 🙂

              1. I achieved the same by opening door, with Robert (then months old) screaming in the kitchen. I sighed and said in an exasperated voice, “I’m sorry. You caught us at a tricky spot in the child sacrifice. I’ll be with you in a moment.” … they didn’t wait. (They also didn’t report us. Go figure.)

                1. Apparently opening the door with a bouncy and cheery “Yay, you’re here!” while wearing a very bloody apron and holding a butcher knife (my housemate was butchering a moose in the garage, and expecting a friend to show up with supplies. She didn’t check who was at the door first)…

                  And with your sister in equally bloody clothes flapping bloody gloved hands behind you going “Oh, no! This isn’t what it looks like! Don’t scream!”….

                  Is also equally effective in discouraging witnesses. Or, ah, so I hear.

                  1. Usually I’m polite. One, who did stop me while doing yard work, began “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no more war?”

                    I was irked enough to say “I don’t know; I might have stock in arms companies.”

                    He didn’t know what to say to that.

                    An atheist uncle once insisted a visiting Baptist preacher join him in a round of whiskey.

                    1. It varies by denomination, location, and era, thus the old joke that the main difference between Baptists and Methodists is that a Methodist will speak to you in a liquor store. The late comedian Grady Nutt had fun with this in a joke about spiked watermelon accidentally served at an ecumenical conference.

                      US Baptists tend to support tea totaling, and is found in those Church Covenants that used to be hung in most Baptist churches: “… to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating beverages …”Some will insist that the wine at the wedding at Cana could not have been alcoholic. Frankly, I won’t go there; it’s recorded as wine and I’ll leave it at that. Anyway, I know a minister who honestly believed that fruits and such cannot naturally produce intoxicating levels of ethanol through fermentation, and I had to gently tell of a deer we found drunk on wild grapes.

                      Shrug. It’s a denominational difference and I’ll not argue it either way.

                    2. Growing up, our den was lined with floor to ceiling windows opening onto a redwood deck, and it was in the country, with lots of trees. The unofficial name of the place was Dogwood Acres because we had so many. Along about January we always had to doctor birds that got drunk on the fermented dogwood berries and either ran into the windows, or just landed on the deck and staggered around until they fell over. Mom always had clean dishtowels and washcloths that she’d carry outside and lay over them to keep them warm while they recovered.

                    3. Dorothy, Peter Capstick recounts an episode where he had to put down a group of four drunk elephants “stoned out of their gourds on marula fruit” because they started attacking workers in the fields and villages. “Later, when the villagers were butchering the carcasses, the odor of alcohol was enough to make you dizzy.”

                    4. ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no more war?’

                      Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no more flatulence?

                  2. My husband is, among other things, an accomplished, award-winning professional magician. Shortly after we first started dating, we swung by his place so he could change clothes before we went out (he was a theatre major, had been working on set construction). One of the things he used to do (and sometimes still does) as part of his performances is escape-artist stuff.

                    And for lack of a better place to store them, he had his various escape equipment hanging up, high on the walls of his bedroom. So I stick my head in, and there’s handcuffs and manacles and chains and stocks and a strait jacket hanging all over the walls, including over the bed; there’s a guillotine with a 5-second timer sitting in the corner, RIGHT NEXT to a shelf full of full-head Don Post masks (think stormtrooper, Darth Vader, etc.) on wig stands…

                    …And I start backing out of the room, thinking, “Oh no, what the blazes have I gotten myself into…?”

                    That took some fast talking and a lotta explaining on his part, after that.

                    [FWIW, in the years since then, he’s taught me how to do a strait jacket escape…]

                  3. I actually howled with laughter on this one. I gotta share this to hubby and housemate!

                    My mother in law has a story of how their dog scared off a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sophie the dog was one of those big black dogs that drool a lot when they get excited, and her thing is to give big slobbery doggy kisses to make friends. However, she was a big, black, heavy dog and well, that’s not exactly a good thing to be pounced on by- scare the living daylights out of people. So my mother in law was holding her back with great difficulty – the two young men at the door didn’t see the wildly wagging rear end – Sophie didn’t wag just her little stub tail, but her whole butt – but just the slobbering, excitedly barking dog with big teeth!

        2. Ha! On that note, for Halloween, crack some glowsticks and stick them inside toilet paper roll cardboard that has eye shapes cut out, then put those in bushes.

          Since we don’t really have a Trick or Treat tradition Down Under, we play scary-themed video games (Challenge is: Get through Alien Isolation without going NOPE NOPE NOPE, or horror movie marathon.)

  7. We only had a partial here in Texas, but it was a great excuse to have friends over for lunch. One friend had to run off to work before the eclipse really got partial, so I sent him with some of our spare solar glasses, for the rest of his coworkers (and a packed lunch.)

    If you want a whole lot of laughter, a panicked waitress, and an eclipse report all rolled together, it’s worth your time to read Adaptive Curmudgeon’s eclipse report series, too! Not nearly as scientific or factual or calm as Stephanie’s, but very funny, and with meatloaf.

    1. Calm? In all honesty? By the time we got home that night I was hurting in some particular joints — my ankles, my knees, my back — and I made the remark that I guessed it was a good thing I restrained myself and didn’t act like a kid and jump up and down like I wanted to. Darrell looked at me for a long moment, then said something to the effect of, “Where did you get that idea? You were jumping up and down all over the place.”
      Which, of course, explained all the painful joints…

  8. We had 90% totality in southern Oregon, but the road reports and a large (100K acre) wildfire in the eastern portion of the state indicated that going there and back was going to be more of an expedition than a day trip, so we passed. Prineville (population 9000) had 100,000 visitors.

    I did a so-so pinhole camera (should have used a box, but I was pressed for time) and got some images. The temperature effect was really noticeable. We’re high and dry enough that the temperatures really rise from the sun, but with the eclipse, they didn’t. Very subdued wildlife, and our two dogs were quite confused.

    We did some shipping in town that afternoon, and many of the businesses had taken time off to let people see the eclipse. Kind of fun.

    1. I did the pinhole camera, too – with a couple of paper plates. All the other engineers thought it was pretty cool.

    2. The temperature drop surprised me, although it shouldn’t have. Watched in Denver so not total, and it was exactly like these pictures.

  9. The memories? Well, those are priceless.

    Yes, they are. The Daughter took me up to the mountains so we would have a chance to see totality.

    Sunday we drove up to stay at Pigeon Forge in Tennessee. We waited until Monday morning to choose which of several available NASA sites to go to. As there was a front moving in we knew weather was going to be a factor in viewing.

    The Daughter choose Franklin, NC., and she choose well. We watched the whole thing from the middle of a group of remarkably well behaved cub scouts who had come up from Tallahassee, Florida. Their enthusiasm was infectious. The leading edge of the cloud cover waited to move in until totality, but, as it was spotty and thin, we had a great view.

    All that and discovering a great knitting shop, a visit to the Scottish Tartan Museum, a walk in Cherokee, three trips through the Great Smoky National Park on New Found Gap Road (with time on Clingman’s Dome Tuesday), as well getting to see both a heard of wild Elk, and a flock of wild turkeys (including the largest Tom I have ever seen) … and more.

    Thank you, Stephanie Osborn, for your post, and thank you for the excuse to revisit recent great good memories.

      1. I would not advise drinking and driving New Found Gap Road. It is very twisty, and there is one real doozy of a hairpin turn on it.

    1. “group of remarkably well behaved cub scouts”

      That’s funny. If I had been able, I would have pulled my kids out of school for the day. A LOT of the schools down here went full-on stupid and made all the kids sit in an inside room without windows during the eclipse… just because they were afraid that they would get sued if one of the kids was dumb enough to look directly at the sun. Note, we aren’t talking about pre-schoolers, we are talking about Fifth and Sixth graders (and up). Kids that should be able to understand the dangers and follow instructions.

      1. There was something like that at one school (that I know about) in the 1979 eclipse, not in totality. The upper grades were kept inside. The clueful 1st grade or 2nd teacher taught about pinhole cameras and such and her class got to go out and see projections.

      2. Under those circumstances, I’m pretty sure I would make my kid stay home due to “vision problems”: I just couldn’t see letting her miss a rare and cool event due to the stupidity of her babysitters.

        1. Unfortunately, I had two problems there.

          First, I had to work. Which, of course, would not have been an insurmountable problem.

          Second, I am divorced and the kids live with my ex-wife during the week. We have often had problems with her keeping the kids out of school way too much (usually when she didn’t feel like getting up and making them go. What kid wouldn’t take advantage of that?) So, asking to have the kids out of school for a day is problematic in the “OH! it’s OK when YOU do it, huh?” kind of way. So once again, it falls on me to keep the peace, because it upsets the kids when there is fighting.

      3. They set up screens and ran NASA’s eclipse cam, since 1) 6th graders and 2) light to moderate overcast at my school. I was off after 1000 or so, so I used my welding goggles over my dark glasses, plus the slight overcast and I was good. We had 78% totality here. I noticed the slight light color change as well. The shadows looked bluer, a bit like snow shadows.

      4. OTOH, given the documented cases of alleged adults who put sunscreen in their eyes to “safely watch the eclipse”, is it really unreasonable?

        1. YES. If schools were putting children into interior rooms to KEEP THEM FROM watching the eclipse, instead of teaching them the right way to do so, and if people were doing stupid things like that (and yes, I myself saw one silly woman trying to put eclipse glasses on her lap dog), then somewhere we have woefully fallen down in our responsibility to explain and teach people the truth of such matters. That is a HORRIBLE commentary on our nation’s current state of knowledge and understanding.

          And yes, I did spend a few moments explaining to the woman that her dog didn’t need that and probably wasn’t paying any attention to the Sun. It actually relieved her; she hadn’t stopped to think about the probability that her dog didn’t have an awareness nor interest in matters astronomical.

    2. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, dear. I have some great memories of it too.

      One of these days I suppose I should write an additional blog article about that annular eclipse from my grad school days.

  10. Thank you! We had somewhat similar experiences with the temperatures and the “snakes” but started with no clouds. My husband got a video of the distortion on a sheet. It looks just like an old CRT monitor flickering. So.e of the people in the area reported horses lying down like they do to avoid storms. Birds went quiet and so did crickets.

    Kids all absolutely agree it was worth it!

  11. Totality here. It was great, saw the diamond ring effect, etc.

    No noticeable cooling, though that may have been because of the reason that went through a couple of hours earlier. And no change in the ever-present insect background noise.

      1. Ha! Well, I do try. I’m glad y’all enjoyed it.

        As it turned out, the airport was delighted to have me, and as I did things like call out timing, and event X coming up, and stuff like that, pretty much everybody in earshot (and I project really well) liked having me around. I inadvertently became a minor celeb for a few hours, because the airport folks were telling everybody to “go ask the NASA astronomer” and stuff.

        1. I got seriously excited seeing the picture with the solar prominences. How were those pictures taken?

          The most total eclipse of any kind I’ve seen in my life is a lunar one. We watched with the kids when we lived up in Townsville, using Rhys’ rifle scope to look close. Was fun! I’d love to get a proper telescope someday, but probably if we ever lived further away from major cities (at present, unlikely with Rhys’ job.)

          1. The photos were taken by my aunt and uncle, but they were at a site a few miles away from where I was. I’ve popped him a text message and asked him to come over and reply to you and explain. Hopefully he’ll be able to do so sometime soon.

            1. Okay, here is the photography info, from my aunt and uncle:

              Canon D70, Sigma 150 – 600 lens, working at 250 and 600, F9, 1/400 except during totality when various speeds were used. Post totality speed mostly 1/125 (Bobby)
              Nikon D3300, Nikor 200 – 500, working at 500 mm, F9, 1/400. (Patty)

              1. I’m no camera expert (the most I’ve ever really used were point and shoot cameras, and cellphone cameras), but those look like very good cameras. One of them looks like one that my husband has; I’ll have to ask him.

                I’ll also have to keep the rest noted down, in case we’re ever lucky enough to be close to another eclipse. When we had the partial solar up in Townsville, we used the old point and shoot digital cameras to look at the sun – and looked at the screen. The kids and I sort of could see the moon partly blocking the sun, which was very cool. The sky turning that odd satiny metal grey is something I’ll never forget.

                Thank you! And please, thank your aunt and uncle on my behalf for being so kind and replying to the question. It’s greatly appreciated ^o^

                1. FWIW I saw my uncle’s rig, and it was not small, by any means. The lens attachment was HUGE. And based on my own experience, the lens attachments are the most expensive parts of such setups. So be aware.

                  1. Oooh yeah. I once had a look at what would be a good camera so I could take photos of the nicer-looking things I cook. I have enough collecting addictions!

                    The LG G3 smartphone has one of the best cameras on a smartphone that I’ve worked with. I’ve also taken very lovely photos with the ASUS Zoom. I’ve used it to take photos of meals I’ve had (mostly to send to my Mom, because we have this little long distance game of ‘make the other person jealous of our food’)

                  2. Sigma is a cheaper lens vs. a Canon lens so they probably saved some coin there. 🙂
                    Seriously nice lenses. Wish I had a couple of those All I have is a cheap 70-300mm for my big lens. 🙂

  12. We had a mostly sunny sky and had about 93% eclipse here. It didn’t get vary dark – about like an overcast day – but the sight of the eclipse was pretty cool. A colleague took the day off and drove about four hours down to the totality zone. He came back with cool photos and a great description, and singing the sad song of 9+ hours in traffic getting hope after.

    1. There’s an interesting thing there – it probably got much darker than it looked. The brain adjusts perceived light levels so much that even what we consider a brightly-lit room has less than 1/1000th the light intensity as daylight.

  13. We had more than 90% where I am. There were a few clouds (I had a view exactly like that pic your husband took at one point!) but they didn’t really interfere. The temp did drop a few degrees and it got a little darker – but not as much so as when storm clouds move in.
    Overall, it was a fun bit of science.

  14. I got to see the totality, but being just a few miles inside the range, the sky was still blue and no planets did I see.

  15. I was on the way home from GenCon and had stopped for a late lunch. Planned on watching the partial eclipse after we ate but realized to late we were in a border county in Indiana that is in Central not Eastern so my phone had changed timezones on me. Missed it while eating. It was really over cast outside so I probably would not have been able to see much anyway.

  16. Watching the blue sky slowly go dark was pretty cool, I have to admit. You just *knew* something was going on.

  17. 98%. I was amazed that 2% of the sun puts out that much light. It got dim, but not dark. Took a quick non-glasses glance and it looked like it always does; couldn’t tell at all. Temperature definitely dropped. I was surprised there were no wind effects – but we were in WY, which is always windy.

    1. I was amazed that 2% of the sun puts out that much light.

      Yeah. I wonder if it made any warmists question what the largest contributor to Earth’s temperature is?

    2. My thought exactly, about the amount of energy from so little a bit of the sun.

      I sat outside for most of the event, but was unable to watch more than a few minutes. I had just driven cross-country over the weekend and was taking a day off, so shady spot, adirondack chair, iced tea, kindle, good times – the eclipse just wasn’t on my mind before the actual day! I did get to see a few minutes early on, when a friendly neighbor came by with some glasses on her way to an eclipse party for her husband’s employees … ANYway, here in the 90% band, we had those high wispy clouds off and on all day. There was also significantly more massive cloud cover around the horizon. The temperature dropped remarkably and a breeze picked up slightly. The light looked to me just as though it were an overcast day. I did not notice a color change, nor did the wildlife change their behavior. I’m really glad that neighbor came by to lend me a few minutes of viewing time, it was a surprisingly awe-inspiring sight.

  18. My MiL lives about fifteen miles south of where totality was passing, so we pulled the kids out of school and drove 500 miles north to go see the eclipse. She was dubious about eclipse traffic and encouraged us to stay, but we didn’t drive 500 miles to miss totality—and besides, the traffic report for the small highway immediately north was clear as clear. So we drove north, found a side road to turn off on (the lady playing bagpipes was a big draw for that particular road), and watched the eclipse with the passengers of perhaps a dozen or twenty vehicles. (Watching the sun, not counting vehicles.) It’s really not possible to see what an eclipse looks like from pictures; the smear of purest white isn’t across blackness but a lovely deep indigo, and is much larger than the photos of the corona really pick up. We didn’t see the diffraction.

    We left right after totality, because the kids could watch partial stuff at Grandma’s, if they wanted. So no real traffic to speak of before reaching our stopping point.

    Note that I think there will be a market for a simple app that will take your exact location and will give a countdown to totality—and an alarm for glasses a few seconds before totality ends.

    1. There already is such an app, and I used it at the eclipse. It worked great. You set the location on your phone, it takes the location and gives you a countdown to each event — first contact, second, third, and fourth — along with warnings to put your glasses back on before third contact, etc. I even was able to log my own entry of observations, with descriptions, time, temperature, etc. It’s called Solar Eclipse Timer, and it was made by a professional astronomer who “chases” eclipses.

  19. Saw it in Menan, Idaho, quite near the center of the zone of totality. I saw the diffraction pattern, the beads, and the diamond ring effect; my wife didn’t.

    It cooled enough that dew formed on the bicycle of the teenager that was hanging with us.

    1. It got nicely cool at the airport for this one, and for the one back when I was in grad school, the other astronomy student and I were in shorts and t-shirt and about froze, and that was in July in Atlanta. So…yeah.

  20. It was enchanting. We traveled about 43 minutes to the point of totality, in SC. My husband argued against it; I insisted on it; he finally agreed and called off work.
    It was an amazing party atmosphere. The adults were even more excited than the kids. We had extra glasses, and ‘sold’ them for about $5-6 – for donations to our physics teacher organization.
    We gathered temperature data with our Vernier probes – got a very nice graph. My husband got decent photos (I suck at photography).
    On the way home, he admitted that I was right (should have recorded it!) about the worthiness of going.
    Someone told me that from 99% to 100% means that the sky get 1000 times darker – which, I could believe. It was like dark twilight.
    We’ll have another in 2024 – from TX through Cleveland, OH (my hometown). We’ll be there – with a much better organized and prepared vehicle. I’m making a list of what we want to have with us.

    1. I convinced my husband to take off work and come with, and it didn’t take a whole lot of convincing. I told him, “I’ve been on the centerline for an annular, and that was spectacular, and this will be even better. It’s gonna be worth it, I promise.” On the way home I asked him what he thought, and he said that he wasn’t gonna get as excited as I would, because he’s not an astronomer, but he was still glad he saw it and it was cool.

      I think I’m gonna try to end up on the center line of the one through Texas in a few years, if I can afford to get there.

      1. I’m looking forward to that one. I’m sitting on the edge of the zone of totality for that one. An eighty minute drive north or west puts me right on the center line.

        1. Well, that’s kind of what my sitch was on this one. I was less than 2 hrs driving time from the center line; no way was I gonna miss it for anything short of tornadoes or death.

    2. I took a video on the ground of when totality came. I apologize for two things: one, that it’s a FB link, simply because that’s the only place I have it uploaded right now, and two, that the camera swings around a lot, because I was holding it in my hand. (Phone camera.) But it shows how quickly everything gets dark, even though it starts off looking a lot brighter than it did in person (because of how much the camera compensated.)

      1. NICELY done! Oh VERY good! That was really very impressive, especially for a cell phone video cam.

        I would love to see you upload this to, say, YouTube so I can use it as a reference. This captures a lot of the things I’ve tried to describe to others. You even get the departing shadow, visible in the distance afterward.

        And now folks here can see what I meant about the sunset visible around the entire horizon, and the unusual quality of the light — which your video captured quite well, I think. You even got the camera to show the eclipsed Sun, with black center and bright corona. I tried and couldn’t get my phone to do it.

        1. I thought I hadn’t, which is why the glasses go up briefly. I’d have stayed on the sun a bit longer if I’d realized that it actually showed that. (Of course, I was wrangling kids too. If we manage the next eclipse, they’ll be old enough that we can do a FANCY setup using my dad’s tracking telescope.)

  21. What kinds of cookies are suitable for an eclipse? Oreos, no doubt, and snickerdoodles, I’m sure. Mallowmars and Moon Pies?

  22. We watched it from Idaho. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. And the solar corona is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

  23. Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo

    I’m singing in the rain
    Just singing in the rain
    What a glorious feelin’
    I’m happy again
    I’m laughing at clouds
    So dark up above
    The sun’s in my heart
    And I’m ready for love
    Let the stormy clouds chase
    Everyone from the place
    Come on with the rain
    I’ve a smile on my face
    I walk down the lane
    With a happy refrain
    Just singin’,
    Singin’ in the rain

    Socialism Corrupts and Absolute Socialism Corrupts Absolutely
    By Sarah Hoyt
    There is a scene in one of Leo Frankowski’s Cross Time Engineer series, in which his main character – a time displaced engineer, trying to prepare Poland for the Mongol onslaught – comes across a rampaging Mongol party and a bunch of merchants.

    In this scene, the Mongols order the merchants to kneel and present necks. And then start beheading them.

    Frankowski’s character intervenes and slaughters the raiding party of Mongols, saving the merchants, then asks the merchants why they obeyed the order to kneel, knowing they’d be slaughtered. “Because otherwise they’d do something worse,” the merchants say.

    I think of that scene every time I’m in Europe and dealing with the “local style” — or even here — interacting with the kind of government bureaucracy that expects us to kneel and present our necks.

    By and large here it’s not advanced to the point of making us fully helpless, unless it’s in specialized areas and circumstances, like say New Orleans after Katrina.

    Europe, though…


  24. Tucson only reached about 75%, but we (Me, No.2 Son and friends of his) decided to go camping on Mt. Lemmon, so we’d be in place that morning on the mountain.

    Since we were camping I took the opportunity to wide field astrophotography.

    1. VERY nice! Takes a while to make out the constellation…

      I’ve not been camping at Rose Canyon. (Don’t know why, I’m a bit closer than you are.) Is the sky glow really that much less there? I’ve taken the son a couple of times about halfway up Route 79 with his scope – that’s the only place I’ve really seen dark sky the last few years.

      1. The sky glow wasn’t bad at all up there. You’ve got most of the mountain between you and the city and it blocks a lot.

        Also that was taken about 0130, so there’s few lights on in the valley and thus a little less light pollution as well.

  25. I’m hoping this will go through, and that everyone in the US who can see this.

    SESTA would weaken 47 U.S.C. § 230 (commonly known as “CDA 230” or simply “Section 230”), one of the most important laws protecting free expression online. Section 230 protects Internet intermediaries—individuals, companies, and organizations that provide a platform for others to share speech and content over the Internet. This includes social networks like Facebook, video platforms like YouTube, news sites, blogs, and other websites that allow comments. Section 230 says that an intermediary cannot be held legally responsible for content created by others (with a few exceptions). And that’s a good thing: it’s why we have flourishing online communities where users can comment and interact with one another without waiting for a moderator to review every post.

    SESTA would change all of that. It would shift more blame for users’ speech to the web platforms themselves. Under SESTA, web communities would likely become much more restrictive in how they patrol and monitor users’ contributions. Some of the most vulnerable platforms would be ones that operate on small budgets—sites like Wikipedia, the Internet Archive, and small WordPress blogs that play a crucial role in modern life but don’t have the massive budgets to defend themselves that Facebook and Twitter do.

    Experts in human trafficking say that SESTA is aiming at the wrong target. Alexandra Levy, adjunct professor of human trafficking and human markets at Notre Dame Law School, writes, “Section 230 doesn’t cause lawlessness. Rather, it creates a space in which many things — including lawless behavior — come to light. And it’s in that light that multitudes of organizations and people have taken proactive steps to usher victims to safety and apprehend their abusers.”

    1. Summary given to me, to boil it down –

      Right now, all the services that we use for discussing, blogging, conversation have, for the most part, no responsibility for the content that is hosted on it. We are able to write about anything we want, discussing anything we want. The blog host (say, WordPress, or Blogger, or Tumblr) is not responsible or culpable for any of the content their users put out. Similarly, the bloggers, or original post writers are not responsible for the comments that result – legally or otherwise.

      SESTA changes that. Platforms would be responsible for the content displayed, and blog owners would be responsible for what people say on their blogs, as if they had been the ones to write it themselves.

      The relevant line is this (source):

      This carefully crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims. The proposed legislation would:

      Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly or recklessly facilitated their victimization;

      Remember the various discussions we’ve had over the years – such as during Sad Puppies, or say, like the one where Larry blogged about that Ms America candidate who was pro self-defense? There was someone who came into the comments and made it seem like everyone who was arguing in favor for self defense was enabling rapists, and not only that, she argued that we should change the definition of rape to allow for women who felt they were raped but claimed that ‘this doesn’t necessarily need to have legal consequences.’ Or, for example, the discussions recently where we talk about self-responsibility, and I cited that Tumblr post where from the story of the writer most of the people she described engaged in purely reckless behavior and then were raped… and somehow it’s up to other people to ‘start the change.

      People who responded, either negatively, or arguing against those stances would be – let’s be honest here, conflating isn’t new – easily positioned to be ‘in support of sex trafficking – because some of the victims of sex trafficking might have been a bit reckless but were also unlucky enough to end up being trafficked. Or that rape victims were also trafficked.

      Not only could our detractors complain about those comments, they could have the blogs shut down for ‘recklessly facilitating sex trafficking victimization.’

      Nothing we say, even if we police ourselves, would be safe.

      Say one of the trolls who frequently shows up goes to our blogs while we’re on our low-activity time, or while the blog owner is asleep, and makes a comment, completely unrelated to the topic at hand, saying “I know where we can get young boys.” The comment doesn’t get deleted for some time. The owner of the blog would already be a ‘sex trafficking facilitating criminal’ – because under SESTA, the blog owner and the hosting service is responsible for all content and is legally culpable. Then the allies of that troll submit a report citing that comment and claim that the blog is in violation. And escalate it.

      Boom. Gone. You don’t even get to argue because you can’t.

      Even blogging about writing – police procedurals, chatting about how to realistically portray fictional criminals or crime, or how to write thrillers – would potentially fall under the ‘reckless’ because “Sure, you’re writing fiction, but then someone took your ideas and used them in real life!” – kind of like how there’s a train of thought out there that Tom Clancy gave Osama Bin Laden the idea to crash a plane into American monuments because it happened in one of his books.

      Am I fear mongering? No. I am not. I simply understand the social climate we are in now – dissent must be erased by all means. This could easily be used to chilling effect – beyond chilling effect, in fact. Brexit wouldn’t have been able to happen, Trump would not be elected, there wouldn’t be any voice for anyone wanting to say “No” or “But wait…” or “I think…”

      All that would matter are the ‘victims’ or ‘potential victims’ or ‘hypothetical victims’ that could be ‘harmed’ by those ‘haterbigotracistnazipatriarchycishomobhobescum’ daring to say anything out of line.

      Look at Antifa. Look at the media. Alternative media wouldn’t. couldn’t exist. We wouldn’t have anywhere safe to talk. Remember that we are not considered remotely human or worth protecting, that we are, in the view of the rabid, controlling Left, the Social Marxists, outside the protection of the law – and that the laws are supposed to be a weapon to keep us quiet and cowed and silent.

      I can’t do anything but warn my friends in the US from here in Australia. DON’T LET THEM WIN.

      1. Nothing we say, even if we police ourselves, would be safe.

        I entirely concur with Shadowdancer’s assessment. I’m overseas myself, but as a US citizen I’ll be able to contact my representative about this (and will do so). However, those of you who are in the US will have even more ability than mine to do so (you’ll be in the same timezone, for one thing). Please do what I’m going to do and pick up your phone to call your representative’s office. The EFF’s campaign has a form you can fill out to send an automated email to your representative, but phone calls carry ten times the weight in the representative’s mind (and an actual mailed, signed letter carries even more) because it represents the fact that this constituent cared enough about the issue to spend time on it, and therefore he/she will probably still care about it at election time.

        If passed, this bill would be immediately be wielded against conservatives and libertarians online. We need to contact our Congressional representatives and tell them of the many, many nasty side-effects this bill would have. (If you’re unlucky enough to be represented by a Democrat, couch it as a hypothetical in a direction they’d sympathize with, like someone trying to get an “alternative lifestyles” discussion forum shut down. You might be able to get them to see the danger if you phrase it in a way that would gore their ox.)

      2. Shadowdancer, here’s what I did. I’d welcome folks more skilled at writing persuasively to take a look at what I added to your explanation. In hindsight, I’m afraid the penultimate sentence will be viewed as a feature by the woman I sent it to.

        How to reach your elected representative:

        A sample e-mail to cut-and-paste & customize. I’ll x-post to Shadowdancer’s comment thread as well. is also an option for non USAians as well.


        Please don’t use the victims of sexual trafficking as an excuse to destroy American liberties.

        Right now, all the services that we use for discussing, blogging, conversation have, for the most part, no responsibility for the content that is hosted on it. We are able to write about anything we want, discussing anything we want. The blog host (say, WordPress, or Blogger, or Tumblr) is not responsible or culpable for any of the content their users put out. Similarly, the bloggers, or original post writers are not responsible for the comments that result – legally or otherwise.

        SESTA changes that. Platforms would be responsible for the content displayed, and blog owners would be responsible for what people say on their blogs, as if they had been the ones to write it themselves.

        As a librarian, and a union employee, my freedom to speak up about controversial issues could be abrogated if a Trump “pizza-gate” activist decided to use law-fare to shut down the social media site. For those on the right, if the next president and congress are Democrats, they could face a similar shut down.

        Please stop this bill.

    2. Shadow, last week when you put this up, I called my representative, Sam Johnson. I got a call back from his office today and he plans to oppose.

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