Monday, February 26, 2007

the astrofreaks

This morning I found a link on Boing Boing to a news story on a NASA document that details procedures for restraining and drugging astronauts who get violently uncomfortable with their surroundings during space flight. Combined with the recent story of Lisa Nowak's breakdown and subsequent cross-country astro-diaper journey, it's become pretty clear to me that astronauts, whatever other qualities they may have, are stone fucking nuts.

Not convinced? Here's your first clue: they go into space. Do you know who wants to go into space? Children, schizophrenics and astronauts. Children dream about it, schizophrenics believe they've already done it, but astronauts are the only class of people who actually put a suit on and get their faces shoved back by high-g forces.

I'm also willing to bet that if you sat a child or a lunatic down and told them the odds of survival, they'd think twice:

RECRUITER: Hey, how'd you like to go into space?
CHILD: My mother says I can do anything I want.
CRAZY HOBO: You the sonofabitch stole my Buick?
RECRUITER: You could really really die on a space shuttle mission. 1 in 75 chance. Just putting that out there.
CHILD: I'm not supposed to leave the playground area.
CRAZY HOBO: Yo-ho, smoky Joe, I gotta hot potato for you. You sell me my Buick back, I'll drive you to Jupiter.

You think I'm making that dialogue up, don't you? Anyway, according to the AP story, "Would-be astronauts are carefully screened and tested to eliminate [Eliminate? Shouldn't that be 'disqualify'?] those who are unstable":

RECRUITER: How'd you like to go into space for a living?
RECRUITER: With each flight you have an official 1 in 75 chance of dying.
NUTJOB: Bonus.
RECRUITER: But it actually shakes out to 1 in 60.
NUTJOB: Will there be sadistic hazing as well? 'Cause that would be gravy.

Space programs constitute the kind of insanity that goes very well with discipline and order. It's a bit like the military - you're joining an organization that provides sanction for taking the lives of human beings similarly charged to take yours. Everyone knows that's grade-A nuts. It's a circle of nuttiness, an endless loop of defense, aggression and recrimination that bends moral space into a Mobius strip. While we are captivated by its strange arguments, we lose a dimension, and eventually its fundamental strangeness becomes accepted. And people by the foddery millions, from time A (caveman with club) to time B (bomber in Ramallah) have signed up for it.

RECRUITER: Say, what is your most precious possession imaginable?
NUTJOB: My life.
RECRUITER: I have a persuasive argument to part you from it.
NUTJOB: Go on.

Really, I'm amazed that our highways aren't crowded with diaper-clad astronauts, their minds finally broken from walking that Mobius strip, on their way to exercise their psychosis on someone or other. I bet if we put up drive-through fast food joints catering to hungry astronauts on the go, or maybe diaper exchange huts, we could draw them out by the dozens.


mathew said...

space. that's all that needs to be said to dissuade me from wanting to go out there.

besides, we all know the earth is flat and balanced on the top of a turtle. it's turtles all the way down.

palinode said...

What do those turtles eat anyway?

lightspring said...

It's common knowledge that astronauts are culled from large herds of military pilots, many of whom go on to become commercial airline pilots. So you may want to avoid flying, if you don't already (since it's all turtles anyway), 'cause those guys is not right somehow. And I know. I was married to one.

palinode said...

Thanks, Lightspring: I neglected to point out the most obvious relationship between the military and NASA astronauts. I didn't think about the military-commercial flight nexus, though.

Tom said...

Yeah, the idea of going into space is cool and all, but you're basically shooting around in a tin can. Cars break down, ya' get a flat, whatever. When this happens on a family road trip, you don't have to worry about that whole pesky "re-entry" thing.

palinode said...

It would be a bummer if your car started screaming 'HULL BREACH! PRESSURE DIFFERENTIAL!' every time you opened the door or rolled down the window.

Hey, maybe that's why Lisa Nowak wore diapers. Her car was probably a tricked-out shuttle.

Friday said...

I loved this, and should not be laughing so much generally (stomach flu - owie).

pomojen said...

I would actually like to go. But your thoughtful analysis has led me to wonder if perhaps my desires should be viewed more as symptoms?

My Head Is Too Big said...

Astronuts. In space, no one can hear you pee your pants.

ozma said...

I want to go into space. Badly!

But I am stone fucking nuts. So I guess that settles that argument.