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Astronauts Behaving Badly
Wow. Talk about the wrong stuff.
Dr. Sanity (a former psych profiler for NASA) has some thoughts on a culture of toxic narcissism.
Unjustified astronaut worship is one of the unfortunate consequences that lingers on, almost half a century after the Cold-War space program began. Just one more reason to try to privatize things ASAP. And of course, this is going to unfairly reflect badly on all the astronauts who really do have the "right" stuff.
[Late morning update]
Heh. Comment #50:
As another famous pilot once said,
It's already been added to her bio at wikipedia.
I see that she's only flown once, last July. I wonder when this behavior started? Several astronauts have been profoundly affected by their trips into space. Some have gotten religion, some became addicted to various substances. The Overview Effect isn't always benign. I wonder if we'll find out that she had a personality change after her flight?
[Late afternoon update]
I'm a little surprised to see that this has become the news story of the day, at least on Fox. But maybe I shouldn't be. There's probably a TCS column or two in this somewhere.
[Another update a couple minutes later]
I fearlessly predict that some kind of "space adaptation derangement" will play a key part of the defense. I say this because I already heard it on John Gibson's show. Seriously, I do think that it will be played as insanity and a crime of passion. And I wouldn't rule out the Overview Effect.Posted by Rand Simberg at February 06, 2007 06:49 AM
"Her status as an astronaut with NASA is currently unchanged. I cannot speculate on what might happen beyond that," said James Hartsfield, a NASA spokesman at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where Nowak and Oefelein work.
Somehow I think her chances of gettin' near the cockpit of anything bigger than a balsawood toy plane are at about -0.Posted by Frantic Freddie at February 6, 2007 08:12 AM
It could have been worse. They could have been on their way to Jupiter (FL).Posted by lmg at February 6, 2007 09:37 AM
Blaming that Ms. Nowak's apparent psychotic behavior on the fact that she was a NASA astronaut is a little bit of a stretch. One suspects she would have done this sort of thing had she been something a little more mundane.Posted by Mark R Whittington at February 6, 2007 10:11 AM
One suspects she would have done this sort of thing had she been something a little more mundane
We'll never know. Annapolis, test pilot, captain in the US Navy - her life has been anything but mundane.Posted by brian at February 6, 2007 10:33 AM
Brian, not everybody who goes to the Canoe College, serves in the Navy, or is a test pilot had a tendency to commit felonies.Posted by Mark R. Whittington at February 6, 2007 10:53 AM
99% of the time when men do stupid things, it's because they're trying to impress a woman. I'm sure it works the same way in reverse.
When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.Posted by Edward Wright at February 6, 2007 12:05 PM
She has only been charged with attempted kidnapping and attempted murder. Let's not forget that she is innocent until proven guilty.Posted by Ed Minchau at February 6, 2007 12:10 PM
Rand is simply mentioning a theory, and one that should be explored. The astronauts I know have admitted that their flight experience has had a profound effect. Those effects could be negative and might manifest themselves in long term flight.
Brian's comment is mostly factual. Her life is anything but mundane. That's not to say her experiences caused a psychotic episode, and I don't see where Brian's comment suggested such. It's simply pointing out that her life has been eventful.
I think Ed Wright has it right. There is truth to phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned".
On a dark humorous side, I do wonder what is in the drinking water around Clear Lake: Yates, Harris, and now Nowak. There crimes are sadly too common, but they did bring a bit of bravado to their acts.Posted by Leland at February 6, 2007 12:16 PM
Ed Minchau--Quite right. Remember the Duke Lacross Team as an example of a slam dunk case that evaporated under the light of facts.
Leland--It's a dumb theory. It should not be advanced.
Ed Wright--I agree with you. I think that Hell just froze over (g).Posted by Mark R Whittington at February 6, 2007 12:34 PM
Brian, not everybody who goes to the Canoe College, serves in the Navy, or is a test pilot had a tendency to commit felonies.
I didn't say they did. I was only pointing out that her life has been anything but mundane.Posted by brian at February 6, 2007 12:42 PM
Since the accused and the object of her aaaah… affection were both married doesn’t that make this a love pentagon?Posted by JJS at February 6, 2007 02:32 PM
Since the accused and the object of her aaaah… affection were both married doesn’t that make this a love pentagon?
Not if the marriages were loveless. OTOH, I've seen no evidence so far that Shipman was involved romantically--only that Nowak thought she was. So maybe it was a love quadrangle...Posted by Rand Simberg at February 6, 2007 02:34 PM
So maybe it was a love quadrangle...
Or quadrilateral. Depends which side you're on. And speaking of Depends, she was foursquare with her training on the car trip.
An astonishingly successfull attempt to take a one-page idea and repeat it enough to create an entire book.Posted by The Overview Effect ? at February 6, 2007 03:15 PM
Side-note: Major Kong's mention of "Vegas" is an after-filming redubbing. The original place was "Dallas". However, Dr. Strangelove was released in early '64, and JFK's assassination was so recent...
DVD extras are wonderful things. Thanks, Neflix!
MGPosted by MG at February 6, 2007 04:51 PM
Side-note: Major Kong's mention of "Vegas" is an after-filming redubbing. The original place was "Dallas".
And the dubbing was incomplete, so it comes out as "Degas".Posted by lmg at February 6, 2007 06:34 PM
It seems quite well planned.
What would have happened if the victim hadn't been lucky?
Found in car in canal in a few days. Time of death not totally certain. A colleague had made verbal threats, but she would have had trouble getting from Texas to Florida and back in time. Besides there are no witnesses saying they've seen anyone of her description in Florida.
I'd say its more than 50/50 that she would have gotten away with it, more like 75/25. The only things against her were bad luck and unforseen circumstances.Posted by Ursus Maritimus at February 7, 2007 02:53 AM
I think we can expect stress from the last shuttle flight to make an appearance on her temporary insanity defense.
Sucks to be her husband and children this week no matter what the True Hollywood Story results.Posted by rjschwarz at February 7, 2007 08:44 AM
Leland--It's a dumb theory. It should not be advanced.
Mark, pardon me if I consider you ignorant on the subject and decide to respect the opinion of an expert:
http://drsanity.blog$pot.com/2007/02/crashing-to-earth.htmlPosted by Leland at February 7, 2007 10:12 AM
Canoe College??? Why is Mark Whittington suddenly talking like Robert Oler? Did some freak transporter accident merge their personas?
Posted by Edward Wright at February 7, 2007 01:10 PM
Mental problems and psychotic episodes have happened to space travelers before. There was a full psychotic mental break on Soyuz-21. Buzz Aldrin had problems after his walk on the moon.
This is the first time an episode has such a large public media audience.
The problem is not actually caused by space travel, just the living arrangements.
NASA is unaware of a problem that caused mental breaks for office workers in the 1960's. Training and mission living arrangements copy the too-small single-rooms that allow exposure from Subliminal Distraction.
The Astroonauts & Insanity page at VisionAndPsychosis.Net lists events going back to Antarctic expeditions a hundred years ago.Posted by L K Tucker at February 7, 2007 06:37 PM
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