24
Mar
09

Colbert Stuffs NASA Into Metaphorical Locker With Space Station Contest Win

Oh, God, poor NASA. The geeks running the show there thought it’d be really cool to get people to vote on the name of the new space station. Worse: They thought it would heighten public awareness and excitement about said station if they included a “suggest your own” button. And Colbert got wind of it, called on his peeps to get shit done, and they did. So now NASA’s stuck. Why? They’re just not that cool.

For months now, people have been naming stuff after Stephen Colbert, something I highly endorse. Why not name a spider or turtle or what not after somebody who will definitely mention it to the hipster generation? It might actually drum up some excitement about your geeky little scientific project, at best, and, at worst, it…umm…may sound silly to future generations? Really, the down sides are few and far between, and I was allllmost so happy to hear about the space station naming contest. Until I heard who’s running it. *sigh*

So here’s the thing about NASA. They’re a great organization. Really. But, at the administrative level, they’re not the bastion of ironically-geeky intelligencia that is the astrophysics community in general. Don’t titter; I’m being serious. Remember the guy who kept phoning in from orbit to talk to Colbert? Or the guy who got piped in from the South Pole? Those are both the kinds of people I tend to work with. They’re funny, they lovelovelove snark, and, above all, they adore internet prankdom.

However…

Once you go higher up the food chain in someplace like NASA, what you tend to find are less the Weezer-type geeks and more the quotes-Asimov-as-his-opening-line-type geeks. During my internship there, I encountered a lot of really, really nice guys. But they’re the real deal, nerd-wise. Like, even I was tempted to take their lunch money sometimes. Put it this way: These are the guys who get all hot and bothered about the idea of ROBOTS!!! ON THE MOON!!! DOING STUFF!!!! Not because it has any probative scientific value really; they just like robots. And they should: Their job is to sell America on Astrophysics as a worthwhile pursuit. And, let’s face it: Sci-fi-based crap is highly saleable to the American public. Jesus, über-cool Jack Kennedy even made walking on the moon a cornerstone of his campaign because of that. It sold then, and it still does.

So, yeah…catching the interview Colbert just did with the guy from NASA brought back memories. And seeing this morning that he’s won the contest just makes me feel sorry for these guys. Now they’re in the uncomfortable position of either going with a name they will hate, so as not to seem “uncool” (Make no mistake: They were hoping for some kind of H.P.-Lovecraft-inspired dreamy little name suggestion, if anything) or not doing so, and being catapulted back into high-school-era mockery for their epic nerd move.

For those about to be outed as horrifyingly socially-awkward geeks, I salute you.

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1 Response to “Colbert Stuffs NASA Into Metaphorical Locker With Space Station Contest Win”



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