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.
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.