Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Astronauts Can Be Crazy Too

How freaking bizarre is this? Up till now, I'd always thought of astronauts in the modern shuttle-era as Mathletes so crazily unflappable and cut off from their primal emotions (all the better to remain robotic in the event of a correctable in-flight crisis) that they only marginally resembled real human beings. A lady named Lisa Marie Nowak threw all that out the window.

As deeply in the thrall of jealousy as any guest on Jerry Springer, she drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando, foregoing bathroom breaks by wearing an adult diaper, to confront another woman, Colleen Shipman, whom Nowak perceived to be a rival for the affections of another astronaut named William Oefelein. This from the MSNBC report:
Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, she waited for Shipman’s plane to land and then boarded the same airport shuttle bus Shipman took to get to her car, police said. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit. Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying, the statement said. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman’s car, the affidavit said. Shipman drove to the parking lot booth and police were called.
Orlando police are charging her with attempted murder, which does seem excessive. Though Nowak's claim that she didn't want to hurt Shipman is suspect -- she was carrying a steel-mallet, a knife and a bunch of plastic bags after all -- all she really did was pepper spray a woman in her car. I don't know much about the law, but it seems like you should only be able to prosecute for crimes someone actually committed, not ones they may or may not have wanted to commit. Otherwise it gets into weird "Minority Report" territory. Anyway, the fact that Nowak was so not crazy as of 6 months ago, my guess is she had some kind of psychotic break and she'll do just fine pleading Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.

Something funny: On ABC World News Tonight, Bill Weir, (who some of you Los Angelenos might remember as the guy who used to do sports for the ABC affiliate out there a few years back and who now subs as a co-host for Good Morning America and, I guess, some actual reporting on the nightly newscast) said in this evening's report about the Nowak case, "It appears unlikely that she'll be on-board for her scheduled space flight this June." Hmmm. You think?

Finally, I'm a gon' opine on the Super Bowl. I thought the first half was interesting, the second half was a showcase for the Bears massive choke (I put the bulk of the blame on QB Grossman). Prince and the producers of the Halftime Show deserve accolades as they set a new standard for all future halftime shows, and my favorite commercial was the Letterman promo co-starring Oprah, and my favorite straight commercial was the Emerald Nuts commerical starring Robert Goulet as a mischievious office vandal. The most unfunny commercial: the one featuring at the end a bunch of jungle-ized office types running off the edge of a cliff. Very realistic, very off-putting. That is all.


peter said...

she is from rockville and spoke at my elementary school, which she attended, last fall

harwell said...

Well that definitely explains a few things, Peter.

You know who's the craziest astronaut ever though? Billy Bob Thornton. That dude's trying to build a space shuttle in his barn!l

blankfist said...

I don't know... James Garner was pretty wacky in Space Cowboys.

blankfist said...

Well, I think you're right to feel people should be punished for the crimes they actually commit, Crane. Assumptions, especially when dealing with matters of law, are dangerous.

Captain Mike said...

Christa McAullife, who was supposed to be the first civilian in space and blew up on the Challenger grew up in MY hometown. Her mom was my substitute art teacher.

Suck on THAT!!!!

Captain Mike said...

I remember my 2nd Grade teacher telling us that the Challenger had exploded. It was all very sad and all the kids in my class started crying. One of my friend's teachers was Christa McAulliffe's childhood best friend and watched the whole thing happen on live on TV. She screamed and burst into tears in front of her class.

McAulliffe has all kinds of libraries and planetariums named after her in New England. Somehow, I don't think Lisa Marie Nowak will have any public buildings named after her in Rockville or anywhere else.

Watching the Superbowl in New Zealand sucks. Due to the time difference, it was on at noon on Monday, so I missed the first half. They had some 2nd string international commentators on ESPN who were totally bored. No commercials, either. Prince was good, though. Even with the fake lightning.