This would explain a lot about Herman Cain's campaign

It's your Saturday, so it's time for your Saturday Nerdout. We've got a trippy anti-drug film with a terrifying troll-faced hot dog, the ugly dystopian reality behind Pokémon, a look at how NASA and NPR helped an old engineer let go of thirty years of blaming himself for the Challenger disaster, and so much more. Let's get nerding!

This Is Your Weiner On Drugs

Feast your burned out brain on "Case Study: LSD," an awesome 1969 moral hygiene film about the dangers of LSD, made -- go figure -- by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. It all starts when a pretty blonde gal who's already "pretty jacked up on marijuana" is offered some acid by a guy at a party with some groovy beads. But she is a total klutz we guess, because then she says she dropped it.

This video features the most hilarious excuse for an hallucination we've heard of: She's about to bite into a hot dog, but it starts screaming, and the hot dog tells her she can't eat it because "he had a wife and seven kids at home to support." At least it sounds like he was trying to be a responsible citizen.

This case study is based on the true story of Michele Bachmann at the Iowa State Fair.

We don't have any idea why Lockheed was making anti-drug films, and darned if we found out why in the NightFlight article about the movie -- one of three anti-drug "case studies' made by the company. But they're willing to speculate!

Perhaps the government felt it needed to step in and encourage Lockheed to make these films, considering that they’d been propping up Lockheed Aircraft Corporation at the time, as the company was struggling financially to stay afloat at the end of 1969 [...]

Lockheed ended up borrowing $400 million from a consortium of banks in 1969, even they would still end up declaring multimillion dollar losses for the company for ’69 and 1970. It wasn’t enough money, however, and so the failing aerospace giant once again turned to our federal government, who then granted them a $250 million dollar loan guarantee, which Nixon’s administration actually proposed and Congress narrowly ended up passing in August 1971, passing that sizable debt on to the U.S. taxpayer by showing that Lockheed — just like the banks — was simply too big to fail.

We're far too lazy to research the history of Lockheed's anti-drug movies, but "Government bailout" makes as much sense as any alternative.

Finally Some Peace For Engineer Who Tried To Stop Challenger Launch

As part of its coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, NPR ran a story on Bob Ebeling, an engineer with Morton Thiokol, the maker of the solid rocket boosters. Ebeling was one of five engineers who tried to stop the launch of Challenger, but he and his team's recommendation was overruled by their managers and by officials at NASA (Contrary to myth, investigations found there was no pressure from the Reagan administration to launch in time for the State of the Union address -- it was all NASA's doing). Challenger flew, and 73 seconds into the launch, the O-rings in the solid rocket boosters failed, leading to the explosion of the external fuel tank and the deaths of the seven astronauts. Ever since, Bob Ebeling has been blaming himself for not somehow doing more to stop the launch.

Three weeks after the disaster, Ebeling told NPR's Howard Berkes about the Thiokol engineers' attempts to convince their bosses and NASA to scrub the launch; coincidentally, engineer Roger Boisjoly independently decided to speak to NPR reporter Daniel Zwerdling the same day. Both asked for anonymity at the time, fearing for their jobs, although Boisjoly later came forward and became something of a hero for whistleblowers. Ebeling, now 89, agreed to identify himself for the first time in January's interview with Berkes, in which he admitted that he still feels guilty:

Ebeling retired soon after Challenger. He suffered deep depression and has never been able to lift the burden of guilt. In 1986, as he watched that haunting image again on a television screen, he said, "I could have done more. I should have done more."

He says the same thing today, sitting in a big easy chair in the same living room, his eyes watery and his face grave. The data he and his fellow engineers presented, and their persistent and sometimes angry arguments, weren't enough to sway Thiokol managers and NASA officials. Ebeling concludes he was inadequate. He didn't argue the data well enough.

A religious man, this is something he has prayed about for the past 30 years.

"I think that was one of the mistakes that God made," Ebeling says softly. "He shouldn't have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I'm gonna ask him, 'Why me. You picked a loser.' "

After the story ran in January, it resulted in any number of sympathetic letters to NPR and to Ebeling, including from engineers who'd read about Boisjoly and his team's opposition to the launch as a business ethics case study while in college. One, Jim Sides, said that when he heard the NPR story three weeks ago, he "just sat there in the car in the parking lot and cried," after which he wrote to Ebeling:

"Your efforts show that your care for people comes first for you," Sides wrote to Ebeling. "I agree with your friend Roger Boisjoly. You and he and your colleagues did all that you could do."

Sides describes himself as a religious man and says Ebeling was wrong about God.

"God didn't pick a loser," he says. "He picked Bob Ebeling."

Ebeling was somewhat cheered by the letters from listeners, but what really helped was when Berkes looked up his former supervisor at Thiokol, Allan McDonald, who led the effort to stop the launch, who called Ebeling to remind him that Ebeling had been key to the effort to ground Challenger in 1986:

McDonald also reminded Ebeling that he first raised the alarm by calling the Kennedy Space Center, where McDonald was Thiokol's launch representative. That call prompted the 11th-hour teleconference in which the engineers told NASA it was too risky to launch.

"If you hadn't have called me," McDonald told Ebeling, "they were in such a go mode, we'd have never even had a chance to try to stop it."

It also helped that NASA issued a statement saying the best way to honor the losses of the Challenger (and Columbia) crews is "by constantly reminding each other to remain vigilant and to listen to those like Mr. Ebeling who have the courage to speak up, so that our astronauts can safely carry out their missions."

Give a listen to Howard Berkes's NPR story on how, after thirty years, Bob Ebeling is finally ready to let himself off the hook for the disaster he did his best to prevent. You may want to have a box of tissues handy.

The Dystopian Hell-World Of Pokémon

Pokémon: Cute little animals in a fun game that kids love, right? Or maybe there's nothing so innocent about it, as io9's James Whitbrook explains in an essay commemorating 20 years of the franchise (Just 20 years? Seriously? Yet true!):

Yes, It’s All Basically Cockfighting

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way: the core of Pokémon is about wild animals being enslaved and then pitted against each other in violent combat for both fun and profit. Not only are these fights vastly popular spectator sports for the public, but the best Pokémon trainers are held in the highest regard and are lauded with titles and prize money. Every little kid dreams of becoming a Pokémon master when they head out on their adventures.

It's also a society where pre-teens are sent out into the wilderness to fend for themselves in an effort to "be the very best, like no one ever was" -- in constant danger, without the least hint of adult supervision, and no, Professor Oak doesn't help, he just judges you. Plus, there's all those clones running around:

And then there's the Pokémon slavery, the genetic manipulation, the bizarre relationship between Pokémon and their human masters/friends/whatevers. Worst of all, says Whitbrook, "Society Is Indoctrinated to Believe Pokémon Want This." It's pocket monstrous, is what it is.

Also, an unrelated but similarly-themed video, because it exists:

Oh Great, Why'd You Have To Piss Off The Robots?

Remember our post a few weeks ago where we mocked the housekeeping skills of the ATLAS robot? And we included a hilarious video of bipedal robots in the DARPA Challenge falling down and not getting up?

We would just like to apologize to our future robot overlords, now that they can balance a lot better. And get up when they fall down. And we'd especially like to apologize to a new generation of Atlas, from Boston Dynamics, for what this bad human keeps doing with the hockey stick. He is not related to us, OK?

The robots can open doors and go outside, and they are pissed.

Gravitational Waves Explained So Stephen Colbert Can Understand Them

We mentioned the confirmation of Gravitational Waves a couple weeks back, just in time for Antonin Scalia to die and monopolize the comments section, darn him. It's an extremely cool discovery, and here's one more explanation of the whole phenomenon from theoretical physicist Brian Greene, who throws some science and lasers and stuff at Stephen Colbert. We just like watching slack-jawed and trying to make sense of it all. Not addressed: Did gravitational waves kill Scalia? Don't be silly: A CIA hooker did.

A Guy Made A Sword Out Of Ice And Toilet Paper. That's Nerdy Enough For Us

Yep. Sword made of "Pykrete," ice combined with a binding agent, in this case, good old toilet paper. It's science! Or at least engineering.

Cockatoo Cusses Worser Than President Of Mexico

From the YouTube description:

Pebble didn't want to go back to her cage. I think she let me know what she thought about going. She's not afraid to let her feelings be known. Listen close to the whole video she's a Ying [sic] stuff throughout the whole video. A couple stood out to us tho. At 1:50 I certainly do! Ya I do! Fucking around up there looking at fucking marrying me but tell me whos marrying you? I just like rock and roll! Then At 2:43 I ask "do you have an attitude pebble?" She says "ya! That's right! The fucking veterinarian!" How many statements can everyone hear?

And thanks to Pebble, Donald Trump is going to make the wall around Cockatoovia ten feet higher (Hat tip to Boingboing).

[NightFlight / NPR Challenger anniversary / NPR follow-up / io9 / Gizmodo / Gizmodo again / Gizmodo one more time / Sploid / BoingBoing]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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