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October 5, 2015

In space, no one can hear you vote

by Danny Gallagher, posted Apr 13th 2009 1:26PM
Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert ReportAn open letter to the folks at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

You have done some mighty fine things over the years. You've put a man not just in space, but on the moon. You've invented devices that have reached the farthest corners of space (some haven't made it back, but that's another letter). You invented Tang.

Technically, that's about it, at least if you don't count the hilarious, million dollar mistakes that have provided wonks like me with hours of depressing entertainment. But that leads me to my point.

You have a unique opportunity to win back the people's trust. And unlike the last billion dollar space probe that crashed into a planet because you forgot to put wheels on it, this move won't cost you a red cent.

You gave the public the opportunity to name a node on the International Space Station. The site included several unimaginative suggestions such as Serenity, Earthrise and Venture, names that would only sound cool as impotence medications. Media gadfly Stephen Colbert, however, had a much grander and bolder name to describe the awesome power of this urine recycling node: his own.

He flooded the site with his minions and eventually gave him the top spot among the various vote getters. Now NASA is balking on their promise and may choose to go against the will of the people whose will they gave to a satirical pundit when they followed his order and nominated his name.

What exactly do you have to lose by putting Colbert's name on the node? Are you afraid roving aliens will spot the name and laugh at it? They are already doing that when they see humans using the Snuggie.

America has a lot of lessons to learn, but the one I always thought we had down cold was that the vote will always be the most powerful voice in the land. You asked for our votes and we gave them to you. Now it's time for you to Armstrong-up and do the right thing by giving Colbert the node. It's not only a gracious way of thanking Colbert for putting your name back on the front page of the newspaper again, but it will also make up for the whole "faking the moon landing" thing.

Don't think of it as caving in to your mistakes. Think of it as bringing democracy to outer space.

Danny Gallagher

PS: Oh, and get us to Mars already.

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Nonsense post. Fits the author.

April 15 2009 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh please - it's not like Colbert was the only ballot-stuffer. It's well known that the Whedonites mobilized behind Serenity. Also, the social network Gaia Online was giving away a free in-game item for voting Gaia, which they verified by providing a direct link to the Nasa voting site.

April 13 2009 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not saying I don't want to see it named after Colbert. I'm just pointing out that when ballot-stuffing occurs, as was done here, the "winner" does not reflect the will of the people.

The only way voting can reflect the will of the people is with one person, one vote. And even then it only reflects the will of those who bothered to vote.

I'd be perfetly content to see it named after Colbert. But NASA wants to be taken seriously these days, when a good argument can be made that NASA shouldn't even exist at all anymore.

April 13 2009 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a urine recycling node, people--why the heck SHOULDN'T it be named after a comedy figure? We're not talking about the whole station, or a shuttle, or some other important vehicle. It's the urine recycling node! Isn't all this "ballot-stuffing" stuff a little high-minded for that?

And wouldn't you "Firefly" fans rather have something a little more dignified named "Serenity". Like, um, a bladder control product? LOL, sorry, couldn't resist. :-)

April 13 2009 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stuffing a ballot box (or getting people to do it on your behalf) is meant to thwart and subvert the will of the people. It certainly does not represent it.

That being said, I have not been too thrilled with "the will of the people" lately. So I just don't care. Should idiots who voted get their way, or should idiots who intentionally screwed with the voting process get their way? I say neither. Everyone should lose.

April 13 2009 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Tell Colbert that the node will be named after him - if he will attend the dedication IN PERSON! If he is willing to risk his life for the publicity, then NASA has a great marketing campaign. Why not turn it in to a reality show - "Make Me An Astronaut".

April 13 2009 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why did they even allow write-ins? Did they actually expect the winner to be as bland as the official contenders? If Colbert is unacceptable, at least 4 of the other 9 write-in suggestions are unacceptable as well.

April 13 2009 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry-per WIKI-TANG not invented for NASA

It was initially intended as a breakfast drink, but sales were poor until NASA began using it on Gemini flights in 1965 (researched at Natick Soldier Systems Center), which was heavily advertised.[3] Since that time, it has been associated with the U.S. manned spaceflight program, so much so that an urban legend emerged that Tang was invented for the space program.[4][5]

April 13 2009 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, calm down. NASA never lead anyone to believe that the write in names would be considered.

Go Serenity!

April 13 2009 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really really *really* hope they don't name it after Colbert.

It was a cute gag the first time...but by now it's nothing but self-agrandizing and sheepherding....enough of it, please.

April 13 2009 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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