Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...
Allow me to begin by firmly stating that in my oh so humble opinion, having sex in a bed with a stolen moon rock 1. is weird and creepy (not to mention potentially dangerous- are moon rocks scratchy?) and 2. is NOT the same thing as having sex on the actual moon. If you had sex on a down comforter would you run around telling people you had sex on a goose? I'd hope not for a whole host of reasons, but that's beside the point.
It's hard to truly communicate my level of disdain/dislike for this book's real life protagonist, Thad Roberts (below, left). At times I felt sure that author, Ben Mezrich (below, right), was being sarcastic- that he was in on the joke of just what a self-centered tool-nozzle (I have yet to find a word in the popular lexicon that really fits here) Thad was being, but far be it from me to be overly forgiving.
Maybe it was a result of his strict Mormon upbringing, maybe he was just a douchey guy by nature, but our pal Thad (intelligent though he may be) defines the sort of smug, exceptionalistic thinking that makes me want to go to Mars if only to get away from other humans.
Janet Mason's NYT review of the book, Supposition as Research: A Sort-of-True Story About NASA and a Thief, nicely captures Thad's absurd ability to justify his actions:
Mr. Roberts, while playing games with romance, geology and destiny, casually lost or destroyed 30 years’ research notes belonging to Dr. Everett K. Gibson Jr., Roberts’s NASA mentor. “He had his moment, he lived his moment and now we’re taking the baton,” the book’s thief argues.
Mezrich's description of the "rationale" behind it all basically came down to the idea that the world will be better off with the money going to Thad and his girlfriend "Rebecca" (Tiffany Fowler in real life) for their future scientific endeavors. Is that really the best possible use of those dollars? I don't know, but I also know that I don't know. He wasn't stealing, he was NASA stealing. Sure other people fall in love, but he was in special NASA love that we mere mortals can't possibly comprehend.
I’m glad Thad has moved on and is contributing to the world (you know, giving Ted talks and such), but I couldn't help but feel like this was just something to be added to his list of great exploits (one of which, it would seem from the photo above, is taking wind-swept semi-nude photo shoots on sand dunes).
I'll close with a snippet from a review from Jonathon Keats at New Science Magazine, since his scientific street cred far surpasses my own (also worth checking out as it references some of Mezrich's inconsistencies in the story across multiple interviews etc.):
In the same safe as the moon rocks were Gibson's notebooks, containing 20 years of research, permanently lost when the cracked safe was dumped. Roberts doesn't remember seeing them, and Mezrich nearly ignores them because they don't fit his story arc. But in a tale about value - and values - the fate of Gibson's notes speaks volumes: the true worth of those rocks is to be found in the research they generate.
Everett Gibson, center seated (below), as a grad student at the Johnson Space Center, probably not plotting how to purloin lab equipment to impress a chick.