Dork Tower gets curious

By Phil Plait | August 6, 2012 3:18 pm

John Kovalic, the author of the web comic Dork Tower, apparently feels the same way about the media coverage of Curiosity as I do. Click to see the whole thing.

Tip o’ the sky crane to Emily Lakdawalla.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Geekery, Humor, NASA, Piece of mind, Space
MORE ABOUT: Curiosity, Dork Tower

Comments (19)

  1. Sad but true :(

    I have to say the hangout last night was awesome, thank you very much!

  2. James Evans

    At this point, the producers of Jersey Shore may have more class, restraint, and integrity than their local newscast counterparts.

  3. Steve

    Why do folks not celebrate the amazing, instead of manufacturing more hate? Chik-Fil-A and their supporters won’t get the momentous impact of this NASA success, unfortunately, but hopefully there’s enough of us to keep going on.

  4. Radwaste

    So, I guess if you own a big company, The 1st Amendment no longer applies to you.

    “Their supporters” run the gamut. I particularly gag at the idea that I must assess the owner of a FAST FOOD CHAIN for political correctness before I buy fat grams – or, in this case, a nice chicken sandwich from an eatery at least one order of magnitude better at personal service and cleanliness than McDonald’s, to use just one example.

    Next, I bet those NASCAR people have some silly ideas I have to check before I watch them race. Now on to research MotoGP, F1, World Rally, the “X” Games, and how to figure out how to penalize all those people who went to Reds games despite Marge Schott.

    But I bet you don’t want to hear about the 1st Amendment. Everyone must support every pressing social issue immediately!

  5. Enon

    Fortunately, streaming NASA TV & running the simulation of the landing at allowed me to bypass mass media coverage of Curiosity entirely.

    Besides, I don’t even own a TV.

  6. Radwaste: the First Amendment does not shield you from criticism by the public. It shields you from the government preventing you from expressing yourself. The restaurant, the people who were boycotting it, and the people who were patronizing it were all exercising their First Amendment rights. Nobody’s rights were being abridged.

  7. Eidolon

    Just so you know, the first amendment refers to the actions of the government, not individuals. Further, nobody has had their freedom of speech hampered. The CFA folks have been perfectly free to espouse their dislike for gays .

    As for your use of the term “PC”, it has become the set response when someone is called out for their bigotry. Buying a CFA sandwich has the effect of supporting the company which, in turn, contributes to anti-gay causes and groups that have been active in getting anti-gay laws passed in Africa. It would seem that this connection with such groups is not just a matter of “PC”.

  8. carbonUnit

    Sadly, most of the hate we see in the media is a reflection of the real world (not to be confused with TV “reality”.) Most of what we see in the media is manufactured STUPIDITY. Nevertheless, the cartoon caused fine words by Todd Rundgren to come to mind:

    And when you feel afraid, love one another
    When you’ve lost your way, love one another
    When you’re all alone, love one another
    When you’re far from home, love one another
    When you’re down and out, love one another
    All your hope’s run out, love one another
    When you need a friend, love one another
    When you’re near the end, love one another
    We got to love one another

    Love (& science) IS the answer!

  9. Alan D

    A marvelous “Dork Tower,” which made an excellent point and I thought would generate some interesting comments. Instead, it’s about Chik-Fil-A. Disappointing.

  10. Radwaste

    Wow. A Chick-Fil-A sandwich promotes African anti-gay activism!

    One more time: the expressed opinion of a person must not be suppressed because they own a big company – and that is being called for by gay activists, some of whom are agitating for government backing. Now, if you have an example of the company’s refusal to serve someone, OK, but until that happens, you’re just mad that a rich man has a different opinion from yours – and hiding a lack of your own principles, perhaps, by trying to restrict 1st Amendment arguments to government action. It’s PERFECTLY OK for the Politically Correct to shout down dissent – but if you’re not them, shut up. Right?

    I think the ROI is positive for the State recognizing gay marriage. I also think that the outrage and vitriol directed at this man is not only petty, but vindictive, even though it remains an opinion without action.

    Are you going to force CFA to be open on Sunday, next, because they must conform?

    Of course. HOW DARE THEY exercise their freedom of religion by being closed Sunday so that their people can attend a church?!

    Let us not ignore the support CFA got. They were packed with people on 8/1, and crowds were there on 8/2 and 8/3 near my work. This discussion needs to involve a few more folks than one CEO.

  11. Grand Lunar

    It’s very much spot-on, Phil.

    The morning paper was a prime example, although there was much about the Olympics. Guess that’s better than more hate.

    But not as cool as Curiosity (sorry Olympic fans, but that’s my opinion)!
    I can hardly wait to see the full views. And what might it’s instruments uncover?

    While you may believe the discussion of CFA needs to involve more folks than one CEO, I do not believe it needs to be involved in this particular blog entry.

  12. Don

    Speaking of the coverage last night, NASA TV needs to stop with the interviews of the muckity mucks right when the command team is reporting telemetry data. One of the team members was reporting a number, seemed excited about it, and they cut away for a boring interview before he could explain the significance. I think NASA needs a second channel just for the geeky stuff.

  13. This whole Chik-Fil-A thing is a brilliant, if twisted, viral marketing campaign and they are making a ton of money from it and laughing all the way to the bank. Every person that rails against them drives another person of opposite views to their counter. I doubt they care one way or the other about that actual issue, other than as a way to drive sales.

    I really hate seeing the whole thing continued even here.

    As to the media coverage of one of the most amazing engineering feats of all time, from what I say it was rather worse than the comic makes it out to have been. The BBC treated it better than the American news, even with the Olympics in their front yard. One more reason I don’t have cable at home.

  14. Eidolon

    I think the last frame in this comic is very telling and accurately reflects the attitude of a fair segment of the public. Knowledge is held to be of no value unless there is a monetary reward. I see this reflected when the issue of funding our state universities comes up.

    As for CFA, Radwaste was a troll I should not have fed. Sorry about that.

    As for coverage, …”Lander? What lander?”

  15. In an ideal world, the number of panels would be reversed. We’d have three panels detailing amazing human accomplishments (and calling for increased funding for STEM endeavors) and one panel would quickly and off-handedly mention some small that happened. Not because the news wouldn’t report that stuff, but because – in an ideal world – there just wouldn’t be enough anger/hate/violence to fill the majority of the news.

  16. kennypo65

    “If it bleeds, it leads”. This is the mantra of the mainstream “news”. It wouldn’t be this way if it weren’t for the fact that the corporate entities that own the networks think that the news should make money. It’s all about ratings. In the past, it was understood that reporting the facts will actually lose money. It was about reporting the news, which isn’t always exciting. This is why we have “infotainment” instead of information.

    Please, no more discussion about Chik-fil-a, Not here. I submit that the majority of us come here for science, not sensationalism.

  17. Bob_In_Wales

    Cor, for an American blog I feel at home on this one. John was a year ahead of me at University and he still drops in on good friends of mine who still live in London when he is in the UK. Plus Uni was just down the road from Stratford where the Olympic Park is – I remember it when it was disused industrial land back in th 80s. Then I worked in Greenwich and often lunched in the park where the equestrian venue is and checked my watch against the ball on the Royal Observatory roof when it dropped at 1pm.

    I’m not surprised he’s produced a cartoon like this. He’s a really nice guy.

    As for Chick-Fil-A and how much the US spends on space – that’s up to you yanks. I’m just name dropping.

    /end pointless post

  18. Dragonchild

    Actually, the number of people watching the Curiosity EDL on-line were comparable to the number watching the Olympics. TV showed what it wanted only because they have a de facto monopoly on content. They’re hemorrhaging numbers not only because of availability of on-line content, but their own stubborn insistence that they know what their audiences want. Most people I know who watch stuff on-line don’t even watch network TV anymore, let alone cable.

    TV news is a dying beast, and you give them more credit than it’s worth by overstating their relevance. America’s reception to Curiosity was far warmer than TV let on, probably because the yutzes running network and cable news are just as stupid as their viewers. That can’t be helped and I’d be the first to say America’s in decline, but we’re not THAT far gone yet.

  19. bassmanpete

    Left on Saturday for 5 days birdwatching in Outback Australia. No reception on the car radio so didn’t hear any news broadcasts. Arrived in Winton, Queensland at about mid-day Tuesday and went into a newsagent to buy a newspaper. The lady behind the counter said “You do realise that that’s yesterday’s paper?” I hadn’t realised that and put the paper back on the shelf. The current day’s paper wouldn’t arrive until about 2pm. I asked her if she knew if Curiosity had landed successfully on Mars. No, she hadn’t listened to the news since the Olympics began.

    Went into a local pub for lunch. Asked the barmaid same question as before, same response. A man sitting at the other end of the bar heard what I’d asked and gave me the news I’d wanted to hear – Curiosity had landed successfully. I ate my lunch as a very happy chappie!

    My birdwatching friend was not impressed; a complete waste of money in his opinion. I could have got into a heated argument but we were travelling in his vehicle and still about 1,000kms from home so I kept quiet.

    Back home now, back on line and catching up with all the news. Fantastic!


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