5 Major News Stories That Forgot to Tell You the Best Part

#2. The Diaper-Wearing Stalker Astronaut Probably Wasn't Wearing a Diaper


History has a tendency to reduce even the most significant people to their basic components. We (inaccurately) think of Napoleon Bonaparte as "the short French emperor dude," whereas John Wayne is a larger-than-life badass archetype who is totally not just some funny-walking guy called Marion. In this context, Lisa Nowak is destined to be forever known as "the psycho kidnapper astronaut who drove across the country wearing diapers." In fact, we're guessing that approximately everyone in the audience who knows the story knows it only as "That time the crazy astronaut lady went on a diaper-wearing rampage."

Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"Astronauts and a built-in pee premise ... call my agent."

The story, as it was told, was that Nowak resorted to resolving a love triangle by trying to kidnap (and possibly murder) a fellow NASA officer, driving 1,400 miles to abduct her in Orlando. She wore a diaper throughout the trip, because who has time for toilet stops when you're batshit crazy?

Of course, the diaper thing was at least somewhat mitigated by the fact that the device was one of those special absorbent astronaut garments. So, no matter how whacked out the rest of her plan was, at least she pooped her pants astronaut style.

NASA/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Heads up, Houston; I'll be bringing back a couple of 'moon rocks'."

The Story You Didn't Know:

First up, NASA doesn't hand out space diapers to astronauts for their own personal use. So we can knock out the idea of Nowak driving around in NASA-issued poop panties right now. That leaves us with a few options. Either:

A) Lisa Nowak was wearing her own adult diapers, or
B) she wasn't, and the media picked up on a story that didn't happen.

The whole thing appears to have been based on a joke. There were toddler diapers found in her car at the time of the arrest (along with a wig and a BB gun and other typical crazy stalker stuff), about "20 to 30" of them in the trunk. So, if you were an insane astronaut driving across the country to accost your lover's other lover, would you use baby diapers to collect your urine and feces? HOW? HOW WOULD YOU DO THAT? And remember, this is a lady driver. The mechanics of using baby diapers to wipe your nether regions would be impossible.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Especially considering all the drive-thru she'd been eating.

Which is why Nowak and her lawyers say it never happened. What did happen was that Nowak told the guy who discovered the diapers that she used them to avoid pit stops. It appears that crazy astronaut Lisa Nowak, who coordinated the stupidest stalking escapade ever recorded, was making an ill-timed joke. It's hard to tell; the police report didn't include sarcastic air quotes. What we know is that she did stop on her way to Orlando. So we can probably take her testimony to the officer who found her diapers with a grain of salt, if not for the fact that, dammit, the story is just way more awesome if she's wearing a diaper the whole time. So, that's the one that got told.

#1. Afghanistan Invited the Soviet Invasion

AFP/Getty Images

We have more in common with the former Soviet Union than just a love of chess and hatred of Nazis. For example, we both have Afghanistan. Two decades before the 9/11 attacks prompted the U.S. to invade, the Soviets tried their hand at controlling their Afghan neighbors. After executing the Afghan president, the Reds spent the next 10 years occupying Afghanistan and fighting insurgents (some of whom were equipped and funded by the U.S. government; see Rambo III for details).

"Friends forever, right, guys?"

The Soviets had no idea who they were up against -- not the terrain, the fighters, or the customs they were trying to disrupt with their secular, communist ways. By 1987, the Soviets were looking for their exit strategy, the same familiar one the United States is looking at now: Equip and train the locals to deal with rebels on their own, then hightail it the hell out of Dodge. Troops were withdrawn by 1989, just in time to discover that communism was pretty much over at home.

Getty Images
"We're about done with this whole communism thing, but uh, you know, thanks for the effort. Good talk."

The Story You Didn't Know:

The Afghan government asked the Soviets to come over in the first place. In fact, the two governments had been tight for decades, with the USSR funding major infrastructure projects in the country since the 1950s. There was a mutual need for each other back then -- the Soviets wanted to get closer to Asia and Middle Eastern oil, plus they wanted to keep an eye on U.S.-friendly Pakistan. And Afghanistan liked Russian money. So for a while, everything was cool.

That is, until 1973, when the Afghan monarchy was overthrown by a Marxist faction that could never quite get their shit together. By 1978, the president of Afghanistan had signed a 20-year "friendship treaty" with the Soviet Union. He then begged the USSR to get on the best ship of all -- the "deployment of troops for his gain" ship. The Soviets refused. That guy, by the way, was eventually assassinated via pillow suffocation.

The pillow was well-paid for the hit.

Meanwhile, the Afghan people were fed up with the regime. The KGB learned that the Afghan intellectual class was fleeing, and that loyal Soviet supporters were getting executed by the government left and right. Also, that the government sucked at governing. So the next time the (next) president asked for Soviet help with rebel forces, the USSR said, "Sure, homey!" Then they deployed the shit out of their military, executed the guy who invited them, and proceeded to fight the rest of the country for the next nine years. They came all that way and didn't feel like lugging all their gear back.

But hey, at least they came invited.

Dennis runs a group blog and a crowdsourced dating advice site. He'll clap excitedly if you follow him on Twitter.

For more instances of the news media blowing it, check out 7 Clearly Fake News Stories That Fooled The Mainstream Media and 5 More Clearly Fake News Stories That Fooled the Media.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Why the Greatest Superman Story Ever Told Was a Ripoff.

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