back to article 51 years after humans first set foot on the Moon, a deepfaked Nixon mourns how Armstrong and Aldrin never made it home

On the 51st anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, MIT boffins have given an insight into an alternative history, one where US president Richard Nixon paid tribute to the astronauts who would not be returning from the Moon. Not to be confused with the Apple TV series For All Mankind, which presented its own alternate timeline, …

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        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

          I know about Nixon. I wouldn't have voted for him in any election prior to when I was old enough to vote. I did not vote for him in any election after I was old enough.

          The fake video is a learning tool with no intention of having any bearing on reality, outside teaching people about fake videos. If you have issues with that, all I can say is that you have issues.

          1. ST Silver badge

            Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

            > The fake video is a learning tool with no intention of having any bearing on reality

            That's a lame excuse.

            Richard Nixon does not belong in any kind of humor-based learning tool, or educational material. The implied humor - of which I see none here - is in piss poor bad taste. Whether it's based on reality or not is completely orthogonal.

            One can educate and/or create humor without the need to manufacture fake videos of war criminals.

            I will raise the issue of your own issues. You seem incapable of understanding how inappropriate this so-called learning material - which it really isn't - really is.

            You also appear to be very quick at assigning an Internet Psychologist diagnosis onto anyone who happens to hold a point of view that's different than yours. That must be based on the implicit assumption that you are always right, and that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong.

            Would you like to learn what I think about Internet Psychologists?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

              The only person implying this is or was a joke is you.

              Nowhere does anybody but you say there is humo(u)r in it.

              Methinks you have a very firm grasp on the wrong end of the stick.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

              I understand (and share) your distaste for Nixon, but the article never said it was a joke or implied that there was any humour in it. I'm not sure where you got that idea?

              But Nixon absolutely does belong in educational material: There's an old saying that applies here: "Those who do not learn from history...uh...i forget the rest".

              1. ST Silver badge

                Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                > [ ... ] the article never said it was a joke or implied that there was any humour in it. [ ... ]

                The humor is implied in the fake video. I never said anything about the article. Are we having reading difficulties here?

                You'd have to be willfully blind not to understand the failed attempt at humor by absurd that's both implied, and explicit, in the video.

                Let me give you - and those others who don't understand - a clue about why this video is inappropriate and in bad taste: for the same reasons a deepfake video of Joseph Goebbels reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be (a) not funny at all and (b) in bad taste. There would be exactly zero educational point to it. Just like there's exactly zero educational purpose to this MIT pile of garbage.

                1. JDPower Bronze badge

                  Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                  Exactly WHERE is humour implied in the video? The fact you're the only seeing it as humorous suggests maybe any bad taste is all on you.

                  And I'm pretty sure the universal declaration of human rights was not a speech written for Goebbels to read so that comparison is not even slightly valid.

                  1. ST Silver badge

                    Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                    > The fact you're the only seeing it as humorous suggests maybe any bad taste is all on you.

                    I don't see it as humorous, or funny. At all. I have already stated that several times. And which is why I gave the Goebbels example.

                    However, its authors clearly did. As proven by the fact that the video has no other possible purpose. The video has no educational or informative value. It's either (a) a failed attempt at humor or (b) a tasteless ego trip along the lines of Look At What We Did! We Smart!

                    In either case, it's inappropriate.

                    Are you being intentionally dense, or is it just your natural state?

                    1. Alister

                      Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                      The video has no educational or informative value.

                      Blimey, you really do have problems, don't you.

                      It is not intended to be humorous, it is a valid example of the state of the art of deep fakes, and is also an interesting historical document, in that the speech was prepared for Nixon, but he never read it publicly.

                      It therefore has both informative and educational value.

                      1. ST Silver badge

                        Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                        > It therefore has both informative and educational value.

                        I'm happy it works for you. It doesn't work for me.

                        Lose the two-cent Internet psycho-analysis. No-one appointed you - or any other of your fellow Nixon fanbois - arbiters of truth and taste here.

                        If you find fake videos featuring Richard Nixon informative and educational, perhaps you should seek professional help.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                          Lose the two-cent Internet psycho-analysis. No-one appointed you

                          perhaps you should seek professional help.

                          Heh. Hehe. Hehehe.

                          Haha. Hahaha.

                          Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                  Are we having reading difficulties here?

                  As someone who finds himself unfairly accused of being "hostile" somewhat regularly due to the language/tone I tend to use, and who therefore tries to be particularly tolerant and to not assume hostility when others use similar language, I'd just like to say: Wow, such unnecessary and unprovoked hostility. Did someone accidentally leave their "medicinal" cannabis at home today?

                  The humor is implied in the fake video

                  It doesn't come across as funny, or attempting to be funny, at all to me.

                  I'll grant you that the start section before the deepfake - the "problems" where they "lose the ship" are crappy: they're poorly edited, obviously reuse obvious footage and sound (such as the famous 1201 alarm) from various sources, etc. But the point of the video is the deepfake. I suspect they just didn't put very much effort into editing that together (to do a good job at that kind of thing would take quite a bit of editing work).

                  But funny? Attempting to be funny? No, I don't see it. And it seems neither does anybody except you.

                  Maybe you should consider doing what a rational, sensible person does when confronted by a video that offends them - stop watching it.

                  I find it kind of funny that you don't seem to be able to spell "humour" :P

                  You'd have to be willfully blind not to understand the failed attempt at humor by absurd that's both implied, and explicit, in the video.

                  I disagree. It could be that I (and seemingly others) are just really dense. Please explain exactly where the humour, both implied and explicit, is located. And what part is absurd?

                  Joseph Goebbels reading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

                  1. A fan of Godwin, I see. No faffing about here!

                  2. The universal declaration of human rights wasn't written for Goebbels to read, and had nothing to do with him.

                  3. I would actually find that pretty funny. But I would agree that that would be in bad taste.

                  in bad taste

                  I don't see how this is in bad taste. Armstrong and Aldrin didn't die on the moon. Nobody has died on the moon. Nobody died in any of the Apollo missions (that ever went to space - we should all remember Roger Chaffe, Ed White, and Gus Grissom as heroes). The only people who have actually died in space were the three cosmonauts on Soyuz 11, a totally unrelated ship, program, and country that had nothing to do with Nixon.

                  This was a speech written for Nixon as a contingency plan. This is a "what could have been" thing. It's not (really) trying to deceive anybody - anybody with even moderate intelligence knows that Armstrong and Aldrin didn't die on the moon and that Nixon didn't give this speech. I suppose some might be fooled into thinking it's a pre-recorded speech that was never used, but I still don't see how that's harmful to anybody or in bad taste (all it would take to dispel that notion would be 5 minutes research, or showing the video to ~80% of the population of the planet).

                  But maybe you can explain how it's in bad taste after you've explained how it's funny.

                  Just like there's exactly zero educational purpose to this MIT pile of garbage.

                  As just one possible example: This video might alert a person who didn't know that a contingency speech was written to the existence of that speech, teaching them a factoid about the Apollo program, serving educational value, and making its educational value nonzero. QED.

                  1. ST Silver badge

                    Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                    I didn't read your rant essay. Too many paragraphs. Much too rambling.

                    Whom did you write it for? Yourself?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                      So just to be clear, what you're saying is that you can't refute any of my points and you're just going to continue to be a cunt.

                      Okie dokie.

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                        I'm reminded of the old anecdote about a guy at a party who hears people talking about the silly drunk. So he jumps up on a table and looks around to see who the drunk is, and discovers much to his amazement that they are all drunk.

                      2. ST Silver badge

                        Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                        > you can't refute any of my points [ ... ]

                        I can't be bothered to read your excessively long rant.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                          I can't be bothered to read

                          ...which will tend to impinge on your ability to refute any of my points...

                          ...and is the action of a cunt.

                          ...and almost certainly a lie, anyway.

                          Thanks for playing!

                          1. ST Silver badge

                            Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                            ...and is the action of a cunt.

                            You, Sir, are a scholar and a gentleman.

                            Well done, Sir. Well done.

                            To answer your implied question as to why I didn't read your rant: it's not required reading.

                            Grow up.

                            1. Anonymous Coward
                              Anonymous Coward

                              Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

                              You, Sir, are a scholar and a gentleman.

                              Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

                              You, Sir, are a cunt.

                              why I didn't read your rant

                              Who cares? I sure don't. And we all know the real reason: because you're a cunt.

                              Grow up.

                              aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

                              Since we're offering unsolicited life advice: Stop being such a cunt.

    1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

      >"What would have been the reaction had they made a deepfake video about Trump?"

      Having watch some of Trumps video clips, he is clearly a deepflake.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

        No, a deepflake is a 99 with the flake pushed right down inside. That tastes nice, has some value and possible is more intelligent.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Bad Joke in Bad Taste

          Translation for my fellow Yanks: A 99 is a vanilla soft-serve frozen dairy dessert served in a cone, with a confection known as a Cadbury Flake pushed into it. For some reason this combination of artificial ice cream and pseudo chocolate is much loved by many members of the British public.

  1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Déja fake

      2+2=5,

      Re: the revisiting of the Nixon story ...... Is that evidence of El Reg sort of also stuck in something akin to an infinite loop? ......https://www.theregister.com/2020/07/21/bork/ ...... and more guilty of recycling old news rather than wilfully complicit in thrusting forwarding with novel views?

      Perhaps that is a problem and quandary to be unilaterally solved and jointly resolved by future advanced Intelligent sources providing new tales and trails to follow for agents/hacks to report back to bases on?

  2. aregross

    Ha, I got a flashback of the original Star Trek episode "Demonstration of Superiority"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQVsUQgZN6I

  3. Blake St. Claire

    C'mon MIT, if that's the state of the art, I want my money back

    Nixon's face looks like a cheap photoshop wobbling around like a bobblehead doll. Meh.

    But I definitely fear for what the future has in store.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: C'mon MIT, if that's the state of the art, I want my money back

      "Nixon's face looks like a cheap photoshop wobbling around like a bobblehead doll."

      That's a pretty accurate description of how I remember his ugly mug on DearOldTelly way back then.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: C'mon MIT, if that's the state of the art, I want my money back

      I don’t think the picture was too bad. The advantages of trying to fake poor quality TV. But the sound is dreadful. Even accounting for the poor mics at the time, he sounds like a Dalek. It sounds like one of those pop songs where the singer is OK, and mostly in tune, but has no power in their voice. So you overdub someone good singing as identically as possible to try and add some character and tone. You get a sort of chorus effect.

      Also the voice sounds too normal. Nixon really liked to over pronounce words.

  4. Carl D

    Wow, to think that these two brave men relied on a single engine in the Lunar Module ascent stage to return them from the moon's surface back up to the Command and Service modules in lunar orbit.

    No other options available to them if that single engine failed to operate, they would have been stranded with no hope of rescue. From what I've read, the plan was to cut off all communications to the 2 astronauts once it was determined that there was no hope of them getting off the Moon. They would have died a lonely death out there.

    In fact, they were very lucky after Buzz Aldrin accidentally broke the circuit breaker switch for arming the Lunar Module ascent engine - they used a pen to activate the broken circuit breaker switch although I have heard that they may have had other options available for fixing the problem if it became necessary.

    1. NightFox

      Morbid curiosity I know, but I wonder if they were provided with a means to expedite their ends if they did find themselves stranded, short of something lingering or violent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        these two brave men relied on a single engine in the Lunar Module ascent stage to return them from the moon's surface.

        It's not as risky as it sounds. That engine was a known point of failure, so it used hypergolic propellant - two chemicals that couldn't not ignite when mixed. Lots would have had to go wrong for them to be stranded there.

        I wonder if they were provided with a means to expedite their ends if they did find themselves stranded

        There have been persistent rumours for ~50 years that they (and others right up into the STS program) were given cyanide capsules. This has been repeatedly denied by all involved. The justification given is that it wasn't necessary - if they wanted to kill themselves quickly all they had to do was open the hatch.

        Lots of people don't buy this. It's been pointed out that asphyxiation is not pleasant, and that a painless suicide pill would be a practical and sensible thing to have on such a mission for almost no extra mass.

        I don't know who I believe. Both make good points. I'd have given them cyanide pills if I was in charge.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          It turns out cyanide is quite dangerous. Which might be reason not to use it, though I agree deliberately opening your hatch or helmet doesn’t sound much fun.

          I’m not being facetious here. There was a case 2 years ago of an ex SOE operative from WWII, who’d kept his cyanide pill. I think he’d been dropped into France in 43 or 44. Anyway having terminal cancer, he decided to use it. Because the cause was known, it was deemed too hazardous to do an autopsy, even with full precautions.

          So you’d have to be quite careful with the stuff, given you're in a closed environment. Then again, some of the LEMs had a chunk of plutonium strapped to the side to power the rovers, so why the hell not.

          I’d imagine it was more a case of doing everything to succeed, and not planning to fail. If the astronauts had wanted it, they could have insisted, I’m sure. But I imagine that went against the grain of being a steely eyed missile man with the right stuff. And massive brass balls of course...

          Or alternatively, if Armstrong can’t fly it off, Aldrin just punches the Moon until they achieve sufficient altitude for Collins to make the rendezvous...

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            "And massive brass balls of course..."

            And the award for the Understatement of the Week goes to ...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            cyanide is quite dangerous

            That's a really good point.

            I imagine that went against the grain of being a steely eyed missile man

            You know I was just thinking after I wrote that last post that if I was in that situation - trapped on the surface of the moon with limited air supply and food and whatnot, I would hope that I would use all the time I had do as much exploring and science and stuff as possible. Do all those risky experiments that nasa wouldn't approve: How far can I run in the moon's environment in a spacesuit before I get tired? Just how messy is it when you rub one out in moon gravity? Will those hypergolic propellants burn through Aldrin's helmet visor? And when the air is getting really low: what actually happens when a human is exposed to the vacuum? It's not pleasant, but maybe you'd get some useful data. Make it count as much as possible.

            I'd like to think that Neil and Buzz would have just kept on exploring until the bitter end.

            Another thing that I was thinking after writing the previous post was that if there were cyanide pills, they were handed out in secret and without any paper trail. And that would be real unusual for Apollo: there's basically documentation on the complete history of every rivet that went into the truck that delivered the needles that were used to stitch the emblems onto their uniforms. Having no documented trace of something like a cyanide pill would be uncharacteristic, and I feel like if it was a secret it would have come out (either leaked or declassified) by now.

            Aldrin just punches the Moon

            hehehe

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV series "For All Mankind"

    How did I not know about this? I must dow...uh...legitimately acquire this immediately!

    impressively laden with cheese at its start

    Their website and the first 60% of the video just about had me retching.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      For some reason, in that crappy litttle it's all gone wrong bit, they've got loads of little snippets of Gene Kranz saying, "Rog."

      Having listened to both series of the BBC World Service's brilliant '13 Minutes to the Moon', I've heard a lot of recordings of Gene Kranz, my favourite quote being, "Let's not make things worse by guessin'." If you haven't listened to those, then do so as soon as possible. I think I preferred Apollo 13 to the Moon Landing - but they are both absolutely top notch. Even if Kevin Fong did slope off halfway through recording the second series to go and advise on Covid 19 response, making me wait for the final episode for a couple of months...

      He also did another brilliant documentary for the Beeb on the lessons the military learnt in emergency trauma medicine in Iraq (and particularly) Afghanistan - which are now making their way into civilian hospitals. He's an air ambulance medic - so knows what he's talking about and what he's comparing to. Program is still available, so linky to BBC

      I'd apologise for coming across as a bit of a Kevin Fong fanboy, except I'm probably guilty as charged.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I has just talking in another post about how the editing of that section is really awful. The repeated audio is jarring and bad. I suspect they didn't put very much time into it - the point is the deepfake, and doing a good job of something like that would be a lot of work.

        I wasn't aware of 13 Minutes to the Moon, but it's now open in a tab and will be on a disk of mine within minutes. Thanks!

        I have also heard quite a lot of Gene Kranz - he is a great man. "Let's not make things worse by guessin" Is pretty good, but I think my favourite Kranz moment is a much simpler one: "It was neat". Hits me right in the feels every time.

        If you like this stuff, I can highly recommend Apollo in realtime and From The Earth To The Moon.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Apollo in Real-time is great too. Enjoy hours of BBC spaceyness. The Moon landing is a bit repetitive, but it’s deliberate in order to build you up to being able to listen to the whole communications recording, while recognising all the voices and the jargon. Hope you have fun.

          My next job is reading Michael Collins' book, which is sitting on my table. After that I think I need a good book on the Soviet space program.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just had to self-reply to say that I LOVED "For All Mankind". It might be my new favourite thing. Thanks so much to our hack for mentioning it!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Original

    The TV Series Timeless did this years ago.

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