Saturday, October 15, 2005


The Ice Capades

Over at The Stranger, Neal Pollack reviews Nicholas Johnson's Big Dead Place, an account of Antarctica's McMurdo Station by a former dishwasher/support-staff/grunt there -- and a writer who, rather refreshingly, admits that "I find nature creepy and disturbing." But not as creepy and disturbing as some of the people in it:

The petty bureaucrats that run McMurdo make good paper villains, but his real target is the National Science Foundation, which has been totally corrupted by the Raytheon Corporation. In the context of Raytheon's vaguely sinister aims, the antics of Johnson and his friends seem accidentally rebellious and subversive, whereas in a nonfrozen dorm setting, they'd just be immature. He's also particularly strong in criticizing naïve media descriptions of Antarctica, and reserves special scorn for the overhyped "rescue" of a doctor who needed breast cancer medicine, while actual workers at the base sat around with broken limbs and separated shoulders, waiting for the next airlift to New Zealand because the doctor's plane was too full of journalists.

Johnson, incidentally, maintains an extensive Big Dead Place site. And really, how can you not love a site that includes a All-John-Carpenter's-"The-Thing"-Review-Section?

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