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Old 08-01-2005, 12:46 PM   #1
Joe Brody
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Must-Read For Pale Horse

Bood Review From the New York Times:

Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica
By Nicholas Johnson
Illustrated. 260 pages. Feral House. Paperback. $16.95

By JOHN STRAUSBAUGH
Published: August 1, 2005
Most of us have not been to Antarctica. We see it in our imaginations and on the Discovery Channel as Earth's last pure and pristine continent, largely unsullied by humans, where nature is both virginal and at her most extreme. The few who venture there are explorers or scientists, braving the unforgivingly murderous climate with only the noblest intentions.

Nicholas Johnson has been to Antarctica, and he sees it very differently. In his often-appalling, funny memoir, Antarctica is a frigid, featureless wasteland inhabited by a few bad-tempered penguins and thieving gulls, and infested by polluting, squabbling humans.

No scientist or explorer, Mr. Johnson did grunt work over five summers and two winters at McMurdo Station, the largest of the three permanent United States scientific bases on the continent. He scraped pots in the cafeteria kitchen, drove forklifts, rolled barrels of frozen human waste out to the dump when the wind chill was below minus 50 degrees. If his tales of life at the bottom of the organizational chart contrast starkly with government-stamped depictions, they also have a mordant ring of truth.

McMurdo has a summer staff of 1,200 that dwindles to some 250 for the dark winter months. Only a handful are scientists measuring the ozone, strapping video cameras to seals to study their movements under the ice, or manning the Cosmic Ray Monitoring Laboratory. The vast majority are support staff, "everyone from dishwashers and mechanics to hairdressers and explosives-handlers."

American stations are operated jointly by the federal government's National Science Foundation and a corporate contractor, currently the Raytheon Polar Services Company of Denver. This unholy fusion of government and corporate bureaucracies is "structured so that any scheming pecksniff will feel comfortable making a lunge for the reins," Mr. Johnson writes. "Any departure from the nickel-and-dime bureaucracy is met with howls of official protest." The posting of notices stipulating niggling rules and regulations is so common that Mr. Johnson once posted mock notices stipulating that the posting of notices stipulating the foundation's regulations was against the foundation's regulations.

If Joseph Heller wrote "Catch-22" today, he might set it at Mr. Johnson's McMurdo.

Most of Mr. Johnson's anecdotes are about Antarctic workers coping not with the cold, but with one another. There's a vicious pecking order determined by how much "ice time" you've put in and where you're stationed. The ice-bearded hearties at the bleak Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (which Mr. Johnson says "looks like an elf village overrun by a blue-collar tribe that worships Martian gods") look down on McMurdoites and those manning the relatively balmy Palmer Station as wimps, and everyone dumps on new arrivals. Tourists and visiting Washington dignitaries are met with undisguised hostility.

Cabin fever, especially in the dark winter months, metastasizes into a virulent plague, fought off with prodigious alcohol consumption (the drinks cooled with "the cleanest snow in the world"), furtive sex, politically incorrect theme parties and the making of wacky movies with titles like "Cape Hades." Everyone monitors the scuttlebutt about promotions and overtime far more diligently than their meteorological instruments.

Colorful characters abound, with nicknames like Boozy the Clown, Seņor X and Big Hands. There's the guy who stood out on the ice waiting for the aliens to land, and the guy who has a tattoo that says "Tattoo." There's a local chapter of Freemasons, continuing a long tradition - the explorers Robert Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Adm. Richard Byrd were all Masons of rank.

[...]

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/01/books/01stra.html
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Old 08-04-2005, 07:57 PM   #2
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Joe,, I don't know how you do it, you must have a lot of time on your hands, Congrats by the way!
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:56 PM   #3
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Finally, an Antarctic Macguffin: Shackleton's whisky!
Quote:
Three crates of Scotch whisky and two crates of brandy left beneath the floorboards of a hut by the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton in 1909, at the end of a failed expedition to the South Pole, have been unearthed by a team from the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Richard Peterson, a master blender for Whyte & Mackay, which supplied the Shackleton expedition with 25 crates of Mackinlay’s “Rare and Old” whisky, described the unearthing of the bottles as “a gift from the heavens for whisky lovers,” since the recipe for that blend has been lost. “If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated.”
It's like the plots of Raiders, Transformers and Jurassic Park rolled into one.
This is why it's so important to store your bottles sideways, by the way.
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:25 PM   #4
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The Thing meets Whisky Galore meets Indiana Jones. Bring on the hard drinkin' script writers, we have Indy V ready to go!
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Old 03-09-2010, 11:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Mr. Johnson once posted mock notices stipulating that the posting of notices stipulating the foundation's regulations was against the foundation's regulations.

He must work in the same occupation I do.

I can not believe I didn't see this thread earlier. It's (the book) on my Amazon wish list (now)...if I don't Barnes and Nobel it first.

How you keenly knew from my persona here, that this is right up my alley...is beyond even me.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:32 PM   #6
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Heh. I've seen trouble for similar waggishness here in corporate America.

I'll have to get this too.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:54 PM   #7
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If roundshort is around, maybe he can enlighten us with his thoughts on the whiskey.

Read the book, watch Whiteout, put Kate out of your mind and think what might have been.
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:51 PM   #8
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Next up in my Kindle Que. Yep.

Better late than never.
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Old 03-15-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Brody
If roundshort is around, maybe he can enlighten us with his thoughts on the whiskey.

Read the book, watch Whiteout, put Kate out of your mind and think what might have been.

My thoughts on the Whisky is that it is amazing timing for the Scotch industry. With the unplanned eruption in slaes for Single Malt vs. Blends. Scotch companies have been trying to find "new & Exciting" products to sell in an industry that favors old and aged.

The whisky itself is no big deal. Once Whisky is bottled it stops eloving. As long as the seal is not broken, should be fine.
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:16 PM   #10
Pale Horse
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I'm a bourbon man myself.

If it's distilled, it has to be distilled in America. That's just how I roll.

Unless it's rum.
or tequila
or vodka

...well, my Made in the USA argument is sunk.

American wines and whisky
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pale Horse
I'm a bourbon man myself.

If it's distilled, it has to be distilled in America. That's just how I roll.

Unless it's rum.
or tequila
or vodka

...well, my Made in the USA argument is sunk.

American wines and whisky

I am with you on Whiskey vs whisky. Something about that crazy Kentuckey/Tennesse fire water!
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pale Horse
How you keenly knew from my persona here, that this is right up my alley...is beyond even me.

Don't give me too much credit. I just figured Pale Horse never met a freemasons story he didn't like.

My last kindle purchase was Anthony Shadid's House of Stone. Great self-created middle east expert/reporter writer died at 43 in Syria (of an asthma attack) and left behind a young family.

Gotta say, I love it when an old, forgotten threat pops up. I posted this like the day or two before my boy was borne. It takes you back.

Last edited by Joe Brody : 03-16-2012 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:41 PM   #13
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no thread drift or anything, but How Happy Is Pale now that Manning is a Bronco!
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:09 AM   #14
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Can't say I'm happy. While I understand it, the front office had no nobility in how they let Tebow go.

He'd of been a great tailback/TE in our system, and defenses would have been powerless against us.
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Old 02-07-2018, 07:32 PM   #15
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The myth continues. . .
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:50 AM   #16
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This was a good and escaping read for me. Much appreciated.
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