"Cocaine for Snowblindness"
October 2, 2012 10:13 AM   Subscribe

You're about to be the base doctor at Halley Research Station in Antarctica for a year. For ten months, no one gets in or out. Fourteen lives are in your hands, including your own. What do you put in your medical kit? And how do your choices differ from those of your predecessors (Eric Marshall and Edward Wilson) a century ago?
posted by zarq (7 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Shackleton was a goddamned superhero.
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

A few weeks ago there was a post about people dying on Everest, and the comment I made there was that e.g. Krakauer's book Into Thin Air was not particularly interesting to me because goddamnit nature bats last.

That's what makes the Shackleton story so freaking great. Ridiculous circumstances, and did not lose. one. life.

Superhero, absolutely.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:36 AM on October 2, 2012

Shackleton was a goddamned superhero.

Yeah! He was such an incredible leader, with the ability to keep his men marching and trudging into Antarctica's endless whiteness day after dangerous day...

a blend of cocaine and caffeine taken hourly to prolong endurance...

posted by entropone at 11:16 AM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

I want to try this "tincture of cannabis and chili oil". You could make some fantastic food with that.
posted by Earthtopus at 11:23 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do you put in your medical kit?

Mainly shoggoth balm.
posted by howfar at 11:34 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shackleton was a goddamned superhero.

The results were certainly impressive, and in large part I'm sure that can be directly attributed to Shackleton.

The one thing that has always dampened my enthusiasm for his superhero leadership is the story that he refused to allow the crew to stockpile already-killed seals as food while on Easter Island. I've seen it held up as an example of going to extremes to provide the crew with hope of immediate rescue; but, it strikes me as insane in a situation where starvation is a very real possibility.

In South, Shackleton doesn't mention that bit. But, he does point out that the moment he left the island, ". . .Wild set all hands to collect as many seals and penguins as possible, in case their stay was longer than was at first anticipated." (It was, by months.) That passage is followed by a rather weak dismissal that some of the stockpiled seal meat spoiled anyway and wasn't all that useful. To my ear, the whole passage sounds like an admission that he'd made an unnecessary and quite dangerous choice. If the crew on Elephant Island had starved to death during all those extra months they spent waiting for rescue - which doesn't seem at all improbable - I doubt Shackleton's leadership would be held in quite such high regard.

But, that isn't to say he wasn't one hell of a swell guy, nor that the story isn't fantastic, nor that these tangentially related FPP articles aren't interesting.
posted by eotvos at 8:21 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

grr. Where, by "Easter Island," I of course meant "Elephant Island." Rather a different kind of place.
posted by eotvos at 8:08 PM on October 4, 2012

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