Documentary: Jonathan Renouf: The Lost World of Lake Vostok (U.K. 2000)
A documentary made for the British Horizon series of programs that began in 1964.
Lake Vostok is a vast body of water underneath central Antarctica. It derives its name from the Russian Vostok base built on the ice on top of it, often considered the most inaccesible place on Earth.
The interesting thing about Lake Vostok is that it has been sealed off from Earth atmosphere for up to 30 million years. This means that whatever life exists down there has had a chance to evolve in completely unique directions without any outside interference.
The best parts in this documentary are the footage from the old Soviet expeditions and the NASA scientist who talks about Antarctica, Vostok and NASA’s work involving the Jupiter moon Europa.
Documentary: Megastructures: South Pole Super Station (U.S.A. 2007)
This is an episode of the National Geographic Channel documentary series Megastructures, about huge construction projects. This time, the project is the new South Pole station that’ll replace the old geodesic dome.
Some of the old explorers would probably have a heart attack if they saw this. There’s an industrial kitchen, plenty of space, and the whole thing is built on stilts that can jack up eight meters above the original four to escape the rising snow. From the inside, the place looks like any industrial building.
Compared to the old stories of dog sleds and four man tents, the vastness of the project is breathtaking, from the satellite dishes to the airlift operation that brings to mind West Berlin during the cold war.
Non-fiction: David A. Kearns: Where Hell Freezes Over (Thomas Dunne Books, 2005)
During a U.S. Navy surveying operation in Antarctica soon after the end of WWII, an airplane crashes onto the coast. The survivors wait for two weeks before they’re rescued, all badly wounded except one.
It’s a dramatic story, but Kearns approaches it with incredible diligence. He’s a reporter by profession, and it reads like every witness has been interviewed, every angle covered, every document read. At first, it’s tough going because of the thoroughness, but after a while the detail starts building impressive emotional power.
Kearns’s father was the pilot at the controls when the plane crashed, and while there’s an element of old-style American sentimentalism about the book, it’s easy to forgive. Many Antarctic books tell stories of uncommonly driven and gifted men like Shackleton or Amundsen surviving incredible hardships. The power of this book arises from the fact that these guys were just regular joes in a really hard spot.
Here’s probably the best customer review on Amazon, of the self-help book The Secret.
Please allow me to share with you how “The Secret” changed my life and in a very real and substantive way allowed me to overcome a severe crisis in my personal life. It is well known that the premise of “The Secret” is the science of attracting the things in life that you desire and need and in removing from your life those things that you don’t want. Before finding this book, I knew nothing of these principles, the process of positive visualization, and had actually engaged in reckless behaviors to the point of endangering my own life and wellbeing.
At age 36, I found myself in a medium security prison serving 3-5 years for destruction of government property and public intoxication. This was stiff punishment for drunkenly defecating in a mailbox but as the judge pointed out, this was my third conviction for the exact same crime.
I saw the movie Repo! The Genetic Opera yesterday, and I gotta say, if you like goth dystopia, organ failure and musicals this is the film for you. It features a bizarre cast, from Sarah Brightman to Paris Hilton, from Anthony Stewart Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy.
I recently wrote a small piece about the Christian guitar game Guitar Praise for NYT-liite. While I was googling myself, I discovered that I’d been cited as a source in the Finnish language Wikipedia article about the game.
I also discovered that the Wikipedia article about the game was really impressive. Whoever wrote this put a lot of effort into an article about a game that’s not even available in Finland. This is why I have a lot of love for Wikipedia.