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I watch a lot of documentaries, and I always mean to post reviews and never do, so I think I'm going to try posting five minute reviews as I go. Here's the first:

The Galapagos Affair
When half a dozen people get fed up with society and independently decide to move to the same extremely remote island so that no one can ever tell them what to do ever again, it goes about as well as you'd expect. And by that I mean two, possibly three, murders. John Galt eat your heart out.

Also, it turns out that if you completely cut yourself off from civilization (for real, not the Thoreau way), you don't get a life of contemplation, you get a life of unending manual labor and starvation.

The fact that everyone involved in this series of events were Germans who walked away from civilization in the thirties means they weren't actually wrong about the way they felt things were heading. Not that they did much better on their own.

The Summit

Mar. 25th, 2014 10:32 am
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Last night I decided to give myself insomnia by watching The Summit, a documentary about the day in 2008 on which 11 people died trying to reach the summit of K2. I read the wikipedia page on it first so that I knew which people died, otherwise it would have been excruciating to watch.

A couple of things about this.

Ethics, ethics, ethics )


I am both fascinated and repelled by stories such as this. I am morbidly fascinated at the same time that I think that these climbers voided their right to my pity by voluntarily taking those risks. I mean, like I said, one in four people who have attempted the summit of K2 have died for their trouble. So if you do that and the mountain kills you, this is really not such a surprise.

And listening to the climbers talk--I mean, they call people who climb Everest tourists. K2 is for the real mountaineers. If that's your attitude... The doc focused mostly on one of the climbers that died, Ger McDonnell. This guy had attempted K2 previously and been struck by falling rocks and almost died. On his Everest ascent, he almost died rescuing the team leader. Look, if you're going to come within a hair's breadth of dying multiple times and still go back, eventually the mountain is going to win.

Another climber, who lost her husband on this climb, talked about how the two of them had previously hiked K2 "to get to know the mountain," not attempting the summit. The last trip they spent three months on the mountain. This attempt was also three months. So part of me was watching like, who are these people? Who has months of their life and tens of thousands of dollars lying around to just spend "getting to know the mountain"? Are there, like, sponsorships or grants I don't know about? The whole thing just defies my understanding.

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