Friday 2013-09-13

Jon Krakauer is still acting like he doesn't understand basic survival skills:

Had McCandless's guidebook to edible plants warned that Hedysarum alpinum seeds contain a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis, he probably would have walked out of the wild in late August with no more difficulty than when he walked into the wild in April, and would still be alive today.
-- New Yorker September 2013

Hedysarum alpinum can cause paralysis when you are already malnourished, according to the same article. I.e. this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Any well-read individual or one who grew up hunting or farming knows that nature is red in tooth and claw. We just can't expect it to be forgiving when we have zero options or reserves; instead we should be expecting a stupid accident or the arrival of an opportunistic killer.

ThePerfectStorm has a great quote underscoring this foolishness:

"If danger can be seen in a narrowing range of choices, Billy Tyne's (captain of the Andrea Gail) choices have just ratcheted down a notch. A week ago he could have headed in early. A day ago he could have run north like Johnston. An hour ago he could have radioed to see if there were any other vessels around. Now the electrical noise has made the VHF practically useless, and the single sideband only works for long range. These aren't mistakes so much as an inability to see into the future."

Ultimately, the best we can do is look at what happened, and to learn from these deaths.