Sunday, July 23, 2006

Summer Reading List

Some summer stories you might have missed that struck me as particularly interesting...

Given Up for Dead on Everest

The rescue came just days after dozens of climbers left a British climber to die near the summit.
I can't claim to know how I would act at 29,000 feet, but I certainly hope that saving a life would take precedence over personal accomplishment. It's hard for me to believe that a fellow human being would be willing to let someone die so they could reach the summit of a mountain.
While Mazur's team was busy assisting Hall, two Italian climbers walked past them toward the summit. When asked to help, they claimed they did not understand English. On his return to base camp, Mazur discovered they did.
Again, I may simply be ignorant, but I simply can't understand how you could live with yourself knowing that your moment of glory came at the expense of another's lifetime.

Bear Flees 2nd Time Before Neutering

"It was basically like breaking out of Fort Knox."
Obviously, this dude was smarter than the average bear. Thanks to my friend Jim for this one.

Limbaugh Held for Having Viagra Without Prescription
Rush Limbaugh was detained for about 3 1/2 hours at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.
I'm still in shock this story didn't get bigger media attention. It seems like no one knew about this one. Rush hasn't gotten in a whole lot of trouble over this, but I think that with Viagra, you can only detain someone for a maximum of 4 hours anyway.

Beach Officer Drives Over Sunbather
The Volusia County officer was driving at about 2 1/2 mph, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Ouch. Or, at two and a half miles per hour, perhaps more accurately: oooooouuuuch.

Ray Nagin Does it Again
In October 2005, K&L Auto Crushers of Tyler, Texas, approached Mayor Nagin with an offer to pay $100 apiece for each flooded, abandoned vehicle it removed from New January or February of 2006 the city would have been both rid of its wrecked car problem and $5 million richer.

...The statewide contract has since been awarded to DRC, a construction and disaster services firm in Alabama that bid $33 million for the job. It began the work of removing cars in mid-June 2006 and expects to complete the task by 30 August 2006.
The story speaks for itself, but let me just say this: you could buy a lot of chocolate with all that money.

Thanks to ManNMotion for the auto and sunbather crushing stories.

Finally, you've got to read this one:

Internet `tubes' speech turns spotlight, ridicule onto Sen. Stevens
"The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes," Stevens said during a June 28 committee session.

At another point in his 11-minute discourse, he said he'd seen these delays firsthand: "I just the other day got - an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially."
And just like real school, if the reading is too dry, long, or just doesn't clear things up for you, watch the video. Seriously.

(click the center circular play button to watch the video without leaving this page)

Study up.


Jason Hill said...

Well I won’t try to justify leaving someone for dead en route to a summit, but I will offer these thoughts. Choosing to climb Everest means foregoing reason and putting yourself in an uncontrollable and possibly deadly situation. And when I say deadly, it’s not like when someone says, “Statistically, driving in your car is way more dangerous than flying in an airplane.” I mean, if you climb Everest, you have every reason to believe that you might die—not true when you get behind the wheel. You are literally playing Russian Roulette. You are making a decision to engage in an activity where you have no expectation of rescue if something goes haywire. You understand this for yourself and for the others who have also chosen to engage in this activity. Now, with this understanding, if you encounter someone in distress, how much should you risk to help them? You have chosen the dangers of this activity and assume that all other climbers have as well.

If you calculate your ability to survive and there is no reserve left to help someone else survive, would attempting to help them be suicide? (This is the position that Hall’s Sherpas found themselves in when they left Hall for dead.) Now, what if you calculate your ability to survive and the remainder left is enough to get you to the summit, but is not enough to assist someone in distress—even if you didn’t summit? (It could be much more taxing to help a distressed climber down than it would be to summit, especially considering supplies, oxygen and energy levels.) Could you justifiably pass them on your way up, claiming that to stop and help would be suicide? Should they have an expectation that you will help them?

These are questions that those of us safely sitting safely at our computers can only speculate about.

I applaud Mazur and his team for engaging in the risky act of rescue. But, I’m not sure I can fault those who chose to summit while declining to help.

ManNMotion said...

I have to think that one has to be pretty self centered and arrogant to climb Everest. It's the ultimate in competitive events. Unless you're going up with friends, you'll be litterally, left for dead as the story says.

Anonymous said...

Good points Jason and ManNMotion. Everest is clearly a gamble with death that you choose to take. I'm willing to concede that rationally, those that don't make it have no right to be saved - as you point out Jason, they knew the risks.

But to nitpick a bit, if an individual isn't willing to further jeopardize his/her life, or isn't sure of their capability to help, then why not say so, instead of pretending not to speak English?

I guess for me it comes down to this: yes - those who fail deserve to be left behind. One would be well within his rights to let the dying die. But for me, right is more than simply playing by the rules. Even on Everest, I would like to think that loving your neighbor as yourself holds as true as it would anywhere else in the world.

All that being said, as you point out, Jason, I'm sitting comfortably in my computer chair at 4000 feet in clear 76 degree conditions. At 29,000 feet, dead (literally) tired, and in a sub-zero blizzard, I might turn out to be nothing more than a hypocrite.