Social and Political Commentary

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We're running out of dunce caps

... and a new slant on undertaking

by Russ Priestley

Our country has more than its share of stupid people. Perhaps this is due to our complete freedom to go almost anywhere to do almost anything our minimally-developed minds consider. Let's start in Washington. Our Congress has been considering building a bridge in Alaska. It has been fondly termed (by critics) as the "Bridge to Nowhere" because it would connect an island of 50,000 people to an island of just 40 people. Someone figured it would cost less to give each of the 40 a Lear Jet airplane.

Locally, ponder this one. The Red Sox paid $51,000,000 just for the privilege of speaking with a Japanese pitcher who has never pitched in our major leagues. Before you pass out, I'll relate Red Sox officials flew to the West Coast to meet, wine and dine (probably on sushi.. yuck) this prospect. And it does not end there because he was signed to a contract. Reported total cost $104,000,000.

A local commentator, trying to soften the blow, opined that this person could bring many Japanese to Boston. They would spend a lot of money here as tourists. However, they might insist on sushi at the ballpark, replacing the traditional hot dog. I won't hazard a guess as to what they would choose to replace peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Being the only ones able to afford the ticket price, their demands will be met.

My original bone of contention pertaining to my title was the widespread and stupid practice of mountain climbing. There are very few Sir Edmund  Hillarys out there. The rest have to be rescued or they just add calcified bones to the mountains. In recent years, many otherwise sensible people somehow envision themselves as great mountain climbers. If they attempt this unwise (I've already used "stupid") endeavor during summer months, there is a chance they could be successful.

However, doing this in winter could prove to be fatal. My example is the situation on Mount Hood. (This is not the woodland park area of Melrose, called Mount Hood. I've been deep in the woods and I've climbed the rock formations here looking for errant golf drives... never got lost or disoriented). This much-publicized situation is in Oregon. Mount Hood, Oregon at 11,239 feet where three persons tried to reach the peak. How did they know they would be attacked by the worst blizzard in a decade? Ten feet of snow with winds from 50 to 100 m.p.h. Unpredictable but, hey, it's winter!

The worst of a situation besetting any mountain climbers is they can get lost, or attacked by an unpredicted storm. But even worse, they depend on others to come to their rescue. Rescuers here have endangered themselves on a day and night rescue mission, up to the point of using heat-seeking radar in airplanes and helicopters.

This is where I've long-maintained that the rescued should be fully responsible for any expense involved. Yes, mortgage the house, sell possessions, whatever it takes to pay the expenses for a rescue. Perhaps that would discourage some of these lunkheads. Maybe better still would be a cash or certified check deposit to a Forest Ranger or a similar official at the outset of this questionable undertaking. (I was going to say "mission" but "undertaking" seems more appropriate). Further, a GPS (Ground Position Locator) would be mandatory.

There I've said it! My humble opinion. Now, if someone can show me how to get to the exit....

January 5, 2007  

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