Thursday, January 11, 2007

Turning around

Pardon the light postings lately, darlings; Pretty Lady has been in a Highly Visual mode lately, and her ordinarily silver tongue tends to stick to the roof of her mouth in these phases. She thinks she has something to say, but then it gets garbled halfway through, and trails off into nothingness.

However, pursuing Salon magazine this bright sunny morning, she was Struck by what seemed to her to be a certain Irony, involving the stereotypical notion of Males, and their notorious unwillingness to backtrack or ask directions, when lost in an Unfamiliar Wilderness. Much as Pretty Lady tries to avoid Political Discourse in any mode, she could not help but notice a certain parallel theme, in matters Macro and Micro, in today's news.

Just after Thanksgiving of 2006, a young family of four from San Francisco went missing in the rugged mountains of southwestern Oregon. James Kim, his wife, Kati, and their two daughters took a risky journey into the wilderness, and only three of them made it out alive....

The Kims had violated a number of rules that would have been familiar to locals or to experienced backwoodsmen, but perhaps not to them. They had left too late at night, they had left the main road, and they hadn't turned around or tried to back up once it began to snow and their gas tank edged toward empty. More than once they had forged ahead when they should've backtracked to the known world and safety.

...Technology, whether in the form of GPS, cellphones or even helicopters, can't save everyone. In the end it comes down to whether people are prepared for the wilderness, whether they respect it or even believe that such a thing still exists. There is no balm for human error in legislation, or in criticizing the people who worked doggedly for days to save James Kim's life.

Then again:

Barack Obama told Rice that the Bush administration "took a gamble" in Iraq, staking "American prestige and our national security on the premise that it could go in, overthrow Saddam Hussein and rebuild a functioning democracy. And so far . . . it appears to have failed. And essentially, the administration has repeatedly said, 'We're doubling down, we're going to keep on going. Maybe we lost that bet, but we're going to put a little more money in.'"

Like John Kerry and Norm Coleman before him, Obama tried, unsuccessfully, to get Rice to describe what would happen if the Maliki government doesn't live up to its promises this time around: "Are there any circumstances that the president or you are willing to share in which we would say to the Iraqis, 'We are no longer maintaining American combat troops in Iraq?' Are they any circumstances you can articulate in which you would say to the Maliki government, 'Enough is enough?'"

Pretty Lady was going somewhere with this, but unfortunately she finds herself unable to articulate her views, due to the fact that today appears to be a Mostly Visual Day. She will thus leave it up to her wise and astute readers to draw their own conclusions.


Anonymous said...

I would like to address the Kims. While their story is sad, it merely underlines the sad state of affairs in the average city/suburb dweller. Before any urban denizens take umbrage, ask yourself: If there was an emergency, such as a tornado or a call to shelter in place without electricity, am I ready? Do I have at least 72 hours of food and water stored and ready to go for all family or roommates and pets that is man-portable, and things like toiletries, a map of the area, medications, first aid kits, flashlights and cash or barterable goods handy? If there was a calamity and I had to defend myself am I properly armed, and more importantly, trained?

The Kims sadly answered no. The first rule of technology in the field is that it will fail. You cannot depend on cell coverage once you leave the suburbs, and any trip that takes you through wilderness requires a small duffel bag that contains some or all of the above contents. If they had spent $40 at Wal-Mart and threw a few things into their car, odds are good Mr. Kim would still be alive.

The next time you are considering ordering a venti latte and a muffin at Starbucks, think about the fact that that $9 will buy you a plastic box of waterproof matches, a pair of cotton socks, a package of industrial razor blades, a roll of gauze, a $1 foot of beef jerky, 2 20 oz. generic bottles of water, a small LED keychain flashlight, and 5 nylon 50 lb. zip ties. These simple items can see you through any minor disaster and will have you better prepared for a major one than most people.

You don't have to have woodscraft to use any of these things in an emergency. From what I gather Mr. Kim froze to death and was nearly naked when found, and hearing thisI wondered, "Why didn't he cut the upholstery from his front car seat to use as a makeshift poncho/wrap?" Of course, he made other mistakes and did things I would never do, but if he had made up his mind to leave you would think he would have used whatever was available to maximize his chances of success.

A few minutes and a couple of dollars are all it takes to save your life.


Anonymous said...

Sidenote to the Kims - the path they drove up was supposed to be gated by the Park Rangers. They didn't lock it and the Kims went and got lost out there.

They should have been prepared but one could argue that they were lulled into a sense of security by a park gate that was left open "Surely they wouldn't leave the gate open if it was dangerous..."

Anonymous said...

"they were lulled into a sense of security by a park gate that was left open "Surely they wouldn't leave the gate open if it was dangerous..."

We as a culture do so desperately not want to blame the victims here, don't we? Anyone who has been in an area that requires Park Rangers should recognize that Bad Things can happen when you stray off the safe manicured lawns. If it really is true that the Kims were lulled by the idea that "Surely they wouldn't..." then my sympathy for them drops to absolute zero.

Why is personal responsibility kryptonite to some people? I will hope for the sake of the surviving Kims that they did not choose to believe in that scenario, and that their tragedy was due to their lack of preparedness, rather than a Darwinian solution to Pollyanna-ish stupidity.


Anonymous said...

The Kims Doubled, or even tripled down. Your analogy is clear, although, people mostly win those bets. Few people die from stupidity. It usually works out. But not for the Bushiveks. They were playing a long shot of lottery proportions.

I have no idea why the Kims were so unprepared but recently a woman who was in my truck asked me, "What's all this clothes and stuff behind the seats for?" Let's just say I never leave home assuming that I won't have to walk and take care of myself for a few days. I might wear sandals during the summer but there's always more sturdy footwear in my car, two liters of water, and warm clothing. Knowing the woman would think I was paranoid my explanation was cryptic and then I changed the subject.

It's imperative for most denizens of the burbs to assume that they have God like power and control over their lives. Peace of mind is a different cup of tea for each of us.

Anonymous said...

Dumbass *left the car in the first place*. Has he never watched so much as half an hour of sensationalist prime-time "news" documentary television?

Anyway, I agree. I, too, have been made fun of for the excess provisions I travel with. "What the hell are you going to need a roll of tinfoil and a horse blanket for?" Not to mention those wonderful tools that double as weapons, Mag Lites and tire irons and cow femurs found in dry washes. (Okay, that one was just so that if I ever had to beat anyone to death, I would be assured an insanity plea, because really, what *sane* person bludgeons another person to death with a COW BONE?) Of course, now those have mostly been replaced by the .38, but still.

And who the hell goes driving around in wilderness state parks in travel advisory weather?

Anonymous said...

It was raining when they set out. Seems like someone would know to check on a thing or two. I'm sorry for Kim's Dad, but God does not always protect the stupid, and neither can the Guv. If I was Mr Kim's Dad, I'd start a program to end ignorance amongst the techno weenies.

On an ominous note, it didn't miss my attention that even though they had no cell phone connection they could still ping them. You carry a cell the government can always find you.

Anonymous said...

Sort of corny, but the whole scout motto I learned as a kid seems to apply here: "Be Prepared"

Its a sad story, but serves as a safety reminder like the zillion other similar news stories we hear -- wear our seatbelt, be aware of our surroundings, don't play with fire.

And yeah, even though I live in the urban sprawl of LA, there's still a nice little box of supplies in the trunk next to the crowbar and sleeping bag.

Anonymous said...

"Sort of corny, but the whole scout motto I learned as a kid seems to apply here: "Be Prepared""

Wise advice is never corny. In the last two months I've had the pleasure to talk with two women who worked near the WTC on 9-11. The thing they both found the most disturbing was trying to walk miles in their stylish footwear. The youngest was only 20 at the time and eventually just took them off but this was impossible for the first half a mile because of all the debris in the street. The older one is my age and she had to limp most of the way. Be prepared applies to Gay men, Islmic fundies, Australians (means have a bottle opener handy for them) and Air passengers. You can carry it too far, but with some simple preparations you can be prepared enough.

Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady,

I never quite got where you were going with this thread. I am certain it would be interesting.

I can't believe the cynisism here from the rest of you. I find it easy to give sympathy to fools, maybe more so than those in the know (mountain climbers, for example). I do pity the fool. And, I know from experience that no matter how well prepared you, no matter how smart, strong, fast, or wise, when it is time you die. He's dead, but his family must now deal with an, in common thought, untimely death of their pack leader and probably the bread winner.

Pretty Lady said...

Er, Doom, I think that where I was going with this post was along the lines of: if it is foolish and quixotic to set off into the wilderness with no gas and no coat and no supplies in the dark and the howling snow, how much more foolish is it to set off to bring about Democracy in a country one knows nothing about, to a people with utterly foreign customs, who persist in blowing one up at random moments for one's efforts? And does there come a time when one manfully admits the error, or not?