The next best thing to jumping: As someone who would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane, much less something a lot closer to the ground, I think this article is a great read ["Free Base," Lauren Smiley, Feature, 2/9]. Glad I can get such thrills vicariously.
I couldn't stop thinking that Ammon McNeely is soon going to be the subject of another article if he stupidly keeps doing things like getting drunk before he jumps. Doing it illegally may be half the thrill, but he's not going to do himself, his friends, or the sport any favors by getting himself — or someone else — killed.
Go ahead and take the illegal plunge, just don't call NPS when the chute fails: I have no problem with BASE jumpers taking off of El Capitan or other NPS landmarks. I do, however, object to using park service employees and funding for rescue and/or other responses to accidents or mishaps. There have been a hell of a lot more deaths and accidents on NPS lands from climbers, mountaineers, whitewater enthusiasts, and backpackers for years. Perhaps a permit system for such endeavors is needed, with proof of insurance or a bond to cover rescues or messy cleanup operations. That way I don't have to pay for some fool's folly.
John D. Forsyth
A skydiver's view of the BASE jumping world: A very well-written article that portrays the sport and the people well, both their idealism and their faults. I'm a skydiver and know quite a few BASE jumpers. They don't normally talk to media, so good job on doing a story rarely told so thoroughly by mainstream news media outlets.
The Dark Side
No Jedi Knights among the creators of Star Wars: All I know is that a guy who takes pictures of barely legal boys having sex in order to turn a profit is promoted and taken into [George] Lucas' inner circle, but a woman who complains that someone spread rumors she got drunk and might have gotten hot and bothered with a colleague gets fired ["The Jedi Temple's Double Standard," Matt Smith, Column, 2/2].
There ya go. Protect the rich pornographer. Let him go make more long, thick light sabers for boys. Let the Star Wars legacy rest on the shoulders of a dirty little old man who lures boys into his inner sanctum and salaciously goes on and on about how hot it is. Yeah, that's the guy who should be making decisions about what boys play with. Astonishing. Why wasn't this guy let go years ago? Oh, because he made money and kisses up to George the Bearded, Sainted One.
Blog Comment of the Week
In response to a blog post about a marathon runner dying at the finish line and medical response time: There is no excuse ["Peter Hass Dies During Kaiser Permanente Marathon, City Investigates," Erin Sherbert, the Snitch, 2/7]. RhodyCo [race organizer] and Kaiser [race sponsor] are responsible for this. They are responsible for having emergency personnel at the end of a half-marathon.
I was not there, but as a marathon runner over the past 20 years I am deeply saddened to hear what happened. This is a catastrophe in the making when business such as RhodyCo start managing long-distance runs for profit and cut back on essentials such as medical personnel. My prayers go out to his family.