Jackass Watch

By Wally Hourback | May 25, 2006

Personal Best: item 34749, Kitty Genovese on Mount Everest .

In the Globe and Mail this morning I read a report that no less than 40 mountain climbers on their way to the summit of Mount Everest ignored a fellow climber dying of oxygen starvation, 34 year old Briton David Sharp.Never mind that nearly 50 percent of the members of the International Mountaineering Jackass Club have now reached the summit of Everest, and notwithstanding that the minimum requirements to calling oneself a human being requires that one offer aid in a dire emergency even if it involves altering one’s intended course. Onward Ho!

The story author, Oliver Moore, talked to Canadian Urszula Tokarska, the first woman  under 5-8 within the 416 area code to have made the climb, for expert testimony. She offered the predictable blah-blah about how difficult the climb is, admitting that her “thought processes became confused and erratic” as she approached the summit, but stopped short of criticizing the 40 walk-bys. “It doesn’t reflect well on climbers, but we can’t judge them,” she said, calling into question her current thought processes. The reason we can’t judge them, according to her, is that sharing oxygen with a distressed climber might prevent one’s own ascent from succeeding, and that, what the fuck, Sharp was probably going to die anyway. Sir Edmund Hilary didn’t agree with this view, and neither should you and I.

I’ve been suggesting for years now that Everest be closed until the climbers agree to clean up the garbage they’ve littered it with—among the new hazards of the climb, I’m told, is avoiding the flying oxygen tanks that climbers regularly use and abandon. But this piece of moral turpitude indicates that a whole new level of hazard has appeared, and so my current suggestion is that we use one of Russia’s surplus nukes to blow the top 3000 feet of the mountain away, flatten it enough so that it can be used more efficiently as the high altitude garbage dump the montain has become anyway, and make cleaning up the mountain something useful all these self-actualizing nincompoops can employ their energies on. Everest has become an object lesson in the crappy way we’re treating the planet, and this might be the only way of turning that around.

Parsing The DaVinci Code:

I haven’t read the Dan Browne best-seller, and don’t intend to see the movie, having wasted a month of my life on Holy Blood, Holy Grail 20-some years ago before recognizing it was a fanciful elaboration of SFA generated by the jackass pipe dream that even if the visible authorities aren’t in control, a secret cabal might be. What interests me here is the sudden surge of outrage from the Christian community over the release of the movie. Dan Brown’s novel may be the best-selling book in thirty years, but the whole thing flew under the Christian radar because the kind of Christian believers who get upset about this sort of heresy simply don’t read, and live inside a cocoon of their own popular culture that’s as insular and self-sufficient as that of the corporate sector. To penetrate that cocoon, someone has to mount a multi-million dollar public relations campaign, and that’s what the producers of the movie did.

More Hysterics at the National Post:

And then there’s the National Post, which is occasionally accused of really wanting to be the Jerusalem Post it forgets that it isn’t. The Post ran an hysterical news story on its front page last week, based on a column filed by an Iranian ex-pat “analyst” named Amir Taheri claiming that Iran had passed a law that would force Jews and other non-Muslims to war cloth badges on their clothing in the manner of Nazi Germany. As part of their fact-checking for the story, the Post talked to a receptionist at the Simon Weisenthal in Los Angeles, a city globally-respected for its firm grip on reality, and then called the only two Iranians they knew in Ottawa. All emphatically confirmed the rumour.

Aside from the fact that even if Iran was planning anything this silly, they’d only have to manufacture about twenty of the badges because there are very few Jews left in the country, the story turned out to be totally untrue. Since then, the story (about the Post being duped by its own bullshit) has circulated around the planet, and the editors have been busy trying the scrape the egg the paper’s masthead.  One would hope this stops them from treating the CIA and the Mossad as if they are news services, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on this if I were you.


693 w. May 25, 2006



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