Monday, March 10, 2014
Regarding Matthew Dyer, the Sierra Club hiker attacked while in his tent at 1:30 a.m. July 24 in eastern Canada's Torngat Mountains when an electric fence failed to stop a polar bear:
CBC News reported July 27, "Parks Canada advises visitors of the park to hire an armed Inuit polar bear guard ... . Dyer's group did not hire a bear guard."
Armed Inuit guards -- an excellent idea, by the way -- were quite likely not hired because the Sierra Club seeks non-lethal means of protection in a bear attack, most notably by advocating pepper spray for bear attacks.
Although the electric fence and pepper spray are steps in the right direction in trying to co-exist peacefully with bears, they're not enough to stop a charging bear, particularly in the wee hours, when bears tend to attack people in tents. (Japanese wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino experienced a worse fate than Dyer in Kamchatka, Russia, on Aug. 8, 1996, when a bear attacked him in his tent at 4:30 a.m., dragged him out of it and killed him.)
In September 1996, my friend Keith Benner and I were attacked by a brown bear in Alaska as pepper spray allowed a face-to-face encounter, risking mauling and death after the bear knocked me to the ground with a side-arm swipe to my chest.
A .454-caliber Casull or .338-caliber rifle (I've since learned) could have stopped the bear in its charge instead of leaving our fate up to the bear. (Our experience is described in the article "A Can of Spray, A Lot of Luck," in the Sept. 29, 1996, edition of the Anchorage Daily News.)
The Inuits must be shaking their heads.
Golf competition finishers lauded for love of the game
Congratulations to Emily Bouchard (235), the 2013 winner of the Maine Women's Amateur golf tournament ("Maine Women's Amateur: Another title in the bag for Bouchard," Aug. 1). Winners always deserve to be congratulated.
Those who finish last get few accolades. With this in mind, I recognize Marilyn Hughes (334), Linda Morin-Pasco (335), Janet Anderson (336) and Trudy Snediker (339), who hung in to play all three days of the tournament and finished a cumulative 404 strokes behind the winner.
I don't know any of these women, but I guess that none of them entered the tournament with any thought of winning. Each finished more than 98 strokes back.
I congratulate them for doing something none of my fellow male golfers would ever do under similar circumstances. None would think of entering a state tournament on a course where they would not be competitive, let alone facing the prospect of finishing last.
Please do not think my admiration for these women is in any way condescending. I hope they had a great time and share pleasant memories of competing. Perhaps the play to establish the order of the last four places was exciting and a lot of fun.
In any case, their experience probably says more about golf than any perceived differences in the attitude of women and men who play the game.
The game itself is the challenge, and small victories against the defenses of the course can be reward enough for the amateur to suffer the far more frequent defeats and keep coming back for more.
So, Marilyn, Linda, Janet and Trudy, congratulations, keep coming back. I await next year's tournament to see where you place among the finishers.
What's really motivating Mideast peace talk plans?
Your front-page story July 29 about the resumption of peace talks on Israel/Palestine ("Deal to free Palestinian captives sets up Mideast peace talks") raised a question in my mind: the structure of the incentive package for the supposed Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas. See if this question doesn't bug you, too.
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