Tuesday, July 17, 2007

that's why they call it the wilderness.

So a California guy goes hiking in Montana with his daughter, and they get attacked by a brown bear. They survive the attack, but dad gets mauled pretty badly, and they're all over the news with their "dramatic story of survival".

What amuses me about the reporting is the gratuitous use of emotionally charged adjectives. We are told that the bear "savagely attacked" the guy.

Well, duh. It's a freakin' bear. They're not known for their civilized table manners.

"I say, old chap, would you awfully mind holding out your arm so I can take a brief nibble, if it's not too much of a bother? I am feeling a tad peckish this morning."

Nature is great, but I have no illusions that there are things out there that will cheerfully turn me into lunch without malice or remorse. That's the way nature works--it's hard and unforgiving. Like Bob Heinlein says, we're adapted to living on this rock by millions of years of evolution, and an unprotected human can (and will) die just from exposure to the elements within a day or two. Toss in all the things on the planet which are a.) predatory, and b.) stronger than humans, and the only advantage we have is the fact that we have opposable thumbs and big brains, the better to fashion tools and shelter with.

One of such tools is the firearm. I'll probably see the Montana back country at some point in my life. Maybe I'll even make it up to Alaska. Wherever I go, however, you can be damn sure of the fact that there will be a large-ish handgun loaded with very heavy hardcast bullets on my person.

(Yeah, I know about the rules on personal firearms in national parks. Guess I have to stay out of those, eh? Wouldn't want to break the law or anything.)

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