March 28, 2009

"It's an unnatural act for a human being."

"When you see Shane jump off a cliff it's impossible not to be overwhelmed by it."

33 comments:

AllenS said...

I hope that the theme for the day isn't death.

paul a'barge said...

He knew he was a goner all the way down.

Ski on Shane. Ski on.

Meade said...

"McConkey had a wife and 3 1/2-year-old daughter..."

rhhardin said...

You can do it all from the safety of a small airplane. Learn aerobatics.

former law student said...

Risk-takers sometimes lose their bets. A sky-diving friend lost his wife after another diver collided with her.

Is it better to live a safe and dull, but long life, or to get your adrenals to really start pumping?

mcg said...

I think it's reasonable to expect someone to play it a bit safer than BASE jumping until their 3-1/2 daughter can fend for herself.

somefeller said...

Is it better to live a safe and dull, but long life, or to get your adrenals to really start pumping?

False choice. Living a life that doesn't involve volunteering to take on unnecessary mortal danger isn't necessarily a dull life. In fact, from what I've seen, a lot of people who take part in extreme sports (particularly those over the age of 25 or who have families) do so because they are living an otherwise dull life, and that dullness doesn't go away just because they are participating in extreme sports. And I'm speaking as someone who has gone sky-diving and bungee jumping (when I was under 25).

PatCA said...

"McConkey had a wife and 3 1/2-year-old daughter in Squaw Valley, California."

Shame on him.

chuckR said...

Why would this be considered a freak accident? It would be freakish if this sort of accident didn't happen. For example, the wiki entry on wingsuits observes that most of the pioneers died while wingsuiting. This guy was combining wingsuiting and extreme skiing. Binary suicide pill.
And yes, shame on him for leaving a 3 1/2 year old child to fend without a father.

former law student said...

shame on him for leaving a 3 1/2 year old child to fend without a father.

If everyone thought like that, there'd be only one Flying Wallenda, not a family.

I guess the adrenaline-deficient could wait till they were grandparents to start taking risks, but that would really be unusual.

mcg said...

If everyone thought like that, there'd be only one Flying Wallenda, not a family.

So?

I guess the adrenaline-deficient could wait till they were grandparents to start taking risks, but that would really be unusual.

How about they just don't have kids?

SteveR said...

At some point you have to grow up. "Hope I die before I get old" made for great song lyrics but doesn't excuse stupid and irresposible behavior.

former law student said...

How about they just don't have kids?

Let's reprogram the women who are attracted enough to risk taking types so that they have their babies.

Quayle said...

Shane wanted it all. The burden falls to his child.

Stupid kids! - (born and unborn) for allowing people to put burdens on your backs.

Like trillions of national debt.

The hallmark sign of an unmerciful society - burdening the weakest among them.

David said...

So people with dangerous jobs should not have children? Tough luck, soldiers.

mcg said...

That's a fair point worthy of discussion; Meade's post raises it as well. Obviously the equation depends not only on the absolute risk level but some measure of the merit of the activity. Driving to work involves a risk of death, too.I don't know the exact dividing line but it's pretty easy to see that taking such huge risk purely for the sport of it is on the wrong side of that line.

somefeller said...

Soldiers are doing something risky, but also necessary and useful for society. The same can be said for police officers and firemen. That can't be said for overgrown adolescents who play around in dangerous extreme sports.

If the McConkeys of the world think ordinary life isn't exciting enough for them, let them put on a uniform and do something that channels their need for adrenaline into something that is helpful to society. Otherwise, they should just grow up and not expect the rest of us to be impressed with them, particularly when they have parental responsibilities. (Please note - I'm not implying that most cops, firemen and soldiers are immature adrenaline junkies. But since the issue of how those groups can overlap was raised and soldiers were specifically mentioned, I'm addressing that angle.)

Jana said...

I'm not sure a comparison between the work of a soldier and the filmed exploits of an extreme sportsman are exactly analogous.

somefeller said...

Or to be more blunt, if I hear that a 39 year old man with a wife and young child dies while (a) leading his men in an infantry charge to take out a group of Taliban soldiers, (b) inside a burning building with a crew of firemen trying to stop a raging inferno or (c) in a shoot-out with a bunch of gang-bangers who were terrorizing a neighborhood, I'd say, God bless you and I'm glad I live in a country that produces men like you. On the other hand, if I hear about a similarly situated 39 year old who dies in a stupid ski stunt or something like that, I shrug my shoulders and move on without seeing any need to pay my respects or feel impressed.

Methadras said...

When you have a wife, a child, a family, it is your duty, nay, your obligation to see to it that they are taken care off. Not from simple monetary means, but by affecting them with your presence as well. If you are one of these people that pursues the constant adrenaline rush to satisfy whatever hole you have in your life (and this also includes anything else that displaces you from your loved ones intentionally) you are cheating those people that you swore to take care of, of you. When this type of high-risk activity puts your life in danger, you selfishly are cheating everyone in your life, but those closest to you every time. This man owed it to his wife and daughter to not put himself into constant danger. To find some other means of fulfilling his desires, while being able to keep his life as low risk as possible so that his job, his duty to his wife and child can be fulfilled. That should have been his preeminent responsibility above all else.

This wasn't a man, this was a man-child in the pursuit of his personal happiness and not the total happiness of his obligations. No sympathy from me here.

daredevil-66 said...

I have to admit anymore when I read a story like this I go immediately to the comments section of the story to see the vox populi say inappropriate and coarse things pro or con just to check myself. I am never disappointed to see such empty souls openly delight in someones death, no matter how banal the causes. WTF is wrong with our culture? When did we lose it?

srfwotb said...
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srfwotb said...

I wouldn't exactly call it a freak accident like the article.

They play those clips constantly in Aspen on midnight local cable. Very mesmerizing late at night.

I don't know how this relates, but a childhood friend grew up to fly jets in the military. He is also an avid snowboarder. In every other way, he is the most stable, boring guy on the planet, a priest's dream. The military selected for this. If you are going to put millions of dollars of equipment and training into someone, you don't want it to go to waste.

PatCA said...

Yes, jumping off cliffs for fun or profit is very different from soldiering.

I read Krakauer's Thin Air, which glorified the cult of extreme sport and PC (I want to be the first Pakistani! I want to be the first deaf person! to climb Everest) and then I read climber/sportsman Boukreev's rebuttal book. Boukreev's detested this cult and blamed it for many needless deaths. I agree with him.

Anyone with a young family is just wrong to do this, I'm sorry.

former law student said...

It's funny how the essentially anti-communitarian commenters think that service for the common good would redeem the loss of life here. (Or would they rather give their lives for their fellow citizens than an additional 3% of their labor income exceeding 250K?)

Some more thoughts to ponder: Taxi drivers are more likely than cops to be homicide victims (google "dangerous workplaces") Should fathers of young children drive cabs?

Further, my wife's two grandfathers died young from an industrial disease, leaving many children, at least one as young or younger. (They died partly because safety features would have cut into their employers' profits.) Who was at fault here? The grandfathers? Their corporate employers?

PatCA said...

Anti-communitarians, taxi drivers, and grubbing corporations.

You have stretched the original question to a point beyond all recognition. Good night, have a great weekend.

David said...

I'm aware to the qualitative difference between a soldier or fireman and a daredevil. But in today's world they all are volunteers. In most cases their spouses have children voluntarily. In each case they are putting themselves voluntarily in a position of danger, knowing that the children and spouse could be left behind. It seems that most of the disapproving commenters are criticizing Shane because they did not value his activity very highly. If you think you have that much moral judgment, go ahead and criticize. I am inclined to let people make their own decisions about these things and say God Bless when disaster strikes.

If the Mother is any good--and I'll bet you she is--the kids will make it ok. They will miss out knowing a fabulous character though.

mcg said...

It seems that most of the disapproving commenters are criticizing Shane because they did not value his activity very highly.

That is correct.

If you think you have that much moral judgment, go ahead and criticize.

Thanks, I will!

I am inclined to let people make their own decisions about these things and say God Bless when disaster strikes.

I think mankind would be better off if we minded our own businesses a bit less, or at least if we didn't glorify destructive behavior. I'm not talking about passing laws here, I'm just talking about a bit of collective judgmentalism.

If the Mother is any good--and I'll bet you she is--the kids will make it ok.

Let's see, she married and willingly had a child with a known adrenaline addict with a clear death wish. I think I'd take that bet.

They will miss out knowing a fabulous character though.

You know him personally, David? If not, then all you've got to go on in naming him a "fabulous character" is exactly what we all know about him.

When I was single I dabbled in skydiving, SCUBA diving. In both settings, during training, I heard the same saying: "there are lots of old divers and lots of old divers and lots of bold divers---but not very many old AND bold divers." I'll bet he heard that too, muttered "fuck that" and moved on. The man purposefully toyed with death as a career. It wasn't a risk to him, it was a friggin' dare.

When I was single I got pretty aggressive on the ski slopes too, until I shattered my femur. I can't believe how idiotic I was, but the fact is it crept up on me. I mean, I had a soft landing on every jump but the last one. I'm lucky I can walk---and I'm not going to test my luck like that again with a 5-year-old girl in tow.

mcg said...
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mcg said...

Was Shane like this when he was a kid?

Dogwood said...

McConkey was doing what he loved to do and supporting his family while doing it. Sounds like a dream job to me, although a highly dangerous one.

He was an adult who knew the dangers. I'm assuming his wife consented to their relationship & marriage, accepted the danger of his job, and chose to have a family with him in spite of the risks.

Based upon the comments here, there isn't a single race car driver who should be having children because their job is dangerous without providing any community benefit.

Nor should civilian sky diving instructors mate & procreate, nor scuba diving instructors, etc., etc.

It is incredibly pretentious to imply that only people in dangerous jobs that serve the greater good should be having children.

mcg said...

If it is pretentious to suggest that mutual adult consent absolved him from taking reasonable precautions to actually be alive for his daughter, then lock me up. This isn't in the same league as soldier or police officer---or for that matter scuba or skydiving instructor. Death wasn't just a risk in this job, it was a friggin' dare.

Besides, you say he was supporting his family---yes he WAS. Do you think he had a life insurance policy? I'd have liked to have been a fly on the wall in the State Farm office for that one.

mcg said...

You can, incidentally, get a skydiving or scuba diving rider on your insurance policy, if you want to make that your litmus test.