National Geographic : 2011 Sep
LETTERS I am a BASE jumper, and I felt it was necessary to chime in. I have spent thousands of dollars on countless trips to Europe so that I can play on the cliffs that the Alps and Dolomites offer. This is money and travel I could have directed to Yosemite. Of course there are many places in Europe where a BASE jumper can easily hike in the daytime, enjoy his or her surroundings, and launch into that most favorable state, free fall. But not so much in America. Why is it that Yosemite allows activities that are more risky than BASE jumping (free climbing and slacklining) but not BASE jumping? BASE jumpers are not bad people. We are not crazy, nor do we have a death wish. We're doctors, lawyers, geogra- phers, students. We are good people who appreciate our sport and want to continue to see it grow in the right environment. The majority of us feel we have the right to use our national parks in the same capacity as others do--- from the weekend hiker to the free-soloist climber. We respect the motto "Leave No Trace" and respect our exit points more than the typical American families I see littering in such pristine places. COREY OCHSMAN Arlington, Virginia I was saddened and frankly stunned that there was not one picture of a woman at work in the high world. While the article credits the accomplishments of Lynn Hill and mentions Kate Rutherford and Madeleine Sorkin by name, there is no real attention given to the fact that women have become a significant presence in the valley, pushing limits to the same degree as their male counterparts. Come on! It's no longer a man's world. Sadly, in 2011 women must still look for images that inspire them rather than objectify them. Next time please don't leave us out. CATHERINE JOHNSON Vashon, Washington Camera Obscura Seeing images from Abelardo Morell's camera brought me back to 1988 and my freshman year at Boston University. An English major in pursuit of any easy science elective, I signed on for Astronomy 101. My visions of identifying constellations en route to an easy A quickly dissolved. In the middle of one lecture on the behavior of light our professor, without explanation, closed off the snug wooden shutters over the windows and continued his monologue. A few minutes later he called our attention to a small hole in one shutter, then asked us to look at the white walls of the lecture hall. There, cars moved along Storrow Drive. The Charles River and the Esplanade were on view, and if you looked hard enough, tiny joggers moved along paths on the wall. Result? A standing ovation and lasting admiration from 300 previously somnolent 18-year-olds. ALLEN LITTLE Portland, Maine The article on camera obscura reminded me of my time serving with the Royal Air Force in Egypt. Near the airfield was a brick camera obscura about ten feet square, which was used to train bomber pilots in the correct angle of approach to the target and bomb-release timing. In the center of the building was a map of the surrounding area. By seeing the approach of an aircraft reflected onto the map, the controllers could, by radio contact, instruct the aircrew of the correct approach. When not in use, the camera obscura gave a wonderful reflection of the bright blue Egyptian sky. ROBERT LOUIS SMITH Aldridge, England Bangladesh The resilience of the Bangla- deshi people in adapting to global warming is admirable. However, there are limits to strategies that the poor can devise to cope with the rise in sea and river levels. While Bangladesh has reduced fertility rates in recent years, its family planning programs need greater resources, especially from United Nations agencies that have been slow in recognizing the impact of overpopulation on climate change. ALOK BHARGAVA Houston, Texas We are not crazy, nor do we have a death wish. We're doctors, lawyers, geographers, students.