Who's Crying Wolf?
Like you, I saw the pictures of those 300 lunatics who were literally dying to spend a few seconds at the summit of Mount Everest over the weekend. And as I usually do, I started to wonder: why?
Seems like every year about this time we get the stories of people who are dying some pretty gruesome deaths. Twenty years or so ago, a sudden storm stranded hikers at the summit camp. I want to say it was seven people that died. Afterward, I saw an interview with a guy who had been on a sat phone, saying goodbye to his wife. He survived, but he lost his nose and a bunch of digits to frostbite.
Just a couple years ago, there was the "map" of the trek to the summit, complete with the dead hikers used as color-coded landmarks. People pay up to $45 grand for directions like, "Turn left at blue coat guy."
Are we humans just completely insane?
Anyway. This year the spectacle got me thinking about a movie I saw with my mom...
1983. I was a senior in high school. It was her idea. She picked a Disney film: Never Cry Wolf. I've asked her about it, why she chose it, and she doesn't remember going. That movie had a profound effect on me.
Yeah, spoiler alert: I'm gonna give you the outline. It's been 35 years; if you haven't seen it by now, well, sorry.
Never Cry Wolf is about a scientist who goes into the Alaskan Arctic to study what wolves eat in the winter. Because there's a lot of winter up there. The guy hires a puddle jumper to take him deep into the tundra, finds some wolves, and makes camp near them so he can observe.
The wolves eventually figure out the scientist isn't a threat, and there's a tense acceptance (not like that idiot who thought bears were his friends until they ate him).
Over the winter, an Inuit hunter who's missing a couple front teeth wanders by the camp, hangs out a couple days, and goes about his way saying he'll be back around in spring.
Spring breaks, and the female wolf has her pups. A bit later, she goes missing, and the Inuit hunter returns and has new front teeth. It doesn't take long for the scientist to figure out the hunter has killed the wolf and sold the pelt.
Shortly after that, the puddle jumper shows up again to check on him. But this time, the pilot has brought a guy who wants to build a hunting lodge up there, and takes a couple shots at the wolf family.
Of course, the scientist flips out and chases them off. After they fly away, he sees the remaining wolves in the pack leaving their den. And the final words of the movie are: "And I turned and didn't watch them go."
Nobody Goes There Anymore, It's Too Crowded
Twenty years ago, I honeymooned on an island off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres. Awesome place. The town itself sits at the mouth of an inlet that forms a nice natural harbor. Across the inlet was a long, mostly deserted beach that faces the mainland.
My new wife and I turned our scooters up the dirt road that ran along Punta Sur. There was one restaurant, Playa Tiburon. There was a pier, a little paddock in the water where you could swim with a shark, and a group of Mexican men off to the side with a huge fish grilling over an open fire. We were the only Caucasian faces in the place. We ordered fish for two and a several Nationales. It was amazing.
A couple years ago, we took the kids over Christmas (my ex and I sometimes still vacation together at holidays). That dirt road was paved. Condos and hotels lined the Punta Sur. Playa Tiburon was still there — this time the place was packed. At least 150 people eating grilled fish. Once again, we were the only Caucasian faces in the joint.
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In fact, Isla Mujeres was pretty much packed that Christmas. And not with English speakers like it was 20 years ago. Today, it has been built up as a vacation spot for Mexicans. I lamented the sleepy little town for about five seconds before I got to how cool it was that so many could now afford to enjoy that beautiful island.
This year, we're going ~70 miles south of Cancun, to a sleepy little diving town called Akumal. We've been before, and we're looking forward to getting back while it's still kinda sleepy.
If You Build it, They Will Come
Over the weekend, the Times ran with the story about Baltimore's ransomware attack. It is now known that the ransomware attacks that have been going on use leaked NSA software to spread the virus throughout the network.
Well played, NSA.
Baltimore is saying the Feds ought to pony up and help with the bill, since it's their tech that started this whole mess. Hard to argue against that line of logic.
You can go on and on about how Big Data itself is innocent. Who cares if Google is mapping our movements with Android, or if Apple is recording and storing all our phone conversations?
Those cameras everywhere are for our safety! Nobody would ever use facial recognition software to scan millions of Facebook photos for pics of families at airports and then go rob your house.
Yeah, it doesn't matter until it does.
Until next time,
A 21-year veteran of the newsletter business, Briton Ryle is the editor of The Wealth Advisory income stock newsletter, with a focus on top-quality dividend growth stocks and REITs. Briton also manages the Real Income Trader advisory service, where his readers take regular cash payouts using a low-risk covered call option strategy. He also contributes a weekly column to the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Briton, click here.
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