Letters for November 30-December 6, 2006

The Deepest Truth

Zak's death touched some tender spots: I have to tell you that "Rebreathe Deep the Gathering Doom" (Ashley Harrell, November 23) is without question the best article I have ever read regarding diving that was written by a reporter, with or without formal dive training.

One would have to dig hard and deep and get creative to find inaccuracies. You touched on some very tender subjects for the dive community: divers, retailers, and manufacturers alike, and you did it with such finesse. Truly an outstanding article! You did everyone proud. And you reminded us how much we loved and miss Zak. My hat is off.



Waynne Fowler

Olympia, Washington Kudos for Ashley: I just wanted to let you know that this is probably the best article on a diving death that I have ever read by a reporter.

Bruce Partridge

Shearwater Research Inc.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Don't blame the machine: I would like to commend you in your attempt to do the necessary background research for the article and for attempting to provide a sustained balanced narrative of the events that transpired leading to the demise of Zak Jones. I wish to clarify a few points:

1. No amount of open-circuit diving is a guarantee of safety with a rebreather. It truly is an apples-versus-oranges comparison. Zak was clearly an experienced open-circuit scuba diver, but this by no means translates into competency with a rebreather.

2. He dove to 200 feet without the correct bailout mixtures — or even a regulator to switch to open-circuit bailout in case of an emergency. As your article properly hinted, this is tantamount to suicide (like skydiving without a reserve parachute).

3. Although we will never know with certainty what happened to Zak, the best explanation is that he incurred a "caustic cocktail," frantically tried to bail out, but, since he had no regulator, ended up drowning.

4. You are quite correct in pointing out that the margin for error on a rebreather is much narrower than on regular open-circuit scuba. The analogy I often give is that a rebreather is like driving a Lamborghini — the machine will accelerate to 180-plus mph, but at those speeds, the slightest error can cost you your life.

5. I found it lamentable that you leave the reader with the unmistakable impression that Zak died because of the sinister "killer" rebreather. Nothing could be further from the truth. This tragedy occurred due to human error — overconfidence, laziness, and a feeling of invulnerability.

Dr. Albert E. Lyngzeidetson

Department of Philosophy

University of Miami

Our Own John Simon

Breaking the bad news entertainingly: I love Brandon K. Thorp's writing! His review of All the Great Books (abridged) (which I directed) was my favorite of them all (and the cast too), even though he hated, hated the play.

I feel bad for friends and acquaintances who are associated with Burning Blue ("Discrimination Sucks Out Loud," November 23), but the director had been warned before about opening a play underrehearsed and not prepared technically (it happened before with Last Hairdresser), and it unfortunately caught up with him.

I appreciate the criteria Thorp set out at the beginning of the review — he set the personal standard of the subject matter for the reader and stated that he was willing to be forgiving.

I look forward to his reviewing any production I may be involved in either as a director and actor, because I know I will get a fair and honest assessment from him, and it will be brilliantly written! And I can forward it to my friends, and they will laugh out loud!

Jerry Jensen

Hallandale Beach

Lousy theater was never so much fun: I'm sure there must be some redeeming features for Burning Blue, even though your critic couldn't find them. But his vivid writing is to be commended — "Roseanne Barr naked" is a gem.

I will no longer miss John Simon's vitriol in New York Magazine now that we get reviews like this! Congrats!

Jim Tommaney

Artistic Director, Edge Theatre

Lauderdale Lakes

Why Don't We Get It?

It's that old Urban Renewal Polka! I must take exception with the reasoning behind Thomas Francis' piece "Hooray for Hollywood" (November 16). Francis seems to think that it's a good idea to derail the smart-growth vision for the sake of "protecting" Hollywood from a much-needed infusion of economic lifeblood. Rather than accurately relay the 27-year history of the uphill struggle against economically depressed conditions, Francis chose the path of least reporting, narrowing in on the challenges of recent months. In the end, the public on both sides of the debate is ill-served by being force-fed Francis' thinly veiled opinions without the benefit of facts to back them up.

Backpedaling on redevelopment would be a disaster for the city. He attacks the process for not being complete and minimizes the significant progress made in the CRA districts. He bemoans development downtown and on the beach but minimizes the slum and blight that is continually being removed. He takes potshots at the leaders and agencies that have been implementing public upgrades that affect the economic health of the entire city, yet he fails to discuss the conditions that led to the redevelopment campaigns or their significant successes.

Hollywood is growing because it has to survive in the global marketplace, and organizations such as the downtown and Hollywood Beach districts are the engines powering this necessary transition from deteriorating Florida beach town to world-class destination.

Gil Martinez, Executive Director

Hollywood Beach Community Redevelopment Agency


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