Friday, May 31, 2013

Man's Ambition has moved

Dear Readers (and the Illiterate),

There are a few great moments in the history of mankind: the discovery of fire; the invention of tools; the forming of societies; the distilling of whiskey; competitive athletics; but today marks another milestone, possibly greater because it combines all of those and more - today Man's Ambition is re-launched as the redesigned beacon of hope for humanity it was destined to be.
Many of you already know that my brother Ryan and I started the subversive site Mans Ambition over 2 years ago. 300 plus articles later, we have gone from a small group of dedicated readers to a slightly larger following. Needless to say, we thought it was time to progress our site in order to make it clear, concise, and user friendly. We also thought it was time to change its appearance so it doesn't look like a dark, seedy literotica site.
So quickly drop whatever you're doing, leave this blogger and head for the new and improved site. We're sure you'll be pleased.
Take a look and let us know what you think. Like us on the Book because honestly, why wouldn't you. We are also looking for contributors so if you have any interest and know a thing or two about a thing or two, write an article. If you fear your writing is terrible and should not be consumed by the public, we'll edit it and post it under an alias of your choosing. If you can't form sentences, then a congratulations is in order for making it this far in life. If you want us to write about a specific topic, let us know. Most importantly, keep reading. We plan on posting more frequently and you don't want to be that person who can't contribute to a conversation because you forgot to read one of our articles. 
Yours Truly,
Ano and Crew

-Feel free to forward

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

NASCAR’s Marathon Mayhem at Charlotte

(Credit-AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

This past week’s race in Charlotte earned every bit of its billing as the longest race in NASCAR.  At just a shade under 6 hours after the red flag delays and multitude of cautions, racing fans got their money’s worth.

In a race that saw big time names fall to the back, it was a banner week for fans of Chevrolet and Stewart-Haas Racing. Chevy took the haul with five of the top seven finishers and Stewart-Haas enjoyed its best week of 2013 as Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished sixth and seventh respectively and Danica even lead a lap, albeit for about 14 seconds.

Starting with the bizarre occurrence of the camera cable falling onto the track and tearing up cars and ending with supposed lame duck Kevin Harvick’s victory off a crucial restart, this race had enough for everybody.  Just ask the hula hoop guy.

The Hamlin-Logano-Stewart feud seems to have cooled a bit as they all finished within four spots of one another with no fireworks. They’re clearly just interested in points, especially Denny Hamlin who is looking to break into the Top 20 and Logano and Stewart sitting right on the edge at 19th and 20th respectively.

NASCAR’s handling of the cable fiasco is worth noting.  David Newton from ESPN tweeted that Kyle Busch should be allowed to revert to his backup car and some fans suggested he at least be
(Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)
allowed to repair his car under the red flag, which is exactly what happened.  NASCAR gets a lot of flack but I think it’s evidence that it really does, in many ways, listen to feedback and criticism.  Constructive criticism does not fall on deaf ears in this sport.  I’m sure there are plenty who will disagree, but from my perspective, I think they do a good job by and large.

The real stars of this race were the pit crews and you heard it on the radio – there was a lot of positive feedback from the drivers to their crews. From the myriad repairs to cars attacked by the now infamous SkyCam cable to lightning fast pits in the home stretch of the race, the crews were at their best churning out four-tire changes and wedge adjustments inside 100 laps.  Jimmie Johnson’s forgotten lug nut notwithstanding.  In the end, pit stops turned out to be the difference.
Especially for Kasey Kahne.

Kahne had a dominant car Sunday night and he drove it well.  This was just a case of good ol’ fashioned bad luck.  For all the benefits of running out front, there is also an enormous amount of pressure as you not only set the stage for pace but also strategy.  It’s a paradox much like that in golf where the best score gets “honors.” In other words, you’re winning so you get to take the first crack at making a mistake and the rest of us get to learn from it.

That’s exactly what happened when an ill-timed yellow came out with 14 laps to go.  Kahne had the car to go the distance, but when pit road opened up on Lap 386 the 5 Car kept on driving and everyone from P2 on back gladly did the opposite.

“Did everybody come?” Kahne asked crew chief Kenny Francis.  To which Francis replied “Yes. Everybody came.”

“Oh boy,” said Kahne.  “We’ll see what happens.”

What they saw was Kevin Harvick on fresh tires.  Harvick took off and Kahne went nowhere on the restart. From there, the 29 car locked it up.

I wrote a piece a few weeks back discussing pit strategy and the influence it has on a race’s outcome.  There is no clearer example than this.  Understandably, Kahne was in an untenable position.  Had he pitted, the rest of the top 10 would have likely stayed out.

I think Francis made the right call; Kahne just needed a better restart.  He was in a position where he was leading the race with just over 10 laps to go and he couldn’t get the car to go.  Kahne had just pitted on Lap 364 in what was expected, at the time, to be the last round of pits.  So you have to believe he had some tires left.  Easier said than done, of course, but in this sport you’ve just got to make it happen.

What did you think of the race?  Let me know on Twitter @fordNASCAR

-Contributing Writer and NASCAR Aficionado Rob Ford 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Papa Bear Retires

(Pic taking from
Over the past several years, Brian Urlacher’s name has been synonymous with the Chicago Bears. He became a great in an organization that has a rich history of badass linebackers. Sure, Urlacher is not the best linebacker to don the blue and orange. He is not even the second best, but he is a beast who absolutely dominated. Mike Singletary,  Bill George, Dick Butkus were all better players but Urlacher brought the same intensity, physicality, and game changing ability that was apparent in all of his predecessors

Urlacher’s intensity transferred from his game to his regular life. Over the last three years, his body has been declining, leading to the release from the only organization that he knew, but whenever he could even barely walk he fought ferociously in the arena like a one-armed gladiator. After being released, he made his feelings known about how upset he was with the organization, but that wasn’t surprising. Urlacher is not a complex man as he says exactly what is on on his mind. 5 years ago, to the chagrin of the Bear faithfuls, he asked for a better deal while still in contract and did not show up for offseason workouts until his demands were met. It was his response to the haters that personified who he was: “It’s easy for people to criticize me for wanting (a new deal), and I understand that it’s a contract and I signed it,” Urlacher said. “But this is the NFL, and if I’d signed it and I’d played like shit, they’d have cut me or tried to get me to take less. In my mind, there’s no difference. If they can ‘break’ a contract, I have a right to ask for more if I play well enough.” While most players would have worded it differently in order to cause little commotion, he put it out there. He is not a subtle man and honesty he had a valid point. The aftermath from the Chicago fans was bad, but he overcame this by playing through blood, sweat, and tears and not giving a flying fuck what anybody else thought. He did things his way.

Urlacher is a proud man, maybe even too proud. He despised losing probably more than anyone else in the league, whether he was actually playing or watching his Bears from afar. While he has felt slighted by the Bears for releasing him and creating a minor feud with the organization, he never received offers from other organizations that he deemed worthy and thus chose the only way out that he thought acceptable. I believe he still has the drive and the passion, but between the injuries that caused him to miss parts of the last few years and the lack of interest from other teams, his only options were to succumb to a hit in his pride or retire. He chose retirement. Whether you liked him or not, his decisions stemmed from the fact that he is a man of principle which needs to be respected. While it’s debatable whether he will be a first ballot HOF, he will eventually be enshrined in Canton. Now let him hibernate.

Tackles- 1353
Sacks- 41.5
Fumbles Forced-12
Fumbles Recovered-16
Games Played-182
(stats taken from

Career Highlights and awards
8x Pro Bowl
5x All-Pro
AP Defensive Player of the Year
Ed Block Courage Award
NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
NFL Defensive Player of the Year
NFC Champion
NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the month
NFC Player of the month
Careers single season and career records in Tackles

- Kyle

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Roaring '10s - How GATSBY May Be the Quintessential American Movie For Right Now

the modern dance party pic courtesy of
Culture comes full circle. That is to say, styles and trends don't move on a Darwinian evolutionary ladder but more like the sine function of an occasionally lopsided wave.

See all the many rebellions, uprisings, and acquiescences that define our human history, the push and pull between barbarian and civilization, between empires and feudalist states. See the alternations between complexity and simplicity in the symphonic (as well as chamber) musical forms. It's always been true. But never has this been moreso than in the 20th and now the 21st century. And that, my friends, is what is so great about THE GREAT GATSBY, all you hatin' reviewers be damned.

I want to start off by saying F. Scott is a miserable writer, using stilted language, bad grammar, and with seemingly little real grasp on correct verbiage (I'll always be irked by a line in the book where he writes "she said decisively" when it seems like "she said derisively" is what he meant to write). I went to the movie because I love the Jazz age and out of respect to F. Scott's superior friend, Hem, not to mention the fact that Leo is just the man, period, done.

But as I left, I was staring at those unceasing blue eyes of reality as it smacked me in the face: the roaring 20's is back. Look at popular books like THE PARIS WIFE, Oscar-winning movies like MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, hit TV series like BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and now GATSBY - yeah, the 20's are roaring again.

And why not? With all the confusion that's befallen us since - the Great Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, hippies, acid, cocaine, heroin, cultural revolution followed by the backslide into the soullessness and cold consumption of the 80's, the melancholy depression of the 90's, Enron, 9/11, Iraq, the Great Recession, drones, Patriot Act, environmental destruction, identity theft - I mean, shit, doesn't it sound nice to just have a few drinks, an illegal vice everybody was in on (giving it both the allure of the forbidden and the acceptance of the authorities) and just simply live like there's no tomorrow? And, of course, dance until you black out or get in some bloomers?

It simply didn't hit me how much we're recycling of that roaring generation until I saw GATSBY. The ease with which 20s jazz flowed into modern dubstep and the believability of a Long Island party that resembled a poolside rendition of Electric Daisy just reinforced it. The music of the 1920s more than anything else was all about dancing while highly intoxicated. The music of today - whether you're talking jam and folk bands or the monster that is EDM - is all about dancing while highly intoxicated. Women in the 20s dared to bare leg and hosiery - women today dare to bare stomach, ass cheeks, some even flash T&A as a rebellion against those damn authorities. There was a phantom of doom back then lurking behind everything that was so frightening and foul that everybody decided to just get fucked up and ride that mother until the wheels fell off. And today, with the oceans rising, the air strangling us, the hideous manipulations of the Street and a government where it's hard to say who's the good guy or, for that matter, if there even is one - shit, all we can do is dance and mollify and fire down dingers and live, man.

Even more, GATSBY the movie pointed out the vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots - and not since the 20s has that gap been so wide as it is now. F. Scott never fully developed this theme, or his characters - maybe it was fear, maybe it was drink, maybe it was simply that he couldn't paint a complete enough picture (which explains his miserable failure in Hollywood). And the flick pointed out the soullessness embraced by many of the 1% and corporate interests that were running America at that moment and which led to the Depression. At the same time, what both the book and movie show is that all those Horatio Alger stories are bullshit, and that even if they happen every so often the man who climbs as such is surrounded by others just waiting - and hoping - for him to fall.

But no, in this day of fedoras and people again partying in suits, or at least ties - of loose morals and loud, wild dance music - we're officially echoing the roaring 20s. Only took 90 years. Maybe someday they'll call these the roaring 10s.

I leave you with the most indelible shot in the whole flick, a moment that is wonderful for its culmination of all these points I'm getting at here.

The scene when the great man, the legendary host who makes it possible for people to explore the depths of their debauchery with only the finest booze, music, and dancing, turns and introduces himself. He holds out his hand just as Gershwin's RHAPSODY IN BLUE is crescendoing. This was the original drop, by the way, people, the classic crescendo. And RHAPSODY IN BLUE may be one of the most important American songs of all time because it holds in its very self the key to American musical greatness. It's the crossroads, where classical music essentially handed off its crown as reigning audio entertainment for the masses to jazz and in general music based in the rhythms of the black man (jazz became rap, blues became rock, and nobody but a small handful of squares, myself included, listen to classical music anymore). And it's a love letter to New York, the quintessential American city, both then and now, the heart and soul of our massive, beautiful, fucked up, thumping, dropping, hopeless and hopeful nation. Just like GATSBY which, while chastising the gangsters and Wall Streeters and blue bloods draws the very ethereal dream world in which they buzz and vibrate amidst a city which itself is one of the greatest monuments to just what man can accomplish when he is ambitious.

But I digress. That scene, where RHAPSODY is crescendoing and the fireworks, which we took from the Chinamen who dynamited the railroad tunnels and now signify holidays in America (happy Memorial Day), and the party is building, foaming over like champagne racing up a flute, and a man with a smile and a handshake, if he does it well, if he's confident of himself and lets the world know it, knows that smile and handshake will very well propel him to the top of the world which, in spite of its near-impossibility and heavy fallibility is still possible in America like no other nation - this is the type of awe-inspiring cinematic moment that will be forever tattooed on my brain.

This is America in a nutshell, a nation of over the top celebration and fortunes built on little more than charm and a predilection towards socializing. A place where the only difference between the supposed respectable powerful men and the supposed criminal powerful men is the great hypocrisy embraced by the respectables. A grand old time. And a place where dancing and cutting loose and to hell with tomorrow brings all this vacuous beauty and world-creating hope together in one visceral revelry. And where in spite of our puritanical ancestry, we all love the sauce.

Cheers, good sirs. May the 10s continue their mighty roar. And may you have a great Memorial Weekend.

- Ryan

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Power of Nature

(Taken from

Every now and then our presence on this world is put into perspective. We have cultivated most lands, explored every region, built structures able to ward off weapons, and developed weapons capable of destroying the world; but we are still not the most powerful force on Earth. While humans are at the top of the food chain, we are still at the mercy of nature. With all of our knowledge and technological advances, we still cannot bar nature when it’s at its strongest. This is no more apparent then what occurred yesterday as a vicious tornado swallowed Oklahoma City suburbs, leaving a trail of destruction 22 miles long and 2 miles wide. An early estimate rated it as an EF4, which means it had winds between 166-200 mph.  Dozens were killed and hundreds were injured in the unrecognizable communities.  

Even with contingency plans and preparation we are no match for such an undeniable force. Oklahoma City had been affected by powerful twisters previously in 1942 and 1999, and since then they have been aware that it could occur again, and yet even with this knowledge gained from previous storms they couldn’t stop it. This fall, parts of New York and New Jersey were destroyed by Sandy even after warnings and hurricane-type precautions were made. One needs to look back at the deadly volcano Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in AD 79 killed around 25,000 people and as recently as 1944 relinquished nearby villages. In 2011, a deadly earthquake and tsunami occurred off the coast of Tohoku, Japan leaving thousands dead or injured. It’s terrifying to think that we aren’t in 100% control of our lives because all it takes is one natural disaster to destroy everything. We can mitigate the effects with precautionary measures like with the levees in New Orleans, but just like Katrina proved, eventually nature always wins.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the several tornadoes that have occurred this week and to all of those still dealing with the aftermath of previous natural disasters. I can't imagine words can begin to describe the pain and suffering you are going through. 


Monday, May 20, 2013

Random Weekly Update 5/20: Taibbi Was Right, Everything is Rigged

It's official - the game is rigged.

Or so showed Matt Taibbi a month or so back when he published an article about how it's come to light that the banks have been colluding on prices for interest rate swaps. This, when taken on top of the whole LIBOR-fixing scandal, means that a handful of banks have been basically fucking the world over twice on many of the financial instruments that determine most of our financing and investment actions. Even more, he hinted at the fact that in in fact the rigging of prices seems to stretch beyond financial instruments to heavily-traded commodities like oil, coal, gold.

BP, as South PArk pointed out, is no doubt very sorry for rigging oil
Just recently, following the embarrassment that was the eventual near-acquittal of possibly the biggest global price-fixing ring ever, European regulators have descended on European oil companies (including our spilling buddy BP, who no doubt is still sorry) for fixing oil prices. To all the right screaming that the system is fair and just for everybody and there is no great conspiracy to try and manipulate the masses for the benefit of a select few, I have just one question - what would you call international price fixing perpetrated by a few insiders and one-percenters with wide-reaching bad ramifications for backwards and struggling cities as well as middle-class "worked every fucking day of my life so I could finally retire" folks?

But at least we're righting things now, right? Punishing these corrupt, price-fixing bastards whose theft and graft has affected trillions of dollars? Per Taibbi re: the LIBOR trial:


"In any case, this all-star squad of white-shoe lawyers came before Buchwald and made the mother of all audacious arguments. Robert Wise of Davis Polk, representing Bank of America, told Buchwald that the banks could not possibly be guilty of anti- competitive collusion because nobody ever said that the creation of Libor was competitive. "It is essential to our argument that this is not a competitive process," he said. "The banks do not compete with one another in the submission of Libor.
"But these numbers are supposed to reflect interbank-loan prices derived in a real, competitive market. Saying the Libor submission process is not competitive is sort of like pointing out that bank robbers obeyed the speed limit on the way to the heist. It's the silliest kind of legal sophistry."

Read more: 


So basically after all the shock and awe over this insidious insider scheme, essentially nothing happened. But it's okay because the government is still enforcing its anti-trust laws against the enemies the American nation - that's right, they've managed to blow up a dastardly e-book price-fixing ring run by the evil Apple and all those greedy publishing houses out there. 

You see, Apple wanted to sell e-books for 12.99 to 14.99. Amazon, being a shining emblem of mass-market capitalism, wanted to sell the books for 9.99, under the actual cost of the books, and planned using its wide reach to force those damned greedy book publishers to lower their prices. I mean $14.99 for a work of literature (or, as is more often in contemporary American fiction, escapist poorly-written brain candy), that's an outrage! Much better spent on some Snookie Ultra Dark Leg Bronzer.

What kind of a world is this where a handful of banks who are literally playing roulette with everybody's money but their own can continue to do so without ramifications while mere purveyors of a struggling medium which holds some of the last hopes of restoring mankind to its former great civilization (reading is power and such) are taken to task by the very company that has put under countless small storefronts and retailers? Even more, is anybody else outraged that the banks fought the law and won, Apple is fighting the law and who knows who'll win in that one (but when you look at the good Apple has spread through the world by inspiring creativity and the easy ability to make movies while on the shitter in a restaurant using tablets you carry in you pocket, if they lose while the banks, who do little real good for anybody, win, that would be yet another disgrace), but the book publishers for whom profit margins are already thin, settled and paid.

"Three of the publishers, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette, settled with the government immediately. Penguin, Macmillan and Apple originally decided to fight the charges. But in December, to clear the way for its merger with Random House, Penguin settled, followed by Macmillan in February."- NY Times

Never mind that they said Amazon's practices could very well put them out of business. Who needs publishing? Especially when Amazon is running its own publishing house - hey, might that be a conflict of interests? Ahh, who gives a fuck? As long as the government continues prosecuting the small fish while the big fish keep their pockets flush and the average American has pills and reality TV, what does any of it matter?

Hell, we could be in Texas where twisters just demolished hundreds of houses and killed 7. I guess that's the point. Who cares about New York City publishers and international finance when they're broke and homeless? And you wanna know the real kicker? As always, these weren't mansions, they weren't big city high-rises or luxury condos. This was a neighborhood of houses built for working class people by the nonprofit volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. This time it isn't the right pushing down on the poor man. It's not the government. It's not the elitist media or the leftwing intelligentsia or anybody like that. Nope, it's God Himself destroying the houses of poor folks, houses that had been built out of the goodness of the hearts of people who actually care for their fellow man. God, as I've always suspected, has rigged the game for the rich man.

But no, tornado season is roaring. In classic fashion twisters have destroyed trailer parks in Oklahoma and swaths of Kansas. Again, God vs. the poor. Though their houses have been destroyed and some lives lost, no doubt they're feeling for the folks in Connecticut involved a broken rail and a collision of two commuter trains. 

The damage is supposedly massive and I imagine it would be.  Not to mention the headaches experienced by all the daily commuters from Connecticut to the City. I'm not sure which is more frightening - disaster resulting from an act of God or disaster resulting from man's confidence in the imperfect technology he's set up as the infrastructure for his society. Or the belief that a man-baby in blue pajamas staring from his secluded nation through heavy blank eyes mounted on flabby double chins may actually have somewhat decent weaponry that he might begin using against our allies.

While I may not see the world in polar absolutes, I do believe that North Korea is one of the most frighteningly fucked up and backwards nations in the current universe. Thankfully their closes society means that they also never get the real talent needed to make great things, including long-range missiles. Still, it's a bit disconcerting when the blubbering Kim Jung-un continues overseeing several straight days of launching missiles out into the ocean like a golfer blankly driving balls into the ocean just to see the plop. Yeah, South Korea should be a little worried. But not really because North Korea is like that fat kid on the playground who gives you dirty looks and makes dirt effigies of the classmates he doesn't like but when it came down to actual fighting his only move would be the quick throwing of sand. If North Korea didn't have China backing them, the Kim's woulda been deposed long ago and the Korean War would have lasted longer than the TV series about it, MASH. Maybe that war was rigged. We'll see soon. With China, NK's only international friend, increasingly getting pressured by the discovery of wealth to join the whole fun capitalist party, they just might cave in, give up their support of the pants-pooping dictator, and become America East. I mean, hell, even if you become a democracy you don't have to stop spying on your media. 

To add to the list of Obama's government's abuses of American justice, the justice department is ceasing AP call logs and there are even suspicions that Uncle Sam's spying on American journalists. I mean, why not? Obama preached a lot of things that he still hasn't done but he never claimed that he would end the privacy-killing Patriot act. In fact, quite the opposite. When I voted for Obama I was hoping he would mirror some of the actions and beliefs of the republican party. Like the way Buch and Cheney did what they thought was right for the American people and didn't let anybody - the Senate, Congress, the populace, any of it - stand in their way. Because sometimes a leader knows what's better for his people than they do. The boldness and quickness to action of the GOP is something the meek and over-analytical Democratic party could learn about. Because Obama is still a meek president when it comes to taking on the Senate and Congress, trying to work with people across the aisle when it's obvious they won't work with him, acquiescing as they defeat one effort after the next in spite of the fact that he was elected by the popular vote based on carrying out those changes. The ways he's mirrored the previous and highly-flawed administration - by fucking with non-profits, spying on citizens and organizations, continuing costly wars, and continuing such archaic battles as the war on marijuana - are just despicable. He had been an inspiration for you people and no doubt a source of hope for the increasingly-disenfranchised middle-to-lower class black population in America. But it turns out he's just showing us even more that the politics game is fixed and everything is rigged in the favor of the few. So who will fill that hope-giving gap now?

Ahh, entertainers. Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine are donating $70 million to USC to found a program based around helping aspiring music industrialists get the skills and knowledge to navigate the increasingly tricky world of music production and distribution. This dovetails off great nonprofits like PTones records, an org baed around providing inner city kids with the experience and tools needed to pursue dreams they may have of working in the dynamic world of music and engineering entertainment. And I'm sure Dre's program will do that. I mean, USC borders on South Central, no doubt most of its student body is made up of poor local Angelenos, right? Or is the system rigged against them, too?

Ahh, fuck it Donnie. Let's go bowling.

- Ryan

Friday, May 17, 2013

Going Up with Down's - Eli Reimer's Great Trek

This Spring we've come up on a very important milestone in American mountaineering history - the 50-year anniversary of the first American expedition to successfully stand atop Everest, the 3rd pole, the tallest point on earth, the legendary and deadly dream and nightmare for most men who choose to live a life in the mountains. And in spite of Sagarmatha's growing reputation as little more than a tourists' trek, it's still a massive, looming force to challenge all but the strongest among us. And back then, hell, it was a whole new universe.

On Wednesday night in Jackson Hole Broughton Coburn, one of the last true great educated and ambitious menches in an increasingly sterile world, gave a presentation on that expedition based on his book, THE VAST UNKNOWN . Brot spoke, along with David Dornan who was part of a group of climbers who helped Sir Edmund Hillary first start building schools and infrastructure for the sherpas as a thanks for all the guidance and muscle the sherpas gave them. Brot and Dave themselves had never been to the summit of Everest but just being in Nepal, climbing the lower peaks, staring up the monstrous mountain led them to live lives filled with awe and adventure.

That first American expedition occurred 10 years after Sir Edmund Hillary had made the first successful  summit of the world's tallest point. It also achieved its own mountaineering first, however, when the American team, led by Jackson Hole climbers Tom Hornbein, Willie Unsoeld, and Barry Corbet (namesake for the legendary Corbet's Couloir, posterboy for outdoor adventure and, after a horrendous helicopter crash left him paralyzed, champion for the disabled and founder of the magazine NEW MOBILITY), actually made the summit via the never-before-done West Ridge. These are all great, ambitious men and it's amazing what an impact on the lives of so many and, hell, the world they made simply by climbing. Not to mention the fact that this event, occurring when it did during the Cold War, on a route taken through communist China, had much bigger geopolitical ramifications than simply a mountaintop stroll. And there's the revelation made in Coburn's book that the CIA recruited a few of the climbers to ascend one of the nearby peaks and plant a device through which they could spy on the evil Red China.

All these great political human interest angles aside, climbs at their very core inspire us. The metaphor for a great challenge is climbing a mountain so what better way to show one's physical strength and mental fortitude in the face of adversity than to climb an actual physical mountain?

Everest has always been a benchmark, too. There are so many records for first ascents on it - Erik Weihenmayer making the first blind summit of the peak, Jordan Romero being the youngest to summit at a freshly-pubescent 13, Mark Inglis who summitted without either of his legs. But this year we had another first, one which I think is not only a true testament to the human spirit but also, like many of the great achievements in the history of man, will hopefully spread understanding and hope to a society growing increasingly cynical.

Elisha Reimer is only 15 years old. Eli Reimer is from Bend, Oregon and in March made it to the Everest Base Camp at 17, 600 feet, higher than most people on this planet will ever be outside the pressurized comfort of an airplane, after a 10-day trudge over 70 rocky snowy miles. And Eli Reimer is the first teenager with Down syndrome to accomplish such a feat. This grueling climb was part of a fundraiser for the Elisha Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping challenged families confronting disabilities.

This feat has just so many great aspects I don't know where to begin. Eli proved that a man with ambition can conquer anything in spite of whatever challenges may be thrown his way by the gods or man.

Eli proved that a seemingly selfish activity like climbing a mountain can actually be a part of an undertaking for the betterment of society.

Eli proved that we're all way too damn lazy and make too many excuses for not doing what we love and want to do. Eli at 15 is already one hell of an ambitious man and to hell with any other adjectives or describers, any groupings or denominations society might want to put on him.

Happy Friday.

- Ryan