Endurance by Theresa Ortolani

ortolaniI’m not usually big on motorsports — too loud, too stinky, too aggressive for my taste. I prefer the grit and grind of cyclocross and triathlons. But. In the right hands, all of that can be quite stunningly depicted. Case in point, Brooklyn-based photographer Theresa Ortolani has committed a rather stunning book called “Endurance” that follows one guy and his travails on the enduro bike circuit.

Check it out, the photos are really, really spectacular — I really appreciate her ability to convey the stark beauty in all the dirt, machinery, and machismo.

(Photo obviously from Ortolani’s “Endurance”)

Heavens, No, Obama, Why Change That?!?

landmine6I’m *so* relieved to see that all of Obama’s talk about Change really was campaign rhetoric and little else. I mean, there are just so many sound and wholesome policies on the books that those looney lefties seem hellbent to mess with… Case in point: those wonderful, wonderful landmines that are perfect for breaking the ice at parties or, well, maiming wanna-be terrorists before they get a chance to commit mischief — or reach puberty.

Nope, said a spokeshack for the State Department when asked why the US continues to stick with three-time “Nasty Nation of the Year” award winner Myanmar in refusing to sign the treaty:

we would not be able to meet our national defense needs, nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention

Seriously — what national defense need is met with fucking land mines?!? Is the State Department still worried about those Canadians spilling over our borders in droves so they can avail themselves of our totally awesome healthcare system? What? Where is this dire threat that requires something as medieval as landmines? I suppose they’re going to tell us that they’re ramping up catapult production again in face of the dire threat from Mexican insurgents.

Is Obama going out of his way to get zero good press these days? I mean, seriously: this was a total no-brainer for him: do the right thing, stand there with a saintly smile on your face like Mother Theresa’s long lost black brother, sign the stupid treaty already, score some cheap points with the Dirty Fucking Hippies, and then go back to sending another 34,000 Americans off to a pointless death in Afghanistan because you can’t make a smart decision to save your life. But no, that was too much for the special needs PR people with which he apparently wants to surround himself — they had to screw this one up, too: “nope, Barack, you gotta stand tough on the landmine thing; sure they killed over 1,200 people last year, a third of them kids, but they’re just so, gosh darn neat and we gotta have ’em. It’ll make you look like a total dick, but you’ll get used to it…”

Just incredibly embarrassing and cringeworthy.

(Story via HuffPo, photo from here)

No, Peter Welch, That Doesn’t Solve Hunger in Vermont

80572638Yeah, so this is all very sad. Hungry people — lots of them, even here in funky granola Vermont. On Thanksgiving no less. Tragic. Unnecessary, of course — it’s not exactly like there’s a genuine food shortage in the US. But my local congress-critter, Peter Welch, well-meaning but too often too clueless, has to go all Big Government to pretend to solve the problem:

Welch is a co-sponsor of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger and Promote Food Security Act. The bill would create a White House Office on Global Hunger to coordinate federal food programs and would also increase U.S. investments in school programs, nutrition, and other safety net offerings.

No, Peter. Your bill is very compassionate and reads like Bono’s wet dream: Hungry kids. Global Needs. Must. Do. Something. But really, we don’t need another White House Office of anything at all. Instead, how about we ask a couple of the existing secretaries — Agriculture, and Health & Human Services — to do their jobs for a change? Cut out the pork (literally and figuratively), and then let’s stop subsidizing big agro while they profit wildly by saturating us all with cheap, unhealthy junk calories in the form of high-fructose corn syrup? Food stamps, hot lunch programs in schools — there’s a long, long list of existing options. If there’s really a need to coordinate it all better and implement the programs better, then how about we fire some people who aren’t doing it, and get the rest of them working on doing their job? More importantly, why does this have to happen at the federal level at all? If there are hungry people here in Vermont, then let’s feed them locally. Hunt some deer, then distribute the meat; contract with struggling dairy farmers to sell locally; encourage more community gardens, etc. etc. By the time random corrupt politicians from the farm belt have had their grubby little fingers in the pot, you know there’ll be nothing left to buy any vermonters a decent turkey anyway — so stop deluding yourself that your Roadmap is really going to fix it.

No, Peter: before you reach for that tired old trick of throwing more tax-payer money out the window to hire bureaucrats to try to solve a problem largely created by bad governnment in the first place, let’s think outside the Happy Mealâ„¢ box, shall we?