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  • Piggpen75 - Great bike for the price!

    This is not a department store bike. if you are looking at this and a $200 Wal-Mart bike buy this if you want a tough durable bike. This is the same frame DiamondBack uses on the $2k pro model. all you have to do is upgrade the components as you grow as a rider and this bike will grow with you. I love mine. it was easy to assemble and tune and rides great. just remember to re-tune it after about 2 weeks since the cables will stretch a bit at first and it will need readjustment.

    This is a GREAT bike for the price though!

  • Philly gal "phillygal" - I think people will still be reading this excellent Katrina story 100 years from now.

    I was excited to listen to Zeitoun for two reasons - first Dave Eggers, I am still haunted by the story of the lost boys of Sudan so well told by Eggers in What is the What and second because Zeitoun was billed as a Katrina story. Having done a stint as a disaster relief volunteer in Louisiana after the storm I have continued interest in all things Katrina.

    Zeitoun centers on one family - the Zeitouns - and their storm story. Abdulrachman Zeitoun is a respected Syrian American contractor who has built a successful business in New Orleans. His wife Kathy is a Muslim convert and they have four children. Eggers slowly sets the stage as the hurricane is approaching. He alternates telling their back-story with the reports on the approaching storm. Eggers allows us to really know these people in telling about Kathy's conversion to Islam and Zeitoun's upbringing in a large family in coastal Syria. The details about their family life reveal a couple deeply in love, working hard to realize the American dream for themselves and their children. Eggers has a real talent for drawing you in to the lives of his subjects and making you feel part of the woodwork as their life unfolds. By the end of the first third of this book you really care about what happens to these hard working, decent people.

    As the storm approaches Kathy leaves New Orleans for family in Baton Rouge and then on to friends in Phoenix. Zeitoun decides to stay and oversee the properties the family owns in the city. He is a well prepared man, with food, water and the ability to take care of himself. Zeitoun successfully rides out the storm and on day one after the hurricane has hit uneventfully secures their property. On the evening of day two the levees fail and the city is drowned in 10-15 feet of water. Zeitoun has an aluminum canoe and tranquilly moves about the city. He participates in a heroic rescue of an elderly woman trapped in her home, assists in evacuating other neighbors, feeds abandoned dogs and generally supports the distressed citizenry remaining in the drowned city. He finds one of his properties with a working land line and is able to stay in touch with his wife every day. His descriptions of flooded New Orleans are almost surreal. He sleeps in a tent on a flat roof of his house, and remains in the city for several days despite various family members urging him to evacuate. One day he fails to call Kathy and she hears nothing from him for two weeks. Her fear, pain and angst are palatable and she finally comes to the conclusion that he is dead. It is a heartbreaking scenario.
    (Spoilers ahead)
    As Zeitoun prepared to leave the city he was unfairly arrested in his own home for looting. What follows left me enraged! He is held for two weeks first in a hastily constructed out door prison at the bus station in New Orleans (Camp Greyhound) and then in a maximum security prison inland in Louisiana. He received none of the legal protections we all take for granted - no phone calls, no lawyers, no bail hearings, nothing. His family unable to get in touch with him is convinced he is dead. Eggers constructs this story with just the right amount of suspense and drama. The nave reader (me) also assumes that he is dead, why else would he not contact his family. In excruciating detail Eggers lays out the inhumanity of his treatment, no medical support, strip and cavity searches and continued isolation from friends, family and legal support. Finally Zeitoun is able to convince a prison volunteer to call his wife in Phoenix which starts the steps for his release.

    While I don't think Zeitoun's treatment post Katrina was due to the fact he was a Muslim (other white Americans were arrested and imprisoned with him) I do think the government's approach to all things Katrina was deeply flawed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), formerly a standalone government relief agency, was folded into the Department of Homeland Security and became a quasi military organization losing its primary mission in the process. Eggers lays out all of this in a way that is so understated. He never assigns blame directly to any agency. This low key approach only added to my outrage. The one fact that will stick with me is that FEMA was building a large, outdoor prison in downtown New Orleans 24 hours after the storm struck while many New Orleanians were on their roofs begging for assistance and evacuation. The paranoid government leadership that got us into a meaningless war in Iraq was well in evidence in post Katrina New Orleans. What happened to Zeitoun could happen to any of us if we allow leadership that tramples basic legal rights the way this one did. I think people will still be reading this excellent Katrina story 100 years from now.

    My Katrina memories are much more positive - people from all walks of life coming to Louisiana to provide basic food, shelter and comfort to New Orleanians displaced by this horrific storm. While I witnessed some incompetency on the part of FEMA staff, I witnessed no experiences like Zeitoun's. I can only hope but probably not believe his treatment was the exception not the rule.

    Firdous Bamji narrated this story;he was excellent in differentiating the voices. His understated delivery style was just perfect. While I listened to this book I think it would also be a superb read.

  • 30volts - Trying to Remain Hip

    It's so hard to keep up with the ever-changing trends these days, I still remember the days when having one wolf on your shirt was enough. If you were among the hippest of us who dared to sport these one-wolf tees, then you know what I mean. Now look at us, we are seeing t-shirts such as this with three wolves, where does it end? How many wolves can they fit onto a single shirt? I feel like I'm struggling to keep up here. I'm thinking of trying to get ahead of the game by finding boxers or socks that have wolves on them, I just want to remain as hip as I once was, it ain't easy, and like I always say, being hip just don't happen by accident!!

  • Rick O - This book by Reza Aslan flitters around a lot, but is an unqualified eye-opener.

    This book by Reza Aslan flitters around a lot, but is an unqualified eye-opener. It's the gospel Jesus versus the historical Jesus. Who is right and who is wrong is up to each reader to decide. Mr. Aslan has certainly done plenty of research, but he has the undertone of a former Muslim about him. I say this only so the reader can take what Aslan says with a grain of salt. He is obviously schooled in both religions, but seems to prefer the historical Jesus as the true son of God. With the gospels written many years after Jesus's death, does anybody really know the truth? The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written well after Jesus's death. The events of Jesus's life are hazy at best since Mark and Luke (some say he was) were not eyewitnesses to Jesus's life. The gospel of Matthew is by an anonymous author, and the gospel of John is authored by `the disciple whom Jesus loved', but is not named. Aslan states that his research took two decades, and he supplies about sixty pages of notes at the end of the book. I guess one can't ask for more. But for me, some of his revelations are truly stunning. Why was this Christ so different from all the other messiahs that traveled through Jerusalem during Jesus's time preaching repentance and damnation? They were also convicted of sedition (rebellious acts against the Roman Empire) and crucified, or beheaded. Why were they not the true Christ? Especially, John the Baptist .

    According to Aslan, Christ didn't leave Nazareth till he was about thirty years old. On page 88, (to paraphrase Aslan) he says, "Before his encounter with John (the Baptist), Jesus was an unknown peasant and day laborer toiling away in Galilee." If Jesus was the main man, why did he come to the Jordan River to be baptized by John? Yet the gospels try to make the reader feel that John the Baptist was inferior to Jesus. In fact, After John was seized and put to death by Roman Tetrarch (governor of the region) Antipas, only then did Jesus's first disciples, Andrew and Philip, leave John the Baptist and follow Jesus on his quest to cleanse the souls of mankind. This is some strong information. Aslan also states that Jesus was born in Nazareth, and not Bethlehem. Jesus had brothers, most notably, James, who took over the leadership of the Catholic Church after Jesus's death. Also stunning is that Jesus, because of his peasant status, could not read or write any language. This is not me talking. This book is very thought provoking and obviously highly controversial.

    Another fact that is historically disputed is the disposition of Pontius Pilate, the fifth governor Rome, sent to oversee Judea. The gospels present Pilate as a weak-willed governor who didn't want to kill Jesus until the Jews demanded that Jesus should be put to death. The Jews were not pleased when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey with a mob of people shouting, "Hosanna!" Aslan says in his book, "The message conveyed to the city's inhabitants is unmistakable: the long awaited messiah-the true King of the Jews-has come to free Israel from its bondage." Aslan says history shows Pontius Pilate to be a very violent man who hated and killed Jews at will. Wow, that's not the Pilate I saw back in the 1970s, when I went to the marvelous play, 'Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera' . Pilate with the help of the Jewish High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas, had no hesitation in sentencing Jesus to death.

    One fact that is consistent both historically and gospel-wise is Jesus's ability to heal. On page 105, Aslan says, "For while debates raged within the early church over who Jesus was-a rabbi? the messiah? God incarnate? -there was never any debate, either among his followers or his detractors, about his role as an exorcist and miracle worker." Okay, both sides finally agree. This was a time when there were many magicians charging money to perform similar feats, but Jesus never imposed a fee. As Jesus approached Jerusalem in 30 c.e. (common era) "...it is not just Jesus's miraculous actions that they fear; it is the simple yet incredibly dangerous message conveyed through them: the Kingdom of God is at hand." On page 126, Aslan says, "No wonder, then, that at the end of his life, when he stood beaten and bruised before Pontius Pilate to answer the charges made against him, Jesus was asked but a single question..."Are you the King of the Jews?"

    Was Jesus's last words on the cross (gospel of Mark), "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And did the resurrection really happen three days later? Who is James the Just? Did Jesus really say, "I say to you that you shall be called Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my church." I've only touched on a few of the enlightening discoveries this reviewer learned from reading Aslan's book about the historical Jesus. I have the feeling that Jesus was more of a man, than the Son of God. In fact, according to Aslan's research, Jesus rebuffed the messianic titles given to him and preferred the title, "The Son of Man." In my opinion, Aslan did a remarkable job putting this non-fiction work together. I felt somber when Jesus's three year old ministry came to an end. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples (also called apostles), let the Jewish hierarchy know where Jesus was hiding after 'The Last Supper'. Aslan states, "He is praying when they come for him..." This is a sad and provocative book. I highly recommend this book by Reza Aslan.

  • Richard Tamasy aka Traumarat57EMT - GEATEST WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE AND FACTS

    I purchase this book every year because there hasn't been a day where I have not looked up a reference, whether it is events of the past year a celebrity birthday, trivial information about a country, state or a quick reference to world and U.S. history, it only takes opening this book, and you have your answer. This is a great resource for children studying in school (should be a must have)or if you like to play trivial pursuit,(they should have a World Almanac version whether computer or board game)this book should should be essential in every household, office,or library just as the dictionary, and the encyclopedia is. This book is among the GREATEST WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE you can have