Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Abusive Relationships

I'm going in a little different direction today, and this is aimed at abused men as well as women. No one ought to live a live as an abused partner. If one thinks about it, one might find a parallel of individual citizens and their government, but I'll leave you to make those connections, if there are any.

First, let me remind everyone that domestic abuse is a crime. Whether it is man on woman or woman on man, it is a crime. Don't ever forget that. If you are being abused by someone, they are committing a crime against you. Quit making excuses for them, because it is not your fault they are behaving this way. They bear the responsibility for being criminal, not you. You are powerless to control or change them, but you are not powerless to change your circumstances.

Not all abuse is physical. Mental abuse is just as bad, and perhaps worse. Bruises will heal, even broken bones will heal. A person's opinion of him-or-herself will be much harder to heal. What's done to a person's mind will never disappear. One learns to deal with it, but it doesn't ever go away. You may be wondering how I know. I have strong feelings about this from seeing two sisters be physically abused, to the point of broken bones and surgery, and seeing a child mentally abused.

What are some signs that your partner is abusive? How about these:

  • Your partner is controlling and manipulative. That person may insist on choosing your clothing, your friends, your foods, your behavior. It's always for your own good, of course. There's always a plausible sounding reason. The bottom line is you are being trained to believe that the person knows what's best for you, and you are incompetent to make those decisions. He or she is saving you from being a disaster.

  • Your partner has unpredictable mood swings. One minute you are being cuddled and the next, you are being pushed and shoved, emotionally or physically. You cannot ever come to depend on anything good that is going on, because it is always followed by something hurtful. This puts you in the position of being on edge at all times, never knowing what's coming next. Many people have mood swings, and that is not, in itself, the problem. The problem is when those mood swings are aimed at a partner, as described here.

  • Your partner isolates you from friends and family. This is so insidious that at first many people don't realize what's happening. It can be very subtle, right up to the day you look around and realize that except for your partner, you are completely alone. This often causes a hopeless feeling, that there's no one who cares what's happened to you, or causes you, initially, to feel grateful that your partner has stayed with you and loves you. Your partner may have convinced you that you really aren't lovable and the only reason he or she has stayed with you is because of the partner's greatness, compassion and wonderful qualities.

  • Your partner may use force against you. This starts with a push or a shove or a slap, usually, but may be a full out beating. Of course, the partner is always sorry, in the beginning. He or she may bring flowers, cook your favorite meal, give you jewelry, take you out on the town, and there are apologies all over, and promises that it will never happen again. The only way it will never happen again is if you escape that relationship, the majority of the time. In almost every case, unless a partner gets intervention and help, the first time will be the beginning of a life of abuse. Do not fall for the tears, the abject apologies and the gifts. Insist on counseling, or get out of the relationship.

  • Your partner will almost certainly be verbally abusive. Initially, this may involve put downs and criticism, but it will escalate over time into much worse than belittling. You do not deserve this kind of treatment! People who love each other, normal people, do not do this to one another. This is not normal. I don't care where else you've seen it, or who else in your life has done it - parents, for example - it is not normal. It is abuse.

  • Before the actual violence begins, there may be threats of violence. It's only a step away from the action of violence on you. Don't miss this warning sign. I'm not talking about when I say to my husband, "Stop that before I smack you." We both know I'm kidding. Neither of us would ever, ever, ever, hit the other. That is not the way to solve disputes. I'm talking about the menacing look, the raised hand or fist, the shove that either misses or pushes you into the wall. It isn't always accompanied by yelling and screaming. Some abusers are very calm as they tell you that if you ever look at another man/woman that way again they will slice you into pieces and throw the pieces in the trash can where a slut like you belongs. Yes, men can be referred to as sluts, or cheating, lying whores, too.

The bottom line is that an abuser tries to isolate the victim from all help, to be in total control, to frighten the victim into believing there is no one who would help someone as useless and worthless, to instill total dependence and hopelessness. Don't fall for it. There are things you can do. What are they?

  • The very first thing you have to do is decide that you are going to do something. No, even before that, you have to admit that something needs to be done, then decide to do it.

  • One place to start is the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) Memorize that number for the day you decide to use it.

  • Make a safety plan. Most abusers are not going to let you just walk out the door. You must have a plan and a place to go, you must have resources to help you get there.

  • Make a list of people you can trust for help, and their phone numbers. Be very careful with this list! Do not let it come to the attention of the abuser. Hide it as a list of things like the telephone numbers of people you would normally need to call, the school, the dry cleaner, the drug store. Don't just hide a list with names and numbers in a place you think the abuser will not find it. Abusers are very clever and they know their ownership of you depends on keeping you helpless. They will be looking for any clue that you plan to run. The safest thing is to memorize those names and numbers, or disguise them in plain sight.

  • Make an emergency kit with money, medical cards, car keys, ID, medications, important papers, etc. Make sure it's somewhere you can get to quickly. Off the premises might be your safest bet, but wherever you put it, make sure your abuser isn't likely to stumble across it. Not in the tool box in your trunk if your abuser is likely to need to go in there to fix something. *Maybe* in the freezer wrapped in foil and labeled meatloaf. Be creative and think it through before you stow it somewhere.

  • Above all, don't change your behavior! Once a decision is made, it tends to make us feel more secure, more in control, and this will show. Don't be nicer than you usually are. Don't be more sarcastic than you usually are. Try to change nothing about your behavior.

If your abuser becomes violent, there's a short list of things to do. It's better to run before the next time, but sometimes you can't. You may not be ready, you may not see it coming. Remember, the abuser is keeping you off balance at all times.

  • Call the police or someone else, if you can. If you call the police, be ready to press charges. Some states now don't need the signed complaint from a victim in domestic violence. Pictures of the result of the abuse, or the testimony of the policeman who responds is enough in some states. They know that abused people are rarely able to sign a complaint after the emergency is over. The fear comes back and keeps an abused person from believing they can "get away" with signing a complaint. This is particularly true of men who are abused. They, even more than women, don't think anyone will believe them. They are typically much larger than the woman abusing them. Get over it. Call the police. Your life may depend on it.

  • Grab your emergency kit and get out as soon as you can. Take your children with you. If they have not previously been abused, they will certainly be the target when you are gone.

Therein is the best reason to get out of an abusive relationship. If you have children, do you want them to grow up believing that all the abuse you have received is how a normal relationship progresses? Whether male or female, do you want them to believe that it is either okay to be abused, or it is okay to abuse someone else? Of course you don't!

The first time it happens, get out. Let it be the last time. Domestic Violence is a *pattern* of behavhior. Abusers are all clever liars, because they truly believe they will not do it again! For many of them, it is not a plan they have made. They think they are normal. They believe the things they say. This makes them the most dangerous kind of person. Let them go on believing. You get out and move on in your life.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thank You

I want to take just a moment to thank Susan for writing so many great posts.

I apologize that I have not been writing like I intended. To be very frank with you all...
I am worn out, emotionally and physically. I do good to make it through my days with some
accomplishment, let alone trying to wake people up. I wish I had never taken the
red pill then I could go through this life in bliss, but alas one can not unlearn the
things one learns.....except maybe to get Alzheimers, sometime I think that would be alright.

So for a while I am going to go bury my head in the sand with the majority of Americans and Christians, too. I know Susan will speak for us both, as we are 99.9% on the same track.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

United We Serve

"Service is key to achieving national priorities," said Michele Obama at a meeting in a California school, launching the United We Serve Program. At first, it sounds good, doesn't it? These things usually do. I had to stop and think a minute. What national priorities would those be, exactly? Whose service, and what kind of service?

The California school where Mrs. Obama was speaking is the same one where she has helped plant a garden. Children at the school will work the garden, then have a vegetable stand to sell the produce. The money they make goes to the school. At first, that sounds fine, too, doesn't it?

Here's the thing, though. In 28 years of teaching, I had many a bake sale, candy sale, wrapping paper sale, cotton candy sale, even a stuffed animal sale. Two years, we made quilts to raffle. Every single one of them was instigated and worked by students for a particular goal the students had. Sometimes it was to benefit a charity students had picked, such as saving seals or adopting a sick porpoise. Sometimes it was to fund a field trip they wanted to take, or a play they wanted to see. Two years, we raised money on the reservation to take trips to Albuquerque, to see the big city. The quilts were for the benefit of the National Wildlife Fund.

All of these things were student-powered, student-motivated projects. In our schools, students sold items to earn money for the student council to do everything from buying playground equipment to buying books for the library. Again, the students conducted the business, and the students benefitted from their efforts.

It may very well be that the students will benefit from the money earned by selling vegetables, too. It wasn't reported what the school would use the money to do. However, here's the big difference. The children didn't think of this, didn't plan for it, didn't create the idea. It was imposed from the outside. It was generated as a plan from our federal government because, "Service is key to achieving national priorities."

I wonder if a generation of students brought up to believe that to serve the state in this way, to let the state dictate what their "service" is, and how much and for what purpose, will be easier to persuade toward socialism. Then what will the following generation be brought up to believe? That the word "I" is a dirty word? That the state run life is desirable? That the common good is the only important thing, and individual efforts and desires are unlawful? Oh, you've read that book, too?

If you haven't, try it out. It's Anthem, by Ayn Rand. If you can find a copy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yet Another Sign of Congressional Disconnect

Have ya been feelin' less and less represented on Capitol Hill? Have ya been noticin' that nothing you say is getting through to anyone? Have ya been gettin' form letters back in response to notes to your representatives? Form letters that not only don't answer the concerns you wrote about, but are sometimes in 180 degree opposition from your position? Well, here's another one to write about.

Gunowners of America posted an alert on June 16. It's taken 5 days to drift down to me, and I had to track the version I got back through 5 blogs, which only means that bloggers are spreading the bad news.

The alert concerns a health care plan being circulated by Ted Kennedy. I thought he was too sick, but I guess he's making the big sacrifice to be there and push this through. Yes, folks, push it through, just like all the other bills that have been railroaded through Congress with no time to investigate and research.

Actually, I don't think this one takes any research. Just read the darned thing. It's a mockery of American principles and values. It takes away *all* rights for us to choose for ourselves, and penalizes us, no matter which way we turn.

You go read the alert. Then you decide whether to contact your senators. It's easy through the form at the bottom of the page. You can use their letter, add to it, or write your own in the space. Please, let your voice be heard in opposition to losing our right to any privacy whatsoever, and our own choices about health care.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


First, thank you Susan for all the great posts. I have been licking my wounds of late and it is nice to have someone to cover.

On to the RANT.................

Companies and/or agencies that get to spend taxpayers money for their own profit!!!!!!!

I am amazed, shocked, dismayed, outraged at these companies who we are "required" to hire for a project because they are "licensed contractors" or some such bought and paid for position. It doesn't mean they can or will do a better job, and if they don't do the job hired for just what do you think you can do about it!. Nothing, get in line.

It is really apparent when your dealing with a company that is tied in with a government agency. Like.... oh that tap (water tap) is in the wrong place, Mr. county man says. I'd LIKE to see it moved over here, (what is this a decorating issue) at the tune of $5,000.00. No biggie, says Mr. contractor, you can GET more money.

What happen to all the pre construction hoops we jumped through? You all signed off, all was right and where it should be? Where was the engineer we had to hire to stand there picking his nose and scratch his a....er a to watch and make sure everything was were it belonged according to said plans? Why is this not in the proper place, is it a decorating issue? Then we also find out the county doesn't really know where the right of ways are or for that matter where the road really is suppose to be. Now you all want to be paid AGAIN for a job YOU did not do right, and the people of our fair town are suppose to bear that burden AGAIN!!!!!!

Sure why not, you can get more money (in the form of a loan) to fix our mistake, we will just put in to (ABC government agency) for more on your loan................
HELLO MCFLY.............ANYBODY HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are informed this is normal practice.........NORMAL PRACTICE to pay them again! If I tried to do this in my cabinet business..........oh sorry I made that cabinet wrong, I measured for it, I know where it is suppose to go, but it is wrong, so you will have to pay me to make you a new cabinet before I can put them in. I don't think so.

Of course it seems to be common practice with doctors, lawyers, engineers, if we don't get it right the first time, come back and pay us again so we can make another educated guess, and of course if that isn't right either you can pay us again and if your lucky we won't kill/bankrupt you in the process.

I am amazed at these words but not surprised. Our government agencies and those who are in bed with them, such as contractors, engineers, or whomever (could be a parts place) know they have deep pockets. Our pockets. They have all this money to take for their coffers and provide inferior service or products.

The project being done here is huge, especially for a town of about 100 people and every penny spent on it has to be paid back by us, added to our bill. Things are already tight, they are talking about taking food off of people tables each time they get more money.

These agencies and their companies are getting rich by not doing their jobs as contracted and yet we are suppose to pay them again because there is more money we can get..........NO and Hell NO. Thankfully our board put a stop to things, the contractors and engineers know we have not spent all the money on the project and are determined to get every penny.

Then there is the issue of FREE GRANT MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!

This project also has gotten FREE GRANT MONEY, as has another project in town.
FREE.............FREE????????????? How can it be FREE???????????????

There is no such thing as free, free money is the most expensive money around.
It cost someone, from whom it was taken, a part of their life to produce it.

I HATE, HATE, HATE grant money. It was taken from one person and given to another for some pet project that the first person has no interest in. If you have a pet project, raise your own money, stop taking it from someone else. Share the wealth..........makes us all poor, ding the person who succeeds, take his/her money and give it away. You will never bring the poor and lazy up by giving them money, you will only break the back of the one your taking it from. It does not take long to make a 3rd world country out of a rich country, just take the money away from the people who produce. Pretty soon the produces will quite producing, why should they?

Even in this day with all the shortages of money, people out of work, losing their homes, I get phone calls saying.........."We have all kinds of FREE grant money for your business".......if we have so much extra money for grants, why are we raising taxes.


Well, there is one way to stop all this government loan money and grant money..............

Stop contributing to the treasury that give it all away.....................

But I don't know many who have the guts to stop...........

Monday, June 15, 2009

Financial Regulation and the Federal Reserve

I do a lot of reading. I read from a lot of different sources. You might say I'm eclectic, or you might say I'm scattered; you choose! Today, something I was mulling over yesterday came together with something Brandon sent in an e-mail, and I really must speak again. It's about money.

It's about more than money, of course. Once upon a time, money and buying were pretty understandable things to most of us. We had money, we spent it on things we needed. We didn't have money, we didn't spend it. In earlier generations, they were even better about not spending money they didn't have. A farmer or rancher might have a loan on his property or his herd, a city dweller might have a mortgage on a house. Otherwise, it was pretty much pay as you go.

Before those days, there was barter. If I have something you want, and you have something I want, we can trade. Or maybe you can try to take away what I have that you want, but there's a cost there, too, if I'm wary and wise. Unlike Wimpy (from Popeye), who would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today, most people lived on a debt-free basis. So did our government.

In fact, Thomas Jefferson said, "Funding I consider as limited, rightfully, to a redemption of the debt within the lives of a majority of the generation contracting it; every generation coming equally, by the laws of the Creator of the world, to the free possession of the earth he made for their subsistence, unencumbered by their predecessors, who, like them, were but tenants for life." Other founding fathers had similar thoughts.

So, today, we have a banking system which has gone wild, with the help and encouragement of the government, and a Federal Reserve which keeps printing more and more money, but there's nothing to back it up, and our government is in debt to the tune of trillions of dollars. I can't even visualize a trillion dollars, no matter how many drawings Beck and O'Reilly show me. Here's an interesting comparison from John Lipscomb's article on the Federal Reserve.

". . . it's interesting to know that, if we had lived in ancient Rome, with a one ounce gold coin we would've been able to buy a very fine toga, a hand-crafted belt and a pair of sandals--that was the price in Rome. Today, if we have a one ounce gold coin what can we buy with it? We can go into any men's store and buy a very fine suit, a hand-crafted belt and a pair of shoes. The price of these items hasn't changed in thousands of years when expressed in terms of real money but when expressed in terms of these things we carry around in our pockets called Federal Reserve notes . . . , the prices keep going up and up and up, because the value of those units keeps going down and down and down, because they keep making more and more and more of them and dumping them into the economic soup."

I had heard the statistic that for the time we stayed on the gold standard, we had no, zip, zilch, nada inflation, but the minute we went off it, inflationary cycles began. I could understand that. But to think of it in terms of ancient and modern clothing exchanged for one ounce of gold this way . . . that was really telling to me. That was a visual I could comprehend. Do you see my stick-figure Roman in his outfit and the stick-figure New Yorker in his? You might want to read John's whole article, as well as the one about the Doomsday Seed Vault. Lots and lots of information to process. Print it out and read it over a few days' time.

These are the things roaming around in the gymnasium of my mind when Brandon's e-mail arrives. It's a copy o the White House website post on Obama's speech about Financial Reform. Or rather, it's the reform he plans, but as explained by Treasury Secretary Geithner and NEC Chair Larry Summers and published as an op ed piece in the Washington Post this morning, as well as posted on the white house site by Jesse Lee.

You need to go read the post. I'll wait here, it won't take you very long, really. I'll play some nice Tim Janis music while I'm waiting . . . . Okay, let's take it from the top. Just the things that bother me the most. It all sounds so reasonable, until you start to think about what's really being proposed.

Point 1: "In addition, all large, interconnected firms whose failure could threaten the stability of the system will be subject to consolidated supervision by the Federal Reserve. . . ."

Would that be the same Federal Reserve which is currently printing money and diluting the value of the dollar? The same one that is trying to sell more bonds to other countries, countries which really aren't sure they want to subsidize our debt with a loan? That Federal Reserve is going to supervise "interconnected firms" in the U.S.?

Point 2: ". . .and we will establish a council of regulators with broader coordinating responsibility across the financial system."

Uh-oh, we need another regulatory board? Where's the authority for establishing more regulators? How will they be established? To whom will they report? Where will their salaries be financed? How many will be on this council? Don't we have enough bureaucracy already in place to take care of this? This sounds like more people under the direct control of the president, like the 16 czars he's appointed so far. And doesn't czar mean tyrant dictator to you? It always has to me. Why are we even using that word?

Point 3: ". . . securitization . . . ."

What the heck does that mean? Is that even a word?

Point 4: "The administration's plan will impose robust reporting requirements . . . ."

Robust, eh? I thought that was an adjective for wine. And to whom is the reporting done? What are the consequences of those reports? What's the authority for them? Who has access to the reports? And, perhaps more importantly, who doesn't?

Point 5: ". . . reduce investors' and regulators' reliance on credit-rating agencies. . . ."

And that's meaningful because . . . ? Maybe we are reducing that because our entire country is about to lose it's credit rating? Because we have no monetary stability as an entire country?

Point 6: ". . . and, perhaps most significant, require the originator, sponsor or broker of a securitization to retain a financial interest in its performance."

More gobbledygook. I get it. A person who sponsors a "securitization" (whatever that is) can't then sell out and go off into the sunset. But couldn't you just say that? Whatever happened to calling a spade a spade? In politics, I guess it's pointless to expect anyone to speak in plain English. Perhaps Mr. Geitner was showing us he really is the only one smart enough to "save" the country. Or perhaps he's just showing us that he has no clue how to relate to, or communicate with, most of us.

Point 7: "The plan also calls for harmonizing the regulation of futures and securities. . . ."

Harmonizing? They're forming a choir? Yes, I can hear it now . . . and it's way off key and out of tune.

Point 8: ". . . strong oversight of "over the counter" derivatives."

Oversight by whom? Sounds like a drug problem to me. Who is going to oversee the overseers? Who is going to be able to see the oversight? This gets confusing!

Point 9: "All derivatives contracts will be subject to regulation, all derivatives dealers subject to supervision, and regulators will be empowered to enforce rules against manipulation and abuse."

Regulators chosen by whom, paid by whom, reporting to whom? Could you just speak English, please, and explain how many regulators and overseers and czars and controllers, ad infinitum, the Obama administration is proposing to unleash on our financial system?

Point 10: "Third, our current regulatory regime. . . ."

Regime? Isn't that a ruler who has a government we don't like somewhere in the third world?

Point 11: "Weak consumer protections against subprime mortgage lending bear significant responsibility for the financial crisis."

No, lack of honorable dealings, the government interference and insistence on lending institutions making loans they knew didn't meet the "robust" criteria of the lending market is what bears significant responsibility for the financial crisis. Could we have a little more honesty and a little less spin and self-protection here?

Point 12: " . . .the administration will offer a stronger framework for consumer and investor protection across the board."

Protection from everyone except the government, apparently. A "framework" for protection doesn't sound like much other than an empty scaffolding waiting for the painters or window washers to show up.

Point 13: "Fourth, the federal government does not have the tools it needs to contain and manage financial crises."

No kidding. Would that be because it isn't the job of government?

Point 14: T"o address this problem, we will establish a resolution mechanism . . . ."

Resolution mechanism? What is this? A machine we're going to manufacture? Input problem, output resolution? I can only wish it were going to be a machine!

Point 15: ". . . This authority will be available only in extraordinary circumstances. . . ."

And just who is going to wield that authority in extraordinary circumstances? Who decides when circumstances have reached extraordinary? Who decides when the crisis is at an end, or the circumstances are no longer extraordinary?

Point 16: Fifth, and finally, we live in a globalized world,

Not me. I live in the United States of America, by the power of the US Constitution, which is fueled by me, and others like me. You want to rule the world, go get elected emperor. We are *not* responsible for the world, nor should we be. If I want a Kumbaya moment with my sisters and brothers around the world, we'll do it at a conference. I do not want to have my country at the mercy of the UN or a "consensus" oriented government from around the world.

We were lucky to get one righteous constitution, and be led by men who had a vision of a republic, not a democracy, not a "progressive" liberal fascist government. I don't think we'll get a second chance at it. Let's stand up now and demand our rights as free citizens to return to the republic, to return to sovereignty of the states, and to shrink big government down to the size of a peanut. Let's demand the checks and balances be put back in place. No more czars and councils and regulators who are responsible only to the president, whomever that president is.

Repeal the government, keep the Constitution.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: Acts of Faith

Amazon link
It's uncommon to review a book when one is only half finished with it, but I have been so impressed with the insights I've gained in the first 60% of the book, that I must share some thoughts with you.

The subtitle of Eboo Patel's book is: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. I came across this book completely by accident on Amazon. I was looking for other things, and just followed a link of a link, thinking it was something else entirely. However, when I read the review and a couple of quotes, I thought, "Sounds interesting. Maybe it will help me understand the young Muslims who commit the violent acts, including murder and suicide."

It is, indeed, giving me some insights into that young Muslim mind-set. In his introduction, he compares two different people, one a man who committed murder in the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics, and the other a group of school children in Tennessee. He speculates that if the murderer had been influenced by the same type of person the Tennessee children were, then he might not have become a murderer. He points out, "Change happens internally before it takes place in the world."

As I read the book, I find places where I agree and cheer him on, places where he makes me thoughtful, and places where I want to shout a warning, "Don't go there!" He's an excellent story teller, and he has a lot of stories to tell. Stories of being in high school, wanting to be white. Stories of being an angry college radical. Stories of finding people who work for those who need help, but do it without anger, and with intent to accomplish something real in the world. Stories about old girlfriends, from LDS to Jewish, and what he learned from them, as well. It's fascinating to see all the influences which led him to his conclusions and who he is.

He talks about Brother Wayne Teasdale, a Catholic monk, who influenced his life profoundly. It reminded me of what he said about the influences in our lives which make us who we are. Brother Wayne, as he calls him often, had studied in India among Buddhists, has a PhD in philosophy, and an interest in interfaith youth movements. He said things like, "The tradition you were born into is home, but as Gandhi once wrote, it should be a home with the windows open so that the winds of other traditions can blow through and bring their unique oxygen." He also said, "it's good to have wings, but you should have roots, too."

These things made a difference in Patel's life, and gave me cause for thought, as well. He talks of visiting the Dalai Lama, and of the way his feelings about India and his roots changed on his trip there to visit His Holiness. The Dalai Lama told him, "Religions must dialogue, but even more, they must come together to serve others. Service is the most important . . . ."

I thought about that concept of possibilities. What if, instead of fighting and arguing with each other, religions worked together, set aside differences to find commonalities and work toward common goals?

Patel talks of the students he taught and tutored at El Cuarto Ano, where his job was to help them bring up skills so that they could ". . . have what my suburban education gave me: the tools to make up my own mind about the world around me." He relates stories about the things he learned from those students, some of the stories so poignant, they bring tears to the eyes. For instance, ". . . since I was six years old, everybody around me be asking 'What gang you ride? What gang you ride?' Nobody ever asked, "What poetry you read? What level of math you at?' One day, you decide you might as well ride something, or else you nobody to no one. So you choose one. Then you hated by half and loved by half. But at least you somebody."

He relates how and why he founded Stone Soup, a collective group of young people of all religious backgrounds, working together to change things. We've heard a lot about Acorn lately, and not much of it good, but it's original objective was to improve the lives of those who have little or nothing. That was the goal of Stone Soup, as well. It began as an interfaith youth project. He mentions that he had belonged to organizations which were radical, or angry, or both, organizations which had diversity, and organizations which had faith, but he realized what was missing was a radical organization that was diverse and whose members had faith.

I'm learning a lot about not only how this one Muslim youth was formed, but also about those who didn't follow the kind of path he did, and the needs that their violent acts fulfill, as well as the designs of the people who use them to further their own ends. I don't know at the end of the book if I will like Eboo Patel, or who he turns out to be, but it is a worthwhile journey following him to see how he got there.