About Me

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Armchair theorist, poet, and occasional IT manager, Sascha B. is equipped with a Master's Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, and is not afraid to use it. His work has been published by the University Press of America, Edwin Mellen Press, University of Texas Press, and a variety of small journals nationwide. He is also the proprietor and baker for 3141 Pie, of which you should eat many.

The Deal

I stopped blogging in 2013, when life overtook me. My father became ill and died shortly thereafter, and my mother was left with increasing dementia. I became the primary caregiver, and now orchestrate my mother's care and our family estate.

Now, I am coming up for air again.

Looking for the next book to read. All suggestions welcome.

My reading list is over here.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Reality Beats All

I don't think even The Onion could outdo this:
Reuters (Pakistan): Operation removes lightbulb from anus.
And to think we're selling these guys a bunch of F-16s. God knows where those will end up...

Thank goodness. Now I understand No Child Left Behind. It's just like having my 7th grader take the friggin' Bar exam.
"U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who helped champion the bipartisan No Child Left Behind legislation, considers the PACE study comparison valid and likened the discrepancies to law school graduates boasting they passed all their tests even though they failed the state bar examination. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) aims to force states to honestly describe the quality of education provided to all students, he said, adding that he had not yet read the PACE study."
In all this is an interesting study: whether the PACE implication is correct, and states are "gaming the system," or whether NCLB is simply testing off kilter from taught data, or a mix of both, it is vital that we continue to look at the education system and find ways to improve it.

But I don't think that a system that can parallel the Bar exam is what we want for our kids.

States distort school test scores, researchers say / Critics say California among those that lower standards for No Child Left Behind.
More Scandal

Disappointing and disturbing doping allegations from Spain, just in time to spoil yet another Tour de France start. Up to 50 cyclists involved, including all the leads in the pack, from around the world. Ullrich, Basso, Pevenage, Sevilla, Hamilton, all are on the Spanish list of the accused abusers:
BBC: Ullrich and Basso out of Le Tour

and also

NYT: Dozens of Cyclists in Spain Are Tied to Doping

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Like I said...

Israel now holds a third of the Hamas gov't. cabinet in custody. Prognosis? Poor.

BBC: Israel justifies Hamas detentions
Good News

Finally, a sign of intellignece: NYT: Supreme Court Blocks Trials at Guantanamo

And you want an example of an "activist judge?" Read this bit from Thomas' dissent:
[This decision will] "sorely hamper the president's ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy....The court's willingness to second-guess the determination of the political branches that these conspirators must be brought to justice is both unprecedented and dangerous."
Think about this: his dissent essentially declares that it is no longer a matter of law they are deciding, but the court's ability to uphold or hinder the administration's political powers to further the war. Think about it. Thank goodness that isn't (I believe) the majority opinion of the sitting justices...

UPDATE: I've just finished reading the full decision and dissents. Scalia and Thomas are dangerous men. Scalia a pugnacious, arrogant, self-righteous rhetoritician, and Thomas...hell. I don't know how that man sleeps at night. I was pleasantly surprised by the measured reasoning and non-reaching-for-straws attitude of Alito in his dissent; I can happily agree to disagree with someone who has an attitude based more in reason than in Scalia's "This court is shit when it don't agree wit' me" approach. The contentious issues of Geneva convention applicability and "the blank check" are too obviously at the crux of the disagreement on the bench: Scalia & Thomas are clearly more interested in supporting strength than they are in supporting law. It's a dangerous philosophy, and one that runs thru the center of the court.

Let's hope this is the start though, of a turning tide.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Old Is New

Last night and this morning I re-read for the first time in many years Etel Adnan's first novel, Sitt Marie Rose. This is a story of the Lebanese civil war, and the underlying pathologies that drove Beirut to destruction in 1975. What saddens me in reading it is how little has changed from then till now: the players are effectively the same, the arrogant determinations the same, the rhetoric the same, the horror the same. The Palestinian battle now---between the PA and Israel, between Hamas and Fatah, between faction and faction in the Arab world---is effectively part and parcel of the same battle that was being fought 31 years ago between Palestinian and Phalange, between Muslim and Christian, between Jew and Other. It's all the same. We've learned nothing, move forward not at all.

Now that talks have failed, I pray for the captive soldier; I pray for those in and around Gaza who will be swept up in yet another violent cancre on the body politic of the Middle East. Let's hope for the best...
Speed Of Essence

This came faster than I thought, but not much differently. Abbas's pressure helped to precipitate radical response, and that in turn has brought the Palestinians to the brink of a full scale war with Israel in Gaza.

I wonder what the wording of this document will show, and whether Israel will care. Hamas has not acted in the best interests of its people, and I wonder now if we will ever see a functional Palestinian State. A lot will depend on what Abbas and Haniyeh say today, and whether the Israeli soldier is released, and whether the tanks now amassed on the Gaza border roll across before tomorrow morning.
BBC: Hamas 'implicitly accepts Israel'