About Me

My photo

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.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Apropos of Nothing

Every morning, my land line rings. Between 8:30am and 8:55am. Every morning. Including weekends.

A bit of background: of the people I actually know in my life who might telephone me, there are only four (or possibly five) who will ever call me on my landline. And they all know better than to call prior to 10:00am in the morning. All the other calls are telemarketing calls, pleas for political support, or charity, or wrong numbers.

The caller never leaves a message.

I would chalk it up to a telemarketing call, or even a call from the Democratic party trying to get me out to do some grassroots something or other, except for the oddity of this call coming in every single morning. Even Democratic organizers take a few weekends off.

I've turned off the ringer on my landline now; I prefer to sleep in on weekends, and I'm tired of bothering with it. If anyone wants to reach me, they can call me on my mobile. And if you don't know my mobile number, then it is very likely that I don't want you reaching me in the first place.

And if it's you, Dems, a little lesson: early morning calls without a message are highly unlikely to motivate me to reconsider my distaste for the vast majority of what we as a party have been doing (or not doing) of late. Actions speak louder than the ringer on my phone.

Particularly before 10:00am.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Under Seige?
"Scepticism is not limited to radicals. A poll of British Muslims published this week found 45 percent believed the September 11 attacks were a conspiracy between America and the Israel.

'The cynicism is there because of Forest Gate and what happened to Menezes,' said Fareena Alam, editor of Muslim monthly magazine Q-News said.

Abul Khair, who runs an Islamic bookshop near the East London Mosque in the Whitechapel district of east London, said: 'The government says it's Muslims, but it's propaganda. Muslims can't do such things. It's not allowed.'"
Yes, the situation of Israel complicates matters. But this sort of attitude is disturbing to find, and even harder to change. The bookshop owner, Abul Khair, is worth noting: his quote is a classic example of a good person in denial of the presence of evil. I remember growing up, hearing time and again that there were no such things as Jewish alcoholics, or Jewish wife beaters, or Jewish child molesters. The reason? "Jews don't do such things. It's not allowed."

Of course, staring me in the face were the alcoholics, the wife beaters, the "uncle who touched my sister funny", the drug dealers, all of them deep in the Jewish community. The community was in denial as a form of self-protection, as a form of pride, all that. In the end, over the last 35 years, attitudes began to change. Unfortunately, for the world at large, we cannot afford to wait for the Muslim community to come to terms with its own fringe failures. If we cannot engage in positive outreach to the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world that is not interested in blowing up planes, then everything else we do will in the end, in human terms, be accounted as a failure.

Truth is the best medicine, but it can be a bitter pill. Reuters: Muslims "under siege" after plane plot report - UK

Thursday, August 10, 2006

mental flossScrub My Brain

Maybe we are on the path to brain maintenance that is on par with toothpaste: plaque fighting, preventative, and easy.

AP: Scientists make discovery in Alzheimer's.
Slippery Slope II
"Common Article 3 was, according to its written history, 'left deliberately vague because efforts to define it would invariably lead to wrongdoers identifying 'exceptions,' and because the meaning was plain -- treat people like humans and not animals or objects.'"
In the end, the only thing that defines us is the body of values that comprise our goals, our ideals, and our lives. The current attempt to amend the War Crimes Act, and thus our responsibilities in view of the Geneva Conventions, is a scandal. The protection of those who have already accepted the Path of Least Resistance on the road to success through the abrogation of our morals, our standards, and our beliefs as a nation, will do nothing to aid our current struggle.

Read it all here: WP: War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution
Slippery Slope I
"The only beneficiaries of this chaos are Iran, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who last week held the largest anti-American, anti-Israel demonstration in the world in the very heart of Baghdad, even as 6,000 additional U.S. troops were rushing into the city to 'prevent' a civil war that has already begun."

While the tone of this piece may be a bit hysterical, I think that is the intent: if we don't actually sit up and pay attention, some of the posited hyperbole that Ambassador Holbrooke voices here really may be staring us in the face sooner than we think: WP: The Guns Of August.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bedtime Reading?

It's good to see that someone has come out with a book that covers this topic in a manner that not only will be entertainingly controversial, but also is somewhat catholic in its coverage, and even better, agrees with much of what I have been seeing and saying anecdotally for most of my adult life:

San Francisco neuropsychiatrist says differences between women's and men's brains are very real, and the sooner we all understand it, the better.