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.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

walls of constantinople breached
Historical Anecdote

I've just been rereading John Julius Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium, which for anyone interested, is a great overview of more than 1,100 years of fascinating and crucial history for Western and European society.

What struck me this time was that, at the fall of Constantinople, it was a German arms dealer and manufacturer who provided Mehmet II with his large cannon, which allowed for the destruction of the Anastasian Land Walls, and the blockade of the Bosphorus. It would seem westerners have been able to assist in their own destruction through this sort of short-sighted greed for a very long time: from the Viking invasions to the fall of Constantinople, to the arming of Iraq and Syria and Iran and Pakistan today, we appear to be happily able to disregard the outcomes of our actions in favor of profit.

Just a thought.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Long And Short Of It

I've accepted a new job, and in the whirlwind of interviews and decisions and trepidations I've not been blogging much---trying to focus on getting my stories in to my editor on deadline, and little things like that, before my life gets overwhelmed by a new unfamiliar 9-5 schedule.

That said, we are also heading into election time, and the 5th anniversary of the attack on the Towers, and the propaganda is flying free: between the President's recent speech regarding our now admitted "secret" CIA prisons and the military tribunals, and the upcoming absurdist docudrama by Disney on Clinton's failure to seek-and-destroy Osama, and Blair's unshocking "I will step down soon" statement, and the war, the war, the war...well, I'm pretty fed up. I hear solid talk from a tiny handful of analysts and writers on both right and left, but otherwise I hear nothing but a mix of hysterical hype on one end of the spectrum, to dismaying milquetoast blather on the other. The democrats are once again missing an opportunity to take the reins of leadership, while the republicans are split between the somewhat sane and the woefully fearmongering neoMcCarthyites, who feel that intimidation, fear, and humiliation are appropriate traits for American policy to enshrine.

I look forward to beginning work in the non-profit world. At least there the assumption is that we are trying to have a positive impact on lives.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Editor! Editor!

The NYT runs an interesting little article on theworldwide Zoroastrian community today, and it's a nice look at a neglected religious tradition. But the following graf really bugged me:
"Zoroastrianism predates Christianity and Islam, and many historians say it influenced those faiths and cross-fertilized Judaism as well, with its doctrines of one God, a dualistic universe of good and evil and a final day of judgment."
Now, in essence, every statement there is correct. But come on: in the historical march of time, it was Zoroastrianism, which then influenced Judaism, which gave birth to Christianity, and then in a spurt of monotheistic nascency, Islam was born. In that order. The presentation here, misplacing Judaism in the listing, is the sort of thing that a religion page editor should nix. Unless, of course, they have some ulterior motive for relegating Judaism to a separate trend in history. Weird.

Zoroastrians Keep the Faith, and Keep Dwindling - New York Times
New Strategy, Old Problem

with the release today of the new National Strategy For Combating Terrorism, the administration is embarking on a forceful and possibly quite effective propaganda campaign. It is on the one hand heartening to see, as there is much that is good in this strategic overview. But what is more glaring to me is what is missing: No mention of Pakistan, the only known nexus for the dissemination of WMD to terrorist entities. North Korea, another serious red flag in the international field. London and Madrid, two of the worst terrorist attacks in the West since 9/11. Osama bin Laden, seemingly now a non-entity to the Bush Administration. You won't find these particulars in the report; not in the successes list, not in the challenges list, nowhere. Who do we list here? "The United States currently designates five state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, and Cuba."

Cuba? Cuba??? AQ Khan, with the implicit go ahead of the Pakistani government, provided at least two states and an unknown number of other entities with nuclear materiel and capacity. And we are going after CUBA??? Sometimes even my outstandingly large ability shrug off our government's baldfaced attempts to sway opinion with blatant idiocy grows strained.

Still, I'm glad to see a coherent strategic thought coming out of the White House. Despite its echoing of our pre-Iraq invasion sabre-rattling. Despite its ignoring some of our primary problems. Despite its clear intent to prepare us for a possible (and inappropriate) war with Iran. I hope that some Democrat grows balls enough to call out this piece productively; I would think it shouldn't be too hard to shred the rhetoric of "America is safer, but not yet safe." As though safety were an absolute goal that we could reach...

Sigh. Read more here, here, and here.