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, May 28, 2011


Well, I have made it to the doorstep of another year of life; As I find myself unexpectedly rushing toward the end of my first half-century, I think back on my adolescent suspicion that I'd never make it past 23 years, and I'm a little bemused. And impressed. And having this day ushered in with well wishing friends and family and loved ones is a benison indeed.

And yet, walking across this threshold (as I must, we all must, there is no stopping time) is somehow so daunting, I suppose it's just "excelsior!", and time to tale the garbage out, and do the dishes.

(Before enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water. After enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water.)

Do me a favor: read poetry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Teaching That Matters

In the NYT today, there is a little article which, couched in the context of teaching current events in an AP class in a wealthy Connecticut suburb, actually provides a subtle and scathing critique of the current state of High School education in the US, and re-emphasizes for anyone who might have forgotten just what value there is in a good teacher with the guts to actually teach beyond (and even against) the standard rote requisite. A key swipe at the status quo:
When Mr. Doyle began his career 25 years ago, schools taught current events. But standardized testing and canned curriculums have squeezed most of that out of public education. The A.P. history course is a yearlong race to master several centuries’ worth of facts that may or may not turn up on the exam in May.

“A lot of A.P. is memorizing timelines,” explained Anna Hagadorn, who memorized enough last year to earn a top score of 5.

Even the College Board, which makes so much money selling SAT and A.P. tests that it can pay its president, Gaston Caperton, $872,061 a year, has acknowledged that its A.P. American history exam needs to be revamped. Mr. Caperton has promised by 2013 to deliver a new test that will do a better job of fostering analytic skills.
Doyle's response to the testing bloat is to teach his students 5 weeks of current affairs curriculum on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The author of the article notes that this learning does not indoctrinate, nor persuade politically: it merely does what good teaching is supposed to do: inform, engage, and draw students into the process of grappling with the nature of what they know on one hand, what they do not know on the other, and being equipped intellectually to tell the difference --- and to move information and experience from the latter hand to the former.

This is important, despite being a buried lede in the local area pages of the paper, because it speaks to a larger theme: if we care about the world we live in, and the country we live in, and the culture we take part in, then we cannot, and must not allow one another to act as bystanders while the forces of inertia or fear or reactionary politics or religious zealotry slowly dismember the underpinnings of what allows us our place in this weave of life. There's a lot of stupid out there, and a lot of crazy, and we are more and more driven to perceive our passive actions (online, at home, wherever) as the replacement for action. And this is a recipe for disaster.

Just knowing about a war is not the same as understanding what that war means to you, and your world.

Sending a Facebook note to someone is not the same as sharing a conversation with them over coffee.

Memorizing dates and timelines is not the same as learning to think.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Post-Rapture Insanity

With this delightful morsel of insanity picked up by FP's Joshua Keating, I'm left....well, I'm just left.
"The real bin Laden died years ago after receiving treatment in American hospitals for his various illnesses," ...."His [bin Laden] body was frozen and kept in storage for a date when it would be of advantage to the United States to use it for maximum advantage"...
I am so glad that the world has ended; I don't think I could put up with much more silliness like that.