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, November 04, 2011

Living in the End Times

Great. First we have Citizens United, and the reification of the concept of corporate personhood, where a fictional entity made up of the interests of multiple individuals is granted the same positive rights as each of those constituent persons, but none of the responsibilities, moral hazard or downside risk that comes with those rights for any single person. Now we have, at the opposite end of the spectrum, this brilliant bill being egged along by Haley Barbour in the great state of Mississippi, which will "define a fertilized egg as a person with full legal rights".

I'm waiting for the first pregnant woman to speak on behalf of her fertilized egg for its inalienable right to purchase a gun.

Just How Low Have We Sunk?

After the Second World War, we introduced the GI Bill (the "Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944"). While it grew over the years, in its origin it was a response to the return of our military forces to civilian life after a devastating conflict. For the returning vets, it offered up a college education, a year of unemployment compensation and loans to buy homes and start businesses. It altered the course of millions of lives, and spurred an unprecedented era of economic expansion for this country.

Now, after 9 years of unending war overseas, and thousands of lives lost, and irreparable change in our social fabric from the "war on terror", we have another generation of military coming home. This time to an economy more depressed and less inviting than any since the mid 1930s.

Now, as then, we have the opportunity to use this challenge to our advantage, and create a new "GI Bill" or at the least massively invigorate the existing measures, to both create a means of welcoming home those troops on whom we have placed such a wretched burden over the last decade, as well as to recharge an ailing economy with an influx of highly trained and capable workers.

Unfortunately, it seems the best we can do is the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011”:

It would offer a tax credit to companies that hire out of work veterans and increase an existing credit that already goes to companies that hire veterans with service-related disabilities.
A tax credit for hiring companies? I'm sorry, but that's pathetic.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Dire Metaphor for Our Times

Since I was a teenager piddling away my spare hours in my public high school's art studio classes, I have looked at Cooper Union as a beacon of light in a sea of ever-darkening waves. For more than a century, the school has stood as an example of the ideal of free education for any who are qualified, regardless of class, race, status, birth or belief. But now, through a mixture of poor management, bad luck, ill-timing and the general malaise of our times, Cooper Union is considering reinstating a tuition fee. Not for everyone, and not in certainty. But for an institution which weathered the Great Depression and two world wars without fees, to come to this point is a sad reminder of how far we have strayed from the dreams of the past: of an enlightened, educated population without the barriers of class or commerce holding back those who showed promise and desire. Of a literate and dynamic civic population, steeped in the wells of critical thinking, creativity, and applied intellect.

In a way, Cooper Union has stood as an educational antithesis of the fallacies of libertarian theories; of proof of the value of a social contract which demands balance against the open markets and self-interest.

We need more places like this, not fewer.