In the spirit of year-end posts, I’d like to put this year at Backslash Scott in perspective. But I’ll begin with a heartfelt thanks to everyone who still comes here to read random things that I write – you’ve made it a great year for me by caring enough to read what I have to say, for exchanging opinions and ideas in comments (and through other social media), and for being pretty a pretty swell group of folks.

It’s been a pretty good year for the Backslash blog. We started off with a bang when I shopped David Brooks’ class at Yale. Other popular posts from this year included a look at early 20th Century slang, a rant against Teach For America, and a reading of justice in The Hunger Games. I take it you all are really into casual, justice-focused education.

This summer I also traveled to Uganda and D.R. Congo for some fieldwork. While I was there I wrote some notes about my work. This was also the first year I’ve written outside of this blog, which is pretty exciting thing for me to do. In 2013, I was very happy to have my writing appear in Guernica and African Arguments, among others.

As we move into 2014, I hope to have more to say, and I’m thankful that you’ll be here to read. Looking forwards, I’ll be doing lots of thesis-writing and will be working through a formidable semester of coursework. I’ll also be graduating in the spring – and hopefully starting at a new school in the fall. And, through all of that, I will blog.


2012 in Review

It’s the end of a long year, and everyone’s doing some reflecting. As usual, it’s nice to take a look at how this blog has fared in the past year and to reminisce about its author.

The past year has been pretty crazy here at the Backslash blog. This humble wordpress blog saw almost five times as much traffic as the year before, and has gained a wonderful group of readers and followers. I have yet to fully come to grips with that fact, but I continue to try as you continue to keep reading. The upsurge in readership was predominantly due to what I actually thought was a mediocre post – “Catching Joseph Kony” – in response to the Kony 2012 phenomenon. There are actually two other LRA-related pieces I wrote that I am happier with – a history of peace and conflict and a look back on Invisible Children’s work. That they didn’t see much light is a result of bad timing as much as it is the result of how damn long they are.

Other popular posts this year include a brief look at Japanese internment in Arizona, the progressive history of Arizona’s constitution, and my contributions to the annual Caine Prize discussions. My favorite rant was probably a chance to direct my anger at a state legislator I dislike and defend lower tuition, but it’s unnerving how often people get to it by doing a web search for “students are irresponsible.” No doubt, the writing on this blog has improved primarily because of what I read – and I’ll continue to relay that through the weekend reading feature.

I spent a lot of this year in a lost state, but I’m gradually getting my footing. After spending most of 2011 doing something that I loved (teaching) that was unsustainable (read: unpaid), I started this year back in a public high school – a place I consider my domain – and ended up leaving that path. While that’s a somber fact for me, I’m happy to be where I am now, immersed in academia once again. The people here at Yale have taught me a lot just in these few months, and I’m sure they will continue to do the same. My wife has helped make the transition bearable, and technology has allowed my friends to keep me company and to make me want to improve my academic work as well as my blog-writing. Y’all rock, and I hope you’ll stick around for next year.

A New Year

It’s been a while since I tried to recap a year in my life, but I figure it’s worth a shot. After all, 2011 was a pretty momentous year for me and it might as well be documented. It was a pretty busy year, so here is a brief explanation of my 2011.

I got married! The wedding was awesome and it was wonderful to start the year off with friends and family – and my wife! After eight and a half years together we sealed the deal before hanging out on a rooftop together with everyone. We also went on a super cool honeymoon that involved biobays and walking under water which was a really cool way to celebrate before going back to reality.

Starting in January I did my student teaching in a suburban high school. For those who didn’t hear my tales of adventure, the teacher was fired partway through and I ended up teaching with a substitute sitting in the corner. The semester was wonderful and stressful and I was so happy to be teaching again (I hadn’t been in a high school for almost two years at that point). I had some failed lessons (mock Congress was a disaster and Kennedy’s speeches didn’t go as planned) and some real successes (still fond of my public works lesson and I refined lecturing really well). I had some amazing students and some terrible students, and I had a solid group of coworkers to help me through everything. All in all a good experience.

With some fundraising drives wrapping up early in the year and 25 in April, Schools for Schools closed its imaginary doors in 2011. I started the student organization by myself in September of 2007, forcing all of my friends to sit with me once a week and talk about rebels in central Africa. It had grown and collapsed multiple times, and we finally wound down with something like three active members and a couple inactive. It was a pretty big deal for me; the club had never really grown past its nascent state, so it was my perpetual advocacy baby. Saying goodbye to it was quite the step.

For almost the entire year I was unemployed. Throughout student teaching I was too stressed to work, but we made that call hoping I’d find a job after graduating. After losing the job I subbed for, I ended up applying for six other jobs and only got to interview for one. In the end I spent the fall substituting more, which isn’t ideal but worked.

Another highlight of 2011 has to be going to the White House. Even though the college club was over, I couldn’t not be involved in Resolve’s work. When they invited me to DC for a couple of days I gladly found a way there. A dozen new friends descended on the District to go to the White House to hear from and talk with public officials. In addition to that, I also got to see old friends in the area and actually see some sights. Also, poetry slam.

This summer I was in quite the rut, and one thing that got me out of that was my internship at a refugee agency. I spent about two days a week working with newly arrived refugees, which has been eye-opening for me and seemingly helpful to them. It included riding buses and teaching three classes on a rotation – public services, laws and rights, and apartment care. It was also my first time working with interpreters, which is a unique experience. I also had a pretty sweet supervisor who helped me a lot learning the ins and outs of the system and showed me the ropes in working with refugees.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the wife and I went on a little road trip to Vegas for an early anniversary vacation. It was nice to get out and do something, and it was nice for me to go back to Vegas (I grew up with random trips to Vegas all of the time, for whatever reason). We also did a mighty bit of walking and had a lot of fun. I’m hoping to get a few little trips like that in during 2012.

And that was my year. 2012 promises to be pretty exciting, even if the world doesn’t end. We’re probably moving and I’ll probably be going back to school, so things will be a-changing. Now that the year is moving forwards I feel that I should stop dwelling on the past. Happy (belated) New Year to you all!

Looking Back at 2011

So, I might have fallen off the blogging wagon a little bit, but I’m hoping to be back once the year’s up and running.  Right now I’m under the weather, waiting for the new year at home with my wife, but I thought we could take a look at the past year on the blog. Early in the year I speculated at how huge things would happen during 2011, but I did not expect just how much happened this year. It’s been really interesting to see everything unfold, and it will be interesting to see how things continue to develop next year. As far as things happening on this blog, I think it makes the most sense to take a look at the top posts!

Coming in at #5 was my quick rundown ahead of Uganda’s elections, which has accumulated views steadily despite being way, way outdated: What’s Happening in Uganda Tomorrow?

#4 is last month’s rant on Why I Will Never Vote to Drug Test Welfare Recipients, thanks to a Facebook poll and a free evening for research.

My third most popular post this year was also from last month, on why I disagreed with people who praise Rwanda: Rwanda Isn’t a Model for Anything but Autocracy.

Coming in second this year is a post that’s been around almost two years, back when I took a look at Ethos Water and TOMS Shoes: For-Profit or Not-For-Profit?

And the most popular post this year, by more than double the hits for the others, was from when I took part in blogging the Caine Prize. The big hit was when I covered “Hitting Budapest” by NoViolet Bulawayo.

So, those are the big posts from this year! It’s been quite the year over on this end. I started off by getting married, and have since blogged my way through teaching and protesting and took a look at deployments and governance. The last couple of weeks have been pretty blog-free, but I’m hoping to change that. With that, I’ll leave you to your New Years – catch you in 2012!

A year in review

It took me less than 72 hours to realize that my intentions of declaring ten goals for 2010 were misplaced.  Why?  I’m not one for New Years resolutions.  I tend to resolve to do things as I think of them, and I decided at the last minute that coming up with ten things on New Years Day just wasn’t right for me.  I’ll try to do plenty of things in the next year, for sure, but I won’t be starting on day one but adding to what I’ve already got in the works.  However, I will make it up to you (as I’m sure you are all tuning in for my resolutions).  Instead of making resolutions, I am going to take one last look back and revisit my old tradition of reviewing the year.  No restrictive numbers or formats, no rules or audience – just remembering.  A lot of this may look like the last post, and I’m sorry for that.  This is just me pouring everything into a post.

This year started off between semesters at school and a couple of months into independent living.  I delved into what would be a very momentous year, but I had no idea at the time.  Kim and I rang in the New Year at the Tempe Block Party.  It was our first New Years together and it was quite a bit of fun despite quite the crowd.  Starting there, the following have happened:

-The Rescue hit.  I joined about a thousand people in a march where we abducted ourselves to raise awareness for the abducted child soldiers in Uganda.  We proceeded to sleep on a field in a makeshift camp alongside 100,000 others in 100 cities in 10 countries.  Several of my friends moved on to Albuquerque, then Wichita and finally Chicago while I called public servants all over the country to help them out.

-Kim and I celebrated seven great years!  Just one big step in a long line of getting closer and closer.  The celebration weekend was a lot of fun and we got to enjoy a lot of things we had wanted to do for a while – a concert, a museum, a zoo and painting.

-I went to LA with Kim, Cristina, and Zach.  The trip definitely had its ups and downs, but it was really nice to be on a trip with Kim again and it was pretty fun running around with Cristina.  California is always fun, but it was especially nice to see Los Angeles, which I don’t see too often.

-I flew to Washington, DC for something huge.  I joined 1600 people in the biggest lobbying effort for an African issue in American history: the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act.  For me this was a huge reunion with dozens of great friends and a chance to meet some of the coolest people.  In the end I had a great time and am stoked to do more lobbying.

-Kim and I took a huge leap in buying a townhome in Tempe.  After months of saving and discussing, we have settled down in our very own home and are enjoying it very much.  It’s roomier than our quaint apartment and we’ve got a little garage to match our little patio.

Final statistics are thus:

Places visited: Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC.

Places lived: Mesa, AZ; Tempe, AZ.

Concerts attended: No Doubt.

Altruistic/Political events: Project CURE; Rotary River Rally; Malawi Dinner; The Rescue; How It Ends; Gulu Walk; Rock ‘n’ Roll Paint-a-thon; Hometown Shakedown; Schools For Schools.

Anniversaries: Seven years dating; twenty years alive; one year engaged.

Courses taken: History Methods in the Community; France in WWII; Human Development; SEI Endorsement II; Intro to Violence, Conflict, and Human Rights; Teachers and the Law; Technology in the Classroom; Physical Geography; SEI Endorsement; The Vietnam War; Content Literacy; Religion, Nationalism, and Ethnic Conflict; Global Trends; SGS Internship; Inquiry into Religion and Conflict; Facing the Past.

Blog posts: 14.

People annoyed: Probably whoever reads this and the previous post.  Whoops.


Recapping nine important things that happened to me in 2009.  It was a great year, and I am ending the decade by starting what I hope to be a couple of new trends – first by summarizing a year with that year’s number of events and then by forecasting the next year with that year’s number of goals (the two will not be linked).  So, without further ado, here are nine important things that happened in 2009.

Twitter. Let’s be honest, getting on Twitter was a big thing for me this year.  It got me back in touch with a lot of friends and reinvigorated my thirst for news via New York Times.  Also, I got to join in on The Rescue and the Iranian Election via trending topics.  Also, Twittertracker!

Fellowship. This fall semester I was one of eight undergraduate fellows at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict.  It made for a very interesting semester with many fun debates and some pretty cool speakers as well.  I got some experience, and a resume-booster, in working for a DoD grant studying conflict in Thailand too.  It also marked a corner around which I never thought I’d turn – religious studies.  I learned quite a bit about religion in the context of conflict, and I got to meet some very interesting people among fellows, staff, faculty, and guests.  I’m hoping to intern with them if possible.

The Golden Gate. I went on a trip with my parents to San Francisco this summer.  In the old days, our family tradition was a triangular trip to San Diego and Las Vegas.  For the passed few years, this has been replaced with a long haul to San Francisco where we do a variety of things.  This year we did the usual and wandered Chinatown, walked the Embarcadero, visited the Haight, and trekked the Golden Gate Bridge to see my grandpa.  New ones were the Pier 1 Farmer’s Market (lots of fun and delicious food), hung out in Sausalito, and walked through part of Golden Gate Park.  Lots of fun with the family and it was nice to be in the coldest city ever one more time.

Los Angeles. Kim and I went on our first friend-filled road trip this summer.  It turned out to be a love-hate occurrence with quite a few ups and downs.  Regardless of any low-points of the trip, including getting lost multiple times, enduring cold beach morning weather, and dragging dead weight across town, there were a number of great things.  Kim and I got to experience Six Flags together, which was an amazing thing.  Cristina, Kim, and I almost achieved our goal of riding every roller coaster.  And it was hopefully the first of many friend-filled, fun-filled road trips.

The Rescue. This April, Invisible Children embarked on a massive endeavor.  100 cities in 10 countries on 1 night.  I joined 100,000 people that night in abducting myself to help the abducted child soldiers in east-central Africa.  At the Phoenix camp I met up with a lot of friends and helped set up the abduction site around old Hayden Mill.  From there, I photographed the march and subsequently was rescued and spent the night on a field.  I was unable to join some of my friends on what turned into a seven-day trip that went Phoenix-Albuquerque-Wichita-Chicago and ended at Harpo Studios, but I did call my way to rescue sites all across the country.  In the end, all cities were rescued and it was a successful and amazing event.

Lobby Days. In June, I went on a lonely flight to our nation’s capitol.  After a half-day of isolation, I met up with Heather and Kristi.  The next morning I met dozens of friends.  The two days I spent in DC were a great lesson in lobbying and politics and were a reminder of why I am involved in the type of things in which I am involved.  It gave me a tingly feeling that I hadn’t felt in about a year and a half – like I was an integral part in something huge.  Oh, and I got to see Luis Moreno-O’Campo and John Prendergast speak in addition to getting to hang out with Jason Russell, the Resolve Uganda crew, and the Keeseys. In the end I made even more friends and completed three lobbying meetings, plus there was a lot of fun had.

Anniversary. The seventh anniversary of our first date was marked by a weekend full of fun.  I took Kim to Cricket Pavilion to see No Doubt.  The show was great and a lot of fun, and it was nice to finally have Kim see one of her all-time favorite bands play live.  We also took a short trip to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and got to see some pretty cool stuff before heading to the Wildlife World Zoo.  This zoo has some funky, exotic animals and it was really neat to see so many things.  I also got to pet a stingray for the first time in my life!  That was a weird thing.  We ended the weekend with a sit-down at As You Wish, and Kim made a really cool cupcake-shaped sugar bowl while I made a waffle cone-shaped ice cream cup.  All in all, a great way to celebrate a great occasion!

Winter Wedding. A little while ago, we made a checklist.  We talked through two topics and made a choice: winter wedding.  The timing, while moving things up a bit, makes for better planning for us with school.  Honeymoon would be more achievable.  More family and friends could attend.  Mixes her parents’ winter feel with my parents’ holiday feel.  It was just one decision, but it’s essentially the precursor to all other wedding decisions including venue and color and whatever else.  Now we just need to make those decisions! Oh and get married.

The Townhome. Kimberly and I became homeowners in November.  After a lot of talking, money-inspecting and talking with my parents, we decided to seize an opportunity and buy a townhome.  Now we are partially unpacked in a roomy unit, with plans to bring in pets and get truly settled.  It’s a little two-story place with a tiny garage and a no-yard small patio.  The neighborhood is a cute one with little lakes and flower patches.  We have plans for painting, bringing in some furniture, and decorating more as we get time and money.  This will be our home for the foreseeable future, including the rest of our undergrad years, the wedding, and maybe subsequent career-maneuvering.  It’ll be a great place to stay for the next few years and I’m very happy to be here :D

And that’s a year in review.  Stay tuned for ten goals early in the new year, and have a happy celebration while you wait.