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, March 26, 2005

More Rewards

From today's LA Times:
'"But it seems bizarre that we are letting the Pakistanis get away with nuclear smuggling because we think they'll help fight terrorism," said Milhollin, who heads the Washington-based Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.'
So they get the F-16 package, despite the illegal smuggling. And think about the hypocrisy: The black market items are purchased from the US, and the smuggling is aided by an Israeli arms dealer. So in the fight against "Islamic" terrorism, the americans and the israelis provide nuclear arms to the most dangerous Muslim nuclear nation in order for them to develop and continue to spread advanced nuclear arms. Bizarre indeed.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Rewards For The Corrupt

They spread nuclear arms thru the world for 25 years; they cooperated with the Taliban and Qaeda until we came down on them with a heavy hand, and even then; they are one of the most corrupt and unstable governments in the world; they are among the least democratic of all nations. What to do, what to do?

I know! Reverse US policy and sell them arms good for nothing but a war with India!

U.S. Agrees to Sell F-16s to Pakistan

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"It's like 'Christmasland' in America!"

The Turkish town of Demre -- classic Myra, the historical home of St. Nicholas -- has officially replaced the saint with images of Santa Claus.

I guess the crass replacement of all things real with all things marketable has finally climaxed. Eventually we will just replace content with commercials, education with branding, and faith with 'American Idol'. Long live Noel Baba!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Breaking

Now that Terry Schiavo's parents have been denied their latest appeal, You can sort of see where this is going in the political football field. The Supreme Court is next, but they will most likely decline to hear the case; after that, Terry Schiavo will die. I can already hear the Anti-Abortion and Right To Life folks waxing prolific about this martyr to the cause; you can bet we'll be seeing more of this come election time. The saddest thing about this is perhaps my own cynicism, being that the elected officials of our federal government, and the ideologues on the 'pro-life' side of the fence will use this tragedy to further degrade the protections available to those caught in these terrible situations, rather than trying to create more effective protections for the living and the loved.

Of course, if Tom DeLay et al. simply shrug their collective shoulders and say 'oh well, we lost that battle, and the law of the land is the law of the land' I will eat my shorts. This is too good a political wedge to be lost for them. Win or lose, the greatest loss in all this is the dignity of all the individuals involved--from Terry Schiavo on down.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Morning Review

I've been doing a quick scan of the major op-ed sections today, and they unanimously chime in with anger at disgust at Congress and the Administration for their actions over the last few days in the Schiavo case. The NYT, Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Trib, all speak out---with or without byline---with the same outrage and furor. The Trib is succinct:
"...the president and the Congress have no business here."
This isn't about the family, or the feelings riding high on each side of the case, or the tragedy of this one woman. This is political theater at its worst and most damaging.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Glad This Made The News...

...Because this is the sort of thing that alters history:

Electrical Problem Blamed For Pig's Death
Why Are We Even Here?

The blogosphere is awash is Schiavo-mania right now, but if you read only one commentary, read this one, on Slate, by Dahlia Lithwick. This is an event now that touches at the core of everything that we are as a nation, on so many levels. And on each of them it is wrong to even be there.

Back in 1980, I attended a summer session where we opened up the can of worms that is bioethics, and the ramifications of that field: ethically, morally, religiously, politically, socially, culturally. For more than two weeks we spent hours each day looking at the ramifications of cases such as this, and the methods that a community like ours might use to answer the essentially intractable conflicts that issues of life and death and the area in between raise for all of us. We came to no conclusions, and it was only a matter of months before we were all swept up by the looming spectre of what was to become one of the great bioethical horrors of our time: the AIDS epidemic and its impact.

A quarter of a century later, and it's clear that we have learned nothing, have put into greater practice no process, no method, no means for managing the ethical dilemmas presented by these questions in a relgiously and morally diverse culture that (at least in words) prides itself on the promotion and preservation of that diversity. But perhaps the lesson being taught us today by DeLay et al. is that this is changing; that now the time has come for a consolidation of faith and moral directive, under the auspices of governmental guidance, and at the cost of the freedom of thought and belief for anyone who may be of a differing mind.
More News

Like I said the other day, I don't think we should really focus exclusively on the positivie spin being put on the Gaza withdrawal by Sharon and the Israeli government. Not because it isn't a good thing, but because it is a distraction to the primary issue, which is the conflict between Israel and Palestine on the West Bank, and the determination of future borders and land/water rights for each presumptive nation.

Yediot Ahronot and al-Jazeera are both reporting the news that Israel has given the green light to the construction of 3,500 new Israeli residences which will link two settlements east of Jerusalem, and cut off another swath of the West Bank from the Palestinians. As stated by YA:
"While the plan would connect Jerusalem to the more isolated community of Maaleh Adumim, it would also undermine the possibility of Palestinian territorial contiguity in the region."
Despite Sharon's stated plans for a "bypass road" to allow access by Palestinians, al-Jazeera gets the good quote from Ghassan al-Khatib (the Palestinian Authority Planning Minister) on this.
"By expanding settlements in the West Bank, Israel gives the impression that it intends to exchange Gaza for a 'Greater Israel'."
Following the lead of Bush and his administration's less-than-honest means to ends, this sort of activity effectively destroys any faith in the potential to return to any sort of process leading to stability along the lines of Oslo.
Just A Few Words

Terry Schiavo.
Tom DeLay.
Separation of Powers.

Dear God, I feel ill in my heart. This shouldn't be happening in a civilized nation. It just shouldn't be happening.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

U.S. Misled Allies About Nuclear Export

This Washington Post Lead is to me the most disheartening news in a weekend of disheartening news. Maybe it's because it comes on the tail end of Tom DeLay's feeding tube intervention fiasco; maybe because of the anniversary of the war; I don't know. But seeing this headline this morning just sent home the knowledge yet again that this administration simply does not care how we get to the prize they see in the distance. Lies don't matter. Alliances don't matter. Bargains with the devil don't matter.

So now we know what we all suspected, but avoided questioning in the face of now discredited evidence: North Korea wasn't Libya's Nuke facilitator. It was Pakistan, and AQ Khan. The nation we have isolated and antagonized for professing its innocence is innocent (well, innocent of this single issue); the nation which is to blame will receive the opportunity to purchase a passel of F-16 fighters.

All over the US and Europe, there were little protests to mark the turn of time since the war in Iraq began. The Bush administration didn't notice. Wasted energy.

How long can we continue as a community to act in this manner, and still maintain a sense of dignity?