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, June 18, 2005

Lebanon Update

As they move into the last stage of elections, it looks heated, fascinating, and disturbing. I will be impressed if the new assenbly lasts out the year, and even more impressed if the divisions which destabilized the country 30 years ago don't bring it to the precipice of collapse yet again:
     Bitter Final Round of Voting Will Be Decisive in Lebanon - New York Times

For some good concise background info on the whole deal, check out AP's pocket timelines and background briefs here, here, and here.
Religious Fervor

At least I can rest easy tonight knowing that there are places on the face of God's green earth where Christianity is even more insane than it is becoming here at home: BBC: Crucified nun dies in 'exorcism'

Chained to a cross, gagged, denied food and water and left to die. It's so enlightened, so spiritual.
"Father Daniel who is accused of orchestrating the crime is said to be unrepentant.

'God has performed a miracle for her, finally Irina is delivered from evil,' AFP quoted the priest as saying."
We aren't there yet, but we're close. Just this morning I heard a story of an eastern 'Liberal Arts' university where a speaker brought a large wooden cross to assembly and asked all students to write their sins on a piece of paper and nail them to the cross (about 1,200 did); after that the cross was placed prominently on the university grounds.

Can I hear ya say, "halellujah!"

Friday, June 17, 2005

"So-Many-Things-Wrong-Here-I-Don't-Know-Where-To-Begin" Award

I just don't even know what to say to this. So wrong, so very wrong. And, like the bin owner says, "It's kind of ironic, here she is digging for cans in a Dumpster, but yet she has a cell phone."

Read it all here: Woman Dumped Into Rear of Garbage Truck
Note This

It isn't going down. And no one in power right now is going to be very upset about it: Oil sets new record at $58.60

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Spotty Face

This is great: the zits I had as a teen will keep me from keeling over from a heart attack, but will probably kill me with cancer:
"NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The activity of male hormones, androgens, can give rise to acne during adolescence, but may also protect against coronary heart disease in adulthood, UK researchers report.

However, androgens also appear to be associated with an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer, the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests."
read all about it here
Just A Thought

For the 19th consecutive year, our state has failed to pass a budget within the constitutionally mandated time limit required. This year, as in many before, it has less to do with the fiscal issues at hand --- which are huge --- and more with the partisan atmosphere that has a stranglehold on our state government.

At the same time, our governor (for what it's worth) is AWOL on the topic, too busy barnstorming for his special election, which will spend money we do not have to decide issues which will not help, and about which very few people care deeply.

My question: Why isn't Gov. Schwarzenegger twisting arms in Sacramento to force a compromise between his minority folks and the bickering swaggering stupefyingly inert majority Dems to craft a budget that can A) fulfill most of his personal reform agenda, B) get passed by the legislature, and C) will not cause further political fallout for the long term health of the state of California?

And while we're at it: maybe it's time to rethink the balanced budget requirement? I mean, two decades and we can't do it, even with the constitutional pressure. What more pressure can be brought? Are we any better off than we were before?
Manifesto

I.

I am weary of the crypto-elitist, solipsistic, ineffectual liberal Left.

I am sick to heart of the tendentious, narrow-minded, self-congratulatory arrogant conservative Right.

I believe that government has a duty to its citizens to act in their best interest regardless of their 'worth'.

I believe that citizens have a duty to demand from their government the highest standards of action possible.

I believe that the nature of a market democracy demands at the very least the partial federalization or federal oversight of certain basic needs, among them health care, housing, and education.

I believe that the opportunity to take more responsibility for the self begins at a very local level.

I believe that repealing a tax is less effective in creating an "ownership society" than repealing laws which demand minimum age and weight limits for children to ride in the front seat of a car.

II.

We are responsible each for our actions, as well as the outcomes of those actions.

There is a time and a place for free market economy, and there is a time and a place for an economy of vision.

The stratification of our society into more and more distinct and disparate classes is an unhealthy trend for the nation, and if unchecked will erode our ability to either grow as an economic power, or to lead as a political entity.

Unless and until we acknowledge our stratification of classes by economic, ethnic, and political association, we will be unable to alter the ill effects of that stratification.

The far edges of either the Left or the Right are dangerous for the welfare of the nation. Ideology as a driver of policy rather than as an informer of political activity is anathema to the basic ideals of America in a modern global world.

There has never been a nation as wealthy and well-poised to do so much great good for its citizens, nor one with such a lack of integrity and will to do it.

The intertwining of higher education with the training for marketable skills has been a failure; the presence of the academy is not to create a worker class, but to provide an arena to promote critical thinking. Therefore a choice must be made: either we disentangle education from practical training for the free market, or we fund its continuation without a view towards the final economic efficacy of its actions.

III.

Nothing is more important than how we educate and treat each upcoming generation.

Nothing has been more of a failure in the last 35 years than our treatment of each upcoming generation, and our lack of provision for them: in education, in economy, in natural resources, and in long term political vision.

Nothing is more unpleasant to our culture than drastic change, and nothing is more dangerous to a politician than to suggest it.

Regardless of the pressures of the political process, if we do not generate a leader with both the charisma to gather the majority of the population to their support, as well as the pugnacity and vision to implement drastic and therefore unpopular change toward a remedy of those issues raised above, then the future of American power beyond the middle of this century is in grave peril.

IV.

So what can be done?

We need to admit the closing of the doors on intellectual honesty on both the left and the right; we must work like hell to reverse the trend.

The incredibly broad spectrum of ideas that are now in turmoil between the two most partisan poles of that spectrum must be recognized as valid lines of inquiry, even if the answer that we arrive at is one that is unpalatable to one side or the other.

We must return to a cultivation of leaders who not only provide remarkable political will, but also have the ability to lend that will to a middle road that provides a non-radical approach to policy, while at the same time aggressively pursuing real change in the basic infrastructure of current government bureaucracy.

We must recognize that to demand loyalty is to destroy our ability to act as a moral nation. The first step toward the failure of democracy is the demand for ideological agreement and loyalty.

We must have the courage of our convictions, and be willing to look at both our actions and their outcomes, and take responsibility for each, on an individual and on a communal level.

I don't believe this is too much to ask. And we must begin now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Just Plain Wrong

It may be legal, but that doesn't make it either right or tenable:

Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden asked Deputy Associate Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins whether the Justice Department had "defined when there is the end of conflict."

"No, sir," Wiggins responded.

"'If there is no definition as to when the conflict ends, that means forever, forever, forever these folks get held at Guantanamo Bay,' Biden said.

'It's our position that, legally, they can be held in perpetuity,' Wiggins said.

'I think that we can hold them as long as the conflict endures,' Hemingway responded."
We're into Orwell's perpetual state of war, and we don't even spin it. I have a hard time believing that even the most die-hard of conservative, pro-war folks can in good conscience be at peace with the moral and long-term political ramifications of this stance.
Morning Dose Of Caution

Truth. But who will listen?