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.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Elections Erections Ejections

I sent in my absentee ballot yesterday for the Governor's "special" election. It included umpteen ballot measures exclusive to the city and county of San Francisco, including a gun ban, a firehouse boondoggle, a handful of bond measures to further indebt the city, and so forth. I can say that I was quite comfortable voting "no" on nearly every measure on the ballot: the Governor's measures against teachers, and public unions, and pro drug-company, as well as the opposing poorly written drug proposal; no on the idiotic budget constraint bill, no no no. It was a no kinda ballot.

Now if only we could join together and try to be constructive rather than divisive, and create a moment in California that provides some reasonable growth along with reasonable governance, and maybe just a little bit less SF-style political lunacy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Today's Quiz

What country is described below?

  • Known as a "superpower" during the 2nd half of the 20th century;
  • Glorified it's military achievements as an aspect of it's spiritual imperative;
  • Invaded smaller sovereign nations when their activities threatened it's way of life and hegemony of power;
  • Managed prisons in which the people held secretly, were without access to the public, were tortured, and whose existence was officially denied;
  • Seen in the international arena as a nepotistic and corrupt bureaucracy without moral scruple;
  • In the face of growing world antipathy, continued to flex it's nuclear military options despite the costs;
  • Utterly convinced of it's ideological superiority to other ways of life.

And if you guess the Soviet Union, you're wrong.

How on earth did we so quickly become a sketch caricature of that which we fought against for so long? I know this moment will pass, but for now, to be a nation that condones torture, that lies to it's people, that believes in the power of power rather than the power of law, it all is rather disappointing. I'd like to feel that we could have a voice, and make change from the grassroots level, but I suspect that it is no longer possible to do so. It seem that the processes which normally provide a means of change are themselves being corrupted. And that puts us in a vicious self-destructive cycle that hopefully will eat itself tail-first as quickly as possible.

I've said for a very long time that even if our leaders are not those I would choose ideologically, even if I am diametrically opposed to the policies that get put forward, that at the very least I expect a debate of those policies, and then that those policies are pursued effectively, competently, and completely. I think that may be a key to my disgust with both the federal state of affairs, as well as California's own particular muddle. Interesting ideas put forward, but the model is always Iraq. Or No Child Left Behind. It's all good intentions, but poorly drafted and conceived, unrefined, and given no legs. No funding, no follow-through. We had no post-invasion plan in Iraq. We have no funding for NCLB.

Short-sighted we've always been, as a nation. But this is getting plain silly. And dangerous.

In the meanwhile, here's today's pandemic scare (sponsored by the president, thanks George!) for your reading pleasure.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"WASHINGTON - President Bush outlined a $7.1 billion strategy Tuesday to prepare for the danger of a pandemic influenza outbreak, saying he wanted to stockpile enough vaccine to protect 20 million Americans against the current strain of bird flu."
--AP: Bush Outlines $7.1B Flu-Fighting Strategy

Now, that's all well and good. But once again, how on earth are we going to pay for this protection? Is this to be yet another pledge like the billions to fight AIDS in Africa--well meant and never spent? It's fine for the President to propose a grand idea, but as his panel today will propose some rather ungainly tax simplification proposals, and we continue to spend like sailors without any increase in government revenue, I wonder if this is just another attempt to change the subject from scrutiny on the VP's office, to anything, anything else.

Keep in mind as well that despite all the grand talk of the last two years on education and NCLB, if this amount were pledged to education, we could fully fund all the programs instituted for good or ill by the feds, as well as give all teachers a moderate incentivized pay increase. Instead, we've had less than a third of that. What's more important: stockpiling vaccine for all us illiterit masses, or having an educated generation who can discover ways to avoid potential pandemics in the future?

Just a thought.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Book Plug

It isn't common for me to promote someone else's work here, but in light of yesterday's explosion in New Delhi, and the "obscure Kashmiri group" claiming responsibility, and the catastrophe of the Kashmir earthquake, and the ensuing back and forth between Pakistan and India in order to ease the rescue and reconstruction efforts on both sides of the line, in light of all that: go out and read Salman Rushdie's latest effort, Shalimar the Clown. It is his attempt to view the current state of the world and it's affiliated messes of secrecy and terrorism and nationalism and globalization and changing values through the prism of love, and desire, and Kashmir. It isn't as sweeping and full of delight in language as was The Moor's Last Sigh, nor is it as focused and sharp as Midnight's Children. But it is one of his better or best books, certainly his finest work in the last few years, and anyone who claims to read it and learn nothing of themselves and others is either a liar, a fool, or Vice President Dick Cheney.