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, December 30, 2005

Best News Of The Morning

Now, if only the new year brings us more headlines like this:
Pack of angry Chihuahuas attack officer in Fremont
I think that would be the greatest new year's gift of all....

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Manifesto (a re-post)

I posted this first about 6 months ago. I think it is perhaps a good idea to be reminded of it on a regular basis...

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 creative an "ownership society" than repealing laws demanding a minimum age and weight limit 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, December 28, 2005

Don't Be Fooled Part II

This looks like the battle of the moment in American political philosophy. The battle of this administration to expand the scope of power of the executive branch---and it isn't about specific powers, it is the sensibility of the balance of power itself that is being tried here---continues in fascinating ways. I am surprised at the turns it is taking, but even more surprised that the language being used by the White House and Dept. of Justice is becoming more and more transparent. When the DOJ makes claims that
"...the earlier order blocking Mr. Padilla's transfer to civilian custody represented an 'unwarranted attack' on presidential discretion." (emphasis added)
it takes us right to the heart of the issue: the attempt to promote the prerogatives of presidential power (or "discretion") beyond the bounds of the judiciary. Or, for that matter, the legislature. It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court will hear this case, and if they do, what they rule.

Of course, there is always the subtle question of just what fight the NY Times is fighting with this thread of reporting. And what they expect to win.

U.S. Asks Supreme Court to Transfer Terror Suspect - New York Times
Editorial Note

My apologies to anyone who got stuck trying to read the last few linked articles. I hadn't noticed the bad links; they are fixed now (my HTML posting widget was generating some extra quoatation marks, that's taken care of), so if you are still interested in either Christopher Hitchen's crankiness or Dick Cheney's mendacity, have at 'em.
Do These Jeans Make My Brain Look Big?

Amazing. Someone actually is funding this study. I really should be applying for more grants....

Thank you for the heads up, BBC: Study to answer bum size puzzle

Monday, December 26, 2005

Entre Deux Fêtes

I am more and more ready for this long uphill year to be done with, and to move in to a new calendar cycle. I must admit that this week is even more the Dead Days of the Annum this year than in most: I am sick of the news, and of my semi-routines, and I want to get on with things. Frankly, despite the 12-page opus released from the White House last week of how wonderful this year has been, and all the positive "successes" we have seen in 2005, I think this year has been an uphill slog for all of us: for Bush, and Congress, and the folks in Iraq, and me and my friends, and all the friggin' world. And I am looking forward to getting past the down time of the gap between Christmas and New Year's Day, and start gearing up for a bigger, brighter twelvemonth season.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Christmas Day Thought

I read this article, and a thought struck me:

Looking out at the next 5-10 years, which nation poses the greatest potential threat or risk to global stability?

Iran?
Iraq?
Pakistan?
Afghanistan?
Israel?
North Korea?
China?

I'd say Pakistan, considering the cultural turmoils and war that is intertwined in our "war on terror". On the one hand, I'm glad we are coaxing them to try and keep them on this side of the fence. On the other, I suspect that nothing we do can really alter the radicalized course of history that they set for themselves from the inception of the country to today.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and have a lovely day.