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 04, 2006

History Lesson
"'I explained that Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories.' Mr. Bush said at a joint outdoor news conference with Mr. Musharraf on the grounds of the presidential palace, Aiwan-e-Sadr."
Funny: I always thought that they were countries who once were the same country, with far too shared history, hence the deep animosity of the present. Maybe Bush could be well served by one of his aides by being introduced to the words Partition, and Kashmir, and maybe even Nehru and Jennah.

Bush continues to play two different games with these countries, failing tactically in his run towards his larger goals, and is giving us only the worst of both worlds: loss of leverage in global nuclear power with India, and loss of power in global democratization and anti-terror with Pakistan.

Bush Says Pakistan Cannot Expect Nuclear Deal Like One With India - New York Times

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sad And Sick

I wonder what the Palestinian press will do with this rather wretched display of stupidity:
"NAZARETH, Israel - A distraught Israeli couple, joined by another woman, entered one of Christianity's holiest sites Friday and set off explosions, police said, sparking a large riot in this biblical town in northern Israel."

And the Christian press, and the Arab press in general, and on and on and on.... Fireworks Are Thrown Into Israel Church
Blogging Bloggers Blogs

Slate's Eric Umansky caught this in today's clippings:
"From the Journal's Washington Wire:

Among other woes at Homeland Security, the inspector general's office says it can't widely distribute electronic announcements of new watchdog reports. A spokeswoman explains the department lacks capacity to create a mass email list, and 'We don't have a fix at this point.'"
Will someone out there please take on the task of providing DHS and the IG's office with an email server from this century? One that can create internal bulk mailing lists? Someone? Please? Microsoft? Mozilla? Anyone?


Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Reminder Of Our Achievements

Tariq Panja of AP reminds us of one of the more forgotten moments of brilliance in US oversight of Iraq and it's rise from tyranny, through war and chaos, over to fldgling democracy, and into sectarian violence. In light of the recent bank robbery in the UK, where the thieves made off with $92 million dollars,
"The sophisticated robbery is believed to be the largest heist during peacetime. It eclipsed a $70 million theft from the Central Bank in Fortaleza, Brazil in August, a $65 million heist at the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center in London in 1987, and a $50 million robbery at the Northern Bank of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2004.

But all four were dwarfed by the wartime theft of $900 million in U.S. bills and as much as $100 million worth of euros from the Iraq Central Bank in 2003."
Brilliant. Read more here: Britons Charged in Bank Heist in Court

So now with Bush's deal we have effectively carved out the mode of our activity in the region: ignore standing treaty and law, in favor of exceptions and favoritism on all sides.

In matters of terrorism, tyranny, and human rights in Pakistan, and now in matters nuclear with India, Bush has made the exception for expediency, rather than doing things the hard (and right) way: the slow and uphill battle to modify the laws and treaties of this nation to better conform to our current and future needs.

We ignore precedent and make unique exceptions at our peril. If India is exempted from the non-proliferation treaty, what leverage do we have with Iran? With Israel? As we give Pakistan a free ride politically as our "ally in the war on terror," what message does that send to Burma, or Sudan, or Chad, or Indonesia, or China?

An old rule in the tech world: you can have it cheap and quick, or you can have it right. Pretty obvious which option rules now in Washington.

More here: U.S., India Seal Nuclear Deal

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tables Turned

If you don't think about the very, very disturbing implications of this story in terms of cross-species pandemic, it's pretty funny to think about: how often is it that the canary gets to kill the cat?

BBC NEWS: German cat gets deadly bird flu
Uh Oh.
"A study by the World Health Organisation found that natural blonds are likely to be extinct within 200 years because there are too few people carrying the blond gene. According to the WHO study, the last natural blond is likely to be born in Finland during 2202."
I guess I need to start breeding with blondies. More on the demise of the blonde demoiselle here.

What with the news as it is---civil war in Iraq, bird flu in Sweden, prison riots in Afghanistan, Bush's approval rating dropping to a sorry 34% (I am holding a special place in my heart for that number from now on), and now due to last night's wild storms more than 20,000 people here without power---I thought I'd take a break and talk a little personal talk today. Or personnel talk, if you don't mind a bad premonitory pun.

I am job hunting at the moment, and today received a call from the HR department of a school in New York. The position was an assistant Directorship in their online communications group. It was sounding pretty good, until they got to the pay rate. Remember, this is in New York City, where the cost of living can be easily pegged at approximately 30% higher than in San Francisco, where it isn't cheap. The salary was about $65,000 a year. Which is swell for Manhattan, if you are a student, or living in a shared household and still eating ramen from a pouch, and have little or no career experience. But when you are a decade into a professional track, and reasonably successful in what you do, and have a track record of high level work, it starts to look less enticing. Even so, if it were here in SF, I'd probably go after it. But to have that as a lure to up and move to New York? Lessee....An enormous cut in pay, plus significant cost of living increase, plus moving and relocation expenses....hmmm....nah.

Why is it that as costs rise, income in the middle zone of things seems to be decreasing? I see a significant decrease in comparable pay rates for positions below the executive level, whether adjusting for inflation or not. It seems that companies have found that tightening in salary costs is an effective method of cost containment, and the rest of us really don't have much of a choice.

Of course, this is only in the fields where what you do actually helps people run their lives better. I'm sure the trends are different in sales and marketing, where you simply foist crap no one ever knew they needed on an unsuspecting public.