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, March 10, 2006

The Headline Says It All
"The poll suggests that most Americans wonder whether Bush is up to the job. The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of 1,000 people, found that just 37 percent approve of his overall performance. That is the lowest of his presidency."
Bush's Approval Rating Falls to New Low
Those Pesky Prophet Cartoons, Or Why I Hate Ideologues

The Danes are hosting interfaith dialogue to try and ease the rift that has opened with the cartoon kerfuffle; this is to my mind a good thing. But to get a better idea of just how difficult a path it may be, and what may be motivating both the moderate voices calling for dialogue, and the more vocal extreme voices denouncing the very concept of it, read this editorial from Asharq Alawsat's Mshari Al-Zaydi, and be aware that despite a world of moderate voices, it is more common to see a gravitation toward the more extreme. Here and in the Middle East. Some quotes:
"'What has occurred is the instigator for the Muslim nation which was torn by political differences but is unified by the love for the Prophet (PBUH).' He then spoke about the "young" Amr Khaled who provoked the Sheikh, as he does not understand the implicit gain behind keeping the Muslim rage inflamed. He told Asharq Al Awsat, 'I have advised him several times not to break the flow of the awakening of the Muslim nation for the sake of Denmark.'"
Or how about
"When Qardawi shouts, 'revenge, revenge; rage, rage,' he is in fact maintaining the survival of the Islamic movement. Had the Danes apologized according to the conditions of the Muslim masses and had for example taught the full biography of the Prophet Mohammed by Ibn Hisham in their schools, then this would have been less of a gain than having the masses perpetually aligned in a state of religious anger."
It's worth a click and a few minutes reading. And keep in mind: the resistance to dialogue is not an anomaly: just a few moments ago, I heard a man on BBC interviewed in Cairo who blithely told the reporter that not only was dialogue a bad idea, but that the Danish government must---must---make an official apology to all Muslims, and that they should also pass a law banning the defamation of any religious figure. Think on that for a while, and see how it sits with you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Water In Space; Snow In San Francisco

These two articles today are equally unusual, surprising, and hard to believe: the first tells of the discovery of liquid water geysers on a moon of Saturn. And the next predicts snow atop Twin Peaks, here in the heart of the city.

I don't know about you, but I find both of these occurrences equally improbable, and equally notable. I haven't seen the Saturnian geysers---or Enceladusian geysers to be more accurate---but I can feel the icy wind here in San Francisco, and got caught in the near sleet-rain this evening on the way home.

If it snows tonight, I'm going to try and organize a snowball fight come morning.
Rumsfeld Descends Into The Subjunctive
"'The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the — from a security standpoint — have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to,' Rumsfeld said."
Still in denial. Sad. Sad for us, sad for the Iraqis, sad for the region, and sad for the progress of a secure global polity.

Read it and weep: Rumsfeld, Rice Say Iraq Not at Civil War
I Just Don't Get It

If Dr. Rice believes this -- that our greatest challenge in the immediate future is the rise of Iran's nuclear challenge -- then how on earth can she also claim to be wholly supportive of the US - India deal? One undermines the other. We may have built better ties with a needed ally and the largest democratic nation in the world, but it directly erodes what little leverage we have with Iran in the global arena to flex any strength. An exception for one is an example for all.

Her ability to say this:
"I know that there's a lot of focus on the civil nuclear deal, which is an important step forward, and I think really does bring India into the mainstream on non-proliferation policy."
Just boggles the mind. An exception to the treaty is "mainstream?" I wonder how the other 187 signatories to the non-proliferation treaty are feeling this week. And it's no wonder that the chief of the Iranian nuclear negotiation team felt quite at ease threatening retaliation against the US yesterday.

An exception for one is an example for all.

Rice says Iran may pose greatest challenge to U.S.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Calling All Dating Cynics

Considering the current state of my personal life and loves (single, dating, skeptical), I find this little essay quite funny. How many taquito moments have you lived through?

Monday, March 06, 2006

"I'm trying to think differently, not to stay stuck in the past."
--George W. Bush, President of the United States, in reponse questions regarding his recent nuclear agreement with India and its illegal contravention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

I've got to remember that argument the next time I do something really, really stupid, and illegal, and socially disreputable. If it's good enough for W....
Student Status Situations

A mixed bag today for students: first the good news for UC students from the California Superior Court. $33.8 millions to go back to the students who need it---rather than paying the undisclosed parachute payments to UC officials who have recently come under long-needed scrutiny.

Then there is the bad news for all students across the country: with the rise of costs for student loans, and the conscientious neglect of Pell Grants by the federal government, we are setting up a long term disaster on many levels: a generation of debtors, a rejection of investment in a white-collar workforce domestically, and the political and cultural subliminal message of the devaluation of education in general.

Let's just hope that there's more news like that from the CA Courts, and someone in Congress cares enough to push back against the removal from the budget of pro-student programs.
And While We're At It

If this is the future of Palestinian governance, we're in for rough times. In grasping toward new levels of political immaturity, having these guys on the international scene is a bit reminiscent of what it felt like to watch student electoral politics in 6th grade.

BBC NEWS: Hamas MPs curtail Abbas' powers
The Battle Is Joined

I've no idea what will be the final outcome in this contest; but for now South Dakota has joined my list of spots on this earth ruled by terrorists, fanatics, extremists, and politically motivated bigots.

South Dakota Governor Signs Abortion Ban - New York Times

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Democracy: Spread It Anywhere But Here

This Nixonian crackdown, coupled with the seeming co-option of the military by the ruling party as noted by Josh Marshall, is yet another signal that our republic is making the shift from democratic rule to imperial governance. It is a hard thing to take on a Sunday. I wonder how long it will be before the first indictment of a journalist under the Espionage Act...

Once again a well-intentioned goal destroyed by pathetically wrongheaded execution.