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 17, 2006


I shoulda been born a racehorse....BBC: 'Averageness' key to great racehorses
Meshaal Speaks

"'We and the Zionists have a date with destiny. If they want a fight, we are ready for it. If they want a war, we are the sons of war. If they want a struggle, we are for it to the end.'"
I love it when groups like Hamas make statements like this. It makes for such hopeful assessments for success.

It will be interesting to see if the newly proposed cabinet slate for Palestine gets any support from Abbas, and even more, if any of the Hamas have the wherewithal to manage the positions with any success or aplomb.

Defiant Hamas draws up cabinet list

UPDATE: as for support from Abbas, I guess the answer is "no."
"This thing is larded with debt"
"On vote after vote in the House and Senate, lawmakers demonstrated the growing gap between their political promises to rein in spending and their need to respond to emergencies and protect politically popular programs. The votes followed last weekend's GOP leadership meeting in Memphis, at which virtually every speaker called on the party to renew its commitment to fiscal discipline and to control federal spending and the deficit."
Read about how we have found ourselves in this horrid place, where by necessity we are handing over the keys to our future to the nations who buy up our obscene debt: Congress Raises Ceiling for Borrowing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mission Accomplished

On the same day that the parliament meets, for an ineffectual 40 minutes.Let's hope things turn for the best: US says launches biggest air assault in Iraq.
Standing Tall

Along with Israel, Marshall Islands, and Palau---and abstainers Belarus Iran and Venezuela---the US once again aligns itself with the few and the evil. Rather than creating a new option for international human rights governance, we would rather go it alone, and keep our sanctimonious hypocrisy on Human Rights intact.

Another win for Ambassador Bolton, certainly.

UN creates new rights council over U.S. objections

"Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Or maybe you can: Bush restates pre-emptive doctrine
On The Road To Full Government Censorship

Well, maybe not "full." Let's say instead "politically driven" and be done with it. Read the article, and note: CBS gets fined; Fox does not. Both were cited.

What isn't mentioned in these write ups, but was on NPR this morning in interview, is that the reason for the CBS censure is that the scene in question "lasted longer than called for by the storyline." The interviewee noted wisely that it's a scary world where the scripts are written---and content, timing and pacing are dictated---by Washington, rather than by the writers and creative folks who make the shows.

As noted in WaPo:
"'The list of bad words is no longer limited to seven,' Crigler said. 'The commission is willing to proceed on the theory that there is some list of words that is so shocking in nature that they will be presumptively indecent regardless of the context.'"

Check it out here and here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

DARPA Strikes Again!

A typical Squad Leader Attack Cyber-Moth

This is brilliant. We are looking to breed spy bugs. Somehow I wonder if any of the people in the R&D group at Darpa ever bother to study the actual mechanics of the proposals they come up with, or if they just rent a bunch of bad sci-fi movies and write down
lists of all the things they see in them.

On the other hand, if they could make it work, ignoring the really scary ramifications of the plan in terms of eugenics and bio-ethics----

Comment For The Day

I find it, from a philosophical standpoint, fascinating and infuriating that a 'nation of laws' -- and one as litigious as we are -- currently has a government that is so inept at prosecuting under those laws. The collapse of the Moussaoui trial says worlds about the current state of the legal profession, the approach of the government to the war, to terrorism, and to the domestic rule of law, and about the remarkable conflict between the judicial and executive branches of the US government today.

First, that the government has watered down their case against Moussaoui progressively, until at last they were claiming mostly that he should have broken down and told somebody something about what he thought might happen. Not that he planned on doing anything himself, mind you. But even so, after repeated procedural violations of the sort lawyers love to use as excuses for delay or dismissal in most cases, but in this case seemingly used in flagrant disregard of the rules of the court in the belief that as government prosecutors of a terrorism suspect they were immune to admonishment, the whole thing fell apart yesterday. Witness tampering, collusion, and disregard of the court; not in some ancillary issue, but at the core beating heart of the government's case.

So, what does this say? First, how does this reflect on the war overall? If we cannot trust our government to effectively prosecute a case against a single man, on safe ground, in our own courts, under rules we have written ourselves, can we believe they are capable in any way of pursuing the fight on foreign shores, under duress and in questionable circumstance?

Next, the legal profession: we all take pot shots at lawyers, but we keep minting fresh ones. We are a litigious society, and the rewards for those who act as litigators can be (financially speaking) great. But if this is the level of expertise to which we expect them to rise, then I fear for the legal profession. The crass arrogance and sheer stupidity of these moves was noted by the judge, and are pretty clear to the rest of us (at least as reported).

Finally, that the government would allow such a high profile case to flaunt such disregard for the court and the presiding judge is yet another shameful example of the distaste the executive has these days for the power of the judiciary. A strong judiciary balances a powerful executive: this executive branch wants no balance, nor boundary. Happily for us, they have not yet dismantled the constitutional framework of their own power.

I'm no fan of seeing terrorists and criminals walk free on technicalities, but if the government cannot make a case against a once presumed accomplice in the 9/11 attacks, then what can they do on this front?

Federal Prosecutor Says 'No Point' in Continuing Moussaoui Trial

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Matisyahu: The Latest Blackface Offender

This has been bugging me for months: thank goodness someone has finally articulated what I've been finding so offensive from the first moment I heard this guy:
"The truth is, Matisyahu isn't really a novelty; his is the oldest act in the show-business book. Minstrelsy dates back to the very beginnings of American popular music, and Jews have been particularly zealous and successful practitioners of the art. From Irving Berlin's blackface ragtime numbers to Al Jolson's mammy songs; from jazz clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow, who passed as black, to Bob Dylan, who channeled the cadences of black bluesmen, to the Beastie Boys; successive generations of Jewish musicians have used the blackface mask to negotiate Jewish identity and have made some great art in the process."
As a music lover, a Jew, and a liberal, the sub-text and meta-text of this singer, his act, his popularity, and the skyrocketing sales being pushed along by his recording company, are all deeply disturbing. If he weren't in Hasidic garb, but just a white boy imitating black Jamaican singers, would we be as excited? What if he were to put on blackface? Would he still be as popular?

Read all of Jody Rosen's review here

Monday, March 13, 2006


No updates for a bit, despite all the news. Two major reasons: First, I've not been sleeping well or much, and feel a bit too groggy to make much sense right now. I'd rather be coherent here than the alternative. And also, I've cut my thumb, carving a chunk out of it with a piece of broken glass while putting out the trash, and I prefer not to bleed all over my nice clean keyboard.

So, apologies. More updates soon.