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, June 10, 2006

Dinosaur Metaphaur

If you have any interest in what direction the US economy is heading, read this piece by Niall Ferguson in tomorrow's NYT Magazine. Ferguson is once again on solid ground here, delving into economic trends and their impact on history---rather than his less solid (though still interesting) work where he leaves economics behind and waxes eloquent on contemporary political culture---and laying out the framework for a discussion on the contemporary state and future shape of US economics, debt, and monetary policy.

It's an introduction, so I forgive the extended dinosaur/diplodocus metaphor he beats to death through the chapter; at the same time, it's not at all a bad image.

Reasons to Worry - New York Times

Abbas has placed his rock next to Hamas' hard place:
Reuters: Abbas sets date for referendum opposed by Hamas
This should be a very tense and interesting month and a half in the Middle East...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More Good News
"U.S. officials cleared the new Merck & Co. Inc. vaccine called Gardasil for girls and young women ages 9 to 26. It blocks certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer."
'Nuff said. Another stunning and laudable step forward in women's health, in the fight against cancer, and in sexual health in general. And just in a by the way, the BBC is talking with folks who are saying that this is close to 100% effective---an astonishing claim, and to be taken with a grain of salt next to the more sedate (but still stunning) 70% claim provided by the Reuters report.

Reuters: First cervical cancer vaccine wins US approval.
The Da Vinci Humor

Thanks goodness: someone has written That Which Must Be Said. And it must be read to. Check it out, ripped straight from the pages of the Mail & Guardian:

Closing the book on the lousiest story ever sold
More Surprises

I really never thought I'd side up with Arlen Specter. But in this case I think he is dead on. It's protocol and form that maintain a government's structure; this is yet another example of Cheney's utter disdain for that truth:

GOP senator accuses Cheney of meddling / Specter says VP went behind his back.
A Martyr Made.

Bush calls it "justice done." We'll see what all this means in the next six months in Iraq.

Al Qaeda's Zarqawi killed.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Problem

In the California Democratic primary for gubernatorial candidates yesterday, it appears that Mr. Angelides (the current State Treasurer) has beaten Mr. Westly. Mr. Angelides drew slightly fewer than 1,000,000 votes (980,065 as of this morning) to Mr. Westly's 888,948 votes. So slightly fewer than two million people chose who will run against Arnold Schwarzenegger in the next election.

There are more than 7,000,000 registered Democrats in California.

There are more than 15,000,000 registered voters in California.

The future of the Democratic Party is being shaped by less than 30% of the Democrats.

The future of the the State is being shaped by less than 15% of the voters, and a mere 6% of the population.

I understand the apathy: we are being asked to choose between boiled cabbage or steamed cabbage, and none of us care for cabbage in the first place. But we still are faced, in the dearth of effective candidates, with the need to put someone in place to lead. Schwarzenegger has been less awful than he could have been, and far less effective and dynamic than anyone hoped. But can we afford another four years of his style of leadership?

My own impression is that Angelides will go down in flames against the Governator. He is neither appealing as a charismatic public figure, nor attractive as a policy maker. He provides no great visions (and California is always drawn to visionary populists), and his speeches are lackluster and provide little insight into anything distinguishing him from any other career politician. Arnold will outshine and outspend him, and even if by default, will be returned to office.

It is a disappointing process. We could hope for better. We deserve better. Where are our leaders for the next ten years, for the next generation?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On Civic Duty

I voted today, and it didn't feel good.

This was probably the most apathy-laden election and ballot -- primary or otherwise --that I have ever encountered. Some of it has to do with the field of California Democrats, most of whom I find insipid, or strident, or out of touch, or a bizarre mix of all three. There were some races where I simply could not in good conscience give my vote to anyone---and that is not something I am used to.

It is disappointing to see this state at such a dynamic and important crossroads in both its own and in Federal history letting the tide and slack carry it further and further into legislative stalemates and paroxysms of populism which lead nowhere. And for whomever of the lackluster candidates finds his way to being Governor---even Arnold again, if that turns out to be our fate---I only hope that some small, defiant sense of arrogance can capture them long enough to break the disastrous deadlock of political ineptitude and ineffectiveness in which we are now sadly caught.
Undermining The Republic, Signing Statement By Signing Statement.

Elizabeth Drew has outlined a clear and present danger to what makes this Republic something other than a spoiled and tyrannical hegemony:
James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47:
The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
That extraordinary powers have, under Bush, been accumulated in the "same hands" is now undeniable. For the first time in more than thirty years, and to a greater extent than even then, our constitutional form of government is in jeopardy.
If you value your freedom as an American, read this now: The New York Review of Books: Power Grab.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Fight Condi Needs To Win

Like Bush said after Abu Ghraib, "This is not America."

Stripping the Army Field Guide of the Geneva Convention ban on "humiliating and degrading treatment" (as the Pentagon and Rumsfeld want) sounds more like a country I want to flee from, than a country I want to support: LA Times: Army Manual to Skip Geneva Detainee Rule.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Oh. My. God.

So on my other blog (Things I Smelled Today) today, I clicked on and found this ad posted at the top:
Fishy Vaginal Odor?
Eliminate fishy vaginal odor in seven days guaranteed!
Is there no place that random ad generating algorithms won't go? Sheesh. Especially since this is definitely not one of the smells I have smelled recently...
Sullivan Nails It

Andrew Sullivan gets to the point with his Sunday Times article today. And I couldn't agree more; the president and his administration evade a sense of responsibility by some cognitive dissonance of who and what they are, and how their actions or inactions affect the nation and the world. You cannot pretend that things passively happen to you when you act as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. Things don't just happen: you make them so. Read this now:
Sunday Times: "The horrors really are your America, Mr Bush."