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, August 26, 2006

The View From One Year On

Well, it's a year since the Katrina disaster, Burning Man is upon us again, and the world is, while not in crisis, in a fit of discomfiture that could lead to nearly anything. Iran is starting up their nuclear reactor in defiance of the US, Europe is pledging troops to Lebanon, but there is still little in the way of rules of engagement, and feet on the ground there are still far away; a college student "accidentally" packs a stick of dynamite in his airline luggage, while a small boy who is disgruntled about having to fly with his parents shouts to the TSA folks "I have a bomb strapped to my leg!"

Iraq festers, and the warmongers spin the new rationales for a strike against Tehran.

And on and on. There is an overarching pattern here, and it isn't one of crisis, nor of hope: we are at a point globally where the rules we have followed for the last 70-80 years are losing their validity, and the vacuum has yet to be replaced with a functioning body of coherent laws for action. In Lebanon this summer we saw clearly that even in the microcosm of a single conflict, this is the case: Hizbullah (and presumptively Iran and Syria as well) engaged in a game where the rules that had been in place had been changed. But they didn't see that, and their opponent saw no reason to clarify: Israel has been in all actuality, pretty good about announcing when they are changing the rules they play by (for better or worse). Another example is the mess the US made of Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo. And in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and elsewhere, people like bin Laden and groups like al Qaeda have their own set of rules they wish to see as the set matrix for the global near future. The question remains though, as to whose new rules will endure.

I think that Burning man is an apt symbol for this: a group of people attempting to alter the rules of engagement on a sociocultural level, but at the same time epitomizing what much of the world external to that culture (Western, American, pluralistic) sees as the failure of these times: sexual promiscuity, self-indulgence, pagan fetishism, etc. I suspect that if it weren't so damn far out in the desert, Black Rock City would be a prime target for terrorism. Of course, it wouldn't have quite the impact that other attacks might: there are plenty of mainstream Middle Americans who would likely quietly pleased if a few hundred thousands freaks, artists, tribalists, and grungy un-christian exhibitionists were done in...

Friday, August 25, 2006

And You Thought It Was A Free Market World...
"Since the beginning of this summer, at least a half-dozen companies, including eBay and Nike, have disclosed in their routine Securities and Exchange Commission filings that they're now protecting their executives from real estate market forces. The terms in the filings vary—'protection against loss'; 'loss protection'; and 'price protection'—but the meaning is the same: They are essentially guaranteeing that executives' homes will sell for a good price. In other words, companies that depend on free markets are making sure their own executives are safeguarded from them."
You know, it isn't the idea of the perks that rankles me; that the guys at the top of the heap are able to grab more is part of why they are at the top of the heap in the first place. It's the shameless hypocrisy of demanding an open market while at the same time subverting it that gets me.

Read it all, and let your bile rise: The latest infuriating perk for corporate executives. By Michelle Leder - Slate Magazine

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Do Not Trust The Intelligence Of Those You Have Elected

Matthew Yglesias notes today at Talking Points Memo the following absurdity, which doubtless passed the scrutiny of countless congressional busybodies:
"Thanks to a reader's observation, I find myself reading the House Intel report (PDF) on Iran and wondering why the missile range graphic shows the missiles being fired from Kuwait rather than, say, Iran. Note also that the outer circles describes the range of a missile that doesn't exist."
It's lovely. The House Report is here. The graphic with Iranian missile threats (real and imaginary) emanating from Kuwait is on page 15.

This is politicized warmongering at its very worst: not only incorrect, but demanding better 'intelligence' from other agencies at the same time as it exposes its own utter lack of same.
Maybe It's a Planetina? A Planetette?

This may wreak havoc with my astrological chart...
BBC:Pluto loses status as a planet.
A Small Step Toward Sanity

So Plan B has at last been approved--for 18 and over. I can't really see any downside to this decision, though I do expect we will soon be hearing about more christianist pharmacists refusing to provide access to the drug to either OTC customers or minors with prescriptions. But at least it is a move in the (to my mind) right direction.

‘Morning After’ Pill Is Cleared for Wider Sales - New York Times

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Assad Has His Say

While the rest of the international community is scrambling to get the troops along Lebanese borders, Syria has a different take on things:
"Syrian President Bashar Assad was quoted as saying he would consider such a deployment along the Lebanon-Syria border a 'hostile' move toward his country.

'First, this means creating a hostile condition between Syria and Lebanon,' Assad told Dubai Television, according to excerpts released by the TV station ahead of the broadcast. 'Second, it is a hostile move toward Syria and naturally it will create problems.'"
In a way, I can see his point: deployment along the Lebanon-Syria border is tacit acceptance by the UN that Syria is actively supporting Hizbullah, and continued military and/or terrorist activity within Lebanon. After the kick in the ass they had getted booted out of the country already, this might feel a bit like a slap in the face. A deserved one, but a slap nonetheless.

Read: AP: Syria warns against deployment of troops.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Updates

I've been up on the Russian River and its environs over the weekend, and after such a pleasant time diving and rafting and eating and drinking, I've little interest in commenting on the crappy ass state of the world. Listening to the presidential press conference this morning didn't help, either. I guess I've just got enough personal confusion and stress going on that the world's woes seem slightly less disastrous to me right now. Among the random issues consuming my mind: I heard from my credit card fraud division this morning. It seems someone got hold of my credit card number, and has been (unsuccessfully, thank goodness) trying to purchase any amount of software and online goodies over the last four days. It doesn't give a body a warm fuzzy feeling. That, and the fact that I've had to shut the ringer on my land line off due to the repeated calls from random strangers at all hours...

Sigh. Anyone got some good news out there?