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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Serious Question

What is it that compels people to clip their nails while riding public transportation?

I mean, seriously now: what are they thinking?

Why I Hate My City Government

This article pretty much captures it.
When city officials cut street sweeping in more than 20 neighborhoods in August to save cash, they knew that the change would lead to a loss in revenue from parking tickets.

They probably didn't anticipate that the city would lose four times more money than it saved - money that would have gone to the struggling Municipal Transportation Agency, which is considering cutting transit service and increasing fares to balance its budget.

If that trend continues, the transit agency will be out more than $3.8 million per year in exchange for just $1 million in savings for the Department of Public Works.

The drop in revenue has some city officials questioning whether the cuts make sense.
There are so many things wrong with this, I don't know where to begin. When this idiocy was proposed, I was one of the squeaky wheel voices complaining to my supervisor at the time: it seemed like a stupid idea, and considering that SF streets are notoriously filthy, the reduction of cleaning seemed a poor savings method.

But did no one in our 24,000 people strong city government crunch numbers to see what the cost benefit would be with this measure? And now, they are just considering whether a 4:1 loss makes sense as a way to save money?

We are in desperate times, and our local leaders are grotesquely out of touch. Gavin Newsom, Supervisors (hello, Eric Mar, your district is hit hard by this, where the hell are you?), take note. It's the little things that make life bearable when times are tough. And times are tough right now. And if you guys can't connect the dots on how this has greater impact, I'd be happy to do it for you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Worse and Worse

This sickens me, far more than the knowledge of Cheney's or Rumsfeld's involvement:
As national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to OK use of the simulated drowning technique.
Somehow, despite what I know and what I've seen and lived through while she was in the administration, I still somehow expect more of Rice than this.

Torture For Nothing

...And destruction of democracy for free? From McClatchy (and the Levin report), we get this nugget of sickness:
A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.

"There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used," the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

"The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there."
If true, America went down the road of orwellian torture at the behest of Ahmed Chalabi and his dupes in order to prove an avowedly specious claim to help support a dubious decision of war. It's all too absurdist and demoralizing for words.