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, July 04, 2009

Oy.

Disturbing on so many levels:
The showstoppers Thursday night weren't the artist's famous works, but Manischewitz gelatin shots that - for better or worse - had visitors buzzing about the ubiquitous sweet kosher wine.

"Oh, yeah, it's a Jewish tradition," Lyora Zadik said as her friends spooned and slurped purple jelly from plastic cups. "At my bat mitzvah, I had to do 12 of them."

The shots - made of wine, vodka and grape gelatin - are all part of Oy Vey! Thursdays, one of the newest entries in San Francisco's expanding nighttime arts scene.
Yes, that's right. It's the latest social scene at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Sometimes it's been embarrassing to be a San Franciscan. Other times it's been equally embarrassing laying claim to membership in the American Jewish tribe. I do believe that this is the first time that I am equally mortified to be both.

I Could Have Told You That


Turns out that self-help mantras only help people who don't actually need help:
The researchers, from the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick, asked people with high and low self-esteem to say "I am a lovable person."

They then measured the participants' moods and their feelings about themselves.

In the low self-esteem group, those who repeated the mantra felt worse afterwards compared with others who did not.

However people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive self-statement...
Wishful thinking, when you know you are engaging in it, is disheartening at best. Now, if the psycho-babblers who sell this sort of crap would just shut up...Hmmm. Maybe now that he's in, perhaps Al Franken can sponsor a bill.

Sarah Palin, Richard Nixon, And Fallacious Comparisons


With the sudden announcement from the Governor of Alaska that she will be resigning from office before the end of the month, less than 2/3 of the way through her first term in office, there are dozens of theories as to why. But one of the most specious comparisons being made is to Richard Nixon in 1962, after losing the race for Governor of California (and for President two years previously). This meme has been picked up today by the NYT--in the front page lede, though not the content, of a piece by Adam Nagourney, and I imagine it is one the GOP will gladly trumpet. Nagourney debunks the idea (much like the commentary below), and yet they ran this as the lede:
Sarah Palin may be looking to the next few years to do what Nixon did to prepare for his successful run for the White House in 1968.
Whatever. I guess it's yet another case of journalism striking out at factual reporting. But let's consider the facts:

  1. Prior to running for, and losing, the races for President and Governor, Nixon had served as Congressional Representative from his home district, as Senator for California, and two full terms as Vice President to Eisenhower. Palin has served less than one term as governor, and three terms as Mayor of the town of Wasilla. She ran and lost the race for Lt. Governor prior to election to her present, about to be tossed aside, seat.


  2. Nixon had a distinguished career in college and at Duke Law, and went on to serve in the Navy as an officer in the war. Palin was a college drudge, bouncing between five schools before matriculating with a journalism degree (and a beauty contest award) to begin work as a sports reporter, and fishing with her husband.


  3. While Nixon famously dropped out of politics, only to return with an evil splash as President in 1968, he never resigned an elected public office prior to completing his term. Palin has dropped out suddenly by leaving the first high profile office she has ever attained, without good cause or reasonable warning.


Now, I'm no fan of Dick Nixon. But compared with the wack-nicity of Sarah Palin, he stands tall, towering regally above her----however disturbing that may be.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Uh-Oh


In the latest twist on Japanese teen pop fashion, apparently it is now hip for British youth to imitate Japanese kids imitating westerners by....putting on blackface:
Declan and Eilish say they have been accused of racism for darkening their skin in this way, but they say this could not be further from the truth.

Eilish insists that she is "not mocking anybody" and Declan asks, "what black person looks like this?"
Hmmm. And what black person ever looked like an Alabama boy covered in greasepaint?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Fascinating

It seems that now that the State is paying off all their debts in IOUs, it turns a deaf ear to those who need to return the favor: the State Board of Equalization is demanding cash payment from businesses for their tax bills, despite those selfsame businesses doing business with the State, and getting paid for that work in --- you guessed it --- IOUs.

It seems to me that if even the State of California won't honor State of California IOUs, right out of the gate, we aren't in a good place to see anyone else doing any differently.

Big Butt Nation

the BBC notes a new report that shows we all got fatter last year. The trending statistics are particularly disturbing (or damning, depending on how you want to take it): In 30 years, obesity levels have doubled.
In just one state - Colorado - was the adult obesity rate below 20%.

In 1991, no state had an adult obesity rate above 20%, and in 1980 the national average for adult obesity was 15%.
I was thinking about skipping the gym today, but now I'm having second thoughts.

Of course, the fact that there is a direct correlation between high levels of obesity and the boomer generation --- the most self-absorbed, consumerist, and egocentric generation of the last century --- is not really that surprising. But it isn't going to be fun paying for their lavish indulgences when the public health bills start rolling in.

I mean, look what they've provided us in the way of credit markets already!

UPDATE: Here are the State by State data.

I.O.U.

So California is paying in i.o.u.s beginning this week, since we can't get our budgetary act in gear.

In a way, it's surreal: it's as though Spain suddenly went bankrupt, and stopped paying everyone.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: our profligate and childish NIMBY attitudes and our self-interested pols are only part of the issue. We have brought this upon ourselves with the initiative process that allows a populist override of realistic legislation, and have built a tower of cards beginning with prop 13 and the supermajority for budget approval, and growing in unfunded expenditures and unintended consequences with every electoral cycle. A constitutional convention is in order.

We're Doomed

The ants are taking over the world.

Let's hope we don't head down the road describe by Clifford D. Simak, in his fabulous 1952 book, City.

First ants; next, talking dogs. We're doomed, I tell you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Apple Crisp?


For all my iPhone-y friends out there, here's some information you should know: apparently, the new 3.0 software for the iPhone is causing many of them to overheat. I recommend you pay attention and avoid having your phone explode while holding it next to your head.