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 29, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"Few people can hate so bitterly and so self-righteously as the members of a ruling caste which is being dispossessed."

- T.H. White, The Ill-Made Knight

Friday, August 28, 2009

Solar Powered Roads

Straight from Slashdot, this cool technology alert.
The Solar Roadway™ is a series of structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon. The idea is to replace all current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels™ that collect and store solar energy to be used by our homes and businesses. This renewable energy replaces the need for the current fossil fuels used for the generation of electricity. This, in turn, cuts greenhouse gases literally in half.
It seems that this company has just received funding from the Department of Transportation to do some proof of concept development.

It's pie in the sky stuff, but if it worked, and was economically viable....wow. How cool would that be?

Then again, we could have a huge impact as well by just painting our roofs white.

The Silver Lining

Snow Leopard Photo: New York Times
Something good and beautiful coming out of the wracked country of Afghanistan: the photo (above) of a Snow Leopard, caught on film by a camera trap in its wild habitat in northeastern Afghanistan and published this evening by the New York Times.

The Evening's Cocktail

Too hot for anything fancy, and I've no Pimm's in the house, so...

Gin Buck
    1 1/2 oz. Junipero gin
    1/4 lime
    4 oz. Ginger Beer

fill a highball glass with ice. Add your gin. Squeeze the lime and drop in the glass. Add Ginger Beer. Stir briefly. Enjoy.

Hammock, sea breeze, and floopy hat optional.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

At Last, The Truth Will Out

"The question isn't whether you're a douche bag when you go to college. We were all kind of douche bags when we went to college, if we're going to be honest about it. No, the question for America's youth is: What kind of douche bag do you aspire to be?"
And so begins the show of the douchbaggiest colleges in America.

Am I Blue?

At last: a scientific theory that lends a silver lining to the cloud of depression. Apparently, we have better analytical thought processes when we are depressed:
Depressed people often think intensely about their problems...Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.

This analytical style of thought, of course, can be very productive. Each component is not as difficult, so the problem becomes more tractable. Indeed, when you are faced with a difficult problem, such as a math problem, feeling depressed is often a useful response that may help you analyze and solve it.

...Laboratory experiments indicate that depressed people are better at solving social dilemmas by better analysis of the costs and benefits of the different options that they might take.
Us glum folks are excellent critical thinkers. Always have been. Perhaps part of the cause of our depression though, is the inability of so many others to take that aspect of our communications seriously. Perhaps now more people will start to let themselves be a bit less chipper all the time, and start thinking as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weighing In On Health Care

I have been trying to avoid the current healthcare debate, mainly because the hyperbolic rhetoric in use on all sides disgusts me profoundly. But this piece in today's NYT just got me twisted up. McCain, unable to say exactly how or why, declares to an accepting and complacent media machine that "a public plan would cause many Americans to lose their private health insurance." Others conitnue to claim that the coverage of discussions with my doctor on my certain eventual death, and how I want to approach it with dignity for myself and my family, encourages euthanasia.

Sorry. The lack of reality-based discussion in this, or even frankly faith-based discussion on this, is killing me.

I say only this: follow the money. For every congressman, every politician who declares against reform, I suggest they let us know how much financial support they have received in the last five years from the insurance industry. And if they have received funding from religious lobbies, or so-called "conservative" lobbies, or lobbies concerned with the social fabric of America, let them tell us how much money those organizations have received from the insurance industry in the last five years.

This is not about health care. This is about the for-profit insurance industry's control of the distribution and delivery of health care.

Opponents complain that private insurance couldn't compete against the low cost of a government plan. At the same time, they complain that the government can't afford to run a plan. But...if the government can provide health care that competes effectively against the market, why shouldn't it succeed? And why on earth does anyone think that government plans would be free? We pay now, we'd pay for a "public option." You can't complain about both.

Follow the money. This is about power consolidation, and fear. It has nothing --- nothing --- to do with the health of Americans.