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, October 08, 2009

Muni Fail II

This time, apparently, no one had a cellphone:
Police say Borgzinner suffered orbital bone fractures under both eyes and other injuries when four men beat him at about 5:45 p.m. Monday on the northbound bus near 11th and Howard streets...Police have made no arrests. A spokeswoman, Sgt. Lyn Tomioka, said the gang task force is waiting to see whether Muni can supply video from surveillance cameras on the bus.

Muni has not always been able to do so.
And all because he was wearing the wrong color shoes. I guess that's about as good as bogarting a seat, or being 11 years old.

SF Muni Fail

From Youtube, to Matier&Ross's local gossip column, straight to you: the fight of the week on the Muni 20 line through Chinatown. After last month's near fatal stabbing of an 11 year old child, and the inability to track down the perpetrator who walked off the bus observed by all passengers and the driver --- and Muni's admission after that not only was the camera on that bus non-functional, but that many if not most of the security cams on the coaches are DOA --- this cellphone movie of a much smaller altercation (call it Muni catfight Lite) should be the start of a trend. I hope we see more of this exposed in the coming months: there is no lack of available material. Some highlights to look for in the clip:

  • The total inaction by all other passengers to try and stop the fight (as opposed to the alte kockers who actually encourage it ---see translation below) until the young woman steps in at the end to break things up,
  • The Muni official in the yellow vest outside the bus doing absolutely nothing as the fight ends,
  • The fare jumper sneaking on the back of the bus past the Muni yellowjacket near the end of the clip.
And for your enjoyment, for those of you who don't speak Cantonese, here is the supposed translation of what is being said (thanks to commentor waaaahhh on Matier&Ross's blog)
Chinese Lady: (0:09): This bitch got the nerve to yell at me for me asking her politely if i may sit down. (0.48): If that bitch didn't want to let me sit down don't mean she got to bitch at me. (0:59): I didn't yell at you bitch why you going off on me. If I don't stand up for myself, she won't get scared. (1:44): Dare to pick on chinese people?
(2:05): This bitch hogging the seat and I asked nicely if I may sit and that bitch kept hogging the seat. She has no heart, always bullying chinese people.
Old Man#2(1:26): Hit that bitch.
Old Man#3(1:33): Beat that bitch ass.
Old Lady#2(1:37): Don't fight no more.
Old Man#2((1:59): Beat the f*@# out of her!
This sort of thing is all too common on the SF Muni system. And that the driver completely ignored the incident is all to common as well. If we are actually a "transit first" city, then the "first" thing we need to do is provide some level of efficiency in our transit options. We can probably endure expensive, and slow. But expensive, slow, unpleasant, and dangerous all at once is a bit much to take.

Are we mad as hell? Are we going to take it any more?

Quote For The Day II

“We’re already hearing from some high-ranking Republicans that we shouldn’t do that — that’s helping the president,” Mr. Dole said. He added that these included one “very prominent Republican, who happens to be the Republican leader of the Senate.”
That's Bob Dole (yes, that Bob Dole) regarding his issuing a joint statement with former Dem leader Tom Daschle in support of the Health Care Reform being put forward by the Democrats.

The gulf between Mitch McConnell (the aforementioned "very prominent Republican") and the GOP's general attitude of killing anything that's "helping the president", and that of Bob Dole, who apparently still believes that the GOP is operating or at least is intended to operate as an effective counterbalance to the Democratic majority, is wide and apparently un-navigable.

Cutting off your nose to spite your face has never been a good strategy. Apparently the Republican leaders have yet to get that memo.

Quote For The Day

When nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, we began wars and were willing to devote more than $1 trillion in additional expenses. Yet about the same number of Americans die from our failed insurance system every three weeks.
Nicholas Kristof, commenting on Congressional obstinacy in the face of reality.

To this I would add yet again: for those who argue against a public option, saying that it would unfairly compete with the existing insurance market---how do you square that with a belief in free market viability? If the market is so anemic as to be incapable of competing against a single government entity in a whirlwind of actors, then it deserves to fail. And to have a better, more robust competitive market take its place. And if it is robust, and worthy of keeping (which is basically what the other side is arguing), then it should easily be able to absorb and adjust to the entry of a "public option". You can't have it both ways.

Slow Days

It's a slow day in the news so far, with just our usual deadening dose of suicide bombers, 2nd amendment failures, nobel prizes, and Gavin Newsom schadenfreude to balance out the morning cuppa tea.

On the other hand, it was 40 years ago this week that Monty Python first rocked the world. I wish that I had aged as well as the sharp absurdity of the boys from Oxbridge Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam*, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman.

(*OK OK Gilliam went to neither Oxford nor Cambridge, but to Occidental, still: at our age the memory ain't what it used to be.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dumbest Pirates Ever.

Apparently these Somali priates can't tell a French warship from a cargo carrier. Just for the record:

This is a cargo carrier:

This is a (French) warship:

You'd think the total lack of shipping containers, as well as the big-ass guns protruding from the hull, would give it away...

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Berlusconi no longer above the law.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Personal Tech Geek Interlude

My computer died the other day.

I've been running a Dell notebook for the last 2.5 years, and I really do like it --- when it works. Unfortunately, it's always had quirks that make it a frustrating machine. This isn't that unusual for either a PC or a Dell, but in this case, it manifested in a few ways. First, the machine runs hot. Really, really hot. This is apparently a known "issues" for Dell, but not one they decided to address. basically, they souped up the notebook models like mine with super-duper hotshot video for watching movies and playing games and all, but never really thought too much about the long term impact of not being able to effectively cool the units.

The other issue is some memory conflict in the way the machine uses wireless and bluetooth, and how that interrupts the super hot video card memory access.

Anyway, after a year or so of occasional freezes and BSOD, the other evening while watching the latest episode of Heroes on Hulu (don't judge, please, we all have our vices), the screen glazed over with weird Matrix-ey red wavy lines. They went away when I killed the video playback, but returned with a vengeance when I tried again.

And then The Machine Died.

I've been cruising along for nearly a week now without any connectivity at home. And I finally knuckled down and ordered a new Mac, since this is the last time I want to deal with the collapse of a Dell in my hands before its third birthday.

So, you might ask, how am I posting this now? I'll tell you: In a geeky effort to resuscitate the machine for the time until my new Mac arrives, I tried something that someone posted on a forum. It seemed counter-intuitive, but, what to lose?

So, I slowly and somewhat carefully tore open my notebook, and after a few grueling hours, removed the video card and heat sink. I cleared the dust from the fans and heat sink, and then....I took the video card (just like the guy in the forum said), and popped it in the oven at 400 degrees for about ten minutes. Apparently that helps to reflow the solder, and reconnect whatever has been fried.

Another hour to cool the card, and put the notebook back together (and I only lost two screws. Not bad for me), and then....

Fiat mirabilis! It boots! After only three tries! I am amazed.

I have no idea how long until it craps out again --- I doubt this kluge will hold for long. But as long as it does, I will be a happy geek.

Quote For The Day

"San Francisco may be the greatest city in the entire country" on issues of environment and energy conservation," said Bill, "and it may be because of (Newsom's) leadership." [emphasis added]
That's Bill Clinton, officially (and subjunctively) endorsing Gavin Newsom in the run for California Governor. I can't think of a better way to damn the mayor with faint praise, even from a master such as Bill Clinton.

I think that it is going to take a lot more than this to make Gavin viable as a potential State leader.