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, February 27, 2010

Movie Review: Inglorious Basterds

Two hours and twenty six minutes of my life that I will never get back.

Well, not really: there were at least eight cinematic minutes worth the time spent.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Random Thoughts

Culled from my own mullings on current events, and the headlines of the recent news.

  • Rape is never a "teachable moment". Calling it "inappropriate sexual behavior" doesn't help.

  • When unions vote to reject collective bargaining, then the labor movement has jumped the shark.

  • Honesty is cheap, and realism is hard. We seem to prefer our lives easy, with the whiff of high cost all around us.

  • It's not that the city of San Francisco is ungovernable. It's just that those we ask to govern it are incapable of doing so. Not so much the State of California.

  • You can't end corruption, and you can't stop crime. All you can do is try to live as a decent person.

  • Summits don't help. Leadership does.

Quote For The Day

It’s lamented that the youth get their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. [But it's even more] lamentable that they get more from them than from the news. Both guys cover books on broad subjects. The “real” news gives Sarah Palin’s book as much time as if it were important. You could almost get the idea she had actually written it.
---Dick Cavett.

Yoo's Missing 18½ minutes Emails

I find it funny that the parallel is so obvious, and yet no one is willing to just come out and say it: somehow, there is a gap in the record that covers exactly the time in question, when Yoo et al. were formulating the framework for their torture memos. The emails prior are there. The emails afterward are there. But not a single soul in journalism wants to come out and say that this has a Watergate stink about it.

Oh, a few bloggers, maybe. But no one else. And yes, the DoJ is at fault here, and they should know more clearly than anyone that the coverup (or the impression of one) is always far worse than the crime itself.

Yoo and Bybee are to blame not for war crimes, but for being awful lawyers, and providing poor advice to the leaders of the nation, and thus being complicit in their immoral and/or illegal actions. But those within the government who demanded the outcomes they received, and those who have tried to hide the evidence of that action, are more culpable by far.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering

From the Personal Injury Q&A blog:
"[T]here were 3,021 non-fatal injury collisions involving [San Francisco] Muni vehicles in 2007. This number is the second lowest annual total in the last decade. However, while the trend may seem positive, it's disturbing to note that the number of fatal collisions rose 50 percent from 28 deaths to 42 from 2006 to 2007."
Seems we are definitely on target this year for excellence in achievement on this issue.

Muni Meltdown version 2.0? It's been a decade since the last disaster...

A Little Sunshine

There needs to be more local reporting like this:
Oakland parking officers were ordered to avoid enforcing neighborhood parking violations in two of the city's wealthier neighborhoods but told to continue enforcing the same violations in the rest of the city, according to a city memo obtained by The Chronicle.
This kind of action is politics at its lowest: a reinforcement of economic (and in Oakland, by inference race) prejudice that is inexcusable. Even worse that the the senior supervisor with whom the prejudicial policy appears to have originated, Ronald Abernathy, has only this to say: "I don't answer any media questions."

My hope? That this guy (or whomever is finally responsible) gets demoted, that the policies are changed to be uniform across the city, and that more public employees are emboldened to speak up when they see officials who are paid by our tax dollars acting despicably.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No End To Stupid, Part Deux

There's a proposal afoot in CA to try to tax online sales; ignore for the moment that implementing this without federal governance or compact with other states would throw the online commerce world into disarray. Ignore too that it would have an enormously negative impact on current business in the State. Think just about the raw numbers.

California took in an estimated $37 billion in sales tax in 2008-09. that's about a quarter of the total revenue for the State. We currently have a budget deficit of about $20 billion.

Taxing online sales would bring in an estimated $150 million.

That's about 0.008% of our total revenue, and about 0.75% of the deficit.

For less than one percent coverage of our trouble, the state is ready and willing to disrupt the underpinning of effective commerce for the state.

Perhaps the promoters of this idea have been drinking too much house-infused limoncello....

No End To Stupid

Apparently, we've gone beyond disallowing eggs in our caesar salad dressing, and cheese made fresh from unpasteurized milk. Now we can't let herbs steep in a bottle of vodka. According to the California State Thought Police ABC:
Rectification is any process or procedure whereby distilled spirits are cut, blended, mixed or infused with any ingredient which reacts with the constituents of the distilled spirits and changes the character and nature or standards of identity of the distilled spirits.
As one commenter on Bauer's blog gamely notes, this could easily be interpreted to effectively outlaw the serving of any mixed drink at all.

I'm all for effective health regulation, and control of dangerous substances. But this is a stupidity beyond belief: at a time when the State is effectively bankrupt, we continue to find money to enforce laws which do nothing except enhance revenue for companies conferring little or nothing to the coffers of the State. 900 pink slips went out to schoolteachers in SF today, but we still can afford to have ABC officers sniffing around restaurants and bars, looking to disrupt what is a viable and effective business that generates revenue for California and promotes small business?

Sacramento: can we please change this law?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SF MUNI Update

January 5.
January 29.
February 7.
February 8.
February 9.
February 18.
February 22.
February 23.

Those are the dates (by my quick reckoning) of the reported Muni accidents that caused either injury or significant property damage since the start of this year.

That's eight reported crashes. And this is week eight of the current year.

I suspect if I crashed my car once a week to cause either death, dismemberment, hospitalization, or property damage, I wouldn't be allowed to drive for very long. Granted, it isn't just one vehicle and one driver here; but then again, this is what Muni does. They drive.

I'm curious: does any other major metropolitan center in the US currently have a worse accident record? Or is San Francisco taking the lead on that, along with cost/performance ratios?

Late Update: Make that nine.