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.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shocking Surprise Headline News Alert!

Gavin Newsom announces his candidacy for Sacramento Democratic Booby Prize CA Lt. Governor!

OK, OK, we all knew he was going to go there, ever since he had his moment of petulance after realizing there was no way in hell he was ever going to be the Dem nominee for governor. But really: as far as I can tell, Gavin has spent 4 of his six years in the Mayor's office running for something else. Sadly, that has not been beneficial to the city which elected him. Even more unfortunately, those first two years were looking pretty good, all things considered.

I appreciate his ambition, and the political and personal calculus behind his move, but I am far less appreciative of his inability to focus on the job at hand in a manner that provides the kind of massive political heft and action that San Francisco demands today.

He'll make a fine Lt. Governor. then again, I'd make a fine Lt. Governor. Emperor Norton would have made a fine Lt. Governor. I suspect we could even elect one of these guys to the office and we'd be fine.

I hope the position provides some mental space for our erstwhile mayor to sort out what happens next.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Public School. Private Cost.

Using the same debunked logic that was applied to CEO and executive compensation in the last decade ("we have to pay them top dollar or above in order to retain the best people"), the University of California is now looking to raise student fees at their professional schools.
"Stereotypes of wealthy doctors, lawyers and business professionals are contradictory to the realities of average starting salaries in today's times," according to a lengthy objection to the proposed policy written by the UCLA Graduate Students Association.

Law students graduate with an average debt load of $92,937, yet recent graduates earn a median salary of just $62,500, the statement says, citing a 2008 report from the National Association for Law Placement.

The students also make the point that with such high debt, many graduates are unable to work in public service. But UC's interim provost, Larry Pitts, said the prestigious university is forced to compare itself with private schools to remain competitive.
This is a farce. UC is desperate to find revenue centers to shore up its debt. That's real, and a crisis. But couching it in these terms, and putting it on the backs of students, is both disingenuous and destructive. If we wish to maintain world class institutions, then the answer is not to increase the cost to students, thereby decreasing the intellectual pool and reducing the outcomes to a single, narrowing class of graduates. It's like the lemonade stand that, unable to make a living selling $0.50 glasses of lemonade, ups the price to $5.00 per glass, in order to make up the deficit.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Turning Tide?

Facing the wrath of not only their customers, but the federal regulators, could it be that the big banks are about to start crafting business models that are supportive of their customers?

Bank of America hints that the answer might be yes.

An impressive and laudable response to the potential of a congressional Sword of Damocles, I suppose. But if this is what it takes to move service industry businesses toward more consumer-friendly models, then I don't care: bring it on!

Trust The Markets

Following the start of the President's calling out the GOP and promoting the reality of the health care reform package in a more public (read: loud and clear, finally) manner, Intrade now has Health Care Reform trading at 62.5 for passage - up from last week's 48.


What I Want For My Birthday This Year

FTW, the Martin Jetpack is finally available for public purchase. At a mere $90K, who can afford not to own one?

I know it's geeky but it's just so incredibly cool.