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, January 13, 2012

Questions For The Day

So, after my cursory reading of the morning headlines, I'm left with two simple questions:

  1. Will our obstructionist congress allow Obama to move ahead with his plan to act on consolidating federal bureaucracies, or will they bloviate about the unreasonable extension of executive power, or something of the like? 
  2. Now that the state has had to come out and say what we've all known for years --- that PG&E is criminally negligent in its actions, and has been since at least 1956 --- and is looking to ding them for hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, will PG&E cry poverty, and go to the state regulatory commission to request that these costs be passed on to the customers (including those survivors of the deadly 2010 blast which instigated the whole process, of course), or will the State have the balls to demand that the shareholders actually take the downside of their risk for once, and eat the cost the way they should (if capitalism worked the way it is supposed to)? 
I'm afraid I'm not too hopeful about the outcome in either case.

 Happy Friday, and Happy MLK Jr. Weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quote For The Day

 "Mitt has the character of a private equity investor: a constant, reptilian assessment of self interest and opportunity."  
   -Andrew Sullivan, posting to give props to Ron Paul as the "candidate of character and integrity."
Now, I'm not sure about Mitt. But I think Sullivan nails the capitalist ideal dead on.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Call, Speak, Vocalize, Listen.

This study suggests that there really is a problem with our heavy reliance on texting and other non-voice methods of communication. While it isn't a surprise that there is a cognitive difference between our reactions to a known voice and to a written text from that same person via a digital device, being able to break it down to the level of neuroendocrine response is pretty notable.

In any case, if you're feeling stressed, call your mother --- don't text her.

Gimme Some Money

A really egregious business model is offered up in this new rapaciously anti-community, anti-consumer, truly Randian even-more-than-the-market-will-bear car service model using "dynamic pricing". The service is called "Uber" -- perhaps a Nietzschean reference -- and it isn't pretty:
Although New Year’s Eve was very profitable for Uber, customers were not happy. Many felt the pricing was exorbitant and they took to Twitter and the Web to complain. Some people said that at certain times in the evening, rides had spiked to as high as seven times the usual price, and they called it highway robbery. Uber’s goal is to make the experience as simple as possible, so customers are not shown their fare until the end of the ride, when it is automatically charged to their credit card.
The NYT blog post on this hints at the evil in the model. I hope this gives pause to such current trands as dynamic parking pricing, and other civic experiments of that ilk. There is a limit to the viability of unabashed greed costumed as market principles. 

A Bad, Even Destructive Idea

....and really great news---for Mitt Romney.

I imagine that Bill Keller's op-ed in the NYT today had Romney's team more gleeful than anything since that picture of the Bain partners steeping their greed hardons in hundred dollar bills.

The idea of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton swapping places as VP and Secretary of State is just about the most destructively bad idea I can think of for the Democrats who live more than 25 miles from Washington DC, and frankly, for the administration in general and for the liberal side of politics in general. Perhaps Keller has too many glittering stars exploding in his eyes to see it, but this would leave us with a VP who is hugely despised by a large swath of the nation, and a Secretary of State who has about as much diplomacy in his actions (think Biden-isms, here, folks) as a late night comic with tourette's.

Oh well. I guess it's just politics.