Life Intrudes

Well, it has been slow around here at the virtual YPS of late. Out in the real world, things proceed apace. I haven't done much posting recently because I just changed jobs. I went from the lowly world of being an individual contributor, albeit with a supervisory role, into the lofty world of management. I am now a Project Manager instead of a lowly Project Engineer. The difference? More paperwork and a 10% raise to go with the magic title. Plus a shorter commute. Plus I don't have to spend my time wondering when my boss was going to stab me in the back again. Not if, mind you, but when. The employment situation is definitely better. All kinds of good reasons to change jobs and no good ones to stay, so I left.

However, that means less time to screw around on the internet and write blog posts. One gives certain things up in exchange for other things. It is the way of the world.


Living Memory

Memory is a funny thing. Things can hide in the back parts of your brain for years and you can forget they ever were. Then something comes along that sparks the right neuro-chemical pathway and it wakes up. Sometimes it’s a happy pleasant memory. Other times, not so much. Either way, the memories exist and are very real. We are all collections of our memories, and they affect us.

I bring this up because I found a web page during my self-referential googling on Friday. My former unit commander has a web page about a friendly fire incident during the first Gulf War. The page was interesting, if somewhat unsettling, reading. I don’t have first hand knowledge of everything he says. However, where my experience overlaps his account, everything he says matches my personal knowledge or recollection of events.

The final conclusion of the story is one of the reasons that many veterans fell a deep ambivalence about their military service. He got hung out to dry to protect other higher-ranking officers. Anybody that’s ever served can recognize this pattern. The worst part of it? He was an excellent officer. He focused on what was important and tried to keep the bullshit to a minimum.

I guess in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I was CPT Friesen’s HMMWV driver before we deployed to the Gulf. Due to a long and not very interesting chain of events, I was reassigned to a line platoon before deployment and then after deployment I ended up back in Headquarters Platoon. At the time of the incident, I was the First Sergeant’s track driver. All of the people involved at the troop level are familiar to me.



I'll admit it. I occasionally put my name in quotes and Google it to see if anything exists out on the web about me. So far, nothing has. Apparently, I am completely uninteresting. I can, however, find references to my grandfather on the web, which is bizarre considering he died in 1987.

Still, I find it amusing when I can come across passages like this one:
I can't believe what a jerk he is.
Damn. Is it something about the name?


See The Future

One of the benefits of subscribing to Netflix is that you can get movies that would be difficult to find locally. Last week Metropolis arrived in the mail.

Thematically and plotwise, it’s your basic industrial dystopia, albeit with a happy ending. The proletariat is kept in underground barracks and works on the machines that power the gleaming city of light of the upper classes. The upper classes live in huge monolithic towers and never see the poor proles. The whole thing is reminiscent of the vision of Wells in The Time Machine. I’d guess the world of Von Harbau is a preliminary stage to the Morlocks and the Eloi. Of course, our slightly creepy hero saves the day by being the heart that connects the head and hands. The savage vision of the future wherein the fiendish workers devour the idle classes is averted.

All old school dystopias like this never foresaw the benefits of automation. So you end up having these huge machines being tended by guys who sit and flip very large switches all day. From a modern standpoint, it’s pretty comical. The technology and the need for these vast masses of proles living underground don’t hold up well. It’s an issue with most pre-WWII science fiction. Anytime you focus too hard on the technology, it won’t hold water down the road. There’s an old Asimov story that is similar, about putting men on cruise missiles for guidance. Miniaturized electronics made the whole thing kind of absurd, although the underlying theme still works. Similarly, the idea of people working away as a cheap biological control system for huge machines seems goofy today.

However, what Fritz Lang did manage to do was present a compelling visual picture of the future. The style of Metropolis is wildly influential. A lot of the visual trappings have showed up everywhere since then. Hell, if Machine Man isn't C3PO's daddy, I'll eat a robot. Similarly, the towers and the huge cityscapes are the blueprint for every overcrowded megalopolis since then. Fritz Lang did a hell of a job given the available technology.

Some of the scenes probably had more impact in the 20s. There’s one scene where Brigitte Helm (playing the robot impersonating Maria) is doing a striptease act with tassles on her nipples. I laughed so hard I almost peed myself. The movements she was doing were so far removed from anything I would consider to be sexy the dance became ludicrous.

Overall, I can see what the fuss is all about. It’s a hugely important milestone in sci-fi cinema. Plus, you get to giggle all through the movie because a major character’s name is “Rotwang”.



The future, as envisioned by the artists of my childhood, is rapidly coming to pass. Fujitsu is now making electronic paper. This is pretty damn cool. All possible technical issues aside, the gadgets are finally catching up to where I want them to be.

Now to get the flying car to market. I want to use my wireless paper to surf the web while J drives the Skycar to Nola.


A lot of jurisdictions had an immediate reaction to Kelo. In most places, the first reaction was to grab some property. Here where I live, we have an even better one: the city is trying to eminent domain property from the school district. You can’t beat this for a sordid little tale of intergovernmental squabbling.

I do so appreciate events like this for comedic value.



Our sympathy and condolences go out to all.


Something about that as a headline amuses me greatly, but I’m not sure what it is. Anyhow, Radley Balko has an article from earlier in the week denouncing some of the more egregious nonsense to come out of the Supreme Court lately. Yes, I mean Kelo and Raich. Mr. Balko has a firmer grasp of the purpose of the Constitution than the learned folk who sit on the Supreme Court, to wit:
The Constitution's purpose is to outline what rights we give to the government, and to firmly define the limits of government power.
The essential fact of limits to government power has been lost in the verbiage of late.

He also has another website apart from his main one called Spurlock Watch. In case you weren’t paying attention, Morgan Spurlock is the dolt who ate at McDonald’s every day for a month and made himself a movie in the process. The central fact of the movie and how he went about it proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, what a twit he really is. However, he is apparently riding his newfound fame into a career pushing more idiocy.

I mention this because the last jackass that went this route was Michael Moore. The route goes like this: make horrible faux documentary, convince people you’re smart, push misinformation and propaganda on the public. While Mr. Spurlock would have to continue overeating at McDonald’s to rival Mr. Moore in girth, he could attain comparable influence. I’m against having more clueless twits yammering and trying to convince people up is down and white is black, so I’d like to see Mr. Spurlock STFU. Pointing out the idiocy and non-logic of his positions is one way to accomplish the goal.

H/t to GWA.45 since somebody didn’t plug his Fox news piece on his own blog this week.


A Wonderful Gift

I didn't know we as a nation were actually supposed to get gifts for the 4th of July-- you know, that whole "ask not" business and all...and yet, we got a biggie. The most dangerous person in America announced her intended retirement today. For those who know me, you know that Justice O'Connor is my least favorite Justice on the High Court. For those who don't know me, I know your immediate reaction: what, not Ginsberg, Stevens, or even Souter? My answer is simply this. With the aforementioned, you at least know where they stand. They are going to come out wrong on any given issue about 99% of the time, but we know it and we deal. O'Connor on the other hand just makes shit up. And you never know on any given day what kind of shit she's going to make up. The one thing that is for sure, if you see a 5-4 decision, O'Connor is on the wrong side of it.

Happy 4th all, and Thank you, Uncle Sam!

Happy Birthday America: The Declaration of Independence

As timeless now as it was then, I wonder if we would have the guts to defend it today...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton