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Nuclear Unicorn

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Member since: Wed Sep 16, 2009, 07:33 PM
Number of posts: 12,287

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The abuse of FISA, prosecuting whistleblowers, PRISM, kill lists. Guess what. It isn't about Obama

It's about the guy after him. And then the guy after him and the guy after him. It's about the dark horse candidate whose name we can't even conceive of at this moment who will ride into office on a wave of electoral emotion and assume the helm of a state security apparatus that has insulated itself all efforts to bring it to heel. It's about how that apparatus allows him suppress all threats to the state (by which he means, himself) and a military capable of eliminating anything it catches sight of as well as a congress and media either too weak or too complicit to offer any opposition.

Obama will merely be a chapter in a school kid's history book when that day comes so you can't say it's about Obama. You can't hide behind a defense of Obama to tell us to stop guarding against that day. We're not complaining about Obama -- except to note our soul-shattering disappointment that these things have grown under his tenure after he promised to end them. No, we're looking past Obama. We're looking forward. That's what PROGRESSives do.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Sat Jun 22, 2013, 09:34 AM (167 replies)

C'mon people! It's not like this is rocket science.

Oh. Wait. Actually, it is.

Lover Boy and I spend a lot of time watching his younger sister while their father is away on business. Last weekend she came over to the house with her laptop, as she usually does, but instead of working on school projects or poking around the internet she started playing a game called, Kerbal Space Program.

Kerbin is a fictitious blue-green world not unlike our own save for the facts it is only 600km in radius and it has 2 moons. Kerbin is inhabited by Kerbals, little green humanoids with large, curious eyes and an endearing stoicism in the face of near-incessant catastrophe. The object of the game is to get Kerbals off of Kerbin and into space.

To meet these objectives the player is provided with a library of parts from command modules to fuel tanks, engines, solar arrays, landing gear, etc. etc. etc. With these basic elements you can build rockets, satellites, space stations and even space planes.

It's not as easy as it looks, she explained, as her rocket climbed into the air. She went on to describe how she lost many rockets -- and no small number of Kerbals -- from designs that veered -off course out of control or simply exploded on the launch pad under their own weight. Simply achieving orbit is a feat in and of itself as you have to begin your gravity turn at the right altitiude, which is wholly dependent on your rate of ascent which in turn depends on the mass of your rocket and the power of your engines.

"Well of course. Everyone knows that," I said to my husband who gave me a bewildered shrug.

Her target today was Minmus, the second of Kerbin's two moons. This was an unmanned (unkerballed?) flight as she prefers to send probes ahead of the more deliberate missions. Having easily achieved orbit (?!?!?) she waited until the rocket circled around to periapsis, the lowest point of orbit (the converse being apoapsis) where she had set a maneuver node.

As she approached periapsis she aimed the nose of the rocket towards the point designated by her maneuver plot and when the prograde vector overlapped it she hit the main engine. Checking the map she watched as her projected course brought her into an encounter with the Mun's (the nearer moon of Kerbin) gravity.

Seconds ticked away as a green gauge next to the navigation ball bled away. This was the Delta V indicator, the amount of thrust to be applied to change the velocity and hence, the trajectory. Delta is apparently the mathematical symbol for "change" and V is for velocity. When the indicator hit 0.3 she shut down the engines.

Satisfied she switched from the map to the free camera mode which showed the rock leaving Kerbin orbit. It was simply beautiful to watch as the tiny, beautiful world grew smaller and a glorious universe unfolded. It may just be a game but my heart was seized by the silent splendor of it all.

She accelerated time as the trajectory required a 4 hour, 50 minute time until Mun encounter. Along the way, she explained she would be approaching the Mun from behind so as to gain acceleration and thus conserve fuel. If she were to approach from the front she would decelerate and that would jeopardize the mission.

She also switched to another mission, one that had landed successfully on the Mun. She showed how Jebediah Kermin, her personal favorite due to his happier nature, could walk around the in the Mun's much lower gravity.

Back to following the probe she waited for the Mun to capture the tiny machine in its sphere of influence. She quickly placed another maneuver node and fired the engines at the appropriate time for the prescribed duration. Again, the trajectory plot grew until it changed color indicating a projected encounter with Minmus. She switched back to camera mode as we watched the Mun recede off into the distance.

As we again waited for time to elapse she told me how she wanted to get a space station in orbit around each moon but, she lamented, docking was a skill she had yet to master even though she had watched numerous video tutorials. It seemed an odd confession considering the ease and confidence at which she commanded her current mission.

In time she approached Minmus. She rotated the probe to a retrograde position and fired her engine until the last of its fuel was depleted. She turned the probe prograde vector before releasing the spent rocket stage ensuring it drifted away from behind rather than being in the way ahead of her as she tried to decelerate -- a lesson she assured me she had learned the hard way. She returned the ship to its retrograde course and began burning her final engine to bring her orbit in around the Minmus.

It is a strange and uninviting world of teal blue ice oceans surrounded by menacingly huge white mountains of ice. Bit by bit she worked to lower her orbit. She wondered aloud whether she should attempt a soft landing.

"I think I'll try it!" she announced like one who had no government budget to be mindful of.

Continuing the retrograde burn she slowed the rocket until gravity took over. Then it was a matter of juggling engine burn while toggling the stabilizing system on and off. Her little fingers worked furiously to control thrust and position but -- I am sad to report -- there were too many unlearned variables. Altitude, the jutting terrain, limited fuel and unfamiliar gravity conspired to dash her ambitions and her rocket against the mountains of Minmus.

A cathartic "Darn it!" later and she was back in the Vehicle Assembly Bay with a handful of lessons learned, redesigning her satellite.

She then announced she wants to be an astronaut.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Sat Jun 15, 2013, 05:51 PM (6 replies)

I think I'll sit out this episode of 2 Minutes of Hate; RE: Apple, Inc.

Apple broke no law. We can't prosecute people for being "wrong" we can only prosecute for acting in ways defined by law as being illegal; otherwise we are not governed by law but caprice and envy. Frankly, I'm impressed that Apple waded into the literally tens of thousands of pages of tax law and were able to so expertly craft the shelter. They aren't to be condemned, they're to be congratulated for being one of the few entities actually able to navigate the labyrinth of contradiction, shift and incompetent construction. It's truly a marvel to behold. That the number of companies exploiting this loophole is so few is an indictment of the byzantine nightmare that is the US tax code.

What if we one day had a tax code that even the "little people" could obey too? Golly!

Congress has no business complaining because they wrote the law. They can change it but I don't believe they will. Perhaps I'm too cynical at the ripe old age of 24 but I think they fear the campaign backlash/loss of tax revenue were they to act in accordance with their professed outrage.

This is just a show for the public. Beat up a few high-profile corporate execs and then do nothing of substance. It gives the people their 2 minutes of cathartic hate and then its back to the usual tedium. I can't share the outrage over this issue because the staged farce is meant to make us outraged so that we still love our masters as they lie to our faces. They're pillorying Apple so you don't notice what incompetent stumble-bums they are as they pretend to look out for our best interests.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Wed May 22, 2013, 02:08 PM (36 replies)

Well, I suppose that's one way of dealing with it.

My old boss retired and my husband's boss has recently taken me on part-time to help sort out his acounting. He's a good business man but a lousy organizer.

Anyway, it's very blue-collar work. The men on the crews all work very hard in rather uncomfortable conditions for long, grueling hours in a fairly hazardous profession. They pop into the trailer where I work to file payroll or whatnot and they're all dirty, grubby and such Honestly, I knew my husband got dirty but I never realized how bad as he showered before he got home. One guy on my husband's crew is a nice kid (Can I call him a kid? He's 19 and I'm 24). but it seems he has a "thing" for me.

He's always polite and nothing approaching a threat but he's a little slow. My husband long ago took "the kid" under his wing after the kid was barred from enlisting for not scoring high enough on the ASVAB. He's a hard worker and a natural talent working on heavy machinery but you know how some folks are when it comes to test-taking.

Still, when he comes into the trailer he tends to be overly conversational and a few times he'll just stand there and smile sweetly despite my having asked if there is anything he needs until someone else comes along and shoos him away. I mentioned it to my husband who -- perpetual jokester that he is -- asked if I wanted the kid beaten-up at "recess." I instructed him that such extremes would not be necessary.

Last night, towards the end of the day the kid was once again in the trailer just sort of standing there smiling. My husband entered and I figured he would send the kid on his way but my husband instead turned on his heel before he got through the door and left the kid and I there alone.

What the -- ?!?! I just went on organizing my papers.

A few minutes later my husband returned and told the kid he had found the kid's phone someplace it might get sat-on or some words to that effect. The kid took the phone and sat down as my husband went to the back office.

All of a sudden the sound -- the very loud sound -- of flatulence ripped (Can I say "ripped"?) through the trailer. I looked up at the kid who was just sitting there half-giggling (I think it was the male reflex to the sound of farting) until another one sounded. And then another followed by another. Half-amused was replaced by absolute dread as the kid realized he was making those noises. He grabbed his phone as it continued breaking wind --now even louder that it was out in the open -- and looked at me in dread, trying to explain with a small amount of panic that it wasn't him. He fumbled with his phone until it was silenced and fled out into the work yard.

My husband came out of the back office explaining that when a man wants to date a girl he won't allow himself to fart in front of her. Thankfully, he added on his own behalf, he didn't have that problem as he was a married man. It seems he took the kid's phone and downloaded the sound effects and set those sounds as the kid's ringtone. I shook my head and told him, "You are so mean."

He admitted as much but then asked -- with that stupid grin he gets when he knows he's gotten to me --if he could call me sometime.

I punched the giggling boob in the arm.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Fri Feb 1, 2013, 09:11 AM (4 replies)

Life ...WOW!

Work has been -- so much WORK!

Who knew?

We have been swamped by our recent projects and the boss is away scratching up new contracts. For some inconceivable reason whenever he leaves he relies on me to push this or that through to its conclusion. Chasing vendors. Finalizing contract amendments. Hurdling various and sundry bureaucrats.

And on top of that he keeps adding weight to my purse!

But I feel bad because I used to hate it when Lover Boy worked overtime. Now I'm the one working overtime and still bringing work home. His response? He has dinner waiting for me most nights. I'm OK with that because he's the better cook -- by far! -- but I miss him when I'm not around. This "responsible adult" thing sucks!

Yet, it feels good seeing the things we do amount to something. Seeing dozens of people get jobs feels good. The pay is great but the intangibles are leaving me ambivalent: sense of accomplishment vs. missing hubby time.

A few years ago I was just an English major with a lot of debt and not many job prospects. I was hired to be an Administrative Assistant because I could fake a decent business letter. Now I'm pretty much a project manager learning as I go. What is it about life that makes everything turn-out so differently from what you plan or anticipate? Is it God keeping us on our toes and/or amused or are we just that bad at picking our own destinies?

Don't get me wrong: I'm actually happy. Very happy, in fact. Apart from time away from Lover Boy I feel as if I'm part of something important and when I am around Lover Boy he's still my Lover Boy and he spoils me rotten (and by "rotten" I mean, "exactly as I deserve"). I feel like I can do anything now and yet the world looks larger -- and somewhat scarier -- than ever before. It's all so awesome and awe-inspiring.

Life ...wow.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:55 PM (9 replies)

I changed my avatar -- again

The last time I changed my avatar I explained my decision here -- http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002149824

Looking back on that post I still agree with everything I wrote, including the touch of sadness I felt; but a week or so ago I saw a poster here who had the avatar I'm using now (Sorry, I forgot your name but thank you for the inspiration). As soon as I saw the pic I lit-up. Of course!

Here I was looking for an image to serve as an icon for how I felt. I wanted something that expressed affection, romance and a willingness to love openly. Is this avatar not all those things?

I spent a lot of time in my younger(er) days thinking sex was the expression of my self. Then I got married and I remain happily married today. We have the passion but more importantly: we have each other. What's the point of a great sex life if there isn't "that person" as a part of it? If there isn't "that person" all you have is you; the presence of another human being is pretty much ancillary and mechanical.

Look at the pic. Do you see how she smiles? She's stunningly beautiful, confident and happy. Even though it's cropped you can tell he has his arms around her but she's secure and he is as adoring as he is protecting. Look how he looks at her. That isn't just a man who loves his wife, he admires her. My husband said that once too. He texted me that he finally found the word to describe how he feels about me and that word was admiration. It brought me to tears and my boss said my husabnd was sweet and I was strange.

But could the President's affection be any more pronounced? He's not too hard on the eyes either, ifyouknowwhatimeanandithinkyoudo.

Could you find a better picture of any couple anywhere? I love that pic on so many levels (I honestly don't know why I hadn't noticed it before) and the best part it has 2 people -- the real definition of love and romance -- not a pin-up girl ogled by anonymous stimulation-seekers or some sea-risen goddess too aloof to be approached. This picture is about humans, good, honest people with simple affection for each other.

So, that's my new avatar.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Fri Jun 8, 2012, 05:31 PM (4 replies)

I'm not sure I have a lot of time for politics right now. Does that make me a bad person?

Not that anyone is accusing me of being a bad person.

I've popped-in from time to time over the last several weeks to catch-up on the news. Let's face facts: DU is a good aggregation site; but my life is kind of hectic right now.

I'm swamped and I'm pooped -- and I'm also very happy. I've had some real serious issues lately. My dad went in to the hospital for bypass surgery and may have to retire from his job as a General Contractor. My boss has been very cool about me taking time to visit him while he was in the hospital and I thank God my step mom is there for him. He's home now and grousing about having to switch to Lite Beer. Meanwhile, my husband's kid sister -- who is the sweetest thing ever -- is still hurting inside from her mom dying from cancer last summer. Lover Boy and I have been playing surrogate parents by bringing her out to our country home every other weekend or so while my FIL gets better situated.

Of course LB and I have our own house we're trying to make more of a home for ourselves (I planted lettuce and green beans last weekend! And I wore shorts!) and we're both just buried at work. Some time ago I cried on DU about how much I miss him when he works late or on the weekends. Now I'm the one putting in long hours. Being a responsible adult sucks, okay! I'm just going to put that out there right now. However, when we're together our every moment seems all the more special. Or as Lover Boy says, "abstinence makes the heart grow fonder."

Yet, amid all this craziness I'm happy. I've never felt closer to my husband, family and friends. Even my brother and I had a pleasant conversation for the first time in a long time. Never before have I felt so strongly that I have a -- purpose, if such a term can be forgiven. It's like I'm in charge of so much and I can finally contribute in meaningful ways to people I can touch and hold and hug. I still have my principles along with everything I hope and believe in but I'm not sure I want to give up what I have for a few bumper stickers and a sign in my yard.

I'm in love with my life but I honestly don't know if I have enough hours in the day to be a die-hard political activist/junkie. And truth be told I'm not looking forward to the upcoming campaign with all its attending acrimony. If pundits want to scream at each other they can do it without my watching or listening. I've got better things to do.

I'm guessing I'll still stop by on occasion to stay current. There are so many of you I miss connecting with; so many good people here. If I'm not around as much please know how much you guys still mean to me.

Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Tue May 1, 2012, 11:58 AM (4 replies)

Video games as entertainment

Lover Boy likes video games, something he seems to have picked-up while in the Army. It's cute watching him play; part of his endearing, boyish charm. I don't know squat about video games and I don't play. However, a few weeks ago I picked-up a game called Mass Effect 2. I saw it at the store while grocery shopping; it was cheap and said, "What the heck."

Over the weekend Lover Boy installed it and I watched him play for about an hour or so before we went out to spend time with family. He thought I was just watching to waste time. Little did he suspect -- I was actually enjoying the game play.

Last night he got home before I did so he was playing just to amuse himself. When I got home I laid down on the couch behind him and watched him play while he did battle. Once he came to a stopping point he started to shut down so he could spend time with me. I told him to keep playing and brought dinner out to the living room.

He played and I watched for more than 3 hours.

As far as story telling goes its pretty darned interesting. In one of the sub-plots a member of the protagonist's crew helped engineer a genetic virus to inhibit the prolific breeding capability of a very powerful and very aggressive race. The obvious justification was that it would prevent needless wars but then they learned what lengths the afflicted race would endure to relieve the curse. Add to that the moral dimension of what was essentially soft-core genocide.

It was actually pretty powerful watching the doctor debating with himself and the protagonist the extent of his actions and his moral culpability. His ultimate sense of shame seemed palpable and was emotionally delivered (kudos to the voice actors, one of whom is lead writer/director/actor for Robot Chicken, Seth Green).

The game is also well-paced with humor and the requisite gunplay to keep the boys' attention. The various races are portrayed as unique and deeply rich in detail. They feel like they come with a sense of history and culture. Obviously there is the entire interactivity aspect: you get to decide if you want to be a Paragon or a Renegade. You decide the course of the action sequences.

I have to say I was as entertained as I have been watching a good movie, if not moreso because you aren't just a passive observer (Well, I was passive -- at least until I told Lover Boy he had to stop paying game-money to watch the blue-skinned space stripper).

For $20 we're getting more hours of entertainment than we would for seeing a movie or whatnot.

Any thoughts, comments or game suggestions? I'd appreciate them.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Tue Mar 13, 2012, 05:40 PM (8 replies)

I changed my avatar today

Big whoop, right?

Not for me. My previous avatar was Betty Page. I always thought she had a special beauty to go with her obvious sexiness. She certainly wasn't one of the half-starved waifs we so often see in fashion magazines looking as if they're pitching for some disaster relief program in famaine-ravaged countries.

To me she represented a breaking free from an era that dictated women spend their days vacuuming in high heels and pearls. She was openly what women were never allowed to be publicly --


And believe it or not, sometimes what a woman wants for herself is some good sex. She did what she did because that is what she wanted to do on her terms. To me "my body, my choice" takes a variety of manifestations including the right to work in "adult entertainment" (which ironically turns many into tittering pre-adolescent males).

Nowadays, though, I think the world is different. Now women have gone from celebrating their sexuality to being marginalized by it. If they don't make with the goods than society has no use for them. The iconoclast that was Betty Page has become the status quo of your average MTV fare.

Yeah, sure, I get it: consenting adults, make your own viewing choices, turn off the damned TV if you don't like it, yatta, yatta, yatta.

I'm not casting stones here because I'm not perfect. I started early in high school and I had several boyfriends during college. When my husband and I first met we were both nursing recent break-ups and we were just in it for the sex. I'm not "sinless" and I don't pretend to be.

But a number of threads here on DU got me thinking recently. Some started to complain about the de-humanization of women and some to complain against the complainers. In one of the threads I was asked why I had Betty as my avatar. I gave my answer -- or at least I thought I did.

I think the thing I missed was not that Betty was smashing her barriers but that she was being objectified. Whatever it was she wanted was lost on her audience. Most never gave a damn about her, they just wanted booby pictures.

My hubby helped me realize this. I was trying to qualify what it was about him that made him so special from the other guys I had been with. Certainly his good qualities are legion -- I deserve nothing less! it -- but there was something "different" about how he is with me. I'll spare you the entire conversation we had this past weekend but what he told me still echoes in my heart.

"I don't just want to have sex; I want to have sex with *you*."

It's not like he couldn't score elsewhere if he wanted to. I don't think any other man I've ever been with ever felt that way about me. Maybe there was one and I missed him but looking back I can't help but feel that unless I was putting-out their interest in me would have been less than zero.

How does that liberate me? How does that reinforce my place in this world as a human being?

It doesn't.

So maybe Betty was making her own statement on her own terms but now it seems like it was just the sex as far as her audience was concerned. They never cared for her as a person or what I think she was trying to say in a larger sense. That hurts me. That hurts me a lot in my heart. I wanted her to be bigger than that.

So I changed my avatar, which is a shame because I wonder if maybe I wasn't one of the few who actually gave a damn about Betty as a person. I still believe in "my body, my choice" but I'm hoping to see a lot more people into making more self-affirming choices instead of mere crowd-pleasing choices.

If you made it this far, thank-you.
Posted by Nuclear Unicorn | Tue Jan 10, 2012, 06:18 PM (9 replies)
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