Due to their extreme destructiveness, nuclear weapons require stringent measures to ensure that they are never detonated, either intentionally or by accident, except under properly authorized circumstances.

Northern Blvd. Burger King. 4.03 PM. A slight breeze blows from the east. The commerce district of Queens approximates a population of fifty thousand during optimal peaks. Medium vanilla shake with fries. Pink hair pulled back into a short, neat ponytail. She's reading Cryptonomicon. Sweet Jesus, she's a Neal Stephenson fan. By historic precedence, this easily makes her a Coupland reader too. I deduce assumptions on the reduction of casualty rates if I DON'T talk to her. "It'd just blow up in my face if I tried speaking," I mumble to myself and make a rather impressive attempt to forget about the nice girl by the window.

Now it is possible for an accident of some kind( a crash, fire, munitions explosion, lightning strike, etc.) to destroy the integrity of the exclusion zone or the strong link and theoretically open the possibility of the detonation system being activated.

I purchase my vanilla shake and fries and glance through last night's notes on bone exclusion ratios for 3D studio max forms. In Queens, architects of fast food joints have noticed that there is a significance to building concrete slab tables and benches for outdoor eating. The healthiness of fresh air and sunlight seems to consciously cancel out the crap factor of grease food. If only for a little while. I take out my manual and make notes on the inside cover of new similarities I've noticed with Lightwave. Did I set the render farm partitions before I left? A quiet knocking in the back of my head. I dismiss it as pesky head noise that always visits when I'm trying to memorize things. Knocking turns to a respectable thud-thudding and I look up and behind me.

The pink haired girl is trying to get my attention. I try at some semblance of a smiling expression towards her while alternately attempting to not urinate on myself. Did I breach the exclusion zone somehow? Mind throws into hyper-time. Thoughts of unintentional nuclear armament work its way from my brain to my extremities.

To prevent this, there is one or more "weak links" inserted into the detonation system of the exclusion zone. These weak links will fail, rendering the weapon inoperable, when exposed to abnormal stresses (heat, acceleration forces, etc.) that are below the level that could possibly disrupt exclusion zone integrity.

I quickly look back and downwards at the area of concrete table in front of me and over clock my brain functions as to what I've done wrong. My internal brain cavity acolytes return reports that all system parameters were green lights when I left the cash register. Stare too long at her breasts? Negative. Talk too loudly to myself (again)? Couldn't have. I reach for a fry and try not to move around too much. Oh, man. I think I ordered the same thing she did. The gut feeling of unintentionally looking like a psycho immediately becomes awash in the lower recesses of my tummy. This is not my fault. I try as fluid as a motion possible to clear my area, collect my books, and start walking home.

The first line of defense against unauthorized activation is a lock on the weapon. The earliest locks were mechanical combination locks, but since the early 1960s a more sophisticated system called a "permissive action link" (PAL) has been increasingly employed. A PAL is an electronic (originally electro-mechanical) device that prevents arming the weapon unless the correct codes are inserted into it. Two different codes must be inserted, simultaneously or close together. This is the "two man rule" principle - which requires it to be impossible to arm any nuclear weapon through the actions of a single individual.

" Hey, wait up. Did you drop this? I thought it was yours cause no one else was before you in line," she says. I look down at what she's holding and see the napkin I was writing MAXscripts on last night before bed.

" Hey, yeah!" I grab it out of her hands and search the delicate tissue for any smearing or blemishes that might have accrued while on the restaurant floor. Nerd throttle is pushed to maximum as the importance of the napkin's integrity is notched one higher than the equally important situation of not dorking myself out in front of the young lady. For a second, I almost forget to say thank you to her.

" Urm, it's just some notes on computer stuff!" I throw out to her. Holy shit, I'm screaming. Somewhere inside me, there is a guerilla death squad executing the brain acolyte who should have been watching my sound levels.

" Yeah, it looks like programming, right? I've never seen that kind of syntax before, though." Is she engaging me in a conversation? I don't understand this entire situation even more so, now. I want to go home.

This is the "two man rule" principle - which requires it to be impossible to arm any nuclear weapon through the actions of a single individual.

"Uh, yeah. It's kind of proprietary code used for only one program. Meant for streamlining certain macro functions, I guess. It's not as savvy as C++ or anything." I kind of do this glance to my watch thing while switching body weight to my left foot. I try at a facial smile again. Across the silo deck, I've given the other man a rather obvious sign that if she does NOT want to arm this nuke, this is the time to walk away. I make a note to myself that relating simple conversation to the beginnings of World War III might not be the healthiest thing a person should do. I continue to stand there, shifting my eyes here and there, awaiting any audible formality she might want to end this situation with. Suddenly, she brings my nation to DEFCON 2.

"Really? Which program?" She quietly turns the key and smiles towards me on her side of the panel and through the 5 foot plexan glass, I can see smoke emanate from the pit of the missle housing.

"I'm taking computer graphics at the School of Visual Arts in the city and this looked a lot like aertskdalitapersjgn120#948...". My brain loses touch with the specifics of what she's saying exactly. Inner voices and my abilities to understand speech are being delegated to the high level of readiness that this beautifully smoking nuclear warhead might actually try to launch us into DEFCON 1. I catch her scent off a down draft of breeze. She smells like soap and no perfume. Somewhere in my gut, the amazing destructive power of nuclear war isn't looking so bad right now.

Once the PAL has been enabled, it is now possible to arm and fire the weapon.

I continue to stammer out about four hundred pages worth of 3D modeling-speak as we continue down the sidewalk, together. She comes back with a story of how the Netscape application and school PC's don't mix. Ever. It isn't till we reach the park on 32nd AVE. that I realize just how far into the arming sequence we've fallen into. She's taken off her sneakers and socks to crumple grass blades with her feet. We sit under a big tree that's lived longer than both of us put together. Somewhere between the area of dirt, grass, and ants that we speak to each other over; amazing clouds of fire and nuclear fallout continue to burn and drop over the atmosphere. It's hard for me to imagine how the simplicities of conversation with attractive women can be described in any other way.









Nuclear death stuff cited from "http://sun00781.dn.net/nuke/hew/Usa/Weapons/Pal.html"

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