Shine On You Drunken Diamond

Originally, the scientists were experimenting with creating diamonds from organic solutions such as acetone, ethanol, and methanol. They found that diluting ethanol in water resulted in high quality diamond films. The scientists then noticed that the ideal compound of 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent water was similar to the proportion used in tequila.

To dissipate any doubts, one morning on the way to the lab I bought a pocket-size bottle of cheap white tequila and we did some tests,” Apátiga said. “We were in doubt over whether the great amount of chemicals present in tequila, other than water and ethanol, would contaminate or obstruct the process, it turned out to be not so. The results were amazing, same as with the ethanol and water compound, we obtained almost spherical shaped diamonds of nanometric size. There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds.”

via Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds

I think the top /. comment encapsulated the meanig of this nicely…

by moderatorrater (1095745) Alter Relationship on 03:14 PM November 7th, 2008 (#25682139)

Diamonds make girls easier to sleep with; tequila makes girls easier to sleep with. We really should have seen this earlier.

Behind the Scenes With The Obamas on Election Night

I just found out that Obama has a flickr stream.

This is a pretty amazing set of behind the scenes photos from Tuesday night.

Want to see Obama thinking about leading the free world?  Here ya go…this is him watching McCain give his concession speech.  My guess would be right around here it was no longer possible for him to deny it.

Obama thinking about being President

Obama thinking about being President

Just Watched the Obama Press Conference, Saw His Weakness (UPDATE: He Apologized)

Now that’s not to say he doesn’t have a whole lot of strengths.  I was just reading this interview with Bill Maher, and I saw this bit…

King: You recently issued one of your new rules decreeing that Obama must give comedians something to work with. Any suggestions?

Maher: No. It’s very difficult. We have been spoiled, first with Bill Clinton and then George Bush. And here’s a president now who — he’s not stupid. He’s not angry. He’s not a phony. He’s not fat. He’s not cheating on his wife.

Who needs a jerk like that around for the next four years? Come on.

(LAUGHTER)

I don’t think that’s going to be the problem.  I just watched his “first press conference as President-Elect” and I can tell you a couple things.  First up, he’s going to be incredibly frustrating to reporters, because he’ll out-think a good number of them without even trying.   Second, I think I noted a bit of a weakness in his character.  I mentioned before that I think I share a certain….means of expression with the guy.    Which is to say, the internal and external conversations can be quite different.

So I’ll go ahead and break it to you, I hate to say it, but the smart, accomplished, intellectually-inclined black man is a bit arrogant about his abilities.  And his accomplishments.

The trick, BTW, to getting under the skin of people like this (i.e. like me) is what I learned to call “deliberate obtuseness”.   Which is to say…asking stupid questions while acting like they are genius ones.  It’s annoying as hell.   His response to the “are you going to raise taxes on the rich” question illustrated this a bit.

Now, I also think you can’t make it that far without knowing and dealing with your weaknesses, so I don’t expect this to be a fatal flaw…but I saw it today.   Clear as day.   I’ll keep an eye on it in the future.

As someone who has been quite oppositional to the current government over the last….well…since this site went live, you might be surprised when I go after the one we just elected.

Relax, it’s just what I do.  If there’s something out of line, that’s still going to be priority number 1.

Case #1 is Obama’s slam on Reagan.  I heard it and my jaw dropped.  He doesn’t like Reagan.  At all.

Let me see if I can find the text….hmmm, not yet….I’m sure it’ll show up.  He was asked if he has spoken with the former Presidents and he said yes, “…all of them.  Well, I didn’t get Nancy to do a seance, but…” and then he kind of dropped it off.

I think it was an attempt at a joke.  A joke certain folk would laugh at, and others would find somewhat offensive.

UPDATE: Looks like Obama is eating some crow immediately.  This is a good thing.  Like I mentioned, nothing does as much good for an arrogant man as being publicly humbled…quickly….I hope he learns from this…

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Obama called Nancy Reagan on Friday to apologize for joking that she held seances in the White House.

At a news conference in Chicago, Obama said he had spoken with all the living presidents as he prepares to take office in January. Then he smiled and said, “I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances.”

The 87-year-old former first lady had consulted with astrologers during her husband’s presidency. But she did not hold conversations with the dead.

Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the president-elect later called Mrs. Reagan “to apologize for the careless and offhanded remark.” She said Obama “expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share, and they had a warm conversation.”

It actually wasn’t Nancy Reagan who was linked to conversations with the dead; it was Obama’s top Democratic challenger for the presidency, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

In either case, use of the word “seance” might be overstated.

Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer to help set her husband’s schedule, wrote former White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan. The revelation created a furor and President Reagan even broke with his policy of not commenting on books by former White House staffers.

[full story]

Hindsight 20/20 : Inside the Campaign 2008

Newsweek has a rather fascinating story about some of the inside stories in the 2008 election.  Here’s some excerpts of the full article and my take on ’em.  BTW, I’m ignoring the Palin stuff on this post, I have concentrated that information here.

The computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown “foreign entity,” prompting a federal investigation, NEWSWEEK reports today.

But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: “You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an agent told Obama’s team. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.” The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: “You have a real problem … and you have to deal with it.” The Feds told Obama’s aides in late August that the McCain campaign’s computer system had been similarly compromised. A top McCain official confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the campaign’s computer system had been hacked and that the FBI had become involved.

When a federal tech spook tells you this, listen to him.  Listen to him closely and do what he says.  I have a bit of experience in this line of work and most people, particularly community organizers and those that tend to trust others, have no idea, no idea at all, how hard people will work to gain access to certain information.   Super-paranoid doesn’t being to define it when you are defending against..who knows what.

The article mentions that the Obama campaign mentioned maybe “Russian or Chinese” hackers.  It doesn’t matter where the hackers were from.  What matters is who paid them.  Considering that complete access to the campaign computers could probably be had for less than seven figures, and don’t kid yourself, when it reaches this point, THE INTRUDERS HAVE COMPLETE ACCESS,  there are lots of possible suspects.

And just so you know the paranoid level it takes to keep some of this stuff secure…it’s possible to gain root access by recording the sound of the keystrokes a person uses to log in (record the sounds, test the keyboard, run it through an analysis, repeat the pattern for the password.  Each keystroke has a distinct sound, if you listen close enough).  A good microphone is all you need, nowadays, at least.  And that’s being slightly tricky.  There’s a lot easier ways, when given the motivation.

So that’s kinda funny.  Palin got hacked with simple social engineering, Obama and McCain probably got hit by professionals.

I mentioned this quite a bit….even going to far as to parody the sentiments….

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.

Yea…that was to be expected.  As I’ve joked quite a bit over the last few days, the Secret Service is hiring.  A lot. 

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”

This was a few weeks ago.  This was after the economy had gone to shit and everyone had decided on Palin.  Without an event on the scale of an alien invasion, Obama was heading to win, and they all knew it.   I’m pretty sure Obama did too.

The Obama campaign’s New Media experts created a computer program that would allow a “flusher”—the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day—to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station.

The Obama campaign had some serious techonology working for them.  This was part of why I made fun of McCain for not knowing how to use a computer (and Palin not knowing how to securely use one).

It was an amazing GOTV (get out the vote) effort.  For a quick example…if you signed up for their site (as I did) you would get lists of numbers to call and places to takes notes, all online and “live”.  It didn’t work perfectly, but I think it was impressive enough, and effective enough, to gain some notoriety.

McCain also was reluctant to use Obama’s incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism.

McCain did try to keep the thing clean.  It wasn’t until the last few days that the real bad poo started flying.  I’ll give this to McCain, he didn’t make this nearly as dirty as it could have gotten.  He could have disgusted everyone, much, much more than he did.   Many of his supporters wanted him to go there, and Palin pushed it, but he had he honor and the power to keep it (mostly) clean.

Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband.

Yea, I never thought HIllary was a real choice for VP.  Maybe early on, but even then…the Bill factor would have been huge, and he would have overshadowed Obama in a lot of respects.  Particulary because he would, like Hillary, have a unique place in American history…and one that would continue for another decade or more in the White House.  That’s just too much Clinton for anyone.

McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing the GOP nominee with former Alabama governor George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears. McCain had devoted a chapter to Lewis in one of his books, “Why Courage Matters,” and had so admired Lewis that he had once taken his children to meet him.

This was because McCain wasn’t being told by the Secret Service about all the threats against Obama.  There’s a decent chance that John Lewis might have…   I *really* don’t think McCain understood how much anger and ignorance he was whipping up.  I’m absolutely sure that Palin had *NO* idea what she was messin’ with.  People where I live *ACT* when you tell them there is a threat to their country in the White House.

I did mention I’m from Dallas, right?  This shit ain’t no joke.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

And that disdain came through loud and clear.  It came through in Clinton releasing Obama’s picture in “Muslim Garb” and it came through in McCain refusing to look at Obama in the first debate.

We heard you both, and we rejected it.  You were the uppity ones.

When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’

So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’

What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I fucking changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

Note: I un-censored that bit.  I hate the those fucking “—” when I really want to make a point.

I *really* want to hear this tape.  When I hear Obama talk, I often hear myself thinking.  This has been a rare thing for me in the political realm.  When I hear Obama say somehing like this, and show a bit of that fire and disdain for the bullshit, I like him more.

This also makes the whole “tire gauge” attack even funnier.

How out of touch is Barack Obama? He’s so out of touch that he suggested that if all Americans inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce. Gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point; Rush Limbaugh is having a field day; and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled “Barack Obama’s Energy Plan” to Washington reporters.

I’m pretty sure his internal reaction to that non-controversy was something along the lines of “Niggaplease, these people have to be fucking retarded.”

Check out the full article for the bits I left out,  Newsweek isn’t exactly “Just some blog” and they don’t normally print stuff without multiple indepentent sources and thorough fact-checking.

It was a wild election, even more so because we are only now learning how wild it was.

The Official and Undeniable Palin, Part 2

I did the first part of this post back here.  I have toned down the title as it doesn’t matter as much any more.  Palin is Alaska’s problem now.

How big a problem?  Well, luckily there’s aren’t many Africans in Alaska, or they might have a few questions for Sarah…

I’m sure more specific stuff will be coming out, but this kind of stuf…

An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

…is a lot more nasty than I could be.   And that was a McCain adie, a senior one.  I saw an interview with the author of the above newsweek article, which I’m featuring in another post, so I give it quite a bit of credibility.  McCain’s staff was really, really, frustrated with Palin.  Not the least of which was because….

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”

That was three weeks ago…when the race had ended but for something crazy happening (and by crazy I mean terrorist attack/alien invasion-type crazy.)

The race was over because the American people learned that when the question is……is Africa 1)a country or 2)a continent….and you have to think about it, and then get it wrong….it’s over.  It’s just over.

Palin was a joke, and she can blame the economy all she wants, but that’s the kind of stuff good world leaders are supposed to be prepared for.   Very prepared for.  Like, studying-your-whole-life prepared for.  It turns out that Palin wouldn’t even cram for two weeks, and so someone who didn’t know what the “Bush Doctrine” was (not a minor oversight we see know, but evidence of mass ignorance) had no chance of dealing with an economic crisis in a rational way.

The video above is textbook “throwing under the bus” and you’ll see it more and more over the next few weeks.  Then come the books.  And then come the movies.

Does Palin have a future?  I’m not sure.  I really don’t think so.  I think the embarrassment of some of the campaign gaffes (“go buy 3 suits” != “go spend $150K on your family”) are going to linger, and she is going to bear the brunt of the backlash when Republicans stop blaming everyone else and look for someone in their own party to blame.

Sadly Sarah fits the bill.

Did I just forget a comma?   I don’t know, never really learned no grammarin’.