The Clafabio's blog

It's a Bird! It's a Plane (Which Isn't Safe)!

These days, air travel ends up in the media quite frequently for various reasons: bankrupcy, terror threats, and new regulations about what we can and can't take with us on planes. It's nice knowing that another sky terror plot has been foiled and that it's now even harder for terrorists to get explosives on our planes. It makes many of us feel very safe on these flights. Well, isn't it nice to know that instead of fearing the person sitting next to us on the plane or what's in their bag, we now have to fear the plane itself.

The New York Times reported back on March 7 that Southwest Airlines might be fined up to "$10.2 million" over its continued flying of "older Boeing 737"s which they had failed to inspect for cracks in their fuselages. FYI: the fuselage is the body of the plane, shown flashing in green below:

The Real Dangers

Reading the New York Times website this afternoon, I ran across an article describing President Bush's latest veto, this time on the subject of interrogation techniques. If this bill had been past, it would have made methods such as waterboarding illegal. For those in the dark: during waterboarding, the victim is strapped to a board, head inclined down with either a cloth or cellophane across their face. Water is then repetitively poured across the victims face, sparking the gag reflex. Some try to claim that waterboarding is not actually torture, but I definitely say it is, and that it is criminal.

Just Getting What They Need

As a student, this may sound a little odd to you, but there's something about school that I've always liked. I think the main thing I've liked was the learning and the knowledge I gained. Knowledge is something I hold quite highly, and school seemed like the best way to gain it and to share what of it you have with others. Of course, who are the individuals who try their best to get us the best learning experience; to ensure that we can reach our greatest potential? The answer is teachers, the ones who dedicate themselves to our betterment and learning.

Being a teacher certainly is not an easy thing. If a student fails, it's the teacher whose head gets put upon the line. And hey, I know there are days when they feel like they've just had enough, especially when the kids just won't be quiet. For all that they go through though and do for us, it doesn't seem that teachers are appreciated enough. I mean, appreciation from students can be anything from simple cooperation to telling them just how much they've inspired you. But it's not the students that I'm worried about.

First in History vs. First in History

The race for the Democratic nomination has gotten quite interesting; with John Edwards out of the race, we are left with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama fighting for the remaining delegates to send to the national convention. Now, many people have been asking me, if I could vote, who would I vote for? For the past several months, the answer to that question for me was John Edwards, primarily for his stance on healthcare. But now, it looks like I have to choose someone else.

Since I haven't really been nitpicking, I haven't really seen any major differences between Clinton's and Obama's campaigns. However, I will now take the time to examine the two campaigns and see with whom to place my "vote."

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Hillary Clinton: The Potential First Female President

The New Hampshire Primary

I'll honestly say, I'm surprised. For one thing, the media kept saying that it looked as though Obama had a significant hold over New Hampshire; that the primary there would be a breeze for him. Then again, though, all of the results were rather surprising. All things considered, all of the results were surprising. I have not really heard all that much about Senator John McCain lately, so finding out that he had won the Republican primary was quite a shock.

Let me just get this out of the way: I don't really have anything wrong with John McCain per say. My only point is that it seems that his only platform is that he spent twenty-two years in the Navy. It's great that he spent so long serving his country, but it seems to me that political and public experience would be a little more desirable. Of course, it does not help that McCain was brought into the Keating Five scandal, though it seems that a small number of people remember this incident.

Benazir Bhutto: A Life and Legacy

I did not originally plan to come back to blogging until the start of the new year, but that idea was scrapped when I pulled up the Internet today. The Embarq start page I was presented with told me that Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani prime minister, had been assassinated.

Unfortunately, Embarq didn't have that much to say about how this happened, so I went to my trusted New York Times, and indeed found what I was looking for. According to the article, she was shot by a gunman and was hit by shrapnel from a suicide bomb attack.

High Lights of the Season

Continuing my holiday blog series, I bring to you an analysis of Christmas displays. And fat Santas. Now, it seems that you can guarantee that someone on your street will put up Christmas lights over the holiday. But when I pulled up Yahoo today, I was told that some people are complaining about extravagant Christmas displays. Now, where I live, there really aren't that many displays up: just lights, really. Then again, I reasoned, I live in a small town, so maybe people in the cities are different. My family doesn't put up lights, due in large part to the fact that we're too lazy. But I was curious, so I decided to check it out.

The featured story took me to a story on the Wall Street Journal. The picture it immediately presented to me was quite a spectacle:

Extravagant Christmas Display

What Happened to the Family Love?

It always seemed to me that those who celebrated Christmas got a lot of joy out of it: getting together with their family, friends, and loved ones; having an opportunity to eat great, homemade food, and, of course, getting gifts. But it seems to me that the holiday fun is getting a little bit off-balanced. Many people seem to care more about the idea of getting gifts rather than being with the ones they love, and this sort of worries me.

We are definitely a nation of consumers. I walked into my local Target not too long ago, and I was surprised by the amount of work people were putting into their Christmas shopping. What really surprised me was how stressed many of these holiday shoppers were. It seems that we are missing the point of this holiday. For the religious, Christmas was originally a celebration of the birth of Christ. But then, for my family, it's about getting together, sharing stories of the year and discussing the year's events, and having a nice meal together. Now, we do share gifts, but we don't give each other these extravagant gifts.

On E85 Ethanol, Hybrids, and My Lack of Concentration

Okay, I started out actually reading the New York Times today, but my eye was caught by an ad by Chevy, preaching "Chevy. Gas-friendly to gas-free." It had some encouragingly green graphics regarding fuel efficiency, E85 ethanol, hybrids, and fuel cells, so I decided to go to their website to see what the hype was.

First, let me just say that I'm glad someone is finally taking a look at fuel efficiency. Many of the people in my community are driving huge, gas-guzzling trucks and sport utility vehicles, and I've never understood why they felt it necessary. I don't know, maybe they like the space the cars offer or all the accessories that come with it. Of course, when I see a Cadillac Escalade driving by with only one person in it, the space argument starts to lose foundation; our family Mazda Protege offers plenty of room with one person in it.

Little Mistake? Maybe...

I read on the NYTimes website today that two separate National Intelligence estimates, one from 2005, the other from 2007, had contradicted each other over the subject of Iran and Atomic weapons enrichment. According to the article, written by Mark Mazzetti, a recent report says that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003; however, in a report issued in 2005, it was said that, at that point, Iran was still working hard at creating a nuclear bomb. Now, Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, but this is said to be for "civilian purposes." Whether or not you believe the purpose of their uranium enrichment, a recent report has said that even this enrichment program would provide Iran with enough material to produce a nuclear weapon " . . . sometime in the next decade."