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Columns

  • Why the basics cost so much

    Why does it cost so much money to pay for the basics of a normal life, let alone a middle class lifestyle?
    The answer involves deadly dull numbers, a tiptoe through the tulips of political rationalization, and a date with inexorable financial destiny.
    Our tiptoe begins with the fact that today’s dollar does not buy what a dollar used to buy. This loss of buying power is called “inflation.”
    Inflation means that money stored in a bank, a CD or a treasury note loses buying power every day it does not earn enough interest to offset the loss due to inflation.
    Different things have different inflation rates. The price of beets goes up slower than the price of gold.

  • A time to celebrate

    Just arriving in D.C. from New Mexico at about 10:30 p.m., I almost missed the announcement that bin Laden was dead. 

  • Four pleas for CYFD

    I am an attorney who recently has had the opportunity to represent a number of persons who were investigated by employees of Child Protective Services Division of the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) on allegations by persons unknown of child abuse.  
    Every report was unsubstantiated and none of them should have been investigated.  I would like to offer some observations to your readers who may be thinking about reporting someone, on the child abuse hotline or otherwise, to CYFD, and some suggestions to CYFD for improving their system.

  • Watch those policy changes

    Let’s pretend the company that provides the land line telephone service to your home institutes a new policy.
    That company also owns an airline called PhoneCo Airlines. So from now on, every time you try to call Southwest or American Airlines, your call will be rerouted to PhoneCo.  
    Unthinkable! you’d say. Beyond unthinkable! A phone company is a regulated monopoly, granted the privilege by government of no competition and assured profit.   Its mandate is to provide the infrastructure and, for a regulated price, allow you to use it. Yet this regulated monopoly has acquired a business in what used to be the free market, and it is using its monopoly advantage against its competitors.

  • Our roads: Shaken, not stirred

    Here’s mud in your eye!  Wet your whistle!  Bottoms up!  Let’s have one for the road!  One for the road?  A common toast made in reference to raising that glass and subsequently raising one’s blood alcohol content a few more notches.  
    As your typical drunk stumbles to his car, what exactly does he have in mind for the road? More than one-third of yearly traffic fatalities are alcohol related (nearly 14,000 deaths).  This is almost the same as our nation’s murder rate, but death on the highway isn’t murder.  It’s “vehicular homicide.”

  • Rhetoric pushes bounds of civility

    I am compelled to respond to recent letters to the Los Alamos Monitor regarding the proposed improvements to N.M. 502, locally named Trinity Drive. One was published April 16, written by  Anthony Amsden and the other printed April 19, in the ViewPoint section, by Norman Delamater.
    These writers echo the opinions of a number of vocal detractors, and both of these writers are under the false impression that four lanes means better traffic flow. If one were to consider only the difference between four and two lanes, they would be correct, but they are missing the point.
    The alternatives, in the extremes, are four lanes with traffic lights (more or less our current situation), and two lanes with no traffic lights (Option A1).

  • Johnson could inject dose of reality in to presidential race

    A comment I used to hear a lot during Gary Johnson’s two terms as governor was, “Gary is just Gary.”
    Gary being Gary made him an ineffective governor, but as a candidate for president? Bring him on!
    That’s because, in these times of the coached, coifed and vacuum-sealed candidate with the entourage of handlers and spinners, the candidate who manages to be just himself is a breath of fresh air.
    When Johnson makes a statement, we know it’s his honest opinion and not the product of focus groups and polls.
    Johnson doesn’t pander.

  • Homework needs to be done

    Several of my friends have written letters to the Los Alamos Monitor objecting to reducing Trinity Drive from four to two lanes. Others object to the entire concept of traffic roundabouts.
    I for one haven’t decided which side is right. The main I agree it is intuitive that reducing from four lanes to two would cause a traffic jam at peak hours, but I got to wondering how we know this.  
    In short, most people don’t know much about traffic and so have written their opinions, and while opinions can be correct, we need something more substantial.   
    What do we really know about efficient traffic and other benefits of two lanes vs four?

  • Designing roadways takes sound engineering skills

    I fly quite often and am a member of a number of airline frequent flier programs.
    However, I do not feel qualified to design aircraft. Designing a roadway is a skilled engineering occupation, at least as complex as aeronautical design and with the same efficiency and safety ramifications.  
    The tools available to street designers, including sophisticated modeling tools, allow accurate analysis of traffic patterns and flow under traffic load with many different road configurations.
    The idea that simply driving is sufficient qualification to design a street is absurd.  However this has not prevented a number of opinions in the Los Alamos Monitor, most recently the letter by Anthony A. Amsden.

  • How to grow green adults

    How do you grow an environmentalist?  If we want kids to care about preserving the natural world, should we teach them about the destruction of the rainforest or about endangered species dying off?   
    Research, and possibly your own personal experience, agree on the same answer — no!  
    One of the very best ways to help kids grow into adults who care about the environment is not to scare them or depress them, but to allow them to love nature.  And the best way to do that is to give them free, unrestricted play time in nature.  
    Think back to your childhood. Do you have treasured memories of playing outside?  What did you like to do?