• Death by mushrooms

    It’s a classic plot device of murder mysteries: an evil killer slips poisonous mushrooms into the frying pan of an unsuspecting victim who dies an agonizing death.
    But in real life, poisonous fungi typically sicken and occasionally kill people for quite different reasons.
    Recently I learned a lot about what can go wrong in the world of mushrooms from Dr. Denis Benjamin, a medical doctor who is also a fungi and poison expert.
    As the weather improves over so much of the nation, this seems like a good time to review how you can avoid having yourself or members of your family join the ranks of those who eat the wrong mushrooms.

  • What’s government really supposed to do?

    Some things are outside the proper scope of government. That much is clear to me.
    But like what? Specific examples are easy. At the federal level, there are ethanol subsidies, nearly everything that happens in the bedroom and specification of the graphics for street signs in neighborhoods. For the latter, see my post at www.capitolreportnm.com.
    At the state level, I’ve been making suggestions for a couple of years in the largely unsuccessful hope of inspiring what is now the Martinez administration. One is closing, for cost reasons, the El Camino Real International Heritage Center, located four miles off Interstate 25 in the middle of nowhere.

  • Take action right now

    A fellow who thought of himself as a political reformer approached a friend of mine, a former legislator, one January to ask for support for a large group that planned to visit to the Roundhouse during the legislative session.  
    “Whom do you plan to talk to?” my friend asked.  
    “Everyone,” the man replied.   
    “What do you plan to talk about?” my friend asked.  
    In other words, advocacy for general principles, not specific bills.
    Whoops! Bad plan, bad timing. The gentleman was wasting his time and proposed to waste other people’s time as well.

  • Politicians eye higher office

    For more than eight years, the executive has been running for something else.
    Those were the approximate words of Republican state Senator Clint Harden as he fretted over the entry of Lt. Gov. John Sanchez into the GOP race for the U.S. Senate.
    Harden thinks Sanchez should resign because of his important role in the redistricting process. The lieutenant governor presides over the senate and breaks tie votes.
    Harden says Sanchez will be distracted from his duties. If Sanchez were to resign, the state would be without a lieutenant governor. The duty of presiding over the senate would be assumed by the president pro tempore, who is Sen. Tim Jennings, a Democrat.

  • Media impact on children and teens

    This may not surprise most people: children and teenagers in the U.S. spend more time engaged with various forms of media than any other single activity except sleeping.
    A recent study of 2,000 youth aged eight to 18, found that they spend on average seven hours with media each day. The “media” referred to includes TV, movies, video and computer games, the Internet, music lyrics and videos, magazines, books, advertisements and, yes, even the newspaper you hold in your hand.

  • How towns promoted themselves back in the day

    When a friend gave me a stack of old New Mexico Magazines, I dove in.
    The articles were entertaining enough, but the ads were the real attention grabbers. After World War II, communities didn’t have many ways to promote themselves, so they touted their charms in the pages of the state’s magazine.
    Some wanted tourists: “Ruidoso, where outdoor fun follows the seasons around the year.”
    Others wanted residents: “Roswell, New Mexico, A Good Place to Visit – A Better Place to Live” and “Hobbs, The City with an Assured Future.”

  • Kids today: Idongedit

    Idongedit. It’s my students’ favorite word. You have to let it drip out of your mouth when you say it. Idongedit. And when you say it, it helps if you slowly tilt your head sideways, then look upwards and stare at the ceiling.  
    Anyway, that seems to be the correct protocol.
    It’s been a while since I’ve spewed out a tirade about the declining math skills in our country.  
    With the school year behind us, I thought now would be as good as time as any to rant (as if I need a special time to do that?).
    Okay, so now here’s one of my standard “somewhat related” stories.  

  • Developing the economy is more than recruiting

    We whine about being a federal colony, but, by God, protect those federal laboratories.
    Such ideas are what masquerades for deep thinking about the New Mexico economy.
    Recent presentations from Gov. Susana Martinez and Jon Barela, secretary of the Economic Development Department, have considered economic development.
    From both, the only specific was recruiting companies to the state.
    Recruiting is good and necessary, but for that to be the only topic massively misses the point.
    Recruiting companies, which is what “economic development” is about, is just part of developing the economy.
    Further, recruiting companies only matters at the margin for New Mexico’s 870,000 (or so) employees.

  • Time for realistic Middle East policy

    Last week I participated in a joint meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to receive Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  
    This should have been a positive meeting with America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.  
    Instead, the tension in the room was palpable, because everyone there was conscious of President Obama’s speech on Israel last week.
    I was shocked to hear the President make the unprecedented suggestion that Israel should revert to its 1967 borders.  

  • 2011 - So far so good

    This year continues on the path of solid gains, but it has certainly not been a smooth ride.
    Stocks and bonds have had to steer clear of geopolitical risks, budget issues, natural disasters and the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.
    In spite of these issues we have been able to generate positive returns.
    Stocks enjoyed their best first quarter in 15 years, but, the question is, will we be able to continue on this pace the rest of the year?
    Bonds hit some speed bumps in the first quarter, but low to middle single digit gains still looks possible. In any market, there are always opportunities, you just need to know where to look for them.