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Columns

  • 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?  

  • Legacy vs. financial stability

    The headline on the front page of Wednesday’s Los Alamos Monitor, “Intern housing bleak on Hill” made me want to say, “You think?”
    The destruction of housing on Central Avenue has seriously contributed to the lack of housing for Los Alamos National Laboratory summer students as well as those who work at low paying jobs and need affordable housing.  
    Councilors Fran Berting and Jim Hall said in February  2008 that the county was purchasing the Central Avenue property with money from the Self-Sufficiency Fund to clean it up and put it into the hands of a private developer.  

  • Local T-Board at a glance

    After reading some very imaginative interpretations of what the county’s transportation board is, isn’t or should be, I feel compelled as recently elected board chair to try and dispel any misinformation about what the board is and what it is intended to be.
    The Los Alamos Transportation Board is a volunteer organization.  Like each board and commission, the job of the TB is to work with staff, review issues in the interest of the particular board, take public comment and make recommendations to council.  
    These recommendations do not have to be a reflection of public sentiment — the boards have the independence to act in what the board feels is giving its best advice.

  • Not so merry-go-round

    Razor blades are safe.  They are safe to safely use and their safe safety has been proven safe for safe use.  Safety people are safely using safety razor safety blades safely.  
    With safe safety razors, we can safely enjoy safe productive safe lives safe safe safe safe.
    Wow. Razor blades really must be safe! Welcome to Marketing 501.  
    A common technique used in presentations; repetitive repetitive repetitive reinforcement to drive drive drive into your skull the belief that something is true.  Say it enough times and it must be true.  
    And so it was with the presentation given by the California-based consulting firm at the county council meeting April 7.