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Columns

  • Off and On: Layoffs at nuke lab stir fears of a brain drain

    There was a very interesting story by the Associated Press out of California this past week.

    It dealt with fears of an irreplaceable loss of brain power as the result of layoffs at the nation’s top nuclear weapons design lab, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    It seems the lab has laid off hundreds of workers, raising concerns about a brain drain.

    Because of budget cuts and higher costs, Lawrence Livermore laid off 440 employees May 22-23. Over the past two-plus years, attrition and layoffs have reduced the work force by about 1,800.

  • PEEC SPEAKS: Wildflower Notes – It's Penstemon time

    One of the most beautiful times of the flowering year is the height of bloom of One-sided Penstemon (Penstemon secundiflorus).

    A walk out Bayo Bench trail is a good way to see these “nature’s snapdragons.” There are several hundred plants along the trail, some nearly2 feet high with many stems and blooms. Other plants are only 7-9 inches tall with a single stem.

    Regardless, their color is nearly indescribable. Lavender is the closest I can come but it doesn’t do justice to the soft, subtle hues of the blooms.

  • Fried Light: From Hollywood to Tamalewood

    All that glitters is not stardust.

    New Mexico has been offering lavish lubricants to the film industry for several years now in the form of loans and tax credits.

    Nothing creates the illusion of success quite like subsidies. And no place in the country has a better record for booms that bust than the western United States.

    Think gold. Think oil. Think celluloid.

    For a while, everybody wants the glamour. Everybody imagines the bucks. Everybody wants to get in on the act.

    But guess what? Subsidies are one hard act to sustain and a harder act to follow.

  • Medical Minute: The finest auxiliary anywhere

    This week, the Hospital Auxiliary of Los Alamos Medical Center celebrated its annual awards recognition and installation of new officers. While we all know that volunteers are the backbone of America, coming out in great numbers to help with such disasters as the Cerro Grande Fire or Hurricane Katrina, few probably understand the day-to-day, year-to-year dedication of an organization like LAMC’s – the finest auxiliary anywhere.

  • 2008: A class imbued with hope

    Maybe Thursday’s snow in what is usually dry, windy May set up the little miracle of synchronicity that reflects the Class of 2008: life opens to surprises. A class that was formed by the Cerro Grande Fire, 9-11 and the last seven years in wars whose investment in blood and treasure could bankrupt their future – this class marched through graduation into adulthood with the fire of hope.

  • OFF AND ON: Oil, gas revenues helping avoid budget problems

    While higher fuel prices hurt consumers – and the state highway fund – they are helping the rest of state government avoid a budget squeeze this year.

    This is despite a slowdown in the state's economy and an expected dip in certain tax collections, the Associated Press reported.

    The high revenues from oil and natural gas production are serving as a financial safety net for the state.

  • Off and On: Higher gas prices could mean more taxes

    State lawmakers are being warned that rising gasoline prices could aggravate financial problems confronting the state Department of Transportation and New Mexico’s highway system.

    The agency expects that as motorists cut back on their travel because of high gasoline prices, less money will flow to the state from New Mexico’s fuels taxes. Less fuel sold means less revenue to the state, based on per-gallon sold.

    And that is already happening.

  • Charting UNM-LA's vision for the future

    On April 25, Cedric Page, executive director of UNM - Los Alamos, convened the institution’s first Higher Education Summit.

    A special group of community leaders joined forces with the key UNM-LA staff to examine where UNM Los Alamos is going, how it will get there and what will it look like in the future.

  • If only you believed in numbers

    Phew, we missed another one. I can only assume that if you are reading this the end of the world did not happen Saturday - as was predicted.

    See, a group called BetCRIS.com released a statement that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world's population clock will hit 6,666,666,666 and that meant the end of the world was upon us.

    This is related to the "fearful" 666 number sequence, of which this is the biggest yet.

    Of course, there was a time when the population was 6,666 or 66,666, or 666.666, or 6,666,666, or ... well, you get the idea.

  • Fried Light: Debt in the saddle rides mankind

    In case nobody noticed, the country has been run on a vast array of debt instruments for quite awhile now.

    It is our common concession to the imperfectability of humans that we can all have a little more than we deserve, a little sooner than we can afford it, perhaps even a lot more of what we could never, ever have afforded.

    National debt, consumer debt, credit card debt, savings and loan debt, hedge-fund debt, mortgages, home-improvement loans and industrial revenue bonds. What ever happened to layaway?