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Columns

  • Something's happening out in the country

    Television cop shows have a mantra that there is no such thing as a coincidence. In the journalist-analyst cosmos, sometimes things happen at the same time. These things, being quite different, have to be a coincidence (or are they?). But the timing creates curiosity about underlying commonalities.
    Events reported Oct. 24 and 25 suggest hunting for insights or patterns or defining opportunity might be useful. The people creating these events may see and be acting upon opportunities missed by the powers that be, buried as they are in government dependence wailing.
    All these events happened in rural New Mexico except the first, which was the detail added Oct. 24 by the Department of Workforce Solutions to the federal jobs report released a week earlier. The salient detail is that the seven counties comprising the four metro areas (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington) lost 2,700 jobs between them.
    Maybe something is happening out in the country.
    Robert Goddard started testing rockets around Roswell in the 1930s. Flight-related testing and practice continue at the Roswell International Air Center where B-52s wander by for touch-and-go drills.

  • Some families have politics in gene pool

    Political dynasties are a hot topic lately because of potential runs by a Bush or a Clinton. We have our share in New Mexico.
    In this election cycle, we heard most often about the King family, but other candidates (at this writing we don’t know who prevailed) grew up with politics in their Cheerios.
    Take the two men competing for state land officer.
    Incumbent Ray Powell Jr.’s father, a mechanical engineer, came to New Mexico in 1943 to work on the Manhattan Project and helped found Sandia National Laboratories. He retired in 1985, ran for governor and lost to Garrey Carruthers.
    In 1963, when all state employees were political appointees, Gov. Jack Campbell assigned Powell to develop and implement a state personnel system, which he did, with integrity and fairness. In 1988, Powell became state chairman of a Democratic Party fractured along geographical and ideological fault lines, which spawned coalition control of the Legislature. Under Powell’s leadership, Democrats won majorities, and the coalitions ended.
    When he died in 2010 at 90, columnist Jay Miller wrote, “New Mexico has lost one of its greatest public servants.”
    Powell’s opponent, Republican Aubrey L. Dunn, another junior, is the son of a legislative powerhouse.

  • Pet Talk: Dogs can get diabetes

    Canine diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a common disease in dogs and is the result of inadequate insulin production.
    “Canine diabetes is usually caused by an immune mediated attack on the pancreas, which is likely related to genetic predispositions,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It may also be secondary to chronic pancreatitis, or may occur in intact females following their heat cycle.”
    Some predisposed breeds include the cairn terrier, the dachshund, and miniature poodles. Although these breeds have a higher incidence than others, all dogs have a chance of becoming affected.
    Diabetes mellitus is known to cause excessive thirst and urination due to the high concentrations of glucose in the bloodstream. “Hunger is also a common symptom in the early stages of diabetes, followed by rapid weight loss,” said Dr. Cook. “Vision loss is sometimes reported.”
    Glucose appears in the urine, and can predispose the patient to urinary tract infections. Untreated, other signs such as vomiting, dehydration and lethargy are expected.

  • Calculators: the first sign of alien invasion

    Quick, what’s 44 percent of 25? Most adults know how to do this, but would have trouble doing it in their head.
    But ask them to find 25 percent of 44.
    That’s a horse of a different math!
    Virtually every adult knows that 25 percent is 1/4 and so 25 percent of 44 is 11. Percentage is simply a multiplicative factor, meaning you divide by 100. So 44 percent of 25 is the same thing as 25 percent of 44, right?
    Ask the same question to a student in middle school, or high school, or even college. It’s a good bet that they won’t know the answer and the only way they can solve it is to pull out a calculator and start punching numbers.
    And if you did try explaining that they could simply take 25 percent of 44, it’s likely that they would push those buttons to figure that one out, too.
    Our children are carrying these portable black holes that are literally sucking intelligence out of their skulls.
    I’m beginning to think that it’s a conspiracy, a plot to dumb down our entire world! Those electronic know-it-alls are slowly turning our nation’s youth into know-it-nothings. Instead of developing sharp minds, kids are honing their dull fingertips.

  • Early childhood home visiting programs have lots of value

    “Home visiting” is a program strategy designed to promote child wellbeing through the delivery of a variety of informational, educational, developmental and support services to families. It would be a shame for good practice to become jeopardized by misinformation distributed as part of political campaign. It seems that some clarification is needed.
    New Mexico has several models of home visiting programs serving communities throughout the state including First Born, Parents as Teachers, Nurse Family Partnership and Early Head Start, to name a few.
    It is a misconception that these are radical, government-monitored programs. Home visiting in New Mexico is funded by several sources including private philanthropy as well as government through the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. Programs are run by teams of trained healthcare workers and parent educators who are caring, culturally sensitive and supportive of children and families’ individual needs.

  • Uncle Sam only one seizing public lands

    In a recent New York Times editorial, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich asserted that supporters of a transfer of some federal lands to the states are engaged in a “land grab.”
    He’s not just wrong he’s inverting the truth completely. It is actually the federal government that has “grabbed” New Mexicans’ lands. In the past two years, Heinrich endorsed the federal government’s placing of more than 783,000 acres of New Mexico land, much of it private or “multiple-use” in two highly restrictive “monument” designation (the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain monuments).
    Ironically, while any effort to return some federal lands to New Mexico control would require the support and buy-in of large numbers of state and local officials, these two wilderness areas were declared by the Obama Administration without so much as a single vote in Congress.
    It is no surprise that Heinrich would support such a real land-grab as he is known for reflexively supporting the radical environmental lobbying groups in Washington. He has a 93 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters and boasted a 100 percent score in 2013.

  • Workforce Solutions is an oxymoron

    I voted early this year. On the afternoon of Oct. 21 as matter of fact, exactly two weeks to the day before the Nov. 4 general election.
    Actually, early voting has become something of a tradition around my house.
    After months of following the campaigns, watching seemingly endless hours of offensive, negative political TV ads and pondering the choices that will confront me when I enter my polling place, it just feels good to cast my ballot and be done with it.
    I have sometimes wondered if I’m not subconsciously operating on the assumption that if I vote early they’ll shut up out there, stop insulting my intelligence with all those bogus charges and phony claims, which no one, save the most intoxicated partisan, believes in the first place.
    The subconscious is quite often delusional, on the other hand.
    This year my decision to early-vote and get it over with was stimulated by a “news” release that burped up in my email from an agency of state government, known as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

  • School system working to keep kids off drugs

    An article in the Sunday’s Los Alamos Monitor, posed the question of illegal drug use in our community. The drug awareness event, which was held in Duane Smith Auditorium, presented an opportunity for community members to voice concerns on illegal drug use.
    As superintendent of the Los Alamos Public Schools, I would be naïve to say that drugs have not made their way into our schools and our community. But in saying this, I would state very affirmatively school staff and administration are very vigilant in identifying, responding to, and preventing drug use in schools. Moreover, our school board has in place firm and unequivocal policies aimed at keeping drugs and tobacco out of our schools while providing sensible second chances to young people who many have made a mistake.
    Safe and civil schools are one of three non-negotiable goals of our school system. As such, staff and administration, in partnership with students, parents, and school resource officers are continually on alert for behaviors that suggest a student may be under the influence or in possession of illegal substances at school.

  • What's the fairy tale ending?

    If I thought having cancer was easy, I’d forgot to factor in that life doesn’t always turn out how you planned. It’s not so much that having cancer is hard. It’s not being able to conquer it that’s tough.
    For two years, I’ve gone from drug to drug, initially glowing in the euphoric feeling that it’s going to work, and is working against the cancer, only to find out six months down the line that my body, yet again, is retreating from the invading army. The days when the drugs conquered all, and I could have six, 12, even three years free to live a normal life, seem now a long way away.
    So what’s so different about conquering cancer and knowing it’s your destiny? I would say in a nutshell: accepting the truth and learning to breathe through it. For more than three years while I was in remission, even though I was on maintenance chemotherapy, I was able to write about hope, about living life large in the face of cancer, about stopping to smell the roses. But as soon as my cancer came back, and wouldn’t give me a break, the words dried up. I couldn’t understand it. For someone who had found it so easy to see the colors in the face of blindness, my fingers wouldn’t type, my heart wouldn’t give and the block became a constant frustration.

  • Charter change is flawed on many levels

    The debate over Charter Question 2 has rightly concentrated on the basic issue: whether the checks and balances relationship between the Board of Public Utilities and the county council that has worked well for 46 years should be replaced by a system in which council has unilateral control over utilities. Several smaller or less direct issues also merit consideration.
    A core argument used to support Ballot Question 2 is that only the council is accountable to citizens. Yet Question 2, should it pass, could actually make council less accountable. The proposed new Article V adds a new provision — Sec. 504 (f), which says “the DPU budget will identify a percentage of DPU revenues for transfer to the county general fund based on a formula agreed to by the board and council.” Any monies assessed through utility bills and transferred to the county general fund via this new route is effectively a tax. It just wouldn’t be called that. Citizens can see actual tax rates and hold councilors accountable. It would be difficult to figure out what implicit taxes might be hidden in utility bills. Council would, in practice, be less accountable for their revenues and the spending they enable.