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Columns

  • Could we have a word?

    Why is it that so many people want English to be our “national language” but they can’t speak or write it properly themselves?
    You can have your cake and eat it too, right? But if you have a cake, what’s the big deal about eating it?
    What people should say is, “You can eat your cake and have it, too.”
    And what’s with too? To? Two? There are two too many to’s in our language. And of course, there’s the tutu.
    English is really messed up. That’s what I like about math. Well, yeah, that’s messed up too (or two?), but at least I know what’s being said when someone speaks math.
    English is a different animal altogether (or maybe more like a vegetable). After a quiz, asked a student how she thought she did. She said, “I did good.”
    “So, you did some charity work while I wasn’t watching?”
    I explained, “Helping out others is doing good. On a quiz, you do well, not good.” She nodded (a monosynaptic defensive reflex used by students to get teachers to leave them alone) and said, “OK, I did well,” to which I replied, “Well, it’s good that you did well.”
    Back in high school, I didn’t appreciate the subtle humor woven throughout the DNA strands of English grammar.

  • New Mexico was on hand in Tokyo

    SANTA FE – As part of our centennial coverage, the following is the Japanese surrender ceremony ending WWII:

    On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan made formal the surrender it had declared on Aug. 15. The ceremony occurred aboard the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay.
    The Japanese delegation, unable to find any vessel seaworthy enough to take them into the bay, boarded an American destroyer to take them on the 16-mile
    journey.
    An impressive 258 Allied warships filled the bay, making it one of the most formidable displays of naval power ever assembled in one anchorage.
    Many more vessels could have joined them for the ceremony, but it was an invitation-only event for warships that had distinguished themselves in Pacific battles.
    The Battleship New Mexico was there, honored for her service in the Gilberts, Marshalls, Solomons, Marianas, Philippines and Okinawa. In her last two battles, she suffered three kamikaze hits, killing a total of 83, including the commanding officer, and injuring 206.
    Also present was Gen. Jonathon Wainwright, the beloved commanding officer who remained in the Philippines after MacArthur left.
    Wainwright, who had endured all the prison camp atrocities experienced by his troops and looking like a skeleton, was quickly rescued from a prison camp in China and brought to the ceremony.

  • State revenues looking OK

    Decent news about state government finances came to the Legislative Finance Committee at the group’s August meeting held in Angel Fire.
    “Decent news” means revenue into the general fund—$5.7 billion for fiscal year 2013, the current budget year—is expected to beat planned spending by $35 million with larger margins expected the next two years.
    So-called “new money” for the next budget year (FY 14), which will be addressed by the 2013 legislative session, is estimated at $198 million. New money is next year’s projected revenue minus appropriations for this year.
    The meeting was quiet, the room small, the crowd modest – maybe 50, including presenters. Good news is boring.
    The LFC’s August 2009 jaunt to Angel Fire provided a quite different scene. The room for that gathering was twice the size of this year’s. The crowd was at capacity, almost hanging from the figurative rafters. The tone was negative, toward nasty.
    Projected revenues were some hundreds of millions short of appropriated spending.
    This year LFC chair Sen. John Arthur Smith, Deming Democrat, bragged, properly, on the LFC’s role during the unhappy times. The LFC and the staff anticipated the downturn.

  • Martinez is one in a big field

    SANTA FE — We said two weeks ago that New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s selection as a Republican National Convention speaker was a slam-dunk for the committee.
    Republicans have significant problems with women and minorities so the selection of several minority women with high offices was an easy call.
    And now comes the news that our governor will speak immediately before Paul Ryan’s address.
    That is a real coup. Her slot is being touted as second only to keynoter Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the final night of the convention.
    Every one of the multitude of convention speakers has a special message to deliver.
    Martinez was chosen to tell the inspiring story of her life and to talk about what needs to be done to keep the promise of America for the next generation.
    Other women governors chosen as speakers are South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. Other women on the convention program are U.S. Rep Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Ann Romney.

  • Pink is not the only color for cancer patients

    Hands up. Who knows which cancer teal represents? No one? Who even knows what color teal is, anyway?
    OK, if you’ve read any of my columns you’ll know the answer is ovarian cancer. I started you on an easy one. Here’s a more difficult one. What are the symptoms? Can you remember from last September’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month?
    “Uh, bloating maybe, pain, some kind of pain.” Well, if you didn’t come up with four out of the following five then my work here isn’t done: bloating, pelvic pain, urinary symptoms, digestive irregularity and fatigue. Didn’t get them all? Then I hope you never do, because 2 out of 3 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die of their disease.
    Who knew that there were other colors of the cancer rainbow than pink? Who knew that there are other cancers we should all be educated to be aware of?
    This month when I went into my cancer clinic, every staff member was wearing a pink ribbon T-shirt. If I go into the hobby shops, after having searched high and low for teal trinkets, I have to gaze at a check out rack full of pink ribbons, pink pens with ribbons, a pink-ribboned Hello Kitty, a pink ribbon flashlight…. the list goes on.

  • Obama taking softball questions

    SANTA FE — The White House press corps, which covers every move of President Barack Obama, owes a big thank you to an Albuquerque pop music station.
    Last Friday morning, the president accepted an invitation for an on-air chat with KOB-FM’s “Morning Mayhem” co-hosts Carlos Duran, Kiki Garcia and Danny Vigil.
    Presidents do that sort of thing from time to time, but the White House press corps has been feeling ignored recently because the escalating battle between presidential candidates has produced an atmosphere in which neither candidate had been inclined to take questions from the press corps.
    Just look at the battle of gaffes and their exploitation by the opposing camp to see why Obama and Mitt Romney prefer to confine themselves to prepared remarks.
    But last weekend, President Obama’s team made a quick pivot. Last Monday morning, Obama submitted to a grilling by reporters. Former Gov. Romney was in Hobbs Wednesday. We’ll see if New Mexico’s enchantment caused him to sit and talk with press corps reporters.
    According to news coverage of Obama’s conversation with reporters, little new information was imparted. Readers may have learned more from the light-hearted conversation with the KOB radio crew.

  • Medicaid is black and white and red all over

    Last week, the state’s leading economist waded into the Medicaid debate.
    “I think we should seriously think of saying yes to Medicaid,” said Lee Reynis, director of UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. “It’s an opportunity to develop health-care infrastructure, especially in rural areas. The federal government is willing to pay the freight for much of it.”
    BBER’s forecasting models indicate New Mexico would receive $3.9 billion from the federal government from 2014 to 2020, and the expansion would create thousands of new jobs. Reynis was speaking to Economic Forum, a nonpartisan business group. I was surprised at the comment, which came at the end of an otherwise gloomy look at the economy.
    Medicaid expansion has become an election issue. The Supreme Court, in upholding the Affordable Care Act, removed the mandate to expand the program, giving states a choice. Expansion supporters and detractors have their boilerplate arguments, so true believers can take a position without thinking.  If you’re in the middle – I’m sorry – you’ll just have to think.

  • NMFA oversight? The buck keeps moving

    It seems nobody was minding the store at the New Mexico Finance Authority.  
    Still attempting to learn how a fake audit could get past management and board, the Associated Press found that two Cabinet secretaries on the board never attended a meeting. Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary John Bemis did send representatives. Environment Secretary David Martin attended about half. Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration Tom Clifford attended most of the meetings.
    Aha! The buck stops here.
    Well, no, it keeps on moving.
    Barela has said he serves on 31 boards, commissions, and task forces and is actively involved in about a half dozen. Other Cabinet secretaries have similar demands. What does this say for the quality of their time on NMFA business?
    Bemis has said the board relies heavily on the NMFA staff, and that’s true across the public and private sectors. So maybe the buck stops there.

  • H. Clifton fondly remembered

    SANTA FE — Hoyt Clifton arrived in Santa Fe just a few years after I got here in 1965.
    It seemed as though he was the New Mexico elections expert from the beginning but his obituary says he was just the voting machine specialist for the first few years.
    It’s interesting. Clifton came to Santa Fe because of his knowledge of handling the huge 850-pound voting machines of the day. Today, we are back to a pencil and paper.
    As long as I can remember when anyone had a question about elections they called Hoyt.
    He could explain anything in the election code because he had written most of it. If it was a complicated question, he would patiently explain the background and the problem it was designed to correct.
    Many amendments to the election code are introduced every year. Those who worked with Clifton say he could look at any bill and immediately be able to explain what the sponsor was trying to do.
     One day I called the Secretary of State’s Office and the secretary of state herself answered the phone.
    She said Hoyt was not there but that she could help me. I’m sure she could have helped but I was so accustomed to talking with Hoyt that I said to just have him call Jay Miller went he got back.

  • Pet talk: Protecting horses from West Nile

    The West Nile Virus cases in humans and horses have been on the rise in 2012, and, according to the CDC, human cases are at their highest levels since West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.
    Dr. Tracy Norman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) Large Animal Clinic, suggests protecting horses by vaccinating against the disease and taking measures to prevent mosquito bites.
    The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes from avian hosts to humans and horses. Both humans and horses are considered “dead-end” hosts of West Nile Virus, which means it is not contagious from horse to horse or horse to human.
    If bitten by an infectious mosquito, the virus can multiply in the blood system, cross the blood brain barrier, and infect the brain. There, it can cause inflammation of the brain, interfering with central nervous system functions.
    Most horses infected with the virus do not exhibit signs of the disease. For those that do, however, symptoms are similar to other neurologic diseases and can include impairment of basic motor skills (including loss of coordination or asymmetrical weakness, a change in behavior, or drowsiness.