Today's Opinions

  • Cybersecurity, video analytics deals among LANL moves

    Technologies wander from our national laboratories and become companies employing people. But in the view of David Pesiri and his bosses at Los Alamos National Laboratories, far too few have wandered from the laboratory and, of those, far too many have escaped New Mexico.
    One wanderer, Decision Sciences International Corp. of Poway, Calif., near San Diego, was briefly mentioned by The Economist in an article headlined, “The Nuke Detectives.” The firm’s “revolutionary and disruptive technology, originally invented” by LANL physicists, scans for contraband including nuclear threats.  
    David Pesiri is changing things. Pesiri, a chemist with 21 publications under his belt, leads LANL’s Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation.
    “As a model, ‘technology transfer’ is dead,” Pesiri told the New Mexico Industrial Development Executives Association at IDEA’s September meeting in Los Alamos. The old passive sounding model had something to do with LANL getting patents and posting notices about the patents.
    Last year Pesiri wrote about the new way for Innovation magazine.

  • Reclamation award shows range of ways to heal land

    Ernie Casias stood beside a clear cylinder that was tumbling sand mixed with foam. Not just any foam – engineered foam. “It’s like mixing shaving cream and sand,” he explained.
    Engineered foam and cellular concrete are just two materials used in reclamation of abandoned mines and other disturbed lands.
    Exhibitors at the annual conference of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Lands Programs, meeting last week in Santa Fe, displayed such a range of expertise and products, I wished everyone could see it because it might change the conversation about development of all kinds.
    Images of the leaking Gold King mine and other eyesores come readily to mind, but most people don’t realize how sophisticated environmental science has become. Regulations play a role, but it’s become an arena for entrepreneurs with new ideas for reclaiming a construction site, a tailings pile or a drill pad.
    Casias represents ConDeck Corp. of Albuquerque, which uses a process developed by Aerix Industries, of Colorado, to make lightweight “cellular concrete.” Imagine mixing ugly mine tailings with foamy concrete and pumping the stuff back in a mine as fill or support.

  • Talk of carnivals and clowns

    Pity the folks whose jobs require them to make sense of lunacy. The media in all their forms are overrun with it, and it is pulverizing that which passes for political discourse today.
    As last week came to a close, the Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and his hard-right GOP cohorts in Congress were threatening another of their federal government shutdowns if funding for Planned Parenthood is not stripped from a stop-gap budget bill that had to be passed if a shutdown was to be avoided come Oct. 1.
    It was chaos, with widespread talk among House Republicans that Boehner’s hold on the speakership itself was hanging in the balance if the far-righters in his caucus didn’t get their way on this one.
    So Boehner just up and resigned.   
    The situation became so worrisome that New Mexico Democratic Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham dispatched a communique to her constituents reminding them that “80 percent of the women who rely on Planned Parenthood are low-income.”
    “We should be working to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, not taking away their health care,” she added.

  • Bernie Sanders’ appeal has America puzzled

    Center for Visions and Values

  • Memorizing lessons isn’t rigor – it’s rigor mortis

    Like any professional discipline, the academic arena is littered with educational jargon.
     Today, an effective teacher must exemplify intersegmental critical-thinking, recontextualize synergistic concept-maps, and benchmark technology-infused pedogogical schemas.
     Personally, I don’t mind jargon. but there is one word that seems to be more abused than any other.  Rigor.
     Educational rigor involves the creation of a focused coherent learning environment that fosters critical thinking, encourages mastery of the material, and challenges students to help them build a sense of accomplishment.
     In short, rigor raises the bar, preparing students for moving on to more advanced topics and applications.
     There is little applicable training to guide teachers how to establish and nurture rigor in the classroom. Consequently, teachers strongly disagree regarding what constitutes “rigor.”
     In math classes, “rigor” is often tossed like a didactic grenade, purposely confusing students with needlessly difficult problems. Teachers expect students to memorize long lists of complex formulas and to work out problems with large or complicated looking numbers.

  • The Pope, climate change and VW

    Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

  • Pope’s visit reveals political battle lines

    While papal visits to the United States are increasingly common, what is uncommon is to see political-ideological battle lines drawn around a pope. The tendency this time is especially acute among liberals, who eagerly frame Francis as one of them – a categorization Francis has resisted. “I’m sure that I haven’t said anything more than what’s written in the social doctrine of the Church,” he said as his plane approached U.S. soil.
    To some degree, liberals are certainly justified in linking Pope Francis to many of their concerns – climate change, wealth redistribution, poverty. And even many conservatives seem to concede this pope to the political left. In truth, however, both sides lack a full picture.
    To illustrate the point, I’ll focus on the subject area that brings Pope Francis here to America to begin with: a major international Catholic Church synod on family and marriage.
    Though Francis is absolutely forgiving and charitable and merciful, including to homosexuals, when it comes to marriage and family, this pope has been unflinchingly orthodox in support of historic Church teaching. Some of his language has been even stronger than his predecessors. The extent to which that is true is at times shocking. Here are just a few examples:

  • John Boehner, behind the tears

    WASHINGTON — The “regular guy with a big job” has seemed at the center of palace intrigue forever, a man to shake things up in the old days, to be plotted against on and off ever since.
    There was nothing regular about John Boehner’s rise and fall and rise and fall in the House, nothing constant except that tan and the smoke-filled rooms wherever he was allowed to light up.
    Boehner’s announced exit as House speaker and from Congress altogether caps a political career that began as the head of a homeowners association in an Ohio neighborhood and made him second in line to the presidency.
    A firm opponent of abortion rights, he was essentially undone by disaffection from conservatives who want to push an anti-abortion struggle over Planned Parenthood financing to the point of closing the government, a step too far for him. He was once one of the agitators – a member of the Newt Gingrich Gang of Seven who seized the Republican congressional agenda, then the reins of House power, in the 1990s. He was ultimately undone by tea partyers and other conservatives he’d kept in line as speaker for nearly five years – barely, and at a cost.