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Today's Opinions

  • The Great War at 100: Revisiting the Guns of August

    On August 3, 1914, British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey gave a speech before Parliament that “proved to be one of those junctures by which people afterward date events,” according to Barbara Tuchman in her magisterial “The Guns of August.”
    The dour secretary appeared “pale, haggard and worn,” as he dutifully explained “British interests, British honor and British obligations,” all of which conspired to produce a commitment to defend Belgium against the militarism of the continent’s mightiest power: Imperial Germany.
    The issue involved more than the troublesome neutrality of that inconveniently situated little country. A few hours after Grey’s speech, Germany declared war on France, with the full expectation that victory would be achieved “before the leaves have fallen from the trees,” as Kaiser Wilhelm II declared. The day ended with Grey remarking that “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” — words that proved prescient. The gloomy German Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke conjured a more farsighted scenario when he exclaimed to a colleague that their country was embarking on “the struggle that will decide the course of history for the next hundred years.” 

  • EPA’s carbon pollution rules good for business, economy

    Some national business organizations have hammered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing new rules on carbon pollution from existing power plants, cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using 2005 levels as a baseline. What planet are they on?
    It’s ludicrous to pretend that climate change isn’t happening, or that it won’t affect every industry. It’s beyond comprehension that large business advocacy organizations, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, think that our government should stand by and do nothing, while climate-related disasters in 2012 caused more than $139 billion in damages, while U.S. taxpayers shelled out $96 billion in climate-related damages in 2012 alone, or while sea levels rise 6.6 feet by 2100 — enough to swamp Miami.
    Let’s be clear: the costs from carbon pollution will be terrible for business. Climate change poses tremendous risks — insurance premiums will skyrocket, electricity prices will soar, jobs will be lost, food and transportation costs will dramatically rise and taxes will likely increase in order to pay for needed infrastructure upgrades.

  • We are rut, so fight we musth

    Musth is a period in which adult elephants experience “testosterone overload,” inducing extreme levels of agitation, violent tendencies and rogue behavior. During musth, elephants discharge a thick tar-like substance called temporin, a warning sign that the elephant may charge in a dangerous frenzy with no apparent provocation at all.
    For male moose and elk, this testo-explosion is called “rut,” during which the animals fight with each other.
    And that urge to fight is simply uncontrollable. Elephants will charge almost anyone or anything in a seemingly mindless state of enraged fury. Moose in rut go head-to-head with each other (literally) in an attempt to demonstrate who is the superior male.
    It’s a macho-fest of the animal world, where “kill or be killed” is replaced with “kill and impress the girls!”
    The etymology of musth is very apropos. The word derives from the Persian “mast” meaning “intoxicated.” When raging in a manic killing craze, an animal exhibits the same level of judgment one might expect from someone who has ingested a dozen glasses of rum and coke (minus the coke).

  • Pet Talk: Be aware of benign tumors in dogs

    The discovery of a fatty tumor underneath your pet’s skin can be disconcerting to any pet owner. Luckily, the most common fatty tumors, lipomas, are benign and usually not cause for concern.
    “Lipomas are common tumors of dogs, and although the gross appearance and texture of these tumors is characteristic, they are benign tumors in most cases,” said Dr. Rita Ho, veterinary intern instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
    Most lipomas feel fairly soft and movable under the skin and do not usually typically make pets uncomfortable unless they are in a location where normal movement is disrupted. Once your pet develops a lipoma, it is common for additional tumors to appear. If this does occur, each tumor should be checked individually.
    “Dogs can form lipomas under any conditions, even if the dog is in good body condition,” said Dr. Ho. “It is not related to any known cause or environmental factor.”

  • Tasks to survive back-to-school

     

    Parents, if this is your first time at the back-to-school rodeo, let me share a few lessons my wife and I have learned the hard way. Chances are you’ll be spending the next few weeks filling out piles of pre-enrollment paperwork, lining up carpools and, of course, taking the dreaded shopping excursions for clothes and school supplies.

    If you’re a first-timer or simply need a back-to-school refresher course, here are a few suggestions that can help you save time, money and sanity:

    Get organized. Maintain a correspondence file from your kid’s school for things like registration requirements, report cards, permission slips, required vaccinations, school policies, teacher and parent contact information, etc. Ask whether the school has a website, online calendar, or email list you can join. Also, create a family master calendar.

  • New online tool helps manufacturers measure up against world-class standards

     

    Manufacturing businesses that want to know how their performance stacks up against industry standards have a new tool to make that measurement — and it’s available at no cost.

    The Manufacturing Performance Institute, in conjunction with the American Small Manufacturers Coalition and the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, created the Next Generation Manufacturing Assessment Tool after surveying thousands of United States manufacturers in 2009, 2011 and 2013. 

    The biennial survey asks manufacturers what strategic benchmarks they use to measure their efficiency and effectiveness in six critical areas: human resources, supply-chain management, sustainability, process improvement, innovation and global engagement. The tool based on this survey allows manufacturers of all kinds to see how they compare with world-class industry practices and standards by comparing their responses to those of thousands of other top manufacturers. 

  • Open N.M. primaries to get better government

    In a primary election in the not-too-distant future, a handful of voters will come tottering into the polls on walkers and canes and decide which candidates everyone will vote on in the general election.
    OK, I’m exaggerating a little.
    Only one in five voters — those declaring themselves either a Democrat or Republican — marked a ballot in the June primary, and yet more New Mexicans consider themselves independents. “Declined to state,” or DTS, in bureaucratese. Nationally, independents now make up 45 percent of the electorate.
    Studies show that young Americans increasingly describe themselves as political independents, and recently an Albuquerque Journal poll showed the same trends in New Mexico. For 18 to 24-year-olds, 38 percent are independents, compared with 36 percent Democrats and 25 percent Republicans. The older the voter, the more likely they are to occupy a party camp.
    Our younger generation is disgusted by the deadlocks in Congress (aren’t we all) and they don’t want to be hemmed in by the narrow ideologies of either major party.
    Who can blame them?

  • The 'Walmart effect' on Main Street

    Smith’s Marketplace offers a beautiful place for “one-stop” shopping. Enjoy any meal and a delicious selection of chocolate, ice cream and cake for dessert. Afterwards, shop from an impressive selection of organic foods, clothes, toys, pet supplies, electronics and household goods. Keep people from driving to Santa Fe? How about keep people from driving down to our local restaurants, CB Fox, Metzgers, Pet Pangaea, Radio Shack and the Los Alamos Co-op Market? This will be the “Walmart effect” on Main Street.
    Studies show that when Walmart moves in, small businesses close their doors, unable to compete with big retail’s buying power. Within two years of Walmart’s opening its doors, 82 local stores went out of business. Mom and Pop stores experience a 10 to 40 percent decline in sales after a Walmart opens and businesses within one mile of a Walmart Supercenter have a 25 percent chance of shutting down in the first year, a 40 percent chance by the second year.