Today's Opinions

  • Enchantment and economy in your own back yard

    Guest Columnist

  • Letters to the Editor 6-10-16

    Monitor story on
    Am-241 source moved to  LANL

    An article in the Friday Monitor, LANL partner in radioactive removal, relates LANL assisting NMED in moving a drum containing 8.63 Ci of Am-241 from Santa Fe to LANL for safe storage. The Santa Fe New Mexican carried an article on the same exercise. This article misstates the drum as containing 9.2 Kg of Am-241. I assume the Monitor value of roughly 9 Ci is correct. An Am-241 source containing 9.2 Kg of Am-241 would be about 32,000 Ci, i.e. a very large and dangerous source. A 9 Ci am-241 source would also be dangerous, if not shielded by the source shield and the drum that contained it.
    The principal radiation from Am-241 is alpha-particle, and alphas can not penetrate a sheet of paper or even the first layer of human skin (epidermis). I assume the source was in some type of lead (Pb) shield from which no alphas would escape. Approximately 60% of Am-241 decays are also accompanied by the emission of a 60-kev gamma ray that does penetrate further, but they would be totally absorbed by any Pb shield.
    The bottom line of this note is that the source in question was of minimal health hazard and certainly didn’t require up to $6 million or involve 40 people; it could have been safely transported in a common pickup driven carefully.
    Dr. T. Douglas Reilly, physicist,

  • Judging uncertainty is a risk

    The great blessing that science gives us humans is a growing supply of knowledge.  
    The great curse that science puts on us is a growing supply of knowledge.
    And everything we learn brings the next unknown, which may be a new cure, a new cause of harm, or a sizable chance of both.  
    The thorny work for us is to blend new knowledge safely into a busy world. Democracy slows the work to a tortoise’s pace, with so much time given to the enormous patchwork of public opinions.  
    So we keep doing our best to minimize the risks that are intertwined in a world of new knowledge, unknowns, and opinions of every shade. Our lot is called the human condition.
    Such struggles are often in the news, with scant history. Lead made news recently.  
    Hazards from lead predate Ancient Rome and were clarified as science grew. In the last century, science learned specific chances of harm to different people from lead in different amounts for enough time.  
    A proper question to ask is, “Should we get rid of lead in painted walls and lead in working pipes as soon as we have that knowledge?” After all, some children will eat leaded paint from walls. Lead pipe systems are mostly handled better.   

  • Letter to the Editor 6-5-16

    Sheriff Rojas would have tears in his eyes

    Remember when you said the sheriff and everyone knew you meant Louie Rojas? I have been here 49 years and I can’t remember another sheriff by name.
    It was an elected office and Louie was a born politician. He worked at Zia and called every male who worked at the Lab “doctor.”
    Louie’s kids were known as the sheriff and Patsy’s kids. Being sheriff wasn’t a job to him, it was a community service, and Patsy was serving right beside him.
    I don’t know what he was paid but he was the best P.R. person the county ever had.
    Louie is no longer with us, but I know wherever he is he has tears in his eyes.
    Camille Morrison
    White Rock

  • Loan Fund expands to state’s creative entrepreneurs

    In the first 15 months of its CreativeFund program, The Loan Fund helped more than 100 creative entrepreneurs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe secure a loan or receive training or advice to help turn their creative talents into successful business ventures.
    The program has been so successful, in fact, that The Loan Fund is planning to expand its offerings statewide.
    It’s all part of an effort by the nonprofit – a community development financial institution with an economic and social improvement mission – to serve a group of typically debt-averse individuals who support themselves through creative endeavors of some form, said Matt Loehman, The Loan Fund’s director of development and special projects.
    Changing mind-sets
    Creative enterprises are the primary source of income for more than 43,000 New Mexicans, according to a 2015 report by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. That’s equivalent to the number of New Mexicans who work in construction and 50 percent more than the number of manufacturing workers.

  • Presidential campaign turns into a pie-throwing contest

    Gary Johnson is saying something worth listening to. It’s about the conduct of the presidential election.
    New Mexico’s former governor is running for president again as the candidate of the Libertarian Party. He probably will be the only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. I am not a fan of Johnson or his political philosophy, but he’s absolutely right about the process.
    He tried to run as a Republican but was not given a chance to appear on Republican debate stages because he was not high enough in the polls. As he has said, the only way to get higher in the polls is to get enough exposure on TV. Debates are one critically important way to do that. The other way is through all the interviews Johnson didn’t get.
    Last fall and into the spring, when Republican candidates were interviewed, they were usually asked to comment on Donald Trump, and were not given a chance to talk about their own views on national policy. It was disgraceful.
    Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t get much exposure, either, you recall.
    Way back before the public was invited, a few network executives apparently decided which candidates were going to get coverage and which would be ignored.

  • Letter to the Editor 6-1-16

    Council’s handling of
    sheriff’s issues disappointing

    I am so ashamed for Los Alamos.  The county council this week managed to make me very sad in the way that the sheriff’s issues were handled. Normally, the council discusses things almost to the point of being ridiculous. But, this decision was done with little discussion and the timing seems very suspicious given that two council members were not present.
    Whether you agree with the argument that the county needs a sheriff department is really not the issue. The fact that four councilors decided to strip the department of its’ duties, save one, with only four days notice, is inexcusable. I definitely will not be voting for any of those involved if they are up for reelection in November.    
    As Pete Sheehey argued, (thank you for your sane voice) Sheriff Marco Lucero and deputies should have been given one more chance to voice their side. I am so mad I could say bad words, but they would not be printed. But, I bet the four councilors could hear them, if they only listened.
    Becky S. Scarborough
    Los Alamos

  • Former gov. Johnson leaning anti-Trump

    New Mexico is in the spotlight with three high-profile campaign visits, but another big day looms. The Libertarian Party will choose its candidate for president at the end of May. Gary Johnson is getting national attention from the left and the right - especially from the right - as the anti-Trump. Some pundits speculate that Johnson could even draw disgruntled Bernie supporters.
    Last week our former governor notched 10 percent support in a Fox News poll. Compare that with the 1 percent Johnson polled in 2012.
    It’s within striking distance of the 15 percent he needs to be part of televised debates. He sweetened his ticket with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as vice president. Weld is a Republican who was popular in a blue state.
    The Libertarians will probably be the only non-mainstream party to appear on the ballot in all 50 states. Which is why their Florida convention – and Gary Johnson – will draw unprecedented scrutiny.
    All this and he looks way better without a shirt than Vladimir Putin, said blogger Emily Zanotti.