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Today's Opinions

  • Political emails: Outrageousness to love

    Like phone calls around the country between potential Gary Johnson supporters, political emails get little attention. That’s unfortunate because the grandiose and stupid style of a good many of these emails supports the notion that the other side is evil and worse, thereby feeding the much-lamented hyper-partisanship of today’s political world.
    For New Mexicans, a second reason to notice such messages is that one of our representatives in Congress, Ben Ray Lujan, is nominally responsible for some of them. Luján chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a job he got via appointment by House Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Luján’s duties, beyond electing more Democrats to Congress, aren’t clear, nor is the time required.
    Presumably, DCCC time takes Luján away from tending constituent duties, such as follow-up on the 2015 mine waste spill into the Animas River. On July 5, NBCnews.com published a 1,575-word fluff piece without mentioning task and time topics. The story dwelt on Luján’s “Uncle Gus’s wingtip shoes.”
    I get these emails from both parties and their friends and until a year ago got DCCC emails. Maybe because I didn’t donate. There were ten DCCC emails in August 2015 through the 28th. The DCCC program continues, DCCC said.

  • Letters to the Editor 8-17-16

    New WIPP Accident Theory Implausible

    A new theory advanced by Charles Bowman that a hydrogen deflagration caused the 2014 Waste Isolation Pilot Plant accident is implausible. It contains errors and omissions that should be corrected.
    I spent most of my 30-plus years of corporate experience dealing with TRU waste. As the manager of the Los Alamos National Laboratory plutonium analysis section, I had hands-on generation of portions of LANL’s TRU waste. Under contract to Sandia National Lab, I led a LANL team to conduct many lab experiments on alpha radiolytic gas generation of TRU waste under conditions expected at WIPP. Al Zerwekh, mentioned by Bowman, was a member of this team.  This was followed by my working in LANL’s TRU waste management operations developing strategies to work off LANL’s TRU waste inventory based on its characteristics. I am a LANL retiree – “Class of 2005.”

  • How to find the right financial advisor

    BY NATHAN SILLIN
    Practical Money

  • Court decision makes small farmers more like small businesses

    Is a small family farm a business, a hobby, a living museum or something else?  
    It’s increasingly clear we can’t have it both ways – business and quaint tradition. The recent state Supreme Court decision on workers’ comp coverage for farms and ranches puts that in sharp relief.
    The court decided the special exemption for farmers and ranchers is unconstitutional. Agricultural employers are now required to buy insurance if they have three or more employees, just like other small businesses. (Construction is an exception, requiring all employers to have coverage.)
    One insurance professional commented to me that he is impatient at the way New Mexico has coddled family farmers. They are running businesses, he said. They should develop budgets like other businesses, make businesslike decisions about who is an employee and treat employees as the laws require.
    That’s what this court decision will force them to do, but we also may be losing a valuable part of our traditional culture. The change will mean more formality and bureaucracy. Probably some family farms will be scared to hire anybody, even when they need help, and some farmers will decide farming is not worth the trouble.  

  • We fill budget holes instead of creating a dynamic economy

    David Abbey, the longtime director of the Legislative Finance Committee, has said the state is running on fumes, and he’s not one to exaggerate.
    Because the recession hangs on and oil and gas prices dropped, tax revenues were down for 11 months of the last fiscal year by a whopping $543.3 million. Even though legislators cut budgets and swept spare change from every possible corner during the last session, we’re now spending money we don’t have.
    That might be a fine American tradition, but it’s illegal. The federal government can run deficits; New Mexico state government can’t.
    So Democrats, now joined by some Republicans, want a special session, but the governor is waiting for numbers from the entire year – as if one month’s revenues will make a difference – before calling a special session.
    Nobody likes a special session, especially during an election year, when the inevitable ugly decisions could affect votes.
    But the longer they wait, the worse it gets. They’ve used cash reserves to plug the hole, so the account hovers at 1 percent of state spending, or $63 million, down from $319.8 million last year. Good governance calls for higher balances.

  • Innovation comes from entrepreneurs, major corporations, children

    Countries become more prosperous by producing and selling more stuff. One approach is having more people produce the same amount for each person. This might apply in New Mexico where a low proportion of our population works. Just hire more people.
    Using technology to have each person produce more is better. Or combine old ideas into a new application, the technique of Vasari21 (vasari21.com), a Taos-based website launched by Ann Landi, a four-year Taos resident transplanted from New York City. Landi has been a freelance writer for publications including the Wall Street Journal and ArtNews.
    Vasari21, is an online publication directed at artists, not art consumers. “There’s nothing like it,” she says. With decades of contacts at the top of the art world and with the internet, Landi is able to operate from Taos.
    Topics include how artists make their way, why critics act the way they do, and talking to a gallery.
    So far, so good, she says. Vasari21 has “a very low bounce rate.”
    Landi has learned that means people stick around the site for a while instead of clicking away in a few seconds.
    Major corporate innovation came recently to my Gillette brand shaving cream, made by Proctor and Gamble. The shaving cream cap has been a 2.5 inch diameter, two-inch-high plastic item.

  • Letters to the Editor 8-10-16

    Public School
    retirees invited to breakfast

    If you live in the Western Area, you’ve heard the high school band back at work, football practice has started, and a school supply list is up at Smith’s. This part of the summer must be getting us ready for Back to School.
    Los Alamos Public School Retired employees are invited to the organization’s only yearly meeting at the NOT-Back-to-School Breakfast Aug. 18.
    Breakfast is at 9 a.m. and will be at Kelly Hall of Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church. At the request of attendees last year, a more full protein-based breakfast will be available. The cost this year is $11 per person.
    RSVPs must be in well before midnight Aug. 15, along with your request for the lighter breakfast or the protein-based meal. Contact Emily Engle (larse@ieee.org) or Eileen Trujillo (662-6533, etrueheo@gmail.com). Contact me with your e-mail if you haven’t already (drummer@rt66.com).
    Judy Crocker
    Los Alamos

    Thank you for support for this year’s Chalk Walk

    The Los Alamos Arts Council hosted the seventh-annual Secretary Sandoval Chalk Walk again this year.

  • Ingenuity is our best hope for the future

    “Cardboard” is a versatile concept. A “cardboard” person is thoroughly unattractive—flat, stiff, dull and banal. By contrast, real cardboard is a marvel – efficient, sturdy, useful and adaptable.
    “Cardboard box” is a generic name for boxes of all uses and sizes made from paper-like materials. Think of cereal boxes, juice boxes, a box of candy, brown boxes that store archives, shipping boxes and the “shoebox,” that cache of humble treasures.
    It is no small truth that kids take to the empty box as eagerly as they play with the grand toy that came in the box. What else makes so fine a fort, a lion house and a big bass drum? So strong is the cardboard box’s appeal as a child’s plaything that in 2005 a cardboard box was added to the National Toy Hall of Fame. It is true.
    The cardboard box drove us to reuse stuff long before it was a strategy. Cardboard was well suited for recycling long before recycling was thought about. The gods of yore may have helped more than we know.
    In the 1870s, corrugated cardboard hit the market and began to replace wooden shipping crates. The term “tree hugger” was used in India as long ago as 1730. The term was reborn in the 1960s and is popular today as an honor or an insult in natural resource conflicts.