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Today's Opinions

  • Plastic bag bans are full of misconceptions

    I’m writing to voice my opposition to the idea of a plastic grocery bag ban that’s been going around lately.
    Bag bans have become the latest Eco-Fad for people that don’t have anything better to do than to punish everyone for the actions of a few. They are just a warm fuzzy feel good idea that’s completely ineffective.
    Most of the time I shop at Smith’s I bring my own cloth bags since they are sturdy, carry more, and I get bonus rewards points for doing so.  However, I don’t keep any cloth bags in my truck for various reasons, so if I’m driving my truck I need the plastic or paper bags available at the store. Today I rode with a friend to Smith’s to get some lunch. I don’t carry my cloth bags in my wallet, so used plastic provided by Smith’s.
    I re-use my grocery bags for many things. I’ve actually run out of bags at the house and had to intentionally leave my cloth bags in the car on the next shopping trip just so that I could obtain more.
    Plastic bags are likely the most re-purposed and reused product that people bring into their home! If there is a bag ban, I’ll just have to buy them from Amazon.

  • The high costs of Boehner

    As these lines are written the bumptious Republican majority that controls the U.S. House seems prepared to shut down the Department of Homeland Security or, perhaps, avoid a shutdown by funding its operations for only three weeks.
    It’s madness. By a large bipartisan margin, the Senate has already sent the House a measure funding the department through September. It is a straight-forward funding bill, no gimmicks, no distractions.
    But wingnuts in the Republican House are demanding a measure that includes language invalidating some of President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration reform. Slipping extraneous stuff like that into a bill is called adding a “poison pill,” something calculated to kill a proposal.
    House speakers who are serious about getting things done, especially where national security is concerned, usually knock heads of supporters who foster such nonsense and tell them to cool it. But the current House Speaker, John Boehner, acquiesced and tried to borrow three weeks to avoid an immediate shutdown.
    Boehner has accomplished little as Speaker, but he plainly likes the title.
    His latest caper began last fall when congressional Republicans joined Democrats in sending the president a measure funding the federal government, pending his signature.

  • Save the plastic bag and our rights

    In the last month there have been some very emotionally charged letters to the editor published in various media outlets here in town, by Jody Benson, a member of the Sierra Club, demanding a ban on plastic shopping bags in Los Alamos County.
    Understandably, this topic is going to generate a lot of discussion because it concerns how people choose to shop and live their lives.
    Before we ban plastic bags and allow needleless government intrusion into a private transaction let’s look at some facts regarding plastic shopping bags.
    • Plastic bags are made of No. 2 (high-density polyethelyne, HDPE) or No. 4 (low-density polyethelyne, LDPE), both of which are 100 percent recyclable through the “Bag-2-Bag” program Smith’s participates in.
    • Smith’s also recycles its own cardboard and other waste, thus not impacting the county’s solid waste system.
    • Ninety percent of plastic shopping bags are reused in households. The most common reuse is to line trashcans and to dispose of pet waste.

  • Streamline regulating, too

    Engineers aim to streamline everything to work better, faster and cheaper.
    Over the years, countless techniques for doing this have been launched and proved valuable. More come every year.
    Almost every process works better, faster and cheaper than it did 10 years ago. A dusky exception is the vital process of regulating.
    Regulating has built up a backlog of inefficiencies that have remedies on hand in other fields.
    This is not surprising for a system like regulating that works, not by design, but as shaped by a long chain of votes cast on a tangle of super politicized issues.
    The system of regulating emissions has four main steps: rule-setting, permitting, inspection and enforcement. Each step affects all the other steps and each affects the efficiency of the regulating system as a whole.
    Yet, the steps are designed separately, with barely a glance at the thriving engineering field of systems analysis.
    Systems analysis comes in forms that range from very complex to common-sense simple. Systems analysis in the 21st century can use information theory and game theory to shape high-level math problems run on computers.

  • Pet Talk: Probiotics for pets on the rise

    Probiotics, or “good bacteria,” can be defined as living microorganisms that, when administered in adequateamounts, can offer multiple health benefits to the host. Though they have been gaining popularity amongst humans in the past decade, the possibility of similar probiotic supplements for your pets’ health is on the rise.
    “Essentially, we are trying to give live bacteria in supplement form that have beneficial properties to ananimal in order to improve their digestive health,” said Dr. Jan Suchodolski, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It is imperative that bacteria are alive once they reach the gut and that they are also delivered in high amounts. That’s why a high-quality product is needed.”
    In order to fully understand how probiotics work, it’s important to know that the beneficial effects of probiotics are bacterial strain specific, meaning every bacterial strain has a potentially different effect. Some probiotic strains, for instance, stimulate the immune system, while other strains produce anti-inflammatory biomolecules or antimicrobial molecules to combat pathogens.

  • LAPS in compliance with immunization regulations

    There has been a great deal of conversation in the community and the media about immunizations against certain communicable diseases.
    In fact, one recent story (lamonitor.com, Feb. 6) noted Los Alamos County was “… second in the state for the number of vaccination exemptions at 3.1 percent for children ages 4 to 18….”
    For Los Alamos, the number of parents who requested vaccination exemptions (immunization waivers) amounted to about 100 students out of the more than 3,500 enrolled in school. The vaccination exemptions requested by parents were primarily based on religious or medical reasons, which are allowed by state law.
    Our community will be pleased to know Los Alamos Public Schools is in compliance with the New Mexico Department of Health rules and New Mexico School Manual regarding immunizations and exemptions.
    Michele Wright RN, LAPS Nursing Team leader stated, “Either students have completed their vaccines, are following a schedule to catch up on missing vaccines, or have valid religious beliefs or medical conditions for not receiving their vaccines.”

  • Some people really need a hobby

    Earlier this week, millions of people wasted their time watching the Oscars.
    With so many other things happening in the world, you’d think people would demand more variety. It’s the same old thing year after year.
    But on the same day as the Oscars, in Daytona, Florida, Matt “Megatoad” Stonie (world class eating champion) consumed 182 slices of bacon in five minutes (a little more than six pounds). Watching someone gulp down 28,000 milligrams of sodium is true entertainment.
    And they know how to do it right in Guadalajara, Mexico, too. With 2,600 pounds of pork, 2,400 pounds of tortillas and enough hot sauce to kill a Roman Legion, 130 people constructed a 2-mile long chain of tacos! Yes, this is entertainment with a bite!
    Whether its a competition to see who can squirt milk the furthest from their eyeballs, or attempting to break the world record for spit distance (currently at 7 feet), humans know no bounds on the extents of pure sport and merriment.
    It took a while for people to realize that the true value of setting a record is that it offers someone the opportunity to break it.

  • Consider a minor’s circumstances before changing parental notification

    Parental notification on abortion, an issue I hoped had been put to rest years ago, is back with New Mexico, thanks to House Bill 391, sponsored by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Valencia.
    The bill requires that if a minor is seeking an abortion, her parents must be notified first. The requirement is notice, not consent.
    The bill provides exceptions, including so-called judicial bypass — a way for the minor to get approval from a judge instead of her parents in certain circumstances. It also requires statistical reporting by all doctors who perform abortions (not limited to minors) — a provision that might be seen as a prelude to more restrictive legislation.
    Should the law require girls under the age of consent — or the healthcare providers who want to help them — to notify parents before they can get an abortion? This question is not just about abortion. It’s about parenting and the precious protective relationship between parents and children.
    Except sometimes the relationship is not protective.
    How you react to this question depends on the point of view you take when you think about it. Some people take the issue personally. They relate the legislation to their own children, grandchildren, relatives or other favorite kids.