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Today's Opinions

  • Letter to the editor 4-14-15

    Cloth bags are worth the effort

    I’m a bit puzzled about the sense of outrage expressed by people who’d like to keep the convenience of having “free” (Smith’s does pay for them) single-use (I know, lots of people re-use them, which is great) plastic bags.
    In 2008-2009 a group of kids in grades 4-6 (the Kinnikinnick Club) wanted to do something for the world. They researched small actions that could have a large effect and decided to ask Smith’s to encourage the use of cloth bags instead of paper or plastic.
    They gave a nice presentation to the Smith’s employees and Smith’s put up the signs you see now that say, “Did you forget your cloth bags?”  Smith’s also gave a 5-cent credit (later a green points credit) to those using cloth bags.
    Did those kids (and Smith’s) make a difference?  On March 9, 2009, the manager sent a letter telling the kids that Smith’s stores in Los Alamos and White Rock were under budget by 865,170 bags and added that that equated to “432 cases less in plastic bags making it to our land fill.”  Furthermore, Smith’s then introduced this program “throughout the entire Kroger Company.”

  • Loonies on the loose

    The “news” is too much with us.
    True, print news venues have troubles galore, have had for a long time now.
    But anything electronic — television, blogospheric, streaming, screening, online, live, recorded, you name it — positively fibrillates as it belches forth endless servings of routinely unedited rumor, claims, charges/counter-charges, pure hokum and mindless opinion masquerading as “news.”
    Last week, when a guy named Tom Cotton opined to the effect that it would be far easier simply to bomb Iran than to continue negotiations designed to forestall that country’s efforts to develop its own nuclear weapons, I became halfway persuaded that too many loonies are making too many headlines today.
    It was Cotton, a brand new Republican U.S. senator from Arkansas, who whipped out that infamous letter (co-signed by 47 other Senate Republicans) to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei basically warning him that the negotiations were doomed inasmuch as the GOP controls both houses of Congress.
    Cotton had been in the Senate only a matter of weeks, but the media — particularly online — snapped it all up: Cotton, his letter, his cohorts, their bomb, the whole thing. They couldn’t get enough of it.

  • Pet Talk: Tips for enjoying the outdoors with a pet

    For those who enjoy the great outdoors, camping during the springtime can be a perfect weekend getaway. However, if you don’t want to leave your four-legged friends behind while setting out on your adventure, try bringing them along.
    “Many campgrounds allow pets, with certain rules and regulations,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    Often, the rules regarding pets can be seen posted on their website, and if not, questions can be easily answered over the phone. However, it is not advised that you show up with your pet without prior research and consent.
    “Most rules will include things such as having your pet on a leash, making sure they are supervised at all times, and requiring proof of vaccinations,” Stickney said. “Even if they don’t require health records or vaccination certificates, it’s a good idea to bring them along just in case.”

  • A cost checklist for a getting a new furry friend

    Premium food, state-of-the-art veterinary care and creature comforts most humans would envy are now a regular part of life for many American pets.
    That’s why prospective pet owners should consider financial planning before bringing home a dog, cat or other breed of animal.
    For those considering purchasing or adopting a pet, do thorough research first about what owning that animal will cost. The wide range of products, services and advanced medical options for American pets have pushed U.S. pet industry expenditures to almost $60 billion in 2014, nearly double the amount in 2004.
    With pet ownership tripling since the 1970s according to The Humane Society of the United States, it is no surprise that advanced pet products and services at high price points are making it very easy for many pet owners to overspend.
    Prospective pet owners should begin their research with an idea of first-year costs.
    The ASPCA publishes an annual estimate for a variety of pets. Purchase and adoption costs may vary based on breed, so read as much as you can about a specific pet choice.

  • Two manufacturers share machines, expertise with outside entrepreneurs

    Any entrepreneur with a product idea or prototype can find someone to build it in New Mexico.
    Two companies that do just that for a variety of clients are Marpac, a maker of devices that secure medical tubes and collars, and TEAM Technologies Inc., which designs and fabricates products that require advanced engineering and electronics.
    Both Albuquerque companies opened their doors for New Mexico Manufacturing Day activities last fall and plan to participate again this year.

    From full service to a single stitch

  • Doing the math on math

    The orphanage door was locked and the only way to open the door was to punch in a cryptic key, the deranged design of an eccentric locksmith.
    The key was a zero of a quartic equation displayed above the door, a labyrinth of logic for your average citizen.
    As smoke billowed from the rooftop, firefighters were unable to get inside to rescue the children.
    The fire chief yelled out, “Quick! We need to know how to determine the x-intercepts for this quartic!”
    Fortunately, I was ready, armed with the algebraic knowledge that allowed me to recognize the quadratic form embedded in the esoteric equation. I quickly derived the root, entered the key and rescued the children!
    OK, so this didn’t really happen. I’m still waiting for my chance to be an algorithmic hero, but I’m sure that one day, knowing how to factor a polynomial will be a life-changing event.
    When studying new concepts, my math students always ask, “What am I going to ever use this for? What good is it?”
     I could tell them, “Well, it keeps me employed,” but if that were really the reason, I’d be the first to say we shouldn’t teach it!
    So why do we study math? Or more to the geometric point, why do we study the math we study?

  • A deepening divide



    For those pining for a Democratic Party that tries to represent more than the whims of the rich and powerful, these are, to say the least, confusing times.
    On the presidential campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has been promoting standard pro-middle class rhetoric, yet also has been raking in speaking fees from financial firms.
    One of her potential primary challengers, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, has been sounding anti-Wall Street themes, but only after finishing up two terms in office that saw his state plow more public pension money into Wall Street firms, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in financial fees.
    Similarly, in Washington, the anti-Wall Street fervor of those such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren sometimes seems as if it is on the ascent — that is, until big money comes calling.
    Indeed, on the very same day Reuters reported on big banks threatening to withhold campaign contributions from Democratic coffers, Democratic lawmakers abruptly coalesced around Charles Schumer as their next U.S. Senate leader.
    CNN captured in a blaring headline how unflinching an ally the New York senator has been to the financial elite: “Wall Street welcomes expected Chuck Schumer promotion.”

  • No new taxes vs. no new debt: The standoff

    Deciding which public works projects to fund, even in a good year, exposes our fault lines — political, rural-urban, and governmental — but it also validates need.
    The whittling for this year’s failed capital outlay (pork) bill was more hard-nosed than usual.
    From the $200 million-plus hog, the governor asked for $60 million in capital outlay: $45 million for roads and $15 million for the economic development closing fund.
    State Bill 159 emerged from the Senate Finance Committee and passed the Senate unanimously. It included $45 million for roads, an attempt to accommodate the governor, and money for local projects of all 42 senators and 33 House Democrats.
    But not House Republicans. This is because the Democratic majority in the Senate, the Republican majority in the House, and the governor couldn’t agree.
    Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, has said the state is up to its eyeballs in road debt. He refused to approve any more without a new funding source, namely an increase in fuel taxes.
    In committee, some Republicans weren’t opposed, but the governor, positioning herself for the national stage, was adamant.
    No new taxes vs. no new debt. Stalemate. When diplomacy fails, manipulation takes its place.