• My subscription to the magazine Home Power has been feeding my dreams of an off-the-grid house that matches my sense of frugality, economy and efficiency. In the recent December/January 2010 issue was a striking article on energy efficiency, or lack thereof, of our national home. A. J. Simon wrote about the work he supports at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he and colleagues take a summary look at the energy flow of the nation from the point of generation to the point of consumption.

  • During his State of the Union address, the President assured us his fiscal policies would stimulate bank lending to help businesses expand and create jobs. Obviously, the right hand isn’t talking to the left hand, and if they are, they don’t speak the same language.

    Federal bank regulators, who failed to curb the excesses of the biggest banks, are now punishing the little guys. Your local community bank didn’t engage in the risky behavior that got us into this mess, but it’s now paying the price.

  • In the mid-1800s there was a smart geologist with a face as sharp as flint who worked in the American Midwest. In those days, the “Midwest” was quite close to the frontier of the country. It took some guts and imagination to live out there, and maybe Charles Whittlesey had both in abundance – for he clearly saw evidence of dramatic climate change in riverbanks and hillsides around him. For Whittlesey, the Ice Age was evident in almost every field and ridge.

  • SANTA FE — Some Democrats are destined for problems in the June primaries. There are certain taxes that Democrats just can’t touch. The first untouchable came along in 1935, during the Great Depression.

    Democrats had gained control of the statehouse by that time and devoted a major legislative session to fixing the state’s tax system. Many of our state’s tax laws date back, or refer back, to that 1935 session.

  • What the (expletive deleted) is wrong with a little (expletive deleted) swearing now and then? I mean, (expletive deleted) ... (expletive deleted) people can’t take a little (expletive deleted) joke? Who the (expletive deleted) cares about their (expletive deleted, reinserted, deleted again, rewritten back in French, translated to ancient Greek and then deleted again) opinion!!??

  • While the residents of the county have consistently shown support for environmental sustainability and conservation, the county council seems determined to ignore these opinions.

  • You may be wondering what happened to the ducks and geese at Ashley Pond.

  • SANTA FE -   Former Gov. Gary Johnson has been a busy guy. His website  “Johnson for America “ lists speeches and interviews for almost every day since the beginning of January. And the action will continue  —    for a number of reasons.

  • Few New Mexico lawmakers walked away from the Roundhouse enamored with the state budget they were leaving behind to Gov. Bill Richardson’s tender mercies after adjournment of last week’s special legislative session.

    It had been a textbook case of the state Legislature at work on a budget grievously out of balance: bickering and complaining while the difficult decisions were being made, followed by the obligatory post-session congratulatory platitudes when it was over.

  • I read through Chick Keller’s defense of climate research (“Climate Research Lament,” Feb. 2) in the Monitor, because I know him personally and respect his broad scientific background and commitment to science. We have both worked in the energy/climate field, and although his credentials in climate science are much broader than mine, I have some credibility as a scientist and data analyst as well. Like Keller, I attach a great deal of credibility to peer-reviewed papers, respected journals and reputable scientists’ work.

    He and I have been snookered.

  • Ever since Gary Paul Nabhan (“Coming Home to Eat”) and Barbara Kingsolver (“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”) urged their readers to help the planet by buying food grown within 250 miles of home, many of us have been trying to notice where our food is grown. Awhile ago, Wendell Berry proposed the idea that everyone should have a garden for food. But here on our high-desert mesa in Los Alamos, with little water and lousy soil, these ideas seem impossible.

  • NAPILI BAY, MAUI — Rep. Benjamin Rodefer, D-Albuquerque, wants to see a joint House-Senate caucus called to work out a budget for next year. The freshman representative says current discussions aren’t even close to representing the will or intent of either Democratic caucus.

    He’s right. A similar situation occurred back in the 1970s and 1980s when a liberal Democratic group called the Mama Lucys ran the House. One of its leaders was former Rep. David Salman, D-Mora, who recently passed away.

  • We made progress on ethics reform this year, in a roundabout way.

    An ethics commission is probably the single most important step. After years of weak excuses by legislative leadership of both parties, of ethics bills bottled up in committee, we finally got to the root of their reluctance: They feel a big target painted on their backs and the higher they are in the pecking order, the bigger the target.

  • When George W. Bush replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense with Robert Gates in 2006, I was just glad that the man who didn’t fire anybody after the Abu Ghraib and Blackwater scandals was gone.

    But after three years of watching Gates operate in the bizarre world of the military-industrial complex, he’s become my latest government hero. We need more radicals like him.

    Gates has put armor on the vehicles our men and women are driving around Iraq and Afghanistan now, instead of on weapons systems for future wars that may or may not happen. 

  • Back in college, one of my classmates (let’s call him Brian) was an addict. He was hopelessly and totally addicted and there was little his parents or the doctors could do to help him. Brian couldn’t function without his daily fix and before long he was spending the majority of his day searching for others similarly addicted. Each day, Brian’s addiction got worse and eventually he stopped going to classes. His addiction ruled his life.

  • I don’t live in White Rock, but like others I pay state taxes and am, thus, a shareholder in N.M. 4.

    White Rock residents can do as they please off road, but not with the road and its right of ways. There are lots of non-White Rock residents that have a voice in this matter.

    For laboratory employees who live off the hill, White Rock is a place in the road where they can get gas and a refreshment on the way home. Having to go around in circles to do so is not what they expect nor for why they pay taxes.

  • We should have a mandatory economics class for legislators – not the inputs and outputs I slogged through at UNM but a nuts-and-bolts class on how local and state economies work.  

    This legislative session I tried to call attention to economic engines – golden geese – because when revenues drop and budget cutters look for targets, they can hinder economic recovery if they’re not careful or stoke those engines that create the jobs we need.

  • SANTA FE — Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to experience an earthquake, a tornado and a hurricane. My mother always was embarrassed when I would mention it in polite company. My wife just ignores me. There are other things that bother her more.

  • A scientific friend I work with paid me a compliment last summer that still rings in my little head. She said the garnet earrings I had on that day looked good. It was true (I modestly admit), but that’s not what impressed me. She next asked if I had found the garnets myself.

    Now that’s the way to make geologists really appreciate you as a human being.  Give ’em credit for a good find!

  • Both the Democrats and Republicans would do well to listen to what the Tea Partiers are saying. They might seem like a group of angry people, but they have real issues. They are concerned about jobs, income, wars and sense that Washington doesn’t care about them.  They are also concerned about same sex marriage, abortion and that man in the White House.