Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Lining up for the Big Guy
THE DRAKE EQUATION
R * FP * NE * FL * FI * FC * LN = N = number of advanced technical civilizations emitting detectable radio signals.
R = mean rate of star formation averaged over the lifetime of the galaxy.
FP = fraction of stars with planetary systems.
NE = mean number of planets per system with environments suitable for the origin of life.
FL = fraction of such planets on which life does develop.
FI = fraction of such planets on which intelligent life rises during the lifetime of the local sun.
FC = fraction of planets on which advanced technical civilizations rises.
L = lifetime of this technical civilization.
Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to apply this equation to the Pope's policies on who can be a priest. So, here goes.
P=The number of people who are alive on Earth at any one time.
R=The percentage of people who have any religious beliefs
S=The number of religions on Earth
C=The number of Catholics on Earth
M=The percentage of Catholics who are Men
G=The percentage of those men who are gay
L=The percentage of men who are not married
V=The percentage of men who want to be a priest
H=The percentage of priests who leave because they can't handle celibacy
N=The potential number of catholic men who are priests
I am sure my math in that equation is totally wrong, but a mathematician and statistician could probably figure this out and you probably get the point. Don't forget that when you take out women you have taken away more than 50% of potential priests right there. If anyone comes up with a number for just the USA I will publish it on the blog right here.
I am not being disrespectful here, but just trying to show how a religion can strangle itself by being exclusionary to the ultimate degree. This is an interesting site to visit.
Study Shows Weakening of Atlantic Currents
Busiest Hurricane Season on Record Ends
Why care about the Conservancy District? Water!
Once again, I am a former General Manager of the District, as well as a taxpayer and irrigator, and know too well the potential for the District. It is time that the Board insist on new management and give them the ability to operate as a modern water agency that will recognize reality. This won't happen until state legislators start seriously looking at this agency. Perhaps an interim committee should be formed to see how the District can be reformed, politically and administratively. The best thing might be to have a new form of governance with a newly constituted Board made up of regional interests that could represent the taxpayers. Certainly, the Governor and State Engineer would like to be in the position of not having to be in litigation on a constant basis with this anachronistic agency.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
ABQ Downtown Desertion and Rail Runner
Hopefully, our Governor can meet with the business groups in downtown to see if this latest move can be stopped. It especially makes no sense when looking at the Governor's visionary plans for the Rail Runner commuter that will be starting up in January. One of the main stops is in Downtown Albuquerque where commuters could easily walk to their jobs.
In fairness, the downtown property owners are going to have to get real about competing for government tenants by setting reasonable rents and parking fees. They must shoulder some of the blame for this.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Border Patrol Crazy
This kind of hysteria by grown men is almost more than I can stand. It makes us look like a schizophrenic nation when people outside our country read about this. I am reminded of our trip back from Thailand where everyone had to take their shoes off at the airport and their computers out of their briefcases. When looking at the foreign visitors they just had this look of utter astonishment on their faces. It was embarrassing.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Breakfast with Jerry and the New York Times
This will be our Sunday morning. A greeting from Jerry and all day on and off with the New York Times. The Journal was a quick read today. Belshaw's column was really good, especially if read in context with the story of bush's Bureau of Land Management putting out a miserable plan for land protection in Arizona.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Pena Blanca Farm
The reclamation of some of our farmland in Pena Blanca continues. All the wild elm trees are down and the stumps are being burned. Next week the laser leveling of the land will begin and then the new irrigation pipe will be laid. The cost of this pipe has skyrocketed because it is made with petroleum products and it is scarce.
I had an interesting conversation with one of the oldtimers in Pena Blanca the other day. He fears agriculture will be a thing of the past there as real estate values and water values continue to inflate. He is probably right about that. As I drove all around the village yesterday, which sits between Santo Domingo and Cochiti I was reminded of Corrales in the 1970's. Right now, there is a varied mix of old mobile homes and new large homes. That will change as people in Albuquerque and Santa Fe realize this last rural enclave. other than Algodones and Sile, is only a 35 minute drive from each city. The views are unparalleled. So, we will soon see a new land rush into this area. I hope there will be some effort made at preserving the agricultural atmosphere of this charming place. Maybe farmland conservation easements would be the way to go.
The work on the farm is being done by Fred Sichler, owner of Sichler Farms in Los Lunas where you can buy all that good green chile and alfalfa for your horses.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Another Thankful Occurence
Remember the red-blue map from about the year ago? It was mostly a deep dark red except on the coastlines. This is what the map looks like today for bush with only Utah, Wyoming and Idaho still approving of his performance as President. Read more about it here.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
10 Reasons to be Thankful
So, I will make an attempt to list my 10 most favorite things to be thankful for this year.
1. My family is doing well. Bobbi, Justin and Noelle are all in good health and spirits and are doing pretty much what makes them happy right now. They are all super educated and piling more degrees on whenever possible. I am really proud of all of them.
2. I am still healthy at the age of 60. I know so many people my age who are not so lucky and some who have passed away in the last year. I have always been blessed with this health, except for a bad back which was taken care of by a Yoga teacher in 1986. I have now decided I must finally lose 30 pounds if I want to stay healthy so I have ratcheted up my exercise and cut down on all foods that I like. I will however have a piece of Pecan Pie sometime over Thanksgiving.
3. I have good friends who have been around a long time. Some of them as long as when I was in the first grade.
4. I get to live in New Mexico which I truly love.
5. bush and the neocons are finally melting down in the public eye and their disrespect of government and individual's rights under the constitution are being exposed.
6. I am thankful for the career in politics and journalism I have had. I love both of those professions although they now seem to be intermixed. I could have been better at both but I still had lots of enjoyment from that work.
7. I am thankful for the travel Bobbi and I have embarked on over the last three years to new contitnents. It is something I wasn't sure we would ever do, but it is happening. We have been to Europe, the Mediterranean, and South East Asia and I hope there is more to come.
8. I am thankful that the family still has farmland in Pena Blanca, New Mexico. Justin, Noelle, and my brothers children Sara and Stephanie will always have a refuge if needed.
9. I am thankful that we have a Governor like Bill Richardson. He is a unique individual who could actually make it to the White House with a little luck. He has moved New Mexico into a "can do" attitude.
10. I am thankful for everything else that is good that I didn't mention, like good books, movies, great music, art, and smart big sisters. My DeLonghi espresso machine is a money saver and can match starbucks. I also like to Blog!
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Attention All Journalists---Read this
Yes, I have an X-Box.
Monday, November 21, 2005
This is what it has come to! bush is shaking hands with a representative of Mongolia, a country that is one of our biggest allies in Iraq with 160 soldiers there.
I talked to Rodger Beimer this morning who is on his way to aide Katrina refugees in Louisiana for the Thanksgiving Holiday along with his wife Connie. He described a highway sign as he crossed the border into Texas. It said, "Welcome to the great state of Texas, proud home of the President of the United States-George Bush." I wonder if some of that pride may have disappeared in this remarkable meltdown of bush's credibility. I still don't understand what took so long, but as one pundit said, "credibility is like virginity, once it is gone you can't get it back!"
Apparently Heather Wilson was given a 'bye' by the republicans and voted against the budget bill that authorizes that give away of land under the 1872 Mining Law. Bobbi and I bumped into Patsy Madrid last night at the movie (Pride and Prejudice) and Patsy made the comment that her entry into the race is already turning Heather into a Democrat. I hope people won't fall for that kind of thing. bush and his buddies simply must be dealt a defeat in the midterm elections.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Democrats Stand for Land Protection
You can say what you want about the value of Party Platforms and if they are useful or not. But, these platforms at least give the readers some indication of what the Party's core supporters feel are important. So, it is thrilling to me to see that the New Mexico Democratic Party adopted a plank that calls for the protection of Otero Mesa and the Valle Vidal from oil and gas drilling. This is not something you would ever see in the Republican party platform since they recieve so much support from the Oil and Gas lobby. Yes, the Democrats get some little amount from them too, but this action certainly shows there is some independance on the Party's part.
This news comes on the heels of the House of Representatives inWashington passing a horrendous change to the 1872 mining law that will amount to the biggest give away of publicly owned lands in history to multi national mining companies. This was included in a budget bill instead an outright vote on the issue itself. I will find out how our delegation voted and let you know. Read about this travesty here.
Dennis Domrzalski tracked me down on my cell phone this morning to tell me that my article yesterday had one mistake. He said that Access Magazine did know he worked for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District when he penned that puff piece on his boss, Subhas Shah. He also intimated it was interesting being on the receiving end of a media controversey instead of authoring one.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Scratch My Back
I actually had a conversation with Dennis a couple of months ago when he brought up the issue of him working for the District. I told him it would be a mistake as long as the current management was there just because of this kind of thing. I related to him that when I was General Manager of the District in 1988-89 that I had discovered Shah doing some things I thought were unethical. At one point he had propositioned a car dealer that he would purchase district vehicles from them if they would buy his brothers car and give him a good deal on a new one. I went to the board with this and I was fired along with the District's attorney for bringing this up. We even had a signed confession from Shah which I think still resides in my filing cabinet. I always figured Shah had done a lot of favors for those board members who irrigated and they couldn't afford to get rid of him or he would spill the beans. He is a survivor. The attorney and I sued for breach of our contracts and were paid a settlement by the Board.
Dennis had a bit of a lapse on this one, but knowing how things work at the district I wouldn't be surprised if he was required to do it in order to get his job.
This important water agency will never achieve its potential if it doesn't acquire new management and a decent ethics policy.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
So, it is with some wonder that I find the usually industrious Albuquerque Journal never having mentioned possible conflicts of interest between their much revered Senator Pete Domenici and his son's(Pete Jr.) contracts to represent the Department of Energy on cases in New Mexico. I have heard many grumblings that this is an awkward arrangement for DOE and the State of New Mexico who are often in conflict. If DOE is unhappy with Pete Jr.'s performance(and I am not suggesting they are) can they give him walking papers without worrying about Pete Sr.'s retaliation as Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the Senate? If the State of New Mexico's Environment Department feels that they will offend the senior senator by going hard against Pete Jr. will it cause problems for the Governor's requests of the federal government.
I can not imagine what the media would be writing about this arrangement if any one other than "St. Pete" were involved. At the very least the story should be given some ink so everyone in and out of government knows about this less than desirable situation.
This kind of situation is especially difficult in a small state like ours. Politicians are like everyone else and they are eager to help their children be successful. There is nothing wrong with that and Pete is like the rest of us in that regard, but the stakes are high between DOE and the State of New Mexico on issues like WIPP and the state should feel free to protect its interests agressively with no fear of retaliation.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
It is not really surprising that City Councilor Tina Cummings lost her runoff election yesterday. She really didn't have her heart in the race and had opted at one point not to even run again. I personally like Tina a lot. She has a wonderful personality and a great sense of humor. I totally disagreed with her full support of development at any cost, but she was a good Council member and I wish her well.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Items of Interest
The death of science in America marches on with the revelation that the FDA flipped off its experts and scientists and denied non prescription status to the Plan B contraceptive, or morning after pill. Religious fanatics in the bush administration are making a laughing stock out of this country. This comes on the heels of the religious rights position that the anti cervical cancer vaccine will promote promiscuity and should be banned. Once again, they would choose cancer for your daughters over any premarital sex. Oh, and cancer for women once they are married.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I am a little jet lagged from the trip back from Bangkok but managed to function well enough today. I attended the Governor's Cabinet meeting this morning after dropping Bobbi off at the airport to go back to her job in DC. She will come back this weekend for Thanksgiving week. It really is our favorite holiday.
This mornings cabinet meeting concentrated on a lot of health care issues. It was sad to hear how many New Mexicans are still uninsured although progress is impressive. Noelle in Bangkok has access to better health care than many Americans. She has fallen ill several times as have her classmates. All they have to do is go to a clinic in Bangkok and they get taken care of immediately for about 5 bucks. Good care too. Noelle got ill during our visit and was staying in the hotel with us. We called for assitance to the front desk and they sent up their full time nurse. She was able to give Noelle an antibiotic for her problem on the spot and gave her full instruction on how to cope with the illness. No charge. Noelle said this morning she is feeling great.
This is just one of many things I saw in Thailand that makes me think this country is really screwed. Paul Krugman in the New York times opined on that today and I suggest you read it here.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
It always feels good to get home to the USA. However I was amused to see how things work for foreign citizens when they hit our shores. There was a little Korean lady on our flight and she didn't speak english. I could see she was bewildered in the L.A. airport and she kept trying to give people a note written in English so that they might help her find her connection. Everyone ignored her and just kept pointing to the door. I went up to her and she handed me the note and damned if she wasn't going on the same flight to Salt Lake that we were. So we escorted her right to the gate by use of hand language. She said in hand language after getting to the gate that she would pray for us. Well, the point is that in any of the foreign airports we visited on our trip you only had to walk ten feet to find a native that spoke english. Even some cab drivers in Bangkok spoke our language as did many shop owners. It was basic but they could get their message across. We really need to insist that our schools and society teach other languages to our kids. God knows they are going to need it.
So, after a good night's sleep we wake to read that the religious right politicians and ministries don't like this new cervical cancer vaccine because it might promote promiscuity. Apparently you can get the virus that causes this cancer without sex but cancer is better than sex for their daughters I guess. This kind of stuff is scary.
Friday, November 11, 2005
It is now Saturday morning in Incheon after a 5 hour flight from Bangkok. It is going to be a long day here but we have staked out our turf in the Korean Air Lounge. They have lots of room and showers even, although we may go get a transit room for 6 hours.
We hit some rough weather from a Typhoon on the way over. It really woke everyone up.
I guess my final thoughts on this great trip to Thailand can be summed up in this last picture.
The Long Haul
Thursday, November 10, 2005
This morning Bobbi and I went to the King's Teak Palace. It is a massive 72 room structure made entirely of teak wood. It has no nails in it. It survived a direct hit by an incindeary bomb in WWII. Just before we left for this trip I spotted yet another barge full of teak heading up river. I seem to see these things about every hour. I hope they are not completely deforesting the Teak Wood Forests. Let's hope time isn't running out.
It is interesting to see amidst all the river traffic these little boats with fishermen doing their thing. They seem to be taking out shell fish. I am not sure I would want to eat them because this river has a lot of 'stuff' in it.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
There is no God!
Cicero once said, "We learn nothing from history, except that we learn nothing from history."
I have always loved that quote because it is so true. I think the thing that makes that true is Gold! Well, maybe now it is oil.
We spent the day in the ancient Thai city of Ayutthaya. It was sacked by the Burmese in 1767 and many of the magnificent Wats were burned in order to melt down the gold in them. It was a great controversy since the Burmese were also Buddhists.
To this day the countries don't get along very well.
Our wonderful guide for the day, whose name I can not spell or pronounce, really made a great tour for us. We hired a private car which also had a driver and we didn't have to make numerous cattle calls like we would have on a bus. The price was only about $100 for the day and worth it. His english was excellent but heavily accented. He was a very devout Buddhist and made many offerings and Wais. Like most Thai men he spent several months as a monk.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Our Governor in Thailand
It is going to be a scorcher here today. Lots of water will be required.
We all went to the movie to get out of the heat in the afternoon. Thailand is really into movies, especially American Movies. Their theatres are modern and immense and have different classes of seats. All seats are assigned at purchase time. After 30 minutes of trailers the entire theater audience stands up in silence to honor the King and listen to the National Anthem. They truly love their King and Country and I felt envious. I can't imagine that kind of respect ever being shown to any US President, now or ever again. I do feel we mostly love our country.
Harry Potter mania is going on here right now. Posters and billboards are plastered every where in this city. Tomorrow we go on a 8 hour field trip to Ayutthaya to see the ruins. Noelle will then come stay at the hotel for a couple of nights and sight see with us in Chinatown and other places she hasn't seen yet.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Yesterday Bobbi and I were moving consistently moving faster than traffic where ever we went. Listen up Mid Night Marty, building more roads and bridges for your developer buddies will not work in the long run. Put your money, like the Governor, into mass transit. I know you think it is the right thing to do, deep down! Right?
Just from the art and engineering advances that were necessitated by their construction we probably came out ahead.
Bobbi at Wat Pho
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Monsoon is supposed to be over
It has rained everyday very hard in the afternoon. It cools it off a little bit but then the humidity cancels it out. I would sure hate to be here when it is really hot. It is Monday morning here and Bobbi and I will do tourist things at the Grand Palace, maybe Chinatown and then make reservations to Ayutthaya tomorrow for an all day excursion.
Saturday we went to Chatuchak market. It is a weekend market that covers an area the size of the New Mexico State Fair grounds. We spent hours there.
One thing you notice about a place like this is the