D  e  s  e  r  t     E  x  p  o  s  u  r  e     August 2005

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See the Thrilling Trade Agreement! Relive the Excitement of the Al Gore-Ross Perot Debate!

Parents driving I-10 south of Silver City will no longer have to put up with those annoying cries of, "Mommy! Daddy! Can we stop at the NAFTA Institute? Please please please?" Silver City's highway signs have been refurbished and given a slightly more tourist-appealing pitch; the sign that boasted "Home of the NAFTA Institute" has been banished. Before moving on to the Gila Regional Medical Center Foundation, Cissy McAndrew, then executive director of the Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce, helped spearhead the signage makeover. The signs now tout the area's hiking and birdwatching opportunities, art galleries and Mimbres heritage. Still missing, though, is any mention of being the home of two of the West's most famous characters, Billy the Kid and Geronimo.


Coming into Focus

Things are looking up—literally—for the National Public Observatory (NPO) program (see our March 2004 issue). The NPO recently accepted an offer to donate 40 acres of land on the Sunshine Wells Ranch, 17 miles south of Deming, from ranch owner and astronomy buff Wes Light. Transfer of the land is still pending, and the NPO still must seek funding for building infrastructure on the site. Someday, though, the aptly named Light envisions turning his ranch into an astronomy community, a dark-sky mecca where stargazers could inexpensively set up a second home for observing. For its part, the NPO plans eventually to acquire a 30-inch telescope that would be housed in a roll-off-roof observatory.

The NPO will host its twice-yearly Southern New Mexico Star Party, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, at City of Rocks State Park. For information, see www.Astro-npo.org, call 527-8386 or write PO Box 19, Radium Springs, NM 88054.


Oh, I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK. . .

Our heroes have always been cowboys—and still are, it seems—but, Willie Nelson lyrics notwithstanding, cowboy just doesn't make it as a career these days. A recent ranking by CareerJournal.com of best and worst careers placed cowboy—a job still held by numerous folks around these parts—near the bottom.

Working with Les Krantz, author of the Jobs Rated Almanac, the careers site rated jobs by income, stress level, physical demands, potential for job opportunities, job security and work environment. (Though we wonder about the rankings' assumption that it's automatically better to work in an air-conditioning office than in the great outdoors. Have these people seen the Gila wilderness?)

The best jobs included accountant, actuary, bank officer, biologist, financial planner, parole officer (!), software engineer, statistician and Web-site manager. Besides cowboy, the "worst" list included construction worker, garbage collector, fisherman, ironworker, roofer, seaman, welder and (the Monty Python song referenced in our headline notwithstanding) lumberjack.

One Idaho cowboy quoted in a Wall Street Journal article on the rankings said, "Cowboys are the best-dressed poor people in the world," and added, "I will always be a cowboy, even if I have to run some of them on a golf course."


20-20 Hindsight

While Gov. Bill Richardson turns his sights on 2008 (see the Tumbleweeds Top 10 for the count of his latest presidential forays), some pundits are looking back at 2004 and wondering whether maybe John Kerry should have picked the New Mexico Democrat as his running mate, after all. In The American Thinker, Richard Baehr points out that North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Kerry's actual pick, failed to dent the GOP's death-grip on the southern states, which went overwhelmingly red. "But Richardson as the VP candidate might have helped in New Mexico (a 1 percent Bush win), Nevada (a 2 percent Bush win) and Colorado (a 5 percent Bush win)," Baehr speculates. "These three states, with 19 Electoral College votes among them, would have put John Kerry in the White House, had they all gone Democratic."

If Richardson doesn't grab the top slot on the 2008 ticket, you can bet that math lesson won't be lost on the Democratic presidential nominee. "Hillary and Bill" might just take on a whole different meaning.



"I haven't decided to run, but I would be very respectful of the role [Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack] has here. I'm not going to appear to be poaching on his territory. I don't want to be seen doing that."

—Gov. Bill Richardson, speaking in Iowa about
fellow governor and possible 2008 presidential
rival Tom Vilsack


"I think the public is more willing to see aggressive measures taken [on climate change] than the Congress has been or than the president has been. And I think that what you're seeing in local communities is a reflection of the fact that the public would like us to do something about this issue. So I hope that the administration and the Congress will wake up and smell the coffee here pretty soon."

—Sen. Jeff Bingaman, interviewed in Grist.


"We all know what corruption looks like, acts like and smells like. We've all seen corruption in the UN."

—Rep. Steve Pearce, in the Los Angeles Times.


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