The Wild River Speaks
The stories of New Mexico's last free-flowing river

Natural Disasters
Is it the end of the natural world as we know it?

Hillsboro's Other 9/11s
Sept. 11 was a memorable date back in 1879 and 1885

The Great Pretenders
The Sonoran gopher snake evolved to mimic a rattler

2012 Writing Contest Winners

Adventure at the Silver Bell Mine
There's nothing worse than a ticked-off ghost

Notes on Being a Newcomer
Where life sometimes moves into the subjunctive mode

Adobe Tears
This year's best poem

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Editor's Note
Desert Diary
Southwest Gardener
Henry Lightcap's Journal
The Starry Dome
Talking Horses
Ramblin' Outdoors
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Continental Divide

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Red or Green

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About the cover



A Screed-Free Zone

Keep your so-called "facts" to yourself, partisans.


We live in a world of laws, some of which are more important than others. For example, a speed limit is more of a suggestion than a firm "rule," and how beholden are we to a limit when the fish are biting? There are a lot of laws that really shouldn't be trifled with: what goes up really does come down, teenage girls really are the most unstable element in the universe, and you should never bring up politics in polite company. Yet common folks whom I consider level-headed thinkers take leave of their senses every four years during election season and decide that everyone needs to embrace their political beliefs, no matter how bat-crap crazy they are.

Our nation was founded on a basic principle that still holds true today: Money talks. Wait, that's not right… let me see… I used to know this. Hold on. Might makes right? Death before dishonor? Obey your thirst? Okay, so maybe the actual words are not that important, but I do know what underscores the point is that as a democratic society, we all have a say in the nation's political direction. Even though we can rarely agree on a place for lunch (any menu featuring "hummus" is not happening), our founding fathers expected debate and discourse in our political system. Sadly, our forefathers had an abundance of certain precious resources that are non-extant now: facts, critical thinking and logic. What passes for national debate is now rife with emotionalism, sensationalism and bloviating.

How many forwarded political messages have been lovingly placed in your email inbox or on your Facebook page lately? You know what I'm talking about: "THEIR candidate shredded unicorn dreams and turned them into bazookas! OUR candidate loves immigrant babies and poops out sunshine!" I will not accept any statements concerning politics as anything remotely resembling a fact right now, and I most certainly will not click on "Like this if you want to tell THEIR candidate to smear himself with bacon fat and sleep in the woods!"

If you have shown the bad judgment to send a political screed to Chateau Lightcap, I implore you to stop, even if you suspect we share the same political viewpoints. At best, these little orphaned faux-facts are generally distortions based on something that may or may not have actually been true in the last 20 years. For example, I read one the other day from an outraged right-winger that said US senators receive an opulent salary for life after being elected. This was accepted at face value and circulated by outraged voters, who didn't have the three seconds needed to Google the words "Senators salary for life" and read the very first return.

My very own dear uncle, who leans so far to the left that his ponytail often gets caught in the spokes of his Harley, posted a meme on Facebook that claimed Dubya Bush is responsible for our nation's debt, with a "deficit" greater than the current president. In fact, Dubya added $4.8 trillion to the debt in eight years; the present dude-in-chief has added $4.9 trillion in less than four. Math isn't partisan. When I pointed this out to my dear uncle, he cleverly retorted, "Whatever," which perfectly illustrates the dysfunction of the American dialogue.

All this has left me a bit down-in-the-mouth. I tend to credit my fellow bipeds with a certain capacity for reason and thoughtfulness, and the ability to separate the objective from the subjective. As a professional curmudgeon myself, I can testify to the fact that's it's damned inconvenient when the facts don't align with my opinion, but that generally signals an opportunity to review my options. For example, I used to think light beer was a beverage for degenerates and PTA meetings. Now, I embrace the fact that fewer calories mean I can have more beer. Numbers don't lie.

Opinions are one thing, but facts are another. I know it's an election year, and you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a demagogue, but how can "the Other Side" really be led by super-villain smart evil geniuses who are, at the same time, as dumb as a box of rocks? No matter on which side of the fence you reside, it's going to be shady sooner or later, so come to grips with the fact that both sides are hosting a fair number of conniving, lying weasels right now. That means it behooves us to cast a cynical eye on broad-stroke, alleged "facts" that seem too tidy and outrageous. Parroting false information reflects poorly on the parrot, and frankly, it's embarrassing when a young whippersnapper pulls out his smart phone and proves flaws in your emotional rhetoric faster than you can look for an exit.

Take a deep breath, my fellow Americans. Question your political facts with the same scrutiny you would a teenager arriving home after midnight with mud on their boots. It's okay to rethink your positions if you find the facts don't support your opinion, and if they do, then proceed with confidence. But I still politely ask you don't avail me of your political screeds. Frankly, I don't have enough time to fact check them all. Come November, just go out and vote for the candidate who best represents your issues. And remember, this is New Mexico, so vote early and vote often!



Henry Lightcap will be voting several times in Las Cruces.




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