Category Archives: Mexico

Civic Hacking: Re-energizing citizenship and Restoring Trust in Government

Here is a quick summary of Catherine Bracy’s September 2013 TED Talk entitled Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens.

I believe you will want to watch it a couple of times and share it with lots of others.

  • “Hacking”  is collaborative, innovative problem solving
  • Civic Hacking brings 21st a Century tool set to bear on the problems  government and society are facing
  • It encourages and empowers effective citizen participation
  • It re-energizes citizenship and restores trust in government
  • It is a way to create functional apps that serve real people in a user-friendly way

One example towards the end is just sobering.

The Mexico House of Representatives let a 2-year $9.3 million (USD) contract to build a bill-tracking system. Out of frustration and irritation, Mexico City tech-geeks created a contest to create a system in 10 days for a “prize” of $9,300 (USD) (!). They received 173 apps; 5 were presented to the legislature and are still being used; the $9.3 million contract was vacated.

Click here to watch.


!Viva Mexico! 2010 – Video From Los Golondrinas

Apologies for the l-o-n-g haitus. Life got hectic and I allowed myself to get distracted. I’ll try to do better. I may be changing the title of the blog from “TomMilesABQ-Albuquerque Historical Timeline” to just “TomMilesABQ,” and opening up the subject matter more broadly. What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions? Love to hear ’em.

Here is a link to a short video I shot and edited from the Mexican Consulate’s ¡Viva Mexico! celebration at Los Golondrinas in Santa Fe last year.

"!Viva Mexico! 2010

!Viva Mexico! 2010

I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I did shooting, editing, and posting it on my You Tube channel.

Maybe it will encourage you to go this year’s event, assuming with all the budgetary challenges that there will be one.

All the best to you …

Arizona border lands article

This from STRATFOR 2011 –  “In the first half of the 19th century, it was not clear whether the United States or Mexico would emerge as the dominant power in North America. The U.S. had a sliver of land on the east coast and a vulnerable, export-dependent economy.  Control of New Orleans (and Florida) would be the key to a new economic foundation: Until the Mexican-American War, it was not clear whether the dominant power in North America would have its capital in Washington or Mexico City.Mexico (which gained independence from Spain in 1821) was the older society with a substantially larger military.
The United States, having been founded east of the Appalachian Mountains, had been a weak and vulnerable country. At its founding, it lacked strategic depth and adequate north-south transportation routes. The ability of one colony to support another in the event of war was limited. More important, the United States had the most vulnerable of economies: It was heavily dependent on maritime exports and lacked a navy able to protect its sea-lanes against more powerful European powers like England and Spain.
The War of 1812 showed the deep weakness of the United States. By contrast, Mexico had greater strategic depth and less dependence on exports. “The American solution to this strategic weakness was to expand the United States west of the Appalachians, first into the Northwest Territory ceded to the United States by the United Kingdom and then into the Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson ordered bought from France in 1803. These two territories gave the United States both strategic depth and a new economic foundation. The regions could support agriculture that produced more than the farmers could consume.
Using the Ohio-Missouri-Mississippi river system, products could be shipped south to New Orleans. New Orleans was the farthest point south to which flat-bottomed barges from the north could go, and the farthest inland that oceangoing ships could travel. New Orleans became the single most strategic point in North America. Whoever controlled it controlled the agricultural system developing between the Appalachians and the Rockies.
During the War of 1812, the British tried to seize New Orleans, but forces led by Andrew Jackson defeated them in a battle fought after the war itself was completed. Jackson understood the importance of New Orleans to the United States. He also understood that the main threat to New Orleans came from Mexico.
The U.S.-Mexican border then stood on the Sabine River, which divides today’s Texas from Louisiana. It was about 200 miles from that border to New Orleans and, at its narrowest point, a little more than 100 miles from the Sabine to the Mississippi. (Jackson earlier had realized, as James Madison had before him, that Spain controlled both sides of the vital Florida straits, i.e. Florida and Cuba, and so threatened U.S. interests with possible blockade of the straits, choking off American trade from New Orleans seeking the ports of the Atlantic; hence the botched Patriot War of 1812 and Jackson’s incursion into West Florida in 1819 before its eventual purchase. Ed.)
Mexico therefore represented a fundamental threat to the United States. In response, Jackson authorized a covert operation under Sam Houston to foment an uprising among American settlers in the Mexican department of Texas with the aim of pushing Mexico farther west. With its larger army, a Mexican thrust to the Mississippi was not impossible – nor something the Mexicans would necessarily avoid, as the rising United States threatened Mexican national security.
Mexico’s strategic problem was the geography south of the Rio Grande (known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo). This territory consisted of desert and mountains. Settling this area with large populations was impossible. Moving through it was difficult. As a result, Texas was very lightly settled with Mexicans, prompting Mexico initially to encourage Americans to settle there (in part, as a buffer against the Comanche). Once a rising was fomented among the Americans, it took time and enormous effort to send a Mexican army into Texas. When it arrived, it was weary from the journey and short of supplies. The insurgents were defeated at the Alamo and Goliad, but as the Mexicans pushed their line further east toward the Mississippi, they were defeated at San Jacinto, near present-day Houston.
The creation of an independent Texas served American interests, relieving the threat to New Orleans and weakening Mexico. The final blow was delivered under President James K. Polk during the Mexican-American War, which (after the Gadsden Purchase) resulted in the modern U.S.-Mexican border. That war severely weakened both the Mexican army and Mexico City, which spent roughly the rest of the century stabilizing Mexico’s original political order.” (George Friedman, Arizona, Borderlands and U.S.-Mexican Relations0

Great Albuquerque/Coronado History Read

Cities of Gold PPBKCities of Gold
A Journey Across the American Southwest in Pursuit of Coronado
Douglas Preston, 1992

463 richly researched and documented pages detailing 450 years of southwest adventure and discovery! Very hard to put down!

Douglas Preston literally takes you in his saddle bag on two 900-mile horseback/roughing-it odysseys with his cantankerous Santa Fe artist friend Walter Nelson. Two journeys cover the same geography: Coronado’s 1540 epic exploration from New Spain/Mexico through Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas.

The chapters and episodes are written from multiple viewpoints: New Spain’s (Mexico’s) culture, Coronado’s expectations in planning and leaving New Spain, Coronado’s experiences en-route, various and numerous native American initial encounters with white Europeans – Mexican Aztecs – and black Africans, And last, but not least by a long shot, … Doug and Walter’s experiences and observations of both what had changed and how little had changed in the intervening 450 years.

I found this a tremendous context piece to open my understanding and appreciation of the nearly complete uniqueness of New Mexico in particular and America’s great southwest in general. You will be exposed to amazing repeating patterns of history from 1540s Spain and New Spain right up into today’s New Mexico business and politics.

Cites of Gold is a thoroughly charming, entertaining, amazing, irritating, enlightening, frustrating, and fulfilling read! Check it out for yourself!

New Mexico History – ‘El Gringo’ by W. W. H. Davis

I have just finished reading El Gringo, by W. W. H. Davis.  Davis’ 1853 description of New Mexico is one the earliest full-length accounts to appear in English. It provides a beautiful picture of a newly conquered land, its customs, languages, landscapes and histories.  He really captures the protected and unique nature of New Mexico in this paragraph:

“There is no country protected by our flag and subject to our laws so little known to the people of the United States as the territory of New Mexico. Its very position precludes an intimate intercourse with other sections of the Union, and serves to lock up a knowledge of the country within its own limits. The natural features differ widely from the rest of the Union; and the inhabitants, with the manners and customs of their Moorish and Castilian ancestors are both new and strange to our people. For these reasons, reliable information on this hitherto almost unknown region can not fail to be interesting to the public.”

Davis was a veteran of the Mexican War of 1846-48, and returned to New Mexico in 1853 to become United States Attorney for the territory. He traveled with only a few changes of clothes, a two-book law library and a ravenous curiosity, and he thoroughly journaled his entire travels to and throughout New Mexico.

His thousand-mile journey from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe would take 25 days by mule train, traveling   in torrential rains and drifting blizzards. Many nights were spend sleeping on the ground under the wagons for shelter, and many meals were skipped due to inclement weather.

El Gringo was written by W. W. H. Davis (1820 – 1910) and first published in 1857. You can order from the Books page; enjoyi!

Delightful morning presenting Albuquerque and New Mexico history

NELDOC 2009 The talking part was fun, but I really enjoyed the question and answer portion. They asked for more about the uniqueness of the Indian Pueblos, their sovereignty and cultures, our flying saucer incidents (Roswell and Albuquerque), Oñate and the Duke of Alburquerque, “the missing R,” Spanish and Mexican impacts on New Mexico, New Mexico authors, and New Mexico futures.

This is a photo of me with Rick Chase, the District Director of Purdue’s Extension Service and one of the organizers of the conference. Rick was the gent that came across the 5 Perspectives on Albuquerque YouTube video and asked for an introductory presentation on Albuquerque’s and New Mexico’s history.

Great fun. Good people.

Your very own 2 ft x 8 ft copy of the Albuquerque Timeline

A number of people ask me, “Where and how can I buy a copy of the Timeline?” Here is the info if you are one of those folks and have a couple of hundred bucks lying around – and – a large wall space to fill.

There are a couple of things you will want to know if you would like to purchase your very own  copy of the Albuquerque Historical Timeline:

  • the 2 ft x 8 ft size is the smallest that is easily eye-readable
  • each copy is a full-color exact replica of the 4 ft x 16 ft Convention Center original
  • each copy has a very resilient laminate protecting it
  • a single copy reproduction  goes for $200, and that includes any tax and shipping

New Mexico Big Prints are the good folks that produced the 4 ft x 16 ft copies of the Timeline at the Convention Center and at the Airport. They also produced the smaller, 2 ft x 8 ft copies for high school and middle school use throughout Albuquerque and the Archdiocese, and it’s this size that is available for  purchase. I suppose you could order a 4 ft x 16 ft size, but expect to come up with about $3,750 or so per copy.

The URL to contact the good folks at New Mexico Big Prints is