Community, Patches' Pieces, Wildlife

On the Game Camera this week

The sound of ravens noisily calling and the presence of eagles in the field, led us to walk the wooded trails. We did indeed find a fawn, the victim of a predator. A game camera was moved to observe the predator’s return. No sightings of lions or coyotes on the game camera instead there were birds. A camp robber, magpie, and golden eagle posed for the camera. With her wings spread the golden eagle seemed to be almost as large as the fawn.

Community, Weird Words

Sharing the definition of Impeccable for the County Clerk

A January 13 article in the Tobacco Valley News described how a box of ballots was left behind on November 3 and counted days later.  The Western News in Libby brought the matter to light on January 5.  The kudos and praise belong to our local press – blunders such as this need to be brought to the light of day.  The article described how the ballots were counted late – and the TV News quoted Robin Benson, county clerk and recorder: “I still think that the election staff, Chris, did an impeccable and amazing job . . .”

The Cambridge English Dictionary shares the definition of impeccable: perfect, with no problems or bad parts.   What was it the guy in the Princess Bride said?  “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”  Of course, she may have thought impeccable was a relative term, and been using Georgia standards.  Transparency doesn’t call for the media announcing the error and the correction.

Another TV News quote from Josh Letcher described the former election administrator.  “He did great things.  He put his heart into it.”  It is good to know that Nelson‘s heart is in the right place – but it would be more reassuring had his head been in the right place.  It’s a bit harder to sneer at Georgia when this happens here.  Again, high praise to the media for bringing this to light.

Community, County Ordinances

Board of Health to Meet Wednesday (1/13)

The Lincoln County Board of Health is meeting Wednesday? To discuss what? A number of things, among them changing the procedures for public comment. Of course, it’s not entirely clear from the Agenda what precisely the board is expecting to talk about, but there are number of action items included.

The Lincoln County Board of Health will meet this Wednesday, at 6PM. The Agenda can be found here. It will be possible to attend via zoom. At the end of the last meeting (informational), Board Member Jim Seifert described a proposal for grading businesses. The meeting closed with Board Chair Jan Ivers remarking that the proposal would probably be discussed at the next meeting.

Looking at the agenda:

New Business (all action items): Nominate Officers, Set meeting schedule, Board Recommendation. No details beyond that, so it’s entirely unclear what exactly the board expects to be making a recommendation on.

Approval of Minutes

Program Reports: Community, Public Health, Environmental Health, Solid Waste and Recycling, Asbestos Resource Program.

The first report is “Mental Health Coalition”. It’s not clear what this is, but the only thing on the county website that matches that search is Best Beginnings. The second is “Team 56”. Team 56 is those folks who’ve been holding the facial recognition contests (Which, yes, being faceblind, I found to be in rather poor taste). They can be found on facebook, where they’re not exactly widely popular (211 Followers, when the county population is over 19,000). The next report is “COVID Response Coordination & Communication Strategy, followed by Medical Provider Summary

Public Health:
The first report for public health is “COVID-19”, which is followed by an action item: “CHEMPACK plan”. No further details are included.

Focus Area Liaisons: Asbestos (two action items) and Groundwater. The Action items include a property evaluation notification regulation, and the appointment of liaisons for superfund area.

City Representative Reports: While there aren’t any details given, the city representatives on the Board of Health include: Laura Crismore (representing Libby), Jim Seifert (representing Troy), and Debra Armstrong (representing Eureka)

Health Officer Report: Again, no details, but the Health Officer is Dr. Brad Black. (Interestingly, this isn’t information available on the county website.)

Old Business: Proposed Update to Operating Procedure #2. Operating Procedure #2, found here, is for how the board will handle public comments. It makes for an interesting read. Did you know that under the current Operating Procedure, all public comments or correspondence with the board will be available for review by any member of the public.

Public Comment: Under the current operating procedures, people commenting are required to address the board as a whole, and are allowed 3 minutes (more at the discretion of the Board Chair). Comments can be cut off if they are “not relevant, personal attacks, or not presented in a respectful manner”

Well, should be interesting. It’s not entirely clear if Jim Seifert’s proposal will be discussed, indeed, there’s a fair bit that isn’t entirely clear. Regardless, Wednesday, at 6 PM.

Community, Demography

Do you get all the Government you pay for?

Lincoln County offers opportunities to extract data in ways the folks who run things haven’t planned.  For example, we have three county commissioners, elected at large, and representing the areas roughly in the county’s three high school districts.

Census data can be extracted by school district – so we know the population of each high school district.  We’re still using the 2010 Census, but should be able to update soon.  Likewise, on a state website, we can find the 2020 market value and taxable value for each high school district. Since the taxable value relates directly to county taxation, it isn’t hard to make a chart showing how much residents of each school district pay for county government.

PopulationMarket ValueTaxable ValueTaxable Value/ person
Troy3,583$ 509,934,526$ 6,912,824$1,940.17

Intriguing – Troy residents provide taxes to Lincoln County at about the same rate as the county average.  North County folks provide about 43% more taxes per capita than the county average, and Libby folks per capita county taxes is approximately 28% lower than the county average.

The area represented by the Lincoln County High School district has 31.8% of the county’s population, and provides 45.5% of the tax dollars that fund county government.  Libby, where most of the county government occurs, has 50% of the county’s population, and provides 36.1% of the taxes that fund county government.

I guess it’s a question suitable for debate – is it better to receive more government than you pay for, or is it better not to receive as much government as you pay for?

When Lincoln County was created, it made sense – virtually all of the county drained into the Kootenai River, and the county was connected by river, rail and road.  With Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa, the county was split in two.  On the other hand, the numbers suggest that secession might be a fiscally responsible alternative.

More by this Author:

If LCHS District were a County

After the article on searching Lincoln County data, the question came in: “What if North Lincoln County was its own county?”  The answer is available, but it takes the sort of personality that enjoys digging through data.  Here’s a few facts that would describe the thought experiment that would be county 57. County 57, sharing boundaries with the Lincoln County High School District, would rank 31st in population… Continue reading If LCHS District were a County

Searching Lincoln County Data

There’s a long-term question of whether North Lincoln County gets fairly treated in county services.  Back when the county was created in 1909, it made sense – everything drained into the Kootenai (except for Stryker, and driving 93 toward Kalispell makes it easy to see how that mistake was made.)  Sixty years later, Libby Dam removed the towns along the Kootenai that were the middle of the county. … Continue reading Searching Lincoln County Data

Weird Words

Weird Words: Pontificate

Pontificate, verb: “to speak or express your opinion about something in a way that shows that you think you are always right” (Merriam Webster’s definition for those learning english)

The more formal definition they offer is:

to speak or express opinions in a pompous or dogmatic way”

Merriam Webster

Synonyms include expound, moralize, lecture and preach. This is rather appropriate since the noun form of pontificate is the duration of time for which a pope serves as, well, pope. It originally comes from Latin, specifically from Pontifex, which was the title of a Roman high priest. The word probably meant something along the lines of bridge-maker or path-maker.

Regardless, pontificate used as a verb today has a negative connotation. While it might be appropriate to describe a priest as pontificating, it’s not something to say if you have a favorable opinion of the sermon.

Pontificate is a nice, all around good word for describing anyone that talks as if from a position of authority. With a synonym of expound, it also tends to imply being long winded.

Anyone with the need to preach or moralize, at length, about a topic, can be said to be pontificate. Heard anyone pontificating lately?


Bread Giveaway Continues at Trego Pub

The Bread Giveaway is continuing, taking place at the Trego Pub and General Store.

There was so much overflow that discussion turned to school and daycare as places that might be able to use the excess. It isn’t just bread, it’s cookies, English muffins, donuts (and bread, of course).

As I observed at a previous bread giveaway, this is good quality bread it large quantities. As you can see, it’s taking up a bit of space. So, drop by the Pub and General Store, and pick up some bread. Pick some up for your neighbors, too.

Community, Demography

Karl Marx Condensed

I notice a bunch of folks claiming to know the difference between socialism, communism, and fascism – and some of the explanations suggest they never read the manifesto.  So ride along with me for a condensed version of the manifesto.

First of all, Karl Marx studied capitalism – and saw that more and more capital wound up owned by very few people.  Glance online, and see the cheerful pictures of Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg, etc.  It’s hard to argue with that observation.  For sociologists, Marx came up with the basis of social conflict theory – he based it on economic class.

The ten points of the manifesto are:

  1. Abolish private ownership of land and apply all land rent to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolish all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscate the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralize credit with a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralize State controlled means of communication and transport.
  7. Extend factories and means of production (State owned);  bring wastelands into cultivation, and improve the soil in accord with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to work. Establish industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combine agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradually abolish the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolish child factory labor.

It’s important to remember that Karl Marx studied early capitalism and examined its flaws.  He theorized that communism would eliminate those flaws.  The contemporary socialism of the time was French Utopian Socialism – far different than today’s versions of socialism, and, with the relatively recent French Revolution, recognizing the concept of social conflict.

We could go farther – graduate seminars go into a lot more detail – but this is a condensed version, just to provide enough background to be able to call BS on the ignorant ideologues.


Sardine Burgers

One of the more interesting recipes we brought back from South Dakota is from Jeeta Kant’s cookbook.  Jeeta’s BS was in Sociology, her Master’s in Geography, and her Ph.D program was in Civil Engineering – with her dissertation on edible wild plants used on the Pine Ridge. She has a rather eclectic academic transcript.

Jeeta’s recipe is reduced to six sandwiches instead of serving an entire Hutterite colony with a burger based on canned sardines. 

  • 1 can mustard sardines
  • 1 can catsup sardines
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 and 2/3 cups cooked ground chicken meat
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 and 1/3 cups bread crumbs
  • 12 slices of bread, buttered on 1 side

Mix all the filling ingredients together.

Spread 6 slices of bread with mixture.  Top with the remaining 6 slices and cook slowly on grill, buttered side down, until the filling is done and the bread toasted.

More of Jeeta’s recipes are available in the Hutterite Community Cookbook, by Joanita Kant.  The ISBN is 0-934672-56-3 if you want to get a copy of your own.

Community, Demography

Proving nonexistence

It’s probably a half-century and more since I realized the amount of faith it takes to be confident something doesn’t exist.  Most recently, it was a positive, confident statement that there was no voter fraud in the last election.  A half-century back, it was a college student answering the question, “How can you possibly be an atheist?”  The answer is the same – there are some things you just have to take on faith.

Just as it takes faith to be an atheist, it takes faith to be certain that voter fraud didn’t occur.  It’s the old saw “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”  Now there are occasions where the statement is worded so that it can be tested – for example, “There’s a sasquatch living in my refrigerator.”  Easy to disprove – open the refrigerator door, and if there is no sasquatch curled up in the refrigerator, we have evidence of absence.  There are items where we can prove nonexistence under specific circumstances.

During the early 1920s, my mother, a pre-teen walking to Trego school, encountered a bear.  Her parents, and the other adults of the community explained to her that she could not have seen a bear – there were no bears in Trego.  When Dad retired, and we moved to Trego, she didn’t tell the story with every bear shot on the place, but she did enjoy having evidence that confirmed her grade school encounter.  The authorities of the day had denied her experience as false – but later evidence negated the falsification.

From a scientific perspective, evidence is falsifiable, but not false – there isn’t such a thing as negative evidence.  On the other hand, all it takes is evidence of a single sasquatch, a single incident of voter fraud, or a single deity to show evidence of presence. 

Every scientific explanation is tentative, and just awaits a better explanation.  Some theories explain things better than others do – particularly in the social sciences. I have no problem with folks taking things on faith – but science is not based on faith or revelation.  Science makes a virtue of skepticism.   Proof, on the other hand is binary – yes or no.  Philosophers and mathematicians have proofs – but operate in a more limited universe.

Community, Recipes

Homemade Tortillas

This is a tortilla recipe which requires no special equipment. Just simple ingredients found in the cupboard. I use this recipe when making fish tacos (See pic below-fresh perch taco with homemade coleslaw and tortilla…Yummy!). They don’t refrigerate well, but they’re so easy to make, you can make them fresh for the meal and impress your guests! Recipe makes 6-8 tortillas.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Whisk all ingredients together. Pour enough in a hot nonstick pan and swirl to make a tortilla (about 1/4 cup). Don’t use oil in your pan. Cook until the edges turn up and flip to the other side to continue cooking. Cook a couple minutes on each side. Keep warm in oven until use.