Force 6: Strong Breeze- Large branches in motion, telegraph wires “sing”, umbrellas used with difficulty

This installment on the Lincoln Electric Cooperative members uprising starts with the September 19, 1988 issue of the Mountain Ear – I commented that I got 3 months off and couldn’t “lift over 10 pounds or bend my back.” This is where I wound up more involved in the process – without the compression fracture, I would have been at work instead of working with the uprising.

September 29th headlined “REA Series Set”: “We’ve been attending and reporting Lincoln Electric co-op meetings for about 3 months now – since Craig Eaton told of nepotism in REA hiring.

By and large, we haven’t seen a need to cover these meetings before. I turn the switch, my lights, computer, whatever, go on. Trego has better electric service than anywhere else I’ve lived or worked – and considering the places I’ve packed a computer into as a consultant, that says a lot.

Unfortunately, several of the trustees, along with Craig Eaton, have brought us to the realization that you can’t judge every aspect of your electric co-op by pulling a light switch in the morning.

There’s a story to be told, and some accusations to be investigated. We’ll be running a series of articles on the REA covering the accusations and making our own conclusions. The Mountain Ear is too small a publication to cover all this in a single issue, and advertising is the tail that wags the dog – we can’t afford the single issue approach. Besides, with this much controversy, we’ll get even better readership during the next couple of months!”

Hitting the High Points covered my attendance at the Lincoln Electric meeting:

“REA meetings are terminally boring. This opinion comes from attending Lincoln Electric’s annual meetings.

That opinion is normally 100% correct. The co-op bribes members to attend these annual dullness festivals with dozens of door prizes, a neighborly potluck, and little gifts to all attending. Despite the loot, turnouts barely exceed the 10% needed for a quorum – including the employees, trustees and their families. Most people can find more enjoyable experiences – hernia surgery, root canals, etc.

Last week I attended an exciting REA meeting. It started by boring me to tears, and only back pain kept me awake, as trustees reported each trip the co-op had sent them on, and planned future trips for 45 minutes. Then regular business – Sanders came out with figures that (he said) proved the co-op is well managed, and got the trustees to buy him a new computer.

Finally, things livened up. Monk glared from his corner, and announced “I’m going to put you on the spot!” to Craig Eaton. Eaton refused to be drawn out, and then the old guard trustees turned their meeting into a “Roast Eaton” contest.

I’d regarded their executive sessions as cheap attempts to conduct regular business (like Monk’s 100 G’s) away from public view and comment. If their ‘executive sessions’ are like this feeding frenzy was, they may serve another purpose – that of keeping peaceful, nonviolent types like myself outside the danger zone.

Eaton refused to answer – and the attacks became nastier. He was accused of telling ‘half-truths’. (Half truths are what you accuse a guy of telling when he’s got you in general, but misses the details. I got out of a ‘minor in possession of alcohol’ charge that way almost 20 years ago – sure, I had the beer, but the cop had the address down a block off).

After a dozen or so attacks on Eaton, I saw a bright red light at the head of the table, and thought “Interesting. They even have a stoplight installed to help them break off between rounds.”

The light began emitting strangled grumbles of rage, and I realized they weren’t going to let up on Eaton. What I’d taken to be a stoplight was a crimson board member asking Eaton his version of the $64,000 question, “How many annual meetings have you attended?” He must have thought he had the universe down cold with that perfect question – he even snarled it at an inoffensive Scott Baney, who had been sitting on the sidelines.

Broken back and all, I braced for action – so far it looked like I was the only person in the room whose neutrality was still being respected. Monk brought the meeting back in line as trustees and employees mumbled that they wanted more people to attend those annual meetings.

I think they’ll be seeing more people attending these meetings. An old Irish proverb says “If you want an audience, start a fight.” After watching these qualification matches, I have no doubt that the Lincoln Electric board is ready for the real thing.”

On October 3, the Mountain Ear published “REA History”: “We need to go back 40 years to understand the importance of the Lincoln Electric Cooperative. Then, only a few rural residents had electricity, and that was usually provided by low head power plants, like at Dickey Lake, or 32 volt systems ran from battery storage and wind chargers.

Despite the fact that city folks had niceties like indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and electric lights, life in the sticks wasn’t so high-tone. With today’s portable generators and new equipment, people can live in reasonable comfort away from the powerline. It wasn’t so then.

I asked a couple of the old-timers who were young men when power came how it was done. After listening to both Dale Osler and Winton Weydemeyer, I understand why the Cooperative means so much.

Both men stressed the importance of Henry Oldenberg in getting Lincoln Electric chartered – and also claimed that it needed everybody to get it done. There aren’t any Oldenbergs around Trego anymore – in talking, both men nodded over the hill, pointing out the Oldenberg place which I’ve always known as Jack Peters’ ranch.

Federal REA officials were reluctant to approve our co-op in those days – powerlines through so much timber were viewed as impossible to keep functioning. But the 300 local residents prevailed, and Lincoln Electric Cooperative was set up.

The problem of the trees had to be solved by the members – and they did it all themselves. Powerline right-of-ways were cleared during the winter. The members did it, with hand tools like axes, crosscuts and Swede saws. Both Dale and winton commented that part of the clearing they did was for free, while for another part they were paid a small amount – since each member had been required to chip in 6 days labor or $60.

With the lines cleared in the winter, the powerlines went up over the following years, and in May of 1951, the Lincoln Electric Coop was delivering electricity in rural Lincoln County. Winton recalled how one old fellow had looked at their accomplishments and announced, “We’ve got a million dollar outfit now! Now we can start spending money!”

Letters to the editor in that issue suggest the level of member dissatisfaction:

“. . . I am most interested in your interest in the goings on at Lincoln Electric – I have a home ‘serviced’ by them, and 2 years ago had a power outage that blew out my heat pump. Across the road, the Point of Rocks lost a condenser unit from the same outage. However, even with the outside security light off, and no heat, my intelligence was questioned by Mr. Miller, that I don’t know “black from white” – even though the Northwestern Telephone unit at Olney confirmed the outage and Carson Brothers Electric at Kalispell verified it. I still ended up with no insurance payment, due to Mr. Miller, and am out $3,000. I could have taken this to court, but due to the stress it would cause me (and my health is not the best) I decided to pay and shut up.

Now it would make my day to see Mr. Miller’s hide nailed to the wall. I do believe that he has been on the gravy train too long and thanks to some observant people on the board and caring folks like you, I do hope this can come to a successful end.

I have enjoyed my years @ Stryker and my many wonderful friends. Since I am now alone, I must be a summer resident. I miss it so much. My best wishes to you all.


Evelyn Kinyon

Dear Mike:

Just a few figures that show what Monk’s $100,000 might mean to the individual Lincoln Electric member:

August’s average residential electric bill was $39.80 according to the REA’s full page ad in your competition. Since there are about 2500 members in the co-op, it looks like everybody gets to pay about a month’s power bill for the benefit of being able to consult Mr. Miller at his convenience.

At $3 per foot, $100,000 comes to about six miles of power line. Maybe the numbers aren’t exactly right, but 6 miles of line could bring in some new customers for the REA. Is being able to consult Monk Miller worth 6 miles of line?

In August, Lincoln Electric listed cost of power from BPA at $103,432 and showed over 5 million kilowatt hours sold. Is Monk Miller’s advice likely to be as valuable as 5 million kilowatt hours of electricity?


M.G. Lee”

Next Installment: Force 7: Moderate Gale – Whole Trees in Motion . . . the organization of Concerned REA Members (CREAM)


Exchange Rate and Inflation by Nation

As access to Canada improves, the question of the exchange rate comes up again. It’s been a bit strange with Canada cut off by Covid-inspired regulations, and the return to normalcy seems a good thing.

So, not knowing the exchange rate, I clicked on . As I looked at the chart relating the Canadian dollar to the US dollar, I realized there’s some good charts on this website to show how every currency is doing, relative to the Yankee dollar.

I learned that the Canadian dollar is worth 0.724 US – so we’re looking at a favorable exchange rate at the Duty Free store across the line. It will be good to return . . . whether for bargains or just for the pleasure of visiting some pleasant neighbors. Beyond that though, are the charts that are available online:

I thought our inflation was bad – but it looks like our Canadian neighbors are getting it worse.  So I checked for what’s happening with the Euro:

I’m not sure who is in charge of the Euro – but I don’t want to have the Euro as my reserve currency.  As I look at the next chart, I suspect our nation’s financial managers are as crazy as an ayatollah – Somehow, the Iranian Rial stays dead steady against the US dollar.  I don’t usually believe in coincidence, so this is a great chart to build a conspiracy theory.

The Russian Rouble doesn’t seem to correlate with anything”

Click the link, and see which currencies seem to be doing the best in these inflationary times.


To the Secretary of State (Again)

Greetings Secretary of State Jacobsen;

You have my apologies for sending this letter by registered mail – but I have received no acknowledgement of my email two months earlier. Governmental unresponsiveness can have many causes, and some are benign – so this is my second attempt to bring the issue before you.

I believe that a single word in the Montana Election Judge Handbook 2020 allows appointed local election administrators to ignore a portion of state election law (subsection 7 – see below). Since you ran with the promise “Establishment Politicians Won’t Stop Me, You’ve seen it over and over Entrenched politicians trying to limit your choices and control elections Not on my watch” I hope you will correct the problem I have noticed that exists in Lincoln County, and I believe to be a statewide misapplication of election law.

On page 99, the handbook states: “Write-in votes for candidates who have not filed a declaration of intent as a write-in may be counted for a position, if the following conditions `are met:

no candidate’s name appears on the ballot for that position; and
no other candidate has filed a write-in declaration of intent by the applicable deadline.

The word may, during our most recent primary in Lincoln County, allowed our Election Administrator, Paula Buff, to assumed the power to ignore these following components of the Montana Codes:

13-10-211. Declaration of intent for write-in candidates. (1) Except as provided in subsection (7), a person seeking to become a write-in candidate for an office in any election shall file a declaration of intent . . .

(7) Except as provided in 13-38-201(4)(b), the requirements in subsection (1) do not apply if:

(a) an election is held;

(b) a person’s name is written in on the ballot;

(c) the person is qualified for and seeks election to the office for which the person’s name was written in; and

(d) no other candidate has filed a declaration or petition for nomination or a declaration of intent.

An election was held. So that I could test how the law was being followed, my daughter and I asked a few friends to write us in. I was written in for county administrator, and Samantha on the democratic ticket for county superintendent of schools. (This was a test, but each of us was willing to serve in the event of election. Both of us met the qualifications for the positions.) No other candidate had filed a declaration or petition to the best of my knowledge.

Paula’s reply was:

“Also, just so you are aware, because neither of you were a declared write-in or candidate for either of these positions you cannot be “elected” to those positions. The write in counts are just a count – not a nomination if that makes sense.

Because these positions are essentially still open, they will be filled by appointment by the County Commissioners and in conjunction with the rules / recommendation by the Republican Central Committee, specifically for the Superintendent of Schools.”

Paula’s interpretation removes SubSection 7’s exemptions from filing a declaration out of the law entirely. That is not allowed under the rules of statutory interpretation. I hold that, in the cases where subsection 7 applies, any voter can write-in an eligible citizen’s name and that does constitute a nomination. Paula’s interpretation makes sense only if she, as an appointed bureaucrat, is empowered to ignore the law as written.

It took until July 26 for Paula to respond to my repeated requests for write-in vote numbers by party in the primary election, when she finally admitted, “We were not required to count write-ins for all positions, however because we were conducting a hand-count I did instruct the counting board to count all write-ins. They were not separated according to party ballot when being counted.” In short, the Lincoln County primary election results were delayed because of her blunder in getting the ballots printed in a size that the machinery could handle, the county went to the extra expense of a hand count, and the parties were ignored as they counted ballots. Essentially, we had a party-free primary election in Lincoln County. That does not seem to match the intent of subsection 7.

Should you need copies of our exchange as I asked her for information, finally invoking the Freedom of Information Act and the Montana Constitution, I can share – but it was just a hoop one has to jump through when a junior bureaucrat errs and is unwilling to admit the error.

My greatest motivator here is that I have a great distaste for choiceless elections with a single candidate. This November, there will be no Lincoln County Democrat candidates, and while I may generally vote republican, I prefer to have a choice. Our election administrator, because the election judge handbook uses the word “may” has the power to mandate a general election where candidates run without opponents. I think this is the case in other Montana counties. As I reviewed the NRA endorsements for the state house and senate, I realized that 28% of state senate candidates are unopposed, and 31% of state representatives. Basically, entrenched politicians are successfully limiting my choices and controlling the elections in which I can participate.

Please let me know if I have not made the case for replacing “may” with “shall” strong enough to convince you. Your campaign homepage has given me hope that you will look at the arguments fairly. I look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience.


Michael McCurry
PO Box 508
Trego, MT 59934


Th Season of Climate Change

September 22 brought the first day of Autumn – and we had seen the first frost already. Not really a killing frost, for most of our garden plants have enough sugars within their cells to resist beyond the initial 32 degrees. The zucchinis and cucumbers seem to be the first to show frost damage . . and those plants contain a lot of water.

In the eighties, we kept and protected a copy of the 1941 yearbook of agriculture – Climate and Man. It was valuable back then – it had the nation’s climatic summaries for spots within each county – in Lincoln County, the records existed for Fortine, Libby and Upper Yaak. There were 32 years of daily weather records for Fortine. The average date for the first killing frost was September 8, and the book showed an average 102 day growing season, with 17.43 inches of annual precipitation. I had thought that Fortine’s inclusion was due to Winton Weydemeyer’s volunteer efforts in weather monitoring – but as I look at the data going back to 1909 (when Winton was 6 years old) I realize that someone else started the job that Winton continued. Still, our climate records are a legacy of Winton’s quiet efforts.

Climate and Man is not so valuable anymore – – provides links to finding your frost dates by the Hardiness Zone method, and by NOAA records. So I type in 59918 (Fortine’s Zip) and find:

Your results:

Fortine, MT (59918)

Nearest Station: FORTINE 1 N, MT

Last Frost Date: June 4

First Frost Date: September 9

You have at least 96 freeze-free days in a year.

Intriguing – Fortine’s growing season was 6 days longer before World War II . . . but that is probably more indicative of projecting a relatively small (39 years) partial duration series than indicating global (or even local) cooling and climate change.

The link also provides some probability information:

To show the dates above, we use probability level of 50% and frost temperature of 32°F. If you want to start your garden earlier in the spring with a higher risk of frost, or later with a lower risk, use the following table:

Late Frost Date

36°Jun 2Jun 28Jul 24
32°May 14Jun 4Jun 26
28°Apr 28May 17Jun 6

Early Frost Date

36°Aug 11Aug 24Sep 7
32°Aug 28Sep 9Sep 21
28°Sep 1Sep 18Oct 5
Data provided by the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Probability level (90%, 50%, 10%) is the chance of the temperature to go below the threshold after the last frost date or before the first frost date. Using a lower probability means you have lower risk of unexpected frost damage but shorter gardening days in a year.

The importance of the 28 degree frost is that it is generally the killing frost – the sugars and other organics in our garden plants mean that different species have different critical temperatures.  Texas A&M Extension  Cold Tolerance in Vegetables | Archives | Aggie Horticulture  provides this explanation about the temperatures that kill our garden crops:

“This is very difficult to do and be accurate since cold tolerance depends on preconditioning. For instance, if broccoli has been growing in warm conditions and temperatures drop below 22 degrees F., it will probably be killed. If these same broccoli plants had experienced cool weather, they would probably survive the sudden cold.

In general, a frost (31-33 degrees F.) will kill beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peas, pepper, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Colder temperatures (26-31 degrees F.) may burn foliage but will not kill broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, and turnip.

The real cold weather champs are beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, kale, parsley, and spinach.”

Spring was cold and wet this year, and the killing frost took a long time to reach my garden.  Your results may differ.


The Argument Makes Sense- But I Don’t Know Enough to Evaluate It

I saw a link (on Instapundit) to an article that explains the damages that occurred to the Nordstream gas pipelines.

The article begins with a photo from  the 1994 edition of CAPP Guidelines for the Prevention and Safe Handling of Hydrates, Canadian Assn. of Petroleum Producers.

Now I have a little experience with pipelines – none so long as Nordstream, and only running water, and generally under 100 psi of pressure.  In short, my experience doesn’t qualify me to evaluate the article – my experience doesn’t include 48 inch steel pipelines with an inch and a half walls.  However, I live in North Lincoln County – some neighbor will have worked the oil patch and gas pipelines and have the ability to say if Lawdog is correct.

My next thought was Putin’s comment that he was willing to use nukes.  Now what I don’t know about nuclear weapons fills books.  Dad knew more about them – he was at Operation Crossroads, but that was before I was born, and, while he knew the physicists, he was the ship’s Warrant Boatswain . . . and maintenance of the bombs wasn’t his responsibility.

Still, despite my meager knowledge of atomic weapons, I got to thinking.  I can maintain water pipelines.  I haven’t got a clue about how to maintain nuclear warheads . . . but I don’t think they are maintenance free.  And I’m a demographer.  And World Population Review lists the number of warheads by country (I know, demographers like to count things).

Which Countries Have Nuclear Weapons?

  1. Russia — 6,257 (1,458 active, 3039 available, 1,760 retired)
  2. United States — 5,550 (1,389 active, 2,361 available, 1,800 retired)
  3. China — 350 available (actively expanding nuclear arsenal)
  4. France — 290 available
  5. United Kingdom — 225 available
  6. Pakistan — 165 available
  7. India — 156 available
  8. Israel — 90 available
  9. North Korea — 40-50 available (estimated)

So, if Russia doesn’t have technicians who are competent to keep a pipeline operational – and I know darned well that some of my neighbors can probably do it, what’s the chance that a bunch of those 6,257 warheads have had equally shabby maintenance?  And if they had, what’s the chance that they won’t explode?  Nuclear physics isn’t my field – but the bombs they used at Bikini were brand new bombs.  I figure most of those on the list have been sitting in storage since Reagan was a president.  And if the Russian technicians have declined in competence at the same rate as our presidents have, those old warheads might not go boom.  I really do want someone capable to evaluate the article – the implication is too great not to.


Music at Trego School

One of the afternoon blocks at Trego School is music- I was talked into teaching a brief lesson on hand bells this past week. The older class typically spends two hours each week learning to play harmonica- and it actually sounds recognizable when they practice!

Hand bells are easy- playing the right note is as simple as picking up the right bell. This is made easier because each bell has the note written on the handle, and is colored by note.

I color coded the music as well- useful, as harmonica relies on tablature rather than reading notes. I’m always surprised at how quickly children pick up bells. The only consistent reminder I needed to give was to silence the bells after each note.

No more than an hour and I had a group of students working their way through sheet music, distributing bells, and working together to play complex songs. Hand bells have the virtue of being a group instrument- they force cooperation as very few instruments do. Each note is important, timing, patience, and cooperation are all essential. The success is a group success.

A bit of coaching, some reminders that mistakes are to be expected, and a harmonious class was had. One student decided that, now that he knew how the song sounded, he’d be able to play it on harmonica as well.

Elementary isn’t usually my preference, but it made for a very pleasant afternoon. And- the beauty of hand bells? They don’t need me to have that experience again. Those students have every tool they need to play bells together now- adults not required.


Force 5 Fresh Breeze

This installment on the Lincoln Electric Co-op members uprising includes my becoming involved.  A broken back provided me with 3 months of orders not to work, not to lift anything over 10 pounds – so getting involved with old friends had an appeal.  The nice thing was that neither side treated me as disabled, despite the metal brace that was tastefully concealed by a 5X shirt from Abdul’s Tent and Awning Supplies.

As I look at the old issues, I realize the imperfections of memory – the back injury was in late September, but the May 23, 1988 Mountain Ear includes an article titled “Electrification Nepotism Nixed.”  The article follows:

“Craig Eaton livened up the Lincoln Electric board meeting on Monday May 16.  Eaton presented the board with letters, signed by about 40 people, expressing concern that the Co-op manager’s son-in-law had been hired despite LEC Policy bulletin #603, which states, “Employees delegated the authority to hire and fire personnel shall not employ relatives closer than the fourth degree.”  Miller’s son-in-law, Jody Harvey, was allegedly hired for the brush crew but being trained as a lineman. 

Although one of the letters suggested an immediate demand for Monk Miller’s resignation, the board took no action on the subject, accepting Miller’s assurances that he’d take care of the problem.  The son-in-law was no longer employed by the Lincoln Electric Co-op as of Tuesday, May 17.

Another item addressed by the complainants was the hiring of local people, as opposed to bringing in people from out of state.  The writers felt that some locals have the same abilities as the out of towners, and should be given an advantage in the hiring process.

Answering the accusation that “without a notice or advertisement in the local area, the manager seems to have found a position for his own son-in-law.”, Roger Pitman took the responsibility for hiring Harvey.”

On June 27, the Ear headlined “Lincoln Electric Has New Nepotism Policy”:

“The board of directors of the Lincoln Electric adopted a new nepotism policy.  This new policy is significantly different and more comprehensive than the previous nepotism policy.  The new policy prohibits the hiring of relatives (of management and supervisory employees) of the third degree and closer.  The new policy affects management and supervisory employees, while the old policy affected only employees with hiring authority.  The question of including all employees in the nepotism policy arose, but was argued against, with the reason stated that everyone in Eureka is related.  The new policy covers full time and seasonal employees.  More leniency has been granted to hire relatives, with the exclusion being changed from the 4th degree to 3rd degree or closer.”

The article ended with a sentence that seemed insignificant at the time: “It was recommended that the Pinkham Mt. Electronic site be abandoned in favor of Elk Mountain, and a site on state lands near Olney.”  Later, we would learn the significance of that recommendation.

The July 25 issue noted that “The board learned that L.E. has a verbal temporary permit from the Forest Service to the Elk Mountain site with the assurance of a permanent permit.  The L.E. has put in electric lines to the Elk Mountain site.  L.E. is expecting to have a permit for the Stillwater site next month.”

The second paragraph included “The board approved policy changes to policy 507 and 705.  The board discussed proposed policy #700.  Policy #700 will require the public to be on the agenda before being heard.  The policy appears to be in response to Craig Eaton’s appearance before the board last May.  Policy #506 deals with members appearances, requiring the board to take action after the members have left the meeting.  Board Chairman Charles Cope appeared to endorse this policy, indicating that a decision could be made in executive session.”

The article’s last sentence noted “Board member Dave Curtiss resigned.”

On September 5, the headline was “REA Manager to Retire.” 

“Melvin ‘Monk’ Miller, manager for Lincoln Electric and InterBel Telephone Cooperatives plans to retire June 11, 1989.  Miller, after his retirement will remain in Eureka for two years to serve as a consultant to the cooperatives.  Miller, in his role as consultant, will be available for consultation, information and advise in regard to the cooperative, but will have no managerial or duties to the cooperatives.  Miller during the two year period will receive his regular salary as fixed in June 11, 1989 with Lincoln Electric and InterBel each being responsible for one year’s salary.

Next installment:  Force 6: Strong Breeze – Large branches in motion, telegraph wires “sing.”  Umbrellas used with difficulty


Does the President Have to Be a Narcissist

Five years ago, as Trump was beginning his presidency, I read a bunch of articles from psychs and pseudo-psychs on their “duty to warn” about his narcissistic personality disorder . . . his DSM categorized insanity if you will.  I did what I usually do – I found out who edited the journals on personality disorders and who the leading expert was.

Turns out, the top gun on narcissistic personality disorders is a guy named Allen Frances.  Wikipedia describes him as “currently Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. He is best known for serving as chair of the American Psychiatric Association task force overseeing the development and revision of the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Frances is the founding editor of two well-known psychiatric journals: the Journal of Personality Disorders and the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.”

Frances figured that Trump may well be a narcissist, but that he doesn’t have a narcissistic personality disorder – that the disorder has to include distress or impairment.  Not pain for other people, but pain for the person with NPD.  In Francis writes “Trump is an undisputed poster boy for narcissism. He demonstrates in pure form every single symptom described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, which I wrote in 1978. But lots of successful people are extremely narcissistic without being mentally ill — think most celebrities, many politicians, and a fair percentage of writers, artists, lawyers, doctors, and professors. To qualify for narcissistic personality disorder, an individual’s selfish, unempathetic preening must be accompanied by significant distress or impairment. Trump certainly causes severe distress and impairment in others, but his narcissism doesn’t seem to affect him that way.”

Okay – I suspect being narcissistic helps folks achieve the presidency – but let’s look at what the criteria are in DSM:

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

And I can’t help wondering if it doesn’t take an exaggerated sense of self-importance to even think about running for president?  I mean, I could probably do a better job than Joe Biden, but I don’t believe I would be a good president.  Still, when I look at that list from Mayo, I see some behaviors that fit Biden.  Carter and Bush not so much – but there’s been a hell of an ego in each of our last 3 presidents.

Getting back to Frances – “ lots of successful people are extremely narcissistic without being mentally ill — think most celebrities, many politicians, and a fair percentage of writers, artists, lawyers, doctors, and professors.”  And that gets me to the question: Why did a bunch of psychs decide to diagnose Trump but not diagnose Biden?  Biden has a pretty good record in the category of “react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior.”  From my perspective he merits the public psych definitions as much as Trump did. 

Fortunately, I’m a sociologist and demographer – DSM isn’t my bible.  Still, it seems to me that, when Allen Frances points out that “lots of successful people are extremely narcissistic without being mentally ill — think most celebrities, many politicians, and a fair percentage of writers, artists, lawyers, doctors, and professors” maybe we need to look at narcissism as a qualifying politicians to run for office – and believing that you’re the best person to run the United States may require a huge level of narcissism.

On the other hand, having the supreme narcissist in Washington DC is probably better than having him just down the road. 


In Case you Missed It

It’s late September and the usual topics are relevant again. How much heat do you really get in a cord of wood (not all cords are created equal)? Do filters really help with the smoke? What is that spider? (Cat-faced spiders are in evidence this time of the year) Where are all those bugs coming from?

Firewood Rankings by Species

The change from burning forests to burning wood is coming fast – and while we use a lot of firewood, we rarely look at just how much heat each species produces, or at how much a cord weighs.  This chart, from the California Energy Commission, ranks production by species, and shows the weight of a… Continue reading Firewood Rankings by Species

HEPA Filters and Wildfire Smoke

As I stepped into Trego School on a warm smoky afternoon, I developed a sudden admiration for HEPA filters. About a month ago, I wrote about the school’s new HEPA filters, purchased as part of their Health and Safety plan. As it turns out, HEPA filters are excellent for wildfire smoke. HEPA filters are good… Continue reading HEPA Filters and Wildfire Smoke

Refugees from the cold

As the year goes by and we feel the weather shifting towards winter, we find more and more insects in our homes. By and large, these insects are trying to get out of the cold, and find our homes just as good an answer as cracks in treestumps, downed wood, or burrows beneath the frostline.… Continue reading Refugees from the cold


The Fruit Fly Trap

Fruit flies are a science teacher’s nightmare. They’re a classic study for genetics- short life span, only six chromosomes. The trouble is, no matter what you do, somehow, someway, the darned things get loose. Fruit flies. Everywhere. They breed like, well, flies, and aren’t nearly as selective about diet as the name would suggest.

A fruit fly infestation is hard to get rid of, because total removal of food sources is difficult. However, the combination of fruit fly trap and removal of food sources does prove effective.

While they have a surprisingly varied diet, they do prefer fruit. Like many animals that eat fruit, they’re attracted to the smell of fermenting fruit. The bait, then? Apple Cider Vinegar.

What makes your cup (disposable- easier to throw the whole thing out that way) into a trap? That’s the drop or two of soap you add to it.

Fruit flies are tiny and attempting to land on the surface of apple cider vinegar wouldn’t normally pose much in the way of problems. Soap disrupts the hydrogen bonds between water molecules, which in this case means it disrupts the surface tension. A classic classroom illustration is pepper floating on the surface of water. A drop of soap and it sinks.

So, apple cider vinegar for bait. Soap to disrupt the surface tension so they fall through and drown. Then, wait a few days. Fruit flies have short life expectancy, and you want to catch all of the newly emerging adults as they hatch as well. An effective trap, and an infestation removed.