The Midgely deMerit Medal


By PatD, a Trail Mix Contributor

Trail Mixers, it is time to mint a new mixer award: the “worst whatever of the week” award.  Let it be known far and wide as the Midgely deMerit Medal.  I hereby propose the first recipient rightfully should be the man for whom this medal is named:

Thomas Midgely was a renowned chemist and inventor who held over 100 patents in his lifetime, but he’s most notorious for two chemicals which wreaked untold havoc on the environment: leaded gasoline and Freon, the first CFC. During his lifetime, Midgley was met with great praise, but his legacy has become tarnished since the full effects of his inventions are now understood. Millions have been affected by him, to the point of death, and many more are still suffering to this day. Even planet earth itself.

Once a week, hopefully, a suitable submission will find its way to our fearless leader for posting forthwith.

Read More Posts By PatD


58 thoughts on “The Midgely deMerit Medal”

  1. the idea for picking mr. midgely came from a chapter in “the book of general ignorance” by mitchinson and lloyd entitled Who was the most dangerous American in history?  their answer: It was probably Thomas Midgely, a chemist from Dayton, Ohio, who invented both CFCs and lead in gasoline. 

    their concluding paragraph: By any standard, Midgely was an extraordinary man. He held 171 patents, loved music, and wrote poetry. But his inventions were lethal. At fifty-one he contracted polio and lost the use of his legs. In a final irony, the harness he designed to help him get in and out of bed got tangled one morning and in the ensuing struggle, America’s most dangerous man inadvertently strangled himself. He was fifty-five.

    truly a lesson of unintended consequences and t.s. eliot’s “Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.”

  2. “Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.” -the guy from St. Louis may have been writing his own apology here.

  3. btw, the medal above is from the british museum’s medals of dishonour collection. the inscription on one side is “we know who you are” and on the other side “we know what you have done”….  sounds pretty ominous.  befits many a political folk past and present, not just inventors of bad stuff that pollute the environment.

  4. patd,

    The Worst Person in the World! RIP Countdown.

    Remember when that program had a “Best Persons” segment? Seems that part of the show didn’t test well in a focus group so it was dropped. “Worst Person” was most popular. What does this say about us as a society? 😉

  5. Midgely does seem to be someone the world would have been better without.  Perhaps we could come up with a parody for any upcoming nominees for the dishonor.

  6. sjwny,  hopefully we can go beyond the human species with the “worst whatever of the week” award. let’s be our usually liberal inclusive selves and encompass an expansive view.  maybe targeting bad bugs like the zika or (like rolling stone’s) worst movie or (reader’s digest’s pick) worst food to eat….  the universe awaits.   perhaps a list weekly on which we vote much as we did picking the best father figure (john Walton?) in the trail’s wisdom.

  7. Shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a worthy recipient of the Midgley deMerit award on a weekly basis. Lord knows that there are at any given moment plenty of people who are ignorant, stupid or simply mean and act upon their ignorance, stupidity and meanness who would qualify

  8. Jamie, a list, great idea and enjoyable link.

    but to be fair and balanced, this one’s for sjwny pov

  9. jamie,  good observation from capehart:

    The best part of Browne’s commentary is his riff on the racial reaction to the joke.  

    So what’s the response to this been? It’s been reported very little — probably because most political reporters don’t know what “CP time” is. But the #FeelTheBurn crowd is calling it racist, because if there’s one thing a wildly passionate white Bernie supporter is good at, it’s claiming that a pro-Clinton white is a worse white. And then there’s Team Hillary, who will hope few people notice that she participated in a colored people time joke only weeks after taking the stage at the televised BET Black Girls Rock! show.

    Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have latched onto this as part of their ongoing attempt to paint the Clintons as thinly veiled racists playing African Americans for suckers. Or as a black friend said to me this morning, “Sanders’s white people are so desperate to get black people riled up, which is exactly the problem with their ‘I know what’s best for you’ paternalism.”

  10. patd,

    What comes to mind daily as a good thing is the fact we can express ourselves here. I can’t imagine living in a society where forums are monitored, censored, shut down all because of opinions, ideas …. words.

  11. I think selective historical recall is a marvelous thing, especially if one need not produce contemporaneous achievements that would have achieved the good that gasoline and Freon did before their deleterious effects became known and were allowed to flourish unmitigated.

    Without gasoline, what would have replaced the animal drawn farm implements that tied people to the land? Or limited food delivery to rail routes? And, no Freon equals no mechanical refrigeration in the food chain. Even when I was a young boy, a horse drawn ice wagon made the rounds to several houses on my suburban Cleveland street.

    The exercise of such judgemental hindsight requires extraordinary chutzpah.

  12. Cute Tweet:  

    Happy Birthday to Thomas Jefferson. The author of the greatest breakup letter of all time.

  13. Can’t imagine growing up in Florida without Freon, but still, had he not invented it maybe somebody would have come up with something safer

  14. Craig, my recollections of Florida immediately after the war was a1a paralleling the ocean and all the permanent dwellings being single story. Lots of shade plantings were present. Very pastoral. I’ve lived in the tropics–Panama, Vietnam and Guam. By comparison, Florida seems almost temperate–types of vegetation, distinct seasonality, etc.

    There was an alternative to Freon. Ammonia. When heated it would produce high pressure. The pressure, when released would produce the chill. It’s widely used in travel trailers. Our house in Las Vegas was cooled by ammonia heated by natural gas. It was quite a contraption.





  15. patd…   Flatus has made a good point about inventions that gave us progress but did do some harm.  I mean we could start with the automobile and plane.  One could easily say that both have caused many a death and are hogs of fossil fuel.  But I like to drive and to fly…   many a place I would never have been if it weren’t for both.

    But I do like the path you are on… especially when it comes to politicians.  I’d like to nominate Dick Cheney for that medal.


  16. renee, I see your point and apologize to flatus for not considering the whole idea.  also like your nomination. another two-sided sword nominee might be any particular religion that lends itself to bad behavior in extremis.

  17. reminder: CNN Dem debate tonight 9pm ET. I’ll toss up a new thread then for our commentary.

  18. Good post.  Some many things fit in this category.  We are a nation of unintended consequences

    I am binge reading David McCullough  The Truman biogrphy is wonderful

  19. I hadn’t read anything by McCullough and read the Wright Bros and loved it.  I grew up in Ohio and we vacationed near Kitty Hawk and I had a completely wrong notion of the Wright Bros.  This also appears the same about Truman.  The haberdasher myth has been firmly planted in my mind that and give ’em hell Harry is about all I know.  I’ve read his book on the Johnstown Flood and some short pieces , portraits, of notable folks.

  20. I LOVE it when others talk about the books they’re reading.  Unfortunately, my “to read” pile is yuuuuuge.  But fortunately, being a bibliophile doesn’t stop me from adding on to it…  🙂

  21. KGC, that’s one of my favorite books ever. Also a fun read is Truman’s autobiography, Mr Citizen. You really get a keen sense of the man with that, all him, no ghost writer.

  22. RR, that gives me an idea, would love to post book reviews if anyone can muster up the energy

  23. A little known thing about HST is the close bond he and Eleanor Roosevelt formed after he became president. They wrote a ton of letters back and forth that were published not too long ago. I used several excerpts in my Listen Up book.

  24. I think non-biodegradable consumer plastics such as plastic bags and those circlet type things that hold soda bottles together should be high on the list. And what about disposable diapers vs reusables? And Pat, I apologize for being so judgemental.

  25. Craig…  I will do a review of “Dark Money” when I’m done.  I managed to read the first 3 chapters last week…  but what I read pissed me off so much that I haven’t read a word of it since.  Thanks for giving me a reason to plow through it.

    patd…  that wonkette piece… ROTFLMAO!  Can’t wait to read Alexandra Petri tomorrow.

  26. Definitely the disposable diapers and the non biodegradable baby wipes clogging sewage systems all around the globe.  I’ve made it a personal mission to eliminate as much plastic from my life as humanly possible in today’s world.

    Unfortunately those disposable diapers go with the day care for working mothers.  Time to bring back a lost industry, diaper services.  Wash them all in one place, save on water, and reduce plastic.  Of course, day care people might not enjoy what mothers of my era took for granted … babies are filthy little creatures, you get to deal with the products, and diaper pails are disgusting.  ?

  27. Some folks fought to keep making leaded gas and freon, after learning the consequences. Now those are really the worst people.


  28. ny times
    In a routine briefing with reporters in the Vatican press office on Thursday, the spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, was asked if the pope would meet with academics and politicians, including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who are participating in a Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences conference on Friday.
    “There won’t be a meeting with the Holy Father,” Father Lombardi said.
    A papal encounter was always going to be a long shot for Mr. Sanders, whose trip is not on an official visit to the Holy See. The politician was never scheduled to have an audience with Pope Francis, and the conference is not exactly the “high-level meeting” that the Sanders campaign billed it as in its news release about the trip. But as recently as Wednesday, Mr. Sanders was still hopeful for a face-to-face with the pontiff.

  29. I have a line on my Twitter profile dedicated to the fake & temporary accounts:

    During political season all “EGGS” will meet the fate of Humpty Dumpty.


  30. why are there wild-eyed stories like this headline in the guardian today

    Even if Sanders wins the popular vote, Clinton could still get the nomination

    The Democratic party decides its nominee in a massively undemocratic way – and is a ticking time bomb for the party and its voter base if Bernie keeps winning


    when according to  realclearpolitics she’s 2.4 million ahead of him in popular vote so far?  hell, she’s 1.2 million ahead of the drumpf which even makes him ahead of the bern by over a million.

    and they’re grousing about the dirty delegates?

  31. I did a little (very little) research on the issue.  An alternative for an additive to prevent knock and to allow for higher compression ratios in gasoline powered engines was ethanol, but it did not have the additional advantages of protecting the valves and valve seats in IC engines that TEL offered.  Remember, this was in 1921 and metallurgical technology was nothing like it is now.  Plus, GM could patent and profit off the TEL formulation, but could not do so with ethanol.  The problems with lead were known back then.

    In 1923, Midgley took a prolonged vacation to cure himself of lead poisoning. “After about a year’s work in organic lead,” he wrote in January 1923, “I find that my lungs have been affected and that it is necessary to drop all work and get a large supply of fresh air.” He went to Miami, Florida for convalescence. (Wiki)


  32. Jane Sanders has been all over TV today.  This is a woman who has been an “educator” in many roles over the course of her career.  She is 65 years old.  Her husband has been a politician for decades and until this year she had no idea how the Presidential nomination process worked?

    I can understand the average citizen being confused by the state run caucuses and primaries, but to be actively campaigning for several months and now start complaining about a system that has existed in something like the modern form for 100 years strikes me as rather strange.


  33. After reading the posts, I’ve determined that to avoid adding unnecessarily to the non-biodegradable waste in landfills I am not going to have another kid.

    Although I had not intended to watch the debate tonight, I think I may.  It will be interesting to see whether Bernie continues to harp on Hillary’s Wall Street speeches, donations to campaign from lobbyists and her (a) Iraq War vote, (b) crime bill support and (c) disastrous trade policy support.  It will also be interesting to see whether, and how, she takes the bait and how she responds if she does.

  34. Jamie – What did folks do before diapers?  What do they still do without them in some countries, especially warm countries that seem to be partially clothing-optional?  Are they just more connected to their kiddos so they can tell when they have to go earlier than we do here?   I will say that I have seen kids up to the age of 4 and the parents hadn’t tried to potty train yet.  In my family, you start at about age 1; all completed well before the age of 2.  Imagine the reduction in the amount of disposable diapers if everyone at least aimed for age 2.

    It really is difficult to reduce waste unless you just don’t buy anything but fresh produce.  Even the bulk legumes, etc., get put in a baggy.

  35. Pogo

    The list is for the leaderboard of all the horses considered to be on the “Derby Trail” and entered into various qualifying races to obtain “points” that determine their rankings.   There are 20 slots that are filled by the horses with the highest scores from various qualifying races leading up to the Derby.  There are then an additional three horses that are “Also eligible” to fill slots that might become empty due to illness, injury, or trainer decision not to run in the Derby.

    When considering horses, I usually look at the top 30 and keep track of who is winning what and trainer decisions about horse condition.  I keep everyone posted on entered horses and the final post draws up to the Derby.

    I have a hunch bet decision to make this year with two horses.  My daughter’s name is Lanisa, but she goes by Lani and with my love of movies, I’m tempted by Oscar Nominated.





  36. Jamie44 diaper services.  The best thing going for young families with babies.  Flush the chunks in the commode, toss the diaper in the hamper.  Wet, toss in the hamper.  Every Monday put the hamper outside on the porch and magically the contents were gone and a new supply of nappies.

    Debate.  I can guess what it will be.  Bernie, bulging eyes, red face in rage, accusing HRC of every vile deed which she can be accused of.  Big banks.  Big oil.  Big Bill.   Hillary a step away from whacking the Bern and sending him to the time out corner.   Too bad she was not born with a wide vocal range.

  37. Well…  seeing how I ran Jonathan Frakes fan club for a few yrs…  he played Commander Will Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation…   I’d have to go with Riker for the Derby.

    I… having no children…  have never diapered anyone.  But I do have a great niece who is due on July 5th.  I’m the closest female relative to my niece…  who will be her mother.  So I will learn to put a diaper on that baby.  But…  it better be of the disposable type.  I will not make any apologies…but I will not deal with a diaper pail…   YUCK!

  38. Having dealt with two children 20 months apart, I just got one out of diapers as the next one started.  No disposables and handling the whole process by myself as it was still the age when “men didn’t do that” … So it was an interesting four years.  Infants are not equipped with much in the way of olfactory senses so my daughter still hasn’t been forgiven for the nap time when she decided to “finger paint” herself and her crib with interesting contents of the nappy.  I sort of dangled the whole of her body with two fingers from the bed to the bathtub for hosing down.




  39. The more I think about it the more I cannot understand why the Clinton campaign agreed to this debate tonight. Why give Bernie this air time when they’ve already put him away?

  40. The Midgely deMerit Medal


    I’ve been wondering the same thing.. I’m not sure i’m watching tonight, lol, need to get going with Shameless.. I’ve heard both of them so much and i’m kinda over it.. Trail Mix will give me a true depiction of the debate besides.. :0)

  41. Craig

    Because his incessant whining was causing a PR problem.  He and the Mrs are both very, very good at everything being “unfair”.  Hillary had agreed to two more debates but they didn’t have to be before NY.  He just made it sound as if she were reneging if she didn’t agree to one in their “home” state.

    My biggest worry right now are the “Independents” who didn’t re-register in time to vote threatening to force the vote and clog the polls.  Organizers are stocking in extra provisional ballots and expecting suits after the election over the counting.


  42. On the book front we could have one day when people list their top ten books either for pleasure or purpose, just to get a feel for everyone’s interests.


  43. Jamie, his incessant whining is only causing a PR problem because she and her team keep paying attention to it. Kill him with kindness and silence I say. Their inept handling of Bernie gives me great concern about whether they can deal with Trump and avoid falling to his level.

  44. I hope once this one is out of the way she just flat out tells him NO MORE.  The dirty trick squad is publishing home numbers of the Super Delegates and practically wall papering Twitter with nasty.  I don’t think it is Sanders himself, but I wouldn’t put it past Tad Devine & Jeff Weaver to accuse her of all seven deadly sins.  They are already taking help from Karl Rove and using the Fox News playbook.


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