Stick to the Truth on Mother’s Day

It might make for silly jokes—and better family relationships.
(c) 2016, Davd

What would Mother’s Day be like if everyone told the truth, the whole truth1, and nothing but the truth?

Visualizing such a Mother’s Day, this year, one can imagine some silly comedy—or pathos. For Instance2:

‣ “Billy, I’d rather have gin-and-tonic than white wine with my dinner. You’re driving, so you shouldn’t drink wine anyway.”

‣ (from a young boy) “Why isn’t Dad here?” or “I want to go fishing!”

‣ (from an adult child) “Mum, your make-up looks too thick.”

‣ “Melanie, why can’t you put your home office in the basement and give me that room so I can be with my grandchildren every day?”

‣ “Jessica, that boy Rocky you’ve been going around with seems to have some really questionable friends. I think you’re playing with fire and I think you should stop.”

All of which things can be said on other days of the year; but are related to “honouring Mother”. Should Jessica break up with Rocky in deference to Mother’s advice? Maybe so—we can’t tell for sure from Mother’s concern.

Should Melanie’s mother be moved into her home? That depends on much more than Mother’s wishes; it especially depends on what Mother can contribute to Melanie and the grandchildren, and how willing she is to contribute as well as enjoy.

Should Billy abstain from wine with his dinner because he will be driving Mother home from the restaurant? I’d tend to agree he should—at least, someone in the group should—and that further implies, that people who enjoy wine with meals, even beer, should either have a Designated [abstinent] Driver, or take a cab home… or attend a restaurant within walking distance… or cook well and eat at home.

Should Billy’s Mother be allowed gin instead of wine with her dinner? Yes—unless she “has a drinking problem.”

Combining those two inferences about Billy and his Mother, we can see that taking her to dinner at a restaurant, while very much something many Mothers want for Mother’s Day, is a sacrifice for Billy: He doesn’t get the kind of meal he wants because he will be driving [and Canadian driving laws are very strict on blood alcohol allowance].

Perhaps giving up Rocky would be a bigger sacrifice for Jessica, and moving Mother into her home, a still bigger one for Melanie—or perhaps those sacrifices would have more than equal compensating advantages.

My main point is that truth is better than Nice manners. It may be less comfortable at the telling, but living a lie is much worse.

In telling Billy to abstain from the wine he wants with his dinner, Mother is exposing the sacrificial aspect of “dinner out with Mommy.” In telling Jessica to separate herself from Rocky, Mother is directing both their attention to a question of danger—and unless Mother is quite mistaken in her observations, it’s one that should be examined.

In asking to share Melanie’s house, Mother is claiming the joys of grand-mothering. Can she welcome the work that goes with that? If so, Melanie and the grandchildren might benefit. Mother’s cost of living will be less than if she lives alone in an apartment. The children will get to see two adults working out their differences and enjoying their common interests. Melanie might get free time to work, study, even vacation, with a competent adult the children know and enjoy still at home with them.

Working through the uncomfortable aspects of sharing the truth, ought to pay off for most relationships. Mother’s Day happens to be one occasion which most of us must somehow confront, when there is a commercial alternative to truth: “Pay For Ritual”, we might call it. Buy flowers, buy greeting cards, take Mother to a restaurant, give her a gym membership [which most Mothers would rather not have] or a “gift card” which amounts to money with a restriction on where it may be spent. (Greeting cards especially give adult children the option of giving Nicely dishonest praise in the form of a card written by a stranger. The actual truth is “finessed.”)

As for motivation to finesse rather than tell it like it is, CBC reports that polls show “six in ten Canadians who celebrate the holiday find some aspect of it stressful.” Commercial advertising promotes Mother’s Day for money’s sake, and in the process, pressures children whose Mothers are less than good, to pretend.

To what extent i can on this small website, I’m pushing back: Tell the truth. If you have a great Mother, that should be easy. If you have a mediocre Mother, tell the good stuff, but feel free to include the not-so-good as well. (I suspect the son or daughter who said Mother’s make-up was too thick, was factually correct.)

What Mothers most want on Mother’s Day, is quality family time. That’s far easier to accomplish on a truthful basis2.

Notes:

The sad, unstated part of this speculative exercise, has been the assumption that no Mother and no adult child, was “married and living with spouse.” Unmarried is the modal state of Canadian adults these days, which is not to say it be preferable to marriage faithfully kept. I assumed unmarried adults here, mainly to keep this blog short and its analyses, simple… not to denigrate lifelong marriage.

1. Maybe the whole truth would sometimes take too long to state—as can also be the case “on the witness stand”—the intention is that what is said be not only factually true, but also representative of the “whole truth.”

2. these are made-up stories, [as also are Alice in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and most Nobel Prize winning novels, but these are far, far shorter]

3. Another important basis for quality family time, is modest expectations. If one or more members of the group expect better than they can have while treating the rest equally well—then a very important truth step toward quality time, is identifying the excessive expectations; which identifying needs to be followed by making them more humble.

 

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Taxing Visual Sexual Harassment:

..Instead of Spending Money Fighting Vice, Government Can Collect Some
(c) 2016, Davd

It’s the last week before tax returns are due in Canada. The Federal and Alberta governments recently introduced deficit budgets. A good time, methinks, to identify an opportunity to raise tax revenues, reduce sexual harassment, and help workplaces be more work friendly, all together.

Suppose men and women were socially equal. I’m not saying that’s so—there are many recent books and articles showing that women are privileged when compared to men. One of the more recent was published on the AVfM website and concluded, “As a woman advantaged by feminist policies who has seen highly qualified men consistently passed over in hiring competitions, experienced the knee-jerk misandry of feminist colleagues, and witnessed the shaming of young men in university classrooms past and present …” But if we were legally and socially equal to women—what might we notice about women’s behaviour, that constitutes sexual harassment?

“Slut Walks”, for instance. Women parading their sexuality at the general public—and at the same time demanding “don’t respond to our sexual display until you are explicitly invited to respond—and if we’re intoxicated, don’t respond even if we ask you to.” If that ain’t sexual harassment, what in Hell is it?

(It sure ain’t Heaven… the religions that have something to say about Heaven also demand modesty of women as well as of men. I don’t know a lot about Islamic Sharia law, for instance, but it does demand modesty!—and i would rather live with Sharia modesty standards than with some of today’s distracting public displays of the sexuality of women.)

If i weren’t retired, but still on the job [or doing gigs] i would rather modesty prevailed in my workplace; i am there to work, not flirt and not gawk—nor even put effort into not gawking at some woman’s display of her sexuality. Likewise for showing off sexuality in schools—it’s a good reason for all-boy and all-girl schools, and there are others, such as the fact that boys learn better moving around and humming, but girls don’t seem to.

There’s one right and proper place for a woman (or marriageable girl) to display her sexuality—in the company of her husband or betrothed, when she wants to take some sexual action.1 The rest of the time and the rest of the places, including all public places—modesty is more appropriate—usually far more appropriate.

If you read advertising in the “flyers” and newspapers2, you can regularly see “displays of sexuality” used to sell clothing, cosmetics, even furniture and motor vehicles… and the sexuality of women is shown far more often than that of men. What good such distraction? Wouldn’t it be better for the public, if the advertising paid attention to the merits of the merchandise?

Then there are also ads for cosmetics (as distinct from antibacterial ointments, hand lotion, shampoo, and athlete’s-foot medicine) and some clothing, which products don’t really have much merit beyond “displays of sexuality” Lipstick and mascara are sold to make women look more sexually attractive, not to protect them from the weather. Much the same applies to “sexy” clothing and shoes. And there, is an opportunity for any government that is looking for more tax income… as those of Alberta and Canada should be.

Finland, a frugal society and nation-state which really values efficiency, has long taxed alcoholic drink and tobacco products very heavily. The taxes are set to cover all the costs of treating illnesses that result from “drinking” and smoking respectively—plus an extra percentage to make sure that they do cover the costs, in case some costs were missed. (A physician practising there, told me so.) Since in Finland, as in Canada, most medical treatment is paid for by government, the costs are fairly easy to calculate. Since “drinking” and smoking are generally considered to be vices, it’s mighty hard for people to complain about high taxes on them.

Now that the leading Feminists have made a vice out of male sexuality, dressing or using cosmetics so as to attract or even distract men sexually, amounts to incitement to vice—and from a male point of view, it constitutes sexual harassment to show it off when she doesn’t want to get it on. With governments complaining about how difficult it is to collect enough taxes—well obviously! Tax cosmetics and sexy apparel like those efficient, prudent Finns tax alcoholic drink and tobacco.

Don’t be shy, either, Ms. Tax Collector: Take up to 100% of what would otherwise be the retail price, or maybe even 200%. These things are not necessities. If the cosmetics and sexy clothing still sell well, no sin in taxing them even more. (Tax sexy men’s clothing, and men’s cosmetics, too—but you won’t find even half, probably more like a tenth or less as much, to tax. More men buy plain underwear and more women buy show-off bras. Women have many more pairs of shoes, goes the folklore—especially high heels—but men have more work boots.)

(No fair taxing jock straps [any more than plain-Jane bras that are really for comfort and support]—but padded jock straps, if they exist—those you can tax.)

Women do not need to show off their sexuality. I’ve been friends with several nuns, two especially, and while they were obviously female, they were just as obviously modest: No distraction from the proper work of our friendships. I liked that modesty.

Neither women nor men need to drink wine and gin and whisky, nor smoke cigarettes; those who chose to, are fair game for the Tax Collector. So are women [and fewer men] who want to spend money on showing off their sexuality.

The fact that cosmetics and sexy clothing are much more women’s than men’s indulgences, ought to tell those “Leading Feminists” something: Many women want to tease men sexually. To me, that teasing is a vice as surely as smoking big fat stinky cigars or drinking more than the one or two beers that are recommended by the Canada Food Guide: It’s fair game for Tax Collectors looking for more revenue.

If Government should tax the sexuali-teasing vice down to a wee fraction of its present extent—good for Government. Good for men who can pay attention to their work rather than being distracted. Good also, for the productivity of workers in mixed sex workplaces—and thereby, for social efficiency. Good for marital and cohabiting fidelity.

Bad for sexuality show-offs? Not really; it is the showing off that is bad. Good for them, in a moral sense, to tax them into modesty; and also evidence that in showing off, they are oriented away from goodness… as are drunkards and cigarette smokers in Finland and elsewhere.

As i wrote about intimidation, punishment is effective in reducing the frequency of behaviour. Punishing unwanted behaviours, can be an effective (and philosophically “reasonable”) way to discourage them. Sexual showing-off ought to be unwanted in the offices, schools, and workplaces of Canada and any other really developed society, and anywhere else that the show off is not minded to welcome responses to the show.

Taxing bad conduct, and especially the vices, is an old reliable social intervention technique, whose application to cosmetics and sexy shoes and clothing is long overdue.

Notes:

1. Maybe some [partial] display is also appropriate when “mate selection” is taking place.

2. I watch so little television that i should not comment on its advertising. I would guess that sexuality is over-used on that medium also.

 

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Alcohol, Cannabis, and Tobacco

…Six Decades of Changing Acceptance and State Control
(c) 2016, Davd

This blog is a “backgrounder” for the news of this decade and the young 21st century—news about changes in the relative acceptance and condemnation of recreational drugs. The drugs on which i will focus are alcohol in the form of alcoholic drinks; cannabinol in the form of marijuana; caffeine in the form of coffee [and to a lesser extent, tea and cocoa]; and nicotine in the form of tobacco smoking. I plan to follow it with a shorter one about the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, the [relatively] heavy condemnation of alcohol and tobacco, and the ho-hum acceptance of caffeine (and its related xanthines theophylline and theobromine1.)

Looking back to the 1950s, a decade we identify with post-World-War prosperity and the Baby Boom, we can see a time when cigarettes were socially approved, alcohol tolerated as an accepted and sometimes beneficial vice (as caffeine typically is tolerated and accepted today), and marijuana condemned strongly. Since 1916 and since 1950, alcohol “has seen both good and bad press” with some decrease in toleration, cannabis has gradually received better acceptance, and tobacco (especially commercial cigarettes) has been increasingly condemned.

“The 1950s” were the first decade in which i read magazine and newspaper articles on such subjects; and i can report back that far from personal experience. As a schoolboy in the 1950s, i rode frequently in a cigarette smoke filled car—my parents were both regular cigarette smokers—and read advertising for cigarettes that praised their effect in resisting overweight. Second-hand smoke was not a public concern, nor was the connection between smoking and cancer. Cigars were associated with the wealthy (but seldom with wealthy women) and also with “tough guys”; while pipes were associated with scholars and seafarers: Popeye the Sailor and many stereotypes of the professor, smoked pipes rather than cigarettes or cigars.

Alcoholic drink was accepted as a social vice, with “cocktails” and mixed drinks of distilled liquor with fruit juice and “soda pop” being more usual than wine. Beer was widely accepted by and for Northern European and working class men, wine was something stereotyped for gourmets, “ethnics” from southern Europe, drunkards, and some artistic and intellectual types. Home beer and wine making were lawful but rare. Driving a car with less than .15% blood alcohol content was entirely legal in most states and provinces, and “driving under the influence” was a traffic offence, not a crime. The main medical concern associated with alcoholic drink, was cirrhosis of the liver; and that was something for drunkards, but not normal people, to worry about. (It was also recognized that men, and even some women, might become much more likely to fight and behave offensively “when drinking.”)

During the late 20th Century, evidence began to accumulate that red wine in particular, and perhaps all fermented alcoholic beverages to some extent, helped combat atherosclerosis and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Some stories seemed to indicate that alcohol itself scoured deposits from the walls of blood vessels; but the strongest attention went to resveritrol, a compound found especially in red wine. Over more or less the same span of time, evidence began to accumulate that alcohol itself was a risk factor for cancer. Even more recently, the harmful effects of alcohol on the unborn became widely known and pregnant women were warned not to “drink,” or to strictly limit their consumption.

Alcoholic drink is less accepted now than it was 60 years ago, overall; but not as condemned as cigarette smoking—except for drivers. Driving motor vehicles2 is legal only with less than .05% blood alcohol (one third the previous toleration criterion) and driving with more than .08% is a criminal offense in Canada. If there were to be a behavioural study of driving safety, it would doubtless show that in some circumstances, many drivers can be safe with levels of blood alcohol content which are criminal under the law… but the law is written in absolute terms, as are most laws3.

Apart from the resurgence of Islam, which religion forbids alcoholic drink, i cannot point to any good reason why alcoholic beverages and those who drink them, are so widely shamed. It is true that there are millions of people worldwide who should abstain totally from alcohol; but there are also millions who should abstain totally from fava beans, grapefruit, peanuts, and several other foods that are safe and healthy for the majority of the population. My assessment is that we need to recognize that while some people must abstain to be safe, more people can often make good and even beneficial use of alcoholic drinks, and to varying degrees depending on their individual physiological make-ups.

Cannabis was nearly always referred to as marijuana in the 1950s, and was criminalized. It was known to be used especially by jazz musicians; and “artistic types” more generally were known to include a significant minority of “reefer smokers.” Its effects were exaggerated in many published stories; and it was often said to lead to cocaine, morphine, and heroin addiction. (There was a statistical association between marijuana use and the later use of such “hard drugs”; but today, that association would be attributed to a willingness to break the law for fun—teenagers and young adults willing to smoke marijuana even though it was illegal, were also more willing than average to try drugs that were even more condemned.)

Despite criminalization, marijuana was widely used in the “hippie years” of the 1970s and late 1960s, and the attitude of most Canadians and “Americans” born after 1960, probably after 1955, was that “pot” or “weed”, as they usually called it, was about as safe as alcohol and tobacco, and for many, more fun. As the oldest, most condemning members of the populations died, and the younger, more accepting became adults and then parents and teachers and professionals more generally, the punishment of cannabis became restricted almost entirely to those who dealt in it for profit. Gradually, self-medication and then some formal medical research showed that cannabis did have therapeutic value for some illnesses and handicaps.

Cannabis today, is far more positively viewed than it was 60 years ago. “Medical marijuana” is now an accepted phrase, and its benefits for people suffering chronic pain and PTSD, especially, are widely recognized. Indeed, while there are some recent general media articles saying that alcoholic drink has no health benefits to offer, one in March, there are others affirming that for some people, marijuana does offer health benefits. One could fairly say that the two are more or less equally harmful, and while some are better off enjoying [or self-medicating with] alcohol, others are better off using cannabis… and one should do so apophatically, because our knowledge of their effects on the different physiologies of different people, is still far from complete.

Coffee and tea have meanwhile been accepted more or less the same degree, in more or less the same way, for the 65 years or so that i have been reading the news. Caffeine is by far the best known of the xanthines; and its concentration in coffee, combined with the way we make that beverage compared with how tea and cocoa are made, make coffee a much stronger beverage in terms of drug impact, than the others. These xanthine beverages can have negative effects—coffee especially, because it packs a stronger dose per volume—and they can have positive effects, for the health of people who drink them. Caffeine seems to help delay dementia, for instance (CBC News, 2007). More important, perhaps, it helps people stay awake and alert at work and when driving—it does others than the user, more net good than harm, from what we know now and have recently known.

While it would be foolish to say that coffee—or tea, or cocoa, or yerba maté—is always good for all or even most people, it seems far more likely than not, that these drinks will continue to enjoy a generally positive acceptance even by those whose philosophy or religion4 forbids them to use xanthines.

Since the 1950s, most of the news about cigarette smoking “has been bad”. First came research showing cigarettes to be a major cause of lung cancer, and to a lesser extent of other cancers. More recently, the dangers of exposure to “second hand smoke” have been documented. Pipe and cigar smoking have been found to be risk factors for mouth cancers but not significantly for lung cancer, because the smoke from these forms of tobacco is seldom inhaled deeply.

I myself have smoked, but seldom: If there are people who only use alcoholic drink on ceremonial occasions, i similarly use pipes and cigars: The passing of a pipe is a fellowship ritual among many North American aboriginal groups, including Métis; and having a cigar together is a less sacred fellowship ritual among some men of many ethnicities. (The last time i recall smoking two cigars in the same day, was over 25 years ago, as i was leaving Thunder Bay for the West. I had lunch with a Scots friend and dinner with a Bengali friend, and each meal ended with cigars.)

There are many people, most of them non-smokers, who find the odor of cigarette smoke offensive; and fairly many who also dislike cigar smoke and the smoke from some kinds of pipe tobacco. While smoking was relatively fashionable, these people tended to accept that their dislikes were “a matter of personal taste”; more recently, many have shamed smoking as anti-alcohol elements have shamed alcoholic drink.

In the case of alcoholic drink, the greatest danger to others comes from driving motor vehicles; in the case of tobacco smoke, the greatest danger comes from being in the “second hand” smoke. So while those who indulge in alcoholic drink are forbidden to “drive”, those who indulge in tobacco smoke are forced to go away from the general company of non-smokers.

In 2016, tobacco smoking is generally condemned as dangerous to oneself and [to a lesser extent] to those around one; and as a smelly, disgusting habit. Smoking in a motor vehicle where children are present, or in a public venue, is illegal, though some bars and pubs are allowed to have smoking sections. Cigar and pipe smoking are less condemned as disgusting, perhaps because of the peculiar places where they are common; but they are equally illegal in most public places and in vehicles containing children. “Smoking” is seen as a vice with no virtuous side effects, by most Americans and Canadians.

Alcoholic drink is condemned by Islam, by some smaller religions and some sects of Christianity, and its use by drivers is so severely limited that many prudent users refuse to drive if they have had even one bottle of beer [or equivalent]. At the same time, it is known to have some beneficial effects (e.g. Madrigal, 2008) at least for some people, and is honoured as an aesthetic enhancement to fine food. Its status is ambiguous and contentious.

Cannabis is becoming accepted to a comparable extent with alcoholic drinks. Some condemn it, but they are a shrinking minority; it is now widely acknowledged to have beneficial effects on some people; and few now believe it is addictive or leads to “hard drug addiction” Given that it is intoxicating, it would be logical to develop restrictions on its use analogous to those applied to alcoholic drink, but i have not yet seen such restrictions added to the law; and given that it is often deeply inhaled, it would be logical to anticipate dangers analogous to those which have been found for cigarette smoking.

Finally, coffee continues to be accepted as a relatively safe vice which can be claimed for a virtue when one will be driving or doing work requiring alertness. (Tea and cocoa can be treated as weaker forms of coffee for most assessment purposes, so far as we now know.) Its effects are “pro-social” in the sense that they are generally agreed to “do more good than harm” to others than the user. Its value to the present and following discussions, is as a pleasant, mind-affecting vice that has not been shamed—as the other three all have, for at least some of the past 65 years.

References:

CBC News, 2007, “3 coffees a day keep memory loss at bay for older women: study.” August 7

Madrigal, Alexis, 2008. “Red Wine Drug Shows Proof That It Combats Aging” Wired, August 08

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2001. Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Notes:

1. Theophylline is the caffeine analogue that is in tea; theobromine, in cocoa and some processed chocolate. For the sake of simplicity and familiarity, i will usually refer simply to caffeine.

2. Few people travel by horse drawn carriage any longer; indeed, few did in the 1950s. One wonders if driving a horse drawn vehicle would—or should—be condemned. Rural folklore includes the saying “horses know their way home”; and a drunken person or group could probably get in a carriage, tell the horse to head home, and let the horse do the driving… safely.

Bicycling while intoxicated is illegal in some places but not uniformly; and my best guess as to why, is that a bicyclist can do far less damage to others than someone driving a car or larger motor vehicle.

3. Individuals vary in the extent to which alcohol impairs their thinking and perception; and driving circumstances vary in the amount of perceptual skill and quick thinking they require. I do not know how the legal criteria for temporary loss of permission to drive [.05%] and criminal impairment [.08] were chosen; but two influences were doubtless involved: [1] The lobbying of anti-alcohol organizations, and aggrieved friends of persons injured and killed by impaired drivers; and [2] the assessment, whether impressionistic or scientific, of police, prosecutors, and judges, as to what alcohol content nearly everyone who can drive at all, can “carry” safely.

The law, by criminalizing a physiological state rather than a level of incompetence, punishes some competent drivers; it partakes of the mentality: “Don’t think—do what you are told!” This is often the case with laws which are applied to large numbers of people who are strangers to the enforcement officers.

4. Mormonism is the example best known in Western Canada and the Western USA.

 

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Intimidation:

…Not the Way to Motivate Good Men
(c) 2016, Davd.

As Nathanson and Young [2006] have detailed and i have summarized in my review, as Brown (2013) has further detailed for “family law”, much Feminist success in “changing society” has been achieved through the Law.

It is unfortunate for both men and women, that the Law is nearly always enforced rather than working by way of encouragement. Punishment is the main means by which men (and less often, women) are compelled by the Law to do good, or at least, to do “the will of Her Majesty”, which will is largely generated not by the Person of the Crown but by legislatures and judges1. When the Law is enforced, rather than conformed to voluntarily—that means that some people, anyway, don’t agree with the Law.

When “some people who don’t agree with the Law” are thieves or fraudsters, and the great majority of the people do agree with the Laws that make fraud and theft criminal; enforcement is consistent with the predominant public will… and also, reasonable psychologically.

Psychological research has been studying the effects of reward and punishment for decades; and it is rather well established, that punishment is far more effective in stopping behaviour than in promoting it, in reducing than increasing its frequency or prevalence. Punishing unwanted behaviours, can be an effective (and philosophically “reasonable”) way to discourage assault, fraud, theft, and spitting on the sidewalk. Reward, as one might guess, is more effective in encouraging (enhancing, increasing) desired behaviour.

The reason is reasonable: Punishment motivates avoidance; reward motivates repetition. If “the Law” punishes fraud and theft, the simple way to avoid that punishment is to avoid defrauding and stealing. Same goes for spitting on the sidewalk2. There are still thieves and fraudsters, but fewer than there would be if no laws were enforced against theft and fraud; sometimes sidewalks get spit upon, but less often than if it were not punished; and rewarding not doing those things, would be less effective than punishing doing them.

When we want more of behaviour we consider good, in contrast, rewarding it is the more effective “way to go”. Consider persuading Little Jane to eat her spinach: The usual tactic is approximately, “When you’ve finished your spinach, Jane, then you may have some dessert.” Sometimes access to a favourite toy, or the playground, will serve. Punishing not eating the spinach is uh, much less effective… and today, might be considered child abuse.

The troubles with law, often arise from trying to promote behaviour with punishment. Suppose Little Jane has grown up, and met a young man at a party, and got pregnant. She wants to keep the baby and have the young man support her, and the baby; but she doesn’t want to live with him. The Law will approve her choices (Brown, 2013, Nathanson and Young, 2006, Shackleton, 1999). But how will it motivate the young man, who is vanishingly unlikely to accept Jane’s choices?

He might perhaps accept supporting Jane and the baby in a traditional, lifetime monogamous marriage—but those are no longer supported by Canadian civil law. He might even accept paying partial support if he has some fatherly connection to the child—but though that idea exists in principle, it is very unlikely indeed to be enforced; Shackleton (1999) wrote, “We have ever more punitive enforcement of child support, but no enforcement at all for access by fathers to their children.” Brown (2013: 2, 52, 53, 130 et passim) agrees. So if Jane demands support and refuses to share parenting, and the Law enforces her will, against and overpowering his lack of consent, how will the Law enforce?

By punishment and threat of punishment, “that’s how.” The Law is vanishingly unlikely to offer the young man any incentives to pay Jane the money she demands. As the psychological research learned, the young man—much like a laboratory rat—will have an incentive to avoid the punishment, not to do Jane’s wishes. Doing Jane’s wishes gives him basically nothing—except avoidance of punishment—and it costs him plenty. If he can avoid punishment in some way that overall, leaves him happier or less miserable than paying Jane what she wants, it will be psychologically normal for him to do that instead of paying.

One way to avoid paying is to relocate to a state that does not enforce Canadian child support orders. Or perhaps he will stop working in the regular economy—take up crime as a way to support himself, or work “under the table”, or a bit more nobly, join a monastery. (Actually, joining a foreign monastery might be a promising strategy. Many foreign states would be reluctant to force a young monk to return to Canada to be the cash cow for a single mother—especially if she won’t allow him to father.) Probably there are some other ways of avoidance.

Notice the young man remains intimidated—in the sense that he fears Canadian governments. The Law has succeeded in frightening him—out of the conventional, productive economy and into crime, “underground” work, or a foreign state.

Canada winds up looking like a bully picking on a young man so as to avoid paying child support from State funds. Canadian economic output and tax receipts are less than if the young man had been a father in either marriage or a shared parenting regime. And other young men who hear about the case, will be rational if they respond by becoming afraid of women they don’t know well… rather as one might teach a child to be afraid of strangers.

Only a small fraction of strangers are dangerous to children; but we teach children to fear strangers generally—as many men, in response to the misandric changes in law over the past few decades, are learning to fear women generally3. Whether a small or medium sized fraction of women will actually exploit the privileges available to them in law and public administration, many women definitely have done. Now, as children learn to fear strangers most of whom could be trusted, because they do not know which are and are not worthy of trust; so men are learning to fear women strangers many of whom could be trusted, because we do not know which are and are not worthy of trust.

Feminism has achieved immense success, which Shackleton (1999) attributed to the power of shame in a world where women have more moral authority than men, and Murrow attributes to “maternalism”. However, that success is now maintained by intimidation, more than by shame; men in a state of true shame would suffer and pay; and today, men ordered to pay support and denied fatherhood, tend instead to feel abused by the Law.

Gynocentric lawmaking—and Murrow would say, the politics of begging for the votes of women over 50—has punished millions of men, but has not made as many millions of women happier. Counting only women, the polls seem to show no increase, and more than one poll shows a decrease, in women’s happiness (Koster, 2009). Counting both sexes, the decrease in happiness is probably rather greater—with a hint that men who have avoided marriage are happier than either men who married, or women, on average.

Feminist law making, enforced by intimidation, has failed to make either sex happier—with the possible exception of men who go their own way.4

Time for an Androcentric Law Reform Commission? Quite plausibly—if the law shifts back from gynocentrism to[ward] balance, there seems a very good chance men will accept it better.

Even more, it seems time for a major Law Reform away from using punishment to try to motivate doing things—what punishment motivates, is not doing things. If women want men’s support for motherhood—or anything—to increase, intimidation is the wrong approach.

References:

Bailey,William C., David Martin, and Louis N. Gray, 1972 “On punishment and crime [Chiricos and Waldo]: Some methodological comment.’ Social Problems (Fall) 284-28

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Koster, Olinka, 2009. “Women are more unhappy despite 40 years of feminism, claims study.” Daily Mail Online, 1 June.

Martin, J. David, and Louis N. Gray, 1969 “Punishment and deterrence: Another analysis of Gibbs’ data” Social Science Quarterly 50 (September) 389-395

Murrow, David, 2015. “Our New Moral Framework.” Church for Men website, September.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Shackleton, David, 1995. “The War Against Men”. Everyman, Issue #28 (Nov-Dec)

Shackleton, David, 1999. “Feminism Exposed: Our blindness to feminine evil”. Everyman, Issue #35 (Jan/Feb)

Notes:

1. The phrase, “the will of Her Majesty”, is still worth repeating sometimes; because it reminds us that the Law is often imposed: If and when it represents what the people actually want, what’s to impose?

2. Assault is a more emotional activity than fraud, spitting on the sidewalk, or theft; so the threat of punishment is not always a good deterrent. There are more factors involved, too: The more quickly the punishment follows the act, the more effective it is; and certainty of punishment is more effective than severity. (Martin and Gray, 1969; Bailey, Martin and Gray, 1972)`

3. A parallel “fear” exists relative to strangers passing one’s car in a large public parking lot. Most passing strangers are worthy of trust—they won’t break into an unlocked car. A small fraction will break in and steal—so not knowing if one of that fraction will pass by while we are away from the car—we lock it.

4. Old-fashioned conditioning psychology “sees” this outcome as quite reasonable. To repeat: Punishment is a good way to suppress unwanted behaviour, and a very poor way to get others to do specific things you want from them. Intimidation can drive men out of the economy, even out of the country, better than it can make them be Nice.

 

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The Outdoor Piss Test

.. Is This One Reason Men are More Rural than Women?
(c) 2016, Davd

I’d already been in a Big City too long, four months before i escaped to a village. Walking Fritz two or three times each day, showed me an indicator,

Walking Fritz down the streets and alleys, i often noticed that i had to hurry back indoors—to piss. I was feeling OK otherwise, Fritz wanted to keep walking, but because we were in a city i had to cut our walk short .. to urinate in a toilet. Hell, i might even get arrested if i didn’t go hide, to piss.

Back at Camp 1511, or on Vancouver Island: I just picked a tree to fertilize, and unzipped my pants. Occasionally i might have to walk a minute or less to be out of sight of others. We could walk for hours, as far as bladder capacity was concerned—because we could empty those bladders and do good by emptying them, and then walk on.

I gained from pissing away what my kidneys had filtered out as waste; and the tree also gained because that same waste, down by its roots, became fertilizer.

Ecologically, the tree and i “closed the nutrient cycle.” If it was an apple tree, that tree might combine some of those chemicals which had become waste for me to piss away, with sugars made in its leaves, and produce fruit for me and my friends to eat. Months later, pissing under the same tree, i might return a few molecules of those nutrients back to the tree a second time.

That’s how ecology ought to work.

In cities, it doesn’t: Pissing under trees is to put it mildly, bad manners. What’s more, there are so many people and so few trees in a square kilometre of city, that the trees could possibly “become overloaded.” So it is my duty, not only by way of being Nice, but also because cities are crowded, to hold my bladder until i can hurry inside to use a toilet—even if poor Fritz gets a shorter walk than he ought.

My personal attitude, my urinary measure of overcrowding, is that my kind of place is where i can piss while walking the dog. That’s not all there is to overcrowding, not nearly; the urinary measure of “my kind of place” is an incomplete, “negative” measure. But it’s true as far as it reaches.

Two further comments might be worth reading. First, as a matter of species diversity: My kind of place is a good place for dogs… and that seems generally true. Quite apart from being able to take longer walks without looking for a toilet to hide in, being in a dog friendly place is healthier for a man.

Second—and obvious when you think about it—is that women don’t find the freedom to piss outdoors as valuable as we men do. It’s more bother for them, to put it politely. In summer they run more risk of blackfly and mosquito bites; in winter, more risk of frostbite. And when the evening is over, it’s naturally a men’s job to piss out the campfire.

 

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Fragile’s Not the Word:

Essay Review of Pinker, Susan, 2008. The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap.
[no city listed in flyleaf] Random House of Canada; New York: Simon and Schuster.
(c) 2016, Davd

I borrowed this book from the Public Library to see what more i could learn about a “variance difference phenomenon”. There was much more to be learned here, than just that; and it has been a valuable read; but some syntheses Ms. [Dre?} Pinker offers appear mistaken, as often happens when the gynocentric is not balanced by the androcentric.

First, then, the variance difference: Boys’ and girls’, and men’e and women’s ability scores average about the same (as i recall being told in my student days, this is because the psychometricians set up the tests to get the same averages for both sexes); but boys’ scores are significantly more variable:

Even though the two sexes are well matched in most areas, including intelligence, there are fewer women than men at the extreme ends of the normal distribution. Men are simply more variable. Their ‘means,’ or the average scores for the group, are roughly the same as those for women, but their individual scores are scattered more widely. So there are more very stupid men and more very smart men, more extremely lazy ones and more willing to kill themselves with work. [p. 13, discussion continues to p. 18, citing among others Deary, 2003; Benbow and Stanley, 1980, Halpern, 2000, and the author’s brother Steven Pinker, 2002]

If a profession requires very high ability, or intense application to one kind of work, it will select from a part of the population distribution where male people predominate.

There seems to be one exception: Girls and women average higher in language aptitudes [e.g. 36-7, 45-47, 75-77]. (Boys and men have higher mathematical aptitudes—which accentuates the variance difference when a line of work or a university selects for those who are the very best at maths.) So men of exceptional language skill (e.g. Churchill, Jefferson, Lincoln, Pascal, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Wells), and women of exceptional mathematical skill, are more different from the general run of their sexes, than the other way ’round.

Pinker names a second female advantage, empathy [ch 4]; and cites some fairly impressive research. But i’m not as nearly convinced as i am about language; men and women must share a common language more than a common sense of empathy; and Norah Vincent (2006), for instance, was surprised to see that men among whom she “passed as one of them” were attuned to one another in ways that Vincent herself missed.

Pinker rather thoroughly refutes the “glass ceiling” notion, and my blog on that subject cited her extensively. Her third chapter [pp. 62-91] contains several interview statements by educated women, that they were not disadvantaged and may have been advantaged. Again on pp. 92-97, she reports that women she interviewed got extra help to achieve senior management rank… but many chose to have more family time, … in particular, caring for ill or newborn, family members, rather than work as senior management are expected to do. On p. 124, she writes: “Even with the dramatic changes in customs, laws, and social expectations over the past four decades, there are aspects of women’s work preferences that are likely to stay the same—for example, a desire to stay in a position that accommodates family, or to find work that exploits a talent for connecting with people.”

Men are more likely to choose and enjoy intensive, relatively solitary work; women, more likely to insist on work which is more sociable. Or one could as fairly write, “More men are willing to choose and able to enjoy intensive, relatively solitary work ….” Men on average, choose sociable. work if they can get it at decent pay rates, and prefer family time to lonely career eminence… but women are more insistent about it.

On p. 159, she writes: “A study of Harvard law graduates found that women were more likely than men to be hired at elite firms, but ten years later only a quarter of the women had stayed on to become partners (meanwhile, half the men did.)” “Greedy” jobs, as she terms them, repel most women and a smaller majority of men; while many women who stay in such jobs become “machoid”, hiding heart attacks and cancer diagnoses.

So even fewer women than men, are at the top in ability, and even fewer are single-minded in the application of their talents. The “top” jobs that the Glass Ceiling concept claims women are denied, call for—very high ability and single-minded application. More men have both, than women—many rather than a few more—though even the men are a small minority of our sex.

Rather than a glass ceiling, then, there are two or three sex differences, working to put far more men than women in “top jobs.” It is not against women, but in favour of extremely high ability and intense application, that the biases work, and they are biases built into competitive, capitalist, even bureaucratic societies.

The “third sex difference” is distinct from, but easily confused with, the variance difference: Boys and men are more likely to have very high ability in one aspect of mental life, with ability levels at or below average in others1; while women are more likely to be high in all abilities, average in all, or low in all.

“On the one hand” such a combination of high and low abilities, leaves many men with clearer guidance as to what sort of work to do: Work your strength and not your weakness. In contrast, a woman with several strengths, must choose; while a man with one, has his path set clear before him.

“On the other hand”, a man with but one or two strengths loses less than a woman—or a man—with many, in taking up a “greedy job”. He has fewer ways to use his time “strongly”. Single-minded application comes more naturally to a man with few but great talents, than to a woman with many very good ones. Pinker didn’t seem to notice this particular cause-effect possibility.

(It’s worth mentioning, finally, that some men have multiple talents—a smaller fraction of all men, if Dre. Pinker has got these patterns right, than women with multiple talents are of all women, but still a large number of men. So it’s not a one-sex predicament.)

This book is a good “secondary source”—a source of many citations to reputable research, with worthwhile discussion of the primary studies and of other “secondary” books and articles—on sex and gender differences in abilities and in motivation. (Sex differences, to try to clarify the distinction, are innate; while gender differences are more learned than innate.) Susan Pinker does useful service in chronicling the effort to eliminate gender differences, and the stubborn persistence of sex differences in motivation.

To summarize yet again, since this is important and often mis-stated: Men tend to have more-variable abilities, both in the sense of varying more in each area of ability, and also in more often having very high abilities in some areas combined with average and low abilities in other areas. We are more likely to enjoy working alone or with just a few very well known colleagues. Women tend to be all high, all mediocre, or all low in their individual abilities; and to prefer larger groups and work that includes socializing. Thus, the “glass ceiling” is a mistaken expression; what actually produces a great male preponderance “at the top”, is the demand many, arguably most “top jobs” make for extremely high ability and extensively great application to a fairly narrow kind of work. More men than women have the extremely high ability and also the extensively great application.

And since many, probably most modern jobs call for a few, usually narrowly grouped abilities, many boys who didn’t do well in school where they had to sit still, be Nice, and pass a wide variety of subjects, mature into men who succeed at a job fitted to the abilities they do have (and often more tolerant of standing, moving around, and somewhat rude manners, than a schoolroom). It’s not that the world is biased against girls (this book demonstrates that it is not) but because school is organized around girls and their more compliant, sit-still characters, that boys do better relative to their school performance, after leaving school.

Maybe it’s school that is biased, and maybe the talents of many boys could be better nurtured and applied.

Discussion:

Equal opportunity for women, a principle I hold dear ….” [17] could be called the foundation, or one wall of the foundation, of this book; and it underlies a basic fairness and clarity of fact, which makes the book so valuable. Too many Feminists, too much of Feminism, have sought and often won privilege, better-than-equal opportunity, for women and girls, and misused the word equality in the process. Nathanson and Young, 2006, is one of the better sources documenting this. Pinker really means equal opportunity, not privilege for women, and in the winter of 2015-16, that implies improvements in the status of men. It is no surprise that she dedicates the book to a [male kinsman, probably husband], names two sons and a daughter, and cites a brother as one of her important sources. Her social formation respected both sexes, and so does her book.

Still, this will be awkward reading for many men, in many places; because its perspective is quite gynocentric. She sees the world, human nature, and her specific subject matter in a woman’s way and writes in a woman’s patois.

It seems absurdly inconsistent to a man, for instance, to read that “Andrew”, a tall, self-confident body-builder working in the challenging milieu of a high-ranking commercial kitchen, is “fragile”. To a school psychologist, whose work is “about” passing reading and other required subjects, his dyslexia is a fragility; to the chef of the kitchen where he works, it is no problem if he can read the smaller vocabulary involved in meal orders. To a woman whose sex is more skilled on average at language, the weakness Andrew has finessed rather than overcoming, might remain a fragility; to other men, “he does his job and does it well.”

She does have a tendency to treat not the femme herself, so much as the schoolroom, as the criterial model from which other ways of employing the mind2 are to be treated as deviations. Since she worked for many years as a school psychologist, this is not entirely surprising. Likely she enjoyed her work and felt good about its effects. .. but at the same time, her text goes in and out of accepting the schoolroom standards based on the normal girl as the typical pupil3, and boys’ different ways as behaviour problems.

Are men in fact emotionally or empathetically inferior? Or is our way of showing emotions and assessing them, simply so far from the present day gynocentric standard or as Pinker would write, “vanilla model”, that it seems inferior to those who follow the standard?

No, men are not imperfect women any more than women are imperfect men; now let me add, that neither nearly perfect men, nor nearly perfect women, even approximate the odd variation on humanity who loves a “greedy job”. Those who love greedy jobs, really love them, and those who made those jobs to their own tastes and specifications4, are about as typical of humanity as are Buddhist monks. We happen to have had a society, in Canada, the US, [should i add the USSR?] and several other so-called “developed economies”, that over-rewarded the lovers of greedy bureaucratic and profit motive jobs, but not the monks. A majority of both happen to be male.

The cheap abundant “raw materials” that made these industrial economies able to support so many bureaucrats, sales representatives, advertising workers, financial number crunchers, etc. ad. naus., who produce no subsistence themselves, in addition to artists, engineers and scientists who might or might not—those resources are no longer so abundant; and the fraction of non subsistence-producers they can support is in decline.

In a 21st Century where resource efficiency matters more and more rather than less and less, the [frankly, awesome] efficiency of the “guided human muscle” will regain its pre-Industrial prominence. When the work is heavier and employs the large muscles, men’s guided muscles are much more powerful—and accurate—on average, than women’s. “It would only be natural,” to encourage boys who are capable but not brilliant, into skilled manual trades; and see that they are well paid for good, increasingly important work.

We will continue to benefit from scientific and engineering genius, and from mothering well done. There will continue to be ways to misuse men’s and women’s strengths. At the end of the day, perhaps instead of “top jobs” there should be decision circles and conciliar direct democracy, and men’s work especially should be more diverse.

Some References:

Baumeister, Roy F., 2011, Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press.

Benbow, Persson Camilla, and Julian Stanley, 1980. “Sex Differences in Mathematical Ability: Fact or Artifact?” Science 210: 1262-64.

Deary, Ian J. et al, 2003. “Population differences in IQ at age 11: The Scottish Mental Survey 1932. Intelligence 32.

Groth, Miles 2012. Review of Roy F. Baumeister, 2011, Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press. New Male Studies v. 1 Issue 1: 116-120.

Halpern, Diane F., 2000. Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Pinker, Stephen, 2002: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. NY: Viking.

Vincent, Norah, 2006. Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. New York: Viking Penguin

Notes:

1. This book mentions handicaps more than mediocrity; my impression is that men are more likely than women to be extremely capable in one or a few areas, and mediocre (which means not subnormal, but ordinary or average) in others.

2. and the body, which in a schoolroom can be a hand to write and ears to hear, the rest being told to sit still and be quiet

3. In my grandfather’s German, student meant post-secondary.

4. .. or could it be that the profit motive and bureaucracy made those jobs?.. based on their limited objectives and limited notions of efficiency?

 

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Linguine with Mussel Sauce

…Some other kinds of pasta will also do.
(c) 2016, Davd

It was at a restaurant in or near Minneapolis, some 30-40 years ago, that i first ordered Linguine with Clam Sauce. I had been a few years away from the ocean and it was the least expensive seafood item on the menu—plus, it seemed likely some seasoning skill would be involved… and some was. The meal was memorable enough that i ordered that item again from time to time, in other restaurants.

I made Linguine with Clam Sauce occasionally when living on Vancouver Island, where good clams of the right kinds were abundant on the east-Island beaches; and the basic fourfold seasoning that works well with turkey, chicken, chowders, and some pork dishes, worked well in clam sauce: Sage, Celery, Onion, and Pepper.

Recently, here in Edmonton, i found some frozen cooked mussels, without shells, for a price per weight lower than the price of ground beef. I bought a bag, 2-3 pounds or maybe four, and put them in the freezer. I wasn’t quite ready to imitate exactly the sauce i’d made with clams, for two reasons: First, these were cooked and frozen, so i wouldn’t have the cooking liquid that i had to make clam sauce. Second, i knew from experience that mussels have a stronger, slightly “smoky” flavour when compared with clams.

I’d used mussels-and-broth in chowders and it had served well; but i was doubtful of using mussels without that broth. The solution to the predicament turned out to be cheap bacon. I had a package that contained several half slices with much more fat than meat, but decently smoked; so i tried cooking a generous fatty half slice, using the fat it left in the pan to lightly brown chopped onion and crumbling the bacon itself into the sauce with or before the mussels.*

It worked, so here is the technique, thrice tested.

Start with a cast iron frying pan or, if you’re cooking for five or more people, you might prefer a “Dutch oven”. Season it with oil or pork fat*—beef or chicken fat might add a taste that makes it less enjoyable rather than better. You can use an unseasoned pan and heat it slowly with some bacon fat; i prefer to season it first if there is time.

In bachelor format, one generous portion for one man, i put in a half slice of fat bacon, and cook it fairly slowly until it’s a pleasant tan color—by which time there will be a thin layer of liquid bacon fat in the pan.

If you’re going to cook your pasta at the same time as the sauce is cooking, then start the water boiling for that pasta while the bacon cooks. It’s OK if the pasts is cooked before the sauce is ready, and just sits and waits; but you won’t want to make the sauce wait for the pasta.

While the bacon is cooking is a good time to chop the onion, celery, and if you want some, carrot. I make a lot of carrot-raisin salad in the winter, and my rotary shredder leaves a thin strip of carrot that isn’t shredded well enough for salad; i save these and chop them into soups and sauces. Carrot, at least two chefs have told me, improves almost any soup or sauce; and of course, it’s good for you. I cut the carrot quite fine for this technique, smaller than i cut the celery or onion.

The onion—which will go in first—should be chopped small enough that you won’t feel it as distinct pieces when you eat it cooked soft in the sauce; the sauce can have a texture rather than being smooth, but this isn’t chowder, stew, or even salsa picante… it’s a sauce you’re making. I chopped, for one man’s one meal, between a quarter and a third of a cup of onion, chopped volume.. Since onions are layered in structure, not solid like potatoes or beets, i usually take two slices of an onion, lay them flat, and chop them with the vegetable knife, down to where no piece has any dimension longer than a quarter inch [6 mm].

Since the celery, like the onion, will cook quite soft quite quickly, i take a 5-6 inch [12-15 cm] piece from one of the outer stalks, cut it in half, slice each half into 3-4 pieces lengthwise, lay all those pieces parallel, and cut across them every eighth of an inch [3mm] or less. This should yield at least a quarter cup of chopped celery. The carrots have a harder texture and cook up more slowly, so i chop them quite fine.

Take out the bacon when its fat is tan, and it’s crisp; and leave it to cool (I put it on a spatula, because i usually keep one handy on or near the stove.) Turn up the heat a little and add the chopped onion. Let this start to brown but not go dark, then add some vegetable stock, the bacon, crumbled as you put it back, and the chopped carrot and celery. Sprinkle sage and pepper on the sauce while it’s heating back to boiling, cover the pan, lower the heat, and let it simmer for at least five minutes.

Then add the mussels (I put in about a dozen, and the ones i have are about an inch long); and since mine are frozen, i have to wait a few minutes for the pan to re-heat again to boiling. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes, and i’d suggest more nearly ten. While they simmer, take a less than heaping forkful of corn starch, add it to a small amount of vegetable stock, and stir it in. The rule is to add the starch to the liquid; and a fork is best for the stirring.

When the mussels are hot, and have given some of their flavour to the sauce, add the water and starch, stir it through the sauce, and let it heat just until it starts to bubble—at which point the whitish colour of the starch will disappear and the sauce become thicker. The sauce is now ready: Turn off the power, as soon as the bubbling starts and the sauce thickens, and if you’re adding cold cooked pasta, you can do it a half minute later. The boiling hot mussels and sauce will average out with the cold pasta, and your meal will be at eating temperature.

Linguine, i believe, are the best shape of pasta to use with clam or mussel sauce; but fettuccine [which i used in my trials], rotini, fusilli, and probably “sea shell” pasta, should do quite well enough. All these have about the same thickness; it’s just that to avoid a really messy job of eating long strings, and to be able to take one bite containing both mussel and pasta, you should probably cut linguine or fettuccine down to two inch lengths or shorter. Spaghetti will work with this sauce, if that’s the only kind of pasta you have handy—but don’t grab just any pasta at all.

If i write that fettuccine, fusilli or rotini, even spaghetti should work well enough with this technique, don’t take that as encouragement to get really silly and put in, for instance, penne, orzo, or elbow macaroni. (I can think of two good dressings to put on elbow macaroni: Cheese [with a little pepper and chives if you have some handy], or mayonnaise, as part of a macaroni salad. Myself, i almost never buy elbow macaroni, because i like potatoes at least as well with cheese. and potatoes make a better protein balance with cheese than macaroni does; while rotini, fusilli, and shell shaped pasta are at least as good as elbows as a shape for pasta salad.

Don’t try vermicelli or even spaghettini with mussel sauce, either. The wrong shape of pasta won’t make you sick, but it won’t make you as happy an eating experience, either—the mussels are too large relative to thin thin pasta..

So there, with plenty of commentary and a bit of a story, is a technique you can use often if you live near a seacoast, and “from time to time” if you don’t. The sauce, you’ll notice when the winter beefsteak blog appears, is not quite the same as for beefsteak and pasta, but really quite similar. The SCOP seasoning check-list is something well worth learning, along with its variations for beef; it will make you a better cook, and will make your sauces and [seafood and poultry] soups impressively more savoury than the ones sold in cans and jars.

Notes:

* Mussels aren’t Kosher, so there’s no point trying to find an alternative to bacon for devout Jewish readers. (About Halal and other dietary disciplines, i still know too little to comment.)

 

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The Devil Herself

… is hiding behind male pronouns.
(c) 2016, Davd

Evil is not male. Lorena Bobbitt cutting off her husband’s penis, and a few parallel, less famous incidents were no less evil because their perpetrators had ovaries. Nor was what Amanda McGee did to several young women in Calgary, more recently.

Female evil is nothing new nor recent—nor is it obsolete. H.G. Wells [1949: 350-1] describes Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, as evil. We might possibly say the same of the General Motors executive who lied when she said she was widowed, She had “a love affair” with a recently retired union executive, and even got engaged to him. Then, when he hired a detective and learned she was actually married—a woman set fire to his house [Vyhnak, 2011].

Recent research has shown women to be less honest than men, if anything. A 2003 study found that “The number of sexual partners a woman reported nearly doubled when women thought they were hooked up to a lie detector machine.” Men reported about the same number with or without the polygraph.

Norah Vincent [2006] noticed something similar in a very nonsexual activity:
When [Jim, the bowling team captain] whom I’d never met before shook my hand he gave me something real. He included me. But most of the women I’d ever shaken hands with or even hugged had held something back, as if we were in constant competition with each other, or secretly suspicious, knowing it but not knowing it, and going through the motions all the same. In my view bra burning hadn’t changed that much.

Next I met Alan. His greeting matched Jim’s. It had a pronounced positive force behind it, a presumption of goodwill that seemed to treat me as a buddy from the start, no questions asked, unless or until I proved otherwise.” [pp. 25-6]

There is some evidence that child sexual abuse is much more a woman’s crime than a man’s. Fromuth and Burkhart [1987] found that in two samples of college men, those reporting they had been sexually abused as children, reported that the perpetrator was female 78% and 72% of the time1.

By calling evil male, then, we hide significant female evil—and i’m not talking about cows, mares, sows, or genuine bitches. Evil is human2; this is about women vis-a-vis men. I’m not claiming that women are more evil than men, though some recent evidence points that way. I am insisting that where equality of the sexes is the philosophical norm, that equality includes evil. It includes treating women and men as equally evil, and equally good, until they show otherwise as individuals.

When he, him, and his were the generic human pronouns, then “the Devil himself” was in mere conformity to that common usage. It was used by Wells, probably, though he recognized Olympias as an evil woman, and the English (Canadians, Kiwis, Yanks, …) who used the generic he, likewise recognized evil women in the ancient stories of Jezebel and Potiphar’s wife [Genesis, ch. 39].3.

Unfortunately, “the Devil himself” still is standard usage… when in fairness, in equality rather than misandry, “the Devil herself” should be at least equally common. (Why “at least”?  First, because the face of power today, in bureaucracy and in legal biases [Nathanson and Young, 2006, reviewed and summarized here], is more female than male. There are more women positioned to attract devilment, than men. Second, as “affirmative action”, to correct for the bias against men which has prevailed in depictions of and references to evil, for at least as long as i have been alive, and i’m in my 70s.)

This is not merely a Christian, Jewish, and Muslim issue. “The Devil” is a concept routinely used by agnostics, atheists. and people of many faiths… with a male pronoun. Routinely referring to the Evil One as “She” and to “the Devil herself”… that, i have not heard nor seen. It’s time for a change.

It may be worth mentioning, that spirits have no inherent gender. They can manifest as male or female. What motivates their choice of male, or of female, is unknown to mere humans; but as a good guess, the motivation is practical.

With women enjoying privilege and power, manifesting as a woman seems likely to be more valuable to those spirits, evil as well as good, than in the patriarchal days of Abraham and Moses and Muhammad. If the Ottawa bureaucracy is now more than 70% women, evil spirits have more women than men to imitate and influence, in Government. If young lawyers are well over half women, the same applies to the application of laws once passed (and having received Royal Assent in the name of a woman who has been Queen for over six decades.) The face of power today, it is fair to claim, is more female than male.

“Power corrupts” is an ancient folk maxim. It implies that the face of evil today, is also more female than male. (Yes, there is more to evil than corrupting power; corrupting power is however a very important part of the operation of evil, and i have no evidence that the other parts are mainly male; indeed, that research on lying suggests they are also, more female4.)

Meanwhile, people go on saying “the Devil himself.” In the name of accuracy (and in the additional name, less morally valid but commonly applied against men and boys, of Affirmative Action), it is time to correct that, to say “the Devil herself” at least half the time for accuracy’s sake and all the time for many years to come, if you’re catching up.

References:

Bhattacharya, Shaoni, 2003. “Fake lie-detector reveals women’s sex lies” New Scientist 14:16, 14 July

Fromuth, M. E., & Burkhart, B. R. (1987). Childhood sexual victimization among college men: Definitional and methodological issues. Violence and Victims , 2 (4), 241-253.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Vincent, Norah, 2006. Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. New York: Viking Penguin

Vyhnak, Carola 2011 Love affair spawned at car plant crashes and burns. Toronto Star, February 23

Notes:

1. This is not as shocking as it might be, since children are in the control of women much more of the time than in that of men. It is shocking enough, especially to those who might pretend that women never do such evil things, to refute any notion that custody of children should be usually or normally given to women. The care of children past weaning should be decided on a better basis than sex or gender.

2. I can’t state for certain, that evil is absolutely and solely human; the most nearly precise assessment is that among earthly life, it is predominantly human.

3, When Indira Gandhi ordered her army to storm the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhs at least called that, evil. And Olympias, Alexander’s mother, was well outside the Abrahamic religions also.

4. The research on sexual abuse of children is not as easy to summarize [e.g. Footnote 1]

 

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Canadian Winter Stir-Fry

… Not Nearly as Expensive:
(c) 2016, Davd

Day-to-day cooking should not need expensive ingredients. A good cook should be able to make the good, staple foods taste delicious—not exquisite, maybe, but delicious. As seasons go ’round and prices change over the years, some foods may go from staple to expensive, as broccoli and zucchini do from summer to winter, and back again; and shrimp have gone up in the past ten years. Some would say beef is now too expensive for regular cooking—but i expect beef prices to ease sooner than shrimp prices, and indeed this January 2016, beef can be bought for less per kilo than can shrimp. I’m eating less beef; i haven’t bought shrimp in six months or longer.1

In a Canadian winter, especially this winter when the Canadian dollar is “down”2, economical cooking means making good use of four basic winter vegetables: Cabbage, carrots, onions, and bean sprouts.With pork or chicken, plus of course rice and soy sauce, those first four basic winter vegetables can make you a delicious, economical, nourishing meal.

The meat should be cut no larger than 1”[25 mm] on its longest dimension, and ¼” [,7 cm] on its thinnest. This will facilitate browning and make sure it is fully cooked. The onions should be chopped fairly small, but not “fine,” The cabbage and carrots should be in strips which may be a wee bit longer than the meat [maybe 3 cm] but thinner—an eighth of an inch, or 3mm, would be about ideal. (The [mung] bean sprouts are the size they are, and need no cutting, duuuuuuuhhh.) If you have mushrooms (and in Edmonton in January 2016, mushrooms cost less than half the per pound price of broccoli!) they can be cut roughly the size of the pieces of meat.

I haven’t used a wok in months, perhaps years. They are useful and effective, but awkward to fit in and work around in an undersized kitchen; and i can do an acceptable job with a frying pan—of which i have three good cast iron examples.

Stir-fry technique starts with hot oil4 in a seasoned pan. Then you put in the meat, and as it starts showing that it’s browned, the onions. When the onions are lightly browned, add the carrots (and mushrooms if you have them), and almost immediately, some vegetable stock. (If you have plenty of meat stock to go with cooked meat that you are using, add that; with raw meat or smoked ham, vegetable stock will do fine.) Add a little soy sauce also, lower the heat under the pan, and cover while you are cutting or assembling the carrots and cabbage.

If you’re new to cutting carrots into small strips, start at an easy pace rather than hurrying; the knife can slip because carrots are cylindrical rather than rectangular in shape. It helps to cut them in half lengthwise, and lay the flat sides on the cutting board. It helps to use a vegetable knife rather than a generic cook’s knife. Until you get used to cutting carrots into strips, cut them before you start cooking, so you won’t feel a need to rush.

Cabbage can be cut more easily because it naturally comes layered, and in more neatly flat layers than onions. I sometimes use Fiskars cook’s scissors, sometimes a vegetable knife [which in my case is also Fiskars brand—both items made in Finland5.]

After a minute “or three” of wet cooking, check the stock level and if the carrots are getting close to tender, add the cabbage. After another “minute or three” add the bean sprouts. The goal is to have sprouts, cabbage, and carrots, three very different vegetables, all at the bright and slightly crisp state at the same time the meat and mushrooms are just fully cooked.

If you want a thickened sauce, mix some corn starch into cool to cold stock, stirring preferably with a fork,while the vegetables are cooking. Add this when the sprouts and cabbage brighten, quickly stir into the hot stock with a fork, and as the stock returns to a boil, it will thicken.

You can add rice to the pan, or put the rice on plates and then top it with the meat, vegetables, and sauce. A bachelor eating alone can add the rice and eat from the pan, for minimum dishwashing burden.

As you get used to making stir-fry meals, you’ll also get used to how fast the meat and vegetables cook in your particular pan on your particular stove; and to how much soy sauce to add, when. You might get it just right the first try; but be willing to settle for “pretty good” on the early efforts. You are using economical foodstuffs to make an “upper middle grade”, one-dish meal that can even become a presentation item. (It does not, however, carry well to potlucks away from home. It should be eaten within minutes of becoming done.)

If you “run into” a specially low price on sweet bell peppers, pineapple, or broccoli, they are very good in stir-fry. I tend to steam broccoli tops and slice the peeled stems like i do carrots, but a little thicker, into stir-fry. When using broccoli, reduce the cabbage accordingly.

I stir-fry often, with chicken, ham6, raw pork, sometimes leftover beef. Fish hasn’t worked well for me stir-fried with vegetables; and has been delicious steamed, or poached in salsa (or for the stronger, fattier fishes, grilled, fried, pickled, or smoked. Salmon and trout are good raw-salted.) Chicken “burgers” have been an economical form of mostly meat with a little breading, which has also worked for stir-fry meals.

This year, the high US dollar and low Canadian dollar, plus the fact that most Canadian stores stock US rather than Canadian grown vegetables, has driven prices well above a dollar per pound for most.

The sensible answer to Canada’s vegetable supply predicament is to grow plenty of good winter vegetables here, store them as our grandparents did (and have larger scale storage for urban stores), and use them as our staples when our gardens are not producing. Stir-fry is one way to do that which is quite different in taste and texture than the Euro-Canadian staple, stew. If the Asians who showed us the basic technique, insist on exotic vegetables, let them; i’ve learned to use staple vegetables i can grow myself to produce a reliably good result with chicken, ham, pork, and when it’s less expensive, beef. (Meatless stir-fry also works; but with meat, it has better protein balance.)

Part of the pleasure of eating, is having chowder from time to time, Likewise for stew, steamed fish, pork chops and porridge, … and stir-fry. Adding this technique to your repertoire will make your meals more diverse and enjoyable for many winters to come—and come fresh garden broccoli, beans, and tomatoes, those will make a stir-fry repertoire different enough to give a change of pace. Then next winter, the winter version will be less repetitious—and again, nourishing goodness from plain staple foods.

 Notes:

1. This fall, pink and then sockeye salmon have been the most economical seafood in Edmonton (and Edmonton is far indeed from being a port city.) From what all i know, they are more nourishing than shrimp. So while six years and longer ago i ate quite a lot of shrimp and very little sockeye, this winter i eat shrimp only when somebody else serves it, but lots of salmon. That calls for quite a change in cooking techniques. Changing from summer to winter stir-fry, doesn’t.

2. In the stores in mid-January, i looked at the bags of carrots and saw California, not Canada, as the place of origin. I know damn well that Canadian grown carrots can be stored in sawdust or even their own greens, in buckets with air holes too small to admit mice, in a cold room or cellar. That’s how i stored my home grown carrots last winter and the winter before.

3. Sorry, but so far i haven’t had any good experiences using beets, parsnips, or rutabagas in stir-fry. I’ve already written-up a good, easy way to cook beets that provides a change from plain boiling; i eat turnips white and yellow, sliced raw with a sprinkling of salt, or as lazy man’s pickles; and parsnips remain outside the range of my cooking. (Anyone care to tell me the great, easy way to really enjoy them? There’s a contact link you can click near the top of the page.)

4. If you are cooking children and have some saved chicken fat, or likewise for beef, pork, or turkey, use that or a mixture of fat from your meat animal, and canola oil. Olive oil does not usually perform well at meat browning temperatures; US readers might want to use corn or safflower oil. Soybean oil will work, but with canola oil so inexpensive in Canada and my preferring its taste, i use canola.

5. I’ve been quite satisfied by Fiskars kitchen and garden tools made in Finland, where the firm originated; but not with Fiskars garden tools made in China. Quality control is a fairly general problem with “outsourced production”… indeed, “Made in Japan” once symbolized low quality, while today, Japanese goods are respected for the same high quality that made the katana famous centuries ago.

6. Mushrooms don’t seem to go as well with ham as with other meats.

 

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Tolerating two “Foul-Mouthed” Women

… as seen on the Edmonton bus system:
(c) 2016, Davd

On the way to church one recent morning, the bus was at least half full. Edmonton City Transit was making expenses, i’d say, maybe doing better than that, on that post rush hour run; and i was glad; because the more people ride the buses, the more likely they will be rescheduled to run more often. Nobody i have ever met likes waiting around for a bus in January in Canada’s Prairie Provinces.

I did find a seat facing the back door, with an empty seat between me and a young man. After a mile or two, he got off, and soon a young woman who had just got on, took the seat he had been using. There was one empty seat between her and me; and i was thinking mostly about the church service i was headed toward, but also about where the bus was along its route and how soon it might reach the stop where i should “get off and walk.”

She got out her mobile telephone and called someone. Her first remarks were about food; and then, as or shortly after the bus crossed the Yellowhead Highway, i began to hear “F[***]” and “S[***].*” I listened just enough to make sure that—as i expected—she was not referring to copulation, nor defecation. The rude words were used for some other reason, than to say what they mean.

For two or three miles she continued to use those words, never that i noticed to mean anything like their meaning in say, cattle or pig farming. She did not shout them, but they were the most prominent words she said; i’m more than 90% convinced that if she used any other words as often, those were common words like “and”, “he,” “if”, “she”, and “the”. Nobody tried to offer her any lessons in good manners; all of the 30-50 people on that bus ignored, or pretended to ignore, the “vulgarity”

I don’t mind hearing those words used accurately*. Indeed, i use them myself on those fairly rare occasions when i am talking about what they mean—and am not in the hearing of someone who i know considers them offensive, nor in a place full of strangers like (for instance) a city bus.

It occurred to me, as i was getting off the bus to walk to the church, that i haven’t heard any men, or boys, using those same words on a bus. If i or another man on the bus had used them equally often, methinks he very, very likely would have been shamed. If 50-60 years ago the F-word and the S-word were sometimes tolerated when spoken by working-class men and larger boys, but forbidden to decent women and girls; today the reverse is true.

One week later, on the same midweek “ride to church” a different woman, of a different race, was repeatedly “foul mouthed” on the bus; and again, no one intervened.

I don’t know the women’s names; i don’t want to know them. Neither is a personage to me, any more than the “foul mouthed” boys and occasional young men were, who used such language on street corners in the 1950s. What’s important about them, from my perspective anyway, is that they each used that kind of language, many times, without good reason, in a confined public bus full of strangers; and even more important, were tolerated, more tolerated than if they had been male.

Notes:

This is not a statistical social survey; it’s a report of one incident involving the toleration of a hundred or more repetitions of the two standard “dirty words”, by a few dozen bus riders, It’s the kind of typification that anthropological field work often contains: A reaction or lack of one, is reported as typical because many people haphazardly assembled, do or do not react to behaviour. Its context includes the presence and absence of the behaviour in populations observed at other times, who represent the same society. In this case the context also includes past reactions to the same behaviour: 50-60 years ago, uses of the F- and S-words by women were far less tolerated than uses by men. In this decade, uses by men are less tolerated, as indicated by their rarity as well as by reactions. (cf. Nathanson and Young, 2006: ch 3, 39-40, 49-50).

I can’t recall hearing any men using such rude language—definitely not so much rude language—on the bus, in the four months i’ve been riding Edmonton Transit. Between 40% and 60% of the people riding with me have been men and boys, of all races—as the women have been of all races.

* I find this website’s “PG-13” policy vexing at times, and this is one of them, but it does remind me that if any reader wants to go into the erotica selling business, “The F-Word” would be a cute name for an erotic boutique.

 

References:

Davd, 2012. “If The Genders Be Reversed: a Test for Equal Treatment. The Spearhead website [no longer accessible] Reprinted May 2015, on this everyman.ca site.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

 

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