The Apex Fallacy

The Apex Fallacy:
..Sketching and Understanding the Distortion
(c) 2015, Davd

Here’s an exercise to help us understand how Feminists (some of them male!) can seriously believe men are privileged when we plainly are disadvantaged, why so many girls (and even boys) go into debt for college and university studies that won’t get them a job, and maybe even why so many people buy lottery tickets. Doing the exercise should help your learning by including experience—your own experience.

Name a few dozen, even a hundred people you know about but don’t know from meeting them in person. If you have time, actually write down names until you’ve listed at least fifty.

Most readers of this site are men and boys: You’ll likely list some political leaders, some sports stars, and despite listing a few especially good-looking women, a majority of men*.

Women writing their lists are likely to list more women and men, more men… and those of the opposite sex will probably be much more attractive, on average, than those who are of the same sex. Nothing unusual about that: Most people’s non-erotic time is spent more with their own sex than the opposite, we notice people who share our interests and some of those interests are mostly male or mostly female; and we notice people who attract us sexually, or could, more than those who don’t. That’s what attractive means.

Something else that’s normal: We notice the rich and privileged far out of proportion to their numbers and percentage of the total population—and men tend to notice more rich and privileged men; women, more rich and privileged women1. The Apex Fallacy combines these two biases: The attractive, the rich, the powerful, and the privileged are a far larger proportion of those we notice, than they are of the population. (We notice more ordinary people who are near us, because they are near; while we notice the spectacular, even from afar… and the ordinary people who are also far off, don’t get noticed.)

Television and “the flicks” don’t correct this misperception; they tend to reinforce it. People who watch them much more than i do, report that they present viewers with a biased sample of humanity: Better looking, wealthier, and more powerful than average. I can believe that report, partly because i did see an hour or two of the very famous, average looking, working class television series “All in the Family”, featuring Archie Bunker. Those characters were indeed less attractive-looking, powerful, and wealthy, than what i recall as the average of television personages.

So unless we discipline ourselves, our image of “humanity” will be biased—we’ll think the impressive make up a much larger part of the population than they really do. We’ll think other people enjoy more “good looks,” more power, more privilege, more wealth, than on average, they really do. That’s why it’s called the Apex Fallacy: Those at the top [apex] of the distribution of attractiveness, of power, of privilege, and of wealth, get our attention out of proportion to their numbers; and that biases our impression of the human condition upwards.

Stereotypically, men are drawn to attractive women and women to rich and powerful men2. In both cases, the Apex Fallacy gives us a false—an upwardly biased—impression of “average”. If a woman were presented with a random sample of 1000 men from the population of her countrymen, she would almost certainly be surprised how few were rich, powerful—even especially attractive. Likewise, if a man were presented with a random sample of 1000 women from the population of his country, he would almost certainly be surprised how few were impressively attractive.

Methinks rural and small-town people are less subject to the Apex Fallacy than city dwellers. They see, day to day, more people who they know and fewer who they don’t. So women who are good but not impressively attractive, are more likely to enjoy appreciation outside the big cities; as are good men who are neither powerful nor wealthy. As Satchel Paige said many years ago, “Take it easy—the fast life ain’t restful”—and he was impressive in playing major league baseball to an older age than most. His advice might be worth some attention.

The Apex Fallacy also leads to a mistaken rendering of history—“historical figures” are top figures. Describing Europe after the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire, Wells (1949) wrote,

It is not, perhaps, true to say that the world became miserable in these ‘dark ages’ to which we have now come; much nearer the truth is it to say that the violent and vulgar fraud of Roman imperialism, that world of politicians, adventurers, landowners and financiers, collapsed into a sea of misery that was already there. [pp 558-9]

Typically, history books have related the doings of kings and queens rather than those who fed, clothed and served them; and battles from the perspective of the generals rather than the soldiers—thus reinforcing the Apex Fallacy. I favour Wells’ Outline of History because he doesn’t—at least, not as badly as the average history book.

The Apex Fallacy has been mentioned, as an important phenomenon, in The Misandry Bubble…but not defined. Bernard Chapin claimed to have coined the term in 2008:

… a new term for the fallacious way by which feminists comprehend the nature of our social structure. The phrase “Apex Fallacy” sprung to mind as it elucidates fully the inaccurate fashion by which they assess the status of women in America. The error in their thinking arises from a collective refusal to acknowledge that the vast majority of male workers toil in the nether regions of our economy. These hordes of men—who make possible feminist lives of leisure—are totally invisible to the harridans who compare women, on aggregate, to the rich and famous alone. Indeed, when judging female progress, juxtaposition is only made with those males at the apex of our status hierarchy. It seems that feminists can discern none but the elite.

Chapin’s definition is somewhat more extreme, more all-or-none, than what i’ve written above. In proposing a first rendition of how the fallacy comes to be, and what it does to our impression of others and of “average” i’ve described a quantitative rather than discrete phenomenon. Feminists do not deny the existence of garbage collectors and loggers, i expect; but they notice them much less, relative to their actual proportion of the population of men, than they notice elite and High-Status men… and as men notice impressive women more than mediocre women, relative to their actual proportions of the population.*

I would not go so far as to write that Feminism is the result of the Apex Fallacy; but it is clear enough that the fallacy contributed to many women’s acceptance of the very false notion that “men are privileged”, rather than that acting to correct that notion.

When Feminists write of “male privilege,” and we know very well that women are on average, more privileged than we men—the Apex Fallacy may be a reason for some women to sincerely believe in that “male privilege”: They do not notice many, if any, ordinary men. They notice privileged men because those are the men “at the apex.”3 … and compared to their mistaken view of the economic status distribution of men, their greater awareness of ordinary women, leads to the conclusion that men are privileged.

When women consider marriage, the Apex Fallacy leads them to expect a more powerful, wealthier husband than realistically, they can get. Only a few women will be lucky enough to “catch” a man as good as their biased perception of the population of men, leads them to expect. Many women, it seems, keep looking until their own “looks” fail them, where most women in earlier generations became realistic in time to accept a husband of approximately equal social standing. Those women who keep looking too long, could be counted as victims of the Apex Fallacy.

When men “date”, the Apex Fallacy may be a reason for many of us to expect more “looks” than average. If men expect, on average, better “looks” than women have, on average—most men will be disappointed relative to their mistaken expectations. This disappointment, combined with growing awareness of men’s disadvantages in divorce law4, has led many men to avoid marriage; i have heard this especially from men in their 20s.

Marriage and “supporting a family” are major incentives for men to work longer hours and take less appealing jobs, than they would need to support themselves. When i read or hear that young men today don’t have a good work ethic, i ask myself, “Is what work ethic they have, good enough to earn the subsistence they need as single men?” If it is, then a combination of Feminist lobbying success and the Apex Fallacy, by convincing young men that marriage is too risky or not worthwhile, is very plausibly the immediate cause of that decline in diligence. Ordinary workers of both sexes, can’t be expected to think, or be motivated, in societal or macro-economic terms.

.. which may be why the two most recent mentions of the Apex Fallacy i found via a search engine, by “Kid Strangelove” in 2014 and Rollo Tomassi in 2015, were both about how to look and act Alpha [elite] and succeed at dating. There will be readers for their advice, and some of those readers will benefit5; but the importance of the fallacy as a basis for misandry, surely, is much more important. It may be a good thing if a few more men who want to, can succeed with the hypergamous women who insist on “Alphas” (and outnumber them); but it is much more important that men overall, who are not privileged, get treated accordingly—that if there be “Affirmative Action” programs they favour men in fields where women are already more numerous, help boys in schools where girls are already doing better, etc.

So how to fix the “Apexpectations”? Living in a small rural village seems to be one way; and i got the impression that an Acadian village where i spent several years, was realistic in its perceptions of the local distributions of human “looks”, power, and wealth; as was a rural neighbourhood on Vancouver Island, on the opposite edge of Canada. The Apex Fallacy seems to be more an urban phenomenon.

Even in a large city, belonging to a fairly diverse community within that city can bless one with realism.

Standing in a good church in Edmonton, i noticed dozens of married and premarital couples standing there with me; and just as a quite small minority of the men looked rich or powerful, so a quite small minority of the women looked impressively attractive. Yet the couples seemed happy with one another: The community of the church had given them a clearer view of the real distributions of human “looks”, power, and wealth; and the teachings they were there to honour told them that joy did not depend on any of the three. Freed from the Apex Fallacy, at least for the most part, they were happier with realistically humble ambitions.

The Apex Fallacy generates too-high expectations. Modest truth brought them more happiness.

But there remain millions of women who aren’t aware of the bias the Apex Fallacy represents, thousands of ideologues who won’t admit it, millions of men who think they’re privileged and are ashamed how little success they’ve got from privileges they really don’t have. Men deserve the benefit of the truth; ideologues deserve the shame they’ve been loading onto men unfairly.

This is a serious blog, an initial essay on a subject that may well merit more attention in the near future. It’s intended didactically, to give readers an awareness that the Apex Fallacy is real, and how it comes to be. It shouldn’t be the last word or the last one or two thousand words, on the subject; i have only suggested, not nearly detailed, how it affects the mistakes we make about the social world around us or specifically, about “gender relations.” It does seem to be involved in women believing the false notion that men are privileged; and it might be involved in men thinking they are low-down members of a privileged sex when they’re actually average members of an underprivileged sex.

Chapin, if his website is indeed the first place the Apex Fallacy was named, gave us the phrase and a basically sound but overly discrete expression. The Misandry Bubble made the concept widely known. This blog has made a plausible case for its general existence and psychological basis.. Now what shall we do to further develop our understanding of its effects—the examples above are only a start—and perhaps start correcting those mistakes based on a better awareness of their fallacious foundation?

Notes:

* I did the exercise, myself, in June, and found the greatest difficulty was not to list people i have met, even corresponded with or spoken with over the ‘phone. … for instance, i listed one author and then had to remove his name because we have exchanged e-mails.

Most of the ordinary people i know about, i have “met” at least to that extent. I could name one of my friend Smitty’s brothers, the other, i have met fairly often. I could name a man who posted his name on the premises of his business, another who a friend patronizes and i don’t—but most of those i know by name, i have met. I know there are men who pick up the garbage and drive the snow plows, but not their names. I saw the names of the women who are bank tellers and government front desk sitters, on their desks, but since their dealings with me were stereotyped, i forgot most of them—and anyway, in some sense i have “met” them and so should leave them off the list.

The proportion of men on the list below is more than twice the proportion of women, despite the fact that i correspond and speak with men i know less well. Using the impressionistic categories “Elite” (top 1%), High Status (next 10-15%) and Workers (remaining ≥85%), i counted among those i named 20% Elite vs 1% of population; 62% High vs 10-15%; 18% workers vs at least 85%. (That exaggerates my bias toward noticing apex personages, because i named only people i have not met; and those i have met are much more like the general population in social status. Still—if i do not discipline myself to correct for the Apex Fallacy, it will mislead me, badly, as to the average human condition.)

Names tended to come in related groups—related by subject matter (writers, political figures, church figures, musicians, …) by sound of the name (Lazare Breau, then B R Merrick). I didn’t think of one “jock” — despite the women’s World Cup and the usual baseball scores coming over the radio. Didn’t remember the name of the disgraced FIFA chief, either. The ‘jocks’ i remember, like [Olympic Judo medalist] Mitch Kawasaki, i have met.

Often i thought of someone whose name i didn’t immediately recall, like the successor to Bishop Vienneau. And of course, many more names occur to me since listing those 50: The present and retired Pope, premiers like Rachel Notley and Christine “Yogi” Clark whose names didn’t come instantly to mind,—and notice that these names remembered after the exercise, are also mostly prominent personages rather than ordinary folks.

1. Doubt that? How many men notice ballet stars or fashion gurus by name? How many sports stars does an average women notice? and what fraction of them, are women? (Compared to an average man, she notices fewer sports stars and more of those she does notice are women.)

2. Women are also drawn to impressively attractive men. Some men are drawn to rich and powerful women, some ain’t.

3. The women who believe Feminist rhetoric seem more likely to be sincerely mistaken; those who write and speak it, more likely to be slyly tendentious.

4. In The Misandry Bubble, the author writes: “I cannot recommend ‘marriage’, as the grotesque parody that it has become today, to any young man living in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia. There are just too many things outside of his control that can catastrophically ruin his finances, emotions, and quality of life.“

5…. I’m not sure how many will benefit in lifetime terms, given the dangers of STDs.

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Summer Salsa Variations:

…With Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs:
(c) 2015, Davd

In Edmonton, where i am now, most home gardens have just begun producing ripe tomatoes in quantity; and most Atlantic Canadian gardens are probably at or near the same stage. Summer Salsa variations feature uncooked tomatoes, chives—and in real summertime, even cilantro1.

My basic technique for making salsa from canned diced tomatoes was posted two autumns ago; click here to go to it. It calls for onion “to taste”; some celery, celery leaf, or liveche; one flat to slightly rounded tablespoon of chili powder; and one slightly rounded teaspoon each of cumin and paprika, per 28 ounce [796 ml] can of diced tomatoes.

Using fresh tomatoes, you can cut them up on a cutting-board, with a knife; or quarter them and let a food processor chop them for several seconds. (For an ordinary sized batch of salsa, i prefer to cut them up by hand, because it’s a hassle to wash a food processor.) I slice each tomato about 1 cm to half an inch thick, then cut the slices into strips, turn the cutting-board, and cut the strips into “diced tomatoes.” If you’re used to making salsa from canned diced tomatoes, you know how full one can fills your pot, so cut up about the same amount and use the same amounts of chili powder, cumin, and paprika… unless you’re sure you want a bigger batch, in which case, scale up all ingredients proportionately.

Instead of onions, if you have a herb garden, you can use a fairly generous amount of chives, cut a centimetre or shorter. A knife on a cutting-board will do this work, but i prefer kitchen scissors (which are sharper and more precise than “kitchen shears”. Mine are Fiskars brand, made in Finland, and have served me well for decades.2. I also use a Fiskars vegetable-knife that i bought decades ago at a yard sale, and it has served me well at least as long—but knives are simpler than scissors.) Chives brighten the salsa with their green colour, and i prefer the flavour to that of regular onions3. Green onion tops are second best.

Those kitchen scissors will also cut up thawed tomatoes in the winter—you can literally dump the soggy textureless thawed tomatoes into the pot and cut them up there with the scissors! It takes a little longer than using a food processor; but there’s a lot of fuss to cleaning a food processor, so i prefer the scissors.

Another variation, if you’re using fried onions, is to fry them in chicken fat if you saved some from boiling a chicken or frying chicken legs. Chicken fat gives a flavour to salsa that i find agreeable—especially if i’m eating salsa and barley or rice, with chicken meat. (I myself don’t find pork or beef fat as appealing in salsa, and they are considered less healthy as well.)

If you grow sweet peppers in your garden and have a surplus, you might try adding some to the salsa… (but in Canada outside southern BC and southern Ontario, maybe the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, that’s not likely.)

The most obvious, and many of you will likely consider the best variation, is to use fresh cilantro at this time of year. You can reduce the amount of cumin you put in your salsa, perhaps even skip cumin altogether, when using cilantro.

Given the many combinations possible among fresh vs. canned tomatoes, chive vs. chopped onion, cilantro vs. cumin vs. both, and perhaps adding sweet peppers, Canadian readers will probably run out of summer before you’ve tried them all. I suggest that fresh tomatoes are the first variation to try, as soon as your garden produces more tomatoes than your household can eat them fresh… but you might find some summers, that you have cilantro ready before you have a surplus of tomatoes; and if you have a big stand of chives, you can start using them in May or June.

What you know of your likes and dislikes will probably guide what variations you choose, and that’s appropriate. Sometimes, the experience of good cooks shows, a combination you tried for the heck of it turns out to be superb, or one you expected would be superb, isn’t. In the case of salsa variations, i expect they’ll always be fit to eat, and those with fresh tomatoes, fit to repeat and to prefer while the abundance lasts.

Notes:

1. Most summers that i’ve had a garden, i’ve picked red tomatoes even after the first light frosts (during which they were covered with tarps or old fabric [curtain, bedsheet] that was also used as “drop cloths” when painting walls and ceilings.) At the first real freeze, there were usually dozens of green tomatoes to bring inside and allow to ripen in a cool room. So—i had home grown tomatoes later into the autumn, than fresh cilantro.

2. I’ve had less luck with Fiskars and other “good brands” made in China, especially garden shears. My guess is that Finnish industrial discipline is very good; Chinese, so-so.

3. Chives can be frozen for winter use if you have the freezer space. Cut them about the same length—a centimetre or shorter, or about a quarter inch in UK/US measure—and freeze them in food grade plastic containers such as margarine or ice cream tubs. Plastic flexes when thawed, making it easier to get the last of those chives out of the container. I’d say 4-8 litres of cut chives, per person in the household, is the right amount to freeze for one Canadian winter—but if you’re not used to cooking with frozen chive, or you haven’t yet built up a good stand of chive plants, you might freeze less.

 

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Don’t Be Proud—or Ashamed—of Your Genes:

You Didn’t Make Them.
(c) 2015, Davd

Once upon a time, a young woman gave birth to a baby boy, but as the baby grew, he didn’t develop as his older cousins had done. He was lethargic, slow to learn, insensitive to pain, hard of hearing—but he would eat almost anything. Eventually, she learned, her toddler had something called Prader-Willi Syndrome, and it was genetically based.

Her mother, the baby’s grandmother, searched the Internet and “found that the syndrome was Larry’s fault,” which in Grandmother’s mind, exonerated her daughter. To me, what she located seemed more to show that Grandmother wanted to be proud of her genes and her daughter’s. Larry [not his real name] had not known he carried any genes for that syndrome or any other seriously damaging medical conditions. He himself was healthy and intelligent… as was their other son.

So Larry shouldn’t be ashamed of his genes, nor Grandmother proud of hers. Genes aren’t made by our actions, they are received from our ancestors, who didn’t make them either*. Most, probably all genetic adverse syndromes, are not caused by the sins of the parents of children born with them. They come as dreadfully bad luck; and it is mercy when those around, intervene with help rather than blame.

Those of us who know they carry a serious genetic defect, have some responsibility not to pass it on—once they know. Larry might be wise to have a vasectomy, if indeed what Grandmother found on the Internet does show that he carries a gene for Prader-Willi Syndrome. Prader-Willi is a heavy burden on those around the afflicted person; best that people who might produce Prader-Willi children, not produce children at all. But this is no shame on Larry—because he did not make his genes, he received them from his ancestors; and until his child was diagnosed with Prader-Willi, he did not know.

There is another, better reason than pride, for sires to be fathers: Though we did not make our genes, we do transmit them. A child has more in common, biologically, with his or her father, than with a man who is unrelated. The father’s understanding of his own child will be better, on average, than that of a man who shares fewer genes—because more of the child’s nature, is shared with his.

Don’t be ashamed, nor proud, of your genes—but recognize they are important. Genes in common aren’t all there is to children being safer, and developing better, with their natural fathers than in any other kind of family—but they are an important part of the value of fathers.

____________________

* I’m not David Suzuki [who is a geneticist] and don’t know just how genes came to be. I have read repeatedly, that all higher animals have genes, as do higher plants; and that “evolution” refers to their selection by way of differential reproduction. Prader-Willi children do not reproduce; the syndrome includes not experiencing puberty. Choosing not to sire or bear children if one carries a gene for Prader-Willi, amounts to deliberate selection against one’s own set of genes—or one could say, applying intelligence to replace the harsher effects of having a Prader-Willi child.

 

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Johnny-Canuck Pot Roast

..Something good, reliable, hearty, economical, even fairly quick:
(c) 2015, Davd

Readers in this year 2015 don’t need me to tell you that beef is outrageously expensive compared to pork or poultry. What beef i buy is chosen substantially based on price—and i do like to eat beef. So even in early summer, i bought a “blade roast” about 850g [slightly less than two pounds] in weight, for “last day reduced price” and when i got it back to camp*, popped it into the freezer. It came back out of the freezer before long, and one cool late afternoon and early evening, became a very satisfying meal.

“Yankee Pot Roast” used to be famous; but i’m not a Yankee and none of my Yankee friends ever taught me that technique. This particular roast was cut fairly thin—about 3 cm—as is common in Acadian food stores. I had a good supply of herbs, an onion and some carrots, and some vegetable stock… and of course, some pot barley. (Pearl barley will do fine, too, or you can use potatoes—even pasta, but that’s a little trickier).

A pot roast should be “seared”, or cooked briefly in a hot, preferably cast iron pan, to brown the flat sides; and then it should be simmered. I had a big enough, tall enough stainless steel frying pan, that i was able to sear the beef in a smaller, cast-iron pan and then transfer it to the big pan while i briefly browned the chopped onion on the cast iron. I used less than half of one medium onion and the result was good; more onion, or cutting in chive in addition would have been good also, perhaps a little better.

With the beef, vegetable stock, and some cut-up carrots in the big frying pan, there was room for everything, and also for the onion and barley to come—which there would not have been in the searing pan. If you have a really big cast-iron frying pan or “Dutch oven”, you can and should leave the pot roast in that pan from start to finish1.

I then added first about ¾ cup of uncooked barley, then a third of a cup of salted wild mushrooms, then oregano, liveche, and pepper. Thus the usual herb-spice checklist was covered: Strong Herb [Oregano], Celery [Liveche], Onion, and Pepper.. Mushrooms are optional; i happened to know that these salted Lactarii go well with beef and grain.

The big frying pan, with beef, grain, carrot, onion, spices, and vegetable stock, was then simmered for a half hour or perhaps a bit longer. A simmer, remember, is a gentle, slow boil.

The taste was delicious: The meat, full-flavoured and tender to chew, the barley, rich with the flavours it absorbed as it swelled while cooking, the broth, rich and full without any added “soup powder”. While i do very much enjoy a good beefsteak, especially grilled over the coals of a wood fire2, a well cooked pot roast also qualifies as a top-quality dinner, and the meat to make it usually costs much less.

The mushrooms are optional. Ordinary grocery store mushrooms will do fine, as will most of the stronger flavoured wild mushrooms… or you can leave them out. Cabbage and turnips are also optional, and i didn’t include either this time—but my vegetable stock included turnip flavour, which may have contributed to the good result.

Carrots, onion, and beef are not optional. You could substitute potatoes for the barley; but i myself like barley better, with simmered or boiled beef; and potatoes don’t protein-balance as well with red meat as grain does. The barley absorbs the meat and vegetable stock flavours as it cooks, which is why barley is so good in beef stews3 and with pot roasts.

(The best protein-balance for potatoes is “dairy”—milk or cheese. Baked or mashed potatoes with cheese can be delicious, especially with chives snipped a half centimetre to a quarter inch long, on top. My chef friend Soren used to add milk to potatoes when mashing them. Fried potatoes, whether shredded before frying or fried in slices, are very good with cheese melted on top and some chive snipped onto the cheese just as it melts.).

But that combination—potatoes and cheese—should be the subject of another blog. Beef and barley and some onion and carrot, the beef seared and the onion lightly browned before it’s all simmered with some herbs of your choice (and optionally, cabbage, mushrooms and turnip)—that’s a fine pot-roast, a meal you can cook any time of year and enjoy as leftovers if you haven’t enough guests or housemates to eat it up the day it’s cooked.

Notes:

* I was preparing to relocate for prostate cancer treatment, so my home of 9 years had become “camp.”

1. I have one, but it hadn’t been used in months and would have needed cleaning and seasoning before i could have cooked in it without off-flavours—so i used two pans.

2. The best woods for grilling meat tend to be from trees that produce food: Apple, cherry, hickory and maple are famous. Alder wood also is widely known as a good barbecue wood. Don’t use pine!—or any wood high in pitch or turpentine content.

3. A beef stew usually contains more grain or potatoes relative to meat, and the meat is cut up into cubes; the techniques are otherwise quite similar. Pot roast very often yields leftover meat, after the grain and vegetables are all eaten, which can be made into sandwiches with mustard or perhaps mayonnaise.

 

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The Stink Bomb

.. an Old Man’s Reflection on Civil Disobedience:
(c) 2015, Davd

Though i never experienced one myself, i remember them well, announced over school Public Address speakers and local radio stations back in the middle of the 20th Century; and i remember laughing when they were. In their best efforts at proper, even prim “Naughty! Naughty!” tones of voice, The Authorities admitted that their imposed routines had again been disrupted by—a Stink Bomb. Much as they may have been pained to speak aloud to the public, that childish slang word stink, there was no other short clear phrase to use. “A malodorous improvised device” was too formal and circumflatulent; the less intelligent—or to be clearer, the stupider members of the audience might not understand, might even go to see what on earth that long fancy phrase really meant.

Nobody wants to go to a stink.

… which, of course, is why there were boys1, probably small groups of boys, who made and “planted” them. Once a stink bomb “went off” there was nothing to do but get everyone safely away from it. “The Authorities” could not maintain their imposition of their chosen routines in the presence of a well planted, big bad stench… and for many boys, literally “making a big stink” was funny.

Notice, though, please: No one killed, no one injured. The damage a Stink Bomb did was cleaned up fairly quickly by a competent janitor, and perhaps some few people felt they had to wash some of their clothing. The purpose was to disrupt imposed routines, and frankly, the Stink Bombs achieved it efficiently and with a minimum of what now gets called “collateral damage.” Civil Disobedience is the harshest term you can fairly apply to a well-placed Stink Bomb.

Civil Disobedience, in a genuine democracy, is often punished but never severely. The usual charge is mischief, not some crime. Rarely, “the authorities” will concede that the purpose of some act of Civil Disobedience is indeed worthy—that what was disrupted should and could be improved upon—and decide not to punish at all.

To criminalize nonviolent, efficient Civil Disobedience is to confess yourselves a tyranny.

I don’t recall Stink Bombs ever becoming even daily events. It does, after all, take quite a lot of work to make and plant one. To some extent, those Stink Bombs probably did keep school authorities especially from making things even less boy friendly than they already were. Democracy depends on the consent of the governed, and in schools especially, where the governed could not vote, Stink Bombs were a way of saying non-consent. Even the boys who made them were willing to conform to most of the rules, most of the time. Civil Disobedience is part of democracy when the authorities go astray—and “the authorities” too, are sinners who fall well short of perfection.

In political conflicts, similar tactics express dissent but not with authorities. Either the “loggers” or the “environmentalists” in British Columbia, back around the turn of the century when their disputes were important public political theatre, managed an elegant variation on the Stink Bomb: They arranged to get liquid manure spread all over the Provincial Legislature lawn a day or two before the other side was to have a rally there. The manuring had actual merit as landscape maintenance, and for those walking past on the paved pedestrian walkways2, the stink was minimal. For those standing any length of time on the lawn, it was “somewhat worse”, and sitting on the lawn, a common protester’s way to rest, was, er, precluded.

… and like those Stink Bombs in schools and occasionally in places of pompous ceremony, it was funny, at least to those who agreed with the perpetrators rather than the ceremony. Civil Disobedience is in essence, emphatic, attention demanding dissent. Humour improves it.

I don’t recall, if i ever knew, how those Stink Bombs were made. Many things stink; many techniques exist for distributing them uh, quickly. I would count a large plastic bag of liquid manure, dropped somehow onto a stage just before the Premier is to walk up to the podium and announce that funds for medical cannabis for PTSD veterans, will be redirected to support later abortions, to be a Stink Bomb and one well deserved3. But so would be a sulfurous device whose stench is quite different. Just don’t set the theatre on fire: Good Stink Bombs are efficient4.

Perhaps the Stink Bomb example will inspire other, similarly efficient ways of Civil Disobedience that improve on Stink Bombs for many purposes and occasions. I wouldn’t want it to be the only way to dissent from unwelcome “authority” with a minimum of damage done; better there be several.

Several violent ways of dissent have become far more common in this century than they were in the middle of the last. Stink Bombs that were often Civil Disobedience5, in contrast, showed much of the discipline and focus that marked the hunting teams of primitive human societies. Activists can learn from those “naughty, naughty” boys—and for all i know, some of them were those boys.

Better a Stink Bomb than a car bomb, a suicide bomb, or some kind of chemical poison or germ-warfare. Democracy is not puppetry, and voting is not all there is to it. Good if we can improve on those old Stink Bomb pranks; good too, if we recognize that they were better than many of the conflict techniques that have come later.

Notes:

1. I never heard of girls making or planting stink bombs. In those mid-20th Century days, i doubt any girls did. Today? who knows? but it does seem that stink is more men’s than women’s work: How many women garbage collectors do you see? How many Feminists are demanding gender parity in that job? How many silly references have you heard to the husband’s rather than the wife’s duty to “take out the garbage”?

It may be worth adding, that women’s bodies are equally capable of stinking, perhaps more so—but working with things that stink is not Ladylike, and as Elaine Morgan wrote in 1972: “We’re all turning into ladies; and while people have sometimes jocularly debated ‘Do women make good mothers?’ nobody’s ever bothered to ask ‘Do ladies make good mothers?’ because the question obviously didn’t apply. Well, it applies now, and henceforth increasingly.” (The Descent of Woman: London[UK]: Souvenir Press. p. 249)

2. Ah! the uncertainties of Canadian English! In US-English they are sidewalks, in British English, “pavements”.

3. This is a secular website, but i am permitted to acknowledge myself a Christian, and my Christian faith considers convenience abortions to be evil… as i have explained in secular terms in an earlier blog.

4. As i draft this blog, a series of bomb threats have disrupted the WestJet airline… so let me say “loud and clear” that a Stink Bomb on an airplane in flight is much more damaging than the same Stink Bomb would be among the same number of people in a meeting room or a restaurant. It might even cause serious sickness…. and an airplane is not a public place such as Civil Disobedience normally chooses. There are good ecological reasons to question today’s extensive air travel; but i couldn’t call a Stink Bomb in flight, a non-violent nor an efficient way to convey them.

5. I’m not certain of this recollection, but it seems to me that once or twice, Stink Bombs were used to disrupt school examinations and the suspicion was, that they were planted by students who didn’t feel ready to take the tests.

 

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Misandry for Profit:

The “Jackass Formula” in Television Programming
(c) 2011, 2015, Davd*

There’s a powerful, subtle irony when Feminists attack capitalism. Capitalist funding [and through funding, substantial control] of television, was one of the first major supporters of feminism and female supremacism, if in a very backhanded way. The first widespread misandric themes in 20th Century mass media were—as best one can estimate—framed, choreographed and broadcast to pander to women’s control over—shopping.

Capitalism tends to have a narrow social focus: It pays too much attention to the money and too little to the “side effects”.

As television became widespread, programming was soon guided by the Profit Motive: The programs that were broadcast were those that advertisers would pay the most to broadcast. There were some social-policy restrictions, such as “no pornography where and when children might watch”, “don’t insult people’s race or religion”; and some imprecise restrictions on violence. These restrictions probably caused more “domestic situation comedy” programs to be shown than would have “aired” without them.

Advertisers pay for television—as they pay for any advertising medium—because they expect to get more profit from increased sales, than they pay out. They aim their advertisements, and choose the programs with which to broadcast them, with shoppers in mind. Excellent television content that does not appeal to shoppers, is a “bad bet” for most advertisers.

(The iron tonic named “Geritol” [a name derived from the Latin word for old age] sponsored Lawrence Welk’s dance music programs. The people dancing were mostly grey-haired. So, we may suppose, was the viewer population, since the makers of Geritol felt that the “Welk show” sold enough seniors’-anti-anaemia tonic to justify sponsorship.)

“Domestic situation comedies” were perhaps the commonest type of programming. They were mostly free of taboo erotica; they were nominally pro-family, but they were not very respectful of husbands. Why not?—because of the money. As regular comment-poster “Rebel” wrote on the Spearhead site,

T.V. will continue to cater to women unless men start outspending women1..

Men shop less than women and have done as long as i’ve been alive. The TV programming aimed at men—sports, especially—tended to be sponsored by the likes of shaving products and beers. There’s a lot less money spent on shaving products and beer, than on all the things women buy, especially food, housekeeping supplies (they called some programs soap operas, for a reason), and women’s clothing. (Ever go through the print advertisements in “content-analysis mode”, counting up the amount of space given to women’s vs. men’s clothing?)

So who did it pay the advertiser to please? Husband or wife?

After World War II, as television was becoming common, came the “Baby Boom”. Women love babies, and prosperity enabled men to support nuclear families without their wives having to earn money. Housewives became the chief shoppers and television programming catered to them—because they were the ones who spent the most money. not men.)

As a student or junior professor in the 1960s or ’70s—i no longer remember just when—i first read the phrase “The Jackass Formula”, meaning that husbands were portrayed as bumbling fools and wives as smarter and wiser. It referred to the conventional structure of “domestic situation comedies”, and the obvious reason why television programming followed it,was that the advertisers wanted to please the main household spenders—who were wives.

Since “The Simpsons” is better known to most readers than the television programming of decades past, i’ll quote a passage i read recently about that program:

‘The Simpsons’ follows the middle-class, Springfield-dwelling Simpson family. Homer Simpson is the caring but moronic head of the household, who works at the Springfield nuclear power plant for maniacal Springfield billionaire Montgomery Burns. His wife Marge puts up with his constant hair-brained ploys which have taken the family around the world and in contact with celebrities, famous athletes, and even presidents of the United States. Lisa is a know-it-all who’s dream is to become the first woman president and save the world of all its evils. Unlike his idealistic sister, Bart is a troublemaker at Springfield Elementary, always avoiding the bullies with his best friend Milhouse. Maggie is the youngest Simpson, always sucking on her pacifier, and who regularly seems to be forgotten by her family which gives her time to explore and cause her own mischief.

[accessed 14 October 2011]

Fair characterization of men vis-a-vis women? Not at all. It would be just silly fun satire, if there were as many programs showing men as wiser and smarter, and women as silly-goofy—but are there?

Nathanson and Young (Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001) go well beyond saying “no, there aren’t,” but they do say: Mass media content, in the late 20th Century, was strongly misandric on average. Nathanson and Young examine the ideology and influence of misandric Feminists; but do they explain why capitalist television networks and sponsors played the misandric game?

Shopping seems to provide that explanation. Cheap shots at men, sadly, seem to have made big money for television producers and sponsors.

There’s much more to misandry than pandering to the shoppers’ dollars. We can ask why shoppers—why any women, any men, would be more motivated to watch demeaning depictions of another sex, or another race,.. and to some extent better content, better chanacterizations did appeal to many. Many more, it seemed, were fooled by the Jackass Formula… or at least, entertained enough to watch the commercials.

The commercials motivated television producers and sponsors to denigrate men and call it humour2, to make misandry so common on TV as to give a sort of public legitimacy to female supremacism; until by the beginning of this century, with the lobbying of Feminist ideologues to direct it politically and legally, it had spread to real life.

Notes:

* This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in October 2011, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2011”; with some edition near the end: The focus on 20th Century television contains the basic argument, which has not changed in the past four years. It is posted here on everyman now, because access to the Spearhead site has recently been unreliable.

1. The url was “http://www.the-spearhead.com/2011/10/04/mens-issues-on-the-simpsons/#comment-111786” I did not make it a link because since Spearhead became inactive, having the link would lead many browsers to display the text, crossed-out.

2. It’s worth remembering, that a TV audience containing tens of millions of shoppers, meant at least as many millions of dollars spent on programming and advertising. Those misadric “domestic situation comedies”, were very cleverly scripted and staged. Their misandry was sly more than ugly—and men often “kid” each other somewhat similarly (but usually not “when the Ladies are present.”) What was distinctive to “The Jackass Formula”, was that there was little or no balancing “funny misogyny”—women were portrayed as better than men.

 

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Violence and “Real Men”

Two Lessons from Human Evolution
(c) 2011*, Davd

Human nature formed in hunting and gathering societies, where all adults were producers. Men hunted (e.g Harris, 1989: 278-281), and mostly they hunted co-operatively. Women gathered—foraged roots, berries, and sometimes other edible or useful parts of the natural environment. Most of what they gathered were plants or parts of plants.

Human evolution shifted from being primarily biological to being primarily cultural “at some point during the last 100,000 years, and perhaps only within the last 40,000 years” (Lenski, Lenski and Nolan, 1991: 92) while big-game hunting as men’s work and gathering as primarily women’s work began much earlier (ibid.: 89-90). Hunting shaped men’s nature, and gathering shaped women’s1.

Hunting is inherently violent. Those neat styrofoam trays of meat in the supermarket contain cut-up portions of the dead bodies of animals. A few days ago i spent 3-4 hours turning 47 recently killed mackerel into stored meat; i have killed and butchered fish and game many times, and farm animals a few times. As the meat providers in prehistoric human societies, men used violence to feed their communities. Real men are violent—but disciplined and restrained in our use of violence. Lack of discipline can cause injury, and it can cause tainted meat.

Undisciplined men don’t have the reproductive—the evolutionary—fitness of disciplined men. Men who resort to undisciplined violence have lost some of their humanity. They are not “real men” in the full sense. For anyone, and especially for a Feminist purporting to be expert, to describe a violent rampage as typical of man-nature, is—if not a malicious lie or a self-deception—ignorant to the point of folly.

Real men are co-operative. During the thousands of centuries when humanity evolved, there were no rifles, no shotguns, no compound bows or fiberglass arrows. Our earliest ancestors [and here i refer to the first Homo sapiens, as well as Australopithecus and H. erectus] didn’t even have crude longbows. Clubs, spears, maybe slings were the weapons available, and with those weapons, teams of our ancestors killed elephants!—as well as aurochs, bison, caribou, elk, moose, pigs [which can be both large and deadly], and zebra. Even elk and zebra are too large for one man, armed only with spears, clubs and stone knives, to reliably kill alone.

During those hundreds of millennia of human genetic evolution, human nature was formed. Men [and male pre-humans] needed co-operation, discipline, and restraint to provide high-protein, immensely valued food using tools and weapons we would find incredibly crude. Men would not be on Earth today if we did not have co-operation, and discipline including restraint, bred into us.2

Notes:

* This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in September 2011, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2011”; and given its focus on prehistoric humanity, more recent events or writings would not change the body text. It is posted here on everyman now, because access to the Spearhead site has recently been unreliable.

1. During these hundreds of centuries, perhaps millions of years of evolution, women seldom if ever hunted big game. The co-operation, discipline, and restraint that was bred into men could possibly have their main loci “on the Y chromosome”, such that women are less co-operative, less disciplined, less restrained by nature, not merely for cultural reasons associated with civilization. “Charles Martel” (on The-Spearhead, January 2010) summarized neurological research indicating major differences between men’s and women’s brain anatomy: It is virtually certain that important gender differences in personality are “inborn” rather than learned. Whether men’s co-operation, discipline, and restraint are genetically based in brain features that differ from women “is not [to my knowledge] yet established”. We should keep in mind that they very plausibly might be.)

2. If there were instead, some species of big-brained ape that lacked co-operation, discipline, and restraint, it would not be human as we know humanity.

References:

Harris, Marvin, 1989. Our Kind. NY: Harper and Row.

Lenski, Gerhard, Jean Lenski, and Patrick Nolan, 1991. Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

“Martel, Charles”, 2010. “Is There a Female Brain?” The-Spearhead website, January 3.

 

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Bean Sprouts:

..The Freshest Off-Season Vegetable:
(c) 2015, Davd

Unless you’re eating asparagus and fiddleheads, or are brave enough to cook young dandelion greens, early June is still winter in the average Canadian kitchen. In old fashioned farm culture, this time of year—spring outdoors but no fresh vegetables yet—was called the Hungry Gap. Today, it’s possible to go to a store and buy “fresh” vegetables trucked (more rarely, flown) in from far to the south where it’s been growing season for weeks already—but the prices?—the prices are a powerful incentive to grow your own.

I don’t recall vegetables costing half or more as much, per kilo, as meat, back in the 1960s when i began regularly cooking for myself. Today, vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, even cauliflower, can cost more than basic meat like pork chops, smoked pork shoulder, chicken, and the sale prices for round and “sirloin tip” beef roasts and steaks.

We have an incentive, gentlemen, to figure out ways to produce fresh vegetables earlier—preferably, all winter.

In the second blog in this series, i named the four staple Canadian winter vegetables: Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and turnips. (Perhaps i should also have named beets and parsnips. I like beets, but parsnips don’t really seem that much fun to eat—to me. If you enjoy them, don’t let me stop you.) Those are the vegetables that can be found, fairly often, for a dollar to $1.55 per kilo [45-70 cents per pound]… and usually half that price or less for potatoes, which are intermediate between a vegetable in the usual sense, and a “complex carbohydrate” food (most of which, in Canada, are grains: Barley, maize, rye, and wheat, especially. Potatoes contain much more water per weight than grains; and so, usually cost significantly less per kilo than grain.)

Life could get pretty dull if those were all there was to eat, though. No wonder people overheated their kitchens in July and August and September canning tomatoes and applesauce, beans and plums and relishes, pickling beets and cucumbers, and did all the work of making sauerkraut… back 50 years ago and earlier.

Today, spinach and tomatoes tend to be frozen rather than canned, at home; and to cost ten times what they cost when i started cooking, in stores; while fresh vegetables more tender than cabbage—meaning much more tender than roots—can cost as much as meat, and sometimes 50% to 100% more than meat.

Bell peppers were advertised this past winter for three dollars per pound—the same price i paid for a beef roast to bake in the oven the same month, and 60% more than the best price i paid this year—after the price of pork went up—for pork chops. Green and yellow snap beans were advertised for $2—$3+ per pound last summer—in season, yet. To get a fresh vegetable for just over one dollar per kilo—between 50 and 60 cents per pound—reliably all winter? Gentlemen, it’s worth a little bit of work, to have a fresh vegetable you can produce in a glass jar in your own kitchen for that cost.

Its name is mung bean sprouts. Its taste is a little like fresh snap beans in the summer, and refreshingly different from all the staple winter vegetables. Add it to cabbage or kale (or broccoli or cauliflower) a carrot cut fine, and some onion, and you have the usual vegetables for stir-frying with chicken, ham, unsmoked pork, even beef. You can make a simple sauce of vegetable oil, sugar, and soy sauce; and have steamed bean sprouts as a winter salad. You can substitute chive blossom vinegar for the soy in that salad dressing and have two kinds of bean sprout salad. You can eat hot steamed sprouts with a bit of soy or chive blossom vinegar, as a vegetable with almost any meal. And if you want a meatless meal that’s protein balanced—try stir-frying sprouts, cabbage or broccoli, and thin carrot strips, seasoned with soy sauce, and eating them with rice. Steamed sprouts with rice and soy sauce are also good… and barley is almost as good as rice with both.

(There are many other ways to eat them, i’m sure, in books you can find at the library. I make chive blossom vinegar, so i find that stir-frying, two salads, and occasionally the hot steamed form, are ways enough for me to use the bean sprouts i make.)

Mung beans are sold at most bulk food stores, by now. The “Bulk Barn” outlet in Miramichi sold them for $4.35 per kilo* this past winter, which is a little higher than the 2013 price. They are quite small, about the size of a ‘fat’ pinhead; and a dull olive-green colour that reminds me of military vehicles. I’ve never cooked them unsprouted; but once sprouted, they really diversify the off-season vegetable supply.

At $4.35 per kilo, i’d consider them an expensive vegetable—but that’s their price in dry form. In sprouted form, they cost a lot less.

Last October, i measured 100g of mung beans into a jar [with a mesh lid] and added water. Five days later, the sprouts weighed 375 grams (to the nearest 25) The beans had cost me $4.35 per kilo (ignoring the 10% Seniors’ and Student’s Discount, no sales tax because they are a foodstuff). Dividing 4.35 by 3.75 [the multiple by which the weight had increased], the cost of the sprouts, per kilo [not per pound!] worked out to $1.16—that’s about 53 cents per pound. I’ve seen even cabbage and turnips priced at a dollar and more per pound in big name grocery stores “off special.”

At $4.35 per kilo, then, mung beans can be made into sprouts that cost about the same price as cabbages and turnips “on special”, and less than one-fifth the price of those three dollar bell peppers. What’s more, you can make them when you want them, without driving anywhere to buy anything.

You start with a glass jar that has a perforated or mesh lid. I bought my first mesh lids, made to fit wide-mouth canning jars, at a yard sale; and later i actually found one near high tide line on a beach. If you don’t easily spot those lids to buy and your high tide line doesn’t have any, you can take any size lid—the larger the better up to “wide mouth”, i’d say—and perforate it with a drill or a nail. My guess is that the easiest way to proceed would be to put the metal lid, top side down, on a piece of scrap lumber, and drive a nail through it at least 20 times, scattering the holes about the surface of the lid with plenty of them near the edge all-’round. 40 holes probably wouldn’t be too many.

I’d use a 1-litre pickle jar probably, because i fairly often buy pickles on sale, and have several empty jars around the kitchen. Most one litre jars with fairly wide mouths will do. If the lid is made of plastic, drill holes through it rather than punching holes with a nail.

Put a half inch [1,3 cm] deep layer of dry mung beans in the bottom of the jar. Add enough warm water to cover them two or three times high—a couple inches [5 cm] of water seems about right for the first, long soak. Cover the jar with the perforated lid, put it somewhere they’ll stay warm but not get really hot, and leave them for 5-10 hours.

When the beans have soaked for 5-10 hours, drain them (the water that drains off is good for watering house plants—or the summer vegetable plants you’re starting in the sun porch, if it’s spring.) Let the jar drip until the drops come one second apart, or more slowly. (I air-dry dishes when i wash them, so i tend to put the jars of mung beans on that dish drying rack, to drain.) Then stand the jar right side up and let the beans have some air—at least half an hour of air time, as an estimate, and up to 12 hours. Then add warm water again, to definitely cover the beans, and this time, let them soak for 5-15 minutes; then drain them as before.

Ideally, water and drain the sprouting beans every hour or so, when you’re not in bed. As a minimum, water and drain at least twice a day—and between waterings, keep them warmish—18 to 25 or even 28, but below 30 Celsius, meaning about 65-80 Fahrenheit. Be sure they drain well, so that all the sprouting beans get air time as well as water time. When they’re under water, they soak up some of it; and then when they have air between them, they use some of that water, to grow.

How big to sprout them before you use them? That’s “a matter of taste”. I’d say let the rootlet that is forming from the bean, get to be at least half an inch, but not much more than an inch long. If the sprout starts forming bean leaves, that’s a little too far along—but they’ll still be usable. You can store bean sprouts in the ‘fridge for a few days (and they don’t need watering and draining while they’re fridged—in fact, it might hurt them. Beans like warm conditions for sprouting.)

What i usually do is begin cooking with my sprouts when the rootlets reach half to three-quarters of an inch long (1.3 to 2 cm). The main ways i use them are steamed until they brighten, and then used in a salad as described above, with grain [also as described above], or put raw into stir-fry mixtures (the sprouts are usually added to the wok or pan, last). Cook them until they brighten … and enjoy.

I’ve tried sprouting soybeans, because i read somewhere that they have a better protein content than mung beans—but they didn’t sprout well for me. Untreated alfalfa seeds will make good sprouts, but they are expensive and harder to find in stores; and the mesh of the lids for sprouting them must be quite fine, or the seeds will drain away with the water. Me, i stick with mung beans, which are more available, less expensive, and easier to handle.

The sprouts taste different than beets, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, turnips [or parsnips]—and in my ‘umble opinion, they taste good. They have a pleasant crunch but are easier to chew than cabbage or any root vegetable, Winter (and springtime) meals just won’t be as boring with bean sprouts added to your vegetable collection.

____ _ ____

* They posted that price as 44 cents per 100 grams, for the same reason grocers post meat and produce prices by the pound—because the smaller numbers apparently influence some shoppers to buy. I translate all prices by weight, into kilo prices, for clearer comparison.

 

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If The Genders Be Reversed:

… a Test for Equal Treatment
(c) 2012,* Davd, lightly edited 2014, 2015

Even when we know intuitively or from reading that something “is so” or “isn’t so”, it helps to have a measure, or at least an indicator of the fact. When arguing over gender [in]equality, a good indicator is all-the-more needed, because one side’s intuitions aren’t likely to be honoured by the opposition. Here’s a test, an indicator if you prefer that word, for Gender Equality: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? Methinks it will unmask most Feminist claims that “gender equality” requires giving more to women; and become a valuable tool for men seeking fair (equal-opportunity) treatment. A few examples may help readers see how to apply this “Gender-Reversal test”; using double standards of violence, accusation, sexual consent, and child custody that should all be familiar to most men.

Violence:
Gerry and Leslie are names given to both boys and girls. Suppose there is a domestic fight involving the heterosexual couple Gerry and Leslie. Each is being equally violent. The police want to break up the fight, and the power they have available to use, is arrest. Who will the police arrest and take away to jail?

I’d be willing to bet—if i could be assured of a true answer—that as you read this, most of you who answered, thought or said “him”. I might lose a few bets, but i’d win many more—and there would probably be many who wouldn’t answer, just because you didn’t know which one of them was the male…

.. and “him” is the correct answer.

When i talked with people involved with law-enforcement, from criminal lawyers to pastors who counsel inmates and Salvation Army officers, in 2010 and 2011; they agreed that with equal violence on both sides, the male will be arrested 90% or more of the time anyone is arrested. (I live in Canada and arrests are not mandatory, or weren’t until very recently.)

This is especially unfair if—as seems more likely than not—equal violence on both sides, means the man is restraining himself more than the woman is restraining herself! The poor man is fighting back just enough to defend himself—and he’s the one that gets hauled off to jail?

If instead of male and female, the categories involved were “Native” and “white” and both combatants were of the same gender, such systematic favouritism would be called “racism” and would be forbidden by law.

This stereotypical example is almost comical, but it is no joke. I begin with it because it is an obvious, extreme negative answer to the “Gender-Reversal1 test” question: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? If they would not be the same, there is inequality. Think about that: If there were gender-equality in the legal treatment of domestic fights, as many women as men would be hauled off to jail, when police responded to he-she battles with equal violence on both sides. Obviously, that’s not true: Women are privileged—privileged to do violence to men they live with.

To stay with violence as subject-matter for two more examples, let’s consider pre-pubertal children and opposite-sex pairs of adults who do not “have a sexual relationship.”

About 60 years ago, my boyhood playmates and i would occasionally get kicked-in-the-shins, hard, by a girl who then danced away chanting “Can’t hit a gir-rul, can’t hit a gir-rul”. Many parents discouraged their daughters from this kind of aggression (some mothers seemed to believe that such aggression was a legitimate way for girls to respond to merely verbal insults); but boys who fought-back after being attacked were generally punished more harshly than girls who attacked. I have not seen this happen lately; but then, old men hanging around playgrounds are sometimes treated as potential “perverts”, so i am “prudently intimidated” from going to observe where i might most likely see it.

Can you even imagine a boy aged 8-10 kicking a girl of the same age in-the-shins, hard, and dancing away chanting “Can’t hit a bow-ee, can’t hit a bow-ee”?

The double standard of childhood verbal insulting was less clear, but again, favoured girls.

That small-child double standard i experienced, existed at a time when most girls expected to grow up to be housewives and mothers. Those were the Diefenbaker-Eisenhower years; and the girls who kicked me in the shins represented the first “Baby Boomers” and their older sisters. Many of their mothers had waited through World War II to be able to marry and have children. (In the 1950s, having children outside marriage was shameful.) The daughters saw mothers and housewives as positive examples partly because most of those older mothers2 were very glad to be stay-home mothers rather than Depression girls or spinsters, and wartime workers, such as they had been before marriage.

“The protection of the home” was then the normal milieu of women and girls; adventure and violence were male business to which only a small fraction of women aspired3. Most homes were protected, not only by the law and the Police, but first and foremost by a husband-father. If the home protected a few female privileges, they were plausibly “balanced” by men’s greater access to the wider world, and by the practice, then common, of brides vowing to obey their husbands.

Today, girls and women still have their privileges, including the privilege of violence without the violent response that same-sex violence often provokes—but men’s privileges are gone.

For a third example of violence between the sexes, let’s be conventionally old-fashioned, and recall a “standard movie scene”, which can happen in ordinary life, of a woman slapping a man’s face, hard, for using “naughty words”, impugning her virtue [sexual or otherwise], or showing affection in a way she finds offensive. Men were and are expected to take such violence without complaint, much less even think of hitting back… though few if any men would dare slap another man in like manner unless he were inviting a fight4. If a man who a woman slapped were to call the Police, and if they both told the exact truth about the incident, she would be vanishingly unlikely to be arrested, far less punished as a criminal. Few if any men would be fool enough to try dialling 9-1-1 because a woman slapped their faces, even several times, no matter how hard.

Now imagine that a man slaps a woman’s face, only half-hard, for using “naughty words”, impugning his virtue, or showing affection in a way he finds offencive. She can call the Police, and if they both tell the exact truth about the incident, he is rather likely to be arrested and punished as a criminal.

There is a Double Standard of violence displayed in each of these three examples: Women’s acts of violence against men are tolerated when, if the genders were reversed, the same acts would be punished with vigour and severity.

The obvious, logical test for gender equality, to repeat, is: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? For violence, the answer is often, perhaps always, no. The sexes are not equal; women and girls are privileged. To achieve gender equality, either girls’ and women’s violence against men and boys must be punished more severely, and condemned more, morally; and-or boys’ and men’s violence against women and girls must be punished less severely, and condemned less, morally.

Men have the moral right to demand that, in the name of “Gender equality”.

Now on to a very non-violent kind of Double Standard: Accusation:
Over 20 years ago now, i criticized something a woman had done and she responded with “Why do you hate us?” It wasn’t logical, it wasn’t true, it wasn’t fair—but because she was a she and i was a he, she got away with it. If she had criticized me the same way—complained, for instance, that i had made her wait two hours after saying i’d show up at a particular time—and i had replied, “Why do you hate us?”—do you think i would have got away with it? If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same?

For accusing the opposite-sex of hate, the answer between 1980 and 2010, was almost always no. The sexes were not equal; women and girls were [and apparently still are] privileged. To achieve gender equality, either girls’ and women’s [untrue] accusations against men and boys must be punished more severely, and condemned more, morally; or boys’ and men’s accusations against women and girls must be punished less severely, and condemned less, morally.

Sexual Freedom”:
If women’s privileges to do violence to men without suffering consequences, are hold-overs from when women were usually sheltered in the home, their present-day sexual privileges constitute reversals of the restrictions that sheltered women were supposed to accept “back then.” In the 1950s, there was said to be a double standard of sexual freedom: Men were considered to have more license to “screw around” than women. Since 19-sixty-somewhen, the “conventional wisdom” says, women have had about the same license as men—but is there perhaps a different double standard emerging?

Suppose a different Gerry and a different Leslie meet at a party. Alcohol is freely available. They get quite intoxicated and “have sex” by mutual agreement. Next morning both regret their mutual decision to “do it”. Who is guilty of what?

Again, as in the violence examples, “he” is deemed guilty in legal systems influenced by Feminism. Specifically, by a crime-reporting re-definition recently promulgated by the famous United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, he is guilty of raping her (though as yet, most US State laws differ from this recent redefinition.) This is not a logical attribution of guilt; it is ideological5 It blames men for consensual sexual relations between intoxicated partners—and in so doing, nearly reverses the Double Standard of the mid-20th Century. If the genders were reversed, obviously, the outcome would not be the same: Women are privileged. To achieve gender equality, women must reach equal probability of being found guilty of rape [and other sexual misconduct] in such non-violent encounters, either by reducing the number of men deemed guilty or increasing the number of women.

Someone from another intelligent species, free of the influences of Feminism (and of other earthly ideologies), would probably say that Gerry and Leslie are both and equally guilty of lack of discipline with respect to alcoholic beverages. The event wasn’t a rape at all—and the regrets should be directed at the face in the mirror, not the sex-partner.

Parenthood:
For the final example of this little essay, let me refer to the subject that is most painful for many men: Child custody and fatherhood. If in the case of conflict involving equal violence, the poltically correct answer to “who will be punished” is he; in the case of conflict in court over custody of children, involving equal merit, the politically correct answer to “who will be given the children” is she. If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? Obviously not. The sexes are not equal; women are privileged. To achieve gender equality, men must reach equal probability of winning custody.

One way to effect gender equality in child custody, would be to give each parent custody of same-sex children. There is much to be said for such a rule: Children do grow up; and boys become men while girls become women. Much of our social learning involves imitation. Boys, therefore, have more need of men than women as “role models”; while girls have more need of women than men.

Such a simple rule can also be attacked as “too crude”. A wise judge, whether in a courtroom, a family circle, a tribal circle, or the gates of Paradise, might well take into consideration the moral conduct of both parents and what kind of precepts each would offer for guidance, and what examples for imitation. A good father might raise even a girl, better than a bad mother. An athletic father might raise a child with athletic talent, even a girl, better than a “couch potato” mother.

The test remains the same: If the genders[of the parents] were reversed, would the outcome be the same? When child custody decisions reach equality by that standard, children as well as fathers will benefit.

All the above examples, turn out to show women and girls to be privileged over men and boys. If we were to consider publicly funded education, women and girls would be seen to be privileged there as well. It is difficult in the second decade of the 21st Century, to find an aspect of social life in Europe and North America, that exhibits male privilege,6 but banally easy to find examples of female privilege. The “Gender-Reversal test” looks to be a powerful way to bring that excess of female privilege to wide public attention.

My purpose in writing is not to “say the last word” on the subject. (These days, as two generations ago, women usually claim the last word.) My purpose is to invite and encourage men, and women who truly value gender-equality, to take up the Gender-Reversal test, and apply it often.

If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? If not, how shall we fix the situation so that male and female humans have the equality of opportunities that led many men to support “women’s liberation” fifty years ago? I recall my own first reaction to that phrase, “women’s liberation”, was “Why not? I value liberation for people, and women are people.”

Of couse, my intention was that both sexes would benefit—that liberating women would further liberate men, rather than alter men’s condition in the direction of confinement and slavery. More recently, i have become convinced that total liberation of any population, in an interdependent milieu, necessarily entails the abuse of others with which it shares the space. The “Gender-Reversal test” may yet help us move things toward what mutual liberation is practicable, and equal opportunity.

If not, then “society”, in failing such an important test, may be on the way to flunking out completely.

Notes:

* This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in February 2012, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2012”; though a very few more recent hyperlinks have been added, the text itself does not take account of more recent events or writings. It is posted here on everyman now, because access to the Spearhead site has recently been unreliable.

1. Some readers may be inclined to “quibble”, that the word gender should read sex. However, “sex reversal” can have a connotation of “sex-change”; so idiomatically, “gender-reversal” seems preferable.

2. (Older relative to the age of their daughters)

3. A rather small minority of men aspired to violence, perhaps a majority, to adventure. But during World War II, the Korean War, and to some extent in Vietnam, many American and a few Canadian men were sent to do violence for reasons quite outside their natures.

4. One formulation of “Chivalry” states that a man who slaps another, often with an empty glove, is challenging the man slapped to a duel to the death.

5. The re-definition specifies that rape constitutes “penetration without consent”, and that one who is intoxicated cannot lawfully consent. The male genital organ “sticks out” while the female genital organ is inside the body outline, and thus the word “penetration” specifies that females who initiate intercourse, do not commit rape however drunk or unwilling the man with whom they copulate—indeed, a man on whom a drunken woman forces intercourse, could be defined to have raped her. (A woman could, by this tendentious “definition”, commit rape by “goosing” a man (or another woman) with her thumb, a trowel handle, etc..)

6. Two examples did occur to me: Senior executive office in business and politics, and competitive spectator sports. Elite leaders and elite “commercial athletes” are mostly male. (The easiest explanation of this, is the “flatter distribution curve” of male than of female ability.) Top leadership and big-league sports are both elite-only “areas of work”, to which ordinary men and women cannot realistically aspire—and if male predominance there reflects a larger number of men of extremely high [and extremely low] capability, then it may well derive from fair competition for the top spots, and not from any gender inequality of opportunity.

I do not regard military service as a privilege—it is more nearly a burdensome obligation, and obviously carries a far higher risk of death and maiming, than any work voluntarily taken up or sought by a majority of women.

 

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Vegetable Stock:

..Some Trimmings are Too Good to Just Compost:
(c) 2015, Davd

Carrot tops and tails, onion layers that are starting to dry and too tough to feed to people, herb stems and turnip peelings — can seriously improve the flavour of your next rice or bean dish, soup, sauce or gravy—and that’s only the beginning.

As you advance from being a so-so cook to being one whose contributions are sought after at potlucks, whose dinner invitations are valued even if nobody special will be there (or because the somebody special who is there is you—the cook); one of the skills you need to add to the ordinary recipe book and can opener stuff, is making stock. Stock is the liquid that results when food which is safe, but too scruffy to put on anyone’s dinner plate, is boiled in water to extract its flavour and some of the minerals—even vitamins—it can contribute. Many chefs make stock from bones and trimmings of meat and fish; and it’s a skill worth learning. This blog will present the simpler skill of making vegetable stock.

Chefs who make meat stock, include vegetables and usually herbs in the water. Naturally, the vegetables and herbs they use, are the ones whose looks are least presentable to the customers, such as a carrot, onion, or turnip that was cut by the shovel or fork that harvested it. If the skins of root vegetables are clean enough (of chemicals as well as of dirt) they may be put in the stockpot instead of whole vegetables, or to reduce the number needed.

Most home kitchens don’t process enough bones to make bone stock—except perhaps for the holiday turkeys and hams that many people do cook at home. Some of you reading this probably have boiled the bone and trimmings from a ham or a turkey in a big pot to make what you might have called stock, or broth, or soup base. If you included some herbs and perhaps things like celery leaves and trimmings, doing that doubtless made a better soup.

For “most of the time” when you don’t have bones to boil for their flavour and perhaps that of scraps of meat clinging to those bones, you can still make stock—from vegetables and herbs.

The last few days of April, i cooked white rice using vegetable stock instead of water, added some salted wild mushrooms—and that rice with mushrooms, plus a few early chives, made a delicious grain dish to go with a small steak. Plain white rice would not have tasted nearly as good… and the stock was made from turnip peelings, cabbage, carrot and onion trimmings, second-class oregano and liveche*. All those vegetables and herbs can be grown in Maritime Canada.

The process of making stock is simple: Collect clean vegetable trimmings (they do not have to be as clean as they would be to eat them raw—boiling sterilizes—but the taste of dirt is not what you want! nor is pesticide residue.) Use trimmings from more than one vegetable: Try to have at least three different vegetable flavours in every batch of stock, and generally, the more the better. Vegetables that are very closely related (such as broccoli, cabbage ,and cauliflower) should preferably be counted as one flavour.

Turnips, especially the “yellow” or “Swede” ones, make for good stock: I don’t know exactly why, but stock with turnip peels and trimmings does seem to have a “well rounded flavour”—as will what you cook with it. When you peel clean turnips, save the peelings. Freeze them even, if there are so many that they would go beyond balance with the other vegetables and herbs if put all in one batch. Then when you don’t have turnip peelings around, grab some from that bag in the freezer. Same for celery if you buy it—don’t throw out the trimmings if they’re clean enough for the stockpot. (Few places in Canada can grow celery easily, but most people in Canada live where liveche* will grow.) Carrots seldom need peeling, but the tops and tails are valuable for stock—don’t throw them out either.

Growing your own culinary herbs, especially chives, liveche*, oregano, sage, and savory, will provide you with leftover stems and second-class leaves that will improve the stock you make. Tarragon and thyme are harder to grow; tarragon is good in stock to be used with fish or poultry, and OK with beef and pork and vegetarian foods; thyme gives “strength” to stock for anything that’s not cooked sweet… as does oregano, which for me, is easier to grow. Parsley is good with most anything that’s not cooked sweet, and especially good with seafood… but if you have liveche or celery in your stockpot already, you don’t need the parsley; add a little if you have plenty and the stock will be used with seafood.

If you make your own beer and wine, as i’ve done for a few decades, then you’ll be rinsing the bottles soon after they are emptied, for re-use. Rinse them into a jar, and use that “beer and wine dregs” as part of the water with which you make stock (or all of it, if you’ve many empty bottles and few trimmings, as might be the case after guests have come for dinner, if your vegetables came from a store already trimmed, or on New Year’s Day.) Malt, hops, and wine flavours diversify and improve stock. (If one of your guests left half a glass of wine or beer go flat, you can put that in the stockpot, too—boiling sterilizes—but don’t put spoiled beer or wine there unless you know for sure its flavour will help and not hurt the overall mixture.)

Generally, fruit (sweet) and vegetable (salty or savoury) flavours don’t mix as well as fruits with fruits and vegetables with vegetables. Table wine is an exception; it goes with both. (Botanically, tomatoes are fruit, but in kitchen categories, they’re vegetables. Cucumbers are also called fruits botanically—but i wouldn’t put them in a stockpot. Large numbers of extra cucumbers can be made into a few different good pickles and relishes.) The rule seems to be “Salty with salty and sweet with sweet.”)

When you’ve collected a decent volume of vegetable trimmings and herb stems [or just surplus herbs], put it loosely into a good sized cooking pot, cover with water, usually to about twice the depth of the layer of trimmings, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes—and the stock is done. Next, let it cool, then pour it into a jar [put a lid on it] and refrigerate. If you’ve plenty of time and a place to leave the pot, let the vegetables in it drain a few minutes and pour that last little bit of stock into the jar, too. Then toss the boiled-out vegetable pieces into the small bucket under the sink where you collect compostables. They’ll still contribute that way as well.

When you boil vegetables for the table, the water in which they were boiled can then be made into stock. If you steam vegetables like bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots or cabbage, a few bits of herb and vegetable peels and trimmings in the steaming water, will make it into stock while the carrots, cabbage, etc. are being cooked. The steaming basket separates the scruffy looking flavourings from the nice vegetables that will actually be served, which means you needn’t make the stock in two stages.

After you’ve made several batches of stock, you’ll begin developing an intuitive sense of what flavours will go well together, and what stock mixtures will make the best liquid for what uses. Meanwhile, don’t worry. Stock made “at random” will virtually always improve gravies, sauces, soups, beans [and peas and lentils], and grain, when you use it to replace cooking water.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? More flavour in the sauce or the soup or gravy or grain, is a good thing. Now you know how professional cooks do it… the easier way, anyhow.

_ _ _ _ _

* Liveche (Levisticum officinale) is a tall, perennial relative of celery with a richer, stronger taste than celery itself. The leaves dry well hung in bunches in a shady place (I prefer the woodshed) and can be used instead of celery in sauces, soups and stuffings. It is probably the most desirable herb of all for making stock, though chives, thyme and oregano are also very good.

 

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