Amen, Kim Campbell

… Modesty is a Virtue, and a little more of it than absolutely necessary
is better than too little

(c) 2018, Davd

BBC presenter Katty Kay is wrong, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell is right about modesty. Ms. Kay might be able to interview newsworthy persons wearing a sleeveless dress or blouse; and present news on television, sleeveless. I’m stating here that she could do it even better wearing sleeves.

Bare skin distracts from business, from work that does not involve it in a practical way. We may not need to “cover as far up” as the burka, hijab, and their male analogues cover many Muslims1; but covering our bodies and outward to the middle of our upper arms and legs, and somewhat loosely, seems to me a basic minimum of modesty. On a hot summer day when Bermuda shorts and short sleeved shirts are more comfortable than long pants and long sleeves, I’m inclined to hope that those be decent minimum modesty.

Of course, Ms. Katty Kay could plausibly claim that i am too far beneath her to understand. (Ms. Kim Campbell is above her, but also the target of her dispute — so let us look at what two longer serving women Prime Ministers have worn.)

For public working occasions, the women Prime Ministers of England and Germany nearly always wore wrist length jackets, in the photographs i found via Wikipedia2. The jackets are identifiably women’s clothing, not men’s: Dignified modesty in their dress, and consistently so. Women with power need not, and women who hold high offices consistently do not, show their bare bodies in public.

The most leading, powerful women i could quickly name, dress modestly and look comfortable dressed modestly. While the topic is before us, let’s be thorough and reverse the genders: What if men dressed less modestly?

If we imagine men news presenters wearing sleeveless T-shirts, or sleeveless robes for that matter: Would it be distracting? Very possibly. Credible? Less so than when dressed normally. The listener “has only so much attention to give”, and the wise presenter claims that attention for the subject matter — not his attire — and not her attire, in the case of sensible Prime Ministers.

(I have one photograph on file of future President Barack Obama wearing a sleeveless shirt — as one of a basketball team who are all dressed that way. Mr. Obama dressed for the occasion… and serious thinking work is no occasion for skin display3.)

If i ever make a speech sleeveless, then, it will be outdoors on a hot day4. (I can’t imagine a setting for delivering a report, that wouldn’t be shaded enough for at least short sleeves.)

(Going down-body, let’s mention two obvious anatomical issues very briefly: I won’t demand any woman wear a jock strap, and don’t no woman demand i wear a bra. In most cases, neither support garment need show.)

One book i reviewed in 2016 recounted a vignette of a decent working class man talking about distraction… and since the author was a Lesbian columnist disguised as a man, it seems very safe to trust her account as honest, and not misogynist at all.

Norah Vincent quotes Jim, one of the men with whom she bowled, saying,

I can work with an ugly chick. There’s an ugly chick works in my office with me every day and I’m fine. But every now and then there’s this hot, hot woman who comes into the office, and for the whole time she’s there I’m completely f[….]d. Everything’s out the window. I don’t get s[…] done. All I can do is stare at her like this

he made a dumbfounded expression”. [Vincent, 2006: 355]

Jim is a human being, and though a Feminist once insisted to me that men do not have nor deserve human rights, i’m of the opinion that ordinary working class American Jim, does have; and that his right to work without distraction is morally superior to any woman’s, or man’s, ‘right’ to display her or his body.

Jim, thanks for speaking up about that.

Reference cited:

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

Notes:

1. I seem to notice, admittedly in photographs rather than by on-the-scene observation, that Arab Muslim men cover their bodies about as fully as do the women in the same places. Which is why Ms. Kay asking “would a burka raise my perceived IQ?” is silly. The men and women around her, from Theresa May and Janice Fiamengo to David Cameron and Jon Sopel, do not wear southern Mediterranean garb; and if she does, it will more resemble a costume party than business wear.

2. Her Majesty Elizabeth II wore what to this non-ruling class man, seemed like a ballroom long dress for her Coronation and one meeting with heads of Commonwealth governments. The etiquette involved is “over my head” in a social class sense. In most of her public photographs, she has worn wrist to elbow length sleeves.

3. There might possibly be exceptions in the practice of medicine.

4… or perhaps, extemporaneously in a locker room, something like that.

5… censored to this website’s PG-13 norm.

 

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Don’t Promise Her Happiness!

… Valentine’s Day or any day,
(c) 2018, Davd

Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and romantic extravagance will be “the order of the day”1. Don’t follow the order; don’t follow the custom.

Be unromantic if that’s what it implies; but do be realistic — and realistically, you cannot keep a promise to make somebody else happy.

First, it’s impossible. You might be able to do some things that make happiness more likely, might make it easier; but the most you can do might be to make happiness more likely — not guaranteed. There’s a 4-letter F-word for people who promise the impossible: Fool. (If you prefer 6-letter words, Stupid is close — but Fool is more exact.)

Don’t promise her2 happiness — don’t be a fool.

Second, she might “hold you to it” — she might demand you keep that impossible promise… which obviously, you cannot do.

There is an important lesson for men to learn, or remember, about happiness: Men expect, morally if not practically, to have a reasonable opportunity to pursue happiness… indeed, the US Declaration of Independence, written by men, claims as men’s God-given rights, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Many women seem to expect happiness as their female right; men claim life and liberty, but not happiness, only the right to pursue it… which is more realistic than women’s claim to have a right to it.

Fairy tales often end with “happily ever after”. Few boys take such endings seriously. While i’ve never been a girl, it looks like rather many girls do take them seriously. … ooops!

Ain’t Momma happy,.. ain’t nobody happy! Is an Afro-American folk maxim. I mentioned that to a young, “Euro-Canadian” mother, and her reply was immediate: “Happy wife, happy life.” Please the female head of household, or else.

Would you want to be married to a woman who had your promise to do the impossible, to point to? Would you want to be tangled up with that kind of promise, at all?

Me, i’d rather spend February 14 in church with ashes on my face3.

Notes:

1. Why Valentine’s day for “romance”? They taught me 50-60 years ago St. Valentine was executed by firing squad — in his day, they fired arrows rather than bullets. The arrows through his heart were literally true, and fatal. (Neither Wikipedia’s current article on the Saint, nor the Catholic Encyclopedia, stated that when read in January 2018) Having heard that story “back when”, it’s a day i do not celebrate as has been commercially normal during my life. I’d plan to let the day go by like any other, as last year — except that this year, it’s also Ash Wednesday.

2. I may have missed some recent social change, but last i really noticed, back early in this century, Valentine’s Day was about heterosexual “romance” and if there was a homosexual variation, i didn’t see it, and haven’t since. (Don’t bother to inform me, if.)

3. For the first time i can remember (which might mean “no recent year” rather than “no previous year”) Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is February 14. Instead of “romance”, i expect to spend the day focusing on austerity and self-discipline.

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Blaming the Victim:

… “It Happens all the time.”
(c) 2018, Davd

If you leave your car idling at the curb, run into a convenience store to get a pack of chewing gum, and some chick jumps into the car and steals it, what are the cops going to say when you report the theft?

If you’re walking around a flea market with your wallet bulging your back pocket, and some old lady bumps into you; and while you are apologizing to her, her daughter picks that back pocket, what are the cops going to say when you report the theft?

“You asked for it” and “You should know better” are two likely possibilities. You, the victim of the theft, will almost certainly be “blamed and shamed” for tempting the thief… for making something too easy to steal. And it’s quite true that when i carry my wallet around in public, it’s in a front pants pocket or more likely, the inside pocket of a jacket with a zipper or buttons for protection.

When i stop a vehicle and get out to go shopping, i not only stop the motor and take the key with me — I use that key to lock the vehicle. Which the cops are likely to tell you you should have done if you report such a theft to them.

Innocent trust has become something shameful, you ask? That is one way to look at these vignettes. And shame is one of many sales ploys that those who sell “security” might use to get some of your money… but I would rather live where innocent trust is safe. If the police are right, at least “right in a sense”, to blame the victim of a car theft or a pickpocket; the situation, the milieu, is wrong. It’s better to live where you needn’t be so cautious1.

Another way to look at these vignettes, is to quote a line from a famous prayer:
Lead us not into temptation. There is something wrong with the place where you would have left your car running or your wallet in your back pants pocket, rather than wrong with you. What’s wrong, let me guess, includes that you are among strangers.

Not all strangers are evil, nor even weak when tempted. Suppose that 95% of all the strangers at the shopping mall where i park, are honest and discipline themselves against theft. I should lock the car anyway: There is enough risk that one of the weak or thieving 5% might wander by, while i am in a store, that i ought to lock it.

Likewise, don’t wear your wallet in easy reach of a crowd of strangers, even if 95% of those wandering the open air market are fit to be trusted.

Likewise, by analogy, if you are an actress or other female performer, a teenage girl in school, a “good looking” woman office worker, you should take care not to lead the men who see you into temptation. The analogy includes, then, women who are “sexually harassed” while dressed or behaving less than modestly. As surely as a wallet in a prominent back pocket and a car left on the public street with the keys in the ignition [or even on the front seat], are “asking for it”; so projecting one’s sexuality by dress, posture, how one moves one’s body, scent, “makeup”, and some of you readers can probably imagine other ways, is likewise “asking for it.”

(More surely, in fact. Projecting sexuality is directed at other people. Leaving keys in a private car or a wallet in a prominent back pocket, is perhaps overly trusting of strangers, but it happens entirely within one’s personal territory.)

Once a woman projects her sexuality [or a man projects his, but that’s much less common], if the [wo]man responds to that temptation — it’s not clear who is the victim, nor who is to blame.

The fact that much “entertainment” is substantially erotic, complicates the problem. Try out for a job acting in an erotic production, while dressed and behaving modestly? Might that perhaps be impossible? Might some of the morality underlying modesty, be telling us that erotic entertainment is wrong, after all? Perhaps that is a lesson from the “MeToo and Time’sUp” memes — that the time when erotica is considered legitimate entertainment, should be ending. Perhaps it should never have begun.

Me, i’m on the side of modesty, along with “Jim” who found attractive women working near him distracted him from doing his job (Vincent, 2006: 35); along with traditional Christian teachings; and along with schools that require, even attempt, “dress codes”.

If that means erotic entertainment becomes as improper as smoking in restaurants and driving with a mobile phone in one hand — that’s OK with me. I’ve abstained from all three for many years; in fact, all my life. In fact, i believe erotic entertainment itself is a kind of sexual harassment.

This blog began because Internet security, and electronic security generally, is looking more and more like an endless, losing battle. I recently spent several hours “updating” the operating system of the computer i am using to write this blog, because of an especially serious “CPU bug” (or is that, “bugs”?) that can be exploited via the Internet (and computer networks generally.) Much more tedious, that “updating”, than stopping the car motor and locking the car, or putting my wallet in an inside jacket pocket. Not at all the way i wanted to spend a Friday afternoon and evening.

If you look after a computer’s security, never mind the security of several computers, you’ll read articles blaming those who fail to protect themselves against wrongdoing by strangers. Does that look analogous to a bulging wallet or a car left running? — it does to me! Once again, the victim of wrongdoing is blamed for failure to spend significant effort and perhaps money, on protecting her/himself. And as in the case of victims of car theft and pocket picking, the victims seldom if ever use that “Blaming the Victim” phrase.

I chose to use opening examples that would have been shamed when i was one third my present age, and have nothing to do with these Janie-come-lately threats. I chose to use examples for which men were more shamed than women, back then and perhaps still. My reasons were to demonstrate that men as well as women can readily become “blamed victims”, and in situations that are not at all sexual.

The computer and Internet examples — and the long waits and security checks required when you travel by airliner — indicate that security is becoming a worse problem. The car keys and wallet examples indicate that security has been something of a problem for decades and even centuries. The sexual-harassment reaction doesn’t indicate either one: It might well indicate that the “sexual freedom” of the late 20th Century, which began when oral contraceptives and the Baby Boom population bubble coincided in the late 1960s, is abruptly ending.

Brinton’s famous Anatomy of Revolution (1965) posited that sexual liberty was normal during the time a revolutionary movement was taking power; and that prudery was normal when that same revolution was consolidating power. When a Women’s March article on the CBC website carries the title “The Future is Female” that looks to me like consolidating power (but not like equality).

So we may be in a time of rapid, even abrupt moral change from pro-sexual to anti-sexual — and if “anti-sexual” works out to blessing monogamous fidelity and condemning promiscuity, that’s fine with Christian old me. Among other benefits that such “anti-sexuality” will bring with it, are lower rates of “STD” infection, and less cost to taxpayers.
Sexual prudence is good for the men who are prudent [and for prudent women also]; and for public health. If things go beyond prudence to prudery for a while — well, prudery is safer than promiscuity.

Safer from accusations of sexual-harassment, as well as from infection.

References cited:

Blatchford, Christie, 2016 “Some of Us Escaped the Groping Back Then“. National Post Full Comment, October 14. Her recollections match mine—the sexually aggressive were a small minority of men [and of women].

Brinton, Crane, 1965: The Anatomy of Revolution. NY: Vintage.

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

Notes:

1. . The places i know about, where you needn’t be so cautious, are all small towns, villages, and rural areas — which is not the same as saying every small town, village, and rural area is that safe.

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Modest[!]

…even Prim and Proper: Defensive [and better] New Year’s Resolutions for 2018
(c) 2018, Davd

I resolve to dress modestly when in public, during this year 2018.” (Did it in 2017; should be easy to continue—for me.)

I resolve to respect modesty in others.” (Likewise.)

I have read thousands of words about “MeToo” and other accusations of sexual harassment, in 2017 (especially the second half of.) Some accusations, it seems fair to surmise, are true. It seems equally fair to surmise that some are contrived to various degrees: Some exaggerated, some with context misrepresented, some leaving out “teasing”, some outright lies.

We men have had a problem, which most of us did not cause, shoved in our faces: Part of that problem, as Lesbian columnist Norah Vincent learned when she disguised herself and talked to men as if one of us, is that many women are not modest enough: Men find displays of women’s sexuality, distracting. If women were not projecting their sexuality, men’s sexuality would remain dormant in situations where it ought to1.

This old-fashioned solution to the problem is called modesty. It works (if not perfectly, at least far better than cosmetics and provocative clothing, both of which are sold far more to women than to men. Which ought to teach us something.)

So, let us regular, seldom or never harassing men resolve modesty as our contribution to minimizing harassment (and minimizing our risk of being harassed with accusations.) Let us dress and behave modestly (as most men i see, already do.) Let us urge women who do not dress and behave modestly, to do so.

Try this as a definition of modesty for purposes of argument over what counts as “sexual harassment”:
Modest dress covers all parts of the body, excepting the face and hands, that the individual does not want to allow others to touch.
(Modest conduct may take more words to define, but analogously. This blog will focus on clothing and cosmetics.)

Muslims are going to find this definition convenient enough… as are Mennonites, Hutterites, and most conservative Christians. Most men will, as long as we are not sunbathing or playing active sports2. Many, many, many, many women are likely to find it either uncomfortable, or a directive to cover their shoulders, knees, and quite possibly portions of their upper torsos.

Good. Immodest dress (and conduct, and cosmetics) distract. Designed to, they are. At work, at school, at church, at public meetings and even hockey games, sexual distraction takes away from the purpose of the gathering. It’s more socially efficient to be modest.

It’s quite possible to be modest; i have seen hundreds of women and girls be quite modest and enjoy their activities at the same time. (Most men, to repeat, are quite modest in public.)

Mennonite and Hutterite women such as i saw at a grocery store in Vegreville, Alberta last spring and summer, won’t have much difficulty. They dressed modestly in public as a matter of course.

I did not call them, nor their clothing, ugly. Their dresses were well tailored and “looked good on them” … but not “lusty”. There was no doubt that the women and girls wearing those dresses were female—and no hint they were “projecting their sexuality”. Modest, becoming feminine attire is possible; i have seen hundreds of Alberta women wearing it…and hundreds more outside Alberta; the Mennonite and Hutterite women’s dress was distinctive in being modest, and somewhat old-fashioned, in their special style and without exceptions.

Want to prevent workplace sexual harass ment? Make workplace sexuality unwelcome. Only especially indecent men—or women—will take initiatives that modest dress and conduct have signalled are not welcome.

Want to benefit the public treasury while supporting modesty? Tax the means of being immodest. Governments tax alcoholic drink, cigarettes, and plan to tax cannabis. Cosmetics and immodest clothing are also fair game.

Want a morally upright New Year’s Resolution? Resolve to be modest in dress and speech (and gesture.) It’s easier to keep than resolving, say, to lose ten kilos if you are overweight. It’s your contribution to ending the sexual harassment problem (a problem to which women’s immodesty has contributed more than average men have.) It’s your license to tell women who are projecting their sexuality, to cover up, tone down, and desist from distracting you.

That’s a good pay-off in virtue for a reasonable effort… and a good defence if anyone were thinking of accusing you of impropriety.

Notes:

1… “nearly always,” one might qualify. There may be abnormal cases; but abnormal means what it says.

2… or in sauna—but in sauna, modesty has a different set of rules, and men and women don’t go into the steam room together unless they are close enough relatives to have shared toilet training… which also involves baring parts of the body normally covered.

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Cooking Breakfast for my Best Friend

… with love and loyalty
(c) 2017, Davd

“If you want love and loyalty,” i read from some Feminist source or sources, “don’t get a wife, get a dog.”

If any of you readers has a citation for that sneer, please provide. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were several variations in the wording, all confessing that women don’t treat marriage as loyally as good dogs treat their close human relationships.

(Let’s edit that “women” into “all too many women….” Let’s allow for the possibility that faithful, loyal, co-operative women exist, even by the millions. Let’s make a major project, of “seeing to it that” all children born from now on, are born to faithful, loyal, co-operative mothers1 — but let’s not forget what The Sneer is telling us: Millions of other women are not faithful, loyal, and co-operative.2)

My own experience fits with the Sneer: I have received love and loyalty from several good dogs3 during my 75 years, and i’m divorced (at her initiative), not married.

The main body of this blog is about giving more back to Fritz, my faithful, loyal, co-operative canine companion of these days, while recognizing that he’s not a human. It began, i suppose, with that old phrase “a dog’s breakfast.”

Fritz eats bones, and enjoys eating them. I don’t. He has a lifespan that i can hope will be more than one-seventh of the human lifespan, but won’t get longer than one-fifth. Many delights of my table wouldn’t interest him: Apples, broccoli, carrots, dill, endive, … and i won’t take you through the rest of the alphabet; you get the idea. I can cook up a real treat for Fritz’ breakfast, using mostly foods i wouldn’t eat anyway; and more mornings than not, this year and the past few years, that’s what i have done.

If i had a big, serious kitchen and big, serious stock pots, i might boil bones sometimes and make soup stock. It’s a good practice and adds glucosamine, a protein valuable to joint health, to your diet. In fact, it’s been more than two years since i had a big, serious kitchen, and i don’t get enough bones at one time to make that soup stock. I do get a few from time to time, and Fritz gets the flavour and glucosamine they produce.

The fat i trim off pork chops and some cuts of beef, sometimes even from chicken legs, would be bad for me, so goes the conventional wisdom. Fritz, with his shorter lifespan, probably doesn’t have time to develop clogged arteries from eating lots of fat, and he definitely enjoys eating it: I avoid a risk to my health by adding a pleasure to his breakfast.

Meat, especially meat that gets frozen for storage and later thawed for cooking, oozes “juice” that all too often is thrown away. I save that “juice”, if it’s at all practical to save it, and boil it the next morning with some fat and maybe some bones4, in a small cooking pot. If the bone, fat, or “juice” had started to decay, the boiling will kill any bacteria involved and minimize the risk to Fritz’ digestion. It also flavours the water, which is also important.

I boil Fritz’ dog food enhancements in a minimum of water, and when they have boiled for a minute or two, i take them off the heat and add about twice the amount of water they boiled in. That reduces the temperature to where i can put a finger or thumb into it without getting burned. I figure cooling the water that much, will prevent its heat from degrading any vitamins in the dry dog food [“kibble”] that i then put into the water.

Then i let the kibble swell and soften by taking up the water… a matter of 10-15 minutes in my experience, though if i’m busy paying attention to something else, the dog food and enhanced water can sit half an hour with no harm. Fritz often reminds me if i’ve let his special breakfast wait longer than the usual 10-15, which is a good (and true) indication that he enjoys it a lot more than he does generic, “nutritionally complete” dry dog food.

“Dry and wet are best for your pet” is a slogan i’ve seen fairly often recently. I began cooking Fritz’ dog’s breakfast months, probably years before i first saw it; and i’ve normally kept the relatively boring, dry kibble available for him after feeding him that special breakfast. If he’s really hungry, he’ll eat dry kibble; the special breakfast is — special. A treat… and also, more bone, meat [juices] and fat than dry dog food alone would provide him.

Reading the nutritional part of a [kibble] dog food bag, i see that minimum protein, fat, and calcium contents are declared; which implies to me that it would be good for the dogs eating that food, for it to contain even more. Making up Fritz’ special breakfasts, i add meat protein, animal fat, and sometimes, bone calcium and phosphorus that, i’m convinced, make the food more nourishing as well as more enjoyable.

It’s a small part of what i ought to be doing for my best friend.5

Notes:

1. Yes, this project will entail a lot of sexual restraint on the part of us men; and deserves to be the subject of a future blog.

2. How many millions of women are best described by The Sneer (as much less faithful, loyal, and co-operative than a good dog); and how many millions are faithful, loyal, and co-operative (worth marrying), i cannot usefully estimate, at least not yet.

3. I have met with dogs who were short on love or loyalty; and women (including my sister and grandmother) who had them in abundance. Overall, in this Feminist-so-far century, and for that matter in the second half of the last, faithful, loyal, co-operative women have made up a significantly smaller fraction of all women, than faithful, loyal, co-operative dogs have been, of all dogs. The Sneer has too much truth in it.

4. Chicken and turkey leg and wing bones, and fish bones, don’t go into the water; it’s a general rule not to feed them to dogs because they might have sharp ends that could poke a hole into a dog’s digestive tract. Not a risk to take.

As it cooks, meat juice tends to turn a tan colour and firm up. Stirring the pot as it approaches boiling, including scraping meat juice off the edges and bottom, will mix that meat juice into the water and make the dog’s breakfast more appealing through and through.

5. I do give him small treats when i eat meat (but not nearly as much relative to my portion, as his weight is relative to mine) and go walking with him when i would rather stay in out of the rain. Most important, i tell him, often, things like “I love you, my friend”, and the classic, the sentence i spoke to his predecessor and mentor George as we headed across Canada in 2005: I’m glad you’re here.

Marriage will be back where it belongs, when most men can honestly tell their wives, daily, I’m glad you’re here… and when most men hear that same sentiment from their wives without hinting for it. Meanwhile, there is all too much truth in The Sneer, and i don’t expect to see marriage back where it belongs before i die. I thank my Creator that i do have love and loyalty in my daily life; and it is only fair that i reward it with the work of cooking a special breakfast as well as with words.

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Remembrance Day Lesson:

…Consider the Effects of War on Men’s [and Social] Health
(c) 2017, Davd

The first poppy i bought this year fell off my jacket on the second or third day i wore it. This wasn’t the first year that happened, nor the second, nor the third year. Surely by now, 99 years and a few days after the Great Armistice, the people who want us to wear those red fabric poppies could have figured out a way to keep them from falling off our clothing.

I found one somebody else had lost, on the ground, and put it on my jacket with a safety pin.

Squads of small children, adolescents and adults, positioned themselves in front of the busiest stores (and busiest public buildings generally) to make sure everyone must either make a donation and pin a poppy on their jackets, or look disrespectful of the self-sacrifice of many thousands of soldiers.

In the week before Remembrance Day, the images of soldiers, mostly men, saluting, marching, sometimes even fighting, may actually take up more newspaper space than advertising of things for sale.

The point of the ceremonies, the big advertisements, was to honour soldiers, especially those who died in war. Most of those soldiers were men. This day when men much more than women were honoured — it was for suffering and dying. What troubles me about that, is not that so few women suffered and died, but that suffering and dying — and killing and imposing suffering in obedience to orders — were treated as rightful ways for men to contribute to social good.

I am troubled that i heard so very little resolve to prevent millions more men from suffering and dying in future. At least after the Titanic sank, there were new rules requiring more lifeboat capacity.

More than greater risk and pain for women, we need reduced risk and pain for men.

November, spelled Movember after an Australian slang word for moustache, is supposed to be the month for men especially, and for everyone, to give thought and effort in support of men’s health. Remembrance Day reminds us all too clearly, that war is worse for men’s health even than alcoholic drink, cannabis, cigarettes1 (and sexual promiscuity.)

World peace would do more for men’s health than any medication, any surgical procedure, even more than the elimination of junk food and TV.

– – – – – Notes – – – – –

1. Caffeine in moderation can be good for men’s (and women’s) health; many say that alcoholic drink and cannabis can also.

 

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HOTdog Relish

a livelier use for green tomatoes.
(c) 2017, Davd

In much of Canada, this first week of October if not before1, the first frost has come and the outdoor tomato plants have died — or maybe many of their leaves have died and they are struggling until another frost finishes killing them. In all of Canada, that day will come before the year ends, and it’s only in tiny fortunate patches, here and there, (if anywhere) where it won’t come before November.

When the cold reality of a Canadian autumn kills your tomato plants — unless you have been very, very diligent about pinching off the late summer flower shoots and very, very fortunate in estimating when the killing frost will arrive — there are likely to be dozens of green tomatoes too small and immature to ripen in a cool room or garage, and too good, really, to throw on the compost heap. Especially too good to leave to rot, given the price of relishes in the stores.

Maybe you’ve made a batch or two of George’s Relish, while the tomatoes were producing really well, with surplus tomatoes and the outer leaves of the cabbages that went into the sauerkraut crock… but now, you expect your family and a few favoured friends will eat all the red tomato crop as fast as it gets ready.

When the green tomatoes are what you have to work with, and maybe some half grown sweet peppers, they can become a very different relish from George’s, one that gives more zip to a hot-dog sausage or some similarly mild food. You don’t have to make bland green tomato relish unless bland is what you really want. You can make a hot dog relish that’s HOT.

HOTdog is as the name implies: Spicier than the usual hot-dog relish; but of the same greener, lighter colour and taste. It goes better with the light taste of most “hotdog” sausages, especially perhaps, with “chicken wieners”… but it isn’t bland; it livens up that long sandwich somewhat. Frankfurters and wieners2 are bland, at least in their North American forms; HOTdog relish helps fix that.

I’ve used the HOTdog technique to make use of surplus green tomatoes for well over a decade. Like George’s, it has repeatedly given superior performance… and like George’s, it’s a “technique” rather than an exact procedure. Reading what follows should give you an idea what to do with those green tomatoes, and what to have on hand when you start. You can make half or a quarter as much it that’s all the green tomatoes you have to use; half again or twice as much if you have a bucketful and big enough pots. Your own tastes can adapt the seasonings to your liking.

A good HOTdog relish should have more green tomato than onion;
‣ more sugar than vinegar;
‣ celery seed, lovage, or celery trimmings;
‣ paprika, coriander, mustard, bay leaf — and distinctively, hot pepper.
Fresh sweet peppers, maybe undersized because of those frosts, are good if you have them (but if i had to pay two dollars a pound for them in a store, i’d more likely increase the paprika powder.)

(I have used a very hot pepper powder which i bought cheaply on sale and which may have been originally grown for Indian cooking; i refer to it as cayenne because it’s that hot. If you decide to substitute jalapeños, for instance, expect to use quite a bit more volume than one t[easpoon]. Likewise, if you have some celery leaves left over from stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey, and decide to use them instead of lovage or celery seed, expect to use more.)

Since this is a technique, the first time you cook with it, give yourself time to think about what you’re putting together and about what you’re tasting as a result. Wouldn’t hurt to cook it up thoughtfully the second and third time, too….

– – – –

Vegetables:
‣ up to 4 l chopped green tomatoes, salted, ‘fridged3 overnight, drained

‣ up to 7 chopped strong medium onions ‣ 1-2 chopped sweet peppers if handy.

Seasonings:
‣ 3 cups each, of vinegar and sugar (I suggest tasting after you’ve put in 2 cups of vinegar and then adding as much of the third cup as “tastes right”.)

‣ 2 T pickling-spice [coriander, bay, hot-pepper, mustard seeds, ¿fennel?, a touch of allspice and-or clove, peppercorns]

‣ up to one T ground mustard, ‣ 4T celery seed4, ‣ t cayenne, ‣ 1-2T paprika powder

Technique:
‣ Chop the onions, green tomatoes, and peppers, add salt in a large bowl, stainless steel pot, or plastic pail. Cover, let stand overnight. Drain.

Mix the dry herbs and spices with the vinegar in a kettle, add the sugar, bring gently to boiling, stirring often until the sugar has dissolved and then stirring occasionally; and simmer, barely bubbling, for about 20 minutes.

‣ Add the salt-softened chopped vegetables, bring back to boiling, simmer at least 10 minutes. Simmered fairly long, say 15-30 minutes, the mixture will probably become reddish, with improving flavour.

‣ Ladle into jars (it’s always good to have plenty of total jar volume available, including 1-3 small jars so nearly all the relish you make can be sealed to let the flavour mellow and mature); adjust their lids, process in boiling water 5 minutes [from return to boil]

‣ Remove the jars from the boiling water, cool on wooden boards, wire racks. or a towel folded at least double, check for seal when they have cooled.

Like most relishes, HOTdog improves with age. The amount left after filling the last jar, the contents of a jar that didn’t seal, will be good. The relish you open in the winter, the following spring, the next summer, will be better — at least, it has tasted better to us.

Notes:

1. . Alberta’s weather forecasts, from Red Deer, Camrose, and Stettler north past Edmonton and Highway 16, call for a snowstorm beginning — overnight October 1 to 2. Vegreville’s forecast, for instance, calls for -7C Monday night. Saskatoon is forecast to see -2, Tuesday and Wednesday nights; Miramichi NB, -2 on Monday night.

I surveyed several correspondents from Atlantic Canada, across to central Alberta the last week of September; a majority were having their first autumn frosts that week, or had seen frost the week before. Generally, first frost comes later on Vancouver Island than anywhere else in Canada except perhaps southern Ontario. (This year, Ontario as far north and west as Thunder Bay, has been hotter than normal in September due to the hurricanes near the Gulf of Mexico, a Thunder Bay correspondent told me… but the farms in the Slate and Kaministiquia valleys had seen “a couple of frosts”, still.)

The forecast for Nanaimo includes historic low temperatures back to 1948, and it’s interesting to read that September 27 is the first day I’ve noticed that a temperature definitely below 0C was recorded in any of those 69 years. The lowest-ever temperatures for the 26th and 28th were above 0, the 25th, 29th and 30th, exactly 0 … and then in the first 5 days of October, one 0.0, two -2,8, -1.1, and -0.6. The possibility of frost increases abruptly as the nights become longer than the days.

2. Wieners, historically, are the sausages most common in or identified with Wien, or Vienna as it usually is written in English. Frankfurters, similarly, are the sausages most common in or identified with Frankfurt. In American usage, which most Canadians follow, the two are not reliably distinguished, and might as well be treated as the same (unless you’re speaking Deutsch.)

3. In autumn weather, the Great Outdoors can very often serve as a refrigerator: Put the stainless steel pot or plastic pail outside on the north or west side of the house, covered against fruit flies and mice (though i expect the vinegar would repel most mice), and to be sure, with a fist sized, clean rock or similar amount of weight on top of the cover; and overnight, most nights, it will be cool.

4. You can substitute about the same amount of crumbled, dried lovage (liveche, Levisticum officinale) if you grow that herb. You can also substitute celery leaf (of which you should expect to use more.)

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George’s Harvest Relish

… with strong good flavours
(c) 2017, Davd

Some time ago, i published a Chili recipe, with the comment, “While pea soup and even pintos with oregano and chili powder, aren’t distinctively men’s [nor women’s] cooking, chili is very often seen as masculine.

This month, as i edited three relish recipes for a friend, i noticed that all three, and this one especially, differ from average relishes by having a stronger, more robust flavour. One might say the same thing about chili. Perhaps that’s what androcentric cooking is, in essence: Vigorous rather than delicate flavourings.

George’s Relish is named for one of the four excellent canines i have had the honour and pleasure to supervise during my adult life. Chosen by my son Erik as a Chow puppy from the Tseshaht reserve near Port Alberni, George showed the first time he really ran, that he was not all-Chow. He ran with the beautifully graceful, efficient lope of a wolf — which gave us a good guess as to what was his sire.

He matured into a stocky but not fat, tall but not lean animal with a smiling face and a strong reddish cast to his coat. In character and in health, he was hardy, good-natured, robust, vigorous.

“George’s relish” began as a variation on “green tomato Chow Chow”; it was developed to use dark brassica leaves (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc. …) whose flavor might be too strong as a dinner vegetable or salad ingredient; and red at least as much as green tomatoes1.

Considering its reddish colour and its excellent, robust taste — it had to remind us of George; and as we recognized its excellence, we decided it deserved the honour of being named for him.

George’s Relish is both savory and sweet; and like all my food blogs, George’s is a “technique” rather than an exact procedure. Reading what follows should give you an idea how to make it; and your personal likes and preferences can then adjust the specifics. You might want more tomatoes, more brassica leafage, more onion, more or less of the spices.

George’s features the darker vegetable inputs: Kale or outer cabbage leaves, rather than centre-of-the-head cabbage; red and half-red tomatoes, at least as much as green; and some molasses. It seems that the dark Brassica should exceed the onion and the tomato should be as much or almost as much as the onion; and the [5%] vinegar should be 70% to 80% as much as the sugar. [going without paste, more tomato may turn out to be called-for; and unless tomato paste is cheap, that might be the way to go.]

This is a technique for good cooks who know how to taste, smell, and adjust.

–  – –  –

Vegetables:
‣ Dark cabbage, kale, and-or broccoli leafage — a plastic grocery carry-out bag full2
‣ 1 litre chopped green and red tomatoes (double to two litres, and bias to red, and you can eliminate the tomato paste if that is expensive)
‣ 6 medium onions, chopped

Seasonings:
‣ 7 c sugar , ‣ 1/4 c pickling salt   ‣ generous 1/2 c molasses ‣ 4-5 c 5% vinegar
‣ at least 1.5 t ground turmeric [have typically used 2+]
‣ 4 T mustard seeds and ‣ 2T prepared mustard   ‣ 3 T mixed pickling spices

Optionals:
‣ 6 green and 6 red peppers, coarsely chopped (or use paprika powder and more green+red tomato
‣ 4+ cups tomato paste [could sub ketchup or increase tomato above]
‣ 1 t ground ginger

Technique:
‣ Combine cabbage-kale-&c, onion, tomatoes, peppers [if], and salt in a large bowl or plastic pail. Cover, let stand overnight. Drain.

‣ Mix prepared mustard with a little vinegar in a kettle, add remaining vinegar, sugar, molasses, turmeric, ginger, mustard seeds, pickling spices; bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes.

‣ Add the salt-softened chopped vegetables, bring back to boiling, simmer at least 10 minutes [in practice, it has been more like 1/2 hour, with more molasses and spice being added after initial tastings.]

‣ Ladle into jars [7 pints was the original estimate; but i suggest you have at least 4 litres total jar volume available] adjust their lids, process in boiling water 5 minutes [from return to boil]

‣ Remove the jars from the boiling water, cool on wooden boards, wire racks. or towel folded at least double, check for seal when they have cooled.

Like most relishes, George’s improves with age. The amount left after filling the last jar, the contents of a jar that didn’t seal, will be good. The relish you open in the winter, the following spring, the next summer, will be better — at least, it has tasted better to us.

Notes:

1… while HOT-dog was developed to use green tomatoes. Here on Vancouver Island, where Erik and i developed both of them, the gardening season runs long; in good years we picked red ripe outdoor tomatoes through July, August, September, and October. Of the green tomatoes we picked at season’s end, we were able to ripen many indoors. We had less need to find uses for green tomatoes than gardeners with shorter growing seasons.

2. Stuff the bag full “hanging in the air,” so to speak. You don’t need to put it on a table and cram it full under pressure.

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Brotherly Love

… a Report and an Encouragement
(c) 2017, Davd

It occurred to me this week, that just less than twelve years ago, i began a visit to a Benedictine monastery in Saskatchewan. There i met brotherly love, philios free of eros, something i had seen and heard “out in the world”, but more mixed up with other motives and thoughts and feelings than it was in the monastery.

It was not a love of intense feelings. You could call the feelings strong, in the sense that they were able to weather difficulty and disagreement; they were durable feelings — but not excited nor excitable. Three weeks in a household of perhaps two dozen men, were among the most peaceful and also the most enjoyable of that year — and it wasn’t a bad year.

The qualities i best remember of that experience, are truth, goodwill, and equality.

I don’t remember any deceit among those monks, Novices, and Candidates. What i heard might have been untrue by mistake, but never by intention. What they said was what they sincerely meant (and the mistakes were very few, so nearly always, it was factually true.) For 20 days, I didn’t need to guard my listening against deceit, and that made thinking and learning far easier.

With a few exceptions which i won’t detail here, the Brothers all wished one another well and acted accordingly. Christian teaching forbids vengeance and admonishes believers to cleanse themselves of rancor. These men were not perfect; but they were much closer than the average “out in the World”; and the social atmosphere of goodwill extended to us inquirers. Many were the times some Brother, occasionally some Novice or Candidate, offered help with my inquiries. I don’t recall even one effort to exploit me.

(As an older inquirer, who had advanced education and a great deal of relevant knowledge, i may have spoken with the Brothers in a more equal manner than young Inquirers should have done. I may have had a better perspective on the fellowship among the Brothers, than a young lad.

Then again, the young Inquirer might have enjoyed the same relative equality that i did, in those aspects where his skill level was relatively equal to that of the monk with whom he was speaking or working. I never got the experience to compare.)

The men, whose ages ranged from the 20s into the 90s, spoke and worked with me as equals. I might be told something i said was in error (it didn’t happen often, but it did happen) but not scorned nor shamed — rather, gently corrected1.

In Benedictine terms, i was not equal: I would be put through the usual Candidate and Novice stages before becoming an accepted and equal Brother of the Order and the Abbey (had i been received into the community2.) The way I spoke with the Brothers, however, was much more nearly equal than the way i spoke with, for instance, bureaucrats. Equality was the foundation characteristic; inequality was a temporary condition of the learner, and limited (that I noticed) to subject areas where he was indeed inferior.

A dozen years later, i remember brotherly love better than i remember the liturgical ritual that was the main work of the monks. Had i stayed as a Candidate, i believe i would have left the following year, or the year after that, perhaps for some other religious household with a more working set of priorities … because repeating the same ritual daily, is something i might do for five minutes but not for five hours.

Brotherly love is not exclusive to monasteries. “Old Army buddies” and men who have worked together for months and even years in a remote camp, often have it. It can be found in the story of the self rescue of the Shackleton Antarctic expedition. Turnbull, as i read in The Forest People, found it among pygmy men in the Congo basin rainforest. I found it in a Boy Scout troop when i was a large boy. As I wrote in a book review published here in 2015, men bond by sharing hard co-operative work and a little adversity. These Benedictine Brothers seem to have bonded that way, though their work did not seem so very hard when i was there. Perhaps determination to co-operate made up for a lack of adversity.

If you have much brotherly love in your life today, be glad — but don’t think of it as the privilege of a fortunate few. It might be rare today; but (i not only contend but insist) it is normal to the human male condition. If there are very many men in Canada today, whose lives have little brotherly love — that is a sign of bad social health in Canada (and it seems, in many other “developed countries”.)

Tentatively, I would offer brotherly love as an important indicator of personal social health — if your life contains much brotherly love, it is socially healthy3. If it contains little or none, you really ought to reshape it, if you can, toward having more! If you cannot reshape your life to have abundant brotherly love, you are being somehow abused!

Brotherly love ought to be a human right (for male humans, obviously. What the female equivalent might be, i won’t try to say, not having been female.) I seriously urge you who read this, to pay attention to the brotherly love in your lives (if you haven’t been doing already), and to use it as a criterion for making life choices.

You’ll be better for it, i do believe.

Notes:

1. I did not accept all the corrections, nor was my failure to return as a Candidate based in some correction i had not yet accepted (and might not ever accept.) Disagreement on matters other than the essentials of the Faith, was not encouraged but neither was it condemned.

2. The reason I was not blessed to return as a Candidate, and continue my inquiries for several months before they and i decided whether i would become a Novice, was that i had with me, and would not abandon, an old and beloved dog. The Abbey would not allow me to have old George with me in the main monastery; nor allow a Candidate to live in a hermitage (of which two at least were available) so I could keep George there.

Ironically, then, something very close to brotherly love, for George who had no other human to feed and protect him, excluded me from the community. I do believe that my loyalty to George had and has Creator’s blessing; and that my weeks in the Abbey were blessed not as a path to becoming a monk, but as “participant observation” of — brotherly love.

3. Yes, there are other contributors to social health; the statement isan oversimplification taken by itself … but i cannot recall a life with abundant brotherly love , that was socially unhealthy. A good marriage contributes to and indicates, social health — and from divorce statistics, it seems good marriages are much scarcer than they were a few decades ago. Liberty, i believe, contributes to and indicates, social health; and we have much less liberty than a few decades ago.

 

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Men Being a Visible Minority

… Some Lessons, Learning Tasks (and Opportunities?) for Us
(c) 2017, Davd

Women outnumber men in the Canadian population, and have for decades. I recently wrote arguing that rather than replace “he / him” as the generic human pronoun, with an awkward plural1, “she / her” should be employed where men are a small minority and women, a dominant majority2. “They / them” should refer to plural humans; it is worth knowing if one has heard or read reference to one person, or more than one.

Feminism has won, at least for the present, its battle for a gynocentric view of human nature. Schools have been gynocentric environments through the first 8-12 grades, for decades; in this century, universities are as well. Women dominate Government and financial bureaucracies. There remain areas of work which are predominately male, such as commercial fishing, garbage collection, and logging, but the image of a government official as male, is now quite false empirically. “The garbage man” as an expression, still fits the demographics of the work; “The tax man” is now false.

Men and women can rather reliably be distinguished by sight and by voice. Much as some members of racial minorities “passed for white” in the 20th Century, some men could “pass for women”, and some women could “pass for men”, today—but only with effort. As surely as “Afro” and “Asian” minorities are visible—so also are men.

Referring to ourselves, to men, as a visible minority, will i believe, help us understand our true present social condition, and adapt to it. It will “out” women’s advantages and privileges, not entirely but substantially.

With Government bureaucracies in particular, and bureaucracies generally, being women’s domains rather than men’s, we should give up, quickly!, any notion that the bureaucratic personality is masculine. Indeed, we should give up any notion that it is “gender neutral”. A commanding majority of bureaucrats, and of occupants of the feeder positions for all the most senior jobs in government, are women.  Most of those women have menstrual cycles3. Other women are likely sensitive to those cycles; many men are not4.

Menstrual synchrony, the phenomenon of women who live together having a common menstrual cycle, is fairly well known to occur in women’s residences. What of women who work together and do not live with other women, or with only one or two in their household? Might there be menstrual synchrony in offices where mostly women work? Might bureaucracies have common menstrual cycles, such that one could predict when in those cycles a request is most and least likely to succeed?

Imaginably — and referring to bureaucrats as she [etc.] will help us menstrually unequipped men, to be attentive to the subtle indications of the menstrual cycle’s progress, and adapt our conduct to it.

Should we have to do this?

Should Afro-Americans have had to be attentive to the subtle indications of “white” receptiveness or hostility to their truths and their requests? Morally, no. Politically and at work, “to get by”, yes. Our situation is now more like that of Afro-America 60 years ago, than like that of an “equal” ethnic group such as Irish- or German-Canadians….

… and like Afro-America 60 years ago, we are more visible than Irish- or German-Canadians. It is easier to see that the Premier of Saskatchewan is male, than that his ancestry is substantially Germanic. It is obvious that the Premier of Ontario is female; i don’t know what her ethnic ancestry is.

The political usage of “visible minority” does not include us. The factual truth is that men constitute a visible minority of government officials, of newly designated lawyers, of bureaucrats generally, of medical students and newly licensed physicians… as well as of the general population.

For all this century and more than a few years at the conclusion of the last, it has been advantageous to be born a girl rather than a boy in Canada, the USA, much of Europe, … in the “developed world” other perhaps than Japan and Russia. We are a minority in social prospects, as well as in number.

Failing to acknowledge that truth, failing to treat us men as a visible minority that overlaps racial minorities, will not improve our situation. Acknowledging our disadvantaged situation may not quickly improve it, but it offers better hope in the medium and long term, than living a lie.

Notes:

1. To use “they / them” as a generic singular pronoun, destroys the useful information that a plural pronoun contained: That it refers to two or more people. Contriving a gender neutral singular pronoun would seem to have merit. Until a gender neutral singular pronoun be accepted, “she /her” is the most appropriate generic pronoun for members of cohorts where men are a small minority and women, a dominant majority.

2. To quantity the clause, “men are a small minority and women, a dominant majority”, i use a 2:1 criterion: If women outnumber men by more than 2:1 in an occupation, the proper generic pronoun in referring to that occupation, is she (her, hers, etc.) Reverse it, and the proper generic pronoun in referring to an occupation in which men outnumber women by more than 2:1, is he (him, his, etc.) Indeed, many people refer generically to nurses and schoolteachers as she, and to loggers and garbage collectors as he.

This criterion, however, fails to provide generic pronouns for occupations (and hobbies, sports, consumer stereotypes, etc.) which are neither predominately male nor predominately female.

3. Presently, women in government bureaucracy average young enough, that probably most have menstrual cycles; as the workers age, more will be menopausal and post menopausal.

4. I may be less sensitive than most men, since my Mother had “surgical menopause” for medical treatment of some ovarian irregularity, when i was very young, and my sister’s puberty occurred a fairly short time before i completed regular school and moved away to attend university.

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