Bureaucracy as an Ill Effect of Job Employment:

Double Burdens, Social Inefficiency, and …
2014, Davd

The obvious benefit a man gets from his “job”, is money. Many men would work if not paid, but few of us would work in the “job pattern”, if not paid. It turns out, what’s worse, that money brings some “adverse consequences” with it. This “blog” is about a consequence few men would voluntarily accept by itself—and i suspect, few men recognize as “brought on by being paid in money.”

Money invites bureaucratic impositions: If i give my neighbour Olav one or two wheelbarrow loads of red pine branches for Christmas decorations, and six months later he gives me one or two pickup truck box loads of horse manure from behind his stables, for my garden, each of us is getting rid of something he has in surplus. All those branches are worth to me is a very small amount of soil improvement under the pines, if i don’t give them to someone; so i give them to Olav to whom they’re worth much more. It’s an ordinary Christian or charitable thing to do—they are worth much more to him than to me, so i give them to him. Similarly, all that horse manure is worth to Olav, once he has fertilized his own garden, is a bit of a stench in his back yard. It is worth much more to me than to him, so he gives it to me—and-or to some other gardener[s] who also value it.

But if we sold those surplus products of Nature to one another—ah! then! we could be taxed. We could be compelled to keep elaborate records of our dealings. We would lose not only some of the money—the taxes plus perhaps fees paid to accountants and book-keepers to help comply with the bureaucracy—we would also lose some precious time. In fact, i don’t believe either of us would be willing to sell to the other, given the bureaucratic costs of doing so—we give, or “forget it!” I’d rather leave the branches under the trees they grew on, than do all that paperwork.

Government bureaucracies impose—force workers to carry—a double burden: We must pay taxes to support the bureaucrats, and then in addition, we must spend time and money doing the “paperwork” they command us to do. That’s right—a bureaucracy is something that forces the rest of us to pay them to force us to do “paperwork” to their specifications*. It seems hard to believe, that people would freely and democratically choose to have that—to have offices that boss us around at further, high cost to us—doesn’t it?

Yet that’s just what “income tax time” is all about. It’s what the police and much of the school systems are all about, for that matter; and there are others [mostly smaller]. How did we wind up in this predicament?

There’s an old folk saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” To a considerable degree, good intentions were involved when men consented to be administered by a complicated income tax bureaucracy, to send their children to schools run by another bureaucracy, to support a “health care” bureaucracy, a “social assistance” bureaucracy, et cetera ad nausaeum. Also involved were governments whose usual way of solving problems was passing more laws, government bureaucracies which, being staffed by people who like bureaucracies more than the average, recommended forming more bureaucracies when there might have been other, better ways to do the job, and the English-colonial history of Canada, which unlike the United States and France, never rejected the notion of a ruling class. Much has been said in Canada in support of human equality rather than a ruling class—but it has never quite become Public Policy—or why would our Head of State also be Queen of England?

Job-dependence as a mentality contributed to the immensity of bureaucracies today; and most present-day job employees are subject to an employer’s bureaucracy as well as those which we all suffer. During the “glory days of the job”, the third quarter of the 20th Century, jobs provided men who had come home from war, been let go as war industries closed down, and graduated from school during or at the end of war, with a quick way to make a good income and begin adult life as a marriageable employed man. That possibility was much more appealing to most of them, than being a schoolboy, a soldier, or a laid-off war worker. The bureaucracies those jobs “came with” were generally less pervasive than employers’ bureaucracies are today; and thus, something those men were quite willing to put up with for the sake of respectable work at respectable rates of pay.

Today, employers and even labour unions are more bureaucratic than around 1950, and jobs are less appealing… but the habit of submission to bureaucracies has had some 60-65 years of establishment that it didn’t have then. Without the “force of habit”, i doubt the burdensome bureaucracies we suffer today could persist—and very plausibly, they cannot persist very much longer even with it.

An important theme of this “Men Working” series is Social Efficiency. I have argued that full-time employment, with unemployment as the dichotomous “other alternative”, is less efficient than for instance, co-operatives, Hutterites, monasteries, and old-fashioned farm families, and in particular wastes the productivity of children and the old; that commuting to jobs lowers the worker’s overall time efficiency (and has other serious adverse effects); [¿was household size published before this or will it come after?]. Bureaucracies can at times facilitate social efficiency, but more often, they do the opposite.

It’s worth keeping in mind (to go back to the example of “me and Olav”), that while growing pine timber is “producing [or at the least, stewarding] real wealth”, and the branches pruned off those timber pines are a by-product; and while horse manure has real value in raising garden productivity; bureaucracies do not produce subsistence. They confiscate means of subsistence directly or “via money taxation”. The subsistence on which the bureaucrats depend must be produced by the rest of us. If there were no bureaucracies, there would be more people, more main-d’-oeuvre, available to do Real Work. In terms of human subsistence, bureaucracies are inherently inefficient—or worse, they are often counter-efficient.

Brothers, the bureaucracies should have the burden of proof: They should be deemed harmful until their beneficial ‘effects’ are proven to be for real, and significantly greater than their costs.

Meanwhile, if in doubt, work outside rather than inside the “job economy.” Bureaucracy is one more reason to work co-operatively, or even on-your-own, rather than “get a job”… or in other words, “get a job” can be read to demand, “become a cash cow for bureaucracies that don’t themselves produce subsistence.”

Notes:

* The word is French+Greek [pronounced “Freek”?]: Bureau is French for office [not the place so much as the function], and kratos is Greek for rule [in the sense of command].)

References:

Djilas, Milovan 1957, The New Class. NY: Praeger.

Schumacher, Ernest Fritz 1973. Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. London: Blond and Briggs. (1974, New York: Harper and Row. Cited in a 1974 Abacus edition, London; several other editions exist.)

 

 

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Moncton, Mayerthorpe, madness, and misandry:

How Not to Advance Your Cause—and a Better Alternative:
(c) 2014, Davd

The 70th Anniversary of D-Day was pushed out of first place in the Atlantic CBC news by a multiple murder—all of whose victims were police. For a whole day, June 5th, Moncton, New Brunswick was shut down: No bus service, schools and stores closed, residents of one section of town ordered to lock their houses and hide in their basements. In the first minutes of June 6th, the man “everyone” said had done it, was captured.

Justin Bourque, the radio news told me June 5th, had recently become a survivalist, moved out of his parents’ home [at age 23 or 24], and was reputed to have taken up drugs more worrisome than ‘recreational pot’. He expressed hatred for police and government control. A gun dealer whose shop had survivalist clients and staff, stated publicly that Bourque had not bought weapons nor ammunition from it, though he was socially linked to staff. (When Calgary’s Earl Silverman, frustrated for many years in his efforts to gather support for a safe house for men violently abused by women, committed suicide, his friends remembered him kindly1. People who were linked to Bourque that i heard of, were “distancing themselves”.)

Then, once Bourque had been captured by the RCMP, the news mentioned a court appearance and charges of murder, but no more about his background and character, only that his father had expressed concern to the authorities and been told nothing could be done if Justin had not yet committed a crime..

Several years ago now, in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, another lone gunman killed four Mounties. I did hear his name mentioned once on the radio this past week, in connection with the problem of identifying potential multiple murderers before they kill. (Will Bourque’s name be shoved in our ears every June? I doubt it. The name of the Mayerthorpe killer hasn’t been. Marc Lepine’s name is shoved in our ears by ideological Feminist “vested interests.” The normal reaction to a despicable deed by a probable madman is to let its memory fade with time, which is what happened after the Mayerthorpe murders.)

Bourque’s was not a “men’s rights” nor even misogynist action. One of the two wounded police was a woman. The other wounded constable, and the three who were killed, were men. Given that women make up a minority of police, it seems evident that Bourque’s hatred was directed at police, not women.

As an act in support of anarchy or even increased liberty, it was a dismal failure: The evening of June 6th, after Bourque’s capture, people gathered at the Moncton police station in a vigil of sympathy and support. Before and after, flowers and candles were left at the station in memory of the officers who had been killed and sympathy for the wounded. For six days sympathy and public support for the RCMP dominated the CBC News—the shooting dominated the news for longer than the attacks of September 11, 2001, in which over 3,000 people were killed, dominated the US news2.

Far from bringing the police or the law into disrepute or even doubt, the attacks increased public support dramatically. Those who agree, somewhat or greatly, with survivalism, or oppose the increased regimentation of these times (as compared, for instance, to the times when i was a young man and a boy) are going to be less rather than more likely to express their anti-authoritarianism—for fear of being associated with Bourque, and because of the increased sympathy for “authority”.

If he thought he was some kind of Robin-Hood, he was very much mistaken. Robin-Hood was one of a band of two dozen or more “outlaws”, men who the Ruling Class of the time had denied the normal protections of the law. Robin-Hood, Little John, Alan A’Dale, Friar Tuck, and the rest, robbed rich people who passed through Sherwood Forest—and gave much of what they took, to the poor. They occasionally committed, and much more often threatened, violence—but what they did about wealth was much more like the teachings of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad than like self-serving bandits or pirates… and they were a community, living an alternative to the legal and social-class arrangements of the time, and linked socially to the common people around them.

As for Western Canada’s Louis Riél, he had more men—and women, and children—with him, by far, than Robin-Hood. The Prairie Métis had a working society in much more harmony than conflict with the “First Nations” around them—and even a Provisional Government—they weren’t rebels; they were defending themselves. Like the First Nations, they were defeated by a colonial army with more weapons and troops than they had.

Justin Bourque did himself and his cause, much more harm than if he had gone to the police station or the courthouse, doused himself with gasoline, and lit it on fire; or hanged himself in some out-of-the-way place, in either case, without hurting anyone else. Tom Ball “set himself on fire in front of the Cheshire County Court House,” (in the State of New Hampshire, USA, as reported in a local newspaper); and his Last Words are respected by many men’s interest advocates3. Earl Silverman hanged himself in his garage shortly before the sale of his house closed; he had struggled for two decades to gain some recognition and social support for men who had been violently abused by women, being himself such a man. His story is respected, and if we can get his Last Statement, we intend to provide it also.

In other words, by killing three police and wounding two others, Bourque made himself more of a loser, not less. Or as my Christian faith teaches, seek fellowship, seek refuge, but don’t seek vengeance.

I believe we do live in an overly authoritarian society. How valid Bourque’s grievance against police and government was, what it was even, i can’t say; and unlike Earl Silverman’s last words, i’m not looking for Bourque’s. He tainted them too badly with his last acts. I can mourn Earl Silverman, and wish he had accepted my invitation for a retreat. I can mourn Tom Ball likewise, though i learned of his life only from his death, too late to think about inviting him. Like most sane men whose work is not “doing psychiatry”, i don’t want to meet, much less invite, the sort who might go on a murderous rampage.

Notice that i did not recommend suicide. I respect it as a better alternative to futile violence; i also regard it as an inferior alternative to getting together.

If anyone reading this has strong negative attitudes or feelings—antipathies, is the Latin word—toward some social wrong, and has come to the end of his [or her] patience, my advice is, to repeat: Seek fellowship, seek refuge, but don’t seek vengeance. Even better, don’t wait until you’re bitter—seek fellowship, and if you don’t have a good home, seek refuge with other like-minded men.

If there’s a man like Earl Silverman out there who doesn’t have the fellowship or the refuge he should have (maybe simply because where he lives, shelter is so expensive, as it was in Earl’s Calgary) there’s an e-mail address at everyman dot ca called replies—human readers should be able to put that together, spam robots, i hope, can’t—and i check it every week or so. Maybe this week i’ll try to check it oftener. I have two spare bedrooms4, over 90 acres of mostly forest, and a good prayer garden; and i’m interested in corresponding with men who are getting together in other places.

I expect to give a little priority here, to those who like ecoforestry and horticulture, who write well, and to fellow Christians; but Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and men of smaller well-disciplined faiths like Sikhs and Native American spiritualities, need not be shy.

Notes:

1. Silverman’s faults were mentioned; they were faults many men and women have. He was honoured not by pretending the faults weren’t there, but for who he was even with them.

2. This is not to imply that the Moncton shootings will claim as much public attention in future, as the destruction of the World Trade Center has repeatedly claimed since 2001. (The damage to the Pentagon building has had far less subsequent attention.) I happen to live a few hours’ journey from Moncton. What this is meant to assert, not merely imply, is that public support for the RCMP and for “authority” was strikingly increased by the shootings.

Since the state funeral for the constables who were killed, there have been many local stories about memorials to them and for other police killed on duty, about grief counselling for their families and colleagues, and about charitable fund raising for the families they left behind.

3. Not all of us who respect the statement overall, advocate the use of Molotov cocktails. It is worth remembering that the USA began with a Revolutionary War in which, Tom Ball wrote, his ancestor Elijah served—also as a sergeant.

4. The house is plain and awkwardly designed—but i could afford to pay for it and the land “in full” and have some savings left. A handful of good men could build a much better house to live in, and this one could become the guest house.

 

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To Honour Good Stepfathers:

… and Grandfathers, Uncles, and Scoutmasters, Mentors strong i’ th’ arm*
(c) 2014, Davd

This is no slur on my own father, whose name i share. He was not perfect, but i remember him fondly despite his faults. He stayed married to my mother until his death, which sometimes wasn’t easy; and most of what he taught me was good. Some men have, or had, even better fathers; some, not so good—and many men and boys, these years, have none. More children lack fathers, than have inadequate ones—and that lack lessens their hopes for good adult lives.

It is a wise child, went an old French saying from before DNA testing, that knows who father is. Fifty years ago, Americans and Anglophone Canadians could hear that and pat themselves on the back for marital fidelity, but no longer: It is widely agreed that far fewer children today than two generations or even one generation ago, are reared by their natural fathers; and that this has had adverse consequences for the children, for crime rates, and for societal well-being generally (Dafoe-Whitehead, 1993)

My grandfather was born around 1880, when more people died in young adulthood than today, and most stepfathers were married to widows. He never saw his natural father when he was old enough to remember it. He often praised the stepfather who raised him through boyhood.

Tom Lincoln, President Abraham’s father, was a stepfather also: He married Mary Todd when they were both widowed with young children, and his proposal to her is one of the most famous oral statements in English1: Mary,he said,I need a wife and you need a husband. If you [think me a good man for you and your children] I’ll come with the wagon on Sunday.” History knows nothing of their sexual life; their family life reared one of the greatest US Presidents. Abraham Lincoln praised them both, and especially his stepmother—perhaps because her concern and care were more by choice, Tom Lincoln’s, by nature—perhaps also, because stepmothers in general had a dubious reputation. (Cinderella is an obvious example.)

We have heard and read of bad “stepfathers” or more accurately, single mother’s bedfellows, in recent years. It takes more than a sexual entanglement with a mother, to make a stepfather—and it be very important to note, the sexual entanglement is not required. My fathering did not all come from my natural father: That same grandfather whose chief [but not only] mentor was a stepfather, served my boyhood in much the same way: There were things he knew and Dad didn’t, like the electrician’s trade and gardening (while Dad was a driver by trade and the better cook of the two)—and Granps was retired while Dad had a job, church, buddies from work, a wife, and a daughter to take up much of his attention. (Mother could be difficult; even Granps was rather quieter in her presence than her absence2.)

Uncles often do stepfather work, also church youth leaders, coaches, and Scoutmasters. What stepfathers have “best going for them,” uncles and grandfathers next, coaches and Scoutmasters least, is time under the same roof with the boy. 55-60 years later, i can remember my grandfather’s house as well as i can remember the one where my parents lived at that time, and from which i walked or bicycled to school… perhaps because when i spent weekends with Granps we had whole days together; while my parents didn’t have that kind of time for me, and their home was more a base camp from which to go to school, to Scouts, to church, to play with friends, even out to fish or garden.

After completing “high school”, Granps was urged by a local physician to go on to University, and offered a loan of [between two and five years' pay for a tradesman at that time] to enable him to attend. He thanked the man but declined the loan, for the cautious reason that he could not forecast what work he might expect after graduation, that would pay enough more than a tradesman’s wages to enable him to repay the loan.

His caution is wise for boys today—many a university graduate can’t find work that’s enough better than what [s]he could have had without university study, to pay back student loans. In the 1980s, over a generation ago now, i advised the university students i taught and the adolescents who cared to hear my advice, to treat a trade license as more valuable for earning income, than an Arts degree: “A university education is good for you, but not usually gold for you—unless it carries a professional ‘ticket’.” The Spearhead’s W. F. Price (2014) seems to agree, writing of discrimination against boys in university admissions today, “it’s a blessing in disguise.”

Granps never complained that his stepfather did not give him money for university studies; and one reason may be that step-parents are not culturally expected to give money for that3. Dafoe-Whitehead (1993) points out that step-parents generally are less inclined to support step-children through higher education.. Another important reason may be, in the late 1890s, that the town physician might have had such money to loan, but not an ordinary working man.

Granps’ life was part of the basis for the advice i gave as a professor. He walked some two thousand miles over a few years’ time, learning trade skills as he worked to support himself, and eventually found a good job as an electrician. He became a master of that trade, and co-inventor with men who had engineering degrees. And while he was learning, he got some healthy exercise, and some pay—not classroom seat time and growing debts.

Today, boys (and also girls) still need fathering. Millions upon millions of them will not have it in the natural way—they will not be reared by their own biological fathers. Those of them who have grandfathers, uncles, and good4 stepfathers under their home roofs, are fairly fortunate—because the majority of fatherless boys, won’t have. Many millions of boys will need some kind of mentoring to make up for the lack of any such kin; and with marriage and divorce laws biased against men, with many men prudently avoiding marriage, we need to look for, perhaps even develop, ways for men to be stepfathers without marrying the mothers of the children they nurture.

Today’s situation calls us to support stepfathering that is free of the risk of “divorce theft;” to find ways to nurture boys independent of their mothers’ faults. No boy (and no girl, but let’s begin with boys) should be punished for his mother’s failings.

I encourage readers to look at stepfathering not just as something that tries to imitate natural fathering, but as mentoring comparable to that given by grandfathers, uncles, church youth leaders, Scoutmasters, and coaches, often combined with a shared residence of uncertain permanence and trustworthiness. That my grandfather’s stepfather was such a good mentor as Granps remembered him to be, is to his credit—especially when seen in context of his wife’s lifetime total of not two but four husbands.

Today, sadly, Granps’s mother’s “serial lifestyle” is more common than it was then.

For those who have good fathers nearby, and those who are, the obvious thing to do, is get together and choose how to celebrate Father’s Day. For them, this is a social rather than a personal concern.

Those who by distance or lack, don’t have that choice, might seriously consider getting together in the spirit of good stepfathers and step-sons5, and begin building not just the alternative to natural fatherhood, but one that also supplements and strengthens natural fatherhood as it was strengthened in Abraham Lincoln’s and my grandfather’s day. A few of you might be able to hold a Stepfather’s Day event this coming Sunday; others might get together to talk about how to work with boys year-’round and have something to celebrate next June. It might be reviving the outdoor-and-crafts Boy Scouts that i remember from the 1950s. It might be done through a church’s Sunday School programme, but not just on Sundays. Some of you reading this might have other good patterns to try, and to share. (There’s an e-mail address at everyman dot ca called replies—human readers should be able to put that together, spam robots, i hope, can’t—and i check it every week or so.)

It is no accident that the “Great Abrahamic Faiths” all pity the fatherless, nor that Father is the earthly title of the Creator [the First Person of the Christian Trinity]. The work of the stepfather is repeatedly blessed and indeed, the Psalms and the Prophets, who Christianity and Islam also honour, declare God’s care and protection for the fatherless. (Some might even say, given that God is not our sire, that He is our Heavenly Stepfather6.) Since we have arms and hands, and “God is Spirit”, our mentoring of those who lack good fathers, is part of what Jesus Christ blessed when he said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25: 31-40[-46])

It is no accident, either, that in strengthening our brothers and our nephews, in strengthening any boys and men who have been harmed by the misandry of this century whether kin or not, we strengthen ourselves.

References:

Baskerville, Stephen, 2004. “Divorce as Revolution:The Government Has a Vested Interest in Destroying Marriage and the Family.” The Salisbury Review, July 22.

Dafoe-Whitehead, Barbara, 1993. “Dan Quayle Was RightAtlantic Monthly, April.

Glubb, John Bagot, 1978. The Fate of Empires. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons Ltd.

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

Price, W.F., 2014 “…‘Who Cares?’ About Sex Ratio in College”. The Spearhead, April 23

Turnbull, Colin M.1968. The Forest People. NY: Simon and Schuster paperback.

 

Notes:

* Mentor was a Greek warrior who was also a good teacher of young men. In the English translation of one story, i recall him being saluted that way, as “Mentor strong i’ th’ arm.” It is worth keeping in mind, that gentle “mentoring” is not only consistent with strength, but that strong men are more reliably, more consistently gentle than the weak.

1. Abraham Lincoln’s speeches were famous for their clarity and directness—perhaps his father Tom was one source of that straightforward eloquence.

2. “It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling [quarrelsome] woman and in a wide house.” (Proverbs 21:9, 25:24, “King James” translation. This is traditional wisdom shared by Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. At that time in Mediterranean countries, the housetop was usually flat and except for a winter rainy season, dry enough to sleep on.) “The Proverbs” praise good women but do not pretend all women, or even nearly all, be good.

3. Another factor may have been, that Granps’s mother was married not twice but four times; and his favourite stepfather may not have been in her household when he was of university age.

4. One aspect of good is the man’s character. Another is his lasting presence. Neither Tom Lincoln nor Mary Todd chose to be single parents—the deaths of spouses they gladly would have kept, put them there. When they married, they fully intended to keep their vows, and they did. They chose one another for character, for qualities that would work well together rearing children and getting the household subsistence.

These days, lasting presence is less common than it was when most stepfathers were married to widows.

5. I don’t want to leave fatherless girls out of the picture; but me-thinks that if men and boys get together first, and begin building a mentoring culture from the examples of good stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and the rest; that in a year or two, ways will be found to reach out to the girls as well. In the Canada and USA of 2014, gynocentrism is dominant enough that the men and boys might ought first recover the androcentrism that is its mirror image, and when androcentrism and gynocentrism are more equal in cultural weight, then meet the girls on more equal terms. (Yes, this is one way Feminism has ill-served a generation of girls.)

6. I am not trying to revise any church doctrine or ritual; but the expression seems to have some reflection and perhaps teaching value.

 

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Dandelion Wine:

It’s About That Time:
(c) 2014, Davd

I’ve delayed a couple other blogs because the dandelions are in bloom—and this recipe is useless the rest of the year. This is a more difficult technique than the other Bachelor Cooking posts, but you can’t make dandelion wine without fresh dandelion flowers… use it now or wait until next spring.

This is written for people [mostly men, that i have seen] with cooking knowledge but little or no wine- and beer-making experience beyond following the directions for a kit. The how-to will be lengthy and some of you will already know some of what i specify, and why—but it’s better to err on the side of excess detail than to have someone miss an important precaution and spoil a jug of wine. Grape-wine vinegar and malt vinegar are valuable; dandelion vinegar, i doubt it.

Start with:
‣ a 160oz., 4litre, or US gallon clean glass or plastic jug, (or if you’re ambitious and confident, a 23 litre/5 gallon “carboy”. Glass jugs are best; the old 4-litre plastic milk jugs, cleaned and sterilized, work well.)
‣a generous equal amount of blossoms [let them settle; do not push down] in a food-grade plastic container, typically a 4l ice-cream pail.
‣3 pounds of sugar, or 2.5# for a dry version; limit to 2# for the first invert (so as not to overload the yeast)
‣1 medium-large or 2 small-medium stalks of rhubarb, or alternatively, 1/2 grapefruit, per 2# sugar..
‣ a kitchen pot, 4l or larger, with lid; strainer, maybe a slotted spoon .. things you should have in most
kitchens.

First, go out and pick that pail full of good, wide-open or early almost-wide-open dandelion blossoms. They will be open only on a sunny day, and mid-day is the time to pick. They open gradually in the morning, and after mid-afternoon they will start to close. Pick the flowers only, pinching off the stem with your fingernails. Let the flowers settle naturally in the pail; don’t push down on them but don’t fluff them up either. When with that natural settling, the pail is full, you have enough.

Either right before or soon after you pick the blossoms, put some wine yeast into a solution of orange juice, or malt syrup and water [without any hops] or white grape juice—some fruit or malt sugar solution that will give the yeast a good start. Set on top of the fridge or in some other spot that will be above 20C most of the time [but below 40C]. (Beer yeast, i’ll guess, would work; don’t try baker’s yeast and blame me if it fails.)

(You do not need a whole “7 gram” envelope of yeast, if you use this trick. When making up a wine kit whose “best before” date is several months in the future, i often save a wee bit of the yeast in the packet, fold and staple the packet, and keep it in the fridge until needed.)

Bring about 3 l of water to boiling, then pour over the blossoms. I have found ice cream pails do take the heat, which of course is 10 degrees or more below boiling by the time it gets through the blossoms to the bottom. (Set the pail on a piece of plywood or a wide board rather than on heavy metal which will carry away the heat too quickly.. a wooden counter-top should be OK, with or without arborite/formica) Cover the pail lightly with its lid; if you snap it shut expansion and contraction will “give you grief.”

Take the same pan that boiled that plain water (or you might prefer to use a smaller one,) add 2# of sugar and the rhubarb, and just enough water to dissolve the sugar [a cup or two should do]. Bring to boil on medium heat, adding the rhubarb cut 1″long or shorter; simmer about 10-15#. The sugar should turn a tan “straw colour.” Cover the pan and set it to cool—in this case, setting it on a heavy metal woodstove that’s not hot, will help it cool sooner. You want the flowers to stay hot for a while for their flavour to go into the water, but the ldquo;inverted” sugar needs no such “steeping.”

(lemon juice or a small grapefruit sliced 1 cm or thinner will serve for the acid; i specify rhubarb to make the recipe as locally sourced as practicable.)

Sterilize the jug with bleach solution, washing first if it was dirty. For me this is no hassle because i do it often in making beer and wine. An ounce or two of bleach with 2-3 times that much tap water should do; and when this has been shaken or rotated to contact all the inside surfaces of the bottle, pour it through a funnel into a glass jar; rinse with clean tapwater or rainwater, pour that into the same jar, and put it in the laundry area for use soaking something, or in the kitchen to clean up dirty corks, bottlecaps, Scotchbrite pads, vegetable brushes, etc. ad lib

Remember this basic technique because you will use it to sterilize the bottles when the wine is ready for bottling. In the case of bottling, you should use the bleach followed by clear water, to clean the siphon, en route to the first bottle; and the same bleach-water mixture can sterilize all the bottles.

Bleach decomposes into salt and oxygen; and a minuscule bit of salt in the wine will not degrade the taste the way sulphite sterilizing chemicals will. Beer-making may actually benefit minutely from the residual salt.

When the inverted sugar is cool enough that you can comfortably hold the body of the pot in your bare hands, you can pour it into the sterilized jug. Strain out the rhubarb (I pour the sugar through a strainer and funnel, into the jug, then set the rhubarb aside to later sweeten cooked rhubarb. Rhubarb will be too soft for candy: The rind of grapefruit used to invert sugar, can be cooled, cut up, and treated as sticky candy.) Then strain the “dandelion tea” into that same cooking pot, where it will take up the sugar that stuck to it when you poured most of the batch into the jug. You may have to strain the dandelion water in two or three “gos”.

When the dandelion “tea” is cool enough that you can comfortably hold the body of the pot in your bare hands, you can pour it into the sterilized jug. Using this order, you’ll get nearly 100% of the sugar into the jug, and leave the pan clean enough to use again.

Cover the jug with a clean plastic bag [a new sandwich or food bag you can later use for ordinary food] and a rubber-band, if you haven’t a clean cap for it. The bag and elastic can be used as a fermentation lock later, or you can fit a regular fermentation lock if you have one.

(If there is quite a lot of airspace still in the jug, you can “sparge” the dandelions with clean water, pour into and swirl through the pot if it is still sticky or direct into the jug if the pot is clean. Leave enough space that you can later add another half pound to pound of inverted sugar when the yeast has used up much of the first sugar; (too strong an initial sugar content can slow or stop the yeast.)

When the temperature of the jug is slightly warm to the hand but not to the cheek [about 25-30C, 35 should not hurt the yeast) and the yeast has begun to bubble the orange juice, add it through the funnel and follow with a small rinse of clean water or spargings. Leave enough room for the later sugar. If you have to let the jug cool to 20C before the yeast is ready, that should not hurt.

Keep the fermenting dandelion-tea in a place where its temperature will be 18-25C… a little cooler at night should not hurt if the daytime temperature reaches over 20 for 5-10 hours. 25C is better for the very first days, and cooler after the fermenting is well started. There is usually a warm spot in most kitchens where the jug can spend its first two weeks.

After 2-3 weeks, when the ferment is starting to slow*, simmer 1/2 — 1 pound more sugar with water, making a “winemaker’s syrup”. Inverting it will help the wine finish sooner but by now is not totally essential. When it has cooled below body temperature [can still be warm to the hand] pour it into the jug, and if there is still room in the jug, rinse the pot with clean water as above.

(If you make more than one jug of the wine, you can top-up the sugar for them all at the same time—saves bother.)

Expect the wine to spend 2-3 months in the jug*, after which sterilize your siphon and five wine bottles [750 ml/25-26 oz] per gallon. Siphon the wine into the bottles [with the siphon bottom above the dregs until the last] and cork. Rubber caps will work; for ageing real corks softened [and sterilized] in gently boiling water and put in with a real cork driver, are best.

I have typically used up my dandelion wine over the fall and winter, and i doubt i’ve ever aged any past a year. It resembles a white equivalent of Dubonnet or Campari, made as above; if you think you would like a more bitter variation on dry sherry you could skip the second lot of sugar. I’d not recommend it as a table ine with most substantial-food, rather as a “social wine” or semi-tonic.

Think of this text as being under some terms like the GNU Free Documentation License.. use and improve it freely, don’t profiteer or restrict, let me know of the improvements, and don’t restrict any improved versions. The recipe is original with me, based on notes made between 2006 and now.

Notes:

* Dandelion wine tends to ferment more slowly than grape wine or beer does.

# is a common abbreviation for “pound[s]” and l for litre[s].

 

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Work as Leisure: The Best Way to Travel

…a Speculation Based on Good Experience
(c) 2014, Davd

After reading about European distaste for tourists, some 30 years ago now, i was sitting in an orientation meeting in Helsinki and heard a Dutch student say, “If I were home and saw a bunch of Americans wearing T-shirts that said ‘Hollands Klub’, I would definitely avoid them.1

I had a good time in Helsinki, and methinks it was because i went there as a professor on sabbatical, with skills that could be worked to the benefit of the locals. The first one i put to work was “inspecting English texts”, (and knowing some Finnish was essential to doing really high quality work at that.) My knowledge of the commonest language of science and business was not so special in Canada; but there, it was a skill “in demand”—and short supply.

I went to London [UK] once during that sabbatical year, to deliver a somewhat boring, routine report on behalf of one of Helsinki University’s research and training departments; it cost less to send me than to send a salaried employee, and my English was at least as good as any of theirs. I got to walk around London for a week at little cost, and “en route back,” paused in Germany for another conference in which Helsinki University was not involved.

My year’s sojourn in Helsinki and my weeks in London and the Rhine Valley, were far more enjoyable exactly because they involved a lot of work—work i chose to do because, in context of where it was done, when, and with whom, it was fun—much more fun than sitting and watching TV or any other commercial entertainment.

It’s well worth mentioning, that the work i enjoyed, was based on my better skills and on their scarcity in the places where i travelled. Foreign workers who undercut locals in wage competition are of course unwelcome… but inspecting academic writing for subtle ambiguities and delivering technical reports at foreign meetings, are a far cry from “busing” tables at a fast food joint or picking up litter in a park. They are not skills likely to be over-abundant much of anywhere.2

Twice, when i arrived at monasteries for visits of different length, i asked the first Brother i met [who in each case was doing work of a practical rather than ritual sort] “Is there anything I can do to help out?” Once there was, once there wasn’t; but what better way to arrive anywhere? … assuming you’re in good health and don’t need rush off to the can.

It’s got to where if i don’t have work to do in a place … i don’t go.

Once i even got my travel costs paid do go to a conference and deliver a paper titled “Work as Leisure.” (If that title reads to you like a contradiction, the reason might be that you have worked mainly under close supervision and strict rules. In these sad closing days of the Industrial Revolution, those conditions seem to be getting worse again… but any apparent contradiction between work and leisure can be punctured with a cooking fork—or a spading fork, or a garden trowel, an artist’s brush, even a pair of knitting needles.)

Cooking up a good pot of chili is definitely work! useful, too. So is putting in a herb garden to support a good kitchen, or smoking several kilos of herring or mackerel or river sucker for future enjoyment. All are things men have enjoyed doing, additional to the future pleasures of better eating.

Once, not far west of the border between the provinces of Alberta and B.C., i built a sauna for a family i was visiting. Another time, nearer the Pacific Ocean, i gathered apples at a cider-making Saturday “work party”. Definitely useful—without my menial labour, at least three gallons of cider wouldn’t have been made—and since i took home one of those gallons of cider for a little ageing, i can attest it was good.

I’ve never been in the Southern Hemisphere—nor in Asia or Africa—so far. I doubt i ever will go there, unless i can find something useful to do when i arrive. And while i’m not the kind of “American” that Dutch lad was referring to, methinks even a Canadian group being led around by a tour guide, whether the writing on the bus said “Hollands Klub”, “Sociedad Española” or “Treasure Tours”, would also be avoided by the locals unless they were paid to talk to it.

What’s fundamentally wrong with being a tourist in the usual sense of the word, is that what you have to offer the locals is money—and as far as they know, nothing else. Result: Apart from sheer charity, they have no reason to want to deal with you, but getting money; and you increase the congestion—so we hear stories from returning tourists, about greed, even theft, by the locals. Those are the locals they attracted—the greedy ones, some of whom resorted to theft.

Arrive with work skills, especially work skills that are in any kind of short supply, and you meet quite different locals. You are welcomed because you are contributing. If, for instance, you are part of a Habitat for Humanity project building a boardinghouse for homeless men to live in and operate with their own labour, you’re likely doing work no one would have paid for—so local talent hasn’t lost the jobs you’re doing. Locals will be glad to see a problem taken off the streets—especially if they are among the homeless. And you will come back with an appreciation of the place far greater than you can get at a fancy hotel3 or on a top-rank tour.

A major theme of this “Jobs and Working” series, has been that work itself is good4, and the more useful the work you do, the better. Finding work that you enjoy and do well, is vital to living well and making the most of your time alive.

Even “on the road.”

Notes:

1. Yes, in English. Dutch isn’t spoken much in Helsinki, and several of those at the meeting weren’t functional in Finnish.

2 .. given that the language of the text being inspected is not local to the place where the inspecting is done.

3. These days—unlike 30-50 years ago—even fancy hotels have serious problems with bedbugs, for instance. (CBC Radio told me so, last year. I haven’t been in a fancy hotel since the 1980s, and seldom even then.)

4. I’ve read and heard Christians to say that work is a curse from God because Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit. Not so: Earlier in the first book of the Bible, we read (Genesis 2:15) “the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Part of being in Paradise was tending that holy garden. The curse (Gen 3: 17-18) fell on the working conditions; work had been man’s from the start.

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Truth, Power, Feminism, and Mother’s Day:

Is Something Wrong with this Picture?
(c) 2014, Davd

With three days until Mother’s Day, CBC Radio News reports that the Liberal Party, under Justin Trudeau’s command, has joined the NDP in requiring that all candidates be “pro choice”. (The first announcement about the Liberals was yesterday; today CBC emphasized that the NDP has required all candidates to support abortion for some time already.) It is obvious to those who know recent Canadian history, who has the choice, and it’s not fathers, not sires, not the unborn.

In a totally Feminist world, methinks, there would be two Mother’s Days each year: The second Sunday in May, and the anniversary of the day you were born, On the anniversaire, as the French call it, you would thank your mother, profusely, that she did not have an abortion.

As a Christian, I cannot in good conscience vote Liberal nor NDP. I know enough biology to realize that:
‣ a foetus is alive {that’s part of the definition of foetus};
‣ a foetus belongs to the human species;
‣ a foetus is genetically and anatomically distinct from the woman in whose uterus it temporarily resides.

Therefore, a foetus is a distinct human life—it is a living being, different from its mother, and its species is Homo sapiens. To say abortion is not homicide is to utter a legal fiction. It may be deemed in law, that abortion is not homicide, but that is invalid biologically. I trust biological science more than i trust the vagaries of politics and lobbying… and I cannot, as a Christian, vote in support of killing any human being because some other human being on whom a foetus depends for some months for survival, doesn’t feel like bothering. It is now Liberal as well as NDP policy, from which party candidates are not free to dissent, to persecute Christian churches in regard to abortion.

It’s true, that men don’t get pregnant. It’s also true that women can avoid getting pregnant. There is one sure way to avoid pregnancy—sexual abstinence. And very rare indeed, are the cases where a woman modestly dressed and of sober conduct, determined to keep abstinence, fails to keep it. Those who get pregnant are those who act erotically. Modest women don’t need abortion.1

Distinct from the fact that abortion ends a human life in obedience to the will of a different person—which would be called homicide and crime after birth—is the question of whose will is given this power. Feminism refers to “a woman’s control over her own body,” but does not come out and say candidly “and if some body that is totally dependent on that woman’s uterus for a few months, dies as a result—tough luck!”

The foetus has no say in an abortion decision. Neither has the sire. If a man and woman start a pregnancy—and excepting the story told in Luke 1: 26-38, no woman has got pregnant otherwise2—and if the man will be financially obligated if the woman completes the pregnancy and bears a child; then would it be fairer, to require the sire’s consent to an abortion? If the sire decides not to consent, but to take responsibility for the child at birth or at weaning, he could reasonably take on a financial obligation during the pregnancy.

It’s true, men don’t get pregnant. It’s also true, modesty and self-discipline can protect women from doing so. (The more you display your sexuality, the more you imply an intent to make it active.)

Politics is about power, and very often, about coercive power. There is an old saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Feminism has succeeded in granting women absolute power over the survival of the unborn in most of Canada and in forbidding anyone who wants to become a Liberal or NDP candidate from disagreement with that policy. Women who bear children have been granted a new “guilt trip” with which to abuse their children: They can say “You owe me your very life, on my terms of payment—I could have had an abortion.” It will not be the best women who make the most use of it.

If i have Christian moral revulsions about abortion based on mere choice, and don’t happen to agree with the Conservative party—have i lost my vote?

It’s true, that the human population of the Earth is “too large”—at least twice what it ought to be, and perhaps 3-10 times what it ought to be, for humankind to live from renewable resources. There has been too much motherhood, these past 60-70 years—and as early as 50 years ago, when the US population was maybe half what it is now, two US demographers warned that population was already too many (Day and Day, 1964). There has also been too much STD [formerly, “venereal disease”] during the past few decades. Applying prudence and discipline to our sexual urges3 will deal with both problems—and in a manner that treats men and women as equals, which abortion on one woman’s say-so alone, does not4.

It might be too late to organize them this year, but alternatives to Mother’s Day are in order. The best mothers should indeed be honoured—and not only on the second Sunday in May. But not all mothers are angels; and truth is better than Political Correctness. Many Christians venerate the Mother of Jesus; but those who know the doctrines well, do not worship her—nor St. Peter, nor St. James, St. John, St. Paul, nor Mother Theresa, nor the Bishop, nor their own mothers. As St. Paul wrote and a Council of the Church chose as part of Holy Scripture “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Including all mothers.

Motherhood is a mighty responsibility. So is fatherhood, which much of Feminism has sought to negate (Nathanson and Young, 2006, 2012). Motherhood without fatherhood is less effective, as much research has shown. Abortion is a morally false solution to the problems, and abortion based solely on one woman’s say-so is worse still. The power to kill a foetus that could become a healthy baby, will indeed corrupt, and has to some extent done so already. From the vantage point of my prayer garden, the Liberal and NDP parties, perhaps even the Greens, are already corrupted.

If motherhood becomes matriolatry, “Thank You, Mother” could become an ironic imprecation5.

References:

Catton, William R., Jr. 1980 Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Urbana, London, and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Paperback 1982

Day, Lincoln, and Alice T. Day 1964. Too many Americans. New York: Dell

Lewis, C.S. 1952. Mere Christianity. NYC: MacMillan paperback.

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

Nathanson, Paul and Katherine K. Young, 2012. “Misandry and Emptiness: Masculine Identity in a Toxic Cultural Environment” New Male Studies v. 1 Issue 1: 4-18

Schneider, Stephen and Lynne Mesirow 1976. The Genesis Strategy: Climate and Global Survival. New York and London: Plenum. This book predates the “Global Warming” issues, and focuses on the unusual stability of climate in the first three quarters of the 20th Cantury. It is cited here as more evidence in support of population reduction.

 

Notes:

1. When abortion was generally illegal, exceptions were made for forcible rape [which is very, very different from blaming the man when two drunken or 'stoned' people have intercourse, very different even from seduction] and situations where the woman’s life was endangered by continuation of a pregnancy.

2. “AI” and “IVF” still use sperm produced by the body of a man.

3. Dan Aykroyd may not have said it best, but perhaps he said it funniest, in the comedy remake of Dragnet: “Two things distinguish human beings from monkeys. We use cutlery, and we can control our sexual urges.”

4. Before Jesus’ time there were the Eleusynian Mysteries, and Persephone, legend has it, said “A man is nothing. The belly carries the child.” (in Mary Renault’s novel The King Must Die.)

5. .. as “Yas’m Boss” and “Yassuh, Boss” seem to have been when the races were not equal in the USA?

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Vignettes of Female Volatility and Violence:

.. We men have a fair claim to be the Gentler Sex:
(c) 2014, Davd

When people talk about fury and violence, an expression often used is “stirring up a hornets’ nest.” How many of the people who say that, realize that most bees, wasps, and hornets [and stinging 'soldier' ants] are (non-reproducing) females? Those kamikaze-like attacks from a disturbed nest are carried out by females! The males [often called by the name drones] are quite peaceable.

Listening to Handel’s Messiah one Christmas Day : “For we like sheep have gone astray, every one .. to his own way.” Oops! A flock of adult sheep is more than 90% females. (As for the juveniles, the lambs follow their mothers to the age when the majority of males are castrated… by the time the lambs reach an age to go astray—the majority are females, and of the minority, a few are entire males and the most are “wethers”—the sheepish equivalent of eunuchs.)

The most feared military unit in World War II, not in battle* “but to be captured by” was made up of Russian women, two colleagues with strong interests in military history, told me. Not Nazis—Russian women. They treated the men they captured more harshly than any other unit—at least, than any other unit that ever made itself a reputation—and if there had been a meaner unit it more than likely would have made a reputation.

How many times, watching movies or “live theatre”, have you seen a man slap a woman’s face? How many times have you seen a woman slap a man’s face? .. and does he hit her back? Dare he?

When i was a boy, girls seldom slapped our faces but some kicked our shins and then danced away singing “Can’t hit a Gir-rul” to the Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyAAAA—Nyah! tune. In some cases, it seemed they attacked simply because they could get away with it, or because we weren’t paying attention to them. (We didn’t nag them to pay attention to us…)

In his book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman recalls [p. 130], “As i was entering a restaurant … a young man stalked out the door, his face set in an expression both stony and sullen. Close on his heels a young woman came running, her fists desperately pummeling on his back while she yelled, “Goddamn you! Come back here and be nice to me!”   Which of those two was the more violent?
(No hint from Goleman, nor from what i read on men’s websites in 2011-12, that the woman would be punished—but if the sexes were reversed …?

Perhaps Kipling should have the last words, written a century and more ago, before the First World War. He starts his poem with an encounter between peasant and bear: If the bear is male, he may avoid a noisy human; if the bear is female, she will attack. Click the link to see how he continues in reference to our own species.

Kipling is not always exact;
—he writes fear where i would write prudence, for instance;
—he is more sure of women’s fidelity to their mates, than men today who have been through divorce—or whose friends have;
—read in today’s context, he overstates the dangers of childbirth**
—but the difference in fury v. restraint, is clear enough.

… So which is the Gentler Sex?

 

Notes:

To offer further examples for the collection or to look into blogging for everyman, use the contact form or write to replies [at you can probably guess what]

* The most impressive battle units in the European war, or so i’ve heard, were made up of Estonians fighting against the Russians, and Japanese-Americans fighting against the Germans. The Finnish units fighting against the Russians were also impressive, but the Estonians, who like the Japanese-American unit were volunteers (while the Finns were regular army soldiers), were even more so.

** The largest single reason why women now live longer on average, than men, is that childbirth is far safer today for women, than in his time and earlier. War is still very dangerous for men, as are many of the jobs done mainly by men. Warren Farrell’s two interviews in New Male Studies mention some telling details.

 

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Blender Mayonnaise:

Better than the Jars, Versatile if Spring ever comes:
(c) 2014, Davd

As i began to write this “technique description”, on the first day of spring, there was a Heavy Snowfall Warning in effect, and indeed, more snow falling on top of the metre or more that covers the ground, including the ground where—if Spring comes before Hell freezes over—herb plants might again send up green leaves. More than four months, more nearly five, have gone by since i last cut fresh chives, never mind oregano, tarragon, or such tender herbs as basil. So this post will be about the basic technique; i won’t harass you with stories of summer delights that are still months away…

(If spring ever comes. The radio has told me thirteen times or more, if it has told me once, that this is the worst winter in decades; and in Canada, it is easy to keep in mind that every so many thousand years there has been an Ice Age. Maybe that’s what comes next. To a Canadian, “climate change” doesn’t necessarily imply warming.)

To make mayonnaise this way, you’ll need a blender, eggs [“large” is the default size], at least a litre of vegetable oil, powdered dry mustard and paprika, salt, and vinegar. I prefer canola oil and white vinegar for the basic mayonnaise; and expect that for US readers, sunflower or corn oil would also serve well. If and when spring is well along, and the chives bloom, I’ll write about making herb-flavoured vinegars, and then about making herbed mayonnaise with them. Because cleaning a blender after making mayonnaise is somewhat tedious, i make at least four eggs worth at a time.

If you have recently bought a new blender, there should be directions with it; if you have one you are used to, you should know by now how to put it together. Take notice of the “pulse” feature, however that is implemented on the brand you have. “Pulse” blending stops when you lift your finger off the button. “Normal” blending keeps on until you press a “STOP” button (or imaginably, flip a switch somewhere.) This technique works better with “pulse”.

The hardest part of the procedure, is getting the finished mayonnaise from the blender container into a holding container for storage in the fridge. If you have somebody around to help you just with the 2-5 second “three handed part” of that, the rest of the job is straightforward and in my experience, reliably successful.

Crack an egg into the blender. Add one tablespoon1 of vinegar, and half a teaspoon [or slightly less] each of mustard powder, paprika powder, and salt. Fill a one-cup measuring container with oil2.

Put the cover on the blender, run it for 10 seconds or so; then lift up the inner cap (which leaves a hole in the middle of the cover) and pour about half the oil with the motor running. The first few times you do this, you may choose to stop the blender while removing the inner cap. I’ve been making mayonnaise this way for about 40 years; and i usually lift the inner cap once the egg, vinegar, and seasonings are mixed, then pick up the oil with my right hand and pour it through the opening. This first half pour you can do fairly fast, but i recommend the stream be thinner than a pencil3.

When the first half of your cup of oil is mixed in, stop the blender—that is, take your left finger off the pulse button. Add a second tablespoon of vinegar, and leave the inner cap lightly over the hole in the cover as you re-start—it may splash.

As soon as the second tablespoon of vinegar is mixed in, lift off the inner cap and pour the rest of the oil through the hole slowly. A stream half the thickness of a pencil is about right. As the last of the oil is poured, the sound will probably change… indicating that the mayonnaise is becoming semi-solid.

For the last of the process, things may get a little tedious. As the mayonnaise becomes semi-solid, air tends to form a pocket around the whirling blades, which may completely stop the mixing process and will reduce the resistance to the blades, allowing them to spin too fast. So, you have to stop the machine and using a rubber spatula [metal can cause damage if the blades hit it] work the air pocket up and out, and the mixture back around the blades.

Blender directions sometimes tell you to push the nearly-ready mayonnaise in from the edges and over-top the blades. This may work to keep the mixing happening, by putting enough mass of mayonnaise above the air pocket, that it bubbles up and out of the mass. It also risks having the blades hit the spatula—which is why only a rubber spatula should be tried. If you have a very steady hand and the blender container seems shaped so that the spatula trick will work with the blades spinning, try it if you choose. The cautious way is to stop the machine when the sound indicates the blades are spinning too fast; then poke the air pocket with the spatula, which will let the air bubble up and out .. then start the machine again. The PULSE button is much easier to use for this.

When the mixture is uniform—the same colour and consistency throughout, with no pockets of oil—you’ve made mayonnaise.

Now—how to get that mayonnaise somewhere for storage? I recommend plastic or glass containers, and i usually make 4-6 eggs worth of mayonnaise at a time. The task isn’t easy: You have a blender container with semi-solid mayonnaise in it, and if you try to pour that mayonnaise a lot of it will cling to the blending container. The best way to proceed is to take off the base of the blending container [by unscrewing it] and then push the mayonnaise down through the open bottom into the holding container.

This would be easier if you had three hands. You need one hand to hold the blender container and two to unscrew and remove the base—which will have a large blob of mayonnaise on it surrounding the blades. If the base has a wide, “cute skirt” rather than resembling an upside down jar lid, things will be more difficult—but you do need one hand on the handle of the blending container. I can usually manage to hold the sealing ring and blades against the bottom of the blender container with one finger, while taking off the screw-cap and swinging it out of the way.

That tricky part done, you remove the sealing ring and blades, set them down nearby, and push the mayonnaise down and out of the blender container, into the holding container. Then using the rubber spatula, take the mayonnaise from around the blades and put it also, into the holding container.

You could stop with one egg’s worth of mayonnaise, but it’s just about as much work to clean up after making one egg’s worth, as after making six—so i usually make 4-6 eggs worth once i start. In winter, the procedure above is all there is to it…

… or you can finish up with 1-2 batches to which you add a one-inch cube of blue cheese before you start the blades turning. (If you make the blue cheese batches first, the little bit you can’t easily get out of the blending container, will give a taste to the plain batches, so do the plain batches first!) Obviously, you store plain and blue cheese mayonnaise in different containers. Blue cheese mayonnaise isn’t only a salad dressing, but it does serve very well indeed, in that use. It doesn’t get as thick as plain mayonnaise, and will pour or spoon onto salads “quite nicely.”

In summer, you can add fresh herbs (also before starting to ‘blend’): I usually make chive-tarragon, basil-oregano, and if i have lots of dill, dill mayonnaise. Chive-tarragon goes especially well with fish and chicken; basil-oregano, with tomatoes, and dill with cucumbers and red meat (most herbed mayonnaise goes pretty well with cold red meat for a simple sandwich.) Methinks i should re-post about herbed mayonnaise and making herb vinegars, when the winter ends…4

Notes:

1. The spoon I use is at least two teaspoonfuls in size, but may be short of the three teaspoonfuls that cookbooks define as “one tablespoon”. It works with this recipe, using “large” size eggs. If the tablespoon in your kitchen is quite large and the first batch of mayonnaise you make tastes too acid, fill the tablespoon less than cram full for the second batch.

2. You can put one cup of oil in a larger container, but i never have. “Measuring cups” usually pour well (having handles helps with that,) they are usually easy to clean, and why leave that much more oil on the inside of a larger container? I usually set the measuring cup on a cutting board (I have four: One for fish, one for meat, one for vegetables, and one for bread. The two largest are red oak, the others are larch; which woods are antiseptic. I pick whatever board is clean and could use oiling.

3. Why do i refer so often to the thickness of a pencil? Because nearly every household has pencils, and they’re all of a standard thickness, which for most men is easier to visualize than a measure in inches or centimetres. It also avoids the hassle of stating both measurements, since Canadian and most European readers think in metric while US and many UK readers think in feet and inches.

4 … as of April 9th, that’s barely begun. There was more snow last weekend… but maybe that much has melted since …

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Feminist International Declares Victory:

Boys and Men Now Need Special Help to Catch Up

Richard Cox, reporting

The Feminist International, a body whose membership is a secret as closely guarded as the memberships of the KGB, Mossad, Bohemian Grove, and the 1965 Nielsen ratings panel; has produced a draft report confirming what many men have contended for years: Legal and bureaucratic changes responding to Feminist lobbying, Affirmative Action programmes, and vestiges of former chivalry, have placed women in Europe and North America in a position of advantage comparable to that of white South Africans in the mid-20th Century.

Girls, the report reports, now dominate university student populations. Women under 40 in large cities average higher earnings per hour or in monthly salary, than men of the same age. Entrants to the professions are mostly young women. Recent psychological research has shown that boys are naturally ill-adapted to current school culture; and that systemic misandry has lowered boys’ and young men’s self-esteem to levels approximating those reported by Clark and Clark among Negro American children in 1947.

Special help for girls, the report concludes, is no longer required in most fields of study. Major changes in school culture and instructional practices are now needed to seve boys as well as girls are served. Boys and men abused by women number somewhere between 70% and 150% as many as girls and women abused by men; and need Houses of Refuge in at least half the amount of Women’s Shelters, while some Women’s Shelter spaces are used by “clients” not in need of protection; so overall Shelter funding, like special tutoring and self-esteem funding, “might need an increase less than it needs a sex-change.”

The report will be published some time in the next fifty years. “We have not set an early publication date,” explained committee chair Carol Anne van Dyke, “because frankly, having 87% daughters among the children of the authors and the supervisory committee, we want our girls to benefit from our legal and policy achievements before we level the playing field.”

It’s

Not

the

facts

purported

above,

(which

are

true

enough)

but

the

notion

that

a

Feminist

International

(if

it

existed)

would

admit

to

such

inconvenient

truths,

that

makes

this

report

….

April
Fool!

 

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Tuna and Noodles:

..Fast to Cook, Long Keeping Ingredients—a Classic One-Man Meal:
(c) 2014, Davd

The salmon,” goes a mid-20th Century joke, “is a fish which grows to maturity in the oceans and appears as if by magic from a can, when unexpected guests arrive for dinner.” I lived over half my lifespan along the west coast of Canada and the US in the watersheds where Pacific salmon appeared as if by magic at the mouths of rivers in the autumn, to swim upstream, spawn, and die.*

When i was a student in Seattle, canned salmon was still a fairly economical, long-keeping foodstuff. Today, there are fewer salmon and more grocery-shoppers; and you are lucky to buy canned salmon** for less than $15 per kilo; while a one dollar can of tuna, which contains 120 g of meat and 50 g of broth, works out to $8.33 per kilo. Sadly, that’s a fairly good price for any decent tasting kind of fish these days; and so, it might be wise to have a few cans of tuna, bought on those dollar sales, in the cupboard for occasions when there’s no meat in the fridge that appeals to you, and you’d like a quick, fairly good tasting meal.

Tuna and noodles is very much a bachelor food: One can of tuna has just enough meat in it to feed one man one meal, and far too little for two, even for two six year old boys. Pasta keeps several days in the ‘fridge, cooked; and is quick to cook from its dry form. The seasonings can all be kept for months. I’m going to describe it the way i cooked it this winter, in a small (7-inch top diameter, 5½-inch bottom diameter) stainless steel frying pan, to use some canned tuna that was approaching its “best before” date. (I bought it for 70-90 cents per can “in the old days” before 2012.) The pan nicely held the tuna, cooking liquid, seasonings, and pasta—one pan is both cooking utensil and “soup plate” with handle—a classic bachelor cooking-for-one situation. A man living alone can make very efficient use of such a pan, very often; in a household of two or more, it’s mainly useful for making small amounts of sauces or when only one man is at home.

I would not use a cast-iron frying pan for this job: Cast-iron frying pans are best for frying but poor for wet cooking. (Well, best for frying unless you cook over a gas flame in the French manner, which almost no one does at home in North America. If you go camping and plan to cook over a fire or a gas stove, leave the cast iron at home; stainless cooks better over flame and is also easier to clean.) The pan i used was discarded by a neighbour who has a typical Canadian electric stove; i salvaged it because i have a woodstove on which i do most of my winter cooking. If i bought one, i’d have insisted on a 6-inch bottom diameter (to fit the smaller elements of normal electric stoves), but for free—this was a good deal.

If you don’t have cooked pasta waiting in the ‘fridge, half-fill a pot of water for cooking it and start that heating, with the dry pasta standing by. Spaghetti works fine, fusilli, rotini, and linguine should also. Penne and elbows, i’d use for something else; and vermicelli is too thin, really. A wee bit of oil in the pasta cooking water helps prevent sticking. Cook enough pasta, if you haven’t any waiting in the fridge, that the next time you want pasta, you will have. (It can always become pasta and cheese, or pasta salad with mayonnaise, and before long i’ll write about an easy way to cook chicken cacciatore.)

Into the pan (or cooking pot if you’re making this up for more than just one man) goes a little stock. If you don’t keep stock in your fridge you’ll probably use the water from the canned tuna, perhaps from a jar or tin of olives, maybe even a little plain water. With the pan on the stove and a little stock in the pan, add the Seasonings: Celery [leaf or seed, or "lovage"], Sage, Oregano, Hot Paprika, Pepper, and Onion or Chive, cut fairly small. (If you don’t have hot paprika you can skip it, or add regular paprika and a wee pinch of hot red pepper or 1-2 drops of Tabasco type hot-pepper sauce.) Now turn on the heat, fairly low if it’s electric. Let the stock and seasonings simmer for 2-5 minutes, and keep the heat low so the stock doesn’t boil away (add water or more stock if it threatens to. A glass lid really helps here.)

I use “vegetable stock” made from vegetable trimmings, herb stems, and old herbs that have lost some but not all of their flavour. A packet of fish or shrimp broth powder from one of those 85g [3 oz] bags of ramen noodles will also do, if you have one you didn’t put in with the ramen; or half the brine left over from a jar or can of olives. The water from the can of tuna won’t be enough by itself (or it can be used when adding the cornstarch). Don’t use beef or chicken stock.

Now add the tuna and if you have some handy, you might want to add some pimento, a few olives [black or green], or a few capers; (don’t add more than one of them, unless you’re very familiar with using them and are confident you’ll like the combination. If you fried the onions to where they just started to brown, that will provide the oil to get the starch to thicken; if not, add a half teaspoonful of cooking oil or bacon fat.)

While the tuna is heating up to boiling, mix a forkful of cornstarch into some liquid, preferably stock (and-or the ‘water’ from the tuna can if you didn’t use it already.) When the tuna has boiled in its seasoned liquid for even a minute, add the cornstarch and stock (stir it again, with the fork rather than a spoon for best effect, before and after adding to the pan.) If using electricity, you can raise the heat setting, but not to highest.

Soon, the liquid will thicken and begin to bubble. Cut the heat back to low [or move the pan to a cooler part of the woodstove] and mix in the pasta. If it’s cold cooked pasta from the ‘fridge, then it will need a few minutes to heat, and if you use high rather than low heat the thickened sauce may stick.) If the noodles were cooked at the same time and added boiling hot, mix them in, shut off the heat, and allow to cool back to eating temperature. When the noodles are eating temperature, it’s ready.

If you don’t yet have a seasonings collection, you can make a quite decent meal of tuna and noodles using a “seafood seasoning” such as Johnny’s or Tony Chachere’s as seasonings, and the liquid from a small jar or can of olives or pimentos [maybe from bread and butter pickles] as stock. (Do not throw away such flavoured liquid unless you already have an abundance of it in the fridge or the cold cellar. I make pickled eggs using the liquid from dill pickles, a trick i learned from an old Ukrainian welder; and the leftover liquid from bread and butter pickles or green olives will also work, with a different tasting result, obviously. I doubt that dill pickle ‘broth’ would make a good stock for tuna, because it is so acid; but if you like acid sauces you could even try that.)

For a vegetable to accompany tuna and noodles, in winter, i tend to heat some frozen spinach, cook cabbage with caraway, or have cabbage heart or cole slaw. Carrot-raisin salad is also OK but i prefer a green vegetable, or maybe beets, with this ‘dish’. I’ve eaten it for breakfast with an apple, banana, orange, or even rhubarb, especially if i wanted a quick breakfast.

One pan, easily cleaned, cooks and serves the ‘main dish'; and there are several ways to accompany that main dish without having to cook anything else but the pasta. Efficient one-man meal, and tastes good enough you could eat it often if tuna were still cheap.

Notes:

* Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) can spawn, return to sea, and return from sea a year or two later to spawn again. Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchys spp.) die after spawning (unless the fishermen catch them before they enter the rivers.)

** Chum or keta salmon (Oncorhynchys keta) can sometimes be bought in cans for $9 or so per kilo, but it is the least tasty of the Pacific species and was known as “dog salmon” during my youth. When other salmon species were abundant it was fed to dogs while the other species were eaten by the
humans; i count it as edible fish but would not call it “salmon” among serious cooks. Pink salmon (Oncorhynchys gorbuscha) can be had in cans for between $8 and $10 per kilo in years when the spawning runs are largest, and should be treated as similar to brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) by Easterners. I recommend canned pink salmon for cooking, though sockeye is the best canned salmon and coho and chinook, better than pink. Fresh pink salmon is good steamed, which the oilier salmon species, in my opinion, are not. Pinks were sold in Atlantic Canada in 2013 for $5 per kilo and less, whole frozen [drawn].

 

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