Winter Frying-Pan Steak

…with celery-onion sauce and pasta:
(c) 2017, Davd

In Canada, the barbecue season is months away in both directions. It’s a good time for another way to enjoy the occasional steak, one that you can cook up when it’s raining or even snowing outside, enjoying the warmth of a kitchen and the convenience of tables and counter tops to work on. It won’t have the special pleasure of smoke grilling, and if you really want to go outdoors and make a hardwood fire to cook you and a friend or two some steaks, pick a day without wind and rain, and enjoy.

Most dinners between now and May or June, most men will be cooking indoors.

As forecast, beef prices are edging down in the stores, months after they fell in the livestock markets. Last autumn i bought a piece of “eye of round” for less than $7 per kilo, and it cooked up tender, between medium and medium rare, in my good 8-inch cast iron frying pan. In the process i confirmed the adaptation of the SCOP formula for seasoning meat sauces.

Usually, being cut into steaks raises the price of a piece of meat—so usually, i buy larger pieces and cut them myself. There is a simple, reliable trick to cutting steaks that are the same thickness all the way across: Not quite freezing the meat. I put that round, as i had put a piece of sirloin in August, into the freezer.

The round, which was about four inches across the long way, a bit less the short way, and nearly a foot long, sat in the freezer for a few hours, checked occasionally; and when it was quite stiff but not quite frozen, out came the meat and out came the heavy chef’s knife. (The same cutting technique works if a frozen piece is allowed to not quite thaw, in a fridge or camp cooler; and it works on pork, even chicken and turkey ‘breast’.)

Serious tradesman cooks care about their knives. When a chef interviews anyone who wants a job in his kitchen, the first thing he asks is “Show me your knives.” The pots and pans belong to the restaurant, but each cook has his own knives (sometimes hers, but commercial kitchens are almost as much men’s territory as welding; women can be found in the trade but they are rare.)

A good main chef’s knive should have weight, balance, a comfortable handle, and steel that will sharpen to a fine edge and hold that edge. For vegetables and fileting fish, lighter weight is fine, but the other qualities apply. Paring and bread knives should have weight, and balance, but not be massive like that main knife. I believe it’s also good to have a same shaped knife about half the size of your big one, for lighter work of the same character.

So get yourself a good chef’s knife for cutting steaks; and if you are not sure you know how to choose, take along a man who does. You’ll save the cost in a few months if you like steak and pork chops. .. and you’ll finally enjoy many detail cutting chores in the kitchen when your knives work with you instead of against you.

Under that piece of meat and that knife, you need a cutting board. My good ones are made of red oak. White oak should do, and i use red or white cedar for seafood. Plastic cutting boards were once popular, but some serious professional cooks told me that the cuts that form in them with use, are hiding places for bacteria. Oak and cedar, they said, contain resins that kill bacteria. (Larch and Douglas fir do also, to some extent. I myself wouldn’t use birch, beech, other fir, maple, poplar, spruce, even pine.) Oak takes cutting longer and better; so for cutting steaks and for chopping, i much prefer oak.

Fish takes less force to cut and much of the time you will be cutting parallel to the board, not down into it… so in my humble opinion, cedar will do.

With the meat not quite freezing and thus quite stiff, you’ll find it easy to hold still and cut with parallel slices. The “grain” of the meat should run the long way of the piece (watch for this when shopping) so that you cut the steaks across [perpendicular to] the grain. That will make them more tender than if cut parallel to the grain.

(The work of cutting almost frozen meat with clean, parallel strokes takes muscle; it is not for petite women. My sister and grandmother were not petite; they could do it.)

I cut my steaks between 2 cm [¾ inch] and 1 inch [2,5 cm] thick for winter pan cooking; maybe a little thicker for summer grilling. The winter thickness will sear well and still have more pink to red meat in the middle, than seared edge… and it will take less time to cook. In the summer, extra cooking time is not such an issue; everyone but the chef, and maybe he too, will be sipping and nibbling while the steaks cook, and in no hurry; and the meat should be absorbing smoke from the hardwood coals that are cooking it.. (What wood to grill on is a story for another time.)

From that piece of round, the 2 cm steaks i cut were probably 5-6+ ounces in weight, which is enough for a serving of meat but is not a big serving for steak. Several were wrapped tightly in plastic bags from the produce i had bought and brought to the kitchen, with almost no air in those bags, and put back to freeze and keep for later. Three stayed in the fridge.

The first steak i cooked, was seared in just a little vegetable oil*, on fairly high heat but before the oil could begin to smoke, a minute or two on the first side, which made it a rich brown colour; then when i turned the meat i dropped the heat on the stove switch and soon after, added chopped onion so the onion could brown just a little, itself. The cast iron pan stayed hot long enough to sear the second side of the steak, and then the steak and onion cooked on low heat while i cut up two [regular cultivated Agaricus bisporus] mushrooms, added them, and in a few minutes, cut into the steak to see how the inside looked. Meanwhile, i chopped maybe two ounces—a quarter cup—of celery*, an eighth of an inch or slightly thinner (cutting across the grain, as with the meat].

You should know what color of the meat inside, represents the degree of rare, medium, or “well done” you like. When the inside is that color, or almost, take out the steak and put it on a plate with a lid over it; and add the celery* and some stock. (I make and use vegetable stock). If you add water instead, add some boullion powder or a half cube. Sprinkle on some pepper, and with mushrooms, i suggest oregano. Let that come to a gentle boil and simmer until the mushrooms and celery are cooked.

Notice a familiar seasoning pattern? With pork, poultry and many kinds of fish, including in chowders, the standard seasonings are Sage, Celery, Onion, and Pepper. They can be your seasoning check-list for turkey stuffing, for instance … as well as for chicken or turkey soup, chowders and fish soups. They are good with pork chops and in pork stew.

The more general check-list is Strong, Celery, Onion, and Pepper; where the Strong herb can be oregano, thyme, sometimes tarragon, instead of sage. With mushrooms, oregano is usually the best Strong herb. With beef but no mushrooms, i usually choose thyme. And of course, you might want to add salt, depending partly on whether and how much stock powder or boullion cube you add.

Back to the cast iron pan: When the celery and mushrooms were cooked, i added cooked fettucine [broad pasta] a little more than twice the amount of the steak, stirred things together, turned off the power, and put the steak back in to warm up, in case it had cooled below ideal eating temperature. As bachelors often do when eating alone, i then ate the meal from that pan.** It was excellent.

The second and third pieces of steak, i cooked the same way, but without mushrooms, using a half slice of fairly fat bacon for the pan seasoning and crumbling it into the sauce when i added the stock. The strong herb was oregano one time and thyme the next. Both were delicious. So if mushrooms are available for a good price, get some; and if not, use bacon; either way it will be a meal worthy of a glass or two of red wine.


* Liveche, as i’ve mentioned a few times in earlier food blogs, is a good, rich flavour alternative to celery, and i’ve now seen it growing, obviously perennial, in two Central Alberta gardens.. In this technique, the celery may add texture to the sauce that makes it preferable—what texture you prefer is for you to choose.

** In addition to saving on dish washing, i often give the pan to Fritz to lick, when i’ve emptied it in human terms. Frying pans operate above boiling temperature, even while being seasoned, so that’s safer than letting him lick plates.


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Life is Cheap in 2017:

… Ecological Scarcity and Human Worth
(c) 2017, Davd

When i was a small boy, 60 years ago and earlier, my Mother used to say, “Life is cheap in Asia.” Exactly what she meant, i will not know in this life; it seemed to indicate that wages were lower, that health care was less available and less effective, that human rights were fewer.

So here we are at the beginning of 2017: Wages are lower than they were when i was a boy, “relative to the cost of living.” Job security is much lower, and “fringe benefits” are poorer. Health care is less available than it was in the early days of the government paid system, though there do exist medical techniques that can cure or repair conditions that were untreatable then.

Bureaucratic restrictions are much more severe, and costly, than they were 60 years ago and earlier. Clam digging and food fishing in the Pacific Ocean and its bays was something any Canadian could do without any permits; now licenses must be bought. Fishing in Northern Ontario’s fresh waters, same story. Parking was free in hundreds of places where now, fees must be paid. Driving with 0.09% blood alcohol wasn’t even illegal in 1957; now it is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment. “Gun control” is too complicated to try to summarize it briefly; most of it was imposed in the past 50 years. Cigarette smoking was something one could freely do anywhere; now it is forbidden in most public places and in cars where children ride.

Homosexuality, abortion, and divorce are commoner and more permissively treated than “back then”—but bureaucracy is more involved than before, not less.

Less wealth for ordinary workers, and stricter control of ordinary citizens, go together. Both are aspects of ecological scarcity. To quote a blog i published in 2013:

Raw materials cost more because more work is required to get them from poorer sources, and because as more countries industrialize, more factory demand drives up the price. They cost more work to get because the best stocks have been exploited: From “fracking” for oil and ‘natural gas’ to mining lower-percentage ores of iron, gold, copper, and other minerals; to having no more old-growth forests to log or untouched fisheries to net; the costs of extracting raw materials and providing energy to transport and process them, is far higher than it was during the glory days of the job, back in the third quarter of the 20th Century.

The high pay of those mid-20th Century jobs came from raiding the storehouses of the Earth.

When raw materials are abundant, when farm land is abundant, the cause is usually either the colonization of new territory, or the development of new technology. Lenski, Lenski and Nolan (1991) refer to societies that enjoy new territory as frontier societies. Once there are ways to exploit them, resources tend to be exploited, and become scarce. Frontier societies tend to become agrarian
societies, in which most workers are poor and a few, the elite, are wealthy, or to industrialize.

It is only recently—for a few decades of time—that ecological scarcity has begun to strongly limit industrial development. We cannot be sure the same social class structure will develop in industrial societies when they experience ecological scarcity, as does when frontier societies become crowded agrarian societies. We can be practically, indeed logically certain that wealth per person will decline, indeed has declined in real terms during this century and the last years of the 20th.

Commenting on the election of Donald Trump, John Cruickshank observed that “for almost half of the American population, they haven’t had a raise in 40 years.” Prices have gone up, wages haven’t. The lives of those workers are not valued, are not rewarded, the way they were in 19761.

In that same interview, Cruickshank said things have been better for ordinary workers in Canada, but the trend has been in the same direction.

Life is cheap in much of the United States in 2017, and getting cheaper in Canada. Ecological scarcity cannot be wished away: The quality of available raw materials really is poorer than it was. Basically, there are two things men can do about it, and one of the two, men can do much more than women.

I’ll name first, frugality and efficiency. We can live well on less money, with less resources consumed, if we waste less, or to repeat that in different words, if we make our land, tools, and labor more productive, and make more use of what we produce.

Second, we can improve the quality of our renewable resources, three of whose names begin with F: Farmland, fisheries, and forests. The basic way we can improve them is by doing more work by hand. I went into some detail about this in a 2012 book review, from which i’ll quote briefly here:

As true energy efficiency comes back into prominence, as ecological health becomes a serious and not merely a dilettante concern, which it has since 1980; men working hard and accurately with our muscles will be, for a greater and greater part of the work of subsistence and of well-being, the best way to do the job.

Follow the link to see a more detailed statement of why.

An Alberta farmer i met this past autumn [of 2016] assures me that grain can be grown with few to no chemicals—it will cost more per tonne to grow than grain grown with the largest machinery, but its value as healthier food can attract prices higher than commodity prices, and by now, there are many customers who would buy it direct from the farmers. More labor will go into each tonne of grain, less into marketing; the food will be better.

In the case of ecoforestry, the quality of the timber and the beauty of the forests are apparent to almost anyone; in the case of eco-farming, the customers need to know about the farming practices (which they can appreciate if they visit the farm, but not from looking at a bag of the crop.)

It is practically possible to start up farming sustainably, with much less “money up front”—but much more skilled hand labor per tonne of crop—than is required to do mass production, chemically intensive farming2. We need more men on the land, to restore it.

As an example i enjoy doing myself, growing quality timber requires a lot of hand labour: Choosing trees to thin and trees to leave, in crowded clusters; pruning the lower branches from conifers so that decades later, the best logs will be largely “clear wood”; pruning deciduous trees for form; all contribute to the growth of healthier, more valuable forests. None can be done en-masse by huge machines.

Suppose that large areas of damaged Canadian forest were granted, as tenures large enough to support a large family if well managed, tenures that could never be sold but held in perpetuity subject to good stewardship, to families and co-operatives to improve, harvest, and live from. The initial production would be mostly firewood, fence rails, and other relatively low value timber; as the stands improve, so will the harvests. Here is work that genuinely improves ecological abundance; some can be done by young children and ordinary women; much is inherently men’s work. We need more men in the woods, to restore them.

Our ecological predicament comes, in large part, from too much mechanization. We cannot prevent ecological scarcity by good stewardship if the human population of the earth continues to grow; human life, to that extent, seems to follow “the law of supply and demand.” We can restore the quality of ecosystems degraded by mechanization and chemical abuse—by replacing them with skilled hand labor.

And while i cannot prove this thesis yet, i am convinced that those who restore farms and forests by skilled hand labor, will find their lives are satisfying. If overpopulation and mechanization have made human lives cheap, returning to skilled hand labor will make the lives of the men whose hands they are, valued.


Angus, Karl, 2000. Personal interviews in which Mr. Angus, President of the Port Alberni Métis Association and a historian of Québec as well as Prairie Métis subsistence practices, described his mother’s family’s land holdings and work .

Anonymous, 1965. The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. United States Government Printing Office. ..this centimetre-thick paperback book was written (as acknowledged by the US Department of Labor website, 2010) by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, previously co-author with respected American sociologists and later US Senator from New York

Boulding, Keneth 1973 “The shadow of the stationary state” Daedalus (Fall) 89-101.

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

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

Ehrlich, Paul R. 1968 The Population Bomb. NY: Ballantine

Ehrlich, Paul; Anne H. Ehrlich, and John P Holdren 1973 Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions. SFO: Freeman

Eichenberger, Bob, 200? L’Écoforesterie, une science, un art, un projet de société Printed by Olivert Eco-Design

Komarov, Boris, 1980. The Destruction of Nature in the Soviet Union. White Plains, NY: M. E. Sharpe

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

Pimentel, David; E.C.Terhune; R. Dyson-Hudson; S. Rochereau; R. Samis; E.A. Smith; D.Denman; D. Reifschneider; M.Shepard (1976) “Land degradation: Effects on food and Energy resources.” Science 194(8 October) 149-155

Rifkin, Jeremy, with Ted Howard, 1980. Entropy: A New World View. NY: Viking. Bantam paperback 1981

Spelt, Jakob (1972) Urban Development in South-Central Ontario. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart (“Carleton Library” #57) The bulk of the text is about the rural settlement that made later urbamization possible.

Sumner, William G. (1913) Earth Hunger and Other Essays. Yale University Press.

Webb, Walter P. (1952) The Great Frontier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


1. which happens to have been the 200th anniversary of their Declaration of Independence.

2. The farmers who already have huge areas under cultivation by huge machines, could not manage those huge areas this new [or some would say old, traditional] way, without far more workers; it is easier for newcomers to farming to adopt ecological stewardship than for those already farming on a big scale.

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Men’s Lives Neglected

… relatively by charities and especially by Government?
(c) 2016, Davd

This is not the first time I’ve written on the importance of men—regular men of average and higher ability and willingness to contribute. It ought not be the last; men have been much less valued than women this century, and our ecological problems are worse because men’s skilled labour is too often replaced by crude heavy machinery. “Society” needs to value men, old as well as young, “for everyone’s good”, and men need to value ourselves until society smartens up.

This particular piece is published now because the the US Election is over and the Canadian Government Inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is “back in the news”. The lives of women and girls are important, i agree—my point is that the lives of boys and men are equally important.

It’s published on Christmas Eve partly because the CBC News website posted the story of a “really nice”, 5x year old man dying in an alley in Vancouver, apparently of cold. There’s no mention of Mike Illing being aboriginal, the name isn’t one i associate with Native or Metis people—but I don’t know one way or the other. He was just a man, not a hard drug user, discarded by “society”; and if he’d been a woman his chances of survival would have been better1.

Justin Trudeau has declared that he is a Feminist; and his Government’s relative lack of attention to indigenous men who are victims of crime, seems to confirm that he is. The Canadian Government weather forecast website had a link to his Government’s planned inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, for several weeks shortly after he became Prime Minister. An alien from another solar system, reading that weather site to learn more about Planet Earth, could readily have believed that many more Aboriginal women than men were murdered in the recent past.

What recent evidence I’ve seen indicates that the reverse is true; and that’s consistent with the criminology i learned and taught 3-5 decades ago. Ontario data reported by the CBC, an organization i read to be Feminist rather than androcentric, show that many more Aboriginal men than women were missing and murdered during
1978-2014, according to an Ontario Provincial Police report
2; but the headline of the CBC story was “8 of 54 murders of aboriginal women remain unsolved, …”.

It’s not precisely a false headline, but it could be misleading, since the text of the story states that 126 Aboriginal men were murdered within OPP jurisdiction. 39 Aboriginal men and 8 women were missing, according to the same report. More than twice as many men as women were murdered, nearly five times as many men were missing, but the women are the focus of the media attention and the Government inquiry.

If that doesn’t manage to be “glaring,” that sex difference in concern about murder and violence more generally—the reason is some kind of tolerated gender inequality.

Applying the Genders-Reversed test—If missing and murdered men were getting the attention and many more women were missing and murdered?—would that be glaring? Would Feminists yawn? or shrug?

The question is rhetorical. The answer is obvious. Indeed, decades of Feminist lobbying and centuries of chivalry are why an inquiry into the less victimized sex, but not into the plight of men, is in the news.

It may be chivalrous, it may represent the success of Feminist lobbying—but equality, it’s not.

Men are human beings. If more indigenous men are murdered and missing—and missing and murdered indigenous women get the attention—the treatment we get is less human than we are. If even a few men die of cold trying to sleep outdoors in December, and all the women get sheltered; the treatment we get is less human.

As a moral assessment: We and our well-being (or lack of it) are being neglected, and have been for years.

As a question: Why don’t men’s lives matter as much politically and culturally, as women’s?

I intend to address that question, “why” as well as “what”, this winter…

… and if i have a rather sombre Christmas this year, it’s partly in sympathy with Mike Illling, and with Earl Silverman, and with thousands of others. Jesus, whose birthday is being remembered, said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my [fellow men], ye have done it unto me.” It’s customary, is it not, to give gifts to the birthday person first and foremost?

Those who revere the Bible can read the OPP report and the CBC’s stories, about indigenous men and about Mike Illing3, as saying Jesus Christ is being neglected this December. Muslims can consider whether Islam’s call to give alms, is being well enough heeded. Buddhists can reflect on their faith’s injunction not to harm another human being, nor put him in harm’s way.

Those worried about the ecological condition of Planet Earth, could think about what Mike Illing and men like him, what unemployed Indigenous men, might have been able to do to help, and why their capabilities haven’t been respected, put to work, and rewarded. That neglect is something that could change, any time.

Men’s lives matter. The more “Society” pretends they don’t matter, the more “society” will suffer for the injustice we feel; and also for lack of what we could contribute.


1. For instance, the Red Cross and UN World Food Program distribute food only to women.

2. The link in the story, to the OPP report which was its main source, produced an error message indicating the address no longer exists. A successor report was found by the everyman webmaster; it stated:
• Between 1957 and 2014, there were eight (8) missing Indigenous females reported to the OPP who remain missing.
• Presently, there are 40 cases that involve missing Indigenous males, since 1956.
• For the period of 1964 to December 2014, inclusive, in OPP jurisdiction:
— • There were 54 homicides involving Indigenous females
— • Eight of which remain unsolved for a clearance rate of 85.2 percent.
• For the period of 1978 to December 2014, inclusive, in OPP jurisdiction:
— • There were 126 homicides of Indigenous males
— • One of which remains unsolved for a clearance rate of 99.2 percent.
• From January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2014, inclusive, the OPP CIB overall homicide clearance rate was 92.3 percent (155 homicides, 12 unsolved).

Note that while the time span from which the missing men and missing women were last seen, is the same; the 126 homicides of indigenous men represent a shorter time span [37 years] than the 54 homicides of indigenous women [51 years]. Adjusting for time span, indigenous men in OPP territory suffered 34.1 homicides per decade, over three times the women’s 10.6.

3… and many other men will die on Canadian and US streets this winter, with no hard drugs involved (something the CBC story specifically reported about Illing.)

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The Movember After:

… you might be feeling better, but you’re not “cured” yet:
(c) 2016, Davd

Last Movember i was a selectively frail old man, going to Radiation Treatment over half the days of the month1, and getting more rather than less weak as the month went on. Though modern radiation machines aim the deadly rays more accurately than earlier machinery did, there is damage to the parts of the body near the target tumour, and “cleaning up that damage” puts stress on the body. Until radiation treatment ends, you get weaker, not stronger; and after it ends, your weakness gradually decreases.

Do you get back to where you were before treatment? I probably won’t, because i’m past 70 and was in good physical condition when i was diagnosed. I may get back to being in better than average physical condition for my age—by the time that age is 3-5 years older than when i was diagnosed. For a man in his 70s, that’s not likely to be as good condition as he enjoyed 3-5 years earlier. A man who is in poorer condition when diagnosed, might take up eating and fitness habits that bring him above his condition on the day of diagnosis—but being in poor condition when diagnosed is not hopeful for response to treatment. I’d rather be expecting to get back to something not quite as fit as i was in 2014, than facing the greater risks and lesser hopes of a man who was badly out of shape when diagnosed.)

In Movember 2014, i walked long and fast, most days, and sometimes ran. In Movember 2015, i had the strength to walk Fritz around a block or two, to “relieve himself”. This Movember 2016, i’m walking at a speed, and for distances, intermediate between those two. It’s partly aging, partly being in a town compared to a rural acreage in 2014 and a large city in 2015.

In Movember 2015, Lent began—for me.

The Long, Long Lent:
I got austere advice 13 months ago, when my Radiation Treatment was well begun but far from over; it was not clear to me if i should abstain totally from beer, coffee, and wine, or limit them to less than most people take at one social sitting. The implications for food were even more vague.

I did not have a normal social life, not even for a monk2, last Christmas season.

This advice despite blood tests indicating my liver was OK, my cholesterol count better than the norms, …. I was told, vaguely, that for the remainder of radiation treatment and about three months after it ended, i should consider myself “frail”

By three months after treatment ended, it was officially Lent. I did not keep that Lent with Orthodox strictness, but by Western Church standards, it was Lenten discipline3. It lasted five months, compared to six and a half weeks with Sundays off, for regular Lent4.

It is customary for people to get together with coffee and food. Suddenly, i was to strictly limit both. (I won’t go into detail, because i don’t practice medicine, and my discipline was shaped partly by such facts as an ability to eat one grain-and-legume “meatless meal”, but not three and seldom two, without indigestion.)

I did eat much less beef, more chicken, more beans, and about as much fish as when I lived near the ocean (meaning much more fish than is customary in Alberta.) I ate more beans, peas, and lentils than is usual here, but about the same amount as i’d eaten for years, “for the sake of dietary fibre and variety.”

I also socialized less. I did go food shopping, but not often. I carried nose masks to wear when i was in crowds. I avoided Christmas dinner at my son’s house because one of the household got sick the week before. The purpose wasn’t to pray, study and meditate, as it is for Christian Lent, but the austerity was very similar, and having so much time by myself, i did spend more of it writing, studying, and at prayer, than i likely would have if i’d been free to go about the city.

It would be a good idea to provide men in, and after, Radiation Treatment, with somewhere like a cloister to live; somewhere they could have a quiet social life and a minimal risk of infection while they are frail.

PTSD and Canine Support:
Three GPs have accepted that i did have PTSD (it was treated in 1990-91, back when Movember wasn’t even a word); and have advised that i should take some precautions to protect myself from relapse. Canine Fritz’ company is an important part of those precautions: I was “right” and prudent to being him with me, and would have been even if there were someone in NB who could have given him a good home and who he knew and liked.

Perhaps you nave read, or seen on TV, about the training of dogs to be emotional support for PTSD survivors. I am not the only “PTSD veteran” to have a support dog who he raised himself rather than acquiring from a bureaucracy. (I think it will be more proper if i not name one such man, who got his PTSD in Afghanistan, who i got to know somewhat in N.B.)

I’ve learned that some places will refuse Fritz, and those places are less healthy for me than if he were accepted. I do intend to continue to have Fritz’ beneficial presence in most of my life; and to give him my reciprocal support. Not only do i care about his well-being; it’s also true that the greater his well-being, the more beneficial his effect on me.

PTSD is not rare, and as Afghanistan and Croatia and Rwanda veterans reach middle and old age, there will be many thousands of them coming to places like Cross Cancer Institute for day treatment. I have paid a few thousand dollars more during the past two years, to have him with me—as if he were a luxury rather than a health enhancement. Those men should not have to pay premium rents and other costs to have their support and service dogs with them.

For that matter, PTSD is not the only condition for which canine support is valuable.

It would be a valuable work of charity, to establish a household with several guest rooms, where men coming to a city with support dogs, for treatment, could stay with those dogs in a canine-friendly home5. I doubt a government bureaucracy could do it half as efficiently as a church or men’s charity. Anyone interested?

Recovery and Prognosis:
I walk faster and more comfortably this month, than i did a year ago. I think i can eat a bit more varied diet than i could then; but that’s difficult to assess, because my eating habits are biased toward healthy foods and have been for years. I am convinced i can tolerate more exposure to colds and ‘flu; but again, i don’t go out in crowds much anyway, i’m spending this winter in a town rather than a big city, and i’ve had the ‘flu vaccination.

I’m not as fit as i was in Movember 2014; and very possibly never will be again. Aging entails weakening, and after 70, we weaken more rapidly than before 60. Exercise can help, but “getting back to where i was when i was 40” is a goal that’s probably impossible for men who were in good shape at 40. Even “getting back to where i was when i was 60” or “…70” might well be impossible.

The rule i learned decades ago, in school, was that medicine will say that a cancer is cured if there’s no sign of its return five years after treatment. I haven’t heard nor read of any new rule replacing it. Five years after treatment ended will be early December 2020, and if i’m alive then, i will be 78 years old. That’s neither a very short nor a very long lifespan for a Canadian man born in 1942… nor “American”, Australian, Austrian, British, … Finnish, French, German, Greek, … basically, for a man born in a modern country, who survived World War II.

“All men are mortal” is a slogan that’s thousands of years old. If cancer doesn’t kill me, and plausibly i might survive those criterial five years, then before two more decades are past, something else probably will.

Movember can remind us to look after our health and be regularly checked for silent illness. It can remind us of ways specifically to reduce our risk of cancer. It can’t empower us to live forever.

Not all Christian men look at life as a story. I do; and my story has run much longer by now, than it has left to go. Whether or not my prostate cancer was cured last autumn, I’m in better shape this Movember than last, which seems to indicate the treatment did some good.

Now, cured or not, i have a far shorter time left than i’ve lived so far, to finish the story.


1. In addition to weekends, there was no treatment on legal holidays and a few days when the radiation machines were “down for maintenance”.

2. I’ve never been a monk, but for three weeks in 2005, i lived in a monastery “cell”, keeping the same routines and eating the same diet as one.

3. It has been my custom for more than a year—more than three years, as best i recall—to begin the day with the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer, slowly and reflectively. Many Roman Catholics have additional Lenten disciplines, but many do not.

4, Lent is “40 days long” an old Anglican priest explained to me, but Sundays are always feast days, so the 40 days take over six weeks to count off.

5. There should be such a household in every large city whose hospitals have day patients.


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Remembrance Day, Trump’s Election, and the Status of Men

… a Reflection:
(1st draft Nov. 11) 2016, Davd

As i begin writing this reflection, it is only minutes before a parade will march through the centre of town to the Cenotaph, where hundreds of people will stand in the cold wind to honour soldiers long dead, and perhaps a few surviving and recently dead.

It is less than three days since one President-elect Donald Trump surprised the “mainstream” media, most pollsters, and the veteran politician Hillary Clinton, by defeating her in electoral college delegate count and thus becoming President-elect1. We might be wise to keep in mind, in Canada, the USA, and elsewhere, that Clinton seems to have won a tiny fraction more popular votes than Trump and that neither got a majority of the votes over-all,

Trump won a close contest, and we might be wise to take the comments on the potentially sweeping consequences of his narrow victory, as a reminder that Canada—and the USA—are subject to political instability in the form of dramatic changes in government and policy caused by quite small changes in the vote distribution among parties. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority government with a decided minority of the votes cast—a smaller minority than Trump’s and the Republican Party’s.

Is this a good way to change government? Not “on the face of it”. Certainly, neither the writers who view Trump and his success with alarm, nor the relatively ordinary Alberta voters who have told me of their anger and disappointment with Justin Trudeau and his Government, are calling it good.

Electoral reform, toward election rules that make the elected more representative of the voters, would be one sensible response to the Trump Republican—and the Trudeau Liberal—victories. Political stability is good. Representative legislatures are good.

Governments send men off to war. That fact, at least, connects the ill feelings about the US Government-elect and the current Canadian government, the ceremonies today, and the falsity of notions that men are privileged. Suffering in combat, dying in combat, are not privileges. They are burdens, and more severe burdens than Canadian or US women suffer today or this century—or suffered in the last—by law or social convention such as sent those men to war.

For dying and risking death in service to King [more recently Queen], and country [earlier, colony], the fallen and the old soldiers are honoured, and far more than 90% of them men. They are honoured for accepting hardship and death in a cause few of them fully understood2, and indeed some of the speeches are almost certain to refer to their “sacrifice”. They were “dutiful,” in doing what their rulers told them to do; and those most explicitly honoured were unlucky, in dying.

In honouring these unlucky, obedient men, we attest, whether we notice it or not, to the falsity of “historic oppression of women.” The World Wars are history; and all their North American (including Canadian) combat soldiers were male. Some women died in them (as non-combat “civilian3 casualties”) Far more men died, and far more men suffered while living as soldiers, than women.

“Historic oppression of women” is a legal fiction. It is deemed to have occurred, but the facts of war we remember today, contract the notion—as do the labouring conditions of ordinary working class men since 1900, or since 1500 or even earlier, for that matter. As do working class folk sayings like “Ain’t Momma happy, ain’t nobody happy” and “Mother is always right.”

Nathanson and Young, (2006, summary review here; cf. Brown, 2004, 2013, Corry and Stockburger, 2013) detail some of the misandric biases in Canadian and US law, and some of the deemings that treat men as privileged when women actually are. The now famous Misandry Bubble blog, almost seven years ago, reminded readers that ordinary men “had had it worse” than ordinary women, for a long time indeed.

The average man was forced to risk death on the battlefield, at sea, or in mines, while most women stayed indoors tending to children and household duties. Male life expectancy was always significantly lower than that of females, and still is. … Most of [the oppression] narrative stems from ‘feminists’ comparing the plight of average women to the topmost men (the monarch and other aristocrats), rather than to the average man. This practice is known as apex fallacy, and whether accidental or deliberate, entirely misrepresents reality.

I’ve written one blog on the Apex Fallacy’s general existence and psychological basis, which might be worth reading if you doubt, or want to understand better, that and how the fallacy exists.

It was men more than women who elected Donald Trump. His campaign style made much of resentment of the elites—and men have more to resent. Military veterans especially have much to resent, according to research from the (US based) Equal Justice Foundation (e.g. Corry and Stockburger, 2013.) The modern war-veteran successors of the men honoured today as surviving World War veterans, have been victims of Feminism, and Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton represented more Feminism, not less, had she been elected.

(The “groping” question [including, it seems, the sexual conduct of former US President William Clinton] should be addressed separately. As a hint of how i might address it in a subsequent blog, let me ask: How many modest women “get groped”? Traditional Roman Catholic nuns’ habits are a fairly extreme example of modest dress. In Central Alberta, many Mennonite and Hutterite women wear long sleeved dresses with long skirts (reaching well below their knees.) Some of those dresses can fairly be called “pretty”; i have not noticed any i would call erotic. Modesty ought to be high in priority among those, including myself, who oppose erotic behaviour directed toward strangers. Indeed, much immodesty is erotic behaviour.)

As the sex (or gender if you prefer that word) from whom those “sacrificed” soldiers we briefly honour today, came;
.. as the sex [or gender] who does the great majority of the dirty jobs, and does them with much less complaint than a similar number of women would make if they had to do them4;
.. as the sex deemed guilty of domestic violence when women are a little more likely to instigate it (Nathanson, and Young, 2006: ch 9, e.g. 239-40, Appendix 3; Brown, 2004);

men have been second class citizens, as Nathanson and Young, Brown, and many others have documented during the first fifteen years of this young century. If a Trump presidency brings the sexes nearer to equality, that’s good for “America”. If a Trump presidency shrinks the U.S. bureaucracy and makes its demands more consistent and gender equal, that too is good for “America”.

It seems to me, on a few days reflection, that while the status of men was not a visible issue during the Trump, much less the Clinton campaign, it was an issue in the minds of many voters, and millions of American men, plus rather many American women, decided the crudity of some of Trump’s style was the lesser of two evils.

Public scrutiny and public support of what follows, methinks, can refine the crudity, if indeed Trump himself has not done much of that already. Congressional powers can moderate extremes that prove foolish. Already, methinks, androcentric discourse has become more legitimate in the U.S. than it was a year ago, even last winter.

Now how do we import androcentric legitimacy to Canada? and shrink the bureaucracies here?

a few References:

Brown, Grant A. 2004 “Gender as a Factor in the Response of the Law-Enforcement System to Violence Against Partners,” Sexuality and Culture, v. 8, Issues 3 & 4, pp. 3-139.

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

Corry, Charles E. and David W. Stockburger, 2013. “Analysis of Veteran Arrests – El Paso County, Colorado“. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Equal Justice Foundation.

Daniels, Anthony M.D., 2014. “The Worldview that Makes the Underclass”. Speech delivered on May 20, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dearborn, Michigan, and published in Imprimis,

“Futurist”, 2010. The Misandry Bubble . January 1.

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

Notes: follow in most html displays

Perhaps a few others than me, will question whether the wars in which those soldiers died, whose battles were horrific in contrast to the peaceful years that began the previous, “Twentieth” Century, were necessary. That, like the “groping question” is worth examining but peripheral to this blog.

1. Canadian and other non-US readers probably do not understood the somewhat complicated fules by which each state is allocated “electors”; i certainly do not understood how votes are translated into elector selection, state by state.

2. The Second World War may have been understood somewhat better by those soldiers who regarded it as a response to aggression by the Hitler Nazi regine, or to ill-treatment of Jews and later Christians by the Nazis. (The Holocaust was not fully recognized by the public until near or after the end of the war.) Ths US entered both wars later than did Canada, in response to aggression {the sinking of ships in the case of the First World War, and the attack on Pearl Harbor in the case of the second.)

3. To forestall quibbling: There were a few Russian combat units including women. There were Canadian and US non-combat military units including women, who suffered much less than the combat soldiers both in risk of death and while living.

4. (One might also ask if most women could do many dirty jobs such as garbage collection, logging, and hauling crab and black cod traps.)


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Beer!–part 2

..bottling and cycling:
(c) 2016, Davd

If you took my reminder to have bottles enough ready, to hold the 23 litres (about 5 US gallons, for those readers who live there) that you started a week ago…
… and if your wort has fermented and is clear or well along in clearing1, then it’s time to bottle. (If it’s not ready, copy the url of this “food blog” for later reference, and expect it’s likely to be in front position for the rest of September.)

You don’t have to bottle beer the first day it’s ready—it can sit in the carboy for a week or two, maybe three weeks, without harm, as long as it’s isolated from the bacteria in the air.. (which isolation is what that fermentation lock does.)

In addition to the beer and the bottles, you’ll need some bleach, a little more sugar, a siphon, funnels, and at least as many caps as you have bottles. With a little bit of luck, you’ll have more caps than bottles, just by saving [and if need be, washing] screw caps from pop bottles. (You can also save empty pop bottles, wash them, and use them for beer. Myself, i think that’s fine if the bottles are plain shaped and made to take pressure2; but cute shapes, i use only for the last bottle or two that have dregs in them—you’ll read more about dregs further down.)

I recommend you also have another beer kit and a spare kilo of sugar on hand, as well, so you can start another batch in your carboy the same day. Having just fermented a good batch of beer, a carboy is obviously in good state to ferment another.

The bottling process begins with sterilization.

I put “a few tablespoons”—maybe 100 ml [3+ ounces] at most–of bleach through a tiny funnel inserted in the top of the siphon hose, and thus through the siphon hose also, into a heavy glass beer bottle—I use one of those European type bottles3 with its own ceramic cam-action cap, but any heavy bottle will do. The bleach, should cover the bottom of the bottle 1-1,5 centimetres [a half inch or slightly less] deep. I follow the bleach with at least twice as much water, making sure the bleach and then the water pass along the whole siphon. That way the siphon is sterilized, and also rinsed so the first bottle of beer is fit to drink. The bleach-water mixture should cover the bottom of the bottle about 5 cm [two inches] deep.

This bleach-water [the sterilizing solution] is then passed through all the bottles I will be using [and generally one or two spares since I cannot be sure exactly how much beer I will get before hitting the sediment]. I use a medium-size funnel: Each time I take a bottle, I immediately put the funnel into its neck. Then I take a cap, and put it on the bottle that contains the sterilizing solution. (If you are cycling, the bottles and caps were rinsed soon after emptying, so in dishwashing terms, they are already clean, as are new bottles4.) I shake the bottle for 2-3 seconds, being sure the neck and the inside of the cap get well wetted; and then I take the cap off, put it in a clean container, and pour the solution through the funnel into the next bottle.

By taking a new cap for each new bottle, I wind up with enough sterilized caps in the same operation that sterilizes the bottles. To be sure, i shake the first plastic bottle i sterilize, 2-3 times, with a different cap each time.

(With a little practice, you can co-ordinate your hands so that one hand moves the funnel and the other caps the bottle that has the sterilizing solution. The only problem is your workspace filling up with a crowd of bleachy-smelling pint bottles, making it hard to position the new and sterilizing solution bottles for smooth co-ordination. Nothing’s perfect… i often put two dozen of the sterilized bottles in a box.)

I could probably fill the bottles as they are, but I rinse them first to minimize the bleach. I think that helps the carbonation start and proceed quickly. Rinsing takes less than half as long per bottle, partly because the bottles are coming off the worktable into a box, and partly because you don’t have to screw a cap on and then unscrew it–just pour the plain water from one bottle to the next, through the funnel, with a good swirl to cover the inside of the bottle you’re rinsing and then pouring.

No question about it, this sterilizing is tedious, and it is equally tedious if you use sulphite solution to sterilize. (I prefer bleach because it is available at far more stores and it leaves far less of a smell and taste. A tiny bit of bleach becomes a tiny bit of salt by the time you drink the beer.)

Two-litre bottles are less trouble to sterilize because you need about a quarter as many. To me, flat beer is more tedious, so I go ahead and use pints [and half litres]; and spoiled beer is worse than tedious–so I go along with the tedium of sterilizing.

When the bottles are sterilized and rinsed, i proceed quickly to fill them with beer and then “prime” them with sugar. I have usually done this work alone, but there’s no harm and some useful “backup”, in cycling beer with a friend.

My siphon is wrapped with a rubber band at the point where the short end will just reach the bottom of the carboy from the top of the neck. I’ve passed a big paper clip through the rubber band. To start siphoning, I put the short end into the carboy, clip the paper clip onto the top, and take a quick “draw” on the other end. The beer never reaches my mouth, because once it’s started, I put the delivery end of the siphon into a waiting mug.

Into the mug goes a sample–two or three ounces–and then the siphon goes into the first pint bottle. The sample will tell me for sure that the beer is OK. I taste it immediately and as long as it tastes like flat beer, I proceed to fill the bottles.5

Filling the first few bottles–like the second or third day of fermentation–is fast-and-furious. The higher the “head” of liquid, the faster the siphon action, and pint bottles will fill so quickly you had better have a dozen or two on your worktable, ready for you to pass the siphon from one to the next.

It is easier to tilt an empty bottle than a full one, so tilt the neck of the empty bottle next to the one that is filling. Then you can move the siphon across with little or no spillage. When the height of the beer in the carboy is lower than the top of a bottle, you’ll need to lower the level of that bottle when it’s full, to move the siphon to another bottle. (If your workspace is fancy enough that the carboy can stand 3-6 inches higher than the bottles, that might be something to do.)

I find with my plastic “carboy”, that after 15-20 pints have been filled, a tall heavy European bottle3 will be just taller than the “stack” of beer remaining in the fermenter. So I have at least 16 bottles in a box, waiting to be taken out and filled, and a space which will hold them all, before I start the siphon.

If there’s room to siphon 2-3 dozen bottles before pausing, that’s probably better than stopping at 15-20; i usually siphon either 25-30 bottles before i pause, or with plenty of work space, i may continue until only 2-3 inches of beer remain in the carboy6. Then i put the siphon into a tall, heavy glass bottle, so both ends are “under water”, stand it next to the carboy, and finish my sample. Then I’ll prime the bottles i’ve filled.

(If you haven’t that much work space for siphoning, stop when the height of the beer in the carboy is below the bottom of the neck of one of your heavy glass bottles, and park the siphon in the heavy bottle.)

Priming amounts to adding a bit of white sugar to each bottle of beer. The yeast will ferment that sugar in the capped bottle; and because the carbon dioxide produced can’t escape into the air, it will stay and give fizz to the beer.

How much sugar to add depends on the size of the bottle. Cooper’s says it’s safe to add up to 4 grams [a level tablespoon, equalling three teaspoons, is about 15 grams; so this could be up to 4/5 teaspoon] to a pint. I use a half teaspoon or a little more, and I get enough fizz for me. You can calculate the amount if it isn’t pints you’re using. .. and adjust after tasting some of your first batches.

I take the sugar from the sugar bowl with a narrow “grapefruit spoon”, because that spoon will insert the sugar into the neck of a plastic bottle with little or no spillage. If i have a tapered rather than bowl bottomed funnel that’s dry, and the right size, i put the sugar in the bottles through that dry funnel—less fuss, less spillage. If i don’t hava a dry funnel handy, though, a grapefruit spoon will do the job if used with care.

Refined sugar is such a “water grabber” that bacteria basically can’t live in it; I have never sterilized my priming sugar and there’s been no problem. (Knock wood–try red cedar or oak because it’s antibacterial itself. But unsterilized white priming sugar is pretty safe, partly because the beer it goes into is already 5% alcohol.)

Once you know how much your usual amount of sugar looks like in your usual spoon, this step will be easy.

If the beer is just ending its ferment, and the yeast is still active, there will be some foaming when the priming sugar goes into the bottle. You’ll have 1-3 seconds to get the cap on before the foam might possibly jump out of the bottle.

If the beer has waited for a while to be bottled, the yeast will be inactive–having run out of sugar–and the beer won’t foam, or very little. However much it foams, I tip the bottle upside down a couple of times after capping, so as to mix the sugar into the beer and get the carbonation started as soon as possible.

This “secondary fermentation” after priming will take up to two weeks; but I find that after 5-8 days the beer is usually fizzy enough to seem normal. If your friends (and you) have not used up all your previously-made beer two weeks after bottling day, put the batch into a cellar or other cool place. There it will improve for another two months, perhaps three.

When there’s less than three inches [7,5 cm] of beer left in the fermenter, (“the last pause”, which with luck might also be the first pause) I tilt it, blocking it up with a short piece of two-inch lumber (a book will also do if you have one that thickness), so that the siphon-end is at the low side. Then I resume siphoning, and continue until the beer runs out.

The last bottle often gets a good deal of yeast sediment from the bottom of the fermenter–because it’s tipped, the sediment slides down as it nears empty–so mark it “dregs” [a twist-tie or rubber band will do, or pencil “D” on the cap]. Don’t worry too much about this, since the secondary fermentation will put a bit of sediment in the bottom of every bottle.

When the last bottle is full or the stuff coming up the siphon is ugly, I lift the bottle and siphon above the carboy table, [maintaining an air gap so the beer won’t go back out of the last bottle] and then lift the siphon high so the sediment returns to the fermenter. I normally slip both ends of the syphon into the neck of the fermenter [=carboy] to wait while I prime the rest of the beer.

Then I take the carboy to a laundry tub or bathtub, or outdoors in warm weather, and rinse it out thoroughly. If I have enough bottles empty, I start another batch right away7.

If you can take that empty fermenter, rinse out the dregs8, have some malt syrup already heated from the next kit, and begin the next batch of beer straight away, that’s best. The empty carboy has the right conditions for making beer—as you know from the fact it just made beer—and you can get the next batch off to a good start without having to park or sterilize the fermenter.

I usually start the can of wort heating slowly in clean water, on its side (with the yeast packet removed, and the label removed also if that’s easy) about the time i start priming. It will take several minutes for the heat of the water to conduct itself to the inside of that can–the wort concentrate temperature will be behind the water temperature until the water has been hot for a while.  If the water around the wort can starts to boil, or threatens to boil, i turn off the heat under it.

Every kitchen is a little different, and the timing of when you heat the can of wort for cycling is something i can’t get exact for someone else’s kitchen. Once your bottles are all capped, that can of wort is hot enough to pour, and the carboy is rinsed clean, put your kilo of sugar in the carboy, add a little cool to warm water, open the can of wort, and proceed as with a new batch.

May you find at least one kit type that pleases you, a good place to ferment and a good cooler place to age your beer, and the sense of your own enjoyment, to drink until the next bottle wouldn’t be quite as pleasant now as tomorrow—then have that one wait for tomorrow. (Oh, and remember that the law’s notion of intoxicated is much stricter than it used to be. The prudent thing to do is make the beer drinking wait until the day’s driving is all done.)


1. Once the fermentation lock is down to bubbling once every 10 seconds, or less often, you can safely quit heating the carboy; when it’s down to once every 5 seconds or longer, you can let the temperature ease down to 18-20 C [65-68 F]. If it’s warmer than that, no harm, though it’s wise to keep it below 30C [85 F]

2. Bottles for drinks that don’t have pressure [fizz], often will lose their shape when the beer carbonates and pressure develops.

3. Mostly, i’ve found Fischer beer from France and Grolsch from Holland, in these bottles; there is also at least one German beer that comes in heavy glass. The Fischer bottles have the widest bases, and so have been the best for holding a siphon without tipping… until my son Erik gave me two litre sized “Aroma Borealis” herbal ale bottles from the Yukon. They have a very wide base, and are best for parking the siphon (but can be a little awkward to fit into some fridge doors,.)

4. In general, care of beermaking equipment is a lot like for pickling and canning. Just as you’d rinse out a canning jar soon after emptying it, so as to make the next use easier; so you should rinse out a beer bottle soon after emptying it. Run 1-2 inches of water into it, put your thumb or a finger or two over the opening, turn it upside down, and shake vigorously until you can’t see any yeast sediment in the bottom. Then pour out the water, run in a little more, shake a few seconds, and pour out. I stand my beer bottles upside down in the dish rack to dry, put them in their boxes [capped or upside down]; and they’re ready for an easy sterilizing, and more beer.

5. If it tastes bad, there are two basic alternatives—try to make malt vinegar of it, or down the sewer… and in either case, a serious sterilizing of that carboy before you try making beer in it again. If your sterilizing follows these techniques, including a fermentation lock with a few drops of bleach in the water it holds, bad batches should be somebody else’s problem.

6. It’s a good idea to have at least two glass bottles, too heavy and wide at the base to tip easily, for “parking the siphon.” I have seldom been interrupted while siphoning—knock wood—but it’s a good idea to be prepared.

7. A batch of beer fills 45-50 pint bottles, so if i have more than 40 waiting, i can expect to have 50 by the time the wort is fermented, and go ahead. It’s quite OK to start a next batch with 10-20 bottles waiting, and simply leave it in the carboy until you have bottles enough to put it in. If there are two of you drinking the beer regularly, 20 bottles when you cycle to a new batch of wort, might be plenty.

If not, I put the bleach solution I used to sterilize the bottles, into the carboy after i’ve emptied and rinsed it, put the stopper [without fermentation lock] into the top, and cover with a clean plastic bag held with a rubber band [string or twine will also do]. This will pretty well assure that the carboy is “sterilized” when it is time to make more beer.

8. If it’s summer or late spring, and slugs bother your garden, save the dregs for slug traps. I used empty tuna cans, back in Acadie, because they’re small and shallow, put in beer dregs, maybe thinned with water, and drowned a lot of slugs. It seems that in dry summer areas, gardeners seldom need much slug bait, so saving a litre or two should be plenty in Alberta as it was on Vancouver Island.


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..from kits, for beginners:
(c) 2016, Davd

The one alcoholic beverage we can fairly call nourishing. The one we are most attracted to after an active day’s work or play. The one we can drink, not sip, without getting disabled. The one that goes with smoked salmon sandwiches or pretzels, ham and salad on a mellow Saturday afternoon.

Martin Luther once wrote that a pastor’s wife should know how to make beer. Apparently, the pastor himself was likely to be called away to a sickbed, choir rehearsal, wedding, or whatever; and the wife (at least in Luther’s time and place) more certain to be home when the beer needed tending. Plainly, the founder of Protestant Christianity did not consider beer drinking sinful; rather a normal companion to a good meal, and an important part of hospitality.

I agree—and I’m fortunate not to need to know how to make beer. I can buy a kit whose directions are simple, set aside some out-of-the-way space for the beer to ferment and then to age, spend less than five minutes per bottle doing work which is as pleasant as knitting or fly-tying, and wind up with better beer than the best-selling brands you find in stores.

A kit which makes 40-45 pints [equal to 55-60 12-ounce beer bottles] costs me C$15-18 [about U$ 14-$15] and to bring the alcohol to the Canadian standard of 5.5% takes a kilo of added sugar, which costs me about $1. For less than $20 [U$ 13-16] I get an amount of beer that would cost me $75 or more for average beer or well more than $100 for the quality the better kits make.

In this first beer-kit blog, i’ll cover the starting of a first batch; aiming to give you a good sense of what to expect as you start 23 litres [5 US gallons] of kit beer.  After a week to ten days, i plan to post a second blog on bottling the beer, priming it so it will carbonate, and starting another batch the same day.

The brewing and bottling takes me 2-4 hours, and I’d spend at least half that amount of time going to the store, taking back the empties, and so-forth if I bought my beer. So for an hour or two of work I save $45-85 on beer. The last time I got pay that good I had to pay over a third of it to the Government… a penny saved is at least equal to a cent and a half, earned, because there’s no tax on work done for yourself.

The key to making beer, even more than when making wine, is starting at the right temperature and holding that temperature until your fermentation is going fast-and-furious. I found that out reading the directions to a Cooper’s beer kit [from Australia] and since my beer had been reliably good with their kits, I nearly always used Cooper’s until i came to Alberta1. I especially liked their Stout, amber [“real”] and dark ales. Other folks may prefer a different brand of kits; it is, after all, a matter of taste.

The directions in three brands of kit I’ve liked are clear and simple: Heat the malt syrup, pour it into a clean sterilized fermenter, add sugar [the directions will say how much] to make the final alcohol level meet your taste; and water to make a total volume of [usually, 23 litres, or 5 US gallons]. The kits contain hop extract already mixed into the malt syrup; so all that’s left to do is add the yeast the kit also contains, and stir gently.  Once you get used to things, that is; read on and it should help you get used to things.

The concentrated malt syrup in the kit is at least as thick as molasses, so to pour it, you need to heat it. I take the label off the container, lay it on its side in a big cooking pot, and cover it with water; then heat the pot on the stove.

While heating the malt syrup, clean the carboy2 if it’s not clean already, and sterilize it with bleach and water—one fifth bleach is plenty and one tenth ought to do in a clean container.  Swirl the solution around so it touches all the inside surfaces of the huge bottle, and then leave it in the bottom, with a stopper in the bottle’s neck or a clean plastic bag held over the top with a rubber band [a small drinking glass upside down over the top, etc.. will do.].

When the bleach solution has been worked all over the inside of the carboy, and has sat there for ten minutes or longer, then pour it into a jar, even an old plastic food container, and cover with a lid. It can still be used to soak a rag, usually a dishrag, to sterile-clean surfaces such as where you just sliced a piece of meat or butchered a fish.

Just before you start filling the carboy, when the malt is getting hot enough to pour, get a really clean glass jar [the ones that commercial pasta sauce come in, do fine, or one-litre pickle jars] fill it maybe half full with clean water that’s just warm, not hot, to your little finger or your cheek; sprinkle the yeast on top of that, and cover. The yeast will “wake up” while you’re putting the malt and water into the carboy.

I start by putting the sugar [1 kg with most kits] into the carboy, dry; then i add some cool to warm water, so that when the hot syrup hits the bottom of the carboy it gets cooled some, to reduce heat shock to the carboy. An inch deep seems to be enough; two inches, plenty for sure.

Then pour the syrup in, through the funnel with the largest bottom opening, that will sit well in the neck of the carboy. (Rubber gloves or a ‘pot holder’ will help protect your hand from the heat.)  It will be a slow process, and probably seem even slower than it is. When the can of syrup is empty except for what clings to the metal, fill that can with warm to hot water, swirl gently [or it will spill some of the water], and pour that water-syrup mixture through the funnel into the carboy. Two rinsings of the can should get it and the funnel not totally clean of syrup, but close.

Pick up the carboy and swirl it around so the syrup, sugar, and water mix together. You don’t need to get them perfectly mixed, but try to get close. Then when you fill the carboy, you’ll be filling it with wort ready for the yeast, not water with over-concentrated sugar and malt at the bottom.

If you use a 23-litre fermenter, as I have done lately, don’t fill it full right at the start. Allow two inches or more of airspace for when your fermentation is going fast-and-furious; because when it is, that airspace can fill with bubbles.

As you’re filling the fermenter with water, keep track of the temperature. I simply tape a thermometer to the outside of the vessel — duct tape works, clear office tape should let you read the thermometer through it — and add more or less hot water according to what it reads. The syrup will be fairly hot when you pour it in (if it’s not hot it won’t pour); and you’ll probably use pretty hot water to rinse out the last of the syrup from the can—and into the fermenter. So your first several litres or quarts of water after rinsing should be “Cold”. It’s worth waiting a couple minutes when you’re past half full, to check the temperature and figure out how much cold and hot to put in to get a full temperature of 21-27 [70-80F]. (Cover the carboy top while waiting, with something clean. You don’t want flies of any size or species to get inside!)

When the fermenter is almost up to 23 litres [or a decent airspace less if its capacity is 23] and the temperature is between 21-27 [70-80 Fahrenheit], add the yeast that has been softening in warm water3 and let it gradually mix with the wort.

When the yeast has been added, put on a fermentation-lock and set the fermenter in a relatively clean place with the right temperature. In the winter I cover the fermenter with a “tent” of fabric [a clean bedsheet, light window curtain or  light blanket will do] and put a bit of heating cable inside [wrapped around the carboy or the edges of a short piece of 2×3 lumber]. A lightbulb in a metal bowl, pie pan, or steaming basket inside the tent will also work. Turn the heat on when the temperature dips near 21/[70 F].

In the summer, if a room’s temperature can go above 27/[80 F] for more than a few hours of the day, put the brew in a different room. The most important rules for making good kit beer are STERILIZING and HOLD THAT TEMPERATURE.

So when you’ve started that first batch of beer, and the fermentation lock is protecting the sterilizing you’ve done—keep it at or above 20C [68F] and below 30C, preferably at or below 28. If you let your dwelling cool below 18C at night, and cool room temperature is good for your sleep, you probably should cover the carboy with something that makes a tent shape with the fermentation lock at the top. Inside that, you can heat with an old fashioned 25-40 watt light bulb in a metal or ceramic cup or bowl, a piece of heating cable such as is used to keep water pipes from freezing—something that puts out mild electric heat.

A week or two later the airlock will stop working and the wort will be beer, ready to bottle. By that time you should have enough bottles ready, to put it in.

I bottle most of my beer in plastic “pint” bottles made for home brewing. They take the same screw-on caps that fit plastic pop bottles, which means you can use caps from pop bottles if you find “topless” ones at a garage sale—which is where I found mine. I like to have at least nine dozen pint bottles. Nine dozen hold about two-and-a-half batches of beer, which allows you to have a batch fermenting, a batch carbonating, a batch ageing, and a batch you’re drinking. When the batch I’m drinking is half gone I should bottle the batch that has been fermenting and start a new batch brewing… the combination of which two tasks i call “cycling the beer.”

If you like to have two or more kinds of beer to choose from, you’ll want to have more bottles.

(In theory, I’d like to put up all my beer in those heavy glass European bottles with cam-action ceramic-and-rubber stoppers. I usually include at least two one litre bottles like that, and one smaller one, when i bottle—you’ll see why in the next post. Meanwhile, it is a real improvement on going to the beer store, to have a case or two of pints right home, and another batch

Plastic pints fit neatly into boxes holding 18 or 24 pints; and when I refer to boxes further on, these are the boxes I mean. If you get your bottles without boxes, take the trouble to find some kind of cardboard or wooden boxes that will hold [any number between about 10 and 40] of your bottles. Then you can make a neat stack of beers where they sit to carbonate, and in the cellar or other cool place where they age; and the handling will be less bother than with store beer.]

The cam-action stoppers on glass bottles, and screw-cap plastic pints, are handiest. If i only want half a pint of beer, I can re-cap the bottle and put it in the ‘fridge; and it will keep a day or two. Usually I finish the pint before I finish the day. When I first started making kit beer, I filled several two-litre pop bottles each batch. This worked, and for having guests over the size was OK, but for one or two people, there’s a serious risk of letting some beer go flat. Now, unless I plan to give some of a batch to guests on a known coming occasion, I bottle entirely to pints, or to mostly pints and a few 1-litre bottles. The pints sit neatly in their 18- or 24-bottle cases and are easier to handle than 2-litres, except for the actual filling and priming.

One way or another, have enough bottles, capable of holding pressure, ready to hold that beer you’ve started to make. I plan to post the bottling technique, and the benefits of “cycling” a next batch of beer into the carboy that same day, in a week or ten days.


1. In Alberta, the water is harder than in Coastal BC, Northern Ontario, or New Brunswick; and i’ve found that “Beer Maker” kits whose labels say they are manufactured in the UK to the specifications of a Calgary firm, produce quite good beer, especially Pilsener of those i’ve tried, Cooper’s “real ale”, which performed well in those other locations, didn’t seem quite as good “on the Prairies”. Cooper’s Stout made up fine—i don’t know the chemistry involved well enough to say why.

2. the word “carboy” denotes a honkin’ big bottle with a neck say, between one and two inches in diameter. I’ll use the word interchangeably with “fermenter” in this text. How it came to mean neither a car nor a boy but a very large bottle?—ask a librarian, if you’re that curious.

3. You can sprinkle the powdered yeast on top of the “wort”, as the solution is called when the water has mixed with the malt syrup and sugar, and let it soften and settle through the wort, without pre-softening. Pre-softening makes the fermentation start a little faster, and more certainly.

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More Seen than Recognized:

Essay review of Vincent, Norah, 2006.
Self Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man.
New York: Viking Penguin.
(c) 2016, Davd

I first chose to review this book because i was writing a review of John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me. Griffin’s experience as an “American Negro” man in 1959 seemed to me to show some patterns of “intergroup conflict” which were rare between the sexes when Griffin wrote, but are common today. A book by a woman who spent longer functioning socially as a man, than Griffin spent as Negro, invited reading. Griffin had done a valuable, quality job; if Norah Vincent did as well, she might help clarify the extent to which the sexes today are divided and unequal.

Already, in that review, i had noticed that the sexes are more different than the races; and Self Made Man confirmed this. It also confirmed, not beyond all doubt but to the extent Vincent’s adventure and her book could, that men are more candid and women are more guileful; and that women who are dating, expect too much of men, especially relative to what they have to offer in return. Vincent’s acknowledgements that she has brothers and is Lesbian indicate that she most likely has philios but not eros love for men: She brought a sympathetic tendency to the groups of men she met. Still, she spent an unknown fraction of her year and a half, disguised as a man; while Griffin became Negro.

The cover photographs on the two paperback books are telling: We see John Howard Griffin from behind, walking down a hallway of sorts between stone columns and a wall, an ordinary, fairly tall Negro man. On the back cover we see his “white” and dark faces, half in light and half in shadow, the white from abaft the beam, the dark from an angle to the bow, with an ordinary pleasant sort of look on it—again, an ordinary Negro man. Norah Vincent’s cover photographs, both on the front, are of herself as a Lesbian woman and disguised as an ordinary-looking man—except [s]he is looking straight at the camera, implicitly straight at the reader, “making contact” in both of them. Griffin’s photographs don’t do that… and as Vincent’s book tells us, urban men don’t normally do that1.

Vincent’s observations on how women can be insincere, deceptive, condescending …; contrast with her observations of men accepting her with easy-going candor; and the contrast, plus her specific reports of women’s dissembling, add up to a confession of men’s merit. In general she, like Susan Pinker (2008)—and like my grandmother the Pentecostal preacher, and my sister2—gets my salute for honesty; but also my wish that Vincent had been more profound and organized (as Griffin and Grandmother, Kid Sis to some extent, were).

Beyond Self Made Man being an acknowledgment of men’s virtues that cannot plausibly be self serving, Vincent’s report of “the American man’s condition” is worth serious reflection, in context of Vincent’s Last Words in this book: “… I am fortunate, proud, free, and glad in every way to be a woman.” [287]. This book is a report on the condition of men from someone who was a woman for comparison3 … successfully “disguised as a man.”

Partial Synopsis:

Norah Vincent is a tall, articulate, Lesbian woman, “a nationally syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times” [inside front cover]. who lived in New York City’s “Hell’s Kitchen” [p, 175] as the book was written. She joined a men’s bowling league, went to strip clubs with some fellow bowlers, dated via local bars where pickups were part of the reason for going, and via the Internet, took a 6-week retreat at a monastery, worked as a door-to-door salesman, and finally, joined a “men’s group” and attended its retreat. In total, she states, she passed for a man “in five separate states, in three different regions of the United States.” [18]

As she arrived for the first time to join the bowling league, she experienced a man-to-man greeting for the first time, and was very positively impressed [25-26].

When [Jim, the team captain] whom I’d never met before shook my hand he gave me something real. He included me. But most of the women I’d ever shaken hands with or even hugged had held something back, as if we were in constant competition with each other, or secretly suspicious, knowing it but not knowing it, and going through the motions all the same4. In my view bra burning hadn’t changed that much.

Next I met Alan. His greeting matched Jim’s. It had a pronounced positive force behind it, a presumption of goodwill that seemed to treat me as a buddy from the start, no questions asked, unless or until I proved otherwise.” [26]

Men’s default attitude toward other men newly met, is friendly, she reports; women’s toward other women, less trustful and more calculating.

Once warmly introduced, the men greeted her much less effusively than other women would have done, which for a woman, took some getting used to; but “Everything was out and aboveboard, never more, never less than what was on anyone’s mind. If they were pissed at you, you’d know it. These gruff greetings were indicative of nothing so much as fatigue and appropriate male distance. … they were coming from long, wearying workdays ….” [30]

She tested their racial attitudes by asking, after a negative TV comment on a black quarterback, “Do you think McNabb deserves to be where he is?” They didn’t get excited about the question as Vincent had expected they would:

… the conversation ended with a single comment from each. Yeah, he was doing a great job. … They were happy with his performance, on some nights very happy, and that was all that mattered. The policy debate over skin color wasn’t interesting to them, or relevant. They were rock bottom utilitarians. Either a guy was good and did what he was hired to do or he wasn’t, and that alone was the basis on which you judged his worth.” [31-32]

The men on her team—and even some men from other teams—made a supportive effort to improve her bowling game, which contrasted strongly with her experience as a woman competing with other women[43-45]; and she began to perceive the muted way—muted to her, anyhow—that men show emotion. Her first experience of it was when one of the other bowlers, not on her team, rolled a perfect game. Jim, her teammate whose turn it was to throw, didn’t step up to the line.

Then I noticed that all the other bowlers had sat down as well [except] the guy who was having the great game. I looked up at the board and saw that he’d had strikes in every frame, and now … he’d have to throw three strikes in a row … to earn a perfect score, and somehow everyone in that hall had felt the moment of grace descend and had bowed out accordingly. Everyone, of course, except me.

It was a beautiful moment, totally still and reverent, a bunch of guys instinctively paying their respects to the superior athleticism of another guy.

That guy stepped up to the line and threw his three strikes, one after the other, each one met by mounting applause… then on the final strike, an eruption, and every single guy in the room, including me, surrounded that player and moved in to shake his hand or pat him on the back. It was almost mystical, that telepathic intimacy and the communal joy that succeeded it, crystalline in its perfection. The moment said everything all at once about how tacitly attuned men are to each other, and how much of this women miss when they look from the outside in.” [47]

Still, she inferred that men are emotionally inhibited, including her bowling team, and i can’t imagine a logically sound route to the inference.

She came to enjoy her bowling night each week, in spite of her poor performance as a bowler; and i’m inclined to credit that to the candor and easy-going warmth, the lack of subversion and innuendo, that the men naturally gave “Ned” as they gave each other.

I skimmed rather than scanned the chapter titled “Sex”, in which she went to strip clubs. There is very much more to sex than that; and the overreaching chapter title indicates as the bowling accounts did not, that there is much to manhood and men’s lives that a Lesbian columnist in disguise, could not access. Strip bars are open to the public, the bedrooms of long-married couples are not… nor are the beds where people just falling in love, “make love” after falling into them.

Much as “Sex” is a far too inclusive title for chapter 3, “Love” is far too broad for chapter 4. “Dating” would have been more accurate, more descriptive.

Trying to meet women in bars while disguised as a man, taught her mainly how unpleasant rejection is:

I found myself thinking about rejection and how small it made me feel, and how small most men must feel under the weight of what women expect from them. I was an actor playing a role, but these women had gotten to me nevertheless. None of these interactions mattered. I had nothing real at stake. But still, I felt bad.” [99]

When she revealed to one group at a bar, that she was a woman in disguise,

Then, with startling quickness we all began chatting like hens. Their aloof facade fell away, … knowing i was a woman, to let me in. … Now they turned all the way around to face me….”
“As a woman, i was accepted. As a man I had been rejected yet again.
” [98]

Dating by way of Internet “introductions” brought “Ned” fewer and less painful rejections, and many dates: “… I made contact with almost all the women I dated via the Internet, and we usually exchanged a number of e-mails before we met.” [108]

The dates, however, were far less fun on average, than she had expected.

The women she dated wanted a confident take-control man who was also open, sensitive, and vulnerable [110-111]. Both Ned and Norah felt that was too much to ask: Being a “world bestriding colossus … [and] a sensitive new age guy at the same time is pretty well impossible.” [111] A very few such men might exist; millions of women want one. … and most are dissatisfied at best, if we can generalize from Vincent’s reports, when they meet less.

: “… while a man is expected to be modern, that is, to support feminism in all its particulars5, to see and treat women as equals in every respect, he is on the other hand often still expected to be traditional at the same time, to treat a lady as a lady, to lead the way and pick up the check.

Expectation, expectation, expectation. That was the leitmotif of Ned’s dating life, taking on the desirable manly persona or shrugging off its dreaded antithesis. Finding the right balance was maddening, and operating under the constant weight of so much political guilt was simply exhausting. Though, in the parlance of liberal politics, I had operated in my real life under the burden of being a doubly oppressed minority—a woman and a lesbian—and I had encountered the deprivations of that status, as a man, I operated under what I felt in these times to be the equally heavy burden of being a double majority, a white man.” [112]

Vincent did have some Lesbian indulgence with a few of her dates, (she does not specify what physically occurred [e.g. 114-123]) while other women she dated found Ned was not male enough for them: Too willowy, when many women wanted brawn.

As a Lesbian, Norah Vincent was attracted to women, playing the role of Ned, she found how much power that gave her/his dates:

And if you have never been sexually attracted to women, you will never quite understand the monumental power of female sexuality, except by proxy or in theory, nor will you quite know the immense advantage it gives us over men. As a lesbian, I knew something of this. But it is different between two women, more an engagement of equals, an exchange of something shared. As a man, I learned much more, and I learned it, I think, from an unexpectedly disadvantaged point of view.” [126]

Dating women as a man was a lesson in female power, and it made me, of all things, a momentary misogynist, which, I suppose was the best indicator that my experiment had worked. I saw my own sex from the other side, and I disliked women irrationally for a while because of it. I disliked their superiority, their accusatory smiles, their entitlement to choose or dash me with a fingertip, an execution so lazy, so effortless, it made the defeats and even the successes unbearably humiliating.” [127]

When I was Ned, women became a subspecies to blame, just as for those women, men had become the adversary in the wrong.” [128]

.. Women were supposed to fly already.6 And I held it harshly against them that they were so small and shitty and shortsighted as everybody else, including me. Ned saw that, and then I saw Ned seeing it, and then I saw myself. I guess that was the fascination of Ned. He was a mirror and a window and a prism all at the same time.7

But the truth was that for all the anger I felt … directed at the abstraction called men, I was most surprised to find nestled inside the confines of female heterosexuality a deep love and genuine attraction for real men.8 Not for women in men’s bodies, as the prejudicial me had thought.”[129]

Perhaps she discovered heterosexual women, as well as men, through her adventure.

The chapter that describes her six week retreat at a monastery, she titles “Life”, as if the bowlers, the women she dated, the men’s group members, were dead or alien.9 The real point of the chapter was to “to observe men living together in close quarters without women...”[132] and “know what happens when you take sex away.”[133] As with her other chapter titles, the word “Life” covers far more than the chapter’s content.

She “flew” into friendship with Br. Vergil10, who shared some of her interests in the arts, and was scolded by Fr. Jerome for “falling in love with him.” [139]. She admits that “in comportment, I wasn’t bothering to be very butch. I was being me, though purposely less demonstrative than I would have been as myself.

Still, even toned down, as a man, my hallmark female behaviors, my emotive temperament and even my word choice read as gay, or at the very least odd.”[144] She was pressured to act more masculine and less emotionally florid. No surprise there.

She noticed and reports, considerable affection among the monks, expressed with at least average masculine reserve… but with that reserve, she seems unable to be comfortable.

Revealing to the monks that she was a woman, she reports, improved acceptance and rapport.

For “Work”, she chose not a naturally male job like carpentry, logging, and garbage collection, but door-to-door sales, which is not necessarily masculine. Writing of it as a “balls-to-the-wall sales job in a testosterone soaked environment” may be merely her usual hyperbole applied to the facts of the specific job she found; but it is not factually true of door-to-door selling. Though she does report the imagery of her “Attitude Red Bull” choices as a macho pseudo-culture, there were women as well as men doing those sales “jobs.” She herself, as Ned, succeeded by easing into the sale, letting the customer ‘discover’ the merits of the coupon books she had to sell. [214-6]

One important thing i noticed in that “Work” chapter, was the effect of wearing a suit. Unlike most of the salesmen around her, she knew how to dress up, and doing it in men’s clothing was still stereotyped. The men’s dressing stereotypes were familiar to her; she had brothers and worked in a large city where hundreds of thousands of men dressed up… and she took her time preparing the Ned persona.

I was walking taller in my dress clothes” she writes. “I felt entitled to respect, to command it and get it in a way that Ned never had in slob clothes. … A suit is an impenetrable signifier of maleness … You see it, not him, and you bow to it.

I, in turn, responded to these shifts in expectation. For the first time in my journey as Ned I felt male privilege descend on me like an insulating cape, and all the male behaviors I had until then been so consciously trying to produce for my role, came to me suddenly without effort.

My voice moistened instinctively, loosening me into the pose of someone who doesn’t need to speak up to be heard. I spoke more slowly, and with what seemed to me to be an absurd authority, … ” [187]

Most of the other salesmen in the door-to-door enterprises where she worked, “were too hard up to afford a real suit and too tasteless to buy a presentable one. Not a single one of them had the slightest idea how to tie a tie. As a result, they all looked like the epitome of a cheap salesman.” [194] In comparison, Ned would have looked impressive.

She also reports, or was it concluded, that: “As a guy, I had to shed my sympathy for myself and the victim, and the appearance of weakness and need. People see weakness in a woman and they want to help. People see weakness in a man and they want to stamp it out.” [213]

That might have been true of “Ned”s specific door-to-door sales environment, where she also reports, success depended a little on the law of averages but much more on deceit: “... learning to lie better was what everyone who did well was really doing.” [217] It does her credit that she quit.

Rejection of the weak was false among the bowlers, who tried to help her improve Ned’s game. It was false among the monks. In the strip clubs and the men’s group, the question seems moot. She seems to report rejection of “Ned” as weak in the dating-bar scene, but not over the Internet. Perhaps most important, i didn’t notice Norah Vincent noticing that rejection of the weak is situational, and that in the all-male situations, it didn’t happen.


This book has told me more about women than about men—but with limited certainty because it is a “case study,” a one-woman report, and that of a columnist more than a book-length author. It has confirmed, and significantly, that men and men’s discourse are more candid, women and women’s discourse more florid and calculated.

Her bowling experience showed her that men are more accepting and dissemble far less than women; and that we have emotional perceptions and expression, but they are much less flamboyant.

In my reading, the bowling league was her best experience and her best performance as a guy… though she never did bowl well. It was evenings out with working class men who were unwinding from their jobs in candid, accepting, easy-going company; and that, she could provide and appreciate. It was really quite a lot like the Pygmy men in Turnbull’s The Forest People (1968), sitting and talking about the last hunt and the next, and about how to manage awkward social encounters. It was practical, it was mutually supportive, it was easy-going most of the time. I cannot “get” why Norah Vincent would rather be a woman [287], but i’ll allow it’s “just as well”, because that’s what she was born to be.

Her dating experiences confirm—not fully, they are one woman’s experience in disguise—some of the sense of needless antagonism that men have about early 21st Century relations between men and women.

They also summarize a separation of the sexes which, in fact, has been around longer than the 74+ years i have been alive: Men greet strange men willingly enough if the situation indicates peaceable rather than hostile intent, as “Ned” was greeted when he arrived at the bowling alley; but the women “Ned” tried to approach deemed strange men approaching them “only want one thing.”[97]. Had they been strange women, the suspicion might have been more comprehensive [cf. 25-26].

In a pickup bar, that’s close enough to true for practical purposes; in a library, hospital, or at a kiosk—it’s not; but still, chaperonage, modesry, and some separation of the sexes, are good things (cf. “Jim”s distraction when a very attractive woman is in his work space, p. 35).

The chapters on “Sex” [strip clubs] and “Work” [door-to-door sales]; fall far short of representing men’s overall experience. Strip clubs with or without lap dances, are a very small and biased sample of male sexuality, and door-to-door sales is a very biased sample of men’s work. What both are, is more accessible to a woman in disguise, than more representative sexual activities, and than jobs like say, carpentry, logging, and garbage collection.

Several other men have talked to me about sex, knowing i’m abstinent myself (and yes, we have been more matter-of-fact than florid in how we talked about sex.) The range of experience and even of “sex drive” is large, and a section on strip bars should not really be named “sex”.

Many other men have talked to me about work, and much of it is not for the willowy physique. If John Howard Griffin’s adventure could go anywhere in the “Negro” world of his time, that he could have gone if he had been born Negro; Vincent’s could not really go everywhere that a natural man could go. The sexes are more different than the races.

Norah Vincent’s writing is fluent, as we expect of a columnist. She uses nuance and qualification to avoid over-statement11 and she does so cleverly, so that many of her nuanced or qualified statements still seem assertive. She also indulges in over-statement = exaggeration which for all i know, might be normal woman-to-woman utterance.

It is evocative in ways i would find odd coming from a man12. I would not expect a man to write that bowling a perfect score was “crystalline in its perfection” [47]; nor “Small-shouldered guy sidles up to cute chicks with a canned line and a huge hole of obvious insecurity gaping in the middle of his chest” [94-5]. I’ve met many exceptions to the “every man” whose armor, she writes, “is borrowed and ten sizes too big, and beneath it he’s naked and insecure and hoping you won’t see.” [130, end of ch. 4]

With those words she evokes an image far more false than the men i know: Chefs Soren and Steve, Elders Art and Nelson, Farmers Stan, Pat, and Mark; Priests Laurence, Philip, Serge and Matt; Professors Bill, Louis, Pradip and Tapani, Sawyer Bernard, Welders Jeff, John, Louis and Smitty, men of several shades of tan and brown, several nationalities and languages, all wearing not armor but their working clothes13, and well fitted.

Perhaps she was thinking of the fictional little fellow she mentions on p. 271 who, as the Wizard of Oz, manipulated the levers that made special effects—in a children’s movie, not a real life. Perhaps she is saying that urban life is false for too many men, that for a man to be urban entails relentless pressure to be phony. Definitely, she contradicts her own statements of respect for “Jim”, “Alan”, “Paul”, some of the monks… at least. “Every man” is grievous exaggeration on p. 130; she reports in this very book that probably most men and at least a significant minority of us are authentic, humane, and worthy. Freed of misandry or even most of misandry, such men will be a solid majority.

I didn’t count the contradictions in Self Made Man, but there were at least a handful and perhaps dozens. To me, such contradictions imply a lack of discipline in the writing. More generally, absolute statements are false, as a course in probability taught me back around 1962.

The word disguised, like the concept of discipline, is important in comparing Self Made Man to Griffin’s Black Like Me. John Howard Griffin wrote that he became Negro: “… there is no such thing as a disguised white man, once the color won’t rub off. The black man is wholly a Negro, regardless of what he once may have been.” (Griffin, 1960: 6) Norah Vincent’s subtitle is One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man. Black Like Me has more intensity, which i would guess results from three main causes: Discipline, immersion, and a novelist’s rather than a columnist’s approach to writing. Vincent, a columnist, seems to write more from a pursuit of pleasure and excitement; Griffin, a novelist, from a pursuit of “right” and knowledge.

Vincent’s impersonations spanned months longer than Griffin’s transformation; but except for a few days when he risked changing his skin color enough to alternate between “being white” and “being Negro”; John Howard Griffin’s six weeks were spent entirely as Negro, while Norah Vincent’s “passing back and forth between male and female—often going out in public as both a man and a woman in one day” seemed to indicate a much less complete immersion in the social and emotional life of men, than Griffin’s was in negritude.

Griffin’s background as a novelist led him to form, frame, and live a book-length story; he was used to readers who bought a book [codex], or borrowed it from a library, and had a much greater commitment to take care of it and to give it an hour or so before they might decide it was not worth finishing. Newspapers are stereotypically used to wrap the garbage; books stereotypically sit on shelves for years and are re-read occasionally, if only in part. I expect to put Self Made Man on a shelf and use it occasionally for reference; because Vincent seems to be writing honestly and there are few other sources for what i expect it to provide; but that will be despite rather than because of, its organization—and its cover photos.

The sexes are indeed more different than the races. It is long past time to cast aside the ambitions of a few bitter women in favor of the maternal and nurturant normality of millions more, and of the evident fact that most men, most of the time, will gladly respect women whose achievements have merit comparable to their own (Pinker, 2008).

No human beings can enjoy complete liberation without thereby abusing other human beings who must share with them, the inherently limited resources of Planet Earth.

No wonder Norah Vincent would rather be a woman: They’re the privileged sex, and her writing of “male privilege” shows she missed that important point even while describing it. Paradoxically, that could be taken to validate her observations of men’s good qualities, and our actually disadvantaged status as a “gender.”

Other References:

Anonymous, 2009. “Mothers commit vast majority of parental murders of children” VictimFeministCentral website, Tuesday, September 22,

Allemano, Peter, 2012. “The Bold, Independent Woman Of Today and the ‘Good’ Men and Boys in Her Life: A Sampling of Mainstream Media Representations” New Male Studies v.1 Issue 1: 31-51.

Bolles, Edmund Blair, 2011 “‘Project Nim. Reveals a Scientific Scandal”. Scientific American blog post, Jul 10

Deary, Ian J. et al, 2003. “Population differences in IQ at age 11: The Scottish Mental Survey 1932. Intelligence 32. cited by Pinker 2008:

Groth, Miles, 2012. Review of Baumeister, Roy F. 2011, Is There Anything Good About Men? New York: Oxford University Press.New Male Studies v. 1 Issue 1: 116-120. From the review: “… men do include the best among human beings, but they also include the worst. This has to do with biology and is seen in the greater presence of men as compared to women at the extremes of the so-called normal distribution: more geniuses and more mentally defective human beings among all males.” [118]

Griffin, John Howard, 1960. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Signet paperback, 1961.

Harris, T. George, 1972. “Some Idiot Raised the Ante” (an Editorial) Psychology Today V.5, #. 9 (February): 40

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

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

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

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

Wells, H. G. 1961: The Outline of History Book Club edition, vol, 2. Garden City, NY


1. Perhaps one should add “in the United States in the early 21st Century,” because i for one am not sure that all men in all cultures, even if urban, might not look one another in the face to acknowledge rather than challenge—as rural and small town men have done in the Canada i know, even in this century.

This review is written with US rather than Canadian spelling; for consistency, given the several quoted passages and the convention of spelling words in their original language when quoting.

2. who, as Ralph Tomlinson wrote of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, deserved another thirty years of life

3. It is worth keeping in mind, still, that Norah Vincent is one person, as well as that she is a columnist, Lesbian, and tall (“Jim” she writes [p. 24]: , “was about five feet six, a good four inches shorter than I..”) What she reports has the extra credibility of a journalist’s authorship, but still, the limitations of a sample size of one or, in a common phrase, of a “case study.”

4. She elaborates on the previous page: “To me, women-to-woman introductions often seem fake and cold, full of limp gentility. I’ve seen a lot of women hug one another this way too, sometimes even women who’ve known each other for a long time and think of themselves as being good friends, They’re like two backward magnets pushed together by convention. Their arms and cheeks meet, and maybe the tops of their shoulders, but only briefly, the briefest time politeness will allow. It’s done out of habit and for appearances, a hollow, even resentful gesture bred into us and rarely felt.” [25]

5 … including misandry?

6 …an uncertain metaphor. She seems to mean “be immensely skilled emotionally”

7. Another metaphor i would not expect from a man [nor all women]; and i guess Shakespeare writing that Juliet is like the sun is comparably vague—but that’s theatre and Self Made Man is nonfiction. One can imagine what it might mean. One cannot work out by inference what it does mean.

8. The women who find that attraction natural, are the ones from whom we should draw the mothers of the next generations.

9. I deliberately do not call the “dancers” in the strip bars, nor the door-to-door sales[wo]men alive, nor dead; they were living a lie or lies, by her accounts. They were playing roles in which they may well not have believed, for money.

10. The names in the book are pseudonyms; i use the same ones Vincent did.

11. on p. 19 “… I can say with relative surety that …”

12. I’m more literal-minded than that, more concerned to be accurate, less willing to exaggerate. So are most men writers i read.

13 . Armor is, of course, the working clothing of a knight on horseback… a member of the medieval Ruling Classes of Europe.


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A Simple Salt-Salmon Pasta Salad

… Frugal Healthy Gourmet Summer Food
with Many Possible Variations

(c) 2016, Davd

The first bargain price this year for Pacific salmon “was on” while i was last in Edmonton, and i bought two fish—pink salmon, about four pounds each, dressed1, at the lowest price for quality fish i’ve found this year. They went straight from the car into the freezer.

Two good reasons for that, at least: I wasn’t about to cook them whole or cook big, easy-to-cut portions; so getting them at least nearly frozen would make butchering them, as i described in a blog last year, much easier. This is true of meat whether the species be beef, chicken, fish, pork, venison …. nearly-frozen meat is stiffer, and that makes cutting it accurately much easier.

Second, i intended to “raw salt” some of each fish. Freezing salmon for at least a day, is said to kill any parasites that could harm humans. Since fish put in a freezer will take some time to freeze to -18 [0 Fahrenheit], i make that two days: If a piece of fish was frozen for two or more days before i raw-salt [gravlaks] it, i consider it safe, salt it (about one part salt to 10 parts fish by weight is one rule; less will do if you will eat it quickly), add dill or tarragon, and put it in the refrigerator for two days to “cure”.

If it hasn’t been frozen, i salt it, add dill or tarragon, and put it in the freezer for at least two days; when it has come back out of the freezer and been in the regular fridge ’til it thaws, it’s ready to enjoy.

When i butchered the first salmon, i did make a rectangular package of “gravlaks”, salted about 1 part salt to ten of fish, which made the finished gravlaks firmer, less watery, than if it had been salted lightly.2 It still made good sandwiches on toasted rye bread (buttered lightly, with thin slices of onion) but had the salt proportion been 5%-8% instead of 10%, those sandwiches would have been more succulent… and still salty enough.

The two standard ways to eat salt-and-dilled salmon are sandwiches on rye bread, and with boiled new potatoes. Here i had some salmon that was firmer and saltier than ideal for those uses.

I also had pasta, of course, and fresh chives in the garden. A few days ago, i took some cold cooked spaghetti, added salt-fish cut in pieces about 3-4 mm [1/8″] thick and 2 cm [3/4″] square, olive oil, and chives cut 3-8 mm [1/8″—1/3″] long. Before adding the fish, chives, and olive oil, i cut the cooked spaghetti—and cooked spaghetti is quite easy to cut with an ordinary table knife or a sharp one, if you use a fork or spoon against which to cut—to about an inch long [2-3 cm]. this made the “pasta salad” that resulted, easy to eat with a medium-sized spoon3 and not that difficult with a salad fork.

Delicious, it was. Methinks the olive oil gave it just enough olive flavour to round out the fish, chive, and pasta. I wouldn’t use canola or corn or soybean oil with this technique, though i do use them to make mayonnaise. I would try this salad with smoked salmon, kipper-smoked but not Digby hard-smoked herring, maybe even canned tuna.

This is a technique, not a recipe: Vary the cut of the pieces if fish, if you like; try sweet onion, or onion greens, instead of chives; try rotini / fusilli or short-cut linguine as the pasta. I doubt spaghettini would work as well, or penne, as pasta shapes. Elbow macaroni, i don’t know—like penne, it is hollow and the air space might affect the enjoyment of the whole.

Pink salmon has a medium-light but definitely salmon taste; Eastern brook trout, especially those that go to sea in the Atlantic or Gulf of St. Lawrence, will have a quite similar strength of flavor. Salted or smoked coho or chinook salmon should be good in this salad; sockeye might be better canned or as leftover baked fish, than smoked or salted, because it has the strongest flavor of the Pacific salmon species and much stronger than Atlantic. salmon.

Smoked meat and hard salami might also be good. Other sausages? There are very many, i won’t try to go over them. If you have been following along with these Food blogs, and trying half or more of the techniques, or if you’re an experienced “scratch cook”, you probably have the cook’s imagination to go through many variations and possibilities.

You could try adding sweet peppers in season, different kinds of pickles, olives green or ripe, … and the enjoyment will vary with what meat you use, how much olive oil, … the possibilities number at least in the thousands. A good working rule is to try any new variation in small amount and when you don’t have guests to impress.

Traditionally, salt-fish [gravlaks] is eaten with boiled new potatoes or rye bread, a film of butter or  good margarine, and onion. (If you use bulb onion rather than greens or chives, slice very thin.) This techique gives you a third quite different way to enjoy it, using ingredients you probably have around the kitchen most of the time (while many kitchens won’t routinely contain rye bread or new potatoes.)

Salmon is wonderful, healthy food. Especially wild salmon.  Even salted, it’s healthy in this salad, because the saltiness of the fish replaces the added salt pasta salads usually get.

Pasta (from durum wheat, said one M.D. quite emphatically) is also healthy food, much more so than say, white rice. It’s a good thing to have more ways to enjoy pasta, and this technique is open to thousands of possible variations.

Bon appetit!


1. “guts removed” in plain language. Go ahead and visualize a dead fish wearing doll clothes, if you like, for a laugh…

2. Light salting is OK for fish that will be eaten within a few days; 1:10 salted fish will keep longer in the ‘fridge.

3. A teaspoon is rather too small for eating pasta salad; the spoons i use for cereal and soup are about two teaspoons in size. That’s what i ate with, especially since olive oil was included.


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From White Supremacy to Female Supremacy?

The Status of Canadian Men and Families Compared to the Former Plight of Afro-America
(c) 20161; Davd Martin, PhD

The “Moynihan report” was controversial from its publication. Cited as
Anonymous, 1965. The Negro2 Family: The Case for National Action. United States Government Printing Office.
..this centimetre-thick paperback book was written (as acknowledged by the US Department of Labor website, 2010) by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, previously co-author with respected American sociologists and later US Senator from New York.

The purpose of the ‘Moynihan report’ was to urge that:

The policy of the United States is to bring the Negro American to full and equal sharing in the responsibilities and rewards of citizenship. To this end, the programs of the Federal government bearing on this objective shall be designed to have the effect, directly or indirectly, of enhancing the stability and resources of the Negro American family.

The chief problem Moynihan saw in [we would now write Afro-American] families was a tendency toward fatherless, matriarchal household structure. That tendency has spread to society in general, arguably more-so in Canada than in the United States. Given the concerns the report expressed about the effect of family structure on individual accomplishment and societal well-being, we might ask if society in general is now worse off for the change.

However, Moynihan also included a “morally neutral social science disclaimer” typical of the 1960s, in the report, which disclaimer could be read to imply that the ill effects of a substantially matriarchal family structure which he described in 1965, would be remedied by making matriarchy common throughout “society”.

“There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement.  However, it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operating on one principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the most advantages to begin with, is operating on another.” [ch IV, near the beginning]

Moynihan continues,

This is the present situation of the Negro. Ours is a society which presumes male leadership in private and public affairs. The arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it. A subculture, such as that of the Negro American, in which this is not the pattern, is placed at a distinct disadvantage.

We might also ask whether the spread of matriarchy has done net good rather than harm.

These two hypotheses, which cannot both be true, are implied by different parts of “the Moynihan report”, and perhaps time did indeed tell which of them be valid.

During the 50 years since the original “Moynihan report” was published on paper, the matriarchal tendencies it deplored have become much commoner among “non-Afro-American” families; and perhaps especially among the families of “subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Windsor”: It seems that the dominance of women and girls in the most-Anglophone, most-British-in-ancestry, and most-Monarchist parts of the British Commonwealth, is greater than that in the United States and much of Continental Europe (though some anecdotal reports could be heard to indicate that in Sweden and Finland, women rule in as great a percentage of households as in Canada.)

The change was not necessarily away from patriarchy, though. Patriarchy may have prevailed in Moynihan’s social class but not in those below it.

From my own observations during the 1950s and 1960s, and reading during the 1960s, i would say that Moynihan exaggerated the extent of post-World-War II patriarchy in working class American households3, and that the median and modal distribution of power in American marriages was very close to equality. Though husbands did exercise some ritual headship, much of it was more courtly than real (for example, driving the car when they were in one together, and opening doors and waiting for their wives to pass through first.) In public affairs, and among those of highest status, male leadership was indeed the norm. Since 1965, the power of women both in public and in private has increased, and that of men has declined.

Today Canada is not “a society which presumes male leadership in private and public affairs” nor one in which “the arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it;” rather the reverse. It is more advantageous to be born a girl in Canada today, than to be born a boy; and that has been the case for at least a generation. Much rhetoric between 1965 and the present extolled gender equality; but the actual social change has been from near-equality or modest female dominance in the home, and male dominance in the workplace, to[ward] female dominance in both spheres4.

Looking at changes in Canadian family law and family statistics since 1965, one might plausibly conclude that Feminists, reading “the Moynihan report”, chose a very different action plan than Moynihan, a high-status Irish-American man, proposed; and that rather than accepting Moynihan’s goal of making the men more prominent in Afro-American family life, they set out to make women more prominent, and men much less, in “non-Afro-American” family life.

Looking at the legal and ‘educational’ treatment of men today, at marital [in]stability and the proportions of single-parent [family?] households, one might conclude that Moynihan failed and the Feminists prevailed—and not only in the US, but even more in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, perhaps also the U.K. In Canada today, with women a strong majority among university students and entrants to the professions, with women advantaged by criminal and “family” law (Nathanson and Young, 2006, reviewed here; Brown, 2013; cf. Martin, 2011), it is more accurate to say, “Canada is a society which presumes female leadership in private and public affairs; the arrangements of society facilitate such leadership and reward it” .. than to say that male leadership is presumed and facilitated5.

(Might it be relevant that during the intervening years, and for more than a decade before 1965, the Head of State of all these “British Commonwealth” states, has been a woman who, by customary British Royal usage, is explicitly styled as superior to her husband?6 It does seem to be a truism that the arrangements of the elite are to some extent aped by the middle and even sometimes the lower classes; it has been the case that Canadian and “Commonwealth” ritual has treated Her Majesty Elizabeth II as somehow better than all other people; and what little reference to the Royal Family i myself have read, seems to indicate that Her Majesty’s son Charles, rather than being strengthened as Her heir, has been deprecated. One should probably not infer from this that Her Majesty is a principal influence; but one might well infer that being so deferential7 to a woman of regal bearing, for over half a century, and seeing the men of her family dominated by her, has had some effect.)

Today, i perceive Canadian family life to be more like the “Negro” family life Moynihan sought to change, than it is like “White” family life in 1965.8 Moynihan wrote, “Almost One-Fourth of Negro Families are Headed by Females”, what is the proportion today in Canada? Men are a decided minority among university students and entrants to the professions, and their rate of representation is falling. As it is advantageous today and has been advantageous all this 21st century, to be born a girl rather than a boy in the Nice countries… so it was advantageous in the first two thirds of the 20th Century, to be born “white” rather than “Negro”. Only in the treatment of Afro-Americans before Brown v. Board of Education, and possibly the Canadian “Residential School” scandal, can i find parallel within the common-law tradition before 1965, to the treatment of male Canadians today in criminal and “family” law9.

In the Afro-American case, false stereotypes of inequality were believed for generations: “Negroes” were believed to be inherently lazier, of lower intelligence, more violent and criminal; one main task of “the Moynihan report” was to show that differences which might be taken as proof of these stereotypes were better understood to result from discrimination, than to represent inherent differences between races. It is entirely plausible that, if legal gender discrimination is accepted for a generation, most Canadians born after 1990 would come to believe that men are inherently inferior to women in much the same ways as “Negroes” were once held inferior to “whites”: For instance, Clark and Clark (1947) found that Afro-American children downgraded their own race in conformity to prevailing cultural biases.

There appears to be a systematic effort to stereotype men along lines eerily similar to those followed by racist stereotypes of “Negroes” in the early 20th Century. As Jeremy Swanson (2009-2010; cf. Nathanson and Young, 2006, Martin, 2015) has detailed but not yet systematically tabulated, men are often treated as guilty until proved innocent by mass media and police, and sometimes by courts of law; while women are treated as innocent until proved guilty and often excused for homicides of husbands or “lovers” if they testify that the victim threatened them—even if that testimony is not corroborated by a neutral witness or strong physical evidence. Considering the temptation to perjury entailed in a risk of criminal conviction, this practice falls far short of the quality of logic normal to Canadian and Common Law; but it parallels rather well the treatment of “Negro Americans,” and especially of male “Negro Americans,” before 1954 (and for some years afterwards in parts of “the Old South”.)

Comparing the status of Canadian men with some past racial prejudices in a neighbouring country, we can readily see that conventional stereotypes about gender relations left over from the time of “the Moynihan report” are no longer valid and should be corrected. Specifically:

As the disadvantaged gender, men can benefit from less-defensive, more honest “strategy-and-tactics”:

  • we should adopt gender equality as a criterion, but perhaps not as a goal11.
  • we should refute and even scorn the misuse of gender equality by Feminists seeking to increase their privilege, years after they reached and passed equality in treatment12;
  • we should look to the U. S. Civil Rights Movement for models we can adopt or adapt;
  • we should also look at the Feminist actions of 1966-2006 for models we can adopt or adapt13;

([these two lists are not necessarily complete; additions are invited)

We might benefit if we adopt a label for ourselves other than merely “[e.g Canadian, Kiwi, American, …] men”; and a case could be made for ironically calling ourselves eunuchs—but many readers might miss the subtle point. More plainly and affirmatively, if one were to ask, what shall we men call ourselves in analogy to “Negro”? the symmetrical treatment would be a mirror image of translating Negro into Black: We could translate man into Spanish: Hombre. In Spanish speaking countries, the phrase “muy hombre” is a compliment. The rhetorical meaning of taking a foreign word would be somewhat comparable to Afro-American men discarding a foreign word for the plain English “Black”, and also implicitly claim the respect hombre connotes [and “negro” did not in 1965].

Functionally, adopting a [sobriquet] would:

  • acknowledge that we are now subject to systematic and oppressive discrimination;
  • imply that the discrimination is wrong and we do not accept it;
  • show sympathy and solidarity with the Afro-American men who led the Civil Rights movement, but in a way different enough that we are not offending them by using a word they consider to be theirs to employ or not [as Nigger and Negro have become].

— and also show solidarity with Hispanic Americans, who are perhaps the nearest US ethnic analogue to the Canadian Métis.14

The “Moynihan Report”s portrayal of matriarchy seems well worth re-reading in context of today’s marriage laws and differential criminal law enforcement by gender—and of today’s female prevalence in education which, combined with pro-female-biased criminal and family law, leaves us the disadvantaged gender—and to an extent women haven’t been disadvantaged in more than a century, perhaps many centuries. That portrayal also invites a test of the merits of matriarchy, as implied above.

In his ‘morally neutral social science disclaimer’ that “There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement,” Moynihan presented an hypothesis to the effect that consistency of family structure across ethnic groups was important but the difference between patriarchy, matriarchy, and gender-equality was not15. In summarizing statistics on education, employment, income, and social disorganization generally, Moynihan presented an implicit hypothesis to the effect that matriarchal, fatherless families were cruelly disadvantaged. Both hypotheses cannot be true together. Canadian family changes since “the Moynihan report” appeared, if their consequences can be identified, may indicate which hypothesis is more true:

  • Has shifting social leadership toward female predominance and family leadership toward matriarchy done overall societal good?
  • Has it done overall societal harm?
  • Or, has societal well-being remained effectively unchanged, with women now clearly better off than men?—that is, have women gained and men lost, in close-to-identical amounts?

Moynihan entitled his “report”: … The Case for National Action. The national action was not taken; instead, the matriarchal bias he deplored has become more general. How has social well-being changed over the same span of time, and how much of the change is best understood as the consequence of increasing matriarchy? This is a subject well worth the attention of sociologists, psychologists, and criminologists, and might well contain many good thesis topics for graduate students. (It is also a subject where research design must be especially wary of potential biases.)

The results i have noticed, refute Moynihan’s ‘morally neutral social science disclaimer’: The past 45 years have shown us some special reasons “why a society in which males are [equal or] dominant in family relationships16 is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement”—have they not? Children are less well off. Moral standards have declined, and the declines in honesty, respect and charity are in my humble opinion, comparably and perhaps more harmful than the declines in sexual restraint.17 Men have lost common-law rights whose value cannot be measured in mere money. Millions of foetuses who could have become healthy, happy children and then socially contributing adults have died for the convenience of adult women, many of whom may wish in old age that they had children to come by and help out.

The refutation is not absolute; there can be many kinds of egalitarian, many kinds of matriarchal, and many kinds of patriarchal family structures; our experience has compared one largely egalitarian and two significantly matriarchal examples. It does indicate that matriarchy wastes men and boys contributory potential more than an egalitarian system with a few patriarchal bits, wastes women’s.

Our family and moral declines have parallels, perhaps to some extent consequences, in the huge increases in the importance of and in respect for Islam since 1965. Mainstream Islam is not harshly patriarchal; it is patriarchal in some ways, and usually gently, as mainstream Christianity was when the world was more Christian than anything else.

We cannot go back and re-live the last 45 years, to see if forming a gently patriarchal or keeping a balanced gender-egalitarian Canadian [Australian, Kiwi, US, …] society might put us in better stead today than our present predicament; but we can and should compare today’s conditions with those of 1965. From what i have lately heard and read about crime and addiction rates among the young, from what Moynihan wrote and i knew from other sources by the time he wrote, about the effects of fatherlessness on school performance and social pathology; from the criminological truism that men who go to prison don’t have fathers they can honour…

… “It is putting it mildly” when i doubt that the changes we have seen, were optimal or even desirable; and conclude that the ‘morally neutral social science disclaimer’ was in error.

It is time “and past due”, for men to formulate a vision of the future that is better than matriarchy.


Anonymous, 1965. The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Bakke, Edward Wight, 1940 Citizens Without Work. New Haven: Yale University Press. Cited in the above.

“Consider the fact that relief investigators or case workers are normally women and deal with the housewife. Already suffering a loss in prestige and authority in the family because of his failure to be the chief bread winner, the male head of the family feels deeply this obvious transfer of planning for the family’s well being to two women, one of them an outsider. His role is reduced to that of errand boy to and from the relief office. [212]

“Having observed our families under conditions of unemployment with no public help, or with that help coming from direct [sic] and from work relief, we are convinced that after the exhaustion of self produced resources, work relief is the only type of assistance which can restore the strained bonds of family relationship in a way which promises the continued functioning of that family in meeting the responsibilities imposed upon it by our culture.” [224]

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

CBC News, 2010. Reports of the State visit of Her Majesty Elizabeth II to Canada and New York City. June-July.

CBC News, 2010b [July 20]. Report of a decrease in the Canadian crime rate with discussion by a criminologist [whose last name began with S…] indicating that ageing was an important, probably the main cause of the decrease.

Clark, Kenneth B., and Mamie P. Clark, 1947 “Racial identification and preference in Negro children.” In T. M. Newcomb and E. L. Hartley, eds., Readings in Social Psychology. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston. [A classic for showing that black children preferred white dolls and downgraded their own race—in conformity to prevailing cultural biases. Probably would not be replicated today if repeated, due to social change.]

Glazer, Nathan 1964. “Negroes and Jews: The Challenge to Pluralism,” Commentary, December, pp. 29-34.

Grant, George, 1969. Technology and Empire. Toronto: Anansi. “The weight of tradition carries on in an established university for several generations, with the result that the curriculum may reflect the ideas of a class which is no longer dominant outside its walls.” [115]

Griffin, John Howard, 1961. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin hardcover; NYC: Signet paperback.

London Daily Mail, June 25, 2010 “Student cleared rape emerges second man committed suicide falsely accused [by] woman” By Chris Brook. Circulated by Jeremy Swanson, FRA.

Lupri, Eugen, 2004. “Institutional Resistance to Acknowledging Intimate Male Abuse”, Paper presented at the Counter-Roundtable Conference on Domestic Violence, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, May 7

Mandela, Nelson, 1994. Long Walk to Freedom. New York and Boston: Little, Brown and Co.

Martin, Davd, 2011. “The ‘Status of Men in A Woman’s World’: Educational, Legal, and Demographic Realities vs. Social Inertia, 2011”. website, published April.

Martin, Davd, 2015. “Men’s Rights Amputation: Essay review of Nathanson, and Young, 2006 cited below. website,published January,

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

Pettigrew, Thomas F., 1964. A Profile of the Negro American. Princeton, New Jersey: Van Nostrand.

“The Negro wife in this situation can easily become disgusted with her financially dependent husband, and her rejection of him further alienates the male from family life. Embittered by their experiences with men, many Negro mothers often act to perpetuate the mother centered pattern by taking a greater interest in their daughters than their sons.” [16]

Rustin, Bayard 1965. “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement,” Commentary, February.

Swanson, Jeremy, 2009-2010. E-mail anecdotes numbering in the hundreds, of cases of [1] differential law enforcement by gender; [2] differential reporting of criminal charges by gender; [3] differential treatment of divorcing spouses by gender.

United States Department of Labor website, accessed 2010.

United States Supreme Court, 1954. Brown. V. Board of Education, decision.

Yohannan, K P, 2001. Revolution in World Missions. Carrolton, TX: gfa books (the publishing part of Rev. Yohannan’s organization, Gospel for Asia. This book is cited not as a classic nor unusually authoritative reference, but as an ordinarily credible one from a disciplined and successful source—which book happened to be in my library.)


1. This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in August 2011, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2011” for the most part, though several more recent citations and hyperlinks have been added.

2. As those who read Spanish or Portugese recognize already, “Negro” is simply “Black” in a different language. In the mid-20th Century it was deemed more polite to say “Negro” than “Black”; the custom has since changed at the initiative of Afro-American activists: They said they wanted “Black” in English, and we non-Afro folks, from Aboriginals to Euros to Asians, generally went along with that wish.

3. In the 1960s i resided in the United States and earned my Ph.D. There. In 1971 i moved to Canada and have lived here since, excepting one year in Finland. I noticed no significant difference between Canadian and US family power balance either on arrival or in anecdotes from people in both countries; but that might be affected by the specific places i lived.

4. In the professional end bureaucratic workplaces of 2010, there is female dominance among the young and male dominance among the old. Since the old inevitably retire and die and the young inevitably replace them, and since the schoolchildren of today seem to be continuing the girls-above-boys patterns that brought about female dominance among professional entrants today, the pattern is set toward a Canada [and a US, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe] where women dominate the non-manual work world as well as most households. (In mid-2016, most Canadian bureaucracies are staffed by two-thirds or more women, one-third or fewer men.)

5. Female and male dominance, like “matriarchy” and “patriarchy”, are matters of degree, not matters of “kind”. More formally, they are continuous variables, not dichotomies [nor trichotomies, etc.]—hence, “more accurate”.

6… and to a greater degree than her father the King was styled superior to her mother the Queen: Her husband is titled Prince Consort, not King; while the title of the wife of a British King, is Queen.

7. It is a criminal offence [cf felony in US usage] to startle the Queen, a New Brunswick lawyer told me.

8. I don’t have the data i would need to compare Aboriginal or Asian ethnic groups in the same way; and in 1965 Moynihan had similar difficulties. If any reader should have such data, i hope he’ll start writing them up.

9. Apartheid might be adduced. I do not know those old long-replaced laws as well as i know the US “segregation” and Canadian Residential School stories; and i am not sure if South Africa should be considered part of the common-law tradition in the way the United States is. It should perhaps be stressed that i refer not to the harshest days of “Jim Crow” in the Southern US, but to school segregation, and generally to discrimination as experienced in the northern and western US between 1945-1965, as analogous to men’s legal disadvantages in Canada today.

10. The ‘totem poles’ of the Northwest Coast of North America are not idols and they are not worshipped, I perceive them to be used analogously to Orthodox ikons, but am not informed fully enough of Wakesian practice to say for sure. Carved wooden idols are worshipped in parts of Asia (Yohannan, 2001: 58)

11. Why not a goal? I have seen indications, as yet not enough for me to form a conclusion [much less write-up formally], that women in power misuse that power and mistreat other women as well as men, to a greater extent than do men in power. It may be that in a decade to a generation from now, if these indications are confirmed, that a predominance of men in holding some forms of power, will prove to be the wisest political arrangement. That said, using gender equality as a criterion remains worth while: If men should return to dominance, it ought to be with good cause and good and documented reason. We have now seen in both race and gender relations, the baleful effects of selfish political oppression.

12. Gender equality “on balance”, with women advantaged in the domestic sphere and men in paid employment, may have existed in working-class Canada and “white America” well before 1965.

13. The difference between “look to” and “look at” is intentional. Afro-American men are our brothers in spirit [and for some, brothers or at least cousins in genealogy as well] while Feminist activists seeking still-more-preferential treatment while already advantaged, are our oppressors. We can learn from our oppressors, as for instance many believe the founders of the State of Israel learned from the Wehrmacht of World War II; but we should do so more warily than from our fellows—as the State of Israel has perhaps to some degree, failed to do, resulting in greater hostility from the Muslim world, than was needful.

14. As there are at least two Hispanic subcultures in the United States (e.g. Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban) so there are at least two Métis subcultures in Canada (e.g Prairie, Acadian, rural-Québecois). Métis in Spanish is, of course, mestizo.

15. Since such disclaimers were conventional in social science in the 1960s, one cannot tell if Moynihan believed what he wrote or simply “genuflected” to a custom of his time and line of work.

16. Oddly, “the Moynihan report” hardly mentions gender equality; yet my observations of dozens of marriages and households from 1955-1980 indicated to me that rough gender equality was commoner than matriarchal or patriarchal household organization—and thus, the median as well as the modal form in working and middle class Canada and USA. We should not despise nor avoid equality! We should neither mis-label arrangements that are to our disadvantage, as equal.

It might be worth mentioning, that declines in the crime rate and particularly the rates of some violent crimes, should not be “credited” to Gun Control nor to the degradation of men—but to ageing. It has long been a criminological truism that crime generally and violent crime especially is far commoner among the young than the old; and that the effect of long prison sentences in reducing recidivism is largely due to ageing. (At the extreme, of course, the recidivism rate among those who die in prison, is zero.) Canada’s population has grown noticeably older since 1965; and in accord with the ageing hypothesis, Canada’s crime rate has fallen (CBC News, 2010b).

17. That is not to minimize the declines in sexual restraint: When prostitutes become “sex trade workers”, real trades are denigrated through no fault of theirs; when sexually transmitted diseases become common, public health in general suffers. It is to say that privileging the least moral of women to lie and drive innocent men to suicide (London Daily Mail, June 25, 2010), and then protecting their identity so future victims cannot be forewarned, represents moral decline comparable to that which marked the last years of the Roman Empire.

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