What motherhood means to me, or why I keep trying to make art.

In my teenaged youth, I wanted to be married around 17-18 to a thirtysomething older, financially established man.  A major reason was that I thought that was what it would take to be allowed the time and space to be a working artist.

While the wanting to be married to a guy twice my age was a bit silly, the underlying reason was reasonable.  I’ve never viewed myself having marriage and motherhood without also being a working artist.  The three always just went together in my head, and I married a guy who can recognize that this isn’t an unreasonable view or expectation for a married mother to have.  I just managed to find an established older guy who wasn’t twice my age.

Unfortunately, while my husband recognizes this, I can’t say the same about society.  Though it’s always been a struggle for women to have all three, things have worsened, almost counterintuitively as women have gotten more overt financial power.


From college to modular education.

The evidence is pretty clear that the college-for-all model has missed enough intelligent, capable people that we keep taking stabs at modular educational models, oriented around sitting for exams and completing x number to demonstrate competency.  This has the benefit of matching up more with actual white-collar, highly paid work these days, which is frequently project-bound but open-ended as to how you complete it and it also has the benefit of not costing average or below intelligence people buckets of money if they can’t hack it, which will be at least as frequent as it is now.  But there’d be tiers they could hack and still get decent pay.

It’s also an approach that works well with unionizing/guild-izing at even very high pay levels.

It wasn’t that bad a model for IT, although rampant fraud combined with unrestricted immigration broke it, but then rampant fraud combined with unrestricted immigration is a major part of why college is no longer much of a filter for what college-educated parents believe it to be a filter for.  That model is returning in IT with the bootcamp approach, where depending on the subfield, anywhere from 1/100 to 1/20 workers is coming out of 6-18 month bootcamp straight into employment full-time, usually at wages above 50k/yr.  And that is a large percentage given how little time the model itself has had to form up.  But companies are already arranging their hiring around pulling in some bootcamp people and having a special process for that.  In contrast it took decades to see the same for the “diversity and inclusion” industry, which is more reliant on racking up degrees for that pipeline.

We now live in a world where an 18 or 19yo can already have a bachelor’s degree if they are really set on doing so without having to leave home and sometimes without even spending money.

We have something like 75,000 18 and 19yos a year graduating with BAs, MAs or PhDs/JDs (mostly BAs).  We have 125k or so with AAs.

The AA by 19 pool is 60% male, the BA+ by 19 pool is probably (estimates are pretty spiky) 80% male.   The AA numbers are almost 10% of the total (~1.5-1.7million) for age 20-24 AAs and the BA+ numbers are around 2-3% of the total (around 3.4 million) for 20-24 BA+.  And even among 20-24yos, we are up to roughly a quarter million with an MA or higher.

Given how rapidly the early college thing is increasing, it may be that we start seeing 300, 400, 500k such people annually over the next decade. This would be in line with the trend that began, as far as NCES recording of it, in the early 1990s, when about 1 in 5 people over age 25 had  BAs or  higher (all races) and the younger set finishing college young was a few thousand which over 20 years increased by an order of magnitude.

College completion has flattened in recent years (what marginal increases are happening, interestingly, are putting male completion of BAs ahead of female completion in the latest data after years of the opposite) and at this point the mix of *how* it’s completed is changing, so we’re no longer getting more and more people across the line, but instead having more and more “weird” ways of finishing increase.

The proletarization of the professional class.

We all proles now, as I’ve noted even among the elite class.  The conversion of the professional classes into a big old heap of wage-dependent salary serfs has been rapid, quite successful and the amazing part is that they don’t appear to have a problem with it for all their lengthy educations and presumed intelligence.

The professional class used to be a fairly heavily self-employed class, with the very mixed political and social views that a decently sized, moderately wealthy middle class would produce.

Now these professionals are salary dependent, and further, they have very little control over their salaries.  Working more doesn’t necessarily get you more money or a profit share or a stock bonus or a promotion.  It frequently just keeps you from being fired this year, same as a factory worker not in the union.  The independence of this class has been methodically stripped away in the last few decades, and every step of the way they were convinced that one more degree, or one more “skillset” would protect them, even as it never did.

Chelsea Clinton is dependent on wage income

Without her ability to use her family connections to get high wage 500-600k/yr jobs, her ability to have three kids in 5 years in NYC would be very constrained, as her net worth of $15 million consists primarily of an expensive apartment and a stock portfolio a non-elite STEM(edical) worker  could have accumulated.  Her husband’s net worth as a stereotypical seven-figure bonus finance guy has more liquidity, perhaps, but it could easily be tied up in high-return private-access assets.

There are lower-tier versions of Chelsea Clinton, racking up degrees in between taking well-paying nonprofit and university administration jobs in the most expensive metro areas, but they get a lot less, more like 100-200k/yr and tend to correspondingly be childless long term whether married or not or have 1 pregnancy’s worth of kids (usually 1 but sometimes 2).  And of course, the lowest-end of them are increasingly unmarried if they do become mothers.

What’s telling about this is that Chelsea Clinton is part of the broader political discourse pool arguing that such levels of wage income are too high and need to be taxed so much more, or simply made impossible to achieve at all without political and family connections by having essentially infinite job competition at all levels of education via a global labor market rather than a nation or region-bound one.

As a side note for a future discussion, Chelsea Clinton has also been given positions where the wage was low/honorary but the stock compensation was equivalent to a “bottom of the top” STEM(edical) salary (200-300k).  This structure of compensation is very important and has had far-ranging implications w/r/t family formation and politics over the last 25 years.  But this post is just about a child of elites who still has to get paid a wage to afford her relatively “bottom of the upper-class” lifestyle.

The difference between righty and lefty extremism

Extremism on the right tends to lead to formation of a nuclear family doing something unusual and outlier-y, which fairly frequently goes nuclear. On the left, extremism tends to strip the extremist of family attachments and not always gain them political or social power, but the right believes that all left extremism works and is effective politically and socially including for the extremists.

This was never all that true, even among the Boomer-aged cohorts and with the Gen X and younger age cohorts it’s fallen apart rapidly. It’s the unseen and the seen from our man Bastiat. With the left, the right tends to believe in political WYSIWYG (the seen), while the left conversely imagines up endless waves of right wing conspiracies behind every door (the unseen).

The right looks at what it sees with the left being occasionally successful with screaming and hysterics and assumes lefties get everything they want via screaming and hysterics all the time, constantly.  The left interprets its successes over the right as failures proving there’s endless right wing conspiracies to prevent them from total and complete dominance.

Catholic school enrollment today is about the same as 100 years ago.

That’s kind of funny given how many fewer people were in the United States back then.  What’s also kind of funny is that compared to a century ago, Catholic schools now need more than 2x the elementary teachers and more than 6x the secondary school teachers for very nearly the same number of children.  And this with roughly 20% fewer schools compared to 100 years ago.

From NCES tables on private school enrollment.


Paleo Poke

Poke is currently popular in urban areas these days.  No idea why.

Anyway since most of the household doesn’t do great with rice, I cobbled together a variation on the poke theme that doesn’t involve ordering it from a poke hut.

Take 1-2lbs (depending on your seasoning preference) of thawed ahi steaks and cube them.  Mix with 1 tsp salt (I used Himalayan pink because we get it in bulk for mysterious reasons), 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 cup sesame oil. Serve over any amount of steamed vegetables.

It’s not “real” poke, but it tastes close enough and it works when you don’t want to stand over a hot stove skillet cooking anything because you baked a mountain of cookies for three elementary classes.