A Housewife Learns to Code: 1/?

The title is quite clear. To pay for some things I’d like done or even to do them myself if I can’t purchase, I have to demonstrate a small degree of coding knowledge and vocabulary. I was hoping to avoid this, being a girl and all, but there’s no way around it, I have to be able to write a few simple methods so that I can explain what I want to a contractor.

Insecurity makes this very challenging. T.W.O. has been immensely patient, but then he would be. The core neurosis to push through is that I’m terrified of messing up and failing. I *still* get panicky at *other people* typing in code samples, watching them not compile and then fixing them so that they do. There’s websites will practice work for aspiring coders and when they go red because you did something wrong, all my general sense of failure and shame spiraling comes in and I don’t want to continue.

Today was a case in point. I am documenting the methods and programs I have written so far, and it is extremely slow going because very quickly with entry-level exercises you hit the point of “this could be simplified with such and such slightly more advanced method”. Anyway I hit the first one today that I could figure out a simplification for on my own without thinking about it much. And the panic set in just at the prospect of taking my pseudocode and turning it into a full program.

So I marked it as a future project and it can be something to do when I run out of examples with more advanced methods. I’m working in Java, because it’s a common teaching language, it has a lot of useful tools, and it stacks well with Python, C# and R, which are all languages I need to be familiar with in the next year.

But lots of red is the programmer’s journey. It’s not usual for what you’re working on to easily compile the first time. It’s definitely not usual for it to seamlessly work with third party components. T.W.O. had a huge laugh when I first downloaded the development environment I use when I’m not using a plain text editor because it was buggy. He said I understood enough to code, though. This was because I googled until I hit a stackexchange link about the bug and then tried the fix. It worked, and I didn’t freak out as much when I ran into other bugs later.

But I have shifted more to the text editor because of the bugginess. This is also part of the programmer’s journey, according to more than a few.

T.W.O. and I have been reading through the OT of late.

One of the major takeaways is that where we are now is not only not novel, but slightly less awful than some of the various paths these periods of degeneracy take. This is not to say one should fall into the trap of smugness and ego comfort that “this too shall pass”, but rather that sin is all too real and only God saves. And that always, no matter how many comfortable middle class and upper middle class people make excuses for walking children through the fire for Moloch and for sacrificing to idols on the high places and try to pretend all that trash is totally Godly, there is always a true, honest remnant that survives and remains to reseed the faith century after century.

I’m not a bad Christian because I think David French’s defenses of perversion are loathsome. I’m not even a bad mother because my children have clearly defined moral lines they won’t cross despite supposed Christian people claiming having those lines makes you a bad Christian witness to liberals on social media.

I may be a bad Christian and a bad mother because my children have a moral compass, are fed, housed and clothed in the most decently constructed and lowest-chemical of all three we can afford/find, and do chores after summer camp or school. I may well be a bad Christian and a bad mother because I don’t think going along to get along is what those of us who love Him may necessarily be called to do in all circumstances right now.

I may even be a bad Christian and a bad mother because I have not worked through all the comments on my blawg or social media because I still have a bunch of hard deadlines this month. You’d be surprised, or perhaps disappointed by how many married mothers think 24/7 social media availability is “being a good witness”.

I may just plain be an awful awful person who will never ever ever be the “good” unChristian Christian liberals point to who supports all their creepy, gross evil because I’m not overcredentialed and undersocialized.

I don’t know. I do know we’re all getting to church more often and having a sense that people there love and serve God rather than Moloch or social media. I feel that we (our family) get the glorious and precious blessing of being near people who might just be part of our true, honest remnant. Grace can abound, even for the total failures at living in Clown World like me.

For righties, 50 dollars is 50 thousand when it comes to funding normal living and healthy social dynamics.

The title says it all, really. Spending fifty bucks in a month to have someone else do some dropoffs and pickups a couple times a month so you can have time to prepare homeschool curriculum or run some errands all on the same day or do a couple more labor-intensive chores without interruptions is heard by the generic average right wing, conservative, Republican, etc person as “So you’re saying I need to spend fifty thousand bucks a year on a full time nanny/cook/housekeeper/whatever”.

Fundamentally righties are against spending money at all, ever, even on a minor, incidental, occasional basis for small tasks to help structure and smooth their lives out. They are all unwittingly echoing the evil and broke Lady Susan from the Whit Stillman take on Jane Austen, Love and Friendship: “As there is an element of friendship involved, the paying of wages would be offensive to us both.”

So the left slices, dices and turns into an antisocial, corporatized transaction every kind of task like that and the result is bad working conditions and pay for the people involved performing the services and tasks, further social atomization and isolation and just that little bit more difficulty in building and maintaining that kind of community glue. Because that sort of incidental labor used to be very common in American society. It was looser, more casual and certainly more occasional in scope, but Americans did used to pay people to do various tasks, at even lower-middle class and poverty-class income ranges. The complicated favor trading systems still present in some poverty-heavy communities are remnants of this broader pattern.

A couple years ago I paid an art student to draw and paint with my kids for about three hours five or six times so I could clean out the garage. Righties tend to be of the view that my husband should have watched the kids, or I should have done the clean out at some mysterious time where the kids weren’t around (but also homeschool because public school is too secular and icky) or that I should have a similarly mysterious large pool of people who will just show up and help out for any amount of time for free with zero notice.

And yes, righties say that paying money for services is an impossible luxury nobody should expect to have while…paying homeschool co-op teachers. I guess there’s the exception and why it has remained the exception (and not quite as much of one as you’d think, plenty of co-ops implode over lack of people willing and able to co-op it up completely salary-free) for decades is left as an exercise for the discerning intellect.

The fundamentalist 1970s back to the land movement was funded with food stamps and welfare

This was also true of the more left-wing hippies.  There was an interesting confluence during this time of far left and far right starting “self-sufficiency” communal living experiments with the help of welfare.  I didn’t read a book for this one, although you can find little allusions in memoirs about some of this, and the very occasional one-off reference.  Mostly you can find out what happened by looking up the history of the food stamp/SNAP/WIC nutrition support programs on wikipedia.  During the 1970s, some changes were made to what was then still called “food stamps” to permit seeds, gardening equipment and some other tools to be purchased with the stamps instead of money.  A fascinating side effect was that a number of fundamentalist groups/cults/etc. decided to leave the cities and go try to live out in the country off the land.

What I find really interesting about this is that the right wing appears to have no history for this.  The entire Crunchy Con, fundie-hippie, prepper/survivalist, homesteading subset of conservatives finds its Ur-model in the Back to the Land movement.  And this movement that was all about surviving off the grid self-sufficiently away from The (Liberal) Man was jumpstarted by food stamps and cash welfare.  Yet as far as I can tell, it might as well be knowledge hidden under a rock to the modern conservative equivalents.

The differences between lefty and righty SAHMs.

Few of the former, but more of them in liberal zip codes among married parents.  More of the latter, but more likely to be mixed in heavily with double-income households.

There’s very few married parents at all in liberal/Democrat-heavy zip codes with high incomes, but the married mothers tend to be SAHMs to men making north of 150k/yr.  So liberal women who stay home with their kids have a tribe and a sense of place because in a major metro there may only be 5 or 10k of them, but they all literally are in the same neighborhoods and constantly could hang out together.

They also don’t shy away from things like hiring au pairs and babysitters while staying home.  Liberal married mothers are substantially more likely to be relaxed about individually choosing to get themselves the things they need as SAHMs, including paid childcare help and being sure to be married to a high-earning provider so they experience zero financial pressure to earn money.  There are lower-income SAHMs who skew liberal, but they tend to not live in the high-income urban zip codes and there’s even fewer of them.

Righty SAHMs, on the other hand, are far more common among married parents as a whole nationwide, but they tend to be scattered within a much bigger and income-diverse group of married parents in the areas they live in.  And they themselves are more likely to be income-diverse, though there’s still very few under 50k/yr.

Thus righty SAHMs are not wrong to feel isolated and odd duck-like.  In a major exurb commuting distance from a Big City, they may well be among 100k other married parents and even 30k or so of SAHMs (i.e., roughly the national-level split between double-income and SAHM households), but they probably only live near a few other SAHMs and they don’t have the homogeneous aspects the lefty SAHMs have.

What’s interesting is that I looked into the matter strictly to see if there was a pattern at all.  It’s one thing to say SAHMs are getting to be a higher and higher income proposition, it’s another to determine if there are political variations.  I didn’t expect to find what I found looking at major metros like Chicago, DC, Seattle or LA, among others.  I looked at Big Cities and outlying exurbs and suburbs in red and purple and blue states alike, and the basic “very few lefty-likely SAHMs, but mostly clustered together plus have top-quarter family incomes for their area” and “many more righty-likely SAHMs, but spanning the top 3 quartiles for their area and not concentrated in the highest one, not much clustering at all” holds up across a wide range of voting patterns.

The lady who lunches is fairly likely a Democrat these days, as is the SAHM with a nanny and two kids in tow.  Or the yoga mom who’s kept her figure after four kids.

But there’s very few of her.  Not many liberal women seem ready or willing to make those arrangements to have families.  And it is interesting to me that while liberal-leaning women want to have kids/form families at much lower rates than right-leaning women, they SAHM at really high rates.


Practical Definitions: Conservatives and Multi-Level Marketing aka MLM

MLM is short for “Multi-Level Marketing“.  This is a form of sales in which the majority of the income is earned by signing other people up and receiving a portion of their sales (and the sales of those they sign up).  This is a variation of a pyramid scheme.  Conservatives tend to fall prey to MLM scams because the veneer of capitalism appeals to conservatives tricked into monetizing their relationships.  With liberals, the scam tendency is towards self-help, self-improvement and spiritual awakening cons, in which the veneer is monetizing friendships and relationships for “spiritual growth”.  Liberal scams cater to self-focus and individual autonomy.  Conservative scams cater, with their more pseudo-democratic pyramid structures, to the idea of community while horrifyingly undermining it in (ineffective) pursuit of money.

While both conservative men and women tend to fall prey to such schemes, the reason for this post is what I have observed among conservative housewives on and off the internet.  There are an astonishing number of schemes designed for them far beyond the kind of stereotypical makeup and cookware MLM businesses.

Three in particular that one runs into are book sales, essential oils (this one is health-risking as well, since they are not designed for internal use and yet that is part of the con), and even a bolting-on of MLM to real estate brokering.

There is nothing about books, essential oils or real estate sales or anything else that requires an MLM component and yet over and over I find “conservative”, “homeschool”, “Biblical”, etc. “work at home opportunities” seem to have MLM tacked on no matter what the supposed product or service for sale is.

If you’re discouraged from just selling the product or service without signing other people up, it’s probably MLM and you should walk away before you sink too much cash into startup costs (which MLM usually has more of than other at-home business opportunities).

The following conservative Christian SAHM, who is an excellent blogger in many respects, has written some insightful posts detailing the problems with MLM.




Each of her posts is longer than this one and worth the read, she delves into the problems of monetizing your relationships with friends and family.  She also unpacks the flaws of MLMs as a business model, and most importantly covers the spiritual pitfalls of these terrible schemes.

This post is just an introduction and overview, a lot of conservative people truly don’t understand that business structures don’t have to look like Amway or any of the other MLMs I’ve linked to because all the stuff they see and pass around does look that way.  But no, these are a bad deal and should be avoided.