Self-publishing SAHMs are pretty practical and sensible.

I have been stumbling across a lot of SAHMs who have seized upon self-publishing as a way to make money while having the flexibility to be at home with their children for homeschooling, special needs or infant/toddlerness.  One of the astonishing things about them is how they blow a lot of work-at-home mothers out of the water on the support network front.

Self-publishing SAHMs have childcare so they can write.  Either they pay for it, get a relative to watch the kids a few times a week or they talk to their husbands about taking the kids so they can write 2 or 3 hours a night.  This is a baffling thing full-time work-at-home people rarely do.  They seem to think if you’re at home working the kid(s) will just realize this and let you work, even if they’re infants or toddlers.

This means they reliably write 10-20 hours per week, a true part-time job that can be integrated into their general household management and not cause friction.  And they also pace themselves, they never plan more work than they can reasonably produce on a set, consistent, frequent schedule.  They just work to market whatever length of writing that schedule produces.  And it works.  Because this self-selecting, wonderfully sensible pool of women does not bite off more than they can chew, they sell thousands of copies a month of short stories, novellas and novels apiece and make anywhere from a couple thousand dollars a month for their time to ten thousand or more per month.

At first I thought it was just one or two women, but as I’ve looked at the people who admit to self-publishing and discuss their background, I’ve found it’s a common theme with the SAHMs who are making a go of it.

What a wonderful discovery.

Book review of a pretty practically conservative guide, SJWs Always Lie, by Vox Day

Vox Day hits a strong triple with this short book describing the “Social Justice Warrior” type of extreme liberal and how to identify and combat them in life and work.

I haven’t done a real book review in a long time, and I’d like to start with this fascinating little book by Vox Day, SJWs Always Lie.  As I note above, this book is a strong triple, just short of a home run in quickly and simply explaining what SJWs are, how they operate and how to deal with an attack from them and keep them out of one’s organizations and institutions.

Mr. Day begins simply, saying that SJWs are “unpaid amateur propagandists” who believe in Narrative above anything else.  This keeps the reader focused when he moves on to examples of their behavior.

In what is the weakest part of the book in Chapters 2 and 4, Mr. Day uses overly complex examples taken from nerd spheres and gets a little too into the weeds with them (like in his discussion of Gamergate in Chapter 4, where video gamers protested gaming journalists being literally in bed with game developers and other ethical/conflict of interest breaches), but soon enough his video game background kicks in and the reader still gets a coherent walkthrough of how SJWs operated in those nerd spheres.

In Chapter 3, Mr. Day provides a breakdown of the eight-step process of SJW attacks (available as a free pdf download, also serves as a great sample of the book) and also of the way SJWs use Codes of Conduct, volunteerism and qualifications over skills to take over organizations. As a housewife, this called to mind a non-nerd example that happened to La Leche League, a grassroots breastfeeding organization started by upper-middle class housewives in the 1970s and which has at the statewide level imploded due to SJW entryism of the very kind described in this little book.

With ten chapters, the book has a lot of good bits once he moves into the realm of corporate and civic life.  The discussion of SJW proofing one’s organization in Chapter 10 is incredibly valuable and worth the very reasonable price by itself.

Along the way to that last chapter, Mr. Day brings up some common roadblocks that conservatives are all too familiar with.  The “moderate” who would rather lose the institution the right way (pun intended) instead of kick SJWs out.  The incredibly fragile reliance on megacorporations and the Establishment (media and academic “experts” with no practical knowledge) as a bottleneck and how taking the risk to be free (or freer) of those entities can preserve a more normal organization or community.

 

I’ve been letting the perfect be the enemy of the “just get it online”, so here this review is, very belatedly.  As we see in America a surge of right-wing populism and possible election of a right-wing populist and as we see the basic idea of an SJW slowly start being defined as “problematic” even among progressives and liberals, I think this little book is an interesting and useful bit of practical description and advice.  A strong triple, due to being a little too inside-baseball and understandably not delving into where the really impossible SJW infestations are: female-specific institutions and organizations.  Perhaps it will be for another to solve the riddle of how us ladies can SJW-proof our spaces and get them back to useful and discrete from male ones.

Gene Stratton-Porter and Me, Freckles

Freckles (1904) is the prequel to the much better known A Girl of the Limberlost. When it was first published, it was confused for one of her “pure” nature picture books.  I greatly hope to score one of those editions someday.

Stratton-Porter’s nature-worship permeates both books, as does what amounts to her HBD style racial views.  People are quality because they come from literal “good blood”.  There’s also a lot of modern touches, like limiting how many children you have to go all-in on one prized child, along with the obsession with diet and physical exercise as moral worth measures.

Stratton-Porter is a good writer, great when talking about nature and also adept at not letting her stranger themes overwhelm the core romantic nature of her books.  But it was a bit surreal to see many of the things I lament in modern American culture were present a century earlier and are American traditions, as it happens.  I’m still navigating this fact, that American traditions are so anti-social and self-focused, but there you are.  Another interesting aspect of this book is how the innocence of the pure young woman who is Freckles’ love interest is not gullible or naive, but cautious.

The girls in Stratton-Porter books are not steeped in the grosser ways of the world, but they aren’t deluded that some men are not honorable and that even men who look honorable might turn out otherwise if given license.  I think it’s interesting that early 20th century teenage girls were getting this kind of literature written for them, that encouraged them to be intelligent or at least self-directed in learning, well-kept in dress and manner, and to desire marriage, but to build interests before marriage that could be maintained in content singlehood if marriage never came around.

That theme is more developed in the sequel, but it’s still present in Freckles, where the Swamp Angel (Freckle’s love interest) is a soda artisan at the local soda fountain.  Her drinks are the very best and she makes them for new people in town.  She’s also the daughter of the richest man in town and exceptionally beautiful and in Austenian terms “condescending to all”.  She is especially kind to Freckles, who is missing a hand due to a brutal childhood accident that has major plot significance in the last quarter or so of the book.

Freckles is himself an orphan who ends up working for a tough, smart, meritocratic Scotchman guarding lumber and being quasi-adopted by the foreman’s wife.  The various digressions on the high-end lumber market are fascinating, as they show that even a century plus ago the “cheap luxury” of veneers and patinas was well established and a path to great profits for the ones who owned the thousands or hundreds of acres with the right kinds of trees on them.

Freckles does great at guarding lumber and winning the heart of Swamp Angel.  He does anger a lumber thief and there’s some confrontations and dramatic action sequences, including Swamp Angel having to stand down the lumber thief’s gang with just the power of her beauty and well-bredness.  And also a gun.

There’s also an author insert called the Bird Woman, who provides Swamp Angel with said gun and provides some support to Freckles in his quest to learn his parentage.  Everyone says he is just too excellent mannered and upstanding to be an orphan from some trash background with cruel ill-bred parents.  And, well, the reader eventually learns that indeed he is something else entirely and that the accident that cost him his hand had nothing to do with his parents.  Since I am going to discuss all Stratton-Porter’s books, I will spoiler the surprise.  Freckles is of noble birth and secretly very wealthy, and thus totally worthy to marry the daughter of the richest man in town.

I could easily spend a week’s worth of posts on each of her books.  But this is just a very little introduction as I go through them all in publishing order.

Heidi and its messages of God’s love

The original (1881) book of Heidi by Johanna Spyri is fascinating and charming and did not leave my eyes dry reading it.  It was written during a time when there was great concern about children leaving the healthy country air for the dankness and blandness of the cities.

Much like Pollyanna, it contains the peculiar frankness of tone that older children’s literature had.  If you’ve read the original Grimm’s Tales in their 1880s form, the language is very similar.

But what I didn’t know from watching random pieces of the several film versions through the years was that it provided the young reader with two different messages of God’s love regarding physical health.  Heidi loves people very much and wants to help them.  The book provides two instances of her being able to help people with love (and good food).  They are messages of God’s love because Heidi is taught why in one case that though she has done good and the person’s life is better and their joy in Christ is the greater the physical healing she hopes for will not happen in this world.  In the other case the physical healing happens, but it is not due to the love and good food, but rather to an opening of the person’s heart more fully to God and the manifestation was physical healing.

The first person was open to God already and was the means by which Heidi could learn more about God.  It was the other way around in the second case.

I can’t wait until my girls are old enough to read it for themselves.

The Little House on the Prairie and its autonomous mamas.

This is kind of an overview of the Little House On the Prairie books, hereafter LHOTP, as is common when discussing them online.  I recently read the original eight book series and it was truly astonishing how much autonomy and independence Laura’s mother and Almanzo’s mother had.

There is a fascinating phenomenon in which this cultural bedrock of Americana is being transmitted solely through (mostly Frontier-American) women and Frontier-American men are basically ignorant of a major piece of where their women’s beliefs about home and family are coming from.

So Ma and Mother are these women who have a huge span of responsibility and authority, along with far above average native talent and skills in the homemaking arts of their eras, but this has not become codified as any sort of serious norm for housewives/SAHMs.  Caroline Ingalls was a truly astonishing cook, with a high level of natural understanding of chemistry and plants to be able to cook on an unreliable stove with inconsistent heat and a nearly random selection of ingredients sprung on her at any point in time.  She was also a truly above average hand sewer.  Mrs. Wilder was a weaver and a food processor extraordinaire, whose skill with cloth and butter making accounted for much of that family’s cash income and nearly all their clothing and linens.

And Mrs. Wilder’s workspace is arranged and designed to suit her, so she can be the most highly productive she can be for her family.  Almanzo’s child’s eyes view of her weaving room is very insightful, you see a little boy who expects a grown woman to have her own separate space that Father doesn’t have any input into, beyond making it to her specifications.  You see a little of this in how Almanzo sets up the house for Laura when they marry.  He assumes it’s important for her to have things set up so she can be as effective/efficient as possible.

This was actually an interesting subtheme in a lot of early 20th century writing, because men were still building a lot of the houses directly and the whole notion that you needed to make the wife-offices, so to speak, tailored to your own wife’s skills was one that crops up in a lot of the women’s writing of those early decades.  Like, you were supposed to get a spec list out of her and then make it happen.

It’s interesting that the Frontier-American subcultures who are most into LHOTP as a world and worldview tend to not allow the wives and daughters and sisters the sort of free hand that was clearly not at all outside the norms of the era (late 19th century).  There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is the desire to believe there is no skill in domestic arts precisely because of the increasing arrival of mechanization and automation.

A lot of other things about LHOTP struck me as I was reading, but this one, that the two main mamas were badasterisk but also very lightly headed by (some) modern standards despite not at all being psychically of one accord with their husband’s desires and wishes was one of the bigger ones.

 

Pollyanna’s hard, mature edges were surprising.

I always wondered what the original book of Pollyanna was like and so I recently read it.  Unlike the reviews describe and what I’ve seen of the movie, the book is very sophisticated and mature for a kid’s tale.

The Glad game (trying to find the gladness in some terrible situation, the core of the book) is more about clinging to God when all else has deserted you than some kind of in-born natural good cheer about everything, which is kind of how Pollyanna is presented and what her name’s become a byword for.  That’s what Pollyanna’s father was doing when he taught it to her as they stood looking at a missionary barrel with crutches in it instead of a doll, after many barrels with almost literal trash in them.  Pollyanna’s life is brutally hard and her quest to find the light in it is what inspires the rest of the town to suck up their own problems and look for any bit of gladness.

Weirdly I looked up reviews of this book and nobody mentioned the strong anti-divorce message, in which Pollyanna, an 11yo girl, keeps a wife who accepts gifts from other men from divorcing her drinking, cursing, brawling husband and possibly abandoning her children through the Glad Game and also just socializing with the couple’s kids. The husband and wife decide they need to both stop their sketchy, trashy ways and stick closer to each other. Pollyanna is quite aware of what’s going on without anyone having to break it down for her.  She was a missionary’s kid out in California.  She probably saw quite a bit, if the adults around her in her New England small town thought about it.  That’s what I mean when I say it’s surprisingly mature.

I did not count like Pollyanna’s preacher father did, but knowing that there probably are 800 verses commanding us to be glad and rejoice had me crying with joy.  Something to do one of these days, anyhow.

There’s also some very sophisticated and cynical material about Pollyanna’s options as an orphan, and again, I continue to be set down about my preconceptions of “old” books, particularly old kids’ books.

Nuclear family plus servants doesn’t equal nuclear family plus appliances

From a tweet by “hbdchick“, a tantalizing excerpt of an essay by Peter Laslett, who researched the structure of the Western European (particularly English) family for decades.  He’s one of the reasons I talk about the domestic help aspect of family formation, even as alt-right (and regular right) types ignore that when declaiming about how the nuclear family is a staple of certain kinds of white people.  I’d put Laslett’s more exhaustive work on the back burner, but I think it may have to move up in the old queue. Below I’ve reposted the excerpt with the important bit at the end highlighted.

Characteristics of the Western European Family

Peter Laslett

By ‘family structure’ many things may be intended. I shall take it here in two senses. First, in the sense of composition of the co-resident domestic group, as the historical sociologists call it. This means the knot of persons who live together, man, wife and sometimes, but by no means always, their children, their relatives, if any, along with their servants, now excessively rare. Such is the family which the wage-earner leaves when he catches his bus in the morning to go to work, and which he returns to in the evening. It is also the assemblage of possessions which the bachelor girl or the solitary widower or divorcee calls a home, along with himself or herself. A modest array of this kind is the constitution of the family for very large numbers of Western Europeans in the 1980s. The family in the second sense is the extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles and so on who are recognised, and sometimes associated with, but do not live together in the same place.

I am concerned here with family in both these senses, historically, over time. This is not only because of the interest people have in their family history: but also because it has now been shown that unless we have some knowledge of the history of the family, the family of today, of our own personal experience, can be profoundly misunderstood. For the fact is that in the matter of the family we have suffered, and still suffer, from a series of persistent, deceptive, obfuscating misbeliefs which can only be shown up and corrected by a knowledge of the past.

This self-deception about the history of the family has particularly affected Western Europeans. Frenchmen, Germans or Englishmen, unless they have come across the work of recent historical sociologists, are likely to believe the following. That the co-resident familial group in the past, at least up to the point of industrialisation, was large and complicated, with several generations living together. Furthermore, that this comfortable, kin-enfolding, welfare-providing family group not only nurtured the young, but took in their spouses when they married, and also provided them with shelter and succour when they became old or suffered other misfortunes. That the family in the sense of extended kin was a further source of welfare. It seems to be supposed that before the days of the Welfare State it was the family and kin which rescued social casualties. Now all this has turned out to be untrue.

Untrue, that is to say, in a literal sense and for the particular part of Western Europe which first became industrialised and which has given what might be called industrial culture to the rest of the world. By this North-West Europe, especially the British Isles, Northern France, the Low Countries and Scandinavia, is meant. In this cultural region family groups had been simple in composition and quite modest in size for many centuries before industrialisation. Married children only seldom lived with their parents, and two couples in one family household were quite unusual. It is true that the family group has become much smaller in the 20th century, servants have disappeared, and solitary living has grown enormously in our own day: but this did not happen during the process of industrialisation as ‘traditional society’ gave way to ‘modern society’ and cannot be called a transition to the ‘nuclear family’. The ‘nuclear family’ was there already.

The kin composition of the English family group was much as it is today in the 16th century, and had been so since the 1300s, the 1200s or even earlier, but with one very important structural difference. Servants lived in large numbers of families, and the presence of servants made the family groups of the rich large, and the family groups of the poor correspondingly small. In this area of the West, moreover, welfare never flowed along lines of kinship. The casualties of the system, the widows, the orphans, the poverty-stricken, were supported by the collectivity rather than the family.

The implications, needless to say, are pretty major.  Hbdchick has a London Review of Books subscription and I do not as yet, so she reproduced a different excerpt mentioning very high servant turnover and that the lifetime servant was more of a literary device than an ongoing reality.

This is interesting, because due to labor shortage and some other historical quirks, the longtime or lifelong servant did exist in various forms in America and Canada all the way into the first half of the 20th century.  Likewise, the nuclear family in its frontier-isolated and later suburban form could not exist without the Industrial Revolution’s massive infusions of radical new technology and mass production.  So on the one hand, “the nuclear family has always been part of Western Europe”, but on the other hand, the people who came to America transmuted it along radical lines that were not reflected in the old country’s version of it.

And more to the point, as my title for this post notes, it’s not the same to say that appliances are your servants, even if they were devised as a replacement.  They are not a true replacement for all that.