President Trump is a normal President, not an unPresidential one.

He’s the first President to fully exist in a 24/7 insta-news world, and this means that once again, as during the campaign, people are trapped in presentism regarding his demeanor, actions and general P. They are also trapped in the emotional firestorm of the media, where it being everywhere means that many people hear it, tune out the specific content, but absorb the negative feelings around Trump that really do emanate from all those CNN airport screens and MSNBC gym screens.

So even people who should know better mindlessly repeat the idea that Trump should go hat in hand to the media in order to get Congressional Republicans to vote for his stuff when the very idea that a President is supposed to do that is unhistorical and would actually be unPresidential. Or they repeat other demonstrably false ideas from the general negative pool of media tripe, like “Trump isn’t getting anything done, he’s too busy tweeting”, “Trump doesn’t know how to negotiate with politicians”, “Trump is childish”, etc, etc, etc.

When you fly up into the air of overall Presidential history and take a slightly less insta-news view, it becomes clear that Trump’s firmly within historical norms for both snark and general Presidentin’ even this early in his Presidency.

People see what they want to see and people who want to see Trump as a buffoon who can’t get it together have plenty of places to have that feeeeeeeeelllllllliiiinnnnnnnggggggg reinforced, supported, backed up by babbling heads on endless tv screens. Those of us who live lives where we just happen to not have media ranting as background noise and only read a little of it in passing have a different view of the President because we’re somewhat more insulated from the sheer emotional weight of the angry, legitimately childish and maddened media. He’s doing a lot of pretty ordinary Presidential things. One can debate whether what Presidents do normally is good or ill, certainly, but he’s not showing any signs of incompetence by historical standards.

The previous President did some very historically questionable things, like the rhetoric that led to police being shot, using a sexual slur to describe Tea Party supporters, to pick just two. But the media didn’t have negative emotional energy about that stuff, because they liked it, so their neutral-to-positive emotional feels made anyone tuning in feel that he was dignified and suave while stirring discord and being even more gross in public speech than Mrs. “Deplorables” and “right-wing conspiracy” Clinton. He also had a long list of tweets that could easily be labeled short-sighted and petty as well, though more in the historical norms for snarking. In this respect, the media’s influence in the emotional realm, where identical behavior is interpreted in opposing ways because emotiomal stirring-up is impossible to fully resist without conscious effort, remains massive and powerful.

They’re working on that one, though. Kinda hope they succeed in undermining that emotional punch skill they still have, it could only be better for us all.

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The American woman has always been and will always be a contradiction

When I first started blogging here, I had a misinformed idea that there was a lot more pro-mother tendency in American women before roughly the 1960s.  But that isn’t the case.  What is the case is that from the pre-America colonial days up until now in the Age of Devices,  American women have always been the definition of Hegelian contradiction, pulling in opposite directions.

Unusually even among European cultures, American women have always had a contingent that privileged the mother-child dyad so extremely that nobody else was supposed to provide care or upbringing of the child(ren).  This remains shocking to me and something I’m still trying to accept.  But even when women mostly had to have other women around, American women have had a subset that was very loud and pushy about how they could or ought to go it alone and rear their children without any other humans involved, even dad.

The conservative flavor has brought us the sorts of people who believe mother-only childcare and child rearing is universal, historical and natural on the conservative or right-wing side.  A different flavor, call it liberal though it crosses many political lines, has brought us the ultimately damaging attachment parenting model.  A lot of the mommy wars are American women singing their usual Hegelian song.

The Puritan factory model of child rearing, in which many people got a crack at rearing the child and the mother-child dyad was not privileged as such is the other side of this coin.  There’s also always been a contingent of American women who believed children to be fungible, and thus it was merely a matter of applying the right systems to a child by any adult who’d mastered those systems.

There were a lot of women, often mothers, behind the drives for daycare, systematized mass education and other attempts to genericize child care and child rearing.

I don’t have the energy to make a separate post, but the Little Golden Books were a combination child psychology experiment and mass kid-marketing experiment done by a working mother who believed more “authentic” children’s tales would be useful in improving the educational level of young urban children.  She herself was a major promoter in the early 20th century of the right of women to combine having a family and having a productive, fulfilling career.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite American writers, Gene Stratton-Porter, was a massive promoter of mother-care as the only real care in her fiction and some of her non-fiction writing.  She combined this, in that contradictory way of American women, with explicit commentary about how it was acceptable to have relatives, governesses or tutors though.

So the American project, distaff side, has always been contradictory and oxymoronic.  The American woman is a social creature, but yet anti-social.  Maternal, sometimes cloyingly so, yet dismissive of maternal love.

I’ve been looking into women’s history around the world and American women are Just Different compared to other women when it comes to all these things.  They have always had massive personal freedom, even many enslaved women during those eras.  But they’ve also had a sometimes bizarre interpretation of the life domestic compared to historical norms, even ones concurrent to their own for a given point in American history.

The American woman is, was and will be fried ice and its promoter as long as there is an America.

 

Notes on Letters from a Woman Homesteader

So I got diverted from my original 2014 reading list by yet another bit of old writing that doesn’t quite match up to the myths around frontier and pioneer folks.

It’s some letters a homesteading woman from about 100 years ago wrote to a former employer she’d maintained cordial relations with.  She’d worked for the employer as a laundress.  What is fascinating about the letters is that yet again, she didn’t do all the work alone, but routinely had other women helping her, or she traveled to help them.  It is clearly normalized in these letters for the women to go around to each other and spend days or weeks assisting with, well, homesteading for each other, along with the demands of hospitality.  When parties and social events are undertaken, it’s just assumed that everyone (including men) will pitch in to help the individual household tasked with hosting duties.  There is, despite the fact that they all live ten and twenty and thirty miles away from each other, not actually that much rugged individualism.

Also, this woman’s body broke down having lots of babies (six, more or less, according to other information about her life elsewhere on the internet) and working hard.  The letters Mrs. Stewart writes detail multiple instances of being unwell and struggling physically due to pregnancies (and infant deaths/miscarriages) and the work of homesteading. Her marriage was a mail-order marriage, but it lasted and as noted above produced quite a few surviving little bundles of joy out of it.

Mrs. Stewart promotes homesteading aggressively, feeling strongly that however hard that labor is, it still beats being a laundress in an urban metro area in the early 20th century.  She really felt that women should get out there and grab a piece of land for themselves, with or without a husband.  That sort of feminine self-determination is American to the core, being in regular currency prior to the 19th amendment.  I continue to have my own preconceptions about traditional America rocked by the knowledge that everything old is new again.  And in this case what’s old is American women waving a flag of securing financial independence through earning income rather than marriage.

It’s a short read, plus she’s a capable and engaging writer.  There’s a reason her employer sent the letters to be published in a magazine.

Alfie and the failure of the dissident right to ground itself historically.

The dissident right, manosphere, neoreaction, dark enlightenment, orthosphere, etc, whatever you want to call the giant tent of weird subcultures that are conservative-liking but not terribly conservative in thought all have the same problem.

They don’t appear to read or watch fiction made in the 20th century.  And they don’t read fiction from the 18th and 19th centuries.  They read and recite thirdhand commentary on commentary at best from three or four writers, and this results in many of them believing silliness such as PUAs being a brand new entity in the world, invented with the interwebs.

Alfie (1966) shows otherwise.  It put Michael Caine on the map and it might as well be called “PUAs: Behind the Mask”, because it is almost half a century old and reveals all the general spiritual decay behind the PUA front of insouciance and skirt-chasing in a way that blows any of the blogs about such things right out of the water.  It also reveals that the PUA pushing a guru system thing is hardly new, although Alfie certainly wasn’t making money off it.

But think about that one.  “Red pill” info about women *and men* was known and put into a mainstream British film in the mid-1960s.  If any of these self-proclaimed enlightened ones ever bothered to pay attention to media through the decades, they’d see that what they seem to think is a brand new round thing has been rolling along without them for decades.

Likewise, just reading fiction at all would reveal to them that a lot of the beliefs they have regarding how “realistic” they are about human nature are neither original, insightful nor true.  It’s so strange.  They are like very odd, very confused SWPLs.  No history, no sense of the past, and no understanding of how utterly ignorant this makes their proclamations and declarations of wanting to restore and honor same look.  At least the regular SWPLs think the solution is to keep moving forward and constantly redo the stuff that didn’t work.  These guys don’t want to do that, but lack the historical grounding to propose coherent or sound alternatives.

It’s not like this sort of fiction is being kept under lock and key by the liberal cabal.  It’s all hiding in plain sight.

 

Fraud Alert, John Taylor Gatto edition

If you’re going to set up alternative sources of authority, you need to vet them for fraudulence.  John Taylor Gatto is demonstrably set up as a homeschooling authority figure and even when his name isn’t directly mentioned, the boilerplate about the “Prussian system” and “everyone was college-level literate before the evils of public school” shows up in plenty of conservative advocacy of homeschooling. But Gatto’s claims are not vetted, and when they are questioned, the response is that *footnotes are a tool of the man to keep you from going on a heart journey*.  An example of not vetting Gatto is the claims he makes about literacy being higher before compulsory public education by comparing WWI literacy *data* with literacy *reports* from before WWI.  Subjective reports that ranged from being able to compose a complex essay to being able to sign one’s name are not really a useful way to assess historical literacy or compare it to hard data after the World Wars, yet that very digging into the primary sources and trying to get at the heart of things is ostentatiously absent when it comes to Gatto among homeschool advocates. This is part of a larger problem with modern people conservative and liberal alike running screaming from explicit authority, but then becoming ensnared by the allure of false authorities.

A nuclear family is not a family, that’s why there’s an adjective.

Raising children as a married couple in total isolation is not “family”, it’s just “atomic household unit of economic production”.

A father and mother raising children in a private, independent household separate from either’s extended family and/or parish is an invention of the industrial age.  It has become normalized to the point of being considered the only real family among conservatives, who fail history 4eva on this particular front.

There are a number of folks in the far end of right-conservative land who talk a great deal about how such and such a ‘european’ ethnic group has ‘always’ had nuclear families, but this is just a sign of how poorly educated they are about their own ethnic histories.

The pioneer family model wouldn’t exist without a lot of technology.  In some very real ways, the Ingalls/Wilder pioneer family is about as modern as families now in terms of sheer social isolation and dependence on the nuclear family for emotional needs to the point of neurosis.

The shift from clan to family to “extended” vs. “nuclear” family is just tracing the steps of technology and modernity and insane amounts of wealth in tearing us all away from the real forms of kin and kith.

Also, defining family in terms of the nuclear structure saves a lot of people the trouble of being held to account for their obligations and responsibilities to their familias/clan/bondsmen/etc.  Webs of intersecting authority, hierarchy, devotion, obligation and love.  Those are lost today and to get them back for the supermajority would require a lot of people to stop egotripping.  WOE.

Anyway that’s all I have to say about this right now.

 

Homeschool curriculum ideas

Just a few quick ideas.

  1. Accurate black history and accomplishments (yes, black people have Done Stuff, there is a world of notable achievements that may not be spaceships in Egypt but is also not all made up feelgood myths.)
  2. Accurate history in general.  True neutrality for basic histories of America (since I’m American).
  3. Accurate women’s history (cf. my post about the domestic sphere).  I’m not linking back to my post about continuity preservation in the domestic sphere because I don’t want to get further in the weeds of using one version of an idea to stand in for further refinements.  And there will be further refinements about why accurate women’s history is crucial to restoring normal life.  It’s more than just the domestic sphere, it’s providing children with an understanding of the tradeoffs that come when women have more or less hard power in a society.  And the tradeoffs that come from the various ways women wield their soft power.
  4. Honesty about how a lot of ‘traditional nationalism’ is warmed-over pap from the 19th century and no earlier.
  5. Making a curriculum out of the extensive home economics and household efficiency literature that is easily available and totally ignored, but adapted to modern living.  No, appliances aren’t your handmaidens.  But there are body and health-saving ways to do a lot of basic tasks.
  6. Real mechanical/technical information.  How to use an ax, for example.  That information is incredibly useful, but extremely difficult to find online, yet would easily lend itself to a well ordered curriculum.
  7. Proper science.  This lady is a great start (and covers more than just science!), but it’s not like there could be too many quality science homeschool curriculums.  Caveat for us Protestants– she is quite devoted to her Catholicism and her curriculums obviously reflect this.  Still, there is plenty of wheat available without getting into a doctrinal fistfight.