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Rich Litter
It seems the rich are pumping out children (almost) like it's 1899. Mollie Jong-Fast writes in the New York Observer:

Yes, the hot accessory of 2007 is children—but not just one or two. It seems that fashionable women in Manhattan just can’t stop popping them out. Jessica Seinfeld, Jennifer Creel and Nancy Jerecki have three. Brook De Campo just had her fourth. Marie Chantal and her sister, Pia Getty, have four. Tory Burch has six (from different marriages—even better). Ron Perelman has six (also from different marriages). Even Donald Trump, hardly on the cutting edge of fashion, has five.

Why are rich, fabulous people having so many children? The answer is complicated. One of the reasons is because, quite frankly, children are fun (I say this as the mother of one).

Sorry, I don't think the rich are having children because they are "fun." And come on, are they? For the most part? Jong-Fast continues:

And children are even more fun when you have a huge $20 million townhouse filled with staff who get up with the kids in the middle of the night. Increased prosperity equals more children.

The other reason is because children last a lot longer than Jay Mendel minks and Hermès Birkins. From Sandy Weill (and his hospital) to Donald Trump (and his giant buildings with his giant name emblazoned on them in giant bronze letters), or Nina Griscom’s shop or Tory Burch’s clothing line, today’s rich are obsessed with the idea of immortality in whatever shape that might take (bigger apartments, bigger cars, bigger summer houses, bigger private jets, pay-for-play philanthropy). As the English aristocracy has known for centuries, children are our only real way of perpetuating our names.

For the last 40 years, women who had children in their 30’s and 40’s were considered members of the ruling class—yuppies. These women were part of power couples with two incomes and two BMW’s to match. But more recently, many women in the ruling class stopped having jobs altogether. They just hop right out of school and into the maternity ward: Do not pass go, do not collect even one paycheck. And these women who never worked can start popping them out in their 20’s, which means that normal women can’t possibly catch up. Maybe in that way, these young never-working baby-poppers are really asserting their power against a world filled with Ivy-educated egg freezers.

Some illustrious folks grew up in big families. Our first president, George Washington, was one of at least six children; Thomas Jefferson was one of 10 children; and Marie Antoinette was one of 16 children. But life was different back then: Children were farmhands, smallpox and the bubonic plague wiped out four kids at a time, and life was cheaper. Kids didn’t need to have a Montessori pink tower from Kid-O-NY to the tune of $140; back then, kids just played out in the piles of cow-dung with rusty nails and corn husks.

Indeed, infant-mortality rates for the rich are microscopic. But the cost of raising these children is not. By far the largest expense for the young rich is nannies. High-end baby nurses now run in the neighborhood of $200 a day, and generally their employment tends to run from six weeks to a year. That’s $73,000 for a year of baby nursing. Multiply that by four for four kids and that’s $292,000, which means you’re going to have to clear a total of $500,000 before taxes just to afford babyhood. An even larger expense is room and board: Where are you going to put up that baby nurse? A maid’s room (which measures on average seven by 10 feet) is going to add between $100,000 and $700,000 to the cost of your apartment, maybe more. Of course, most nannies don’t like to live in, so often perks must be offered—everything from being driven home after work by the chauffeur to 401(k) contributions.

Something tells me we'd all be better off if these women had gone for the Jay Mindel furs and Hermès handbags.

Posted by aalkon at November 16, 2007 10:47 AM

Comments

Amy, what happened to your evolutionary paradigm? Of course we'd have been better off if these airheads had gone for fashions but fashions are only fun if nobody else can afford them. They are partaking of something that the commoners have been persuaded (or decided to anyway)forego.

With any luck, it will be the next generation and not us personally who will have to read the self-absorbed books these little designer brats write.

Posted by: martin at November 16, 2007 4:47 AM

As the father of two elementary school kids, yes, for the most part, children are incredibly fun to have. (And somehow I think that does account for why some folks that should not be having kids due to age, income, .... are having kids.) And as fun as they are, yep, it would be nice if they came with a staff, or one nanny, kind, witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets.)

It's a different fun, and at times a lot of worry, and without the kids, I'd be a world traveler, but there is no denying that they really are tons and tons of fun.

And with that, I'm off to the hospital where one of them is getting her tonsils out this morning....

YMMV and that's okay too!

Posted by: jerry at November 16, 2007 5:10 AM

Martin -

If trends continue, the only people around to read the "self-absorbed books" will be the "designer brats".

The middle class isn't being squeezed out by the rich, it's failing to reproduce in an effort to JOIN the rich.

Posted by: brian at November 16, 2007 5:33 AM

Yes, mine are fun, too, but they are also a lot of work. And I'll bet you my firstborn that the children of the rich and famous would rather spend time with their parents than their nannies, which doesn't happen often enough to make differences in their lives where and when it really counts. Having babies and then handing them over to someone else to raise for you is a luxury that only the rich can afford, but I'm betting it creates a lot of resentment on the part of the kids, as they're getting older, and just now as I was typing this, the song from Austin Powers' 'Goldmember" just popped into my head, the refrain of which is "Daddy Wasn't There"! If children don't have their parents there for them, it could warp their little brains because they might think "why wasn't I good enough for mom or dad to be with me and teach me things?" Or maybe not, if their nanny really has their best interests at heart, instead of scheming to get into Mr. Moneybags' bed or working out when the best day to abscond with the silver would be. Who knows? YMMV on this one too! o_O

Posted by: Flynne at November 16, 2007 5:40 AM

Amy, you know how you like (some) other people's children if they're well-behaved? Well, for all intents and purposes, if these kids are being raised by nannies, then they're not all that far off from being "other people's children" for their legal parents. If you don't have to discipline or do yucky caretaking jobs for children who are nevertheless well-behaved and well-cared for, then yes, I can see them being fun. However, eventually the parents are going to have to pay the piper in that situation, as Flynne said.

Oh well. At least they won't be asking me to pay for their kids' health insurance so that they can be craftspeople/stay-at-home parents...

Posted by: marion at November 16, 2007 5:54 AM

They can afford to pay for them so let them multiply. I'm guessing these kids, while possibly becoming a whole bunch of Paris Hiltoneque types, are probably unlikely to be out carjacking us 15 years from now. Maybe not a great boon to society, but at least not too big a drain.

Posted by: moreta at November 16, 2007 6:11 AM

I do not believe this!

The tom-tom beat beneath all Amy's posts about breeders has been, to date, don't pop if you can't pay.

Now a few rich birds are hatching an above-average clutch (and I'm assuming the daft article's author is Erica "Fear of Flying" Jong's whining sprog), and we're urged to get cross about them too?

Because, um, they're rich and, er, we don't like that very much and, surely, that's not how we're meant to combat the over-breeding suicide-bomber-replacing mommies?

You're all nuts:)

(apart from moreta!)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 6:42 AM

> "fun." And come on, are they?


Yes.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at November 16, 2007 6:47 AM

No, no, Jody, we're just sayin' if they want to have all these kids, why not nurture them themselves instead of handing them over to strangers, i.e. nannies, to care for them? What's the point of having children if you're not going to take care of them yourself? Working class people, by necessity, have to put youngsters into day care while they work, until the kids are old enough to go to school, but at least they spend some time with them, changing diapers, feeding them, bonding with them. And not at their convenience either, they have to do these things in the middle of the night until the kids are older. Trotting them out like little trophies to impress their friends on some "occasion" or other when they've had nothing to do with their daily care can cause resentment in no small measure, once their offspring are old enough to have figured it out for themselves. And they will. Children are not playthings, they're human beings. Treating them like the lasted Hermes bag or a bauble on their arm is like, well, like their father(s) with their lated arm candy, it's just for show. I think that just causes emotional damage. Look at all the actors' kids who end up in rehab.

Posted by: Flynne at November 16, 2007 7:01 AM

"lasted" should "latest". Sheesh, I can type. o_O
Also "lated" s/b "latest". Dang.

Posted by: Flynne at November 16, 2007 7:03 AM

"No, no, Jody, we're just sayin' if they want to have all these kids, why not nurture them themselves instead of handing them over to strangers, i.e. nannies, to care for them? What's the point of having children if you're not going to take care of them yourself?"

BECAUSE, dearest birthday girl:

Everyone knows all rich women are dumb twats and can't nurture for toffee.

Therefore it is far better they hand their snotty little trophies over to licensed professionals with crisp, warm bosoms and a slew of certificates and soft British accents who will raise these money-damaged blobs to their finest supercalifragilisticexpialadocios (sp?) standards so they'll become world leaders and similar instead of being accidentally left in the back of a limo on mommie's way to the plastic surgeon, which will be so traumatic they'll become psychos...and a burden on your taxes.

Think, Flynne,think!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 7:23 AM

""fun." And come on, are they?" If you have a full staff then yeah they are fun. If you are smart about staff then you will still be raising them. IE: You play with and or teach the child while nanny get the bath ready. You give the kid a bath then the nanny has to clean up the bathroom. Your chauffeur drives you to pick up the kids. So when your on your way there you can keep working. Then when the child gets in the car you can spend your time with them.
However if you send the kid to boarding school, especially a bad one then yeah they will turn into a mess.

Posted by: vlad at November 16, 2007 7:27 AM

"Everyone knows all rich women are dumb twats and can't nurture for toffee." So you not only hate men but wealthy women too? Shit I thought I was bitter you must teach me what real bitterness is.

Do you include in you assessment of rich self made women or just the ones who got there on there back?

Posted by: vlad at November 16, 2007 7:30 AM

No, no, Jody, we're just sayin' if they want to have all these kids, why not nurture them themselves instead of handing them over to strangers, i.e. nannies, to care for them?

Posted by: justin case at November 16, 2007 7:32 AM

"However if you send the kid to boarding school, especially a bad one then yeah they will turn into a mess."

Yeah, right vlad.

Just like Winston Churchill.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 7:37 AM

"Do you include in you assessment of rich self made women or just the ones who got there on there back?"

All of them, vlad.

All women who are richer than I am. Actually - let's be clear - also women who are luckier, more famous, harder working, more tanned, more talented, more cutely freckled, with better French, smaller feet, more uptilted noses, who have screwed Heath Ledger, who romped with Paul Newman and/or Steve McQueen in their salad days, who have written admired literary novels, the whole damn lot.

Bitter, vlad?

Baby, I only have to look at an orange and it turns into a vat of sour marmalade.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 7:45 AM

"Everyone knows all rich women are dumb twats and can't nurture for toffee."

"why not nurture them themselves instead of handing them over to strangers, i.e. nannies, to care for them?

So by being rich and having a nanny, we are to assume that these women possess zero mothering skills? They are so superior by their money that they surpass their biological instinct in that department, even though they have (most likely) proven that they were evolutionarily driven to a strong, powerful, providing male?

I have two children, 5 and 5 mos. and I would give my left arm to have a live in nanny. Children ARE NOT FUN, I adore them, they do something to me that makes me so happy I can not describe. But they are ALOT of work. So much work in fact, that I usually feel like I am not a very good parent, because I am running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, sleep deprived and exhausted.

I would never let anyone else parent my children, but I would love to have someone else to cook and puree the baby food, grab me a diaper and wipe, find the special toy for the seven hundreth time and clean up the bathroom (Vlad) after my tub has been invaded by King Tritan and Ariel and most of the water (plus hazardous slippery bubbles) are on the floor.

(I say hazardous, b/c running in there for a super fast wipe down, after you have them both dry, dressed and content, resulted in a bruise on my bottom the size of a soft ball, and a change of clothes for mom ;)

Posted by: dena at November 16, 2007 7:53 AM

Jody, I stand corrected yet again! o_O

Because, really, if Britany Spears can get a parenting coach to sit in her car with her babies while she's shopping for a new Tiffany lamp, why should I care? OTOH, people like her shouldn't be allowed to breed in the first place, now should they?

(PS: thanks for the birthday acknowledgement! We went out to dinner, and BF bought me a sterling silver peace symbol necklace, you know, for the "old hippie"!)

Posted by: Flynne at November 16, 2007 7:57 AM

Amy, what happened to your evolutionary paradigm?

Uh, in what sense?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 8:00 AM

Tress "(apart from moreta!)"

Hey! I'm on your side. Humanity has survived countless generations of weirdo kids raised by bizarre families. These too shall pass, maybe like a kidney stone but they'll pass.

And brian, procreation might be going out of style in some neighborhoods but overall, the practice is in no danger. These little Malibu/Upper Manhattan whelps will have their adoring throngs when the time comes; they might not look much like us but don't even worry about it, they'll be here.

At one level, these kids are an "expensive display," a way to show high status to the rest of the herd. But also, it IS fun to have children, especially if there is a nurse to jump in when it stops being fun. You just can't beat that feeling you get when they look at you with those adoring eyes. And for any whose thinking runs deeper than where to have lunch, it's nice to think you might pass on your own fine qualities and have someone shed a tear over your mouldering grave.

Seriously, you can't complain when poor folks spawn and then complain when the swells do it, especially when some of them are adopting dirt poor kids. There has yet to be a successful committee for the approval and licensure of baby-making; the enforcement angle has yet to be worked out.

Posted by: martin at November 16, 2007 8:01 AM

Dena, my 12 and 15 year old daughters help out my neighbor after school with her little ones (a girl, 2 years old and a 4 month old boy). They run errands, look after/play with the 2 year while she's feeding the baby, help her pick up, set the table, etc. for a few $ an afternoon (I think she gives them around $10 each for 2 or 3 hours). Are there any teenaged girls in your neighborhood looking for a little after school babysitting? Just a suggestion...

Posted by: Flynne at November 16, 2007 8:03 AM

"Just like Winston Churchill." Um, yes that's exactly what I mean. He spent large parts of the war drunk and had someone else do lots of his speeches.

Posted by: vlad at November 16, 2007 8:11 AM

> Think, Flynne,think!

Insufficient irony, unless you were being sincere, which has its own problems.

You can walk Montana blvd in Santa Monica on any sunny day (almost all of them are sunny) and see fat and happy little white babies being pushed in prams by pairs of (vertically) tiny Latino women jawing away in Spanish. I once chatted up a therapist for the Smart Set in that neighborhood who said that yes, the immortal souls of these toddlers are scarred as if by intimate death when, in the third year, caretaker Maria takes a new job in the more convenient Mid-Wilshire area.

In one of his funnest columns evar, Jonah Goldberg quoted Madonna as saying that she'd never changed a diaper. (I've casually searched for the actual cite but not found it.)

A favorite aphorism goes like this: All human bonding involves bodily fluids. When you have to deal with someone else's tears, come, sweat, piss, milk or other, you're probably getting to know them pretty well...

...But you're not necessarily having fun. The shabbiness of human nature suggests that the wealthy would feel an impulse to buy their way out of childrearing's unpleasant stuff. Of course there are plenty of loving, self-disciplined and connected parents who have money. But there might not be as many as we'd like. If we're going to worry about what happens to poor children by the mechanics of their circumstances, we oughta have a cluck for the rich ones now and then, too. If poverty caused crime, Bel-Air would be a seminary.

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 8:14 AM

"Uh, in what sense? "

Well, in the sense that it seems perfectly logical from an evolutionary pov that high-status members of the herd or tribe would get more opportunities to pass on their genes and/or memes and would seize those opportunities even if they didn't really understand why and even if that wasn't really the best thing for the herd or tribe.

I will even crawl out on a limb and suggest that part of your interest in mentoring young folks comes from an inborn desire to see little "Amy Alkons" running around as you rock on the porch in your eventual dotage.

Posted by: martin at November 16, 2007 8:18 AM

Martin, because people can do something doesn't mean they should. Furthermore, I influence people every day, and they write back and tell me so. "You've changed my life" is pretty powerful. I have a desire to make a difference, and I think I can. It doesn't involve self-idolatry, really it doesn't.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 8:26 AM

God, I hate that shit. Nothing so is mundane, incidental or unremarkable that a sociobiology-obsessed bus driver or GED student can't smirkingly claim to have found secret truth about it via these precious new insights.

OTOH, it's usually Amy doing the smirking, so it's fun to see her bitten on the ass this way.

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 8:32 AM

> Just like Winston Churchill.

Do you want to count on the average hooligan growing up to be Winston Churchill? The "wogs" might not be so hopeful. This is a powerful liberal fantasy-- They want everyone to face terrible adversity but to survive through pluck and warm heart. As Ioccoca put it: "The want America to be great by accident."

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 8:41 AM

I think the only people this will upset are population control advocates (like me) and La Raza, an organization bent on reconquista via race-specific population growth.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 16, 2007 8:48 AM

"I once chatted up a therapist for the Smart Set in that neighborhood who said that yes, the immortal souls of these toddlers are scarred as if by intimate death when, in the third year, caretaker Maria takes a new job in the more convenient Mid-Wilshire area."

Oh my word, Crid.

A flirty therapist for the smart set once whispered the last word to you on the kiddie-soul-destroying effects of Maria's truncated bottom-wiping?

How dare I try to top that!

And- Martin?


wheeeee- splat!!

(That's the sound of a kiss sent by a commie-liberal deluded feminist landing on your freshly-shaved cheek!)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 9:06 AM

OTOH, it's usually Amy doing the smirking, so it's fun to see her bitten on the ass this way.

Uh, how am I "bitten on the ass." People who are very rich can have more children, and do. And? Why is this in conflict with evolutionary psychology? (And that's pretty broad. What, in particular, do you think it's in conflict with?)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 9:06 AM

> once whispered the last word

Did anyone say that? Yes, Jody as a matter fact, we can see your corpus callosum through your nostrils when you walk around with your head tilted back like that... But it's not the same as hearing an argument from you. That's another British habit to shake, along with the toffee. (There's a reason they don't rule the world anymore.)

> Why is this in conflict
> with evolutionary psychology?

I didn't say it was. I said it was fun to see Martin pretend to riffle through your immortal soul as he might a weekly at the newsstand... And smugly belittle your dearest editorials, besides.

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 9:19 AM

And smugly belittle your dearest editorials, besides.

You're all hallucinating, but if it puts cream in your coffee, I'm glad to oblige.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 9:22 AM

Naw, cop to Martin's truth: It ain't about compassion or goodness on your part, you just wanna be immortalized.

No?

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 9:26 AM

"That's another British habit to shake, along with the toffee."

Sometimes I can pass, Crid. For an American.

All I have to do is...

...nope, better leave it at that:)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 9:28 AM

Naw, cop to Martin's truth: It ain't about compassion or goodness on your part, you just wanna be immortalized.

It's not really my focus. If it were, I'd do what it takes to be famous -- the short way. But, sure, I live on through work I do. If I help somebody to change their dumb behavior and they have a better life because of it, it's pretty damn satisfying.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 9:34 AM

Children can bring the greatest joy and biggest heartbreak into your life.

Posted by: Roger at November 16, 2007 9:36 AM

If I stop hallucinating, and it turns out the kids aren't actually fun, I might be shopping for some artificial hallucinogens.

(I'll go running for the shelter of a mother's little helper...)

Posted by: jerry at November 16, 2007 9:36 AM

J.T. I hardly ever shave on Fridays since it iritates my red neck but back at'ya, lefty. Be as British as you want to be.

Amy, I think the trend described is in perfect alignment with evolutionary psychology. I seem to be annoying Crid and I find that utterly Teh Shit.

But as long as you paid your quarter, you get your argument:"...because people can do something doesn't mean they should." Truisms? Fine. But here is a corollary: because people have been told or convinced they shouldn't do something doesn't mean they shouldn't or that they won't anyway. Maybe EVERBODY is wrong about who should have kids and how many.

Amy, I like your dear editorials. Would you prefer an echo-chamber, a chorus of "you go girl" after every post?
Cheers.

Posted by: martin at November 16, 2007 9:42 AM

Heh - looks like part of my earlier comment was lost, likely due to closing the laptop too quickly on the way to the train. Anyway, the gist:

While in grad school, I worked at a high end tutoring service, and worked with a lot of Beverly Hills kids with nannies and frequently absentee parents. These kids seemed no more and no less fucked up than the ones whose primary contacts weren't nannies. And all in all, the kids were pretty all right. They compared favorably to the (public) high school athletes I coached several years before. I don't think there's anything alarming in this trend - people who can afford the best of schools and top-notch care for their kids won't make too many problem children.

Though I must say, being a rich parent these days is a staggering expense. One family had a nanny, a cook, 4 or 5 kids in Harvard-Westlake at about 25 grand per kid, tutors at ridiculous hourly rates, private tennis and music instructors, etc. In the end, must have been well north of 250k a year for kid-related expenses. Yikes.

Posted by: justin case at November 16, 2007 9:43 AM

> better leave it at that

As always, you could draw blood if you had time to explain yourself, but making a case is beneath you. cluckcluckcluckcluckcluck... I hate that about you.

> It's not really my focus

No, Amy, I'm with Martin on this one. It's not about any conscious "focus" on your part, it's really en egotistical function of your very biology. Martin thinks it's cute, too! Really fabulous. He says "Keep up the good work!"

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 9:47 AM

Thanks, but in lieu of erecting a statue to me when I'm gone, please send checks and gerber daisies immediately to:

Amy Alkon
171 Pier Ave #280
Santa Monica CA 90405

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 10:01 AM

"...... I hate that about you."

Hugh Grant used to say exactly the same thing, Crid. Then he'd kiss me, hard.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 16, 2007 11:32 AM

Divine...uh, Jody.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 11:42 AM

We're expected to admire his taste in women?

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 12:19 PM

Aw Shit... Amy got the knife in so quickly I didn't even see the glint of the blade.

Posted by: Crid at November 16, 2007 12:28 PM

More whining about "the rich". Urk!

You should have a kid like Paris Hilton. She makes so much money capitalizing on being the focus of attention that she's independently wealthy above and beyond her family fortune - which some people would take away because it isn't theirs, and for no other reason. You don't like the rich? Turn your head.

Posted by: Radwaste at November 16, 2007 1:11 PM

This has been yet another indiccation, along with our colonizing wars in the Mideast, that we are entering version 2 of the Gilded Age. I mean really, rich folks back then did the same thing as far as dropping large litters and letting the help clean up the mess. Maybe it will get us another World War, or are we there already?

Posted by: moe99 at November 16, 2007 1:24 PM

Argh, busy day.
Amy, first I am alledged to have bitten your bottom then kissed it. Madam, I protest my innocence.

"It doesn't involve self-idolatry, really it doesn't."

It reveals a lot about you when you deny what you haven't been accused of.

If the wrong people are having the babies, the cockroaches will have to sort it out; Rosie, Angelina and Madonna don't care what we think.

Posted by: martin at November 16, 2007 3:03 PM

Accused, intimated...whatever!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 16, 2007 5:22 PM

Ok, I'm very late to the party, but anyhoo. Why is the discussion on child-bearing and et all always so nasty and personal? Now its "never-working baby-poppers" vs. "Ivy-educated egg freezers". And didn't we just have a huge debate over all these inexcusible women who have babies they can't afford and then have the audacity to expect the fathers to pony up? Is there any situation in which it is morally permissible for a woman to procreate, or should we all just work harder and buy more stuff?

Posted by: Allison at November 16, 2007 10:37 PM

Feel free to excrete young if you can afford to parent them -- financially, physically, and emotionally.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 12:33 AM

Sez you. Some of us really hate kids.

One last bitchslap for a bitchy message stack:

> Sometimes I can pass, Crid.
> For an American.

You don't have to "pass". You live here, Tressider... As an American, if perhaps only by greencard. How can you pretend to be backhanded about it? Your choice for a homeland speaks louder than your mouth, and that's saying something.

I hate hate hate when people pretend they have precious-but-obvious reasoning that others are sadly too dense to perceive. If you want to make fun of someone, you should have the rhetoric, horse sense, time and balls to say why.

Posted by: Crid at November 17, 2007 2:48 AM

"You don't have to "pass". You live here, Tressider... As an American, if perhaps only by greencard. How can you pretend to be backhanded about it?"

That's rich, Crid.

You're among the first to bluster that people who "only" live in America as their adopted residence should take care before they identify any failings about this grand country of yours!

And moving to a new country as an adult is very different to being born and raised in that country. It's an endlessly defamiliarizing experience.

If I ever began a sentence to friends, colleagues or neighbors with "As an American, I...", they'd all be waiting agreeably for the punchline!

And if I tried it at JFK immigration, I imagine things could get a bit sticky.

To the irritation of my Francophile parents, who live permanently in France even though my mother was born and raised in Fiji, I am unusually boosterish about America, in fact.

My brother now lives in the country of his birth - not Fiji - even though he considers himself British because England was where he was raised. My husband was born and reared in Austria.

And I have never been back to the country of my birth (I more or less feel like a Brit, but that's not what my passport says).

My crack about "passing" as an American was intended as a disingenuously tactful joke. And I suspect you jolly well know that.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 17, 2007 5:14 AM

"Feel free to excrete young if you can afford to parent them -- financially, physically, and emotionally."
Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 12:33

(hey, a new feature, I like it.)


"If you want to make fun of someone, you should have the rhetoric, horse sense, time and balls to say why. "


Truly tenets to live by in matters big and small.

Posted by: martin at November 17, 2007 6:17 AM

"Truly tenets to live by in matters big and small."

Indeed, Martin.

Though only as long as we don't hold others to higher standards in these matters than we observe ourselves.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 17, 2007 6:56 AM

((Feel free to excrete young ))

Seriously, though- why so hateful?

Posted by: Allison at November 17, 2007 7:05 AM

Why is that hateful? My neighbor broke her cocccyx pushing one out. Love her kids, actually -- they're smart and well-behaved. But, doesn't the process seem rather...well...barbaric? I mean, if you're a man, could you imagine having an alien creature grow inside you, and then, doing the equivalent of shitting a bowling ball out your nostril?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 7:27 AM

> You're among the first to bluster

Example?

> intended as a disingenuously
> tactful

Too clever by half. Again, it would be great if you'd say what you mean, 'cause we'd all like to know: We natives find endless fascination with the novel cultures and quaint customs of our new neighbors. But otherwise, no spittin'.

> My neighbor broke her
> cocccyx

Wanna know why (so very many) women have such a weird psychological energy for making babies? Because they have to, or none of them would risk that shit.

I trust you can see that I was kidding (Hi, Jody!) about Amy's mentoring enthusiasm in the earlier comments. But it's amazing to me how (so very many) women think their urge to motherhood is a deeply original, personal, and reasoned expression of their individual souls... When actually they're just reproduction robots.

Another reason I adore Paglia is that she's a student of letters and not science, but she understands that nature is running the show.

I really, really like my coccyx. (Some people think it's kinda large, but I think it's just right.)

Posted by: Crid at November 17, 2007 8:48 AM

Regarding the mentoring, I just had breakfast with Lauren, the teacher who's bringing me to her school...planned for after Thanksgiving. The wheels of school bureaucracy turn slowly, but they are turning!

Crid...it's not the size of your coccyx...

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 10:14 AM

Ok, maybe what I'm reading as hostility is just your verbal style. Rather? Try hella. But as bad as childbirth is, it is not the equivalent of "shitting a bowling ball out your nostril". Your body was designed- however seemingly poorly-to do the job. And finally, no, I can't imagine anything men have to do that compares, and can't imagine there'd be this much debate and nastiness about their choices if there were. That said, most of the crap seems to be coming from other women, and that's the hell of it, to me.

Martin- reproduction robots? Yeah, maybe, but what does that make men in the baby-production process? Reasoned, well-thought out reproduction purists? Heh.

Crid? I love coccyx.

Posted by: Allison at November 17, 2007 10:19 AM

Your body was designed- however seemingly poorly-to do the job.

I've opted out, thanks. Because it seems messy, unpleasant, painful, and then there's the result: a child you have to raise and pay for for decades to a lifetime. Maybe you find them charming and personally worthwhile, but, while I have children who are friends, I see generally see them according to a New Yorker cartoon Gregg gave me. (It's home, so I can't credit the cartoonist...if somebody knows who it is please post it.)

Anyway, I think there's a child or two somewhere in the picture and somebody says, about the kid(s), "They're cute, but what are they for?"

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 10:35 AM

> "They're cute, but what are
> they for?"

Seinfeld addressed this succinctly on a talk show once. "Make no mistake: They are here to replace us!"

> Martin- reproduction robots?

That was me. Listen, I have this theory --I think it's documented in a comment here from about 1983-- that this topic is precisely the verge that civilization needs to be dealing with. We've spent the past ten thousand years figuring out what parts of masculine nature need to be contained before men can be good. We don't always teach men to do it, but when they don't, we always know what happened. (I think the fight against Islamic fanaticism is really just a small mop-up operation in this effort.) The project for the next ten grand is to get women on board with containing the bad impulses from their nature... And most women would think it novel to hear that they have any.

> Your body was designed- however
> seemingly poorly-to do the job.

Don't be cavalier! The design is hideous. For the vast majority of human history, the cost of being able to walk has been that every birth risks a lingering, painful, infectious, reeking death for the mother. (And the child.) And without modern medical care, it's not a small risk.

Knowing this is what gives righteousness to abortion. When a woman goes up against the nature of reproduction, a misstep can be worth her life in both literal and figurative senses.

> I love coccyx.

Don't toy with me, you little Mynx.

Posted by: Crid at November 17, 2007 11:17 AM

"The project for the next ten grand is to get women on board with containing the bad impulses from their nature... And most women would think it novel to hear that they have any."

Okay I'm stealing that. If it comes to blows, I plan to rat you out. Any questions?

Posted by: martin at November 17, 2007 12:00 PM

Actually, one of my good qualities is my willingness to admit my faults: I'm immature, impatient, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, hot-headed (except with Gregg), get carsick from my own driving, tend to act like a real asshole a couple times a week, and I have a mouse in my house. Just for starters.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 12:08 PM

> Any questions?

If it goes badly for you, could you attribute it to Alkon?

Posted by: Crid at November 17, 2007 5:06 PM

Blame me, just see to it you link to me when you do.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 17, 2007 5:37 PM

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