KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Even the Comics Spread Misinformation on AD/HD

A colleague wrote tonight, on the chatty spinoff of an e-mail list for editors that I subscribe to:

For the AD/HD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder] families out there; the one dated November 26th: http://comics.com/reality_check/
Here is the direct URL.

I live in the House of AD/HD, in which my father-in-law, husband, and two sons have diagnosed AD/HD; my mother-in-law has what we all strongly suspect is undiagnosed AD/HD; and I am the only person without AD/HD. I can't possibly express how many ways that this comic offends me, but here's a damn good start:

  1. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not take away talent.

  2. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not make one an affectless zombie.

  3. Parents generally do not make the decision to give AD/HD meds (many of which are controlled substances) lightly. (That leads to corollary 3a, which is this: Parents do not give their children AD/HD meds to get out of the hard work of parenting "difficult" children.)

  4. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not change one's personality.

  5. Taking AD/HD medication to improve focus does not make one "normal"—and how is "normal" defined anyway?

  6. Being extremely intelligent or talented in one particular area does not make one "abnormal" and thus in need of medicating.

  7. Physicians do not give AD/HD meds to every parent whose child is "different."

Comic? I don't think so. Am I humorless on this topic? You betcha, when stereotypes and misinformation are involved. Get the facts, bub. Get the facts. Get lots and lots of 'em. Then we'll talk about what's funny and what's not.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Lean Times in Publishing

I've been in publishing 25 years, and this is the first time I've ever heard of publishers telling their acquisition editors not to buy books. Very scary times we're in.

An e-mail alert just issued by Publishers Weekly says that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has temporarily asked its acquisition editors to stop buying books:

It's been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

Josef Blumenfeld, v-p of communications for HMH, confirmed that the publisher has "temporarily stopped acquiring manuscripts." The directive was given verbally to a handful of executives and, according to Blumenfeld, is "not a permanent change." Blumenfeld, who hedged on when the ban might be lifted, said that the right project could still go in front of the editorial review board. He maintained that the decision is less about taking drastic measures than conducting good business. ...

While Blumenfeld dismissed the severity of the policy, a number of agents said they have never heard of a publisher going so far as to instruct its editors to stop acquiring. "I've been in the business a long time and at a couple of houses I worked at, when things were bad, we were asked to cut back," said agent Jonathon Lazear. "But I've never heard of anything so public." Lazear added that in the past two weeks, business has been more "sluggish" than it had been all year. ...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Banning Same-Sex Marriage Is Wrong

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has done a stunning commentary on California's proposition 8. It made me want to cry.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Clothes Don't Make the Person

Michelle Obama's dress; photo by Doug Mills/The New York TimesYou know, I don't care how people dress. All I care about is that they're honest and hardworking and not shallow.

The heated discussion of Michelle Obama's election-night dress reminds me of when I was in junior high and high school.

I was raised in Texas by extremely conservative Southern Baptist parents, hellfire-and-brimstone Sunday School teachers both. Girls' fashions then favored miniskirts and often knee-high or higher boots. I wasn't allowed to dress that way—or anywhere near it. My skirts and dresses had to be below my kneecaps, and for years I wasn't allowed to wear pants to school, because "young ladies don't wear pants." It was the 1970s, and I was forced, for "modesty's sake," to look like a refugee from the 1950s—and not even a stylish one.

Girls my age made fun of my clothes everywhere I went in school, every single day. Many didn't want to be my friend simply because I dressed so differently. Didn't matter that I was a nice person—shy but friendly, kind, and smart. When, in high school, I finally talked* my parents into letting me wear slightly—very slightly—shorter dresses and the dorkiest shoes of the era rather than 1950s-style shoes, one snotty popular girl sent in a dedication to the school newspaper, dedicating the story "Cinderella" to me. She succeeded in embarrassing me in front of the entire school. One particularly hateful boy would lurk in the hallways between classes, trying to find ways to trip me as I walked along but denying doing any such thing when I told the school principal about it.

So am I enjoying the discussion of Michelle Obama's election-night dress? Not so much. Michelle's a smart, talented woman. I don't care what she wears.

*By that point, I was as tall as my parents were, no longer small enough for them to be able to grab me and beat the hell out of me until I agreed to dress how they ordered me to. I also had a part-time job and could save up to buy some of my own clothing.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Bleak Personal Economy

My husband, Ed, still isn't getting any cabinetmaking projects right now.

His suppliers tell him that orders for lumber and lacquer are drying up (no pun intended) because no one has any projects right now. He's been sending out marketing letters to contractors all over the place. Just today, he answered an ad for a cabinet shop 30-plus minutes away that needs a cabinetmaker. Who knows if he'll get the job or be paid enough even if he were to get it. The business owner sounded astounded when, after he asked how many years' experience Ed has, Ed told him, "Twenty-four." I'm guessing that that means the guy is looking to pay a rookie a lot less money than Ed can command in a healthy economy.

He got a call today: It looks like he's been hired by Walmart to unload trucks in the warehouse of one of the local stores. Yes, we're aware of all the bad things that are said about Walmart. But we need the money—what very little it is—that this job will bring in. He's scheduled to go to new-employee orientation Saturday. The job is full time, and he'll be working 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., which means that neither I nor our sons will see much of him at all. I'm trying not to think about not having time with my favorite human being or about having to play single parent ... or about what effect that will have on our marriage and family.

I hate what this economy is doing to everyone.

Civics Lesson

In my children's school district, as in many in the United States, a parent must send in a note to the child's teacher the day after the child misses a day of school, explaining why the child was absent. Usually, the reason is illness. But sometimes it's another reason, one that falls into the category that the school district calls "unexcused." This is the note that accompanied both of my sons to their schools today:

Dear Ms. X,

[My son] missed school Wednesday, November 5, because his father and I believed it important that he be awake election night to witness history being made. Because of that, he did not get enough sleep that night to have been able to function well in school the next day. Normally, we would not keep him out of school unless he were ill, but election night was an unprecedented opportunity for him to see our country put racism aside for the good of all—the ultimate civics lesson.

Katharine O’Moore-Klopf

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Celebration!We have CNN on at our house. We have champagne chilling. We have chips 'n' dip. We even have spinach-artichoke "veggie bites" to heat up in the toaster over.

We plan to let our sons (ages 13 and 7) stay up late tonight to see the election results; we want them to see history made. They had today off from school because their schools are polling places. For probably the only time in their lives, we will let them skip school tomorrow without their being sick. They won't have had enough sleep by the time school starts tomorrow, so we're going to let them sleep in. We think that the civics lesson is important enough to warrant missing a day of school.

And if Obama wins, my husband will take down our world peace and "Change we can believe in" flags from the 40-foot-plus flagpole in our front yard and replace them with our American flag (which will be spotlighted, to follow etiquette for nighttime flag-flying) and the world peace flag. We haven't flown our American flag since Dubya invaded Iraq.

I can't wait to be proud of my country once again, a country full of compassionate, hardworking people of all colors.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Back to the Future

Voting machines we still use in New York StateTomorrow morning, bright and early, I'll be standing in front of a voting machine that will look just like the photo at the left, except instead of being steel gray, it will be colored the aqua of the brochure's background. Though the machines were last manufactured in the 1960s, New York State still uses them! For once, I am glad to be behind the times, because a lot less can go wrong with those ancient machines than with new computerized ones.

Note, however, that women using those machines to vote are not now required to dress like the woman in the photo. Nor are they required to smile before or after doing their patriotic duty.

You can search through the pages here for a photo of your U.S. state's voting appliance. The one from New York is on page 5; yours will likely be on later pages.

Whatever your voting appliance looks like, though, please put it to use tomorrow and vote, if you didn't already participate in early voting. Vote! Vote! Vote!

P.S. I plan to beg my husband not to say or do anything rash when we go to vote. The last time he opened his mouth unwisely—in the Democratic primary on Super Tuesday—he tore the Achilles tendon in his right leg and was in a cast for a few weeks.

I votedUpdated at 11 a.m., 11/4/08: We voted and made it home with Ed uninjured. There were about 80 people on line, but people were moving along fairly quickly. We spent about a half hour there.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sarah Palin Was Pranked

Here's the YouTube video in which Palin has a phone conversation with a Canadian radio personality pretending to be France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy:

Here's the Associated Press article backing up the video clip. Gullibility we can believe in!

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