The 4-word Phrase No Child Should Hear: Part I

If you think about it, you’ll know what it is:  Don’t tell your parents.

It’s the command issued by the pedophiliac relative, the sociopathic primary teacher, and the sadistic middle school coach, and its purpose is to intimidate and isolate.

I don’t recall being warned as a child about what to do if I ever heard it. I don’t think I warned my own kids until it came to my attention that it was among the repertoire of intimidation used by an odious grown-up playground bully. I’ve been to workshops for adults on child safety and I’ve witnessed children being taught about good and bad touches and so on. But I don’t think that the use of this phrase, which may well be the most obvious behavior shared in common among perpetrators of all types of abuse — physical, emotional, or sexual — of children, has received the attention it deserves.

I have to wonder how often a superintendent tells her principals and a principal his teachers that if he ever hears  an adult under his supervision say, “Don’t tell your parents” to an individual child or a classroom, he will ask for her resignation.

I wonder how many parents think that one of the first warnings their child needs to hear is if they ever hear an adult say, “Don’t tell your parents,” they should do exactly that, and that when an adult says “Don’t tell your parents” to a child, it means the adult is doing something he or she knows is wrong.

Saying, “Don’t tell your parents” – even if the occasion of the command itself is innocuous — is a nasty, brutish thing to do to a child. The commanding authority figure is trying to exclude the parents from some aspect of the child’s life. If the child obeys the command, he becomes a co-conspirator of sorts. If she doesn’t, she is being disobedient to the commander and must fear his or her vengeance, and you can be sure that those who use the phrase will retaliate: kids know this too. The commander has thus succeeded in isolating the child  and forbidding her access to the people who she should expect to be able to rely on for help.

For the child to be able to summon the courage to tell her parents what the teacher says not to tell, she has to be able to trust that her parents can insure that she will not be punished. This is why it is essential that the phrase simply is not part of acceptable discourse any more than the N-word is.


The People of All Colors

When he was 3 or 4, Son brought home a coloring picture of Martin Luther King he had made in school. MLK’s face was nothing short of psychedelic in its whirls and swirls. Son had used every crayon in his box. I made some my-how-interesting remark and learned that the picture was of a man who wanted the people of all colors to be happy.

Of course, how obvious: the man himself must be one of them, that is, one of the people of all colors.

Fast forword: I had been following the debate about whether Black History Month was still needed when the New York Post weighed in.

Ugliness redux.

But here we go again doesn’t mean we have to go along. It’s nurture, not nature, that leads one from the people of all colors to the black people and the white people.

Or so my study shows, limited as it is by its single experimental subject.

When my son was born, I worked at a historically black university. I quit when he turned 2 but after a year was ready to return. The position was still open. My condition was that I’d be back when there was an opening for my son at the Child Development Center (CDC). There wasn’t one in the 3-year-old class, but there was in the 4, and so for the next 2 ½ years, Son was the only Caucasian in a class of 25 children.

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Why My 13-year-old Thinks I’m Awesome

For most of his first 15 years of school, from pre-K through high school graduation, Son sat next to a sweet girl I’ll call Angel. Although not close friends, Son and Angel always got along, and I have a lovely picture of the two on their senior trip. I never had occasion to get to know her parents, but of course I’d see them across the room at school events.As it happens, Angel has a brother — I’ll call him Ralph —  the same age as Son’s sister, and of course seating by last names also lands these two next to one another.  And there the parallels end.

This is the second year that Ralph has been nasty to Daughter. If this were a workplace and not a middle school, she’d have no trouble winning a sexual harassment judgment against Ralph. Use your imagination. Then there are the insults about her acne: a face like raw hamburger meat run over by a truck. Daughter lightens her hair and Ralph says she looks like a crackhead streetwalker.

Ralph is cruel but not stupid. His proximity to Daughter, a command of sotto voice techniques, and a craftiness to keep one eye on the teacher mean he can get away with this. I don’t blame the teachers. They have 25 kids to keep track of. Unless they hear the remark themselves, it is hearsay and they are forced to tell one kid that they think he or she is lying when the other invariably denies the accusation.

I tried the usual: ignore him; if you don’t react, he’ll quit. And the reassurances: he must be a very unhappy little boy to treat you that way.

But really, no one should have to put up with being verbally abused day after day.

And then it came to me that this was the rarest of cases because maybe, just maybe, I could bring it all to an end without involving teachers or principal.

I know where Ralph’s father works. I put on my skates and headed for his office for a little talk.

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Is Carol M. Highsmith the Most Generous Artist of Our Time?

100,000 public domain digital images:  That is the estimated number of images  that Carol M. Highsmith (b. 1946) will one day have provided the public for their personal, educational, or commercial use all for the price of a credit line.  Since 1992, Carol M. Highsmith has donated her work and assigned her rights to the Library of Congress, and in 2002 began providing digital scans or digital photos, which will speed up the archiving of her images.  So far, over 2500  photos have been posted on the Library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog’s Highsmith Archive, and thousands more are in process.

Continue reading here.

The Rude Author

I consider myself to be both more empathetic and more sympathetic than the average bear, and to have an above average imagination (this may be redundant). But at times I just have to throw up my hands.

Take for example the writer who disappointed the blogger bookwitch. Bookwitch writes primarily about young adult literature. She is an ideal reader’s reviewer because she tells you just enough to let you judge whether a book is likely to hold appeal for you. Too often book reviews are more about the reviewer’s work, history, pet peeves, and so on than they are about the book under review.  Such is not the case with the bookwitch. Transparency is a word that comes to mind: I can see through to the book she is blogging about. Moreover, she is more than willing to consult with the experts on young adult lit: teens.

In the two years she’s been blogging, bookwitch has interviewed 15 authors, including two at the very top of the charts: Eoin Colfer (twice) and Neil Gaiman.

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Public Domain Images from the Library of Congress, Part 2

Since works created prior to 1923 are now in the public domain in the US, searching for images using keyword and “no known restrictions” in the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Catalog will yield a lot of older photos. But not all are pre-1923. For example, consider these:











That’s Jackie Kennedy on her wedding day,  Sept. 12, 1953  [LOC, LC-USZC4-4332 ] and Sir Winston Churchill with his son and grandson preparing for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 [LOC,LC-DIG-ppmsca-05370]. Both photos are by Toni Frissell.

Or these images of WWII:


 1943 US Navy photo of torpedo bombers  [LOC, LC-USZ62-113551]

Wreckage of USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941  [LOC, LC-USZ62-132048]

And then there are so many subjects that don’t change much over time.


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tripping the links fantastic: Public Domain Images at The Library of Congress

Break time! And the first post on some of my favorite links.

A fascinating site that offers a rare treasure — images in the public domain — is the Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. By no means are all images in the public domain. Fewer are than aren’t. But that still leaves thousands.

This is what you do:  go to the catalog and click through the agreement box. This takes you to the search page. You enter your keyword and, if you are looking for public domain images exclusively, this phrase: “no known restrictions.” Not “public domain”; that will get you nowhere. You want “no known restrictions.”

Let’s try the keyword shaman. Alone, you get 62 results, but not all are usable without seeking permission. Now try shaman + “no known restrictions.”  The yield drops to 24, but these are what you need. Here’s a sample. 3b20021r








I like this one. I might make him the blog’s mascot.

Once you click on the image, you see a tab at the top of the page called Bibliographic Infomation. Here we find a title for the picture, “Hamatsa emerging from the woods”; its date (1914), and a summary: “Hamatsa shaman, three-quarter length portrait, seated on ground in front of tree, facing front, possessed by supernatural power after having spent several days in the woods as part of an initiation ritual.” If you look under Subjects, you’ll figure out that the Hamatsa were natives of what became British Columbia. 

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In which I Have a Little Talk with Myself and Tour Two Libraries

Here I am, just a week into blogging, and I need to have a little talk with myself. I should know better by now than to leave anything to chance. Check and double check. Just because it is a blog and an informal mode of writing doesn’t mean mistakes are acceptable. And I made mistakes in a previous post.

I’m fortunate that Kirsten of  Into the Stacks commented about  “For Just $29.95 You Can Have Access to Your Own Article for 24 Hours!!!”. She began, “First off, as an academic librarian it worries me that your local state university doesn’t let local patrons have access to its resources” [see]. This started me thinking: I know I haven’t been able to access catalogs at both the University of Alabama’s main Tuscaloosa and its Huntsville campuses, but was I doing something wrong? Time to check.

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But Wait, There’s More: Just $3000 Buys Open Access to Your Article

I thought $29.95 was bad, but get this.

Listen to this deal from WileyInterScience:

Authors of accepted peer-reviewed articles have the choice to pay a fee in order for their published article to be made freely accessible to all. For 2008, the OnlineOpen fee is fixed at US$3000 for most journals.

I’m having a little trouble with that “freely accessible” coupled with a $3000 fee.

OnlineOpen is available to authors of primary research articles who wish to make their article available to non-subscribers on publication, or whose funding agency requires grantees to archive the final version of their article. With OnlineOpen the author, the author’s funding agency, or the author’s institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication via Wiley InterScience, as well as deposited in the funding agency’s preferred archive.

This phrase is interesting: “funding agency requires grantees.” Many, many scientific studies reported in these journals are supported by state or Federal funding, that is, by taxpayer monies. I suppose what this means in practice is that a line item of $3000 must be added to each proposal for funding from such sources and then that $3000 goes into Wiley InterScience’s pockets. Out of yours, into theirs.

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