EDWARD: Mister Liddell, you’re a child of your race, as I am. We share a common heritage, a common bond, a common loyalty. There are times when we are asked to make sacrifices in the name of that loyalty. Without them our allegiance is worthless. As I see it, for you, this is such a time.
ERIC: Sir, God knows I love my country. But I can’t make that sacrifice.
Chariots of Fire

Situational ethics are messy. It’s not always as simple as a binary decision on whether or not to throw a trolley switch. …


“Do you think God stays in Heaven because he too lives in fear of what he’s created?”
Spy Kids 2

What’s the speed limit? If you’re a Tesla, you think it’s 85. Now does that make you want to get behind the wheel of one and engage its so-called autopilot function? This is no laughing matter. People are dead because these flawed features have been both over-sold and rushed to market.

One case involved a driver who, against the owner’s manual recommendations, was possibly watching a movie on a portable DVD player while their car sped down a highway, and…


“I fight for the users.”
Tron: Legacy

As much as I hate library vendors because of how their profit model relies on exploiting our contrived and cultish reverence for tradition, my heart goes out to them for having to deal with a customer base such as theirs. Given many librarians’ blind opposition to revised methods for just about anything, getting us adjusted to new systems requires more time and effort than it should.

The degree to which the developers of these products elicit and act upon feedback from their subscribers varies considerably. For example, the way that ScienceDirect filters lists…


“And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again.”
Mad Max 2

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought to light many institutional deficiencies, some of which have to do with not properly placing the authority for decision-making with the most knowledgeable people, while others illustrate our over-reliance on historical precedents in not taking full advantage of available technology. Due to a policy change by my administration, I am now telecommuting full time. Several online content providers are lifting their paywalls. …


“Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”
—Mary Elizabeth Frye

One of these days, hopefully a long time from now, the sun will rise, but I won’t be around to see it. And at some point, most likely, even the sun will set for its final time. As much as I’ve started to ruminate on such inevitabilities, as someone well in to middle age, I don’t think anyone, or at least anyone all that healthy, truly understands the significance of our mortality.

Death is part of life. Our eventual demise impacts…


Photo by Jerry Zhang

“If you’re still using an OPAC, I’m sorry.”
—Andrew Pace, LITA 2014 Forum

Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-two hour marathon is not recognized as a world record because, among other things, he grabbed water bottles from a pace scooter rather than marginally slowing down to pick them up from a non-moving source. Compare to how the cycling “hour record” stood unchanged for decades, until in 2014 the governing body revised its regulations regarding the type of equipment allowed, causing the record to be broken a half-dozen times since.

Another athletic controversy is brewing over the Nike shoes worn by Kipchoge and other…


“If you want those who come after you to jump through the same hoops you had to (instead of making their lives easier), please seek therapy. They shouldn’t have to go through whatever hardship you went through, and *you* shouldn’t have had to go through that either.”
—Chelsea Misquith

The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, an icon of opulent French nobility, was so decorated largely because, as Wikipedia explains, “In the 17th century, mirrors were among the most expensive items to possess.” Compared to palace visitors at that time, people noticing a bathroom mirror from the hardware store in my…


Photo by Lorraine Kisselburgh

“Don’t ever invite a vampire into your house, you silly boy. It renders you powerless.”
The Lost Boys

“We just want to make sure he wasn’t looking at child pornography,” one of the uniformed police officers told me. I was the evening reference librarian on duty and the cops had shown up because a drunk patron (not one of our regulars, like the “sunglasses man” or “baseball cap guy” who frequent many public libraries), bottle in hand, was causing a commotion.

Even though I was just a year or two out of library school, where we had gone over patron…


§ Sherpas and Chimpanzees

“It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt

Consider the following thought experiment: Pretend you put five monkeys in a room, along with a ladder and bananas that are tied to the ceiling. Our fellow primates are smart enough to use tools, and so soon enough, one of them starts climbing the ladder to reach the bananas. At this time, however, an alarm sounds and the entire room is sprayed with ice cold water.

Operant conditioning being what it is…


“The world we need can’t be built by men loyal to the world we have.”
—Daenerys Targaryen

Unlike the proverbial restaurant with only one table or a magical apparatus that can change its appearance for each observer, my library’s website has been constructed to accommodate an approximate user base totaling, once you account for non-affiliated and community users, upwards of 30,000 readers. All of those people likely view things in a unique way, and I’m not just talking about the variations in their screen size.

Although we don’t provide a customizable interface (e.g., the MyLibrary portals of the Library 2.0…

John Hubbard

Librarian at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee amzn.com/B086G1XRLN

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