“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

[Although it should go without saying, I feel the need to explicitly state this: “expressed opinions are solely my own” certainly applies here.]

Dear Professor Figment,

I’m writing back about your recent inquiry that was sent to our Ask a Librarian service of, “Should I use Sci-Hub to obtain articles for my research?”

This is a tricky issue, and ultimately the answer is something for you to determine, yet I can give you a bit of background information which should help you make a…


“You must understand that a Bull Connor couldn't exist without the nods from the status quo people. You know, the big boys in any town. No Bull Connor can exist without them. He may be the person who actually does the talking, but believe me, the Bull Connors have the blessing of somebody else.”
—Chris McNair, Father of Denise McNair, 4 Little Girls

Frontiers have always been riddled with criminal activities, and the forefront of disruptive technological innovations are no exception. The pornography industry pioneered several advances in the home video market, from the VCR to live streaming.


“Scholastic sanctuary is just another way of protecting bloated privilege.”
His Dark Materials

Tig Notaro joined the cast of the new zombie film Army of the Dead rather late: after principal photography was completed. Her scenes were shot so that she could digitally replace an actor accused of statutory rape. A similar thing was previously done with Christopher Plummer taking over Kevin Spacey’s role in All the Money.

The movie studios making these business decisions to bear extra production expenses did so as an effort to ultimately reduce costs and generate revenue. This is akin to how publishers may cancel…


“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
The Martian

If you could live forever, would that change how you value life? The finite lifespan of mortals gives us, arguably, a greater appreciation and therefore use of the limited…


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…

John Hubbard

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

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