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Mellen, Sky River: what a mighty big waste…

I’m up, up, up in the air, flying over the Southwest as I head to Albuquerque and then Santa Fe for a quick visit with my mother. Sandy was able to visit her in January during a business trip, and now I’m the one with the precious combination of time and opportunity.

I would be using this in-flight time for my math homework, but this flight doesn’t have wifi. One of the limitations of anything with the word “online” in it is that for the most part, you need to be online. I suppose I could have downloaded the YouTube versions of the course lectures before I left the house or printed off the homework assignment, but I was having an attack of FirstWorldiness and envisioned myself surrounded by bandwidth from our home to the house at the end of the Turquoise Trail. At SFO, the wifi was too slow for almost everything except Twitter, which serves as a reminder that sheer connectivity isn’t enough; it needs to be a “good-enough” connection for whatever you’re trying to do.

In any event, this gives me a precious window of time to read, write, and stare at my row-mate’s peanuts, this being a flight that is half-full, which I personally ensured by paying extra for Earlybird Check-in. Give me those peanuts, I am thinking. Givvvve me those peanuts.

In between coveting my neighbor’s legumes, I’ve been mulling over matters that fall into my “what a waste” category (if you’re feeling spry, you can dance this to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man”). What a waste, what a waste, what a waste, what a mighty big waste…

Edwin Mellen sued a librarian for doing his job. This sketchy publisher saw the potential to exploit Canada’s weaker copyright framework to cast a chilling effect by threatening Dale Askey for simply doing what librarians are supposed to do, which among other things is to call out sketchy publishers on their sketchiness. There wouldn’t be any point to “reader’s advisory” if we could only say positive things (isn’t there  a science fiction short story on that topic..? Something about a town where a young monster had to be praised lest he wreak havoc?).

After a tremendous amount of public pressure (including from ALA and ACRL), Mellen has dropped one of its lawsuits, but the other lawsuit needs to go away, now, and we need to keep this topic on our front burner.

Innovative Interfaces dropped its lawsuit against OCLC. Oh, pardon me: “Sky River” dropped its lawsuit against OCLC. You may think OCLC is a big galumphing behemoth, which was what ran through my mind after they spurned the candidate I nominated for Member Council and then turned around and whined that they needed to extend the election due to low participation. But OCLC is also a member cooperative with an honorable history and some very interesting products and research.

It’s not news to FRL readers that I personally feel about Sky River the way I do about buying CAFO chicken thighs, which is that I could save some money but in the end it’s not worth it. (I in fact talked myself into buying non-righteous chicken thighs last week at CostCo, and now I feel so bad about my momentary lapse I’m going to donate a little extra to the Humane Society, which has done a lot of good work educating people on the issue of humane treatment of the food we eat.) But regardless, that whole business was tacky, and it’s good for III to get beyond that era.

[Note: I didn’t have wifi access for another day, until after I set up my mother’s wireless network, among other daughterly chores. I left this post in the first-person because it felt right. There’s one more issue I have written about in draft, but a part of me almost wants to leave it be.]

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5 Comments

  1. richard wrote:

    I think that it was the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” that you are thinking about re. the kid who couldn’t be criticized: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Good_Life_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  2. Interesting on the episode, but I definitely remember reading, and re-reading, the story. (I went through a major SF phase as a kid, something I’ve always wanted to reprise.) Thanks!

    Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
  3. Dorothea wrote:

    The author of the short story by that name is Jerome Bixby. I have the story in one or another of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthologies. ObWikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Good_Life

    Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink
  4. Gonna have to buy that anthology!

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  5. Al wrote:

    There is reason to be concerned about the Mellen Press’ tactic of dropping one suit while going forward with the second lawsuit (Press founder Herbert Richardson against Dale Askey). Both the rate of new petition signatures (URL https://www.change.org/petitions/edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey) and Twitter references to the lawsuit appear to have slowed.

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

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