Playing Doctor (Who)

When I was ten years old, all I wanted to be was a scientific adviser. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

I didn’t exactly know what that meant, but I knew that was the Doctor’s position at UNIT, and the Doctor was always helping UNIT out and saving them from evil aliens, and I loved the Doctor, therefore being a scientific adviser seemed like a perfect job. Who wouldn’t want to be more like their childhood hero?

I grew up watching Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen on BBC America, and I wanted to be the one wearing the scarf, wielding the sonic screwdriver, being smart, always helpful and kind.

And then I grew older and saw that I would never be the scientific adviser, only the assistant, the one passing along the Doctor’s test tubes, as Liz Shaw and the Brigadier would say, and tell him how brilliant he is. And I forgot that being the Doctor would ever be possible.

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Wednesday Briefs: Slug Love

This week’s piece of flash fiction for Wednesday Briefs is, unfortunately, not the third part of Disassembly Required. It’s actually a weird, goofball stand-alone piece about a couple of college kids cramming on a Sunday night. Write what you know, right? Perfect for fans of unusual slugs and unusual physicists. I enjoyed writing it, so I hope y’all enjoy reading it!

Slug Love. One-shot. Prompt used: I asked you not to tell me that.

“I asked you not to tell me that!”

“Tell you what?”

“About the banana slugs!”

It was 8 pm on a Sunday night, and Trista and her best friend Ronaldo were at the library. Surrounded by five stacks of books deep, they sat at one of the biggest tables on the group study floor. Only a ring of empty and half-full coffee cups separated their working space from the towering texts that made up their study fortress. Ronaldo’s laptop face was clean, while Trista’s silver laptop was buried underneath layers of stickers that said things like Stand back, I’m going to do science, back in my day, we had nine planets, and drop the base. Instead of the biology essay she had due the next day on the history of forensic zoology, she’d found multiple articles on banana slugs, and was inflicting the minutiae of the Ariolimax columbianus‘ sex life upon Ronaldo.

“So you’re not interested in how banana slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites?” She clicked from one tab to another. “Or that sometimes slugs will bite off the genitalia of their mate after copulation?”

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Is It Finally Time For Library Fines To Be Over?

An image of a paper due date slip, with stamped due dates ranging from 1983 to 2002.

Library due date slip (Wikicommons)

An interesting question arose on the library listserv I subscribe to, and I’d love to hear various people’s input on it. How do you feel about public libraries going fine free? That is, libraries no longer charging fines for overdue books and lost/missing items?

On one hand, the revenue from fines help keep the library running, although I’d personally like to see a breakdown of how the revenue streams actually fit into a library’s budget, and it reflects a need to have patrons respect the time and work put into keeping the collection up to date and not filled with ragged, torn books. Also, some libraries use the fine system to keep people above a certain limit of money due off of community computers, to reflect that their refusal to pay their fines have restricted all of their library rights, not just borrowing books.

On the other hand, as many members of the listserv pointed out, libraries are often used by the disenfranchised and the low-income. Not everyone can afford to pay a fine, and not everyone loses a book or keeps a book past its due date out of malice. Having a fine system does not encourage that patron subset to return to the library, and it looks like it’s a pretty big patron subset to lose.

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