I hit the library yesterday to do some ‘Net surfing and emailing, only to find it “canceled” like so much else. It was open and minimally staffed, but had the air of a haunted house. Patrons could check out and return books, but the banks of library computers were shut down (“until at least March 31,” said the signs), chairs were removed from all the carrels and upturned on the long reading tables, and the ever-present din of children was absent.
I never thought I’d miss the shrieks of rugrats, but I did. The place was a freakin’ tomb.
They “allowed” me and my laptop in to use their wifi, but “only for 10 or 15 minutes,” according to the only librarian on the floor. Because of you-know-what. The shutdown wasn’t local, but system-wide. Dozens of libraries in multiple counties; every library in a sprawling interlinked system, open, but barely functioning.
I pondered why it was safe for me to be in the building for 10 minutes, but not for 20. I silently questioned which medical or epidemiological standard dictated that while it was unsafe for me to be in the building, it was perfectly safe for the librarians to be there all day with people going in and out. I wondered how the poorest of the poor people in those dozens of communities were supposed to complete their school work, do their legal research, keep in touch with their families, or perform whatever other tasks they usually do on those public computers.
I cynically supposed that laying off librarians due to Covid-19 was more a financial measure than a health measure. (The ‘crats who made the shut-down decision were the same gang who, last year, closed our local library for five months, on zero notice, due to an “emergency” they’d known about for five years. It was part of their dishonest attempt to permanently close several of the smallest town libraries without naming their real intent.)
But of course, sneaky bureaucrats and cost-cutting aside, shutting down for fear is one of those political choices with perverse incentives. There’s no reward for keeping a public facility open (bleeding money), but plenty of incentive to “do the right thing” by limiting services to “protect health.” Never mind that there’s not even a case of the virus in our county.
The actions of a small-town library system are small potatoes compared with so much else that’s going on in the world. But this seems a microcosmic example of how the world has lost its head.
This morning the librarians told me I’m not allowed to be in the building at all except to pick up and self-check-out books. (But there’s a bonus! I can make photocopies for free because they’re not allowed to touch any coins I might try to hand them.)
They also say tomorrow the place will probably be closed “for the duration of the crisis.”
Well, at least that will end the less-than-Solomonic splitting of this particular baby.
I’m sitting outside posting from my car now. It’s cold and spitting snow, so forgive me if I don’t take enough time to find and include most of the links I intended or if my proofreading is less than perfect.
Yesterday afternoon I found the shelves of the town’s one grocery store stripped of all disinfectant wipes. And where shelf after shelf of toilet paper normally sits, there was one lone package. At least customers weren’t fighting over it.
Of course, I’ve got sufficient TP not only to outlast the plague, but to share with neighbors in need. (Take that, Marie Kondo) But it’s funny how TP has become the signature prep item for this particular panic.
There’s plenty of speculation about why that is. But I take it as a secret acknowledgement that this whole business is full of sh*t.
Speaking of political incentives, even the local NPR outlet — not open to the public, not filled with crowds, not packed with aged people at risk — is doing its part in the global emergency by postponing its spring fund-drive.
Why? So (OMG!) it can devote more time to more coverage to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yes, folks, it’s all-virus-all-the-time. Strictly for the public good, you know. Nothing to do with the glorious opportunity for more Trump-bashing. Nothing to do with the joy and power of scare-mongering. Nothing to do with the fact that NPR’s well-heeled donors might not be feeling their most generous with their stock portfolios plunging off a cliff. Solely for selfless public service.
Again, I find myself feeling sorry for Donald Trump. (I apologize; I know I shouldn’t let that become a habit.) He’s damned as “weak” for his slow, wishy-washy, and off-target response to Covid-19. But the same people would condemn him as a tyrant if he took some of the actions blue-state governors are now enacting (e.g. forbidding all gatherings larger than pick-your-arbitrary-figure from 250 to 1,000).
And of course there is no “good” level of action. Not good for both health and freedom, anyhow. Plenty good for those seeking power and control.
Speaking of selfless public service, what do you think of these sudden, unprecedented calls from various Dems (most notably Biden booster Jim Clyburn) to end all the campaign debates? Is that hilarious or what?
Having decided that a senile mediocrity with a history of plagiarism, corruption, and bizarre tantrums directed at uppity little people is THE man to beat Donald Trump, they are SO desperate to keep Biden out of sight and out of mind. Oh no, he might pop out with another of those remarks. “Lying dog-faced pony soldier.” “AR-14.” “You’re fat.” Or forget what state he’s in or what year it is.
And how about “solving” the Covid crisis with … financial giveaways? Oh my, the proposals! Not merely Trumpian moves like wanting to cancel the payroll tax for the rest of the year, but even wilder schemes. One Atlantic writer suggested sending $1,500 to every adult in the country, with $1,000 extra per child.
Where do these people imagine money comes from?
Someone — don’t ask me who; it’s too damned cold out here to look it up — pointed out that last week’s infamous innumerate journalistic moment regarding Bloomberg’s supposed ability to bestow a million bucks on every American and barely feel it might not have been a mere accident of arithmetic. No, that’s how they really think of money, and those who possess (or can invent) it.
Still, if they’re going for handouts, I’ll not only grab my $1,500 before it turns into even more worthless paper, I’ll do my best to convince the governmental Santa Claus that furbabby Ava is my 14-year-old daughter. (No, not really, but OTOH, since we’re living in a fantasyland, why not enjoy it while it lasts?)
But we know that already.
And life goes on.
After a long, dreary winter burdened with pain, sickness, and inertia, spring has sprung. Not astronomical spring, maybe. But the kind of spring that matters — the occasionally sunny day, much more daily daylight, AND the arrival of The Wandering Monk.
He showed up Monday and Tuesday to give me a big start on one of the trickiest and most long-overdue house projects, and ever since then I’ve been on a roll doing the finishing. It feels grand to be moving again, both moving physically and making progress on the house.
Naturally, I forgot to take before pictures. And it’s a bit hard to take afters, since the indoor space in question (the entryway and the small bedroom/office/studio, which together used to be an enclosed porch) is compact and hard to get a good angle on. You’ll just have to trust me when I say we’ve already made a great improvement.
But the biggest improvement is in my mood and my health (for which I owe thanks to PT, SF, WB, and a few other long-time friends).
I’ll try to get pix once the work is done and all the furniture and geegaws are moved back into place.
I can’t give you a picture of my springtime uplift, but if I could it would be a thing of beauty. Light emerging from shadows. Even sitting out here in the KIA with the snow and rain dampening the moment.