So, everything appeared to be normal today at the library's public computer section. For once, even the perpetually Screaming Baby was quiet. (Perhaps GOD finally took pity on the rest of humanity and gave the kid a strep throat - or diverted a truck. Or perhaps it was some one's idea of a phone prank all along. I never actually saw the kid, but you couldn't escape the sound, every few minutes, full operatic volume. Maybe he or she matured?)
And bringing it to the librarian's attention did no good whatsoever. I was told that nothing could be done as the purpose of the library was "to help people." Really? I had thought, based on my aunt's example as small town head librarian - in a civilized country called "Massachusetts," that libraries were somewhat more focused toward providing information resources and a quiet place for those who needed to do research or curl up with a book. No longer!
"Help people?" What about me - and all the other "people" whose stress level soared every time Screaming Baby cut loose. HELP!!! Or maybe, we don't qualify. Maybe there are grades of people and mothers and babies come first and do whatever they please, no matter what a facility is designed to provide, who it's target clientele consists of, or how many lives are damaged.
The keyboard tilters were broken off the most desirable computer, as with about 50% of them, but I found some literature to stuff under the rear and tilt it to closer to what I need. Then the Cougher sat down next to me, an old, white haired, slender, bearded guy who for the past couple years has entertained us with his rendition of the nastiest, most virulent cough imaginable, going on for minutes at a time, hacking up and swallowing huge luggees - and consistently sitting close to me, since he clearly knows that it drives me crazy. "Would you please cover your mouth while coughing." "Nope, not interested." "Here, have a paper towel to cough into..." "Nope, not interested."
There is hope. The Tustin Library has finally somewhat reduced the ongoing problems with the homeless camping out and often deliberately acting out, fist-fighting, or otherwise intentionally interfering with other patron's work. Perhaps they locked them all up or gave them homes, or they all ended up in some ER with West Nile, as the maps from Disease Control show the Tustin Civic Center as an epicenter of contagion - not surprising with people (homeless, cops, perps) available 24/7 as vectors - along with the hapless raven family that nests somewhere in the roof of town hall.
Anyway, now that I've wasted the past hour writing this - except for the negative civic impact I've created (yay!), I'll finally get to today's events. Shortly after the Cougher sat down next to me, I noticed that my fingers were sticky. Not unusual at the public computers, which are never cleaned - or the perpetually filthy men's restroom. Focused on getting on line, I kept absent-mindedly wiping them on my pants, but they kept going sticky regardless of wiping, and I finally realized that both of the mouse buttons as well as the wheel were coated with some foul, sticky brown stuff - God knows what.
So, I went to the Information Desk and they kept trying to send the high-school intern to help with my "computer," until I kept raising my voice, finally shouting, and they at last listened to what my problem was and one of the staff looked at the gook coating my mouse and came back with a bottle of antiseptic wipes. My fingers and pants leg were of course still sticky with the crap, and I asked for a wipe for myself. "Sorry, we're not allowed to provide them for patrons." Even though it was the library's never-cleaned computer that was the source.
Take note, City of Tustin, lawsuits may be forthcoming if I or other patrons become ill.
As usual in these kind of cases, there is probably a sociopath involved. And as has been thoroughly documented by thousands of researchers, now that the dam has burst regarding hard information about the prevalence and damage due to sociopaths, there probably will be no consequences to the perp.
Note that the first casualty of a sociopathic enterprise is often the good will between the civil employees - whether cop, social worker, teacher or librarian - and the public. The relationship is poisoned by sociopaths who game the system to create maximum harm, which translates into maximum feeling of empowerment for the sociopath. One nasty sociopathic episode outweighs the dozens of normal official encounters that are more typical. Screaming Baby is not a sociopath (I presume, altho sociopathy has a very strong genetic component). However, SB's mom, whatever her circumstances of need, had a baby - by choice - and now wants to impose the costs on the rest of us. There's an excellent, best-selling book that covers her case:
Responding to comments: Actually, there is censorship at the OC libraries. It is automatic and blocks all kinds of sites - Essex University used to be blocked - for content, but also any sites the filter thinks are inappropriate, such as "hate sites" - meaning any site with the term "white" combined with "men" in the same sentence probably with other tell-tale givaways. It never tells you that it blocked something (It used to inform the patron even though there was no real option to do anything, certainly not in a timely manner), so unless you find that certain sites are mysteriously bringing up a white screen, you are left clueless.
I happened to read the newspaper article announcing the policy, along with the info that you can opt out. So, one day I was trying to locate some people in S. Carolina from back in the '70's in the Civil Rights movement and I get a solid reference in Google, but when I go there, I get the white screen. So I logged off, went to the info desk, asked for unfiltered, logged back on and the site was there, and it was the ONLY source of the contact info. Turns out to be a low-keyed, pseudo-intellectual white racist site with a discussion about the civil rights activists that I was trying to reach. Of course, the site patrons were against civil rights, but I only cared about the contact leads from the site, which were good.
Bottom line. This is similar to all those totally unconstitutional laws designed to force the homeless to move to another city. Both California and Federal courts have ruled that the laws against sleeping in a vehicle as such are a violation of the U.S. and State Constitutions, but how many homeless can afford an attorney? And if they make a fuss over these barbaric laws, they will have to do so without their car, which is impounded, collecting ~$100/day in storage, and with probable "piling on" of new charges - sleeping in public, etc., should they start "causing trouble."
So, when most people don't even know that the censoring software is there, and there is no notification that anything is actually blocked, entire categories of information of the "wrong" slant just disappears down the memory hole with no one the wiser. And how many users of public computers are going to file a Civil Rights complaint, even though this certainly comes under the Federal Statute:
The above statute is WONDERFUL and totally misleading in as much as a local, well-known civil rights attorney told me some years ago that there has never been a case prosecuted under it, perhaps because it could apply to the Federal prosecutors. So, like the homeless whose work disappeared with downsizing and couldn't pay the rent and decided to camp out for a while in their car while looking for a new job -- OOPS, we patrons of the library have few options - other than blogging... (Which annoys the heck out of the control freaks who want to cram their values down everyone's throats.)
So, the library is a concentration of a particular kind of intellectual wealth, and we know what kinds of perversions concentrated interests are subject to:
The OC Supervisors who determined to clean up the filth at the library by instituting censorship - particularly secret censorship of political sites - are thereby perverting the purpose of the library as such, along with violating their oath of office. But who has the standing and means to oppose them. They have the concentrated interest on their side.
And TRADITION has it that the librarians will decide which books and magazines to order, being the caretakers of the sacred flame of TRUTH. But choosing book "A" over "B" implies that the library somehow has the monopoly on that commodity. It also creates a dilemma for the honest librarian, trying to do his or her job.
Librarians, nationwide, BTW, spent a huge effort on trying to keep access to the internet free and uncensored, despite pressure from political sources and the other usual sociopaths who play games with our beliefs and values in order to enhance their power to hurt us. I'm not sure what the current status of that struggle is. Perhaps I will investigate.
Oh, and I do have a computer - just lousy wireless access - my cell barely works and drops calls. Also, the library keeps me honest. When I got on line in the early '90's on my Amiga, I would end up never sleeping and stupid with fatigue. Here I don't have to worry, due to library hours, plus I get all the other library assets, just have to share them with some creeps, and most of the patrons are pretty decent.