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July 05, 2019


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Several weeks ago, I was notified by email that 4 books I checked out and planned to return before their due dates were being automatically renewed. I contacted library staff and learned that the CCRLS (the regional library organization that includes Salem Library and many smaller libraries in the surrounding area) is conducting an experiment whereby all books (and perhaps other materials as well) will be automatically renewed 3 days before their due dates. It seems that this new policy will add to the continuing decline of available books. Much to my partial shame, I still have these books in my possession. In my defense, driving from my home to downtown is oftentimes a grueling and time consuming experience.
I have written before about why the sacrifice of many valuable books and the addition of more popular books (Neil Gaiman states that 90% of new books are trash) is ill advised. An example of a book of quality that is not available in the CCRLS system is "Lila" by Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).
I purchased the book and just came upon a section that may offer a sort of tribute to Jim Scheppke and Brian Hines and helps us understand why they never seem to get the support that they deserve.
The context for the following passages is that a sailboat Captain met a single woman (Lila) who he allowed to accompany him on a voyage along the eastern coast and whose behavior became problematic.
Keep in mind that, throughout history, many of those considered "insane" were simply people with unpopular ideas. I am in no way implying that Jim or Brian are insane and the following passages, from Pirsig's book "Lila", shows us how (and why) the "insane" and those with unpopular ideas are treated in similar ways. The Captain states:
"Of course she's (Lila) unimportant. Of course she's a waste of time. She's causing an interruption of other more important purposes in life. No one admits it, but that's really the reason the insane get locked up. They're disgusting people you want to get rid of but can't. It's not just that they have absurd ideas that nobody believes. What makes them "insane" is that they have these ideas and are a nuisance to somebody else."
In a few paragraphs which preceded the one above, the Captain ruminates about whether he should abandon the troubled woman (substitute "people who involve themselves with controversy" for "people with too many problems"):
"It was a long time since Phaedrus (the Captain) had become a mental patient.
Now he saw her the same way that others had seen him years ago. And now he was behaving exactly the way they did. They could be excused for not knowing better. They didn't know what it was like. But he didn't have that excuse.
It's a legitimate point of view. It's the lifeboat problem. If you get too involved with too many people with too many problems they drag you under. You don't save them. They sink you."
I hope that the preceding makes it a little easier to understand and accept the predictable failure of Council to do the right thing in favor of blind (and lazy) support for their peers within Salem City Government.

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