Miskatonic University Press

Stoicon

stoicism

Last Saturday I was at Stoicon, which this year was here in Toronto. There were almost 400 people there, which is very impressive for a conference about a philosophy roughly 2,400 years old. My Stoic friend Vicki and I were curious to see who would be there, and were glad to see more women than we’d expected—they were only about a third of the attendees, but we’d suspected there would be still fewer. Everyone was interested in Stoicism, especially about how to apply it daily in order to lead a flourishing, equanimous life.

Program cover.
Program cover.

The full schedule is on the web site, and videos will be up on Modern Stoicism’s YouTube channel soon, so anyone interested can see everything I did. I recommend the following:

  • Donald Robertson’s “What is Stoicism?” introduction, which is a good overview for anyone unfamiliar with it;
  • Massimo Pigliucci “How to be a Stoic: Conversations with Epictetus,” which has all his usual quick wit and speedy talking;
  • Ronald Pies’s “Stoicism, Buddhism, and Judaism,” which presents the connections and similarities between the three schools; and
  • Margaret Graver’s closing talk, “The Dispassionate Life.”

There were several afternoon workshops on offer. Vicki and I went to the “Stoicism and Values Clarification” led by Tim LeBon and Christopher Gill. We jotted down answers to some questions about what was important to us, then LeBon and Gill did a Socratic dialogue, and after some discussion of the four cardinal virtues (courage, justice, wisdom and temperance) we reflected on “how much you think living according to the virtues is important its own sake and not just to help you get conventional goods.”

One page of my notes, about Margaret Graver's talk.
One page of my notes, about Margaret Graver's talk.

On Sunday Vicki and I went to Stoicon-X, a local event, which had about 70 people, many not from Toronto, though almost all were men. The hour of lightning talks was a great success, with a dozen people talking about different aspects of Stoicism and their application of it. They were all good speakers and the range was delightful to see. Greg Lopez of The Stoic Fellowship also gave a good talk about organizing local Stoic events. It’s delightful—and surprising—to learn about these local groups starting up.

It was a joy to be in the company of Stoics for the weekend, and it’s rejuvenated my reading schedule. Soon I will be starting Chris Gill’s translation of and commentary on Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations Books 1–6.

In case anyone’s interested, here are links to RSS feeds I follow about Stoicism:

A final note: The conference was at the ugliest hotel I’ve ever seen—I suspect they got the plans for a hotel in a warm climate and put a big metal covering over it to protect against Toronto weather, which meant the air in the atrium housing the bar and restaurant is filled with chlorine—but such aesthetic matters are indifferents to Stoics, and did nothing to prevent our enjoyment of the event. If that was anyone’s first experience of Toronto, however, come back and look elsewhere: it gets a lot better. I recommend walking in the ravines.

Two more Archie libraries

archie libraries

The Riverdale Public Library and Riverdale High School library each appear in B & V Friends (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 256 (November 2017).

“A Woman with Couth” is one of those stories where Betty decides she isn’t good enough for Archie and tries to change to be more attractive. It was written by Greg Crosby, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by John Lowe, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Bill Yoshida. It’s copyright by Archie Comics. I don’t know when it first appeared.

No lions this time.
No lions this time.

This time Betty overhears Archie say he likes Veronica because she’s elegant and sophisticated. In her research about how to get more classy, Betty goes to the public library. The entrance here is much smaller than we saw in “The Chompian”, which has broad steps and two lion statues, but maybe that’s the main branch and Betty’s gone to a neighbourhood branch. Could Riverdale have more than one public library branch? Definitely. Riverdale can have anything.

“Under Cover of Darkness” is written by Kathleen Webb (one of very few women writers; her stories are very good), pencilled by Jeff Shultz, inked by Henry Scarpelli, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Vickie Williams. It first appeared in Betty and Veronica 203 (December 2004) and is also copyright by Archie Comics.

In this story Betty is admired for her new style of dressing, and she talks about it with some friends in the school library.

In the Riverdale High library.
In the Riverdale High library.

In a previous post I showed what was the first proof I’d found that the high school library existed, but “Mop Up” didn’t go into the library. Now we get to see it, and it looks like a normal school library.

I don’t know who Brandy is. She’s not on Wikipedia’s List of Archie Comics characters.

Information literacy on What's New podcast

code4lib libraries podcasts

I recommend Fake News and the Next Generation, the second episode in Dan Cohen’s new What’s New podcast. One of the guests is Alison Head, of Project Information Literacy, who gives real-life applicatons of the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This episode is a chance to hear an IL expert talking about her research and how it can be taken to the daily life of students to help with the current state of events.

(There’s no RSS feed for the podcast on the site yet, but this will get you the SoundCloud feed. I use gPodder, so I always look for direct RSS feeds.)

Laurentian strike

code4lib libraries solidarity

The Laurentian University Faculty Association is out on strike, which means my friend and fellow librarian Dan Scott is on strike. In fact, he’s the strike co-ordinator! Good on you, Dan! We’re with you at York, and if YUFA hasn’t sent money already, they will soon if things don’t settle. If it goes on, I’ll come up to walk the picket line.

I sent an email letter in support of my colleagues up north, and I am posting here to say I support the striking professors, librarians and archivists. The university administration is back at the table with them today, which is good news, and I hope they are able to reach a fair and equitable settlement that addresses the issues about workload, transparency and collegiality, and the learning environment at the university. These are issues we’re facing all across Canada, but going out on strike means things are really serious.

The Dan Scott Library
The Dan Scott Library

I made that image just after I started working at York University Libraries (where the main branch is the Scott Library) following a chat with Dan. Fear the shush!

Librarian in "The Chompian"

archie libraries

This morning I came across another Archie visit to the Riverdale Public Library, and this time there’s a stereotypical mean librarian on the job. The story is “The Chompian,” and it’s reprinted in Archie’s Funhouse (Comics) Double Digest 28 (November 2017). I don’t know exactly when it was first published, but it has a seventies look. It was written by George Gladir, drawn by Bob Bolling and lettered by Bill Yoshida. The comic is copyright by Archie Comics.

Archie wants to do something challenging. “Something that takes courage and determination!” At first he seems to want to do this not for fame but as a way to test himself, which is noble. Then he decides to do something to get into The Guinness Book of Records, which shows he is not doing it with virtuous intent.

Card catalogue on the left.
Card catalogue on the left.

Archie gets quite excited about this and slams his fist on the desk. The librarian comes over to shush him, and she’s a mean-looking, pince-nez-wearing, witchy-nosed old woman.

Bad stereotype librarian.
Bad stereotype librarian.

When they run out of the library, Jughead and Archie pass by two lions, who are like Patience and Fortitude on the steps of the main branch of the New York Public Library.

The Chompian clip 3
The Chompian clip 3

I’ve passed by the lions three times. The first was in 2010, when I was stranded in New York coming back from Code4Lib (see my notes for 22, 23 and 24 February 2010.)

Fortitude, on 26 February 2010
Fortitude, on 26 February 2010

This is a glorious library, and if you’ve never been in the Reading Room then I hope you’re able to see it one day.

Riverdale High Library

archie libraries

An old Archie story, “Mop Up,” reprinted in Jughead and Archie Comics (Annual) Digest 27 (October 2017), proves there was a library in Riverdale High. Well, it proves that there was a library at least once, but the way things change in the Archie universe, we can’t be sure if it was always there.

Great action drawn by Harry Lucey.
Great action drawn by Harry Lucey.

The story first appeared in Pep #173 (September 1964) and was written by Frank Doyle, with pencils by Harry Lucey and inks and lettering by Marty Epp. Archie Comics holds the copyright.

Everyone is in a rush to return their overdue books to the high school’s library, because if they’re not back by 3 pm, Principal Weatherbee will punish them.

Jughead is so surprised he opens his eyes.
Jughead is so surprised he opens his eyes.

Svenson is mopping the floors, and first we see Archie sliding on the wet floor, then later Jughead. The gag is that Principal Weatherbee also slips on the floor and is knocked out for so long that everyone has time to return their books, so there is no punishment. Of course head injuries and concussions are not amusing in real life.

We never actually see the library in this story, so I have no more clues about what it looks like or who the librarian is.

Chuck Clayton at the ref desk

archie libraries

I chanced upon another librarian in Archie comics, this time in Life with Archie: The Married Years, Volume One (in the second or third issue, which was published in late 2010). Here Chuck Clayton goes to the Riverdale Public Library and gets help from librarian Mrs. Bell. Chuck doesn’t know it but his girlfriend Nancy Woods is also in the library—she’s writing a comic book, and he’s illustrating one, but they haven’t told each other yet (to learn why, you’ll have to read the comic).

Chuck Clayton gets help at the ref desk.
Chuck Clayton gets help at the ref desk.

Mrs. Bell’s reference desk skills could use some improvement. “We have three books. They’re in the photography section!” isn’t a good answer. Assuming Chuck knows where the photography books are (the 770s), historical photographs of New York would be filed in 974 (history of the northeastern United States). All books about the history of New York should be collocated on the same shelf beside each other: that’s what library classification systems are for. So either Mrs. Bell gave Chuck some very wrong directions about where to look or the RPL cataloguers are incompetent.

“As I thought” seems a bit rich. That’s showing off.

Maybe Mrs. Bell is the only one on duty, and has work to catch up on—notice the tray of jumbled books on the desk—but she really should have taken Chuck over the section and made sure he got to the right books. (If they actually were in the 770s, she might have used this as a teachable moment to explain why the RPL cataloguers do things so strangely.) “The right book, in the right hands, at the right time,” as I like to misquote Lillian Smith.

Life with Archie: The Married Life was written by Michael Uslan and Paul Kupperberg, pencilled by Norm Breyfogle, inked by Andrew Pepoy and Joe Rubinstein, lettered by Janice Chiang and Jack Morelli, and coloured by Glenn Whitmore. Archie Comics holds the copyright.

Theodore Roosevelt on "Nude Descending a Staircase"

marcel.duchamp quotes

Theodore Roosevelt went to the 1913 Armory Show in New York City and wrote a review in The Outlook on 22 March 1913 titled “A Layman’s Views of an Art Exhibition.” I quote his comments on Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase:”

Take the picture which for some reason is called “A Naked Man Going Down Stairs.” There is in my bathroom a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now, if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, “A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder,” the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the “Naked Man Going Down Stairs.” From the standpoint of terminology each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture.

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