Miskatonic University Press

Archie starts a bookmobile in Book Worm

archie libraries

There’s a bookmobile in “Book Worm,” an Archie story first published in Life with Archie 225 (August 1981), which I read in Archie (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 292 (November 2018). But there is no connection given to the Riverdale library! This is very curious, because of course it would be the town library that would organize a bookmobile.

Things begin with Archie and Betty going around getting donations of books.

First panel of the comic.
First panel of the comic.

They go to Titus Titewhad’s house and ask him for a donation, but Mr. Titewhad gets unreasonably upset at this mild request and has a heart attack. Archie and Betty save him by taking him to the hospital. He’s so grateful he gives them a rare first edition to sell to fund the bookmobile.

As a librarian I think many colleagues would find this kind of donation to be, as we say, “problematic.” A rare first edition deserves to be in a special collection in a library where everyone can have access to it. On the the other hand, a successful bookmobile would bring delight to people all over Riverdale. It’s a shame Mr. Titewhad couldn’t donate the first together with some money.

“Book Worm” was written by Frank Doyle, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Rudy Lapick, lettered by Bill Yoshida and coloured by Barry Grossman. It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

Archie library mention in That Human Touch

archie libraries

There’s a mention of a library in the Archie story “That Human Touch” from Archie at Riverdale High #6 (April 1973), which I read in the recent Archie at Riverdale High reprint collection.

In this story, Archie’s parents are remembering how they met at Riverdale High, and say they got up to some antics, though nothing like what “Wild Willie” did. Naturally Archie wants to know who this was, and he tells the gang. Mr. Weatherbee overhears them and gets upset—because he was Wild Willie!

In one panel, Betty says, “I wonder who this Wild Willie was?” Jughead: “Maybe he’s somebody we know!” Archie (snapping his fingers): “The library!”

But then:

Mr Weatherbee in front of the Riverdale High library
Mr Weatherbee in front of the Riverdale High library

(Note that this forbidding windowless wooden door does not match doors to the Riverdale High School library in other stories.)

Dilton soon finds some old yearbooks and reveals that Mr. Weatherbee was Wild Willie. Everyone is very impressed with their cool principal, and the Bee is relieved.

“That Human Touch” was written by Frank Doyle, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Jon D’Agostino, lettered by Bill Yoshida and coloured by Barry Grossman. It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

2018-12-01 co2


408.17 ppm
408.17 ppm

From GHG.EARTH. Check in every day and try to detect the microtonal changes.

Archie hippies get better library facilities

archie libraries

In “Mustang Sally,” Archie and the gang are appalled when they hear that “due to the high need for student parking, the Riverdale High athletic field will have to be torn down to build a new parking lot.” This is a ludicrous premise, especially in the United States, where high school football is apparently very popular.

Sally, a student who I think only ever appears in this story, tells them about her parents:

Two panels from Mustang Sally.
Two panels from Mustang Sally.

“There was a big protest going down about student rights, and my parents helped organize a protest … which resulted in students getting a longer lunch hour and better library facilities!” This seems like a great example of how things happen in Archie comics: a 1960s student protest leads to more time for lunch and a better library.

The gang all dress up in hippie-type clothes and stage a big protest on the field. Sally says the new shopping center should be relocated and a student parking lot built there instead. The authorities are impressed and, presumably, the field is saved.

“Mustang Sally” was written by Hal Lifson, pencilled by Gene Colan, inked by Rudy Lapick and lettered by Bill Yoshida. It first appeared in Life with Archie 279 (July 1990), but I read it in World of Archie (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 81 (October 2018). It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

Parker Duofold Junior


I was at the Scriptus pen show this afternoon and picked up a 1924 Parker Duofold Junior.

Parker Duofold Junior
Parker Duofold Junior

(That’s Diamine Macassar ink. I like Diamine inks—they always work well for me.)

This page has a complete history of the Duofold, with all kinds of details.

Last year I got a Parker 51 at the show. Like everyone says, it’s a great pen. It felt right from the first minute I tried it, and it’s always perfectly reliable. It is a pen that will always be a pleasure to use and I bet it will last for decades more. I think the Duofold Junior will be the same.

Text figures

latex org

I just finished reading Robert Bringhurst’s fantastic The Elements of Typographic Style. It’s full of good advice, informed by a thorough knowledge of all aspects of type and book design, and as an object the book itself is gorgeous. I got it from the library but midway through I emailed Book City to ask them to get me a copy, because I want my own. This will be a regular reference.

Bringhurst has advice about text figures, which were new to me—or seemed so, but then I realized I’d seen them many times but never observed them. They’re lowercase numbers! They have ascenders and descenders, unlike “titling figures,” which are all the same height as capital letters. Unless you’ve gone to a great deal of trouble with your browser then I bet you’re seeing titling figures right now on this page.

Looking at back at where I thought I remembered seeing text figures, I had memories of British books. Here’s a scan of the inside page of my 1967 Fontana (I bet 1967 and F are the same height) paperback edition of Anthony Powell’s A Buyer’s Market:

Biographical information about Powell
Biographical information about Powell

Those numbers look great and fit in beautifully with the text, which makes it all flow well.

I decided I wanted to use text figures in what I write, including at work, where when I do something myself I write it in Org and then export to LaTeX and convert to PDF. (If I write a shared document we usually use Google Docs. All I bother with there is making sure headings are styled as headings, not formatted as large bold plain text.) Looking around I saw that Baskvervaldx has text figures, and it’s a version of Baskerville, which I’ve always liked in books, partly because of the Sherlock Holmes connection.

I tweaked my LaTeX defaults, and now my PDFs can look like this (the larger version has more detail):

Example text
Example text

They won’t all have those dropped headings, but some will. I got inspired by Bringhurst’s book and started using titlesec to format my titles. This is the code to make things look like that example:


\titleformat{\section} {\centering\Large}{\thesection}{}{}
\titleformat{\subsection} {\centering\large\scshape}{\thesection}{}{}


For comparison, this is what the example text looks like in Emacs while I’m writing it, before Org works its magic:

M-x all-praise-emacs
M-x all-praise-emacs

Some people really care about typefaces, but I don’t (though perhaps that will change). Bringhurst goes into a lot of detail about them, more than I need, and I did skim a bit. I’m interested up to a certain point, but then they just end up looking the same to me and the nuances are lost. On the other hand, book design is something I do care about, and I learned a lot from Bringhurst. The Elements of Typographic Style is a treasure.

1234567890 looks shouty now, doesn’t it?

Wikipedia eyes


Unexpected creepiness in Wikipedia’s entry on eye colour:

Eyes! Eyes! Eyes!
Eyes! Eyes! Eyes!

I dropped my FIPPA appeal over York chair-to-chair letter

fippa york

In May, in Letters from the chair of the Board of Governors to the chair of Senate, I wrote about my request, under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FIPPA), for the release of a letter written by the (now former) chair of the Board of Governors of York University (where I work) to the (also now former) chair of the Senate (on which I sit). The letter was released with some redactions.

I wanted to see the whole thing, and the exemptions cited—the reasons given for the redactions—didn’t seem valid, so I filed an appeal with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. A mediator got in touch with me and with York, and asked York to reconsider their opinion.

A few weeks later, York replied. They had added another exemption! This is allowed, and they were within the time limit. I suspect they realized their first two exemptions wouldn’t hold up and that they’d better add something more solid. This time they were citing section 19:

Solicitor-client privilege

19 A head may refuse to disclose a record,

(a) that is subject to solicitor-client privilege;

(b) that was prepared by or for Crown counsel for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation of or for use in litigation; or

(c) that was prepared by or for counsel employed or retained by an educational institution or a hospital for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation of or for use in litigation.

The mediator told me that this was valid. If someone seeks legal advice then they don’t have to disclose either the nature of the advice sought or what the advice was. York had talked to a lawyer, clearly (I don’t know if that’s inside counsel or someone outside), and they don’t have to reveal anything about that.

I’d hit a dead end, so I dropped the appeal.

The mediator was very, very helpful, and I enjoyed my conversations with her very much. (She did everything with me by phone, which was maximally efficient.) I learned a lot about the process and about what the IPC does. I knew they did good work but now I can speak from experience: these are experts and they want to help people.

This is what the mediator sent to close the appeal:

Page 1 of the mediator's report
Page 1 of the mediator's report
Page 2 of the mediator's report
Page 2 of the mediator's report


York University (the university) received a request under the Act for records relating to communications that occurred from February 29, 2018 onward, between a named member of the university’s Senate and a named member of the university’s Board of Governors.


The university granted the requester partial access to the responsive records. The remainder of the records were denied pursuant to sections 13(1) and 18(1) of the Act. The university requested a fee of $9.30.


The requester, now appellant, appealed the university’s decision.


During mediation, the mediator had discussions with the university and the appellant.

The mediator provided the appellant with information about the exemptions applied by the university to deny some portions of the responsive records.

The university later issued a revised decision, introducing an additional discretionary exemption. The university stated that it is applying section 19 to the records at issue, in addition to sections 13(1) and 18(1).

The appellant then advised that he no longer wishes to pursue this appeal.

Accordingly, this file has been closed.

The York administration and counsel is within their rights to withhold the redacted text from the letter, but it’s a great example of an institution using the letter of the law to avoid living up to its spirit. The strike is over, the academic disruption is over, everything that was in question is in the past, and besides, written communications from the chair of the Board of Governors to the chair of Senate (a communication shown to members of the Senate Executive Committee, which has about a dozen people on it) should not be secret.

However, we’re not going to see it, so that’s that. Many things about how York works and is governed are open and transparent, but not as much as should be, and we will need to continue to push that.

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