A Profile of
Dr. Llewellyn C. Puppybreath, III
[Ancestry - The Person - The Professional - The Scholar]
What do we know about Dr. Llewellyn C. Puppybreath, III, apart from the fact that he is not the first to bear that distinguished name? The following facts have been gleaned from session notes and tapes, acquaintances, and rumor mills. Information on Dr. Puppybreath's research and his career come almost exclusively from the reporting of David Batty, primarily in his capacities as Chairman (pro tem) and/or Moderator.
Dr. Puppybreath's ancestry, as we know, is Welsh (the C stands for Caradoc). The prehistory of the people of Wales includes a figure known as Llewellyn, Keeper of the Holy Wale (a black box Not To Be Opened By Anyone), which had been passed down since the time of the Gauls, and had migrated with the Gauls from the European continent (following the activities of Julius Caesar) to the island of Britain (to be further harassed by subsequent Caesars). Llewellyn's descendants continued to serve as Keepers of the Holy Wale (now revealed to be a Wholly Automatic Language Enhancement device). In the Middle Ages, the Keeper of the time was a noted poet and singer, Llewellyn ap Caradog ap Llewellyn ap. . . (the practice was to list names as A son of B son of C and so on back through four or five generations). In this Llewellyn's day the use of surnames came into practice, and Llewellyn had such a high, sweet, and gentle voice that he became known as Llewellyn Anandi O Ci Bach, or "Puppybreath." By the sixteenth century the surname was well established, as we find mention of Gwylim Caradoc Puppybreath.
Dr. Puppybreath's forebears landed in North America while looking for the Welsh colony of Patagonia. The direct connection of the Puppybreaths to libraries actually began in this country with Gwilym Puppybreath, a student at Amherst College in the 1870s. In 1873 he was sitting beside Melvil Dewey in chapel one Sunday. The later was dozing during the Dean's sermon. Impressed by a point that the Dean had just made, Gwilym exclaimed "tenau!" (the Welsh equivalent of "cool!"). Dewey woke up immediately, and, thinking that Gwilym had said "ten", invented the Dewey Decimal Clarification scheme on the spot (Batty, 1992).
Dr. Puppybreath may or may not be married. Attendees at SIG/CON in 1983 heard a taped message from what purported to be Mrs. Llewellyn Puppybreath, and two Mrs. Puppybreaths appeared at the 1990 SIG/CON, but neither could necessarily be believed. In a 1979 paper, Dr. Puppybreath thanks his wife, Clotilla Roe Puppybreath, for her "heroic typing and delicious meals" (p. 342). I am in possession of a handwritten note addressed to me, dated either January 4, 1990 or April 1, 1990 (depending on whether the author is using the American or British convention), regarding the doctor's participation in SIG/CON 1990, and signed "(Mrs.) Letitia Kittenpaw Puppybreath (his wife)". The letterhead bears the crest of the University of California at Los Angeles, which renders it immediately suspect.
The doctor is known to enjoy World Cup sailing (although he did not, as was claimed by the possibly spurious Mrs. Puppybreath, die of a heart attack watching the 1983 match). He is also an avid enthusiast of the gaming tables, and was reputed to have gained and lost a great fortune at the ASIS Las Vegas meeting, and to have had a close encounter with MGM's Leo the Lion. His keen competitive spirit can sometimes be taken too far, as was evidenced by his reported attack on Professor Debora Shaw prior to SIG/CON '94 (reminiscent of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan prior to the Winter Olympics). In this last case, sufficient monies were raised by Puppybreath Aid, held in conjunction with SIG/CON, to cover the costs of his legal defense, and presumably all has been forgiven and professional fences have been mended. These intercollegial rivalries are endemic to our profession, and some of us felt that Professor Shaw wore her arm in a sling perhaps a little longer than was really necessary, in order to garner sympathy.
In 1976, Dr. Puppybreath was affiliated with the Jargon Research Institute, Washington DC. In 1977 he joined the Institute for Applied Epistemology, also in Washington, DC, where he worked on the Project for Direct Retrieval of Information Very Easily Located (DRIVEL). During this time he also was a member of the Intelligence Division of the Society for Christian Harmony and Intersectarian Ministry (SCHISM), and sat on the Committee on a Heuristic Approach to the Organization of Science: (CHAOS). In 1978 Dr. Puppybreath joined the ranks of information entrepreneurs, and listed himself as an Information Racketeer, a title which he used through the mid 1980s. For a brief period in 1979, Dr. Puppybreath acted as head of the State University of Washington at George (Bates, 1979). In 1989 he became affiliated with The Molesworth Institute.
In addition to these professional endeavors, Dr. Puppybreath maintained allegiance abroad with the Institute of Applied Epistemolgy in Wales (full address: Eglwys Fach, Machynlleth, Dyfed, Chambray), where he held the position (in 1977) of Demonstrator of Insubstantial Research Studies, having risen from rank of Infiltrator. Sometime prior to 1982, he rose again to Fell Professor. In 1982 he was appointed Dean of Women of the Invisible College, and subsequently became Unfrocked Dean of Women.
1982 was a busy year for Dr. Puppybreath. His activities with ASIS led him to believe that not enough information scientists were entering the profession, so in that year he founded NCLISB, the National Committee on Library and Information Selective Breeding, also known as The National Library Stud (for which he worked in a permanent consulting capacity as Acquisitions Manager).
In addition to these frenetic activities, and the research reported below, Dr. Puppybreath has been known to have acted as a thesis advisor (for instance to Stan Elman, ABD, in 1984), and a mentor offering career advice to young information scientists (as reported by Elizabeth Fake in 1985).
The following long list of important research activities, especially when considered in the light of the rich and full professional life evidenced above, goes some way in explaining why Dr. Puppybreath has been so infrequently able to attend SIG/CON sessions (although according to the taped record, he did attend New Member's Breakfast in 1989). These research activities were without exception conveyed by David Batty, and have been edited only minimally for inclusion here.
In 1977, Dr. Puppybreath was engaged in an aspect of his lifelong interest in the application of automation to early information sciences and services. By way of explanation for his absence from the SIG/CON session, he sent three reports (slightly singed) on his latest sabbatical research, funded by NIH, on the applications of automation to alchemy and cosmogony.
The first of these reports described p = m / a (f 2), a mathematical model for book selection policy in libraries. This is also known as the Hamlet model (to buy or not to buy). In this model, p = desirability for purchase, m = money available in book fund, a = academic level, and f = degree of fringeness. The resulting curve represents the MPI or maximum permissible irrelevance of an item.
The second report, Bradford's law of scattering as a tentative explanation of the origin of the universe, advanced an intriguing theoretical model justifying the big bang theory, otherwise known as the farther the fewer.
The third report, The impact of minicomputers on medieval libraries, was a useful review of historical developments in automation, starting with Roger Bacon's two-part manually operated digital calculator, called the Flexible Integrated Numeric and Graphic Expression Recording System (FINGERS). A northern consortium, Local Undertaking to Have an Early Reformation (LUTHER) took up the design philosophy and sponsored a database developed by Gregor Reisch and known as Margarita Philosophica, which looks as though it stands for a thoughtful tequila and lime, but which is actually a dictionary program written in Very Early Reformation Neologisms and Colloquial Utilization of Language by Actual Readers (VERNACULAR). Dr. Puppybreath also was the first to discover that the vagantes, wandering scholars of the Monastery of the Immaculata Beata Maria (IBM), were known to carry minicomputers in their satchels.
In 1981 Dr. Puppybreath submitted a lengthy report on the reasons for non-completion of a federally funded project, A Replicative Model of the Automatic Generation of Economic Disaster Dependent On Neo-carnegie-ism (ARMAGEDDON).
In 1982 Dr. Puppybreath embarked on what many feel remains his most ambitious research project. Recognizing that the library is passive time machine, he converted it philosophically and pragmatically into a dynamic time machine. Of all the requests pressed upon him for time-based explorations (such as, who was Shakespeare, who printed the Gutenberg Bibles, and, what books escaped from the burning of the great library at Alexandria), he decided to investigate the origins of language. His theories included the "yo-he-ho" theory, the "ta-ta" theory, the "harumph-harumph" theory of the origin of political speech, and the "mumble-mumble" theory of the origin of Federal agency articulation.
Travel through the dimensions of time and space resulted in some confusion for a number of years, as SIG/CON attendees were never really sure whether Dr. Puppybreath was present, had been present, would be present, or might have been present. In some cases attendees were not sure whether they themselves were present.
Remaining in the sphere of insubstantiality, in 1987 Dr. Puppybreath embarked on a field expedition to validate his latest hypothesis regarding data dictionaries. Since entities can be grouped into meta-entities, meta-entities into meta-meta-entities, and meta-meta-entities into meta-meta-meta-entities, the question arises as to what the next grouping results in. The doctor's theory was that beyond meta-meta-meta-entities, there is the monoblock, and he set out to find the monoblock. The results of this search have not been forthcoming.
with the assistance of David Batty
- Bates, M.J. (1979). An exercise in research evaluation: The work of L. C. Puppybreath. Journal of Education for Librarianship, 19, 339-42.
- Batty, C.D. (1992). Is a Wale a mammal? Unpublished paper given at SIG/CON 1992.
- Puppybreath, L.C., III. (1979). A survey of the users of the Library of the State University of Washington at George. Internal report, 1979. [Reprinted in Bates, above]