Miskatonic University Press



I’m washing so much my hands are as dry as my wit.

Stoicism and COVID-19

covid19 stoicism

Two good recent resources for a Stoic approach to COVID-19 and the crisis:

Some things are under our control and some things are not, as Epictetus said. It’s time to reread his Discourses.

Now let's listen

covid19 field.recordings listening.to.art

Of the sixty-nine issues of Listening to Art published (the latest came out two days ago), due to the COVID-19 closures only five works of art are publicly accessible now. If you’re missing the experience of being in a gallery, audio field recordings will bring it back to you.

These locations are closed (the counts are how many recordings were made there):

  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa): 13
  • Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto): 12
  • Louvre (Paris): 5
  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo): 4
  • Museum of Modern Art (New York): 4
  • Galleria Borghese (Rome): 3
  • Musée d’Orsay (Paris): 3
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London): 3
  • National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin): 2
  • Whitney Museum of American Art (New York): 2
  • Wallace Collection (London): 2
  • Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (Rome): 2
  • Capitoline Museums (Rome): 2
  • Arts and Letters Club of Toronto: 1
  • Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris): 1
  • Palazzo Barberini (Rome): 1
  • York University Libraries (Toronto): 1
National Gallery of Canada is closed
National Gallery of Canada is closed

These locations are still accessible:

  • outside the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto): 2
  • Church of Saint-Sulpice (Paris): 1
  • Toronto City Hall (Toronto): 1
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (Toronto): 1

Nuit Blanche (Toronto) is a one-night-a-year event; who knows if it will happen this fall. There are also two private collections which are also closed to visitors.

The libraries are closed

covid19 libraries york

Following up on two days ago: all the branches of York University Libraries are now closed, and the law library is shut too.

Screenshot of YUL home page today
Screenshot of YUL home page today

COVID-19: York Libraries Services and Operations Update lists everything that’s happening. All research and reference support is now purely online. There is no access to physical items (print books, archival material, etc.); all in-person workshops were cancelled already; interlibrary loan is suspended.

Access to all online resources remains, and help for students and faculty is available online, as it was before. We’re all still working, just from home.

I’m very glad the libraries are closed. How things are going to go over the next while I don’t know, but I’ll keep posting about it.

York University Libraries Ambiences

field.recordings libraries york

I’ve uploaded two hour-long audio files to the Internet Archive: York University Libraries Ambiences.

Cover image
Cover image

These are recordings of ambient environmental sounds and room tones at York University Libraries in Toronto, Canada.

The first was made in the Steacie Science and Engine ring Library on 28 August 2019. It was closed, but sounds from outside came in through the wall. The second was made in the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections vault on 21 October 2019. No people were in the vault, so only the air circulation system can be heard.

Anyone who usually works or studies at York University but is now at home and misses the sounds of the libraries and archives can use these to provide some comforting background sound. Others may enjoy them too.

The files are CC BY. I will check my sound archives and see what else I might be able to add.

Judge Frank Denton and the Brown's drug store case

archives frank.denton toronto

I’ve written a long piece, Judge Frank Denton and the Brown’s drug store case, 1938, about a drug store theft that my grandfather tried in July 1938.

Judge Frank Denton on retirement in 1971 (Source: Toronto Public Library)
Judge Frank Denton on retirement in 1971 (Source: Toronto Public Library)

It starts with my grandfather’s handwritten notes from his bench books, which were journals where he wrote notes on trials as he presided. They’re in the Archives of Ontario and available to the public, so I had a look. One case in particular caught my eye, so I transcribed the notes and did some research into the case and the neighbourhood where the crime happened.

There is relevant digitized material from the Archives of Ontario, the City of Toronto, the University of Toronto and the Internet Archive all freely available online, and I have access to ProQuest Historical Newspapers so I could look at old issues of the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail. (The Toronto Telegram I looked at on microfilm. It really needs to be digitized, and I know there’s a project starting to try to do that. I hope it succeeds.)

It’s rare I do this kind of research, and I enjoyed it very much.

If you’re interested in a close-up view of a small crime in a Toronto neighbourhood that no longer exists, have a look.

The libraries remain open

covid19 libraries york

Screenshot of YUL home page today
Screenshot of YUL home page today

Many of us inside York University Libraries are trying to get the dean and those above her to close the libraries. “Beginning Monday, March 16 all #YorkU classes will move to online formats in response to COVID-19” says the Coronavirus Information and Update site, but a message from the dean on Friday evening said, “The libraries remain open.”

James Brown on mistakes

music quotes

“The only thing wrong with a mistake is when you keep making it.” —James Brown, in the introduction to “World” on Live at Home With His Bad Self, recorded 01 October 1969 in Augusta, Georgia.

William Gibson

literature quotes

Last month I saw William Gibson when he hit Toronto on his book tour for Agency, which is excellent.

He was interviewed by Nora Young, who didn’t get much of a chance to ask questions because Gibson was quite loquacious. I imagine it was a combination of his natural nature and being at the end of a book tour.

William Gibson and Nora Young, at a very low angle
William Gibson and Nora Young, at a very low angle

A couple of good quotes from Gibson:

  • “Genre SF is my literary home town, but I don’t live there [or] work there.”
  • “Historical fiction is a more technically demanding version of speculative fiction than science fiction.”

Fungi Town

cryptogams podcasts

I mentioned the podcast Fungi Town last year (and the year before), but I’ll mention it again because a) if you’re interested in fungi, you’ll definitely want to subscribe, and b) I myself am mentioned because I just started to support it on Patreon. (I was supporting it before, but stopped and restarted.)

The current show is the first of a two-part interview with Roo Vandegrift, who talks about a particular kind of fungi that live on leaves of trees: the fungi eat sugars made by the trees, but the trees aren’t hurt, and they like the fungi because the fungi are disliked by ants who want to eat the leaves. It’s like the trees are supplying food to a helpful army of fungal guards who defend against ant attackers.

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