Miskatonic University Press

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.



From The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition), 5.250 Word Usage:

fulsome, adj. This word does not preferably mean “very full” but “too much, excessive to the point of being repulsive.” Traditionally, a “fulsome speech” is one that is so overpacked with thanks or hyperbole as to sound insincere. The word’s slipshod use arises most often in the cliché fulsome praise, which can suggest the opposite of what the writer probably intends.

Where I work, about once a week someone suggests “fulsome discussion” of something.

Listening to Art 03.09


Listening to Art 03.09 is up today: Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome. The ending is a fitting one for this last of my recordings made in June of some of Caravaggio’s works in Rome.

Also, I added an index to artists.

Mr. Weatherbee in "Getting His Goat"

archie libraries

The mention of a library in “Getting His Goat,” which centres on Mr. Weatherbee, is different from any other I’ve seen in Archie comics. It was originally in Jughead and Friends Digest Magazine 32, but I saw it in World of Archie (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 78 (June 2018).

In the first panel, Mr. Weatherbee, the principal of Riverdale High School, is talking with teacher Ms. Sanchez as he puts up a sign: “I was at the library watching a special program that involved children reading to dogs. It was truly amazing!” Ms. Sanchez points out a possible problem:

The Bee introduces a safety measure
The Bee introduces a safety measure

Of course, not all of the pets stay under control, and chaos ensues.

It seems to me it must have been the Riverdale Public Library where Mr. Weatherbee saw this literacy program. Good for him for investigating what the public library is doing and bring literacy programs to his school where his students can get involved.

“Getting His Goat” was written by George Gladir, penciled by Tim Kennedy, inked by Ken Selig, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Patrick Owsley. It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

Archie in Prize Problem

archie libraries

“Prize Problem” may have first appeared in Archie Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest (101) in May 2006, but I saw it in World of Archie (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 78 (June 2018).

Budget cuts considerded.
Budget cuts considerded.

This story is narrated by Mr. Weatherbee. He recounts some of the problems he’s faced during his time as principal. One of them is when the school board introduced budget cuts, and as the panel shows, top on his list of things to consider cutting was the school library. Of course, this would have been a bad mistake, but everything else listed is crucial to a high school also.

“Prize Problem” was written by George Gladir, pencilled by Pat Kennedy, inked by Jon D’Agostino, coloured by Josh Ray and lettered by Vickie Williams. It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

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