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When Election Night Went On For Days

For the first time in my life (apart from occasional odd minutes in hotels on business trips) I’m watching CNN. It’s 5am on the US east coast, 3am on the west; yet every few seconds, it seems like, we get this:

A placeholder card on CNN Go, saying that a commercial break is in progress and that the broadcast will resume momentarily.
An ad break on CNN International

Sometimes, too, there’s an actual advert, but luckily I’ve been able to scrub through them.

The actual coverage is good, though. They’re providing good information, lots of details. They’re also calling out Trump’s lies, as is the proper thing to do.

Of course, since most of the time there’s nothing much happening, they’re having a hard time of it.

We remain gripped.

Writing About Writing About Typography

Robin Rendle writes about writing about typography, but he has lessons for all of us who want to write well.

Though I don’t entirely agree with his viewpoint about the particular sentence he criticises. Here it is:

A revival is based on historical models, made suitable for contemporary use, adapted to the typographical and technical needs of today, but nevertheless relies on a personal response to the historical style.

The ‘revival’ it’s talking about involves recreating old typefaces, and/or building new versions of them. It’s from a site called The Rosart Project, set up by some students of typography.

Rendle’s essay at an improved version of that sentence is this:

Type designers will often look at letterforms that were made in the past and then redraw them for modern day use. This is called a “revival” by the type community but I like to think of it as a remix: a type designer will unavoidably apply their own style and harmonies, their own deviations and melodies to the song.

Every remix is different, every remix is important.

Which is certainly brighter, has a bit more sparkle, and arguably is easier to understand. But I don’t think the original is that bad. Certainly not as bad as Rendle thinks. He says:

what does any of this mean? The words make sense but it’s written in a style that’s familiar to anyone that reads about the field of typography. It’s what’s known to folks outside the field as “academic writing” but it’s what I consider to simply be bad writing—it’s waffling and unclear.

It’s what is often called dry, I’d say, certainly compared to the alternative. But I don’t think it deserves quite the fire he brings to it. Of course he’s only doing it — he says, and I believe him — because he loves the project, and wants to ‘see the whole typographic community break the shackles of this style of writing.’

Which is fair enough. I’d certainly rather read a piece in Rendle’s style than much academic writing. So I guess maybe I do agree with him after all. His final advice to the typographic community could apply just about anywhere where words are used:

write to swoon, to convince, to make a stranger fall in love. Abandon the academic style, because it’s making your beautiful work so very boring.

The Secret Place by Tana French (Books 2020, 23)

Crime fiction set in Dublin. In a posh boarding school, specifically, which causes it to have elements of young adult (YA) fiction. We studied it for the ‘Genre’ module of my MA course. It went dips into magic realism, so it’s particularly appropriate.

I hadn’t read any of French’s books before. This is volume five in a series about the Dublin Murder Squad, but they’re only loosely linked. I enjoyed it a lot, and wouldn’t mind reading more.

She has a great way with colour imagery, and compelling characters.

It’s extremely disappointing that yesterday’s UK government announcement of the new lockdown made no mention whatsoever of masks or ventilation — and barely any of testing and tracing.

We still need those things, even as we lock down again. The virus doesn’t know the rules.

In the Sky With Diamonds

This is stone-cold genius. Making diamonds out of carbon dioxide from the air, solar and wind power, and rainwater:

UK millionaire Dale Vince says lab-grown gems will be ‘world’s first zero-impact’ diamonds

“Making diamonds from nothing more than the sky, from the air we breathe – is a magical, evocative idea – it’s modern alchemy,” said Vince. “We don’t need to mine the earth to have diamonds, we can mine the sky.”

Sky Diamonds’ is a great name for the company, but I feel he’s missing an obvious Beatles tie-in.