Month: July 2016

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Punte e Virgola: The Magic of the Semicolon

This blog tries to reclaim the lost magic and tarnished reputation of the semicolon; our most valuable and flexible punctuational friend, and one this writer has kept in close touch with over the years; even at times when it has been blackballed from polite literary society or – at best – tolerated with hardly concealed suspicion.

Lionel Shriver a few years ago described the semicolon as “beleaguered” and “being eaten alive by the rapacious em-dash”. Why should this be? For my part I can’t understand why the semicolon is not the most popular member of the punctuation fraternity.

Quite literally the semicolon “makes sense”. It brings sense to any sentence where it is used; a subtle half-break to highlight the natural breath-point of the sentence and restore natural rhythm and cadence.

We acknowledge in this blog that the semicolon can be overused, almost a fetish for some writers. That word fetish is a bit theatrical, but I see the point. Here we argue that maybe the pendulum has swung too far the other way and – while avoiding compulsive overuse and sordid linguistic gratification – let’s leave some space in our hearts and minds for this special instrument.

What Makes A Good Policy: Five Watchwords

This blog is about policy.

Now you might wonder why anyone in their right mind would write about policy. What makes a good policy? Nothing, you might say. Policy is boring, it is irrelevant, it is meaningless, it is dry and it is old-fashioned.

To a point I agree. In the digital age what really is the point of writing out a few tired phrases purporting to be “the way things should be done” to sit in a forgotten corner of the web taking up space and interesting no-one.

Nobody reads it, nobody owns it, nobody updates it, nobody tests compliance against it. It is a hostage to fortune at best, a ticking time bomb at worst. It adds no value, it gives no insight, it does not help. Why bother?

The answer to these valid challenges is: this is the way our policy often is – but not the way it needs to be.