We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
That piece we posted on semi-colons this week reminded me of this one from 2 years ago:
It seems like a fine thing to have a debate raging which has nothing to do with politics. Where do you stand on the pressing semicolon issue?
Some love 'em, some hate 'em, and, difficult as it may be to believe, some people are actually indifferent to the subject. I happen to enjoy colons, semicolons, ellipses, dashes, parentheses, and any other things on the keyboard, but I sometimes wonder whether some of that is pure laziness, or lack of time for editing. From a piece by Butterworth in Financial Times:
Big deal or not, there is really only one use of the semicolon that is “more or less mandated”, says Ben Yagoda, professor of English at the University of Delaware and author of About Town, a monumental account of The New Yorker magazine (whose history is marked by fractious debates over the placement of commas). And that is to separate series elements containing commas (for example, “The cities represented were Albany, New York; Wilmington, Delaware; and Selma, Alabama). The other principal uses, says Yagoda, are discretionary: “That is I might, with total grammatical correctness and without changing my meaning in the slightest, choose any one of the following: 1. ‘The book under review is utter hogwash; and that is why it is worth examining.’ 2. ‘The book under review is utter hogwash, and that is why it is worth examining.’ 3. ‘The book under review is utter hogwash; that is why it is worth examining.’ 4. ‘The book under review is utter hogwash. That is why it is worth examining.’” Deciding which of the four to choose is strictly a matter of sound and rhythm, says Yagoda - that is to say, personal style. “Writers who like (consciously or unconsciously) to stop and pause, and/or who are under the influence of Hemingway, choose 4. Those who like balanced rhythms might choose 3. Those aiming for a ‘transparent’ style might choose 2. And those who are a little bit enamoured with the sound of their own voice might choose 1.”
I like semicolons for continuing the previous thought. In lightly edited writing, like blogs, it it a visual clue that the writer isn't skipping around.
I like parentheticals too but they are easy to overuse. I've also toyed with the Paul Graham style (he writes essays about startups) which is to move parentheticals to footnotes; basically to use them like asterisks. This doesn't work well, at least for me. It encourages turning a short remark into a paragraph which instead should be a post of its own or be omitted.