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When to Use the Passive Voice

“Never use the passive where you can use the active.” — George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” “Don’t use the passive voice” has attained the status of divine commandment in the minds of some editors and writers. As with so many supposed rules of good grammar, however, “No passives” is too general and, followed […]

Uproar over Olympics Diversity Questionnaire (or How to Manufacture the News)

Apparently, or so they say, there’s an uproar over a “diversity and inclusion” questionnaire being put to volunteers for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The test has been called (or “dubbed” or “labelled”) “patronising,” and Olympics bosses have “come under fire” and been “slammed” over its content. I first saw the story on Pink News, the […]

Does Writing about Yourself Make You an Egotist?

I’ve written a lot about myself, but often — and my writing probably doesn’t betray this — I’ve felt self-conscious about it. No one writes about himself unless he’s famous or accomplished, or he’s done something no one else has done, surely? The answer to this conflict should have been obvious to me all along, […]

Dawkins, Lennox and a Christian Myth about Unbelievers

The evangelical faith I once had was formed in a milieu dominated by a particular story about unbelievers. The story was rarely articulated fully, but it was assumed in conversations, prayers and sermons. It went like this: Deep down, unbelievers know they’re on shaky ground; unbelievers know the gospel is true; unbelievers are on the precipice of […]

A Small Orange Creates a Passionate User

This is the story of how a tweet about three rogue punctuation marks bagged me a free T-shirt, a Moleskine notebook and a handwritten note from the CEO from one of the world’s best and brightest web-hosting companies. It began with an email I received from A Small Orange, the hosting company I’ve been using […]

Common Errors in Writing: The Dangling Participle

Dangling participles have, in my opinion, at least two major claims to infamy. First, the phrase is by far the funniest in the writing and editing rulebook. Whenever I hear or read it, I want to say, “Don’t look now, but your participles are dangling.” Second, dangling participles are perhaps the most common grammatical error I […]

Diefenbaker: When You Cast Your Longest Shadow…

To the young people I say this: If I had taken the other course, I could be wealthy. But there is nothing to equal the feeling that you can have when you cast your longest shadow towards the east, knowing that, in your day and generation, you made a contribution. — John “Dief the Chief” […]

Diabolique Magazine: Horror for the Connoisseur

31/07/12 Click here for an important update regarding Diabolique magazine I was seven when horror came in search of me. I’d seen it from afar: garish comic-strip representations of Dracula on Valentine picture postcards, glimpses of men standing around in misty graveyards in late-night films I wasn’t allowed to watch. But when I was seven, my father gave me […]

Lent 2012: A Charity a Day

Giving up chocolate. What’s the point? My relationship with chocolate is only ever on-again-off-again anyway. I’ve never given up anything for Lent, as the point of it has never really hit me. I suppose you could correlate, in some vague way, the feeling of oh-my-God-I-can’t-wait-till-Lent-is-over-so-I-can-eat-a-Mars-bar-again with the feeling of O-Lord-when-will-you-save-your-people? But it’s never meant much […]