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Monday, Sept. 08, 2003 - 1:32 p.m.

Three South Carolina Vignettes:

1. I asked to borrow a bubbly, blond sorority girl's lighter the other day. I used it, then looked down and realized it had a Confederate Flag on it and said "Southern Pride" in Gothic script.

2. I was getting gas on Saturday and a drunk homeless man walked by me, grinning. "They won!" he said. "USC won!" Even the homeless guys know who won the college football game.

3. It is pouring rain today, and everyone has an umbrella (many of which are garnet and black, the school colors). I, ever the good Coloradan, have a Helly Hansen rain jacket. Who, besides John Steed and golfers, uses umbrellas? South Carolinians, that's who.

So, yes, it is pouring rain. My legs are itchy from wet pant fabric, and I had to almost yell in class to be heard over the raindrops on the roof. My students were all dreamy-eyed and quiet, and many were wearing pajamas; they were adorable, but our discussion was weak.

I love the rain, but it precipitated (ouch) an unfortunate event earlier today. I HATE it when people are angry with me. I was to meet P and J for lunch so we could talk about our Possible Side Project. We had planned to meet at this on-campus patio lunch grill, but because of the incredible rain, we couldn't. We showed up there anyway because we hadn't made other plans. Anyway, J was there standing under an eave when I arrived. The Horseshoe, where the grill is located, is all old buildings and administrative offices, and the building J was under was particularly old and deserted-looking. He and I stood in the doorway and chatted. I lit a cigarette. Then we heard P coming towards us, yelling from across the grassy, flooded Horseshoe: "I AM COMPLETELY FUCKING SOAKED!" This was muffled, though. I yelled back "DID YOU JUST SAY YOU'RE COMPLETELY FUCKING STONED? IS THIS GOING TO BE A HIPPIE BAND?"

The old door behind me opened, and as it did I saw a plaque saying "Culinary Institute" on the front. I didn't even know this school HAD a culinary institute. A very irate, white-mustached man stuck his head out, looked right at me, and fiercely said "I'm not sure you're aware we're having a class in here. I can hear you, AND I can SMELL you." Then he shut the door.

Smell me? Oh, right: the cigarette. I was mortified. I still am. Ack.

This is a very important topic*.

But, then again, so is this (The permalink won't go to the right place. It's the paragraph starting "There needs to be a name...".

*And I can't talk about it there because Metafilter's not taking new users.


This precious little algorithm says I write like a boy. The Nature article explaining the system has this to say:

"The program's success seems to confirm the stereotypical perception of differences in male and female language use. Crudely put, men talk more about objects, and women more about relationships.
Female writers use more pronouns (I, you, she, their, myself), say the program's developers, Moshe Koppel of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, and colleagues. Males prefer words that identify or determine nouns (a, the, that) and words that quantify them (one, two, more)."

Now, we knew all that already from having been subjected to Deborah Tannen (I criticize her as a linguist, you understand -- I don't like the way she does linguistics). What's odd is that an online journal should, according to their definition and algorithm, be uber-feminine in style -- we should all write like a bunch of girls because we're writing about ourselves and our friends. Yet I plugged in the first half of today's entry, and it said I was probably a boy. What do the rest of you make of this?

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