Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February 19th, 2011

Apparently, it’s an easy thing to tell if writing comes from a man or a woman, or at least that the conclusion a couple of guys came up with.

According to this article in the NYT, what’s written will “immediately reveal which sex is doing the writing” even when all references to gender are removed from the text.

… what the gender-identifying algorithm picks up on is that women are apparently far more likely than men to use personal pronouns — ”I,” ”you” and ”she” especially. Men, on the other hand, prefer so-called determiners — ”a,” ”the,” ”that,” ”these” — along with numbers and quantifiers like ”more” and ”some.” What this suggests, according to Moshe Koppel, an author of the Israeli project, is that women are more comfortable talking or thinking about people and relationships, while men prefer to contemplate things.

They’ve come up with a test that can be used to pin the penis on the pen … or whatever …

Take any piece of fiction and do the following:

1. Count the number of words in the document.
2. For each appearance in the document of the following words ADD the number of points indicated:
‘the’ (17)
‘a’ (6)
‘some’ (6)
any number, written in digits or in words (5)
‘it’ (2)

3. For each appearance in the document of the following words SUBTRACT the number of points indicated:
‘with’ (14)
possessives, ending in ‘s’ (5)
possessive pronouns, such as ‘mine’, ‘yours’, ‘his’, ‘hers’, (3)
‘for’ (4)
‘not’ or any word ending with ‘n’t’ (4)

4. If the total score (after adding and subtracting as indicated) is greater than the total number of words in the document, then the author of the document is probably a male. Otherwise, the author is probably a female.

No thanks. That just sounds tedious and I am crap with numbers. Thankfully, however, there’s now a “Gender Genie” online that does the math for you.

Or, as in this case, for me.

I not only write for myself, I also write for others and often AS others, some of whom are men. Because I do this for the sole … and crass … purpose of making money, I’m bound to do a good job of it. That often means shedding my own skin and crawling inside that of peeps paying me to write them, even when it’s hairy and sports bits I can usually only appreciate as a recipient, not a wielder-of.

I am good at this, I know, but wanted to see if the Gender Genie could spot the me in the men I write for … Would that be a GG spotting? … so I submitted a couple of segments of work for analysis.

The first was a few paragraphs from a short story I wrote as myself for myself (Featured in “Papaya … and other seeds”, available for purchase here on this very blog). Not surprisingly, this was the result:

Next, I bunged in a section of a ghost writing gig for a phantom man who had a great story but wouldn’t have been able to write it if the life of all subsequent generations depended upon him getting it down. This is how that one scored:

So, although that Mars/Venus thing happens, it appears when it comes to writing I’m multiplanitary. (I like that more than hermaphrowrite, since I’m girlie beyond redemption …)

Cool.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The assault on CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan in Egypt stunned the news community, but it also drew attention to a growing problem: the world is becoming a far more dangerous place for reporters.

Uh … HELLLLLLO!

The quote is from the BBC and one of the more simplistic bits of “news” I’ve read in a while … and that’s saying something.

Yes, folks in Britain and America might be forgiven for thinking covering the news is all about straight, white teeth and proper enunciation, since, after all, that is pretty much what it IS about since Fox and Sky took over the world, but the point needs to be made that there is a difference between the infotainment served up tidily by pretty peeps and NEWS.

There’s so little journalism happening these days that consumers have taken to preferring the predigested pap they’re being fed daily. Tasty little tidbits served up by the attractive and well-dressed are so much easier to swallow than the rough grit of real-world happenings that require thorough chewing.

Given the popularity of reality TV, is it any wonder viewers have trouble spotting the difference between Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise and mass rapes along the Congo? With that being the case, it makes perfect sense that pretty girls with microphones should be sent into unpredictable masses of angry, armed people with the expectation they deliver the story through perfectly glossed lips.

Much of the rest of the world understands the dangers of reporting news, a comprehension that tends to garner respect for those who actually do that … who put their asses on the line to gather information, distribute it, and get the word out so those not in-the-know know something.

It’s not simply a case of Anderson Cooper being punched up, either, as made clear by Reporters Without Borders on a regular basis. For example, according to that organization (and reliable it is), so far this year … and we’re not even done with February yet … there have been five journalists killed, one media assistant killed, 152 journalists imprisoned along with 9 media assistants and 116 netzens.

This list of journalists killed in Russia since the 1990s gives a taste of how dangerous reporting the news can be in that country.

Those in power know the power of the press … they always have:

I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.
~Napoleon

The Middle East is no New Orleans Square these days, and although the pretty blonde is getting a lot of coverage by those shocked at her treatment, not so much has been said about the dead journalist in Iraq, but it should be a very hot topic.

Iraq ranked first on CPJ’s [Committee to Protect Journalists] 2010 Impunity Index, which lists countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments are unable or unwilling to prosecute the killers. Not a single journalist murder since 2003 has been seriously investigated by authorities, and not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice, CPJ research shows.

But back to Lara Logan for a mo …

For all I know, she may be the toughest news hound since Margaret Bourke-White, in which case she knew the risks and went for the story regardless. Maybe she even studied at Columbia under a Ms Matloff, who teaches a war reporting course at Columbia University’s prestigious school of journalism who gives this list of “precautions to minimise the risk and gravity of sexual assault in danger zones”:

* Wear a sturdy belt
* Don’t wear a ponytail or necklace that can be grabbed
* Buy a door alarm for use in hotels
* Don’t take hotel rooms with balconies or easily accessible windows
* Keep a can of deodorant by the bed
* Move furniture in front of hotel room doors
* Don’t drink alcohol alone with men, particularly in the Middle East
* Carry a rape whistle
* Take male colleagues with you in volatile situations
* Tell an assailant that you are pregnant, HIV positive or menstruating
* Urinate, vomit or defecate on yourself

Sounds like good advice for someone exiting Main Street after dark and parked all the way out in Goofy, but the world isn’t Disneyland. Really. It isn’t.

Read Full Post »