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18 Februar 2006 @ 15:33
An asymmetry  

Here's a photo caption from page E1 of the February 14 edition of the Toronto Star:1

Amal Graafstra and his girlfriend Jennifer Tomblin each have a microchip implanted in their hands. If you look closely at Jennifer's hand, on the above right, you can see a slight scar — the photo was taken shortly after her operation. Graafstra's has completely healed.

Anyone notice anything odd about this? (I mean, apart from the obvious oddness of the subcutaneous microchips themselves, which apparently allow the couple to unlock each other's doors without having to go to all the bother and expense of having extra keys cut at the hardware store.)

If I were a really dedicated researcher, I would comb through many issues of the Star for further data, so as to see whether the Star's use of first name only or last name only correlates with anything else, such as, oh, I don't know, maybe the sex of the referent. But I'm not.

1. The relevant photo and caption do not appear in the online version of the article, and the text of the article does not replicate the asymmetry evident in the caption.

Nuværende humør: curiouscurious
Merlemerle_ on 18. Februar, 2006 12:49 (UTC)

I've always wanted to build a powerful electromagnet into a glove, so I could point at a monitor or machine (and flip a switch with another finger) and affect it. But this is just scary. Wave your hand in the general direction of someone's door and it opens?

Also note that "he designed all his own software". That's creepy. Not that he designed RFID software, but the implications. What if she wants to dump him? Can she deactivate the system, or alter it to still allow herself access but deny him?

(sorry, without the image I cannot speak directly about it, but only about the topic in general)
Merle: lambdamerle_ on 18. Februar, 2006 17:17 (UTC)
Hrmph. Okay, I completely missed the gender/name thing. Perhaps because I rarely use names; I am more likely to walk up to you and say "hey!" than say "hey q_pheevr!". Or perhaps my exposure to Russian literature, where each person is called something different by every person they meet.

Or perhaps I am just a tad slow today...
(Deleted comment)
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 20. Februar, 2006 10:33 (UTC)

True. Although there, I guess, the caption writer could argue that, well, you have to mention them in one order or the other, and Graafstra seems to be the one who came up with the idea. On the other hand, the reporter who wrote the article, Emily Mathieu, manages to convey the same information in a much more symmetrical way than the unknown caption writer.

lascribe on 18. Februar, 2006 13:47 (UTC)
The sex of the referent? Where on earth could you have gotten that idea.

I'm shaking my head at the Toronto Star.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 20. Februar, 2006 10:24 (UTC)

I know the question wasn't meant seriously, but, just to give credit where it's due, I believe I got that idea from Robin Lakoff.

parodieparodie on 18. Februar, 2006 15:10 (UTC)
I've noticed this in other places, like sports commentary - female hockey players will get refered to as "Maria so-and-so" where as male hockey players are LastName.

What a beautiful example, though.