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It's Cool To Follow The Rules

Guest Column Julia C. Lipman

Recently, the bestseller The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider caused a sensation with its unique and unprecedented advice to single women: Be coy, be mysterious, be passive, and you will snag your man! It's inspired a sequel and a number of spinoff products, even lipstick. It hasn't always been easy for the modern MIT woman to apply the book's revolutionary findings to her own life and become a true "Rules girl."

But that will all change with the upcoming book The Algorithms, which will cater to the MIT woman looking for sexist, outdated advice to help snare the SIPB member or Media Lab UROPer of her choice. Here are a few excerpts:

Algorithm 0: Employ Proper Zephyring Etiquette

While it's perfectly okay to have him in your .anyone file, a true Algorithms girl will never zephyr first. If you're on Athena more than you'd like to let on, you should stay hidden most of the time; he might have you in his .anyone file, and being logged on constantly will ruin that gal-on-the-go image. Unhide yourself when you're in a hip, happening cluster, like the one in W20, or at a Quickstation; you've got better things to do than stay logged on to Athena for more than ten minutes!

If he does zephyr you, congratulations!

Don't zephyr back immediately; you'll appear overly eager. Read a couple of posts on your favorite newsgroup first then respond. You should send one zephyr for every three or four of his. A warning: beware of overcustomized zephyrs. They'll make you seem like a girl who spends hours in front of the computer playing with zwgc. For a greater air of mystery, type "zwrite <\username> -n" so as not to ping him first; that way he'll have no idea that your nonchalant little message took you three minutes to compose.

Emoticons, with some exceptions, are great for zephyring. Nothing can convey a flirtatious smile like a :) . A :| expresses an opaquely neutral attitude; :{ is a sexy pout. Semicolons, however, should be avoided, at least until you know him a little better; they're far too suggestive. Also, an Algorithms girl should never make a face so unladylike as :P . For the most part, you should stay away from :( save the heavy emotions for later on in your relationship.

If you've had a few zephyr conversations, he may want to move to the next level of intimacy: Unix talk. If you're ready for this, go for it, although remember that an Algorithms girl will never initiate such a conversation herself. The same rules apply as in zephyr, but now he can see what you type as you type it, so be extra circumspect. Finally, make sure that you're the first to end the conversation and hit control-c keep him wanting more! Tell him, "It's been great talking with you, but I have to go write some code now." You don't need to tell him what language your code is in or what it does; it's unnecessary information and really none of his business.

Algorithm 1: Remember the Algorithms Even After You've Been Dating Awhile

Just because you've been dating for awhile doesn't mean that you can suddenly forget about the Algorithms. If anything, you'll have to work harder to maintain your mysterious image. Here are a few tips: If you're going into an Athena cluster or the math majors' lounge together, always let him type in the combination. Keep yourself occupied with activities outside of your relationship so he'll see how happy and busy you are. This may be difficult, since MIT students often find themselves with nothing to do. Don't finger at his machine incessantly; it'll look clingy and possessive if he ever checks his finger logs.

If you've been together for six months and he doesn't have a section of his web page devoted to you, it's time to rethink this relationship. The same goes if he does have one but it hasn't been updated in a long time. Finally, don't rush into anything you're not ready for; you should wait at least three months before giving him an account on your machine.

Julia C. Lipman is a senior in the Department of Mathematics.