Metaphor Fail: Not that Kind of Tsunami, Yahoo!


Mitzi pointed out the increasing politicization of Yahoo! Weather News, which now offers extensive coverage of the recent American mid-term elections. For instance, today’s roundup of weather-related news includes this excerpt from a piece by Gail Russell Chaddock in the Christian Science Monitor [my emphasis]:

Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss

Call it a triumph of inside politics. While midterms 2010 felt like a tsunami outside of Washington, the waves didn’t reach Capitol Hill’s corner offices, where House leadership teams in both parties barely budged.

The wave metaphor is quite popular these days among Republican commentators, so there’s more and more political commentary on the Weather page.

Classification, The Mother-in-Law Recipe*

Add one part heuristic dictionary matching, one part metaphor, stir, and put into production.

Classification, The Real Recipe

Post-process the previous recipe by filering output with a conservative threshold using a simple bag-of-words classifier. After all, it’s a precision-related game.

If nothing else, you can bootstrap training data from the seed terms.

* Mitzi** uses the term “mother-in-law recipe” for one with missing steps. The result is that the unsuspecting daughter-in-law could never duplicate mother’s results. Mitzi comes from a family of competitive (and talented) cooks. Mitzi got just such a recipe from my dad’s mother for vanilla buttercream frosting, which was legendary for both quality and the fact that only grandma could make it. I think that was simple omission, because Grandma gave her a live demo of how she made it when Mitzi said she couldn’t reproduce the recipe.

** I couldn’t find a reference on the internet, but in about ten seconds Mitzi found one in print in Michael J. Rosen’s Great American Bake Sale.

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