Assorted links

1. The seven types of bookstore customer.  Guess which kind I am?

2. Red playdoh = blue crayon?  A study in the nature of humor.

3. Chinese exam questions.

I especially like today's assorted links.  I've been thinking about #2 for more than a week.


That bookseller seems rather snide (and his breathless response to the criticisms in his posts' comments makes him seem only more so). He resents the customers who have a specific book in mind but not the exact name and author; he resents the people who kind of know what they want but would like some advice; and he resents the customers who know exactly what they want and don't want to have to go through an employee to get it. The only customers he seems to like are the ones who ask, "Where is your (X) section?" - the only question he's really able to field, it seems.

It's not difficult to imagine why the retail printed matter industry is struggling given this sort of high commitment to customer satisfaction.

The Chinese exam doesn't seem particularly hard. I don't understand why it's described as "brutal".

The Chinese exam questions don't seem brutal on first glance, but I would guess that there's a high probability that these apparently subjective questions actually have "right" and "wrong" answers, and that knowing which is which determines how good a Party member you can hope to aspire to become. I do find it somewhat telling that the underlying assumption of the first question is that it is decidedly not up to the Rabbit himself to determine how he would choose to develop his own skills. "Central Planning 101"?

Rob - Nice Orwell link. He's even crankier than the fellow in the link - but certainly better expressed.

Zach Galifianakis is genius.

Since you are twenty percent of the book market in the US, I am guessing you are the best kind.

Chinese exams are brutal in the sense that what kind of colleges you can get in is primarily decided by how well you did in this exam, and there is only one chance per year. It's not brutal in the sense of what some of the above posts guessed.

okay okay we'll click

Searching "cat mystery series" on shows both Lillian Jackson Braun and Rita Mae Brown right at the top, with cover pictures.

Amazon doesn't tell you "sadly, ‘cat mysteries’ isn’t specific enough — and I hate you".

please share your thoughts on the Galifianakis clip.

a chicken!

tgb1000: "but while I'm there, they seem genuinely interested in helping me find a book."

I've owned secondhand bookstores in two states over the past 20 years. Dozens of college students have worked parttime in my businesses. As long as customers treated them with respect, they were always eager to help.

"Question 2: Respond to One of the Following

Section 1: On Christmas eve, Dalton bought gray socks for his mother as a Christmas present..."

Pretty weird question.

This is part of the story of John Dalton, the guy who came up with the theory that matter was made up of atoms and molecules.

Dalton was largely self-taught, and one of his earliest papers (1794) was on his theory of the cause of color blindness. His theory turned out to be wrong, but no-one had ever described color blindness before he did. Dalton apparently hadn't realized the true significance of his paper before he published it.

Dalton's contributions to science (on atomic theory, not color blindness) are arguably up there with people like Newton, Faraday, etc, but Dalton was a Quaker (i.e., someone who believed in God, but did not recognize the legitimacy of the church hierarchy), and so perhaps his position in history has been downplayed in western societies.

I guess he might be an attractive figure to made into a hero, by anyone who didn't share 18th century religious prejudices.

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