A spoonful of sugar

You know I’m good for it.

The name of the, er, medicine is 脑灵通 nǎo língtōng which seems to mean some­thing like “brain boost”. The safety signs are up at the entrances to the bike park; there’s a poster with a series of safety suggestions, including 注意安全; and then there are other posters on some of the columns. But I’m sure the manufacturers are sponsoring the posters out of concern for student safety.

25.06.13. The medicine in question was advertised in the bike park at the school. Outwardly it was a safety notice, but this stuff was almost certainly aimed at the Senior 3s. I can imagine the outrage at home if such stuff was advertised on school property.

In the building to the east of our entrance, another shop has just opened. But just to be different, this one’s selling sporting goods. All we need is a clothes shop, a branch of China Mobile, and an off licence, and we’ll have a complete set. Actually, on second thoughts, a complete set would also include a chemist’s shop (药店 yào diàn) of which there seem to be an excessive number in this town. And there the students can buy their brain boost medicine.

Meanwhile, from the Land of Literary Amusements, comes this site (via Language Log) where you can analyse the titles of books to see how likely they are to be best sellers. I threw in Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon’s anime thriller) and got a 69.0% of the title being a best seller. OK, it’s not a novel, but half the fun of these sorts of programs is seeing what happens when you experiment.

Varney the Vampyre [sic], a 19th century penny dreadful, got a 45.6% rating. Sillier still, I entered a random string of letters, made up the rest, and ended up with a 59.4% chance of a best seller. You have to enter a title, but I don’t think it matters what you actually put.

As the background discussion notes, titles of best sellers don’t always score well. A Dream of Red Mansions got a mere 10.2%, but the Chinese title (Hong Lou Meng) got 69.0%. The settings you choose can have a major effect on the outcome since my first analysis of Hong Lou Meng only got a 31.7% chance of success.

One problem I have with the program is the grammatical categories. It appears that “grammatically complete phrase” really means a grammatically complete clause.

Anyway, my best seller isn’t writing itself.


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