Sunday, May 11, 2008


You know the joke about this guy who goes to a small town bar with a friend, and discovers that the locals have assigned a number to each of their jokes: when they want to tell a joke, they just call out a number (eg., "42") and people laugh. This joke has a couple of twisted endings (1, joke 118 in 2).

I feel that way when interviewees answer the question: Why do you want to work for a corporate lab X? Answers are (a) I want to have impact, (b) I want to work on real problems, (c) I want to have access to the data. The answers are simply sound bites. We should have a universal list of these answers and answer to other questions like "Do you prefer academia or research lab?" and just call out the numbers.

On a serious side, when I interview a candidate (for univ, resrch lab, engineering, startup or whatever), I do a lot of homework on the candidate and come prepared. I like to see the candidates do their homework too. And much as in research, I am looking for the unique aspects of the answers.

ps: In Wodehouse's story, "Best Seller", Egbert is sent on a suicide mission to interview his ex-fiance, a female romance novel (bilge!) writer, for a Christmas Special and taking a deep breath, he begins the interview:
"Are you fond of dogs, Miss Pembury?" he asked.
"I adore them," said Evangeline.
"I should like, a little later, if I may," said Egbert, "to secure a snapshot of you being kind to a dog. Our readers appreciate these human touches."
"Oh Quite," said Evangeline. "I will send out for a dog. I love dogs--and flowers."
"You are happiest among flowers, no doubt?"
"On the whole, yes."
"You somethimes think they are the souls of little children who have died in their innocence?"
"And now," said Egbert, licking the tip of his pencil, "perhaps, you would tell me something about your ideals. How are the ideals?"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is funny and very Godelian.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Mihai said...

The Romanian ending seems different. Here's the joke:

A new doctor is hired at the mental asylum. On his first day, he notices the patients sitting together in a room an saying numbers. "342," say one of them. Everybody bursts our in laughter. "420," says another, followed by more laughter.

The doctor asks a nurse what is going on. "Well, doctor, the patients decided to save time by numbering all jokes."

Thinking he can relate to the patients better, the doctor goes in the room, and tries to let a joke: "72!"

At that point, the patients become violent and they start beating him up. It takes several guards to rescue the poor doctor. Dizzy and bruised, the doctor asks the nurse what just happened.

"Sorry, doctor, I forgot to tell you: jokes about crazy people are given numbers below 100."

11:56 AM  

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