DAY 20 (Skrivers)

January 9th, 2013 § 0 comments


New year, new Victorian measures to deal with it. The papers report that Tories are worried that they may be confusing ‘skivers’ with ‘strivers’, and if you’ve had too much champagne, it may be hard to remember the difference. You want to squeeze the skivers, and you hope that in so doing you will secure the loyalty of the strivers. But now some journalists are suggesting that in society’s Venn diagram, there may be a shaded area where the two overlap. (Well, they wouldn’t do that – they claim that you can be on benefits and still be a striver rather than a skiver. But let’s be more philosophical.) Many people I know, and who makes the point better than the mathematicians, are what I’d call ‘skrivers’, combining the two roles – happily or guiltily, depending on the temperament. A mathematician spends the day typically lying on the sofa, claiming to think about some problem the nature of which he/she can’t explain. He/she considers it right that this way of passing the time should be rewarded.

In terms of what’s called ‘returns to education’ (a term I only just learned, thanx and a tip of the Hatlo hat to Jacob Mincer), this is obviously right; the combined B.A. and Ph. D. should lead to ten years’ mean increments on top of the national mean wage calculated by linear regression from a large enough sample – are you still with me? In practice, if the mathematician should be so unfortunate as to land up at the Jobcentre, s/he is likely to be branded a skiver unless retraining as an accountant is a possibility.

So, for one of the earliest words of 2013 and one of the most useful, I propose to copyright ‘skriver’. (Hang on! Even Humpty Dumpty didn’t claim that you could copyright a word – although you can copyright a two-second guitar chord (Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, 410 F.3d 792 (6th Cir. 2005)). But I digress.) The word is a straightforward portmanteau in the Lewis Carroll tradition, and means someone who is at once a skiver and a striver. I guess that means most of us, at one time or another.

Isn’t easy to go on about a subject in this way and run it into the ground? This must be how academic papers are written. (In soft subjects like sociology I mean, not in hard science, oh no.) I should write a paper about that, or maybe we’re getting too self-referential.

For today’s homework, I propose the theme: ‘How do we know where we are?’ The point being, to give you a clue: you can get out your phone and discover that you are in Tahrir Square (say). How does the phone know – what is this new technology, and how does it differ from what we had fifty years ago (no mobile phones, of course)? I’ll try to come back with a meditation on this theme in the next post, mentioning, of course, al-Biruni and the ever-popular John Harrison.

I praised Benjamin Zephaniah the other day for turning down an award which had to do with the empire. So I should post one of his works – here goes.

De Rong Song

Your house is
Falling down
And you got
To eat,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
Your fish
Have drowned
You wear
A frown,
You search
But you don’t
Own a pound,
Don’t worry
Be happy.

You ain’t got
Nowhere to
Just balconies
Don’t worry
Be happy.

You meet
You really like,
They tell you to
Get on your bike,
Don’t worry
Be happy.

You’re on your bike
And all is fine,
You get caught
In a washing line,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
You go to school
The school is
The Government
Put pressure on,
Don’t worry
Be happy.
Your tea is
Your ice is
Your head is
Tied up in a
Don’t worry
Be happy.
You worry
You’re hurrying,
And hurry
You’re worrying,
Don’t happy
Be worried.

To conclude, a beautiful video from Stomp on the joys of cooking.

Leave a Reply

What's this?

You are currently reading DAY 20 (Skrivers) at Luke Hodgkin.