Saturday, 5 September 2009

Exotic job

"Dad, why don't you have an exotic job?"


"Well, I'm a mathematician, that's pretty exotic compared to most people. But what do you mean by exotic job?"

"Oh, it's where you wear a suit and take the train really early and work in a bank and come back really late [and bring back shedloads of money], that's an exotic job. Like my friends' dads have."

Damned private school.

"Look, if it weren't for mathematics those guys wouldn't be making any money. And it's really beautiful, plus it underlies everything else in this world, from electronics to our understanding of the spread of disease. You wouldn't be texting your friends without that. And you can't even tie your shoelaces without understanding math. [Memo to self: verify this last one, it's a bit dodgy.] And anyway you should always be proud of your own family and stick up for them."

There might have been some finger-wagging during this.

"Yes daddy yes daddy."

A few weeks later the school play approaches.

"Look darling, I don't want to embarrass you at the school play, so would you like me to wear a suit?"

I do actually have one, I got married in it. I've a horrible fear it might have shrunk meanwhile.

"Oh no dad, don't bother, everyone knows you haven't got an exotic job."


Joey Polanski said...

Onct upon a timeski, th Pythagoreans were considerd a pretty hip bunch.

Wear yer fraternity pin.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I'm setting up a child-pooling scheme, once you've got one of the little devils you swap it with someone else's - are you in?

Kevin Musgrove said...

You haven't accidentally let him see any of the correspondence from MI5 then?

inkspot said...

Joey, I had a good response for you but this appalling software won't let me typeset it. So you must imagine it.

Lulu, ace idea, keep 'em coming. I see the nursery run by Miss Whiplash; she is inhaling from an expensive cigarette, and there is smoke curling past an elegantly flared nostril.

Kevin, it's amazingly dull. "Dear Inkspot, you are 7 years overdue for your security review, please drop by at your earliest convenience."

Anonymous said...

You lost her at the finger wagging

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ungrateful little perishers, children. I know I was. Perhaps should take away everything he has that relies on mathematics for its functioning, leaving him with a hoop and a stick* and just an orange in his stocking at Christmas, etc.

No. Just the orange, then.

Gyppo Byard said...

Lulu - I demand you pay royalties on that idea to the Rrom nation (they haven't got a bank account yet, so I'll volunteer to look after the money for now).

Atlas Cerise said...

I'm only interested if mommy has an exotic job.

Chickie said...

Wear your neighbor's coat and tell everyone that you are a member of The Spider Gestapo. The kiddies will be properly impressed!

inkspot said...

Nurse, should I have left it at "Stick up for your dad, he stuck up for you"?

Gadj, conservation of angular momentum! Glad you noticed. I'm still stuck on my shoelace claim though.

Gyppo, are the Rrom ready for Miss Whiplash?

Atlas, those mommies are interesting aren't they. Purely for scientific reasons of course.

Chickie, no no no no no. At best, at the very best, that will elicit rolled eyeballs and "For chrissake dad I'm not 6 you know".

Gyppo Byard said...

Inky bor - we is ready for Miss Whiplash any time you likes.

BTW, I've tagged you over at mine...

Wordver: antle - the result of a one-night stand between an ant and a beetle.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Isn't an orange one of those iterative fractal equations?

Perhaps the child can only have a point singularity in its Xmas stocking.

Scarlet-Blue said...

Hello sweetie! *Bashes on screen to raise Mr Inky out of his drunken stupor* I have questions. Derren Brown is a maths person... and he's pretty erotic... anyhow, what's all this Deep Maths business? And what's all this 'Wisdom of Crowds' stuff? Could we do this online, here throughout the bloggysphere and predict next weeks lottery numbers? What d'ya reckon Mr Inky?
...maths has never looked so much fun....

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Er, it was also because of mathematics that the banks LOST whole shedloads of money, did you explain that to Junior? Maths ... pffft ... get a proper job.

inkspot said...

Kevin, by jove you've got it, it's all math, esp. the singularity.

Scarlet, Derren Brown is an illusionist.

Daphne, what math does for the bankers, or anybody trying to deal with some complicated system, is to provide models. A model will say that if you assume so-and-so, then such-and-such will occur with probability this or that. But if you fail to verify that your assumptions actually hold, then you can't expect things not to blow up in your face. That kind of failure lies not in the mathematics.

Get a proper job? It's my dream to have an improper one.

inkspot said...

Update: one assumption that needed verification was that people behave rationally.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Excellent! You can now tell the bairn that you are the inventor of the universal constant Ж (all the best symbols were already taken) where Ж = "people are a herd of avaricious wildebeest."
You may have to buy him a whiteboard so that he can write it down.

inkspot said...

Kevin, will do. (Is that a Chinese character for emperor btw? Or something Georgian sounding like a vole in a threshing machine?) It will be called the Inkspot factor, since it is universally true that nothing is ever named after its true discoverer.