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Ask Aunt Pythia

August 31, 2013

Every week, I look into Aunt Pythia’s official Google spreadsheet (it’s true she lives a super glamorous life) and every week I expect it to be my last, since at the end of the day I have fewer leftover questions than will last a week.

And yet… and yet. Somehow questions wander in, over the week, one on Tuesday, one on Friday, and when I open it up again, voila! I have a columns-worth of bad advice to spew forth once again. It’s like a tiny, possibly negative miracle.

That is not to say, dear readers, that you shouldn’t be worried about the rate of question asking!! Please do take it upon yourself to be involved!

And just in case it wasn’t clear, anything’s fair game. From “How do I get my kids to eat broccoli?” to “How do I stop fantasizing about living forever and focus on enjoying my life now?” I’m prepared to give step-by-step, humorous and mostly irrelevant suggestions.

By the way, if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia.

And please, Submit your question for Aunt Pythia at the bottom of this page!


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I am single and I rely on masturbating to satisfy my sexual urges, but it feels kind of heartless and empty. Could porn help? Or, do I actually need to go out and find a partner?

Really Sad

Dear Really Sad,

It depends on what you mean by “help”. If you mean, “can porn make my solo masturbation sessions more efficient?”, I’d have to say “yes, for sure.” I’d also say that if you managed to figure out how to ask Aunt Pythia a question but haven’t figured out how to experiment with porn, then I can understand why you’re sad.

In terms of avoiding heartless emptiness, meeting a real life person is probably key. Plus they might like watching porn with you.

Aunt Pythia


Dearest Auntie P,

I just started having great sex with one of my best friends, and although we both have other sexual partners, we’re both digging this new fling. Do you have any suggestions for sex positions or other things we can throw in to make our sexual relations even more exciting? (We’re both math nerds, so we already have the nerd pillow talk thing going on, but suggestions there would also be awesome.)


Dear Nerdilicious,

Oooh oooh!! I got something!

Go on a date at the Museum of Math. I went there the other week over my lunch break, since I work about 2 blocks away, and I was like, what is this museum good for except maybe school field trips and nerd dates?

I couldn’t come up with anything, and since I saw lots of field trips I think it’s high time we cue you cuties. Momath.org, check it out. Please take pics of yourselves making out in every single exhibit, that place could use some sexing up. The gift shop’s great, though, lots of puzzles.

Wait, what if you don’t live in New York? Turns out there are plenty of people with that attribute, especially people who live in Guangzhou China, which as I’ve recently learned is absolutely massive.

In that case, I’d say that, to stay with the theme of sexing it up in public, I’d encourage you to look around for a straight-up puzzle store, some place that sells D&D starter kits with lots of different colored dice possibilities. Look, we need to give young nerds hope that someday they’ll get laid, and you guys are now their role models, including perhaps the guy above who asked the first question.

Good luck!

Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

A question from a person who is realizing a bit too late that academia is not gonna do it for him:

What kind of non-academic jobs are there for mathematicians (beyond PhD, even postdoc) that do not involve a lot of coding/programming, but otherwise do involve their problem solving abilities?

If you have discussed this question at length in your blog already, I am sorry for not reading regularly, and I’d appreciate a link to the relevant posts.

Thanks a lot!

Lost Academic

Dear Lost,

I’d say, learn to code! After all, coding is just a specific way of formally solving problems in a language that computers can understand. I’d say if you’re really a mathematician with a Ph.D. then learning to code should be pretty easy. Don’t be afraid of it, and for sure don’t be thinking you’re above it.

As far as how to learn to code, pick up a book or take an online class or just pick a project and a language (python) and a start puzzling it out. There are so many resources nowadays, you get to decide what works for you. What doesn’t work for you or your job prospects, though, is refusing to learn to code.

Good luck,

Auntie P


Dear Aunt Pythia,

This isn’t a question, rather an experience.

I had the most fulfilling dream last night: I bought a pair of pants from a thrift shop that once belonged to you, Aunt Pythia, and discovered after purchasing them that you left some rather important mail in the pockets (there was also an old package in there too… I don’t remember the precise geometry of these pants).

So anyway, I had to get in touch with you and you agreed to meet me in person. So I could return to you the mail. That you left in your old pants. That you gave away to a thrift store. The point being that I got to ask you all my nerdy Aunt Pythia questions over a beer while giving it back. The end.



Dear Dreamer,

Holy shit, I had that same dream!

No, just kidding, I didn’t. But if that was a bizarre way of asking me to have a beer with you, then I think I’ll have to say yes. But I fully expect you to return my mail as well as my package, thanks.

Lovey dovey,

Aunt Pythia


Please submit your well-specified, fun-loving, cleverly-abbreviated question to Aunt Pythia!


Categories: Aunt Pythia
  1. August 31, 2013 at 8:56 am

    It wouldn’t let one avoid computers entirely, but getting better at statistics might be a project as useful as learning to code.


  2. guest
    August 31, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Hello MathBabe,

    I saw your website on the following list, and the title caught my eye:

    Top 200 Influential Economics Blogs: Aug 2013

    (You are a “New Entry” coming in at #175.)

    There’s just something about nerdy/librarian/glasses chicks, so I thought I’d check you out.

    I read your “About” (Married? What the hell?) and came across this question you’re trying to answer: “what can a non-academic mathematician do that makes the world a better place?”

    May I submit to you the work of a fellow math guy, who is also a “New Entry” (coming in at #75)?:

    Austrian Economics and the Business Cycle | Robert P. Murphy

    Have a great day.


  3. Nerdy and Naughty in New York
    September 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Dear Aunt Pythia,

    I am digging your spicy column. I especially loved the answer you gave a while ago to “Pissed.” I just wanted to comment on what you suggested to Nerdelicious. It has got to be a Math Museum + Sex Museum date! The Sex Museum is just around the corner, and the perfect adult and oddly educational thing for frisky nerds to do after MoMath! My husband and I (MIT nerds both of us) went to both museums one afternoon and had a lot of fun!

    -Nerdy and Naughty in New York


    • September 2, 2013 at 7:07 am

      How true! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Thanks!

      Cathy Aunt Pythia


  1. September 21, 2013 at 8:46 am
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