Aunt Pythia’s advice: delicious crepes edition
Aunt Pythia is going to brag about something this morning.
Namely, how delicious her crepes are. And here’s the thing, she’s generous and like to share. If you were willing to get to her house at 8:06am on a weekend morning, she’d also make you some crepes with fresh fruit. You could sit right there, between two of her darling children covered in nutella. Here’s an idea of what you’d be getting:
But you aren’t here at 8:06am, are you? Too lazy? That’s what I thought. You don’t get any crepes.
But the good thing about the interwebs is that you don’t have to be awake at any particular time to enjoy Aunt Pythia’s advice whenever you so please. Therefore, feast your eyes on the column and then:
please think of something to ask Aunt Pythia at the bottom of the page!
I am almost out of questions!!!
Dear Aunt Pythia,
This is not an Aunt Pythia question, I just want to bring to your attention the following post on math overflow entitled How Does One Justify Funding for Mathematics Research.
Also, I guess you don’t read the Daily News – two Aunt Pythia questions I asked were front page on it, but you hadn’t heard about either (Belle Knox and the philosophy professor at Miami). I just read it to mostly find out about the (violent) crime going on in NYC. It makes me depressed and want to leave this town. It isn’t worth it living here: it is way too expensive to live here, too crowded and dirty, and too cold. Do you ever wish you were back in Massachusetts or Berkeley?
I decided that, by the end of that non-question, it was a question worth answering. And thanks for the link, I’ll take a look!
As far as living in New York City, it’s perfect for me for a bunch of reasons which might not resonate with you. For example, I’ve been hugely fortunate to be living in a great and subsidized Columbia apartment since moving here, so that makes it alot easier.
Second, I like the weather to actually change, maybe because I grew up in Boston. It bothered me in Berkeley not to have an autumn. I love autumn. Plus the people in Berkeley get too soft and can’t handle cold weather. So yes, I’m also kind of a macho weather person, although the weather lately has been too temperate to be macho about.
Next, I really really hate regular commuting, with traffic jams and such, and New York is a place where I can walk, bike, or subway anywhere. That’s so cool! I don’t own a car and I never want to again.
Also, and here’s the thing, I like things crowded and dirty. I like people of all ages and races and ethnicities sweating on each other in the subway. So many people! So many languages! It’s incredibly cool, and I never get enough of it. That’s why I like it when the subway stops for an hour in the tunnel and we all end up missing whatever appointments we had and we talk to each and behave like human beings. That’s New York!
Sometimes I even like it when people are rude to each other (as long as nobody is picking on anyone, which bothers me) because it gets out my urban aggression by proxy: just seeing other people be pushy and pointy helps me find my zen. I don’t know how people in suburbia deal with hostility! Maybe through those commuter traffic jams? Too passive aggressive to me, I want it to be face-to-face.
Finally, as for violent crime, it’s inevitable we have some, but overall it’s an incredibly peaceful city. I’ve never been threatened here. By contrast I was definitely threatened in Berkeley a few times, although the early 90’s was a different time. I feel perfectly fine sending my kids outside to walk around by themselves, for example.
Thanks for asking!
Hi Aunt Pythia,
This is not a question. I just wanted to share this song I heard on the radio this morning with you:
It is called Dangerous from Big Data
Big Data Strange Music
- That video is bizarre and awesome, and I’m not surprised you thought I’d love it, especially considering my above confession that I like violence, although it kind of went too far, but on the other hand they kept it silly, which made it tolerable.
- I am through with people sending me non-questions. From now on, everything’s a question. I don’t have enough questions left to remove the ones called non-questions.
- Nice sign-off!
Why should the world care about mathematicians? Note that I didn’t say mathematics.
Great question. There does seem to be an obsession with The Mind Of The Mathematician. Maybe because it represents an extreme of sorts? And because people respect mathematics as an achievement of human culture? But that doesn’t explain all the profiles and such. Not sure. I’ll think about that one. Happy to take reader suggestions on this one!
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I am a tenured professor in a good department with many coauthors both senior and junior to me. Like everyone, I have had some failed collaborations, usually because the project didn’t progress and we mutually decided to abandon it. But most of my collaborators have collaborated with me repeatedly on a number of papers.
However there is one strange type of failed collaboration that has happened twice to me in recent years which I cannot comprehend. Perhaps you and your readers might have some insight as to what is going on.
In both collaborations, I proposed the topic and we had good discussions and some exchange of tex files with proofs. Then one day, complete and total email silence. Both times the silence was in response to a request that might take a little while to carry out and so could easily lead to temporary email silence. It could take time to devise a proof of some lemma or decide that it cannot be proven.
Eventually I send a second email mentioning the same question and asking if there is a concern that we need to discuss. I send a third email completely off topic about something else. Usually, when a coauthor is silent for awhile, switching the topic restarts the email exchanges. When this didn’t work I sent an email suggesting we meet in person at an upcoming conference or at one of our departments (funded by me). Finally, after a few months, I emailed the secretary in their respective departments and asked them to print out a note that they should email me and leave it in their mailbox. Still nothing and so I give up some 4 months later.
Well the first collaborator to leave me in total email silence did this about four years ago. I was told by other people he has done this to them as well. The project was very important to me but I have left it aside unsure how to proceed. Do I finish it alone and just put his name on it and send it to him when he’s done? I wasn’t sure. He is important and somewhat powerful. So I just left the project aside.
The second collaborator to leave me in total silence has also left a third junior collaborator in total silence. The junior collaborator and I worked on a different project together while we repeatedly tried to contact him. We finished our other project and contacted the silent partner about returning to the joint project but there is still silence. The junior partner and I are now returning to the original project but solving it in a way complete disjoint from the approach we had been working on with the silent partner. I do not want any suggestion that we stole work from the silent partner but we cannot delay the project any longer. Not when a junior colleague’s career is on the line.
What in the world is going on with these collaborators? What should I do about the first collaborator? At this point they have been silent so long, I do not wish to collaborate with them again even if they suggest returning to the project. I’ve had multiple collaborators in the past who gave reasonable excuses and asked we that postpone working on a project a few months or indefinitely while they handled a job hunt or a divorce or a new baby. In that case, I can wait. But this absolute silence with no reason at all seems to indicate some sort of mental block.
Angrily Bitter And
Notoriously Dangerously Ornery
Holy shit that’s the mother of all sign-offs.
Plus it’s kind of an awesome question as well. And super long! That makes up for rather short, non-questiony questions that I was making do with until yours.
OK so I think people are just sometimes lame. They drop off the face of the earth. Maybe they just get cold feet, maybe they have consuming mid-life crises, maybe their spam filters go crazy. Chances are, though, they just get overwhelmed with other projects and don’t quite want to shit and don’t quite want to get off the pot either. It’s your job to make them decide which one to do.
Just in case it’s the spam filter problem, do try calling. Also, try talking to a mutual friend? Poke them that way?
Once you’ve tried all those things, I would be very pragmatic about it. Email them and say something along the lines of, “you have two weeks to respond to this and then we are submitting our manuscript without your name on it since you have not been responsive.”
If you want to be double sure of them having a fair chance to get involved, also write them a letter with that message and send it to their department. Don’t hold it against them, they might be dealing with a divorce or a sick kid, you just don’t know, and it’s best to withhold resentment if possible. But no reason to hold back your publications either.
Good luck, ABANDONED!
Please submit your well-specified, fun-loving, cleverly-abbreviated question to Aunt Pythia!