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Aunt Pythia’s advice

April 11, 2015

Hello, friends. Aunt Pythia is grateful, as usual, to be able to perform her favorite function this morning, namely doling out questionable and downright misleading advice to earnest and vulnerable nerds. She wishes she could do better than that, but there it is.

For example, here’s some terrible advice that Aunt Pythia is offering up, although nobody even asked her: if an ultra-orthodox jewish man comes onto the plane and is assigned to sit next to you but refuses to because you’re a women, and he doesn’t want to worry about the possibility sexual contact, then just go ahead and whip out your tits and rub them against him to let him stop worrying.

Oh, and there’s also this, which I hope you all watch:

Awesome, right? And no, I don’t care if it’s fake. Please signal your agreement by:

    asking Aunt Pythia a question at the bottom of the page!

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


Hi AP,

In the spirit of your abominable snow woman pic, here is my favorite joke pertinent to the species. Two snow people are eating. One says to the other, “this tastes like boogers.” The other replies, “it’s carrot cake.”

Real Men Don’t Eat Carrot Cake


No, wait, that’s not better than my favorite snowman joke, which is also shorter: One snowman says to another snowman, “do you smell carrots?”



Aunt Pythia,

OK, update. Communication was a good thing in this case. A very big misunderstanding occurred, actually more than one.

I guess you can answer the question anyhow if you like, since you love sex questions almost as much as sex.

Just put this update in here and tell dudes that if a guy somehow gets the impression that a girl is being shy about getting theirs in return that they should FUCKING ASK.

Also tell them that pulling your hips back a little is not the universal sign of “stop, I’m about to come.”



Wow. What?

It took me a while to parse this letter, but I think I get it now. You are the person whose letter I published last week, which caused a bit of a stir. Quick summary: new guy, he came and then ignored you, what should you do, and I suggested next time you make sure you come first. Some readers were like, yo, talk about it.

Now that I’m against talking about it! I am not against talking about it! I am simply of the opinion that doing is even better than saying in some cases, especially cases where feelings can get easily bruised.

Actually, let me be more nuanced. I think pillow talk is great, and I highly encourage it, but I think you need to time it well, preferably after both people have orgasmed and there’s no immediate reason for defensiveness.

Anyway, back to the update: I really have no idea what the update says, but clearly you seem to have made some progress in some way. Good for you! I have no idea what you are talking about regarding hips. If you mean that he had some weird theory about body language and interpreted yours to mean he was allowed to ignore your orgasm needs, than obviously that is fucked up reasoning. On the other hand, he might have just made that up on the spot to explain the unexplainable. In any case, I hope things are going better.

Good luck, METOO!

Aunt Pythia

p.s. yes, I do love talking about sex as much as sex. I mean, maybe not as much, but it lasts much longer, so yes, as much.


Aunt Pythia,

What do you think of Fit Kids February? I can’t believe we have a major media company fat-shaming children…



I have three things to say.

  1. I can’t believe I am still in February with letters. The way I do Aunt Pythia is from oldest to newest, and I never peek ahead, and it’s exciting that I still have more than a month of backlog. That’s never happened before!
  2. There’s a difference between fat-shaming kids (bad) and convincing kids to exercise (good). Personally I have no problem with pro-fitness messaging as long as there’s no shaming. Do you have examples of that program being shaming?
  3. In any case, thanks for reminding me that I’m looking forward to reading this book: Fat Talk Nation, The Human Toll of America’s War on Fat, written by Susan Greenhalgh, a Harvard anthropology professor. Thank goodness someone is finally working on this issue.


Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

Here’s a little suggestion: there once was man who taught a class on his own time back in California called “Love 1A” after the suicide of one of his students. His name was Leo Buscaglia. During the 1980s his PBS series were very well received – sadly, it appears that a lot of what he spoke about in regards to relationships sort of have fallen by the way side.

May I humbly suggest that those who have such issues at least watch his ‘Speaking of Love’ before they may/may not do something they will regret?

Mid-age Monastic Mainframe Mechanical Miserably Masturbating in Minnesota


This guy is awesome. Here’s part 1 of 6:

My favorite line: “When you think I’m crazy, that gives me lots of leeway for behavior.” This guy was an inspirational speaker before they became full of shit.


Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I am contacting you because lately I have met a personal crisis. I am hoping you can give me some advice because I think you seem to have such a career that you love.

In May I graduate from my bachelor in Computer Science. I have been involved in several research projects as an undergrad and have been certain I wanted to join the academic game. However, not long ago I “discovered” I have never had a proper job, and thought “How can I be so certain about joining academia?”

My reasoning before is that I firstly love computer science and the problems I have been solving in a research setting, as well as the curious environment. However, I also realize I enjoy most challenging mathematical/computational problems… What if life as a data scientist in a company I like/or my own would prove even cooler? Sometimes I just want to leave this safe environment I feel like I am in now, and explore the tech world on my own (but perhaps I am scared?).

I am now working on a project that is essentially a modeling problem, given some cool data. I have been learning a lot more machine learning algorithms and statistics. I really like this and it makes me want to become a data scientist. I am a very impulsive decision maker- I always listen to my (stochastic?) stomach. And these days my stomach is telling me to go out after I graduate and check out a different environment.

I know that my family and people now expect me to do a master etc (and I have applied), and in a way I also expect that of myself because I have wanted it for so long and set these goals. I think there is only one of the masters I applied to that I truly want to do. It is hard to remove these influences and think straight. My worry is that I don’t do something that truly excites me.

I think I am a tough person and should be handling this uncertainty well- but I just end up in circles and it drives me nuts, especially when people say “in the end everything will be ok”. The end????!

Hence I am contacting you Aunt Pythia. I just want some advice from your wise past on how to deal with these ticking issues that occupy too much thinking time these days. Did you always know you wanted to do academia as an undergraduate? Any advice to a random confused 21 year old who is trying to make sense of randomness is much appreciated.

Miss Stochastic Process

Dear Miss Stochastic,

Great name. Also, I’m possibly the worst person in the world to give advice on this, but that won’t stop me.

Go get the masters, maybe a Ph.D.; it won’t be the last thing you do, and you have lots of time. You can try it out and see how it goes.

Instead of thinking about what you want to do for the rest of your life, do something that you are likely to enjoy for at least a while, with a strict promise to yourself to quit and change directions once you stop liking it.

That’s not to say you should give up at the first sign of trouble or difficulty. By no means am I saying that. If anything it’s the opposite: a challenge is a reason to stick with it. At the first sign of boredom, however, you should start looking around.

Good luck!

Auntie P


Congratulations, you’ve wasted yet another Saturday morning with Aunt Pythia! I hope you’re satisfied, you could have made progress on that project instead.

But as long as you’re already here, please ask me a question. And don’t forget to make an amazing sign-off, they make me very very happy.

Click here for a form or just do it now:

Categories: Aunt Pythia
  1. math
    April 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    “At the first sign of boredom, however, you should start looking around.” I have always been curious – why did you leave math? Is it because it became boring?
    I am an academic mathematician and I am kind of experiencing this – I get bored with the research topics I am working on (mostly because I can’t make any progress on them), and then switch to something completely different. This isn’t a great way to develop expertise.


  2. Mike
    April 11, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Miss Stochastic, many of us have been where you are. Check out http://www.branchingpoints.com. It’s aimed at bio PhDs, but the interviews and advice apply to you just the same. The short of it is, do interesting things and follow your nose. You’ll kill off the chosen-path anxiety eventually and you’ll be freer for it, but you’re young so this is probably the first time you’re confronting this. You’ll be fine.


  3. s
    April 11, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    My interpretation of Metoo’s follow up was that the hips thing was the dude’s signal that he was going to come (she mentions in the first letter that he came without warning mid-blowjob). Still seems like something he pulled out of his ass, but makes a bit more sense that way maybe.


    • April 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Ok, I think I get it now, thanks.


    • Auros
      April 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Yeah, I had that interpretation too. Though it doesn’t explain why he thinks that, even if she new he was going to come and was cool with swallowing, he shouldn’t be expected to then return the favor.


  4. Auros
    April 11, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Hmm. Buscaglia seems interesting, but his line about senility — that it’s caused not by age, but rather a lack of feeling loved and useful — is problematic, and fits into the Ehrenreich “Bright Sided” framework. If it’s not actually true, it is both cruel and counter-productive to tell people that a problem they’re dealing with exists because somehow their life doesn’t have enough positivity in it. And yet we send that kind of message to unemployed workers whose industries are shrinking, and I guess also to people who have amyloid plaques gumming up their brains. It’s true that lack of social contact is unhealthy, and in older people can hasten a downward spiral, but it’s unfair to those with actual physical causes of dementia, not to mention their families, to act like the problem could be fixed if they just behaved right. And that kind of thing can serve as an excuse to neglect funding for medical research. (Or, in the case of the unemployed workers, to fund unemployment insurance, adult ed / job training, and Keynesian stimulus in the hope of getting the economy running hot enough that employers will offer attractive wages even to folks who will need on-the-job training, as happened in the late ’90s.)


  5. D
    April 13, 2015 at 12:22 am

    Good news, everyone: I just converted to ultra-orthodox Judaism.


  6. April 13, 2015 at 12:37 am

    “For example, here’s some terrible advice that Aunt Pythia is offering up, although nobody even asked her: if an ultra-orthodox jewish man comes onto the plane and is assigned to sit next to you but refuses to because you’re a women, and he doesn’t want to worry about the possibility sexual contact, then just go ahead and whip out your tits and rub them against him to let him stop worrying.”

    If that’s all it takes to get a good tit rub, I can imagine many men dressing up as ultra-orthodox Jews and asking beautiful and/or well endowed women to move from their assigned seats. 😉


  7. A. Professor (and former grad student)
    April 13, 2015 at 11:26 am

    To Ms. Process: Remember internships. They are a great way to get a flavor of industry life without necessarily setting your ph.d. plans aside for more than a few months. They are fun, sometimes productive, they earn you spending money, and you meet interesting people. They often inform your Ph.D. research, though that depends on an alignment of the stars that you cannot depend on.

    Still, this is one of those decisions where you can have your cake and eat it (or, in the spirit of the blog post, play whatever cake game you like), too.


  8. gstally
    April 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm


    Miss Stochastic Process will have a 2:1 hiring preference over men. Is this sexist? Yes, absolutely yes it is but it’s all female privilege so she’s golden. Would love to see this study replicated.


    • April 14, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      If we assume the study is correct, I wonder if that means that at least some of the sexism is directly related to the fact that lifestyles typically aren’t equivalent between men and women.


    • April 14, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      pnas.org? Why would anyone have a website which could be read as “penis dot orgy?”


  9. S
    April 14, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Re: Ultra-Orthodox Jews, it’s only a very few that would object to their seatmate on the basis of gender. But of course the NY Times picks up on these few, and not the 99.9% who follow the accepted opinion that there is no issue, and any physical contact is unintentional and not problematic.


    • April 14, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Furthermore, the NY Times published it on the front page on the first day of a two day holiday in which Ultra-Orthodox Jews could not respond. And it was an old (and ongoing) story, but certainly not news. Be that as it may, such practice, in which women are marginalized should be condemned by all.


  10. TooTimidForLife
    April 15, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    *tear* I just submitted a question and couldn’t wait for it to get answered, so I looked back at how often you answer them & I just saw that you have a backlog of questions. I need an answer soon. Oh well…


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