Aunt Pythia’s advice
Readers, Aunt Pythia needs your help. She’s decided to start a women’s magazine, inspired by this recent article and this front cover suggestion:
My idea would be to expand the “sex advice” section a bit by adding sexual fantasies, written from the women’s perspective, to talk about the pros and cons of shaving in general (with a bottomline recommendation not to give in to pressure from the patriarchy), and to list the 10 easiest ways to get rid of douchebags from your life (go ahead, text him, see if he wilts). Stuff like that. Other ideas from Facebook friends include: how to choose birth control, how to get good plumbers and electricians, and how to decide when to say “fuck you” in response to comments about your fashion sense (answer: pretty much always).
As usual, I’m looking to you, dear readers, for yet more awesome ideas on how to make women’s magazines great. Whaddya got?
After thinking up more subjects for listicles, and after disagreeing vehemently with Aunt Pythia’s ill-considered suggestions below, please don’t forget to:
ask Aunt Pythia any question at all at the bottom of the page!
I had a very bad time in the first year of my graduate program. Nothing went well. Now I feel much better, but the thoughts of people who caused me lot of problems in the first year keep cluttering my mind. Sometimes, I just can’t get over it. Can you help?
I’m sorry that those shitheads got to you. And I know how you feel, because I’ve been there. Here’s what has helped me. You can totally ignore this plan but the good things about it for me is that it’s a plan, and it has worked for me.
First of all, give yourself some time each day to think about what happened. Like, not a huge amount of time, maybe 20 minutes. Think of it as a meditation on this issue. The important thing about setting aside time to think about it is that, the rest of the day, you don’t have to. In fact avoid thinking about it the rest of the day, knowing you’ll have ample time later. Clear up the rest of the day from thinking about this. That’s just as important as setting aside time to think about it.
Next, during those 20 minutes, think about what happened, why it happened, why you reacted to it the way you did, and so on. After you remind yourself of those things, and try to learn lessons from it – but don’t dwell on lessons, that’s not the point – imagine it all stuffed into a box. Now imagine the box in the corner of a room. Now imagine that room expanding, bigger and bigger. That room is your existence, or your mind if you’d prefer it, and that box is pretty small compared to the size of the room. If that box consisted of stinky cheese, it would be stifling if the room were small, but since the room is enormous and growing larger all the time, it’s barely noticeable. It’s not gone. It’s still there. But as the room grows, it just doesn’t overwhelm the room anymore. No more clutter!
Do this every day for a month, and then take stock of how much less it hurts after a while. If you decide you don’t have time to think about it on a given day, good. That’s progress.
Dear Aunt Pythia,
Should I take condoms to mathematics conferences?
Can One Negligently Damage Own Marriage?
Absolutely, you should, but it’s part of a general rule that you should take condoms everywhere, especially as a woman. By the way, your sign-off is also a question, and the answer to that is also, obviously, yes, but it’s also part of a general rule that you can damage any relationship through negligence. To sum up: bring condoms, don’t be negligent.
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I would like to start an organization in my department that will give math PhDs easier access to industry opportunities that will utilize their mathematical expertise. I’ve noticed that when students get to their 4th and 5th year and realizing that they likely won’t get an academic position or they no longer want to pursue academia, they are lost and don’t know what to do with their expertise in math. There are so many opportunities for us to make an impact in industry actually, it’s just not obvious to most grad students. The club will bring these opportunities to the forefront and will proactively prepare math PhDs for success in industry to complement their preparation for success in academia.
Do you have any advice on how to open the door to industry mathematics to pure mathematicians? One idea I had was to have guest mathematicians from companies here in Chicago give us talks about what they do. I know that you jumped from academia to industry. What opened your mind to that idea? Thanks so much!
Curious math PhD student
Great idea. Don’t do what I did, which was just move to the only job I absolutely knew about existing, namely being a quant at D.E. Shaw, simply because I got recruitment emails about the job and knew people who had done it. I wish I could go back in time and explore more about non-academic math opportunities.
Having said that, I’m not sure how many jobs there are for pure math Ph.D. folks without extra training. I was in a sense super lucky that D.E. Shaw was prepared to train me from scratch. It seems like nowadays the opposite is true – even data science jobs require specialized knowledge. Personally I was turned down recently for a data science job because I didn’t have experience with a specific algorithm, which I found bizarre.
Maybe what you could do is think about starting an internship program in the summers so that graduate students can go work for free or for very little and at the same time learn about an industry. I’m not sure how hard that would be to set up, but I bet it would work. Just an idea.
Keep in touch and tell me what happens!
I am a guy and have never had any luck with online dating, because I am short for a guy. So now that Aunt Pythia (sadly, but I guess I see the logic in your post explaining your change of position) no longer recommends math conferences or, I assume, math seminars as places to try to meet a woman to form a relationship, I guess I am thinking about the gym or the grocery store.
I have hobbies (mostly sports), but they are even more male dominated than math – and the male competition is extremely fit and muscular, unlike typically in math. Also, I am interested in a relationship, not solely or even immediately sex – there is a difference as was pointed out in the comments to your explanation (although you said that for people asking out at a conference, most people thing they are asking for sex).
Any advice for I should I go about picking up women at the gym or grocery store? Or perhaps I shouldn’t because if I ask them out the first time I meet them, they have to assume I’m asking for sex, which I’m not (not immediately, anyway). Not interested in the bar scene; want to pick up a classy lady.
Man not at a bar
That’s the shitty thing about online dating. They ask for very few, poorly chosen statistics, and if you don’t fit into what people think is desirable, you’re totally fucked. Unless you lie, but that leads to other obvious problems. That’s why Aunt Pythia came up with her own online dating questions which she thinks would far outperform the standard ones.
So far, though, no major online dating site has taken up the call, so it’s not helpful to you. That’s bullshit, since you still need to find a girlfriend.
Here’s what I’m going to go with: friends of friends. Don’t people have parties anymore? Can’t you meet the friend of your best friend’s girlfriend somehow? I remember there being lots of people being semi-set up through friends and it working out pretty well back in my day. Or they’d just have parties and everyone would drink and make out. Maybe that was just me, in Berkeley, in the early 1990’s? I know that wasn’t just me.
Also, I’d suggest that women at bars can be quite classy. Don’t rule them out. I’ve been at plenty of bars myself. Not sure if that raises the bar though.
What do other people suggest for MNAAB?
Readers? Aunt Pythia loves you so much. She wants to hear from you – she needs to hear from you – and then tell you what for in a most indulgent way. Will you help her do that?
Please, pleeeeease ask her a question. She will take it seriously and answer it if she can.
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