Punchy AdviceArchives

June 14, 1995

"Aryabhata" asks Punjabi:
As you once did, I have come to this country to study mathematics. I expect to finish my doctorate about a year from now and then will be faced with a dilemma: should I stay in academics where the next few years would mean long hours, low pay and no job security or should I give up my intellectual pretensions and go after a job in investment banking, perhaps going against my true dharma but making the big bucks? (Please use "Aryabhata" instead of my real name lest my advisor should find out.)
Punjabi Punjabi answers:
Dear "Aryabhata,"

I do not presume to know what would bring you happiness, my friend. But you phrase your question with such language that you might as well ask, "Which should I do, spend the rest of my life in a fetid slime pit or in a tropical paradise?" Consider, please, that perhaps your true dharma is to give up your "intellectual pretensions." There is nothing shameful about the application of derivative formulas to calculate volatility as a prime indicator of the over/undervaluation of soybean futures, from which I have derived some not immodest sums.

P.S. Every child growing up in India learns of the legendary Aryabhata, the earliest known Hindu mathematician, from whom you have taken your nickname. As one who developed the study of algebra, astronomy, spherical and planar trigonometry, derived an accurate representation of pi, and who taught that the Earth rotated on its axis, Aryabhata devoted his studies not to the pursuit of knowledge as an end to itself, but towards practical, useful applications. Might you not be happier following his example?

Andrew "Lollipop" Hollo asks Kelsey:
Why do Americans and English have such different senses of humour?
Kelsey Kelsey answers:
From your spelling, apparently you're British. One difference I've noticed is the British try hard to be civilized, and so they are masters of the back-handed insult. So if you're trying to say you don't think we're funny, why don't you just come out with it?

David Tatu asks Drizzle:
How do I find more time in the day?
Drizzle Drizzle answers:
David, being an Elf myself, I have some difficulty with this human notion that there is not enough time. It must be something in either human nature or your educational system that causes you to feel guilty that you can't do more than you already do in a single day. This must be very frustrating!

I will tell you a story. Once a little boy found a magical chocolate apple growing on a tree. He prized this treasure so much, he could not bear to eat it. So instead he hid it in a wooden box in the back of his closet. But he resolved to spend the rest of his life looking for a source of more chocolate apples. He took many jobs during his life, but all these were mere stepping-stones to support his search. Finally, in the later years of his life, having never found a single match to his original find, he decided it was time to take the chocolate apple out of its box and enjoy it. But he discovered that the ants had long since made off with it, and he was left with nothing.

We are only given so much time. Wouldn't it be a pity to waste it wishing we had more?

Bradley Bradley responds:
That's nice, Drizzle, but I don't have enough time! Maybe you'd like to come over and cook?

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