A mild idea: News for TRIVIAL BEINGS

Someone ought to found a magazine for graduate students of mathematics. And one of a special kind and slant, mind you. Not one of those that bend down (and over) in their willingness to cater even to the furry, unsophisticated high school-level reader — no, but one that embraced the patrician and vaguely disquieting in-group tribalism of those that are not yet Ph.D.:s, but are no more mortal men and women.

(As for those that scorn the “no more mortal” bit, consider this. As every elementary school student knows, once you’re an M.Sc. or the equivalent, you get a third eye. For those with teacher training it’s in the backs of their heads, and thus nothing behind them is missed; those going for research have it in the middle of the forehead, which accounts for the frowns and folds that gather there. And as you get nearer to a Ph.D., the changes grow more… disquieting.)

(And you thought the common condition of being a “chalkdust albino” was all due to busy blackboard-work and staying inside too much? You sweet innocent fool; imagine Wilbur Whateley and a naked mole rat and you will get as close as your puny mind can comprehend to the glorious terror of full doctordom!)

Anyway, here’s my idea.

* * *

News for TRIVIAL BEINGS

subtitle: “a magazine of the nondoctoral ones”

byline: “You say ‘This ain’t no news!?’ — I say this is news to me!”

Columns and regular features:

  • Your Voyeristic Glimpse Into The Sordid Grad-Life of Another (“Graduate Student of the Month”, honestly titled)
  • A Word from the Other Side (written by an actual, real, official Ph.D.; don’t worry, not your advisor and all the names in the anecdotes are changed anyway)
  • Advice for Grad Lemma Slaves (agony aunt column, answering such dire questions as “Do professors ever sleep? If so, where? And do you really have to use wooden stakes?”, and “What is the meaning of life?” — the answers to these particulars are “No. See previous. Yes.” and “Lemmata.“)
  • TA-be or not TA-be (stories from the pearls-and-swine trade as one side calls it, or the trade of mysteries for obfuscations according to the other; or the one-baboon-and-many-gerbils trade according to the side that is not involved)
  • Tales of the Tenure Overlords (venting about the prof caste, the lecturer lot, the deathly docents of Mt. Doom, and the grantmasters of Yh and their foul geases and inquisitions of inconsequential trivia and miscellania)
  • Encounters of the Nonacademical Kind (when the “real life” intrudes: parents, siblings, lovers, plumbers, and various other people who persist in the delusion that studying mathematics has something to do with mere calculation; also the recurring and recurring disaster of how you almost found an implicit formula for the transcendental approximation of the restaurant bill division function minimizer for all real-valued Lipschitz continuous order functions and for any rational number of orderers that was not an integer… and then you noticed everyone else had paid.)
  • Noodling the Budget (culinary and monetary tips; also the occasional fashion tip, such as this: “During summertime wear a muumuu — you don’t need to wear a stitch of anything else! Imagine the savings on wear and tear!”)
  • Things Fall Apart; the Lemma Cannot Hold (poetry corner; mostly unspeakable, the high point being “Shakespeare’s sonnets, redone as expressions of a function theorist’s frustration, pt. XVIII”)
  • Asymptotically Towards the Doctorate (tales of procrastination; would most probably be the most lengthy column of these)
  • 101 Ways to Prepare Noodles (self-explanatory, really; way #34 is “You gots a lake? Fine, you gonna eat lake-trawled noodles with healthy blue algae coating tonite! Here’s how, bub —“)
  • Excuse-Fu (or the million ways of saying you spent yesterday playing solitaire without saying it; this zen column strives for morality in adversity and truth in equivocation, while still avoiding the blunt and ugly expression of the whole of it; also includes the occasional “What is truth anyway?”, examining what commonly used words and phrases really mean, and how you can use those real meanings to your advantage. “You will be lucky if you get him to work for you”, right?)
  • Demo Vu (TA-help; named for that disquieting French-named feeling of “I have seen this problem somewhere before — aha, the sod’s still pushing out the same exercises he did when I had this course! Prior solution bonanza!”)

Well, one can dream, right?

And besides, a single visit to your library’s magazine section will show there are many, many periodicals much more curious than this one would be.

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