## Reading the Comics, April 27, 2015: Anthropomorphic Mathematics Edition

They’re not running at the frantic pace of April 21st, but there’s still been a fair clip of comic strips that mention some kind of mathematical topic. I imagine Comic Strip Master Command wants to be sure to use as many of these jokes up as possible before the (United States) summer vacation sets in.

Dan Thompson’s **Brevity** (April 23) is a straightforward pun strip. It also shows a correct understanding of how to draw a proper Venn Diagram. And after all why shouldn’t an anthropomorphized Venn Diagram star in movies too?

John Atkinson’s**Wrong Hands** (April 23) gets into more comfortable territory with plain old numbers being anthropomorphized. The 1 is fair to call this a problem. What kind of problem depends on whether you read the x as a multiplication sign or as a variable x. If it’s a multiplication sign then I can’t think of any true statement that can be made from that bundle of symbols. If it’s the variable x then there are surprisingly many problems which could be made, particularly if you’re willing to count something like “x = 718” as a problem. I think that it works out to 24 problems but would accept contrary views. This one ended up being the most interesting to me once I started working out how many problems you could make with just those symbols. There’s a fun question for your combinatorics exam in that.

Henry Scarpelli and Craig Boldman’s **Archie** (April 24) sees Moose complaining that his careful spelling and grammar doesn’t help his score on a mathematics test. I’m on Moose’s side. The scrawling of symbols is the most distinctive side of mathematics, but it isn’t the important side. The important side is recognizing things which are interesting, and communicating those things to other people. *That* is a problem of good writing. I have been sad that I couldn’t compose good short-answer and essay questions for mathematics exams I’ve given.

The requisite appearance by Mark Anderson’s **Andertoons** came on April 27. The student asks a fair question. Personally I’m made uneasy by the teacher having simplified “3(x + 1) – 2” down to “3x + 1” in a single step. It’s correct, yes, but I can see all sorts of mistakes made from trying to imitate that move. “3x + 3 – 2” would have made me so much more comfortable.

Anthony Blades’s **Bewley** (April 27) is I believe a rerun, and I think that I’ve even listed it here before. It’s a clever use of the gimmick that made Clever Hans work, at least.

Nate Frakes’s **Break of Day** (April 27) gives anthropomorphized numerals a pool party just in time for me to decide that’s the theme this week.

## sheldonk2014 10:12 pm

onMonday, 27 April, 2015 Permalink |I tried to give props to all my comic people on the weekend by writing a poem about the movie Pink Flamingos no one got it, it’s called Eddy,please tell me you have heard of this movie,otherwise I will crawl back in the corner and suck my dust

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## Joseph Nebus 2:48 am

onWednesday, 29 April, 2015 Permalink |I’m honestly surprised. I would have thought that even if one hadn’t seen Pink Flamingos at least the title would be familiar as a movie. Possibly it’s a generational thing.

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## abyssbrain 2:05 am

onTuesday, 28 April, 2015 Permalink |Yes, I agree. Quickly simplifying “3(x + 1) – 2” to “3x + 1” without showing the steps can confuse the students, especially if they are just being introduced to algebra.

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## Joseph Nebus 2:50 am

onWednesday, 29 April, 2015 Permalink |The double simplification is a problem, but I think it’s especially a problem that a 1 appears inside the parenthesis and then on the next line. That is, I think it’d be less confusing if they went from (say) “3(x + 3) – 2” directly to “3x + 7” since there’d be no suggestive-but-false connection between the number in parentheses and the number in the second line.

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## Flintstones Mathematics | Joseph Nebus's Sense Of Humor 12:20 am

onWednesday, 29 April, 2015 Permalink |[…] done grousing about that, over on my mathematics blog have been a couple of discussions of mathematically-themed comic strips, and if you haven’t read them already I’d be grateful if you did read them now. If you […]

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## ivasallay 8:20 am

onThursday, 30 April, 2015 Permalink |“x” looks a lot like a “+” if you roll it a little.

Students might like Brevity’s Venn diagram strip, so it could be a fun way to refresh their memories.

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## Joseph Nebus 6:03 am

onTuesday, 5 May, 2015 Permalink |You know, I kept wondering whether the x should be considered a + in this case. It makes forming an equation a lot easier. I just feel like if it were meant to be a plus sign, then the character wouldn’t have feet coming out between two legs of the figure. (I hope you follow what I mean.) But the characters could probably roll over, if they wanted.

I think they use the term “cow tools” to describe the reaction the strip’s set off in me.

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## Reading the Comics, June 4, 2015: Taking It Easy Edition | nebusresearch 9:28 pm

onThursday, 4 June, 2015 Permalink |[…] Mark Parisi’s Off The Mark for May 30th I’m just going to go ahead and declare is a response to the controversial Wrong Hands that John Atkinson published on the 23rd of April. […]

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