Reading the Comics, July 13, 2019: Marginal Supplemental Edition

So last week there were only a handful of comic strips which mentioned mathematics in any detail. That is, that brought up some point that I could go on about for a paragraph or so. There were more that had some marginal mathematics content. I gather them here for the interested.

Gordon Bess’s Redeye rerun for the 7th mentions mathematics as the homework that the chief is helping his son with. It could be any subject, but arithmetic is easy to fit into one panel of comic strip. And it’s also easy to establish that the work is on a low level. The comic originally ran the 18th of February, 1973.

Bob Shannon’s Tough Town for the 7th has an appearance by a Rubik’s Cube. I’m always going on about that as a group theory artifact.
Tough Town on the 9th also mentioned algebra as a tough subject for students.

John Allen’s Nest Heads for the 10th mentions sudoku. Also the trouble with accounting.

John McPherson’s Close to Home for the 11th mentions percentages. The joke’s built on doing a meaningless calculation. And a bit of convention, in which the label has been reduced to the point people could mis-read it. You just know this guy would tell the “scanner didn’t pick it up, it must be free” joke if he thought of it that fast.

Paige Braddock’s Jane’s World for the 11th is part of a sequence from 2002 in which Jane concludes the problems in her life came from the introduction of algebra. Her niece is having fun with algebra, a thing I understand. Algebra can be a more playful, explorative kind of mathematics than you get with, like, long division. For some people it’s liberating. This one’s a new tag, so I’m sure to be surprised that I have ever mentioned Jane’s World sometime in the future.

Wiley Miller’s Non Sequitur for the 11th presents a Sphere of Serenity. Or, as Danae’s horse points out, a Cube of Serenity. There are ways that the difference between a sphere and a cube becomes nothing. If the cube and the sphere have infinitely great extent, for example, then there’s no observable difference between the shapes. Or if we use certain definitions of distance then the sphere — as in, the points all an equal distance from a center — can be indistinguishable from a cube. That’s not what the comic is going for.

There were no comic strips with any mathematical content last Saturday, it turns out. There have already been a couple comic strips I think I can discuss. One comic strip, anyway. I should have my essay about it for eager readers on Sunday. Thanks for your patience.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

6 thoughts on “Reading the Comics, July 13, 2019: Marginal Supplemental Edition”

  1. Hi, Joseph, thought I’d check out your blog after too long away. One question occurs – not familiar with US comics – wondered if you chose just to review ones you knew had plenty of math references or are reviewing a broad cross-section of comics?


    1. Nice to see you visit in, thank you.

      I have a pretty broad reading list. I don’t quite read all the syndicated US comics. But there’s two major syndicates, represented by Comics Kingdom and by GoComics, and I do read almost all the strips they offer. This is roughly the list I’d be reading even if I weren’t keeping up blogs, since I like comic strips so. It’s maybe a too-long pile of strips to read, but we all have something we do to start our day and this is mine.

      I have thought some about making a list of the comics that are usually richer in mathematics topics. This I’d use particularly for days when I’m on a trip or something and can’t put my full attention on reading comics. … In fact, now, I wonder if I couldn’t assemble that just from looking at what my most common tags are.

      Sometimes I feel I should do better at reading non-American comic strips. The handful that I do read are those carried by US syndicates, like Between Friends (Canadian), Ginger Meggs (Australia, but made by a guy living in New York City), or Fred Basset (made by a rogue Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips restaurant). But there are so many comics and I just can’t budget the time for all of them, wonderful as that would be.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Aw, thank you, and that’s most kind of you saying.

          While I got the WordPress app for my iPod, I’ve got a fairly old iPod that doesn’t run the newest versions of … anything … so its working has gotten all flaky. Some things it does just fine, some things it returns garbage instead of results, some things it just sits there and waits without giving any hint what it’s waiting for. I feel like it’s making fun of me.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Must be annoying, Joseph, but I love your amusing description. It’s obviously more intelligent than it’s letting on. And, if you’ll forgive the advanced technical language, have you tried turning it off and on again? :)


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