# Reading the Comics, July 26, 2019: Children With Mathematics Edition

Three of the strips I have for this installment feature kids around mathematics talk. That’s enough for a theme name.

Gary Delainey and Gerry Rasmussen’s Betty for the 23rd is a strip about luck. It’s easy to form the superstitious view that you have a finite amount of luck, or that you have good and bad lucks which offset each other. It feels like it. If you haven’t felt like it, then consider that time you got an unexpected \$200, hours before your car’s alternator died.

If events are independent, though, that’s just not so. Whether you win \$600 in the lottery this week has no effect on whether you win any next week. Similarly whether you’re struck by lightning should have no effect on whether you’re struck again.

Except that this assumes independence. Even defines independence. This is obvious when you consider that, having won \$600, it’s easier to buy an extra twenty dollars in lottery tickets and that does increase your (tiny) chance of winning again. If you’re struck by lightning, perhaps it’s because you tend to be someplace that’s often struck by lightning. Probability is a subtler topic than everyone acknowledges, even when they remember that it is such a subtle topic.

It sure seems like this strip wants to talk about lottery winners struck by lightning, doesn’t it?

Darrin Bell’s Candorville for the 23rd jokes about the uselessness of arithmetic in modern society. I’m a bit surprised at Lemont’s glee in not having to work out tips by hand. The character’s usually a bit of a science nerd. But liking science is different from enjoying doing arithmetic. And bad experiences learning mathematics can sour someone on the subject for life. (Which is true of every subject. Compare the number of people who come out of gym class enjoying physical fitness.)

If you need some Internet Old, read the comments at GoComics, which include people offering dire warnings about what you need in case your machine gives the wrong answer. Which is technically true, but for this application? Getting the wrong answer is not an immediately awful affair. Also a lot of cranky complaining about tipping having risen to 20% just because the United States continues its economic punishment of working peoples.

Zach Weinersmith’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal for the 25th is some wordplay. Mathematicians often need to find minimums of things. Or maximums of things. Being able to do one lets you do the other, as you’d expect. If you didn’t expect, think about it a moment, and then you expect it. So min and max are often grouped together.

Paul Trap’s Thatababy for the 26th is circling around wordplay, turning some common shape names into pictures. This strip might be aimed at mathematics teachers’ doors. I’d certainly accept these as jokes that help someone learn their shapes.

And you know what? I hope to have another Reading the Comics post around Thursday at this link. And that’s not even thinking what I might do for this coming Sunday.

## Author: Joseph Nebus

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

## 2 thoughts on “Reading the Comics, July 26, 2019: Children With Mathematics Edition”

1. Chiaroscuro says:

Y’know technically, Benjamin and Benjamax are alliterative names.

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1. You know, yeah, I guess they are. Just feels weird calling them that.

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