Reading the Comics, July 27, 2019: July 27, 2019 Edition


Last week was busy enough in mathematically themed comic strips. Some of these are pretty slight topics. But including them lets me do one of my favorite things, to have an essay that’s all comics from a single day. It’s my blog, I can use it to amuse myself.

Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand’s Dennis the Menace for the 27th shows the kind of slightness I’m dealing with. ‘Statistic’ has some nasty connotations in this sense. It suggests something dehumanizing has happened. But the word was maybe doomed to that. The word came about in the 18th century, to describe the systematic collection and study of information about whole populations. They started out being the gathering of information about the state.

Dennis, walking in to his parents: 'Mr Wilson told me not to become a 'statistic'. What church do they go to?'
Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand’s Dennis the Menace for the 27th of July, 2019. I have a few essays mentioning Dennis the Menace at this link.

But gathering information about a whole state implies, first, that the thing one finds interesting about a people are some measured and recorded aspect. Not the whole of their person-hood. Second, it implies that you wish to approximate the diversity of a whole people with some smaller set of numbers. There’s compelling reasons for a state to want to have statistics. They make it more plausible to know what the state can do. They make it plausible to forecast the results of a policy. Ideally, this encourages wisdom in policy-making. If the tools are used well.

Val, at the store: 'I admit, change is hard. Nobody really *likes* change. But we all have to know how to deal with it.' Cashier, fumbling over work: 'But they didn't *teach* us this in math class.'
Jan Eliot’s Stone Soup Classics for the 27th of July, 2019. The comic originally ran the 18th of September, 1999. Stone Soup has joined those comic strips which are offer only new material on Sundays. However, GoComics offers both the current-syndication-offering and reprints of the strip from its beginning, this “Classics” run. Essays mentioning either current Stone Strip comics or their twenty-year-old reprints are at this link. Or at least they will be: it turns out this is a new tag. I would have sworn I’d discussed this comic before.

Jan Eliot’s Stone Soup Classics for the 27th is the slightest of the comic strips I’m featuring this week. Really it should have been just a mention, but I wanted to have at least three comics shown for today’s essay. Making and counting change is constantly held up as the supreme purpose of teaching arithmetic. This though most any shop has a cash register that will calculate change faster and more accurately than even someone skilled in arithmetic will. I understand the crankiness of people who give the cashier $15.13 for their $12.38 bill, and get the thirteen cents handed back to them before it’s rung up. It’s not evidence that civilization is collapsing. It’s loose change.

Thatababay drawing on figures: Circular. A circle with an ice skater drifting inside it. Rectangular: soccer player kicking a ball to a net at the right edge of the field. Triangular: frame and figure drawn underneath so it's a person hang-gliding. Tubular: skateboarder on top.
Paul Trap’s Thatababy for the 27th of July, 2019. This is another of those comics that wants to be the next Andertoons. Essays featuring Thatababy in their discussion are here.

Paul Trap’s Thatababy for the 27th continues the strip’s thread of turning geometry figures into jokes. This one is less useful than the comic featured Tuesday, which might help one remember what a scalene triangle or a rhombus looks like. Still might be fun.


And with that, last week’s mathematically-themed comic strips are fully discussed. This week’s comics will get discussion at an essay linked from here. Please visit soon and we’ll see what I have to say, and about what.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

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