## Reading the Comics, July 1, 2017: Deluge Edition, Part 2

Last week started off going like **Gangbusters,** a phrase I think that’s too old-fashioned for my *father* to say but that I’ve picked up because I like listening to old-time radio and, you know, **Gangbusters** really does get going like that. Give it a try sometime, if you’re open to that old-fashioned sort of narrative style and blatant FBI agitprop. You might want to turn the volume down a little before you do. It slowed down the second half of the week, which is mostly fine as I’d had other things taking up my time. Let me finish off last week and hope there’s a good set of comics to review for next Sunday and maybe Tuesday.

Ted Shearer’s **Quincy** for the 4th of May, 1978 was rerun the 28th of June. It’s got the form of your student-resisting-the-word-problem joke. And mixes in a bit of percentages which is all the excuse I need to include it here. That and how Shearer uses halftone screening. It’s also a useful reminder of how many of our economic problems could be solved quickly if poor people got more money.

Olivia Walch’s **Imogen Quest** for the 28th features Gottfried Leibniz — missing his birthday by three days, incidentally — and speaks of the priority dispute about the invention of calculus. I’m not sure there is much serious questioning anymore about Leibniz’s contributions to mathematics. I think they might be even more strongly appreciated these days than they ever used to be, as people learn more about his work in computing machines and the attempt to automate calculation.

Mark Anderson’s **Andertoons** for the 28th is our soothing, familiar **Andertoons** for this essay. I remember in learning about equivalent forms of fractions wondering why anyone cared about reducing them. If two things have the same meaning, why do we need to go further? There are a couple answers. One is that it’s easier on us to *understand* a quantity if it’s a shorter, more familiar form. has a meaning that just does not. And another is that we often want to know whether two things *are* equivalent, or close. Is \frac{1147}{1517} more or less than ? Good luck eyeballing that.

And we learn, later on, that a lot of mathematics is about finding different ways to write the same thing. Each way has its uses. Sometimes a slightly more complicated way to write a thing makes proving something easier. There’s about two solids months of Real Analysis, for example, where you keep on writing that and this “adding zero” turns out to make proofs *possible*. Even easy.

Mark Tatulli’s **Heart of the City** remains on my watch-with-caution list as the Math Camp story continues. But the strip from the 28th tickles me with the idea of crossing mathematics camp with **Pinocchio**‘s Pleasure Island. I’m imagining something where Heart starts laughing at something and ends up turning into something from Donald Duck’s Mathmagic land.

Dave Blazek’s **Loose Parts** for the 28th is your traditional blackboard-full-of-symbols joke. I’m amused.

Tony Rubino and Gary Markstein’s **Daddy’s Home** for the 1st of July is your traditional “mathematics is something hard” joke. I have the feeling it’s a rerun, but I lack the emotional investment in whether it is a rerun to check. The joke’s comfortable and familiar as it is, anyway.

## Reply