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  • Joseph Nebus 2:24 pm on Sunday, 12 July, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , compass, , , , , survival   

    Reading the Comics, July 12, 2015: Chuckling At Hart Edition 

    I haven’t had the chance to read the Gocomics.com comics yet today, but I’d had enough strips to bring up anyway. And I might need something to talk about on Tuesday. Two of today’s strips are from the legacy of Johnny Hart. Hart’s last decades at especially B.C., when he most often wrote about his fundamentalist religious views, hurt his reputation and obscured the fact that his comics were really, really funny when they start. His heirs and successors have been doing fairly well at reviving the deliberately anachronistic and lightly satirical edge that made the strips funny to begin with, and one of them’s a perennial around here. The other, Wizard of Id Classics, is literally reprints from the earliest days of the comic strip’s run. That shows the strip when it was earning its place on every comics page everywhere, and made a good case for it.

    Mason Mastroianni, Mick Mastroianni, and Perri Hart’s B.C. (July 8) shows how a compass, without straightedge, can be used to ensure one’s survival. I suppose it’s really only loosely mathematical but I giggled quite a bit.

    Ken Cursoe’s Tiny Sepuku (July 9) talks about luck as being just the result of probability. That’s fair enough. Random chance will produce strings of particularly good, or bad, results. Those strings of results can look so long or impressive that we suppose they have to represent something real. Look to any sport and the argument about whether there are “hot hands” or “clutch performers”. And Maneki-Neko is right that a probability manipulator would help. You can get a string of ten tails in a row on a fair coin, but you’ll get many more if the coin has an eighty percent chance of coming up tails.

    Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id Classics (July 9, rerun from July 12, 1965) is a fun bit of volume-guessing and logic. So, yes, I giggled pretty solidly at both B.C. and The Wizard of Id this week.

    Mell Lazarus’s Momma (July 11) identifies “long division” as the first thing a person has to master to be an engineer. I don’t know that this is literally true. It’s certainly true that liking doing arithmetic helps one in a career that depends on calculation, though. But you can be a skilled songwriter without being any good at writing sheet music. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are skilled engineers who are helpless at dividing fourteen into 588.

    In the panel of interest, Loretta says the numbers (presumably the bills) don't add up, but they subtract down fine.

    Bunny Hoest and John Reiner’s Lockhorns for the 12th of July, 2015.

    Bunny Hoest and John Reiner’s Lockhorns (July 12) includes an example of using “adding up” to mean “make sense”. It’s a slight thing. But the same idiom was used last week, in Eric Teitelbaum and Bill Teitelbaum’s Bottomliners. I don’t think Comic Strip Master Command is ordering this punch line yet, but you never know.

    And finally, I do want to try something a tiny bit new, and explicitly invite you-the-readers to say what strip most amused you. Please feel free to comment about your choices, r warn me that I set up the poll wrong. I haven’t tried this before.

  • Joseph Nebus 5:15 pm on Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , compass, , , ,   

    Geometry the Old-Fashioned Way 

    I failed to keep note of where I got this link from, so I apologize to whatever fine person sent me over here.

    Science Vs Magic.net has a splendid page that lets one have fun doing geometry in the classical Greek format, with tools that are the equivalent of straightedge and compass. The compass is used properly, too: there’s no cheating and copying distance by lifting the compass carefully and setting it back down. You have to draw from a center point and a chosen radius each time, the way classical constructions are supposed to be done.

    There’s a package of forty challenges offered, things like drawing squares or making rosettes of circles or the like, and if that’s not enough there’s the challenge in beating a par for the number of moves required. Meanwhile I’m gratified to learn that, years after I had to do this stuff for school, I’ve still remembered how to do bisections of lines and angles, and how to drop perpendiculars to a point.

    (I haven’t figured yet how to draw a circle to an arbitrary point — sometimes you don’t need to connect anywhere particular — but imagine if I read the instructions maybe that would be obvious or something.)

    • mariyaboyko 1:54 pm on Wednesday, 7 August, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      geometry is one of my favorites branches of math! Too bad they do not teach it in Canada anymore :(


  • Joseph Nebus 7:51 pm on Monday, 24 December, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , compass, globe, , , , ,   

    Could “Arthur Christmas” Happen In Real Life? 

    If you haven’t seen the Aardman Animation movie Arthur Christmas, first, shame on you as it’s quite fun. But also you may wish to think carefully before reading this entry, and a few I project to follow, as it takes one plot point from the film which I think has some interesting mathematical implications, reaching ultimately to the fate of the universe, if I can get a good running start. But I can’t address the question without spoiling a suspense hook, so please do consider that. And watch the film; it’s a grand one about the Santa family.

    The premise — without spoiling more than the commercials did — starts with Arthur, son of the current Santa, and Grand-Santa, father of the current fellow, and a linguistic construct which perfectly fills a niche I hadn’t realized was previously vacant, going off on their own to deliver a gift accidentally not delivered to one kid. To do this they take the old sleigh, as pulled by the reindeer, and they’re off over the waters when something happens and there I cut for spoilers.

    (More …)

    • fluffy 11:36 pm on Monday, 24 December, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      For example they could try maintaining a precise angle to the Northwest and end up circling around the North pole in ever-tighter circles until they eventually converge at the North pole and simply spin in place (or explode due to division by zero).


      • Joseph Nebus 5:07 am on Thursday, 27 December, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, that’s the loxodrome shape. Unless they’re heading exactly in one of the cardinal directions, they would end up in an infinitely long spiral, or at least until they get near enough a pole that some other navigational scheme breaks things up.


    • Rocket the Pony (@Blue_Pony) 3:39 pm on Tuesday, 25 December, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I suppose ultimately it depends on how reindeer navigate. If they use uncorrected magnetic navigation, that might happen. If they use inertial navigation, they’re more likely to behave like an orbiting satellite, albeit probably with less westward deviation as seen from the ground, since the air is going to help carry them along with the motion of the earth to a greater or lesser degree. If that’s the case, then reindeer should pass withim sight, if not directly overhead, eventually.


      • Joseph Nebus 5:08 am on Thursday, 27 December, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, that’s one of the points to be refined here: depending on different interpretations of what it means to keep going in the same direction, different outcomes are possible. I mean to get to the “orbiting satellite” alternative next.


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